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Inside Politics

Bush Offers Reprieve For Death Row Inmate; Gore Addresses Denial of Asylum Hearing For Elian Gonzalez; Will D.C. Get New License Plate?

Aired June 1, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET

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

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush on the environment, a message overshadowed by his role in a death row inmate's likely reprieve.

Al Gore's focus: kids, fighting cancer, but he also faced a distraction: a ruling in the Elian Gonzalez case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think this decision must be accepted with respect as the appeal process continues at least for a short time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: Plus, a new license to stir up controversy in the nation's capital.

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

Thanks for joining us. I'm Jeanne Meserve, sitting in for Bernie and Judy.

George W. Bush and Al Gore have something in common today: Both are addressing new developments on issues that have helped shape voters' perceptions about them. For Gore, it is the Elian Gonzalez case, and today's ruling that the boy is not entitled to an asylum hearing. At issue for Bush: his recommendation that a death row inmate should get a temporary reprieve, a first for the Texas governor.

With final action still pending, let's go to Charles Zewe in Dallas.

CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jeanne, we're waiting right now for word from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which is expected to have some sort of guides or rulings shortly on whether it will act. In the case of Ricky McGinn, that convicted child killer who was scheduled and had been scheduled to be executed tonight in Huntsville, Texas, but the governor has been indicating all day today that he is recommending that there be a stay in the case to allow more testing in the case.

Just last week, Mr. Bush said that he supported using DNA testing to confirm an inmates' guilt or innocence in pending death penalty cases. Today he move to do that, along with possible softening his image on capital punishment.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZEWE (voice-over): Texas Governor George W. Bush claims no innocent person has put to death in the five and a half years since he took office. The possibility DNA testing may clear condemned child killer Ricky McGinn, however, prompted Bush to recommend his first death penalty reprieve. Campaigning in Nevada and California, Bush had nothing to say to reporters about the stay, which is good for only 30 days.

McGinn had been scheduled to die by lethal injection for the May, 1993 rape and ax murder of his 12-year-old stepdaughter Stephanie Flannery.

RICKY MCGINN, DEATH ROW INMATE: I didn't kill my little girl. That was my little girl. I might not have been her biological father, but that was my little girl.

ZEWE: The child's blood, though, was found on an axe in his car, on his clothing and on his shoes. DNA testing linked the pubic hair recovered from the child's body to McGinn, but results were inconclusive on semen found on her shorts. McGinn's Lawyers say new DNA testing could clear McGinn of the rape, the accompanying felony necessary for prosecutors to seek the death penalty in Texas.

RICHARD ALLEY, MCGINN'S ATTORNEY: I think everybody wants to be certain before you execute someone so that we make sure, as Governor Bush has said, we do not execute innocent people in Texas.

ZEWE: Texas leads the nation in the number of executions: 35 last year, 19 so far this year. The GOP front-runner has been criticized for allowing executions to continue while campaigning as a so-called compassionate conservative. Bush even rejected pleas from The Vatican two years ago in allowing pickax killer Carla Faye Tucker to become the first woman be put to death in Texas since the Civil War.

In February, Bush stepped away from the presidential campaign trail to return to Texas to personally sign off on the execution of another woman, Betty Lou Beets.

Bush, in fact, has spared a condemned inmate only once. He commuted the death sentence of alleged serial killer Henry Lee Lucas after evidence surfaced casting doubt on whether Lucas could have committed the murder that he was sentenced to die for.

Political observers say Bush's reprieve in the McGinn case could soften his appeal to moderate voters.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZEWE: Right now, we are a waiting for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a ruling on whether it will get involved in the McGinn case one way or the other. The governor's office advising that paperwork for a stay has been drawn up in this case, so that stay expected to be issued sometime early this evening, probably within the next few hours.

What happens to McGinn if DNA testing confirms that he was, indeed, involved in the murder of his stepdaughter? Just about everybody involved with the criminal justice system in Texas will tells you that that means almost certainly that he will put to death probably later in the year -- Jeanne.

MESERVE: Charles Zewe in Dallas, thank you. And for more on the politics of the death penalty for Bush and other public officials, we are joined by our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Jeanne, for years, the death penalty has been the ultimate litmus test in American politics. If you oppose the death penalty, you are outside the mainstream, way outside, like from Mars. That's why Governor Bush's decision to recommend temporary reprieve in the Texas death penalty case is significant. It's a signal that the politics of the death penalty is changing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In 1988, the death penalty killed Michael Dukakis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: It was a major factor in allowing Republicans to depict him as an elitist liberal out of touch with mainstream America.

In 1992, Bill Clinton's support for the death penalty more than any issue signaled to voters that he was a new Democrat. Others, like California's Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein and Democratic Governor Gray Davis, have followed suit.

But this year, the death penalty issue has put a Republican under the spotlight. Governor Bush has overseen 131 executions in Texas, more than any other governor. He's unapologetic.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's there's no doubt in my mind that each person who has been executed in our state was guilty of the crime committed.

SCHNEIDER: But look how public opinion has started to change on the death penalty. After dropping to below a majority in the 1960s, public support for the death penalty in murder cases rose steadily for 30 years, reaching a peek of 80 percent in 1994. Why? Because those years saw a sharp and frightening rise in the nation's crime rate.

Since 1994, however, public support for the death penalty has been falling for the first time in decades. Two-thirds of Americans still support the death penalty, but there are signs of wavering. Why? Because the crime rate has been dropping, because there are growing doubts about the fairness with which the penalty is applied, sometimes from surprising sources.

PAT ROBERTSON, PRESIDENT, CHRISTIAN COALITION: What's happened is an unequal application of justice that weighs heavily on minorities, African-Americans particularly.

SCHNEIDER: And because DNA tests show that miscarriages of justice may not be uncommon.

BUSH: But to the extent that DNA can help prove for certain innocence or guilt, I think we need to use DNA.

SCHNEIDER: Because of DNA evidence, in recent years, the state of Illinois released more wrongly convicted people from death row than it executed, so the GOP governor has imposed a moratorium on executions pending further study.

GOV. GEORGE RYAN (R), ILLINOIS: So We need to have answers before we put any innocent people to death.

SCHNEIDER: Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles has asked Governor Davis to place a similar moratorium on executions in California. Last month, the New Hampshire legislature, one House Republican, the other split, voted to abolish the death penalty. The measure failed only because the states governor, new Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, vetoed it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Bush insists he's not granting the stay on emotional grounds; he has not changed his convictions. He's doing it on procedural grounds, to allow more DNA tests, but it's the procedures that a lot of voters are questioning. How reliable are they, and how fair? When an ardent death supporter like Bush raises such questions, you know the politics of the death penalty is changing -- Jeanne.

MESERVE: Bill Schneider, thank you.

And now that ruling in the Elian Gonzalez case and how it figures into Al Gore's presidential campaign. First the legal details and the reaction from Miami. Here's CNN's Mark Potter -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the Miami relatives, their attorneys and their supporters in the Cuban-American community, the appeals court ruling was another disappointing loss. For the third time, a court has sided with the government, agreeing it was within its authority to take control of the Elian Gonzalez case and to rule that he should not have an asylum hearing.

Today supporters gathered quietly at the home in Miami's Little Havana, where Elian stayed with his relatives. Some expressed anger, others sadness. And at a news conference, the relatives and the attorneys expressed disappointment with the court ruling and indicated they would appeal, but they said they would have to study the court's ruling first before deciding how and where to file that appeal. It could indeed go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorney Kendall Coffey also expressed concern about the relatives inability to see the child, and he demanded that they be allowed to see Elian.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENDALL COFFEY, ATTORNEY FOR ELIAN'S RELATIVES: We demand that the INS and that the father's attorney open the doors that have been have been shut to this child's U.S. family, to his clergy, to medical representatives. This family and Lazio have been validated as the proper adult representative, and it's high time that their attempts to hide the child from U.S. family, from U.S. clergy, surrounding the communist government officials, put a blue bandana and a communist youth pioneer uniform on this child, that has gone on too long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: In Washington, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, Elian's father, said that he hoped that the court case would end quickly so that he an his son could return to Cuba. His attorney Gregory Craig called upon the Miami relatives to end their legal case. Meanwhile, those relatives at the news conference asked the Miami community to remain calm, to allow the court process to play itself out, and indeed today, according to the police department, the streets were quiet.

Mark Potter, CNN, reporting live from Miami.

MESERVE: Once today's ruling was issued in the Gonzalez case, Vice President Gore was pressed to comment once again on the legal proceedings and his own opinions, which have given him some problems politically.

CNN's Kelly Wallace has more on that and Gore's attempt to stay on message.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GORE: If I was president, I would take the hospital cafeteria out of the hospital.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Gore happens to be in Atlanta, hoping to focus on the fight against cancer and lift the spirits of children battling disease, when just a few miles away, the federal court ruled in the Elian Gonzalez case, a case that has been somewhat of a political hot potato for Mr. Gore.

GORE: I have long believed that the best way to have handled it would have been to put it in family court, the venue where the child's best interests are most easily examined. But however, now it's in the federal courts. I think this decision must be accepted with respect.

WALLACE: Gore broke with the administration late last year, putting him in the unusual position of being in sync with his Republican rival, Texas Governor George W. Bush.

BUSH: I would hope he'd call upon the attorney general to take this ruling and for her to allow the decision to be made in a family court.

WALLACE: The Gore campaign responded by questioning whether the Texas governor is trying to score political points. Gore's position on Elian Gonzalez was not politically popular. Critics accused the vice president of trying to appease Cuban Americans in Florida, a state Mr. Gore hopes to win in November. Gore's campaign aides said he made the decision based on what he believes is right.

Despite the Gonzalez ruling, the Gore campaign tried to stay on message, continuing a week-long theme showcasing new family-oriented proposals and Mr. Gore's personal side.

GORE: I know from my own family's experience what cancer can do to a family.

WALLACE: Gore's sister, Nancy, died from lung cancer in 1984. In a speech at Emory University, the vice president unveiled a new plan to battle cancer, calling for Medicare coverage of cancer screenings, banning discrimination by insurance companies of people found to be genetically predisposed to cancer and other diseases, and doubling the funding for cancer research to $9 billion dollars over five years.

GORE: We can win this war. I want to lead this war and create a victory.

WALLACE (on camera): A Gore campaign aide said while the case of Elian Gonzalez is important, it is not an issue that voters are basing their decisions on. However, the Bush campaign sees things differently, and says the case raises a question of whether Al Gore's convictions are easily changed.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: And this news just in. We told you a few moments ago about Texas Governor George W. Bush's recommendation for a 30-day reprieve for convicted killer Ricky McGinn sitting on Texas death row. We have now learned that the U.S. court of appeals, the Fifth Circuit, has rejected a plea for a stay of execution in that case. However, after all appeals have been exhausted, the governor's office still can take action.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, is George W. Bush campaigning on the vice president's turf? We'll look at the Texas governor's focus on the environment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: While the fate death penalty case was unfolding in Texas, George W. Bush was on the road in Nevada. There, the Texas governor focused on what is often considered his opponent's pet issue, the environment.

Jonathan Karl reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lake Tahoe, a nice place for a stroll and an even better place for a political photo-op. Bush used the picture-perfect backdrop to talk about the environment.

BUSH: We need to preserve places like this in America. We need to protect them, and we need to appreciate them.

KARL: Democrats have relentlessly criticized Bush's environmental record in Texas. To counter that, Bush announced initiatives that would amount to $2.3 billion in federal spending over the next five years.

BUSH: The federal government has a crucial role to play in conservation, particularly in managing our national forest, or park system or wilderness area and natural wildlife refuge.

KARL: Much of the spending would go to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund, which provides money for state, local and federal parks.

Joined by the Republican governors of Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado, Bush said the federal government must work with state and local authorities. He criticized the Clinton-Gore administration for taking a heavyhanded approach to the issue.

BUSH: We've seen million of acres of land declared off limits and designated as national monuments, just like that, with no real public involvement, no regards for the people affected by these decrees.

KARL: While acknowledging the "crucial" federal role, Bush said he would also provide tax incentives to encourage private conservation efforts.

BUSH: One of the most profound statements I have heard since I have been the governor of Texas was when a rancher stood up. He said, "Governor, I want you to know, every day is Earth Day if you own the land."

KARL: Bush was greeted in Nevada by a Sierra Club radio ad attacking his record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SIERRA CLUB AD)

ANNOUNCER: The Environmental Protection Agency's latest data shows Texas leads the nation in industrial toxic air pollution, and Houston has surpassed Los Angeles as America's smoggiest city.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: And in a statement, the Gore campaign said -- quote -- "A year ago, he didn't seem to know what the Land and Water Conservation Fund was. Now he's doing photo-ops about it. Trusting George W. Bush to protect our land, air and water is putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

(on camera): The proposals Bush announced here at Lake Tahoe drew a quick thumbs up from Teddy Roosevelt's great grandson, the chairman of the League of Conservation Voters, which is supporting Al Gore. Roosevelt, who says Bush does not have a good record on the environment, said today's proposals were a step in the right direction.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Lake Tahoe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: And joining us now with his "Reporter's Notebook": Bob Novak of "The Chicago Sun-Times."

Bob, welcome.

I understand you have some information on a new fund-raising technique being used by Governor Bush.

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO-SUN TIMES": Jeanne, there were people who had already given the maximum amount of contribution to Governor Bush's campaign -- that's thousand for the giver and a thousand for the spouse, $2000 for a couple -- and they were amazed in the last six week's to get a handwritten, personalized letter from George W. Bush asking for more. They said, gee, haven't I hit the limit? Well, there is a loophole in the law -- it's been used before -- that for administrative expenses, they can go back for another couple thousand dollars.

At the same time, Jeanne, a typewritten letter from the governor has gone out, asking for soft money contributions to the Victory 2000 Committee at the Republican National Committee, which can be given over and above the maximum. See, this federal election law is like Swiss cheese -- it's full of holes.

MESERVE: And meanwhile, the vice presidential sweepstakes, the list of names seems to be getting longer, rather than shorter at this point.

NOVAK: I've got a really new Democratic name, at least new to me. Very good source told me that they are, the Democrats are looking seriously on the long list they have Senator Patrick Lahey of Vermont. Vermont has three electoral votes. You can't have any fewer, and they're guaranteed for the Democrats in 2000 anyway. But Senator Lahey is a very distinguished. He's former Intelligence Committee Chairman. He's expert in many areas. Certainly wouldn't hurt the ticket. The other name is the insiders I've been talking to in the Bush campaign keep talking very much about the governor of Oklahoma, Frank Keating, another person, very simpatico (ph) George Bush, wouldn't hurt him, has Washington experience in the Bush administration, second term as governor. What do Leahy and Keating have in common? They are both Catholics. This is a big ride for the Catholic vote, and Catholics are getting a good look for vice president on both tickets.

MESERVE: OK, let's switch gears again and talk about the Gore campaign and changes in the strategy there.

NOVAK: You've seen a lot of stories about the Gore campaign doing yet another redesign. Democrats who are great Gore supporters really feel this looks terrible, getting another redesign. How many have there been? And getting away from the very tough combative style to a nicer style. The insiders in the Gore campaign tell us there's been no redesign. These are people who don't know what they're talking about.

But there's no question that Vice President Gore has taken a little softer view lately. And according to at least one poll, John Zogby, he has polled even with George Bush, but there's other polls that show him still well behind.

MESERVE: A lot of interest in the presidential race, but a lot of interest in that Senate race in New York, and you've heard something about congressional Republicans and their reaction to that.

NOVAK: Last week, Jeanne, before the congressional recess, the weekly meeting of whips on the House Republican side, very conservative Republicans, could I say right-wing Republicans, who don't vote much like a moderate, such as Rick Lazio, saying we have to get Lazio elected, and one of them, Congressman Jon Juler (ph) of California, very conservative fellow is -- wants to send his whole 20,000 voter contributory list in California a letter on behalf of Lazio, asking for contributions for Lazio, trying to stem the massive of flow of California liberal money for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

MESERVE: And the decision of these conservatives, I presumes, is somewhat an anti-Hillary Clinton movement?

NOVAK: Not somewhat, entirely. They like Rick Lazio, but they would like anybody against Mrs. Clinton.

MESERVE: Bob Novak, thanks so much.

NOVAK: Thank you.

MESERVE: There is of more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come, Republican Rick Lazio is back on the road, introducing himself and his message to New York voters.

Plus:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George W. Bush says he's ready to cast off outdated cold war strategies and have the United States lead by example in cutting its nuclear weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: Jamie McIntyre examines the GOP hopeful's plan for a national defense, and what, if anything, it would change.

And later, echoes of the American revolution, the new signs of protest in Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

The 28-hour hostage crisis at a day care center in Luxembourg is over. Police stormed the school and critically wounded the gunman, who held 25 children and 3 teachers hostage. All are safe and unharmed.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are analyzing data from missile tests conducted to settle questions about the crash of TWA flight 800. The plane went down off Long Island, New York, four years ago. Witnesses reported seeing streaks of light, sparking theories that a missile was to blame. Several stinger missiles were fired recently from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to test that theory. Results will not be released until August.

Cleanup crews are working around the clock at the site of Saturday's train derailment in Eunice, Louisiana. So far, at least 10 of the 34 derailed cars have been moved off the tracks. Because the train was carrying toxic chemicals, several thousand residents had to evacuate their homes. It is still uncertain when they will be able to return.

Firefighters in the mountains of northern New Mexico are gaining ground on a blaze that tripled in size earlier this week. Cooler temperatures and increased humidity are helping them battle the wildfire. The 250,000-acre blaze is about 15 percent contained now. About 900 firefighters are working on the fire, which began Monday, about 30 miles east of Santa Fe.

Music fans are mourning a legendary Latin jazz bandleader; Tito Puente died yesterday after open-heart surgery at a New York hospital. He had been diagnosed with a faulty heart valve after seeking medical treatment in April for shortness of breath. Puente was 77 years old and had just finished his 120th album.

The words; most of us couldn't pronounce them, let alone spell them, or tell you what they mean, but spell and misspell they did in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. And a home-schooled 12- year-old walked away with the trophy and a $10,000 cash prize. George Abraham Thampy (ph) of Maryland Heights, Missouri, took apart the final word. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPELLING BEE WINNER: Demarche. Demarche. D-E-M-A-R-C-H-E, Demarche.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: And this is incredible: just last week, George won $15,000 in the National Geography Bee.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns: in the New Jersey Senate race, can anyone give Jon Corzine a run for his ad money? David Peeler has an update on commercial spots and spending.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: In the New York Senate race, Hillary Rodham Clinton left the Empire State for a fund-raising mission in Texas today, and that may have given her GOP rival Rick Lazio even more of an opportunity to use his newly-launched bus tour to grab the media spotlight.

CNN's Frank Buckley is on the road with Lazio.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rick Lazio was back on the bus, his so-called "mainstream express" taking the Long Island congressman over country roads and into tiny towns; from upstate diners, to a downtown Manhattan deli.

REP. RICK LAZIO (R), N.Y. SEN. CANDIDATE: That's a pastrami.

BUCKLEY: The campaign, taking advantage of the intense media coverage this week following Lazio's nomination as the Republican choice in New York's Senate race; to introduce the relatively unknown four-term congressman to voters.

LAZIO: Thank you for helping mine. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BUCKLEY: Rose Ciccone (ph) of Watkins Glen says she's a Democrat, but after seeing the Republican congressman, she may cross party lines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I liked everything about him. I especially liked the way he talked about his background, his family.

BUCKLEY: Lazio is stressing those things, but saying little about his rationale for running for the U.S. Senate. He speaks in broad strokes on themes few would disagree with, and he says he'd like to continue the work he's begun in the House of Representatives. LAZIO: On all of those issues, being in the Senate would provide me with a bigger platform and more influence to get the job done, to deliver for New York, to make sure that I watch out for the roads and the bridges, the businesses and the schools; and at the same time, the larger issues of the environment, excellence in education, and job creation.

BUCKLEY: Lazio says he plans to be positive, but he repeatedly reminds voters that he's a native New Yorker, while first lady Hillary Clinton is not.

LAZIO: People who want a New Yorker, people who want somebody's who's been standing up for New York and talks about New York values.

BUCKLEY: Mrs. Clinton was not in New York today, instead raising money for her campaign in Texas. Wednesday, however, she suggested to Lazio that voters are not as concerned about that issue.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), N.Y. SEN. CANDIDATE: I think it's more important in this race to know what you're for than where you're from and I'm going to be talking about that a lot.

BUCKLEY (on camera): Lazio aides say their candidate will also put forth more policy positions and a broader theme for the campaign in the weeks ahead. At the moment, however, the campaign is not even two weeks old; their immediate job, they say, is to tell voters who Rick Lazio is.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer is scheduled to endorse New Jersey Senate candidate Jon Corzine tomorrow. And on Tuesday, voters will have their say in the state's closely watched Democratic primary.

For nearly 12 weeks, wealthy businessman-turned-candidate Corzine has run ads across the state, pushing his message and attacking his opponent, former Governor Jim Florio. Just in the last week, Florio launched an ad campaign of his own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FLORIO CAMPAIGN AD)

ANNOUNCER: Warning: for New Jersey senior citizens and retirees. Jon Corzine supported a plan to consider cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

Now, Corzine is being criticized for backing a Republican effort that would risk billion of dollars at the Social Security trust fund in the stock market.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CORZINE CAMPAIGN AD) ANNOUNCER: For months, Jim Florio has been attacking Jon Corzine's plan to save Social Security; now, the "New York Times" reveals that just a year ago, Florio supported the very same plan he now denounces.

It's pure hypocrisy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

David, how much are these candidates spending as this primary approaches Tuesday?

DAVID PEELER, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Well, Jeanne, you know, Jon Corzine has been at this now for several months, we've counted up about $14 million alone just in television broadcast spending. That's quite a bit -- it's a tremendous amount. It's unprecedented in a senatorial run.

Jim Florio started last week, spent about half a million dollars to try and counter this attack.

You know, I'll bet last summer when Jim Florio was sitting around, he thought this was a pretty good idea: We've got Lautenburg retiring, I can go -- I've got a pretty good name ID. I'll raise a couple million dollars and go after this race.

I wouldn't say that he's thinking the same thing today; I don't think any Senate candidate has ever had to bear the onslaught of what Jon Corzine has spent against him.

As we look to the Republican side, let's take a look at what State Senator Gormley spent; you know, it's a very different story: just under a million dollars in the last couple of weeks and State Senator -- I'm sorry -- Congressman Bob Franks has spent about $42,000.

Again, what's interesting here is some of the spots in these two campaigns are also attacking Florio's previous record, so I don't think Jim Florio can get a break either way in this campaign.

MESERVE: OK, let's look at a different race: In New Jersey's Fifth Congressional District, Republican Congresswoman Marge Roukema is the subject of a barrage of ads. Roukema is opposed in the primary by Assemblyman Scott Garrett (ph). A conservative group, the Club for Growth, says Roukema is too liberal, while the Republican Leadership Council and the American Medical Association are running ads in Roukema's favor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CLUB FOR GROWTH AD)

ANNOUNCER: 1980: Carter is president, disco lives, and liberal, Marge Roukema goes to Congress. Carter is history, disco is dead, but Roukema is still taxing and spending. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSN. AD)

NARRATOR: She supports a Patients' Bill of Rights that allows doctors to make these important decisions, not insurance company bureaucrats.

We need a representative who has the courage to stand up for patients' rights. Marge Roukema, making the right decisions for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: OK, David, let's get down to dollars, how much are these groups spending in this race?

PEELER: Well, the against group, the Club For Growth, has spent so far -- claims they'll spend about $100,000 between now and June 5. Here is what is interesting, this is a House race, this is the first time that I think we have seen independent expenditure groups really weigh in very heavily.

And in the congressional district like the 5th District in New Jersey, they can make a difference. The RLC, to counter it, and the AMA, on behalf of Roukema has spent in total about $161,000, RLC $100,000 and AMA $61,000. So again, this is a first time that we have seen this much independent expenditure groups spending in support of a congressional seat in any of the districts -- a very unique tactic.

MESERVE: And now let's look at national politics. As Jonathan Karl reported, the Sierra Club is airing radio ads in Nevada to coincide with George W. Bush's visit there. But the environmental group is also targeting the governor's environmental record in other key states with this television ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SIERRA CLUB AD)

NARRATOR: Texas has the most industrial air pollution in the nation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are in a crisis situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've contacted George Bush's office and he has the attitude that he is not interested.

NARRATOR: Call George Bush, tell him to oppose legislation in Congress that weakens penalties for clean air and water violators, for our families, for our future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: So, David, how much is the Sierra Club spending here?

PEELER: Well, the Sierra Club came out early on and said they were going to spend quite a bit of money, in excess of $8 million against Bush's presidency. What they are doing is employing this very interesting media tactic, as you mentioned, they are going after the governor wherever he intends to appear so that it is brought up in the press and the people ask him the questions.

But even more importantly, they are now spending -- starting to spend money, as you see, about $30,000 in Detroit, $31,000 in Milwaukee, $23,000 in St. Louis, and another $15,000 in Seattle. That's part of their key swing-state strategy. Many of those states are anticipated to be swing states in the November election, so they are starting to raise the issue in those states.

They are getting air time, both paid and non-paid, and they are trying to craft the debate. It is a very, very interesting tactic and I think it's something that we'll see whether the governor chooses to respond to or to ignore. But if he gets out there in the press and they ask him questions about it, he will probably be forced to respond.

MESERVE: David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting, thanks so much.

PEELER: Thank you, Jan.

MESERVE: And next, national defense as a campaign issue, we'll look at the George W. Bush plan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush says he favors reducing the nation's nuclear arsenal and as president, Bush would advocate an anti-missile defense system beyond the current Pentagon plans. How does Bush's plan differ from that of the current administration?

To find out, CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre takes a closer look at the Bush plan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE (voice-over): George W. Bush says he's ready to cast off outdated Cold War strategies and have the United States lead by example in cutting its nuclear weapons.

BUSH: I will pursue the lowest possible number consistent with our national security.

MCINTYRE: In fact, Bush's unspecified minimum number of nuclear warheads could end up being the same Start III goal of 2,500 agreed to by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin three years ago in Helsinki. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with the U.S. strategic commander, are already on record saying the 2,500 level is as low as they would want to go.

ADM. JAY JOHNSON, CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS: I am quite uncomfortable going outside the Helsinki framework without the requisite analysis on a subject of such major strategic importance. MCINTYRE: Pentagon sources say it's unlikely any new analysis would recommend deeper cuts because of the desire of U.S. military commanders to keep enough nukes to fully arm the so-called "nuclear triad" of missiles, bombers, and submarines. It's equally unlikely that a pro-defense candidate such as Bush would over-rule the military chiefs.

So, while Bush sounds like he's proposing substantial cuts in nuclear force levels, it could be a difference without much distinction. It's a similar story on national missile defense. Bush insists he would build a bigger anti-missile system than the one under development by the Clinton-Gore administration.

BUSH: Now the approach it proposes is flawed, a system initially based on a single site when experts say that more is needed.

MCINTYRE: In fact, more is already planned. Besides 100 interceptor missiles at a single site in Alaska, the Clinton administration plan calls for a potential second site in North Dakota, with up to 150 more interceptors, as well as the option of supplementing both sites with ship-based defenses that could also provide some measure of defense for U.S. allies.

That, essentially, is the same program advocated by Bush, at least so far as can be determined from his public statements and his campaign advisers.

(on camera): So while candidate Bush says he's more willing to cut nuclear weapons and supports a better missile defense than Al Gore, so far he's been unwilling to provide the details that would let the voters know whether in fact his policies on these two issues are really much different from the vice president's.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: When we return, D.C. residents register their discontent.

Plus, a look back at the early days of INSIDE POLITICS, as CNN celebrates a milestone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: Here in the nation's capital, some residences are pushing for a chance to put a political message on the back of every car in Washington. With the mayor now on board, the plan could soon get rolling inside the Beltway.

CNN's Kate Snow reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the nation's highways, every state has its slogan: "First in Flight," "The Spirit of America," "The Land of Enchantment," and in Washington, D.C., "Celebrate and Discover."

SARAH SHAPIRO, WASHINGTON RESIDENT: Celebrate and discover what? Celebrate what and discover what? I don't even know what it's supposed to mean.

SNOW: Washington native Sarah Shapiro thinks she has a better idea -- "Taxation Without Representation." It's just a mockup, but it's no joke.

SHAPIRO: It is just a fact of unfairness that we do pay taxes, that we don't have representation, voting representation in Congress.

SNOW: It's been a sore spot for Washington, D.C. residents. They fork over $2 billion a year in federal taxes but have no senator and only one non-voting member in the House of Representatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... in favor will say aye.

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those opposed no.

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: No.

SNOW: In 1993, Congress shot down statehood for D.C., with most Republicans voting against the idea.

Shapiro says new plates would be like mini-billboards, advertising the District of Columbia's status.

MARK PLOTKIN, HOST, WMAU/"D.C. POLITICS HOUR": The rest of the country, which is not aware of our colonial status, will be aware of our status.

SNOW: Shapiro started out with an e-mail to a local radio show. The host loved it.

PLOTKIN: We've been politically sensitive, we've been nice, we've been appropriate, we've been well-behaved, and what have we got? Nothing.

LINDA CROPP, WASHINGTON, D.C. CITY COUNCIL: Can't you just see this on every car in the District of Columbia?

SNOW: Washington City Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp was on board in no time and within two months convinced the entire council to go along.

CROPP: "Taxation without representation," was that not the rallying cry from which this great country was started?

SNOW (on camera): And now, the mayor is taking it one step further, planning to issue an order that could have the new plates on the streets as early as July 4. It's an effort to bypass the need for congressional approval. MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS, WASHINGTON, D.C.: If there is a difference of opinion with some of our friends up there as to our need for full representation, but I think they would begrudge us, our right as a state to make this statement on our plates.

SNOW (voice-over): But support for the new tags isn't universal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am opposed to it. I'm a third-generation Washingtonian and I'm quite happy with the status quo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am against it, so why should I have to advertise on my license plates?

SNOW: Some say complaining on a plate makes the city look petty and could hurt the battle for representation on Capitol Hill.

REP. TOM DAVIS (R), VIRGINIA: It's probably not going to help me when I try to ram through a bill that allows the city to vote on the House floor.

SNOW (on camera): Congress could also make things difficult for Washington in other ways. Under the Constitution, Congress has exclusive legislative oversight over the city, including its budget, and some in Congress may not see the humor in "taxation without representation" on the back of even the presidential limousine.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: And finally, here at CNN, a lot of people are walking down memory lane today, as the network marks its 20th anniversary. So we thought we, too, would flash back to the early days of INSIDE POLITICS, which began during the 1988 presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Now, back to INSIDE POLITICS '88 on CNN.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Mississippi, Florida, and his home state of Tennessee, stops along the way for Democrat Albert Gore, the man does have a Southern strategy, and CNN political analyst Frederick Allen followed him every step of the way.

FREDERICK ALLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a hey and a howdy, Tennessee's Al Gore is trying to win over the South.

GORE: You all were right there.

SHAW: Here at INSIDE POLITICS, day and night we analyze and try to figure out what these candidates are up to and why, and so does our respected guest, William Schneider.

Say if I'm a conservative Republican on the far right, where do I go between Dole and Bush? SCHNEIDER: Well, most conservative Republicans right now don't see a big difference, they don't really trust either Dole or Bush, though they could go along with either nominee. A lot of them feel -- and they feel this way privately -- that the party is going to nominate George Bush and it will probably lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: Bill Schneider and Bernie Shaw, Al Gore and a George Bush -- some things just don't seem to change too much.

For more CNN memories, be sure to watch the two-hour "LARRY KING LIVE" 20th anniversary special, that's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you again tomorrow, when Bill Schneider will have his "Political Play of the Week." And of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com.

I'm Jeanne Meserve. "WORLDVIEW" is next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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