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Inside Politics

New Jersey's Political Battle Steals the Spotlight; Supreme Court Sides With Webster Hubbell; Looking Back at the Legacy of RFK

Aired June 5, 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: Forget Al Gore and George W. Bush. Today, New Jersey's political battles are stealing the spotlight.

Plus, the Supreme Court sides with Whitewater figure Webster Hubbell. A legal look at today's victory.

Also...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROBERT KENNEDY (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My thanks to all of you, and now it's on to Chicago, and let's win there.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Looking back to the tragic end of a presidential campaign 32 years ago today.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is off this week.

The much-hyped New York Senate race may have lost some of its marquee value recently, but anyone seeking the "next big thing" need look no further than the other side of the Hudson River to New Jersey.

Tomorrow, Garden State Democrats will settle the most fiercely contested primary of 2000 between former Governor Jim Florio and ex- Wall Street mogul Jon Corzine. Corzine has made this the most expensive Senate race in U.S. history, and charges and countercharges are flowing as fast as the cash.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa kicks off our primary eve coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY SENATE CANDIDATE: Democratic voters, I'd love to have your support tomorrow in the primary.

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jon Corzine might be a multimillionaire, but he spent the day before the New Jersey primary in inexpensive diners, talking with people he might have never met while he was co-chairman of Goldman Sachs.

Former Governor Jim Florio was greeting senior citizens and telling them why he'd make a better U.S. Senator.

JIM FLORIO (D), NEW JERSEY SENATE CANDIDATE: This is a horse race and people have been looking for the last couple of weeks about what the two candidates stand for.

HINOJOSA: Corzine is the political neophyte, known mostly these days for how much of his own money he has spent on this race: a record $34 million, saturating the airwaves with ads.

CORZINE: We're running against a candidate that's been in the political arena for 25 years, spent $35 to $40 million establishing an identity. To be competitive, we needed to make sure that we got our message out.

HINOJOSA: Corzine's message challenges the stereotypical image of what a millionaire wants. If he wins, he'd be among the most progressive Democrats in the Senate, supporting universal health care, gay civil unions, an $8-an-hour minimum wage, and universal preschool and after school education.

CORZINE: And I promise you if I go to Washington, I'll work every day to try to invest back in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for you last time. I'd like to see you back in.

FLORIO: Well, thank you very much, I appreciate it -- the 6th of June.

HINOJOSA: After 30 years in public service, Florio is fighting to reconnect with the same voters who tossed him out seven years ago when he lost his re-election for governor -- a big tax increase, his undoing. Florio now paints himself as a man of the people, reminding them he was a high school drop-out and a boxer.

FLORIO: You've got to be tough. You better be fast on your feet. Don't get caught in a corner. And if somebody knocks you down, get up real quick and start the fight again.

HINOJOSA: But Corzine is garnering traditional Democratic support, from unions to U.S. senators...

FLORIO: Well, how about that.

HINOJOSA: ... while Florio has the backing of influential newspapers, like "The New York Times" and "Newark Star Ledger."

On the issues, though, their greatest debate is over Social Security. Florio opposes that money being invested in stocks.

FLORIO: It is particularly important if you're talking to seniors, they are going to vote disproportionately and they're very concerned, they're very nervous about, you know, privatization of Social Security.

CORZINE: I support President Clinton's proposal, not the distorted view that is being put out by my opponent in this race. The proposal is to lock up Social Security taxes that are collected.

HINOJOSA: The biggest fight is still over the politics of money.

FLORIO: It's a whole new class of people who think perhaps in a mid-life crisis they can just wake up one morning and then just sign checks and take over the government.

HINOJOSA: The latest salvo: Florio accusing Corzine of spending $2 million on an election-day get-out-the vote drive -- more, Florio claims, than he will have spent in his entire campaign. Corzine, defending himself yet again on the money issue, says his get-out-the- vote effort is standard practice in a race that, when it comes to money, has broken all standards.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And joining us now from Trenton, New Jersey: Jim Goodman of "The Trenton Times."

Jim Goodman, is money going to determine the outcome of this race?

JIM GOODMAN, "THE TRENTON TIMES": Well, we'll find out tomorrow night. If it doesn't, if Jon Corzine loses, the New Jersey Democratic political establishment will be set on its ears, totally confused. And if it's been a dysfunctional family before, it's -- it will be in total chaos tomorrow night if Jon Corzine loses.

WOODRUFF: Why do you say that?

GOODMAN: Because most of the party leaders have staked everything to back Jon Corzine, to stop Florio, who they say would cause them to lose in November. They don't know that, but they believe it as deeply as they can believe it, and I don't know how this party could ever put itself together again if Jim Florio is the candidate, which is not to say that if Jim Florio is the candidate he couldn't win, because it would be -- that would be one hell of a victory.

WOODRUFF: If -- so if Corzine has the money and the establishment behind him, what does Florio have other than the newspaper endorsements?

GOODMAN: Well, I don't know that the newspaper endorsements carry very much weight in a primary election to begin with, or let alone a general election, but he does have a hard core of people throughout the state who always thought he was right, who gave him 49 percent of the vote in his worst year, when he ran for re-election. And he has a good, strong support in the Camden County, which is his political base. How that goes against the organization and the money that Corzine has -- I'm telling you, it would be an incredible upset, I think.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you just quickly, Jim Goodman, about the Republican contest. There is a contested primary over on the Republican side as well. In a nutshell, how is that looking?

GOODMAN: Kind of bland, dull, and I guess somebody besides the candidate cares who wins, but I don't know who they are, I haven't been able to find them in the last two months.

WOODRUFF: What are your expectations?

GOODMAN: They are just middle-of-the-road Republicans who have a base, except for Sabrin, who is sort of off the wall as the Republicans are concerned. They each have their own sort of following, one in Essex County, that is Treffinger, one in north Jersey, that's Franks, south Jersey is Bill Gormley. They are really very much alike in temperament and style. There is no fighting going on in that Republican primary and even Sabrin can't get a fight going as hard as he tries -- he's tried do.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jim Goodman of the "Trenton Times," and we'll be keeping an eye both on the Democrats and the Republicans in tomorrow's voting, thanks again for joining us.

And one of the key House races in New Jersey is in the 12th Congressional District. Two former congressmen are battling in the Republican primary, and both are on the attack.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE PAPPAS (R), NEW JERSEY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm Mike Pappas, I'm running for Congress.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The gloves are off between conservative Republican Mike Pappas and the man he replaced in Congress in 1996, another Republican, Dick Zimmer -- it doesn't happen very often: two ex-GOP congressmen fighting each other to get their old job back. In this case, representing New Jersey's tiny 12th District. It's a job held for the last two years by Democrat Rush Holt, a former physicist.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: They seem to feel that they're entitled to this seat. I don't think anyone is entitled to this seat. I'm working day and night.

FEYERICK: The race is an important one to both parties, and with Republicans battling to hold onto their narrow, 11-seat, House majority, national party leaders are taking sides. Centrists like House Speaker Dennis Hastert are siding with Zimmer and conservatives like Majority Leader Richard Armey supporting Pappas.

INGRID REED, RUTGERS POLITICAL ANALYST: You don't have that happening unless they think it's very important.

FEYERICK: Important also because the 12th District, which includes Princeton, is historically Republican. But two years ago, Democrat Holt narrowly defeated Pappas. The reason, many say...

PAPPAS (singing): Twinkle, twinkle Kenneth Starr...

FEYERICK: ... Pappas singing independent counsel Kenneth Starr's praises on the House floor during President Clinton's impeachment hearings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike concedes that it's the worst mistake of his career.

FEYERICK: With the primary coming up Tuesday, the negative push is on. Pappas accused in a radio ad of ties to the Ku Klux Klan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CITIZENS FOR TAX REFORM AD)

NARRATOR: Mike Pappas works for a group called the Pillar of Fire, founded by a zealous Ku Klux Klan supporter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAPPAS: There's no basis for suggesting that I have any ties to the KKK, it's absolutely ridiculous. I'm personally offended.

FEYERICK: The ad, Pappas says, is from a group linked to the Zimmer campaign, a charge Zimmer denies.

PAPPAS: There is a link, and this very well could be the subject of further investigation.

FEYERICK: Zimmer gave up the seat he now wants back when he ran for Senate four years ago. He lost against Democrat Robert Torricelli in a campaign considered one of the dirtiest in history.

(on camera): The Democrats are hoping the race will scar both Republicans, hurting any chance for a GOP victory in November.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, one person who has nearly dropped off the New Jersey political radar screen is Bill Bradley. The former Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey senator has been spending time with his family and writing a book, according to his former campaign officials. They tell CNN that Bradley has not been involved in the Florio-Corzine Senate race. They say he also has not spoken to Vice President Al Gore since quitting the White House race after the March Super Tuesday primaries.

However, people close to Bradley have spoken to Gore's campaign about Bradley's convention role. And his former aides say that Bradley is planning an event with Gore before the convention and that he will campaign for him.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: the legacy of Bobby Kennedy. We will talk with Jeff Greenfield and author Michael Knox Beran about how Kennedy's career and his death affected American politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Today on INSIDE POLITICS, we take some time to recall one of the most tumultuous presidential campaigns in U.S. history: Robert Kennedy's 1968 bid for the Democratic nomination. It was on this day 32 years ago that Kennedy won the California primary, an important boost to his prospects. But most Americans will remember that day for its traumatic conclusion: Bobby Kennedy's assassination.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Former attorney general, trusted adviser to his brother, U.S. Senator, and in June of 1968, leading contender for the Democratic nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNEDY: And now it's on to Chicago, and let's win there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Robert Kennedy first announced in the old Senate office building, in the very same room his brother John had used to start his run eight years earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNEDY: I am announcing today my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: He faced a formidable challenge, to take the nomination away from President Lyndon Johnson, backed by the party establishment, despite his unpopular handling of the Vietnam War. But in late March, Johnson stunned the nation by quitting the race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNDON JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Kennedy set about building what he called "a coalition of the disestablished" -- workers, the poor, African-Americans, and he began to make headway. On April 4, he learned that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and killed. Despite the risk of a riot, Kennedy went as scheduled to a rally in inner-city Indianapolis and broke the news. It was one of his finest speeches. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNEDY: My favorite poet was Aeschulus and he once wrote: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

What we need in the United States is not division. What we need in the United States is not hatred. What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Two months later, on June 5, minutes after claiming his impressive victory in the California primary, Kennedy himself was assassinated in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. His brother Ted delivered the eulogy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: ... to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us, and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Even after all these years, the images and words surrounding Kennedy's assassination evoke powerful memories.

Joining us now from New York, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield, who was a speechwriter for Robert Kennedy in 1968, and Michael Knox Beran, author of "The Last Attrition: Bobby Kennedy and the End of American Aristocracy."

Thank you both for being with us.

Jeff Greenfield, this is a big question: Did Bobby Kennedy have a political legacy?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I actually think that the legacy was truncated by his death, and I don't mean that he would have or wouldn't have been elected president, because that's a fool's mission. But I think politically, the most important thing that was going on even before he took on the presidential race was that he was trying to redefine what it meant to be a progressive or a liberal.

He was challenging some of the noblesse oblige of orthodox Democratic liberalism all through that time in the Senate. He would talk about the need to end top-down Washington-centered programs, to put responsibility back at the local level. He was trying to fuse a sense of compassion and social justice with a sense of individual responsibility. I think his death set the Democratic Party back about a quarter of a century until in a different way Bill Clinton began to pick up some of those same themes.

WOODRUFF: Michael Knox Beran, do you read Bobby Kennedy's legacy the same way?

MICHAEL KNOX BERAN, AUTHOR: Yes, very much the same way. I think what Robert Kennedy was doing was getting Americans to rethink the meaning of compassion. The Democratic Party has traditionally been associated with the idea of compassion.

And Kennedy in 1968, and as Jeff says, in his earlier Senate career was getting people to think, do those old solutions, the New Deal solutions, the great society solutions, do they work? He was questioning those. And something that I think resonates very much with the 1990s, not just with Bill Clinton, but with some of the presidential politics of this year.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, how does the message that Bobby Kennedy was trying to craft, trying to think through back in 1968, resurface in this year's election?

GREENFIELD: Well, let me just give you one example. The first day I worked for him, I went to a Senate hearing involving education, and Kennedy looked across the table at the top official of what was then the Office of Education, and said, "You know, when I go into black neighborhoods, the two things those citizens most hate were the public welfare system and the public education system."

And if you think of the kind of support, for instance, for vouchers that at least some folks within the inner cities of America are expressing, a support that is at-odds with the teachers unions and with Al Gore and Bill Clinton, you can begin to see the seeds of that way back then in the dissatisfaction with the public education system. Certainly, I think Bill Clinton in 1992 campaigning for an end to welfare as we know it, and then four years later with the Republican Congress passing welfare reform, you heard the first signs of that, I think, way back in the mid-'60s with a fellow like Robert Kennedy. No conservative, but somebody saying, you know, welfare is not compassionate because it puts the poor on the dole and makes them dependent and not self-sufficient.

WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of what is compassionate, Michael Beran, you have a piece in issue -- current issue of "The National Review" in which you talk about how what Kennedy was saying back then could teach a lesson to George W. Bush.

BERAN: Yes, I think it does. I think George Bush has to get people to rethink the idea of compassion, too. I think Bush needs to do what Kennedy did in 1968, which was say, listen, these solutions we've had in place since the New Deal aren't working. They're really inconsistent with some of the older American ideals about self- reliance, about helping people to help themselves: Emerson, Lincoln, all of that.

I think Bush needs to make those arguments, too.

GREENFIELD: And in fact, Judy, when -- I think you and I were both in New Hampshire, the one time that George W. Bush, I thought, even back then was getting passionate about one issue was when he talked about education and he talked about -- it's a great phrase -- the soft bigotry of lowered expectations, that if you don't demand of folks that they produce, they will just assume they're not worthy of it.

There's something in that theme that I think can be teased out into a broader way, because what people doubted about liberals for a long time, may still, is that they actually are hard-headed or thinking about things in a tough-minded way. What people doubt about conservatives is whether they really give a damn. And that's the compassion that George W. Bush is trying to talk about.

And I think that back 30-something years ago, probably because of the link to his brother, probably because of his own frequent appearances in black neighborhoods, that nobody doubted Robert Kennedy was -- was compassionate, but he was also saying we've got to be tough-minded about what we're doing.

WOODRUFF: But Michael Beran, given everything that's happened over the last 32 years, can you really make comparisons between what Bobby Kennedy was talking about then and what someone like Governor Bush is trying to say should take place now?

BERAN: Well, I mean, in fact some of their proposals strongly resemble each other. I mean, Bush's proposal to use the tax code to bring business to the inner city, to help rebuild neighborhoods, those ideas were pioneered by Kennedy back in the 1960s.

I think the other point that's important to make is that it's sort of a shrewd strategy for a person from a privileged background to disassociate themselves with the sort of faintly condescending noblesse oblige of Franklin Roosevelt or an Adlai Stevenson. That worked in the 1930s, the 1940s, the 1950s. I think Kennedy was sensing that it wasn't working in the 1960s. I think Bush knows it doesn't work today and that he's got to project a sort of more populist, be more Midland, Texas than Kennebunkport.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, finally, from a personal standpoint, when you listen once again for what must be the thousandth time to that speech that Bobby Kennedy gave in Indianapolis, as you think back to that period, what comes across your mind?

GREENFIELD: Well, apart from the obvious, how young we all were -- Robert Kennedy was, I think, 43 years old when he was killed. How -- how in the midst -- how tumultuous a year that was. I used to talk about 1968 as a year, I don't know how we're going to explain that year to our children, and I don't think we've ever yet succeeded.

You know, you run the risk of either romanticizing it or trashing it, neither of which to me is a sensible response. It was just so intense. Remembering Robert Kennedy going into college halls filled with 15,000 kids and challenging them, you know, much like McCain did in these town meetings, saying to them: I'm against student deferments, and your generation talks a lot about justice, what are you prepared to do?

It -- everything was -- everything was at a higher level of intensity and I don't think it was just because it was a long time ago, but because, as you know, look what was on the table back then: not just a war in Vietnam, but riots in the cities, riots on campuses, a whole sense of the country's fabric coming apart. And so it lent an incredible air of intensity to the whole thing.

I don't want to go back to that, God knows, but it certainly was a time written in bold colors.

WOODRUFF: And for all of us who were around back then, in many ways, it seems like just yesterday.

Thank you now. Thank you, both, Jeff Greenfield and Michael Knox Beran, for remembering Bobby Kennedy. Thanks a lot.

Much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH FOUHY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It may be the ultimate love-hate relationship: politicians and soft money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: ... Beth Fouhy on the rising tide of soft money in American politics. Plus, Vice President Al Gore's Southern strategy: a look at the candidate's expectations in North Carolina and some other Southern states.

And later...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Guess what? Missile defense is back on the agenda for 2000. Only now, it's on both parties' agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider on why "Star Wars" has gone from a Republican proposal to a bipartisan goal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Home run king Hank Aaron weighs in on the latest John Rocker controversy. The Atlanta pitcher allegedly intimidated "Sports Illustrated" reporter Jeff Pearlman before a game at Turner Field yesterday. Pearlman wrote the article that resulted in Rocker being punished for comments about New Yorkers, immigrants and gays.

Today, Aaron tells CNN...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANK AARON, ATLANTA BRAVES VICE PRESIDENT: I think that it is much -- it's very much a distraction to the ball club, you know, and that is a cancer. You know, I mean, you just got through playing one of the best teams in all of baseball, the New York Yankees, and all of a sudden you have something like this to come up against.

And you know, and the team has been playing very well in spite of all of the things that we've had thrown in our way, you know. And to have something like this I think is just a distraction and it is a cancer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Rocker was sent to the Braves' farm team in Richmond, Virginia to work on his pitching, and no comment from the Braves as to why Rocker was moved.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is free of murder charges, but he is not free of the courtroom yet. He now must take the stand to tell what really happened on the night of January 31st.

CNN's Brian Cabell has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lewis in his plea agreement admitted that he had initially obstructed justice.

RAY LEWIS, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER: Yes.

CABELL: By telling his friends to keep their mouths shut and by not telling the whole story to a police officer. But prosecutors, by offering the plea, conceded they didn't have enough evidence to convict Lewis of murder or assault.

Key prosecution witnesses had not delivered the testimony that prosecutors anticipated.

PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY D.A.: Well, I can say we certainly have been somewhat disappointed at some of the people that have testified.

CABELL: Lewis's attorney said charges never should have been brought against him in the first place.

ED GARLAND, ATTORNEY FOR RAY LEWIS: He was an innocent man wrongfully accused who has been through a horrible ordeal, and I know he looks forward to going back to Baltimore, to going out on that football field and continuing his play in the National Football League.

CABELL: Lewis, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, led the NFL in tackles last season. His plea agreement, which carries 12 months of probation, will likely allow him to start practice with the team next month. But his co-defendants, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, still face murder charges. And Lewis, as part of his agreement, will testify for the prosecution tomorrow. That doesn't please the other defense attorneys.

BRUCE HARVEY, OAKLEY'S ATTORNEY: I mean, the prosecution just finished proving that he was a liar, and now they're going to put him up on the witness stand and attest for his credibility.

CABELL: Two young men were stabbed to death in the incident outside an Atlanta nightclub on January 31st of this year. Prosecutors never contended that Lewis stabbed either of the victims, but did allege that he was involved in a fight that led up to the stabbings. Lewis's attorneys claimed from the outset that he tried to stop the fight.

Brian Cabell, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: INSIDE POLITICS returns in just a moment with a look at that hot-button issue: soft money. It is rolling in to both political parties like never before.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A 19th century senator once said. "There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can't remember what the second one is." The 21st century twist on that sentiment might be the importance of soft money, the unregulated cash both parties are raking in in record numbers.

Our Beth Fouhy takes a look at the latest figures in today's "Hard Count" segment.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's win in November.

FOUHY (voice-over): It may be the ultimate love-hate relationship: Politicians...

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your service to the Republican Party.

FOUHY: ... and soft money. Because despite all the handshakes, the legislation and the proclamations...

ED RENDELL, DNC GENERAL CHAIRMAN: ... that when we win this election this November, we are committed to getting rid of soft money. FOUHY: ... the political parties can't get enough of it. And they're raking it in like never before. According to newly-released figures by the Federal Election Commission, the Republican Party and its campaign committees raised $86.4 million in soft money between January 1st, 1999, and March 31st, 2000. That's a staggering 93 percent increase over the same period in the 1995-'96 election cycle.

Democrats did almost as well, raising $77 million for its party committees, about 94 percent above the 1995-'96 figures. It was the Democrats' aggressive fund-raising tactics in 1996 that called attention to the easily exploitable soft money loophole. Congressional hearings and a Justice Department investigation depicted a fund-raising machine nearly out of control, with the party accepting illegal overseas donations and President Clinton personally vetting so-called "issue ads" that clearly advocated his re-election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC AD)

ANNOUNCER: Only President Clinton's plan meets our challenges, protects our values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOUHY: The 1996 controversy also painted an unflattering portrait of Vice President Gore. In addition to his infamous visit to an illegal Buddhist temple fund raiser, Gore narrowly escaped an independent counsel investigation after he admitted making some 71 soft money solicitations from his White House office.

GORE: There is no controlling legal authority that says there was any violation of any law.

FOUHY: Democrats argue that Republicans have long been the main beneficiaries of soft money, pointing to Republicans' efforts to kill the McCain-Feingold bill that would have banned it. So while both parties argue, the money keeps rolling in.

The new FEC figures don't even reflect the two parties' most recent huge fund raisers, a $21 million Republican gala in April and a blue-jeans-and-barbecue bash for the Democratic National Committee last month that raised $26 million.

(on camera): The two parties are now baiting one another over who will be the first to go on the air with those issue ads paid for by soft money. Given the new FEC figures, they'll both have a lot of it to work with.

Beth Fouhy, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Vice President Gore made a stop today in Tarboro, North Carolina, a town devastated by flooding last year. Later, he made his way to Raleigh for a speech address on improving government services.

As Jonathan Karl reports, today's campaign swing is part of Gore's Southern strategy for election 2000.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vice president addressed graduating seniors who started the school year battling Hurricane Floyd, a disaster that left one-third of them temporarily homeless.

GORE: I came here today to say to you, you are American heroes. The whole world witnessed your bravery, your dignity, your generosity, your grace under pressure, even when some of you had so little material possessions left.

FOUHY: Tarboro was ground zero for Hurricane Floyd.

GORE: The flood waters, I know, rose to more than 50 feet. And in the early morning of September 18th, some of you had to be carried by helicopter to this very field. When the water slowly receded, homes were in the middle of the street, swept from their foundations.

FOUHY: Gore was joined by Senator John Edwards, who's victory over an incumbent Republican in 1998 is seen as Gore aides as evidence of Democratic strength in the state Jesse Helms calls home.

(on camera): No Democratic presidential nominee has won North Carolina since Jimmy Carter first ran in 1976. But the latest statewide poll has Gore down by only five points, and the Gore campaign insists the state is up for grabs.

(voice-over): Gore has made two previous trips to North Carolina this year, and although Gore aides readily concede George W. Bush's strength in the South, they say Gore will target several states in the region.

In addition to North Carolina, Gore will target Georgia, Florida, Arkansas and, of course, his home state of Tennessee. And although Democrats have been hemorrhaging in the South since the 1960s, party strategists believe they have stemmed their losses. In 1998, Democrats won governors' races in Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.

In Tennessee, the campaign is moving into new, more spacious headquarters in Nashville. The campaign downsizing that saved Gore dollars during the primaries is over. The paid campaign staff in Nashville now numbers about 100. By mid-August, there are to be more than 300 paid staffers, as Gore gears up for the general election.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Tarboro, North Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, a flap over some rental property owned by Vice President Gore in his hometown of Carthage, Tennessee, apparently has been smoothed over. A woman named Tracy Mayberry had complained about plumbing problems and other needed repairs to Gore's property manager. At one point, she said she thought her family was going to be evicted, and she contacted a Nashville television station, calling Gore a slum lord. Mayberry says that Gore called her over the weekend and said he had not known about the problems. She said he apologized and promised to house her family temporarily at his expense while the repairs are made.

Up next, the Supreme Court wipes out a guilty plea by Webster Hubbell. We'll talk with CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

The United States Supreme Court handed a significant victory today to key Whitewater figure Webster Hubbell. The high court wiped out Hubbell's guilty plea to a misdemeanor tax charge.

CNN's Bob Franken reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 8-1 margin was a strong rejection of Ken Starr's tactics. The court ruled that Starr used, in effect, unconstitutional methods to build a tax evasion charge against Webster Hubbell. Hubbell had agreed to plead guilty a year ago, as long as he could appeal to the Supreme Court. It was part of a deal to avoid another prison sentence.

WEBSTER HUBBELL: The Office of Independent Counsel has finally agreed to leave me, my family and my friends alone.

FRANKEN: The justices agreed with Hubbell that his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination had been violated. Starr had forced him to turn over personal financial records. Those documents included new information which led to the accusation Hubbell had failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income. The independent counsel was investigating whether that income came from supporters of the president as hush money so Hubble would not turn over Whitewater evidence about his longtime friends Bill and Hillary Clinton.

HUBBELL: There wasn't any improper with it, and nobody's promised me a damned thing.

FRANKEN: Hubbell, who had been No. 3 at the Clinton administration Justice Department, spent 16 months in prison for embezzlement and cheating clients, crimes that occurred while he was at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock. One of his partners at the firm was Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Throughout the Whitewater investigation, Hubbell insisted Starr was trying to squeeze information out of him he didn't have.

HUBBELL: The Office of Independent Counsel can indict my dog, they can indict my cat, but I'm not going to lie about the president.

FRANKEN (on camera): Ken Starr had no comment on the ruling. The present independent counsel, Robert Ray, said he was happy the Supreme Court had clarified a difficult area of law.

Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And joining us now from CNN's "Burden of Proof." CNN's legal analyst Roger Cossack.

Roger, is the Supreme Court saying that this is a prosecution that Ken Starr never should have pursued?

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what they're saying is that this is a violation of Webster Hubbell's Fifth Amendment rights, which basically say you cannot be forced to be a witness against yourself. And they're saying that what Ken Starr did was violate the Fifth Amendment -- gave hem a subpoena for documents, he resisted the subpoena, gave him immunity, said, you will not be prosecuted, turned over the documents. The Supreme Court said they then used those documents to take the first step in building a case toward Webster Hubbell -- can't do that, Constitution doesn't permit that -- and stopped it.

WOODRUFF: Where does this leave the Whitewater -- the whole Whitewater series of investigations?

COSSACK: It doesn't really change anything other than this conviction, this misdemeanor conviction, against Webster Hubbell. I suppose you could -- you could interpret it as saying this is an 8-1 rebuke of perhaps some heavy-handed prosecutorial tactics by Ken Starr, but oftentimes we see -- or from time to time we see prosecutors get slapped like this. In mind, I think the Oliver North case was very similar to this, where Oliver North was forced to testify before the Senate and then got immunity, and then they used some of that testimony to build a case against him. We've just seen it with Linda Tripp, where the Maryland judge has said, no, no, no, you use some of the stuff that she did -- some of the evidence that she did get immunity for and built a case against her -- Fifth Amendment.

WOODRUFF: A little bit of vindication, then, for Webb Hubbell?

COSSACK: Well, certainly. I mean, Webster Hubbell pled guilty to this case. It was a misdemeanor at the time. He reserved his right to appeal. He felt all along that this was an unconstitutional prosecution of him, and he was right, 8-1.

WOODRUFF: But the other charges against him clearly still stand?

COSSACK: His other conviction stands, and other matters that are against him still stand. But, you know, perhaps this is a little tiny bit of vindication. And I'm sure to Webster Hubbell this feels awfully good.

WOODRUFF: All right, Roger Cossack, thanks very much.

In another U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the high court today threw out the death sentence for a Hispanic man in Texas. Justices ordered a new sentencing hearing for Victor Saldano because a prosecution psychologist cited Saldano's race as one factor in weighing his future danger to society. Saldano was convicted of murdering a man in Dallas in 1996. After his lawyers appealed to the high court, the Texas attorney general admitted an error was made and joined in asking for the new sentencing hearing.

A spokesman for Governor George W. Bush issued a statement saying, quote, "The action taken by the court and instigated by the Texas attorney general shows that Texas does have extensive safeguards in our criminal justice system." Continuing, he said -- it wrote, "Courts are properly taking a second look at the sentencing in this case," end quote.

As a result of today's ruling, Texas authorities say they are reviewing eight other death penalty cases involving minority defendants where the same government expert testified.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, our Bill Schneider on a Ronald Reagan pet idea now being trumpeted by both the Republicans and Democrats.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: President Clinton spent the weekend in Moscow, trying to sell the Russians on his missile defense plan, but his host, Russian President Vladimir Putin -- expressing serious misgivings -- did not buy it.

Our Bill Schneider joins us now with his take on why missile defense has become a hot issue in this presidential election year -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: It certainly has. When President Ronald Reagan first proposed that the U.S. build a missile defense system back in 1983, it sounded fantastic: in both senses of that word -- a great idea and a dream. That's why critics dubbed it "Star Wars."

But guess what? Missile defense is back on the agenda for 2000, only now it's on both parties' agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: During 50 years of the Cold War, the basic concept of national defense was a balance of terror: You destroy us, we destroy you. Not a very appealing concept, but it worked.

In 1983, President Reagan came up with a more attractive alternative.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1983)

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack? That we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: The public liked the concept. It terrified the Soviets and helped end the Cold War. But it never actually got built. It was too expensive and unworkable.

Now the Cold War is over. Why are Clinton, Gore and Bush talking about the need for missile defense? Do Americans believe anyone is likely to stage a nuclear attack on the U.S.?

No, but Americans still think the U.S. should build a missile defense system.

Where's the threat coming from?

BUSH: The emerging security threats to the united states, its friends and allies, and even to Russia now comes from rogue states, terrorist groups and other adversaries seeking weapons of mass destruction...

SCHNEIDER: Against those kinds of threats, deterrence doesn't work.

GORE: Some of these characters, you know, they don't necessarily think in the same way that you would think that a leader of Russia would think. I mean, I'm trying to put it delicately here to avoid a headline on that. But if they got a half a dozen missiles -- and they're trying to get it -- then it might be that deterrence wouldn't work against some of them.

SCHNEIDER: The public understands that threat. Americans overwhelmingly believe that if Iraq or Iran had nuclear weapons, it would pose a serious threat to the U.S., much more than China or Russia. So, worried about being labeled weak on defense in an election year, the Clinton administration has proposed building a limited missile defense system: spend limited amounts of money, work with the Russians, and wait and see if technology becomes available for a more comprehensive system.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We do not want to fuel an arms race. That is not the purpose here.

SCHNEIDER: The Bush campaign saw what was happening. Clinton was up to his old tricks, trying to co-opt a Republican issue. So Bush called their bluff and proposed a much bigger plan.

BUSH: Our missile defense must be designed to protect all 50 states and our friends and allies and deployed forces overseas.

SCHNEIDER: Gore complains that Bush's plan is unaffordable, unrealistic and dangerous.

GORE: An approach that combined serious unilateral reductions with an attempt to build a massive defensive system would create instability, and thus undermine our security.

SCHNEIDER: Bush's response? Look at who's standing here with me: Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, George Shultz, Brent Scowcroft. How's that for credibility?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Both campaigns insist they have the same objective: a limited plan that would protect the U.S. and its allies, possibly including Russia, against a nuclear threat from rogue nations. But Bush's plan looks big and unrealistic. Gore's looks small and hesitant.

You know what? This may be a debate more about political defense than missile defense -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: You think?

SCHNEIDER: I think.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thanks.

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

This programming note: Senator Bob Smith and Congressman Barney Frank will be discussing the missile defense issue tonight on CROSSFIRE. That's at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Judy Woodruff. "WORLDVIEW" is next.

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