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Inside Politics

Campaigner-in-Chief Takes Spirited Shots at Republicans; Congress Begins Fourth of July Recess; Will Ross Perot Up-End Pat Buchanan?

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

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator McCain made my hair stand up on the back of my neck. And now they're all acting like we're being mean and negative if we point out what their positions are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: On behalf of his two favorite candidates, the campaigner-in-chief takes some spirited shots at Republicans.

Will Ross Perot add his name to the Reform Party presidential ballot and a campaign to up-end Pat Buchanan?

Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PHIL GRAMM (R), TEXAS: Mr. President, it's Friday. My wife is waiting at the corner of 1st and C.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: If we have to read this bill, I would like to urge the senator to stay here, and I will go see Mrs. Gramm. It's the corner of 1st and C street?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Eager to begin their Fourth of July recess, senators overcome a battle over pork spending.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is on assignment.

Well, if you needed any evidence that President Clinton still relishes the rough-and-tumble of a campaign, even if he is not a candidate, you only had to listen to his remarks to union members in Philadelphia today. Mr. Clinton got feisty in his defense of Al Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and in his attacks on their rivals. Here is our senior White House correspondent John King -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, Philadelphia plays host to the Republican National Convention in little more than a month. But it was a Democratic audience today on hand to greet the president. Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, that a white collar labor union long supportive of this president.

He delighted them with a rather red meat political speech. Recalling his news conference earlier this week, the president was asked if he thought Texas Governor George W. Bush had the intellectual heft to be president. He didn't answer then, but he certainly implied today that he doesn't think so, saying on issues like the human genome, like the Internet, like global warming, that the vice president Al Gore has significant experience indeed, expertise, the president said.

Three times when he mentioned those issues he asked the question: Don't you want someone in the Oval Office who you know understands these issues and is smart enough to deal with them? Certainly some implicit criticism of Governor Bush there.

The president also saying that he believes Governor Bush is crying foul now, screaming that the vice president is running a negative campaign, the president looking back at Republican primaries and saying that what Governor Bush did to Senator McCain in the president's word, quote, "made the hair stand up on the back of my neck."

Now the Bush campaign quick to respond, issuing a statement, saying that the vice president obviously needs the president's help. The Bush campaign saying Mr. Clinton should go back to being the president, not the Gore campaign manager.

Another race also on the president's mind, the one involving his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has been in a back and forth with Republican nominee Congressman Rick Lazio in recent days. The president in his remarks to the AFSCME crowd today, not only took after Congressman Lazio but also made clear his views on the Republican proposal that's a so-called patients' bill of rights. The president taking a shot both at congressman and the GOP plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You all listen to this. You are going to need a shovel to deal with all this between now and November. Now listen to this. What did he say? He said, how dare her say such a mean thing? I am for a patients' bill of rights. A patients' bill of rights? This tie here has got a little red on it. That don't mean I'm wearing a red tie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The president later went on to a Democratic Senate campaign committee fund raiser in New Jersey, noted he won't be on the ballot this November but said he very much looks forward to taking part both as an observer and as a help to the Democratic Party, not only raising money, but as you can see from his remarks today, the president looking forward to a role in which he will be asked to get out the vote and energize the Democratic base -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And, John, we also understand that there's been a development in the effort to remove the president from the legal Bar?

KING: That's right, Judy. Today is the deadline for the disciplinary committee of the Arkansas State Supreme Court to file its brief in the county courts in Little Rock, Arkansas. That brief, essentially the prosecution case against Mr. Clinton. The disciplinary committee asking the court to strip the president of his law license. That brief filed.

The president's lawyers now have a month to reply. Then a judge will make a decision as to whether the president of the United States will lose his law license. At issue, the disciplinary committee's recommendation that he be stripped of that license because they believe he gave misleading, if not outright inaccurate testimony under oath in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit.

WOODRUFF: CNN's John King at the White House, thanks.

And now to another political battle that may be at hand within the Reform Party. Ross Perot has until midnight to decide whether to allow his name to be placed on the Reform Party's presidential ballot again.

CNN's Tony Clark joins us now with more on Perot's decision and what it may mean for the candidacy of Pat Buchanan -- Tony.

TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, I'm told that there should be a decision some time this afternoon, maybe as soon as within the next hour on whether Perot will allow his name to be placed in nomination as a possible candidate for president for the Reform Party. For months now, the battle lines between Perot loyalists and those for Pat Buchanan have been growing. Many people believe the loyalists, the long-time activists in the Reform Party believe that Pat Buchanan, with his presidential campaign, is taking the emphasis away, taking the issues away, changing the Reform Party from the way it was formed.

On the other hand, Pat Buchanan argues that he is bringing new life, new energy to the campaign, to the Party itself, keeping the Reform Party alive. In February, a draft Perot movement began as loyalists who were upset with Buchanan wanted to return to their founder for help and guidance. But ever since February, Perot has remained silent on being a possible candidate. He hasn't even talked about the presidential politics. He hasn't talked until today, we expect. We expect supporters to find out today whether or not they will allow his name to be placed in nomination.

But even if that happens, Perot will not be a viable candidate for president. Unlike the Democrats and the Republicans whose nominee are automatically on the ballot in all 50 states, the Reform Party's presidential nominee is only guaranteed a spot on the ballot in less than half the states. So the party's candidates have to circulate petitions to get on the ballot in the rest of the states. Perot hasn't done that. So in many states, the time has already run out.

So if Perot decides to allow his name to be placed in nomination, it will simply be to stop Pat Buchanan, to change the direction the Reform Party has been moving in over the past few months and to get his message out to the public -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Tony, what do we know at this point about how Perot is making this decision? With whom is he talking? How he's going to go about making up his mind here?

CLARK: Well, he's been talking, we are told, to his chief political adviser, Russ Verney is his main contact. But there have also been conversations with people who have been both circulating the draft Perot petitions and also others who have been circulating petitions to get enough signatures so that his name could be put on the Reform Party ballot.

All of those factors. You know, he'll have -- if he were to become the nominee -- he would still have the $12 million in federal funding. So he would be able to get a message out, but he could not statistically win enough states to win the nomination, the presidency, rather, if he got the nomination.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Tony Clark joining us from Los Angeles. And, of course, Tony if word does come down from Pat -- I mean from Ross Perot we will come back to you right away. So thanks very much. And we may see you within this hour.

Well, let's talk some more about all of this with long-time Perot supporter Ira Goodman, former chair of the New Jersey Reform Party. And with Pat Buchanan's campaign co-chair, Bay Buchanan.

Thank you both for being with us.

Sure WOODRUFF.

BAY BUCHANAN, BUCHANAN CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIRWOMAN: Thank you, Judy.

IRA GOODMAN, PEROT SUPPORTER: My pleasure.

WOODRUFF: Ira Goodman to you first. Have you spoken with Ross Perot about this?

GOODMAN: Not since 1995 -- not since 1995. I've not...

WOODRUFF: What do you think he'll do?

GOODMAN: I don't really know. I think this is a very tough decision for him. I mean, he helped found this party. It means a great deal to him. On the other hand, he has major business obligations and his stock has been dropping in his company. And he's a person who is very loyal to those people who have invested in his company. I don't really know what the decision's going to be.

WOODRUFF: Bay Buchanan, has your brother, has Pat Buchanan spoken with Mr. Perot?

BUCHANAN: I think more recently than Ira, to be quite honest but I'm not sure. It has been a number of years...

GOODMAN: Yes.

BUCHANAN: ... since he did speak with him. But Ira said it's a tough decision for Ross Perot. I disagree entirely. Ross Perot has been an honorable person throughout his life. I do not find that he would be a person that would perpetuate a fraud upon the American people. Take $12.6 million, Judy, that's been earmarked for a vigorous presidential campaign and unwilling to run one. I don't think he's going to do -- pull off that kind of a sham just because a few of his loyal supporters -- and I will say Ira is a very loyal supporter out there, worked very hard for him. But I don't think he's going to do it for that.

WOODRUFF: But why would it be a fraud and a sham?

BUCHANAN: Because this is $12.6 million that has been put aside by the American people, it's taxpayer's money, the purpose of which is for the Reform Party nominee to get out there and run a campaign in the general election against the two principal parties in this country, try to establish the creation of a third party in this country. And Ross Perot's aide, his loyal aide, Russ Verney, has said he will not be a serious candidate, he will not run a campaign, he will not be out there, will just use this money for some educational purposes.

That's not what it's about, that's not why it's been put out there, and he should not take it unless he's interested in being a serious candidate for the presidency.

WOODRUFF: Ira Goodman, if he were to run, would it be what Bay Buchanan is describing?

GOODMAN: That's my understanding. That's what I've heard Russ Verney talk about. On the -- but, you know, there's another issue here, and that is the Reform Party was founded on certain principles. And those principles said that we shouldn't be involved in social issues. And since Pat has in the last few months indicated greater interest in the social issues and an indication that he wants to move the party to become, in his image, more of a social organization, a socially oriented issue organization.

That's not what the Reform Party was founded on, and that's not what we want it to become.

BUCHANAN: You know, Ira, it's quite clear that when Pat Buchanan was asked to join this party by Russ Verney, it was clear. I personally spoke to him and told him Pat's a social conservative, will remain that way. We've always been extremely consistent. Judy, you know. Pat's been an outspoken social conservative his entire life. Nothing has changed.

The key here, though, is that Pat has personal views that he wishes to continue to express, just as Ross Perot and Pat Choate expressed publicly that they were pro-choice. The party did not mind that, and I don't believe the party in its full or the members of the party today mind that Pat is speaking personally that he is pro-life. There are a few people out there that are upset about that, but he's not going to change in his continuing to be a real champion on those issues, as well as those that Ira and I are absolutely in agreement on.

WOODRUFF: Ira Goodman...

GOODMAN: Bay...

WOODRUFF: Go ahead.

GOODMAN: Bay, you know quite well that I was there welcoming your brother into the party, as I welcomed you, OK?

BUCHANAN: Sure, absolutely.

GOODMAN: We always held that it was up to a candidate to have their personal agenda. We had no issues with that. The difference is that now your brother has spoken about putting a preamble onto our platform, which is going to be a social agenda. He's talked about making sure that individuals in the party take up a philosophy that follows his...

BUCHANAN: No.

GOODMAN: ... And that's where we're having a problem.

BUCHANAN: You know, the preamble, I think, is probably the wrong word. He has said he's going to add -- he's going to make his personal statement clear on the issues, social issues, that he's going to ask the convention in August, the Reform Party convention, to affirm in full the platform as is. He's going to recommend to the delegates who are supporting him not to make any changes whatsoever to the Reform Party platform. He is in complete agreement with it. This is an agreement he made early with Russ Verney and with the many Reform Party people, including yourself, Ira, that asked us to come into this party.

But he wants to make certain that people know that he has continued to hold his personal beliefs on the social side of things. A personal statement from the candidate will be quite clear. And that is all this is about.

And do you know, Ira, our whole political lives, we've had people who have not been strong on life, they've been strong on immigration. And libertarians have not agreed with us on this issue. We are a coalition in our own right...

WOODRUFF: We're going to...

BUCHANAN: ... and we're bringing all kinds into this party.

WOODRUFF: All right, I'm sorry. We're going to have to leave it there. Bay Buchanan, Ira Goodman, thank you, both. And I just want to reiterate that if we do get word within the hour of Ross Perot's decision, we will bring that to you live and just as quickly as it takes place.

To the New York Senate race, Mrs. Clinton has raised more money during the past three months than during any other quarter since she began her campaign. But her GOP opponent Rick Lazio is almost keeping pace in the money race. On this final day of the second quarter, the Clinton campaign estimates that it has raised $5.1 million since April 1st. The Lazio campaign estimates that it took in at least four and a half million during that period.

We are joined now by Lazio campaign manager Bill Dal Col.

Thank you for being with us, Bill Dal Col.

BILL DAL COL, LAZIO CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Thanks for have be me on, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Let me first ask you about the story going around today that the congressman is thinking of giving up his seat in the House of Representatives as he makes this race for the Senate?

DAL COL: Totally untrue. Probably just a factor of a spin machine down there. He clearly is going to continue to serve the constituents of his district and run for the Senate and win in November and continue to serve of the people of New York.

WOODRUFF: Is this something that was discussed in the campaign, though?

DAL COL: Not at all, not even brought up. I'd say it's probably one of the little spin factors put out by the other side to help kind of cloud up the issues.

WOODRUFF: The reason we're asking is that a point was made, as you know, by some of the critics of the congressman when he recently missed a vote on home heating oil. That vote in the House ended up failing by, what, just two votes? And I guess the question people are asking is, how can he both serve his constituency and serve in the House at the same time he's running for this very competitive Senate race?

DAL COL: Well, Judy, I think we can sum it up best this way. Take a look at that missed vote. The five Democrats that missed were at a fund raiser with Hillary Clinton. So when the Clinton campaign attacked, once again they forgot to put the truth out there. Many times in the Clinton campaign, as we all know, the first victim is the truth. Rick's vote wouldn't have made a difference, but the five Democrats could have.

But more importantly, Rick understands that the most important vote that the people in New York face is the one November 7th. They put Rick Lazio in there for Senate, they'll have somebody that has a proven track record, delivered for his constituents, putting New York first. WOODRUFF: What about the money question here? We were just reporting the results for the last quarter, Mrs. Clinton a little bit ahead over $5 million. The congressman has raised, what, $4 million and something? Is it difficult for him to keep up with Mrs. Clinton? What's your expectation in terms of raising money?

DAL COL: Well, Judy, we believe that we'll be outspent, but I think the remarkable thing for Rick Lazio is he's been in the race four weeks and he raised $4.5 million. The first lady, with the power of the White House and the juggernaut of the Clinton spin machine, in the 12-week period raised 5.1. If you look back at the fund raising, I daresay her fund raising is flat and hasn't gone up, where Congressman Lazio clearly is on a surge, $4.5 million in four weeks, with the kind of candidacy he brings to the table, I think is encouraging to show the support he has. But we're very realistic and understand what we are up against.

WOODRUFF: The incumbent that Congressman Lazio defeated back in 1992, Tom Downey, has recently sent a letter to Congressman Lazio, saying, you're out there criticizing Mrs. Clinton for running a negative campaign, but you ran one of the toughest campaigns of the year when you defeated me, raising the question as to whether there's some contradiction here, maybe some hypocrisy. How do you, how does the congressman respond to that?

DAL COL: Well, one, clearly Tom's been away for a while. It's eight years, so his memory might be a little behind and it may be a little bit of sour grapes for being a loser. But we've got to remember that he's now one of the top Democratic lobbyists in town, so he'll do anything to curry favor with the White House, as well as being one of Al Gore's best friends. So I think he's just trying to make sure that his bed's feathered for his lobbying clients over there on Gucci gulch.

WOODRUFF: So you just completely dismiss the point about what -- that he's making about negative campaigning?

DAL COL: Oh, absolutely. It's clear that the Clinton campaign has run the negative campaign. Congressman Lazio has made it clear. He's going to run a positive campaign on the issues that are important to the voters in New York, such as health care, education, taxes and the environment. And we've done that. But when we are attacked, we're going to respond. And the Clinton campaign has run a mud- slinging campaign from day one that Rick's been in the race.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Dal Col, spoken like a loyal Rick Lazio campaign manager, thank you very much for being with us.

DAL COL: Thanks for having me on, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, another presidential hopeful. A look at George W. Bush and minority voters with Bill Kristol and E.J. Dionne.

Plus, their thoughts on a controversial issue and its return to the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: George W. Bush has overtaken Al Gore in New Hampshire. The latest American Research Quarterly poll shows Bush now leading among registered voters with 49 percent to Gore's 39 percent.

Bush is also leading in Florida, as expected. The Mason-Dixon poll gives Bush an eight-point lead there. The Republican hopeful is also narrowing the gap in New Jersey. Gore holds a five-point lead in the Quinnipiac University poll, but that is down from Gore's 13-point lead in March.

And in the state of Connecticut, Gore holds a slight edge over Bush, maintaining his five-point lead for the second month in a row.

Well, joining us now, this Friday, E.J. Dionne of "The Washington Post" and Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard."

Well, let's start out thinking about these poll number. E.J., what does this tell us about this race, if anything?

E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": I think it tells us that the last week has not been a great week for Al Gore. We've said that for a number of weeks now, and I think he got hit particularly hard with the new -- with the report that there was somebody asking for an independent counsel.

I think at the end of the week he ended up weathering that, because a lot of the same people who had said there should be an independent counsel had now turned around and said, look, this shouldn't come up now, this should be decided by the voters.

I also think this week you had some issues get into the campaign, such as the debate in the House on a prescription drug benefit, which is a good Democratic issue.

But I think there is a conventional wisdom in Washington. That conventional wisdom is that Al Gore has had on balance not such a good three months. I think it's broadly right.

And as soon as you say that about the Washington conventional wisdom, you want to start finding ways of saying here's why George Bush is going to lose to Al Gore.

BILL KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, George Bush is determined, though, to keep doing what he's been doing, which is run to the center, reach out to traditional Democratic constituencies. You may not get their votes, but you'll get the votes of independent swing voters, who like the idea of a Republican who's not simply a dogmatic, orthodox, traditional Republican.

Next week, George W. Bush is going to California to speak to La Raza, one of the League of Hispanics groups. The week afterwards, Monday, July 10th, Governor Bush is going to speak to the NAACP in Baltimore. Now, remember, four years ago Bob Dole refused to speak to the NAACP, and there was a bit of a flap about that. It was taken as symbolic of Republicans writing off the African-American vote. Governor Bush is going to go speak to the NAACP.

And so he's going, right up into the convention, I think, continue to move along this path that has served him well so far.

WOODRUFF: And when he does these kinds of things, E.J., how much does it hurt Al Gore?

DIONNE: Well, I think Bill, first of all, is right: Broadly speaking, especially with African-Americans, this is not a big play for a big African-American vote. It's about looking moderate. And I think one of the smart things Bush has done is he's...

WOODRUFF: Wait a minute. Are you saying he's not going after the African-American vote?

DIONNE: Not -- I'm saying he's not going for a big African- American vote. He's using this to go after moderate voters who like the idea of a moderate Republican who is inclusive.

And I think what Bush has done a good job of is he has taken a series of very conservative positions -- "The National Review" wrote an editorial a couple of weeks back, the conservative magazine, saying don't worry about these little initiatives Bush has proposed that look liberal. They're not important. What's really important is his big tax cut, privatizing Social Security -- the missile defense.

He's very conservative, but he's putting a moderate face on this with events such as the ones Bill described.

WOODRUFF: Can he have it both ways, Bill?

KRISTOL: Well, so far he is, but campaigns do tend to make it more and more difficult. And I think that is obviously what Al Gore's people hope and expect, that with, especially with the Democratic convention, where Gore gets a chance to come out from Clinton's shadow and speak to the American people, that he finally puts Bush on the spot on a bunch of issue: abortion, which came into the headlines this past week, for example, but lots of other issues as well. And he doesn't let Bush get away with in a sense having reasonably conservative policies but also seeming moderate and inclusive.

WOODRUFF: And E.J., what about this Supreme Court ruling on abortion, in effect saying that the Nebraska law banning a certain kind of late-term abortion, the opponents call it "partial birth," saying that this is unconstitutional. Is this something that's going to have a -- a lasting effect in the campaign?

DIONNE: I think the Supreme Court is going to be a big issue in this campaign, and I actually think that more now than I did last week, because there were a whole series of decisions which reminded us of how important the court is: not only on the abortion case, but also on aid to private and parochial schools, on gay rights with the gentleman in the Boy Scouts. And I think that on balance it's better for Gore to have this big issue than a little issue, because right-to- lifers know what the court is about. They've voted on court appointments for many elections in a row, and they're going to vote for George Bush.

I think if the issue gets a higher profile it will start bringing in some of those moderate voters whom up to now Bush has done a very good job of courting. And I think it's one of those issues Gore wants to use.

WOODRUFF: But again, abortion is not something -- or is it, Bill, something you can have it both ways on, be both pro-life and say, but I'm moderate?

KRISTOL: Well, you can be moderately and incrementally pro-life, and you can show that you understand that most Americans don't currently quite agree with the full pro-life agenda, et cetera, et cetera. But I do agree that it's a test for Governor Bush, how he handles the abortion issue and especially the courts. And he's done well so far by avoiding those kinds of difficult issues.

I believe this will be the first campaign in 30 years that will have paid advertising in which the issue of court appointments comes up. Gore is going to put a paid ad saying George W. Bush is going to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. And how Governor Bush responds to that, whether he can articulate the pro-life position in a credible and intelligent way and look confident in doing so, it's a big test for him, I think.

DIONNE: I think that's absolutely right. And I think Governor Bush right now has done a very clever thing. He said, I will not have an abortion litmus test, but he's also said that Antonin Scalia is his favorite justice. Antonin Scalia, of course, is the most articulate, strongest foe of abortion on the court.

Now, he's sort of made that work so far, and I think it's a question of whether you can continue to make that work through the election.

WOODRUFF: Just quickly, 30 seconds: Ross Perot, whether he gets in or not, should Pat Buchanan be worried here, Bill?

KRISTOL: Well, if he gets in, he should be worried, because there will be this Internet primary, and I think Perot could beat Buchanan for the Reform Party nomination.

DIONNE: I mean, the Reform Party is Perot. He created it, he bought it, he paid for it, and a lot of those people came to the party because of Ross Perot.

Now, Buchanan's brought new people into the party, so I don't necessarily think it would a walkover for Perot. But it's still his party, and I think if he decided to contest Buchanan he could probably win it. But no one really understands that Reform Party process. You always have to add that caveat, because it's a very peculiar process.

WOODRUFF: Maybe Pat Buchanan thinks he does.

DIONNE: He's probably the one guy in the country who does and maybe Ross Perot.

WOODRUFF: We're told that Mr. Perot is thinking about his decision as we speak, so.

Thank you, both. Have a great weekend.

DIONNE: Happy July 4th.

WOODRUFF: Happy July 4th. E.J. Dionne, Bill Kristol, thank you, both.

KRISTOL: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Nice to have you.

And there is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come: Mexico's effort to reform the election process -- a look at politics outside the Beltway and south of the border.

Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's win this race for all of Florida!

PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The heat is on and it's not the Florida sunshine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Pat Neal on the fight to win voter support in the sunshine state.

And later...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do Americans do on the 4th? Well...

(MUSIC)

What do politicians do on the 4th? It's not so different.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Our Bruce Morton on the Independence Day plans of Americans and their candidates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

A few hotspots are all that remain of a massive fire that has consumed nearly 190,000 acres on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State. Concern was centered on a radioactive storage facility. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson says the threat of contamination is not over, but so far, so good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL RICHARDSON, ENERGY SECRETARY: We are satisfied that there are, at this time, are no radiological releases, but again, in the next few days, I think as the representative from the state agency mentioned, with the EPA, with the state, with our own people, we're going to make sure that absolutely nothing like that happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: There are massive amounts of nuclear waste stored at that Hanford site.

It appears there will be a sequel to the Confederate Flag battle in South Carolina. As agreed in a compromise, workers are preparing to move the flag from the capitol dome to a nearby Confederate monument. However, the NAACP says it will continue to boycott the state until there's not a confederate flag anywhere on the capitol grounds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DWIGHT JAMES, NAACP: We expect them to take this issue up again and move it. Whether or not it's next year, it's entirely up to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The man who police say held his son and a service worker hostage at Disney World yesterday is charged with false imprisonment and aggravated assault. Bismark Rodriguez has been denied bail. Rodriguez told reporters he just wanted to talk to his estranged wife and to his other three children. No one was harmed.

Fun on the beach is now an achievable goal in the Miami area. Most of the beaches in the area are open again, just in time for the 4th of July holiday weekend. A 20-mile stretch of beach was closed after an accident spilled millions of gallons of sewage.

Expect some company if you're traveling for the 4th of July holiday weekend. AAA predicts more than 37.5 million people will go somewhere between today and Tuesday. And with gas prices at $2 a gallon in some places, expect some grumbling at gas pumps. More than 32 million of those holiday travelers are going by car. A survey by AAA shows only 1 percent of those asked say they're staying home because of gas prices.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, why Sunday's presidential election in Mexico Matters to many people in this country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Here in Washington today, the Senate approved a spending bill with international implications. The measure now heads to the president, as lawmakers head home for the 4th of July holiday.

CNN's Chris Black reports on the vote and wrangling before it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congress finally approved emergency spending for peacekeeping in Kosovo in the Columbia drug war, but not before overcoming a last-minute obstacle.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The rest of this bill, which is full, which is incredibly full of unnecessary, unwanted, unauthorized, unmitigated pork be debated.

SEN. PHIL GRAMM (R), TEXAS: The conference report before us, I'm unhappy to say, makes a mockery out of the budget. In fact, if we adopt this conference report, I think that there is no need we should ever adopt another budget.

BLACK: Republican leaders signed off on a $105 million goodie grab bag for the House and another for the Senate, to fund members projects.

MCCAIN: Even though we have $10 million for the Baring Sea crab disasters, $10 million for a northeast fishery, 7 for a Hawaii fishery and 5 for an Alaska sea life center, we've covered a good part of those senior members of the appropriations committee that have a coastline. But one Senate's pork is another's vital service.

SEN. TED STEVENS (R), ALASKA: I am perfectly prepared to muster up 60 votes for that sea life center, and I am proud of that sea life center.

BLACK: The bill also funds $45 million for a new gulf stream for a new Gulf stream for the Coast Guard commandant, $206 million for road and bridge repairs, $24.9 million for a firearms training facility in West Virginia, and a $25 million community center in Ohio. The center is in the district of James Traficant, the Democrat who is being courted by Republicans to join the GOP. Traficant announced this week he intends to vote for Republican Dennis Hastert for speaker nest January.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said the pork barrel could have been a lot worse.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: I think there are a lot of things that have been added along the way that probably shouldn't have been. But the big issues were addressed, I think, in a responsible way.

BLACK: The $11.3 billion dollars in emergency spending was double the 5.5 billion questioned by President Clinton earlier this year. It includes money for genuine emergencies, including $661 million for damage caused by wildfires in New Mexico and $20 million to reimburse the National Transportation Safety Board for investigations of the Alaska Air and EgyptAir crashes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK: A last-minute deal in agreement to cut $6 billion from the next spending bill allowed the Senate to send the bill to the president and head out of town for the 4th of July recess -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And, Chris, not as much pressure the senators feeling worried about a potential Democratic takeover on the -- at least pressure on the Republicans as the Republicans in the House are feeling, right?

BLACK: Well, frankly, Judy, more and more we're seeing a lot of pressure on the Republicans in the Senate. The Senate Republicans have a lot more exposure than they would like, and then, in fact, have been adding a lot of votes on issues, primarily to give those Republicans who are vulnerable, who and up for election an opportunity to get on the record on issues that are popular to their constituents.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Chris Black at the Capitol, thanks.

Well, some senators made no bones about the fact that they wanted to put that spending bill behind them and head them home for the holidays, Chris said. That sentiment worked its way into a lighthearted exchange on the floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAMM: Mr. President, it's Friday. My wife is waiting at the corner of 1st and C. But if we look at the other way on this bill, then there is no budget and we are going to totally lose control of spending.

LOTT: The greatest argument I've heard for bringing this to conclusion is the fact that the senator's lovely wife is waiting his presence to join him in other activities. And I am genuinely concerned about that. And if we have to read this bill, I would like to urge the senator to stay here, and I will go see Mrs. Gramm. That's the corner of First and C Street. I will meet her, and I will provide her with a very lovely lunch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: It's nice to know the senators are so concerned about one another's families.

Senator Gramm joked that he would worry about keeping his wife waiting if she were a liberal, but since she's not, he said that she would understand that he had to stay and make his case against the spending bill.

While Al Gore and George W. Bush are busy courting Latino voters, many Mexicans in this country are more interested, at least right now, in the presidential contest in their homeland. In fact, tens of thousands of Mexicans living in California and Texas are expected to cross the border Sunday to vote for a successor to Mexico's President Ernesto Zedillo.

On the ballot, Francisco Labastida, the candidate of Zedillo's ruling party, the PRI. For the first time in 71, the PRI face a serious opposition. Opinion polls have shown the National Action Party candidate, Vicente Fox, is running even with Labastida and ahead of the third main candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. Sunday's vote will be a new test of political reform in Mexico, including a huge computer system designed to take corruption out of the election process.

And we'll have more INSIDE POLITICS in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: President Clinton's speech in Philadelphia today might reinforce the idea that labor equals Democrat. But in recent months, some labor leaders have made public their dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party, putting the traditional alliance in question.

Major Garrett takes a look now at the changing face of the labor vote.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sisters and brothers, please welcome the best friend this union has ever house, the president of the United States.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A warm embrace from the new face of America's labor movement. White- collar union members like those at this convention of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees now outnumber blue-collar union members. This union movement also has a higher percentage of women members. Minority membership is rising, too. With it has come more emphasis on family medical leave, universal health coverage and protecting worker privacy.

GERALD MCENTEE, AFSCME PRESIDENT: The issues have changed a little bit in terms of white-collar workers, in terms of the role of women in the workplace and women in the American labor movement.

GARRETT: Partisan, loyal, active: The government Workers Union was among the first to endorse then-Governor Clinton in 1992. Ever since, they've been a crucial part of Mr. Clinton's grassroots coalition.

CLINTON: In sunshine and rain, you have never backed down. You have never walked away from the good fight we have waged for the American people and their future.

GARRETT: But this unity is not shared throughout America's labor movement. A sense of betrayal still colors Mr. Clinton's relationship with blue-collar labor. The president embraced Republicans to defeat them on NAFTA and trade with China, votes that have led some in the movement, most notably the Teamsters, to flirt with Ralph Nader and the Green Party. BRETT CALDWELL, TEAMSTERS UNION SPOKESMAN: When you have a president who's saying the right things on one hand to some unions and saying the wrong things on the other hand to other unions, it, you know, you create this divide where it's hard for the unions to meld and come together.

GARRETT (on camera): Mr. Clinton devoted the last third of his speech to Vice President Gore's campaign for the presidency. In the coming months, he will work to ensure that the affection of white- collar labor is transferred to Gore and do what he can to rebuild bridges to the other wing of America's labor movement.

Major Garrett, CNN, Philadelphia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Given his family ties to Florida, George W. Bush might be expected to carry the electoral votes of the Sunshine State. But with a new poll showing Bush just eight points ahead in the state, the vice president is not ready to give up.

Our Pat Neal takes a closer look at the focus on voters in this battleground state.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GORE: Let's win this race for all of Florida.

NEAL (voice-over): The heat is on, and it's not the Florida sunshine.

CHRIS LEHANE, GORE SPOKESMAN: We are definitely playing to win in Florida.

NEAL: Months ago, the Gore team thought they might have to write off Florida, as Michael Dukakis did in 1988, when George Bush's numbers here soared. Earlier this year, Governor George W. Bush was leading the polls by double digits. But the most recent public polls show that gap is less than last year.

BOB BUTTERWORTH, GORE FLORIDA CHAIRMAN: And now there's been a whole sea change.

JIM KANE, FLORIDA VOTER: Bush is still leading and has from the beginning, but it's not an insurmountable lead.

MEL MARTINEZ, BUSH FLORIDA CO-CHAIR: We're not going to take anything for granted. There's no question whether Florida will be one of those key states that will be fought out until the end.

NEAL: Of the nation's four biggest states, Gore is expected to win at least two, California and New York. So political analysts say that Bush must win Florida's 25 electoral votes as well as the 32 in his home state of Texas to claim victory in November.

(on camera): In the past three decades, Florida has only gone for the Democratic presidential candidate twice: in 1976, for Jimmy Carter, and then 20 years later for Bill Clinton in 1996.

(voice-over): That means the Gore campaign is working the state hard.

BUTTERWORTH: Usually after a primary, all the paid staff leaves. But this time, for the first time, they're leaving paid staff in Florida.

NEAL: Florida's popular senator, Bob Graham, is on the list of possible vice presidential candidates. But Bush has some significant advantages here. The state's popular governor, Jeb Bush, is his younger brother. And George Bush inherits much of his brother's political organization.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: Here was the place where it began.

NEAL: But Jeb Bush, who had made inroads with the black community during his own campaign in 1998, ignited a firestorm when he announced his plan to do away with affirmative action in state contracts and universities. African-Americans mobilized. They now vow to take their complaints to the ballot box.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Elian should have due process.

NEAL: But Gore has stirred up emotions, too. Many Cuban- Americans felt Gore was pandering for their vote when he broke with the administration's position on the Elian Gonzalez case and instead favored theirs.

BUSH: My plan says to anybody who's receiving a Social Security check, nothing will change.

NEAL: But most analysts agree the big fight will be over Florida's sizable elderly vote.

MARTINEZ: Oh, no question the Social Security issue will be very big.

NEAL: As will issues of Medicare and prescription drug benefits.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC AD)

ANNOUNCER: Every week, Bob Dartesse (ph) has to afford his groceries and prescription drugs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEAL: Just this month, the DNC spent about $500,000 in Florida to air this ad touting Gore. And Gore plans on spending a lot more time here in person.

LEHANE: We're going to be criss-crossing the state in the next four months.

NEAL: And Bush? MARTINEZ: I'm not sure that he will be back many more times. And our goal is going to be that we fight and we win this battle early so that the campaign can concentrate on the other battleground states.

NEAL: But right now, it looks like Gore does intend to make Bush work and spend money in a state he once thought would be in his pocket.

Pat Neal, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: When we return, celebrating independence: a look at the patriotic holiday on and off the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: For the most part, Americans say they are not paying attention to the election right now, and that's not likely to change this weekend as the United States celebrates another independence day.

Our Bruce Morton checks his campaign journal to find out what Americans and their candidates will be paying attention to this 4th of July.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): What do Americans do on the 4th? Well, lots of people watch parades. Music to hear, veterans to honor, and it's kind of a tradition in lots of places take the kids and all that. Lots of us will be on beaches: no marching bands, but probably music, sandy hot dogs, bathing suits to admire, and all that. Lots of us will play golf or go to picnics.

Millions of us, the experts say, will travel: to the beach, the relatives' house, whatever. And most travelers, they say, will drive. So many Americans will get stuck in traffic and have a chance to complain about the high cost of gas...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Way too high.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five bucks used to get me so much. Now it doesn't get me that much. I just can't afford it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-five cents more a gallon. It's just kind of out of hand.

MORTON: ... while a smaller number will be able to grumble about airport delays.

Millions will eat...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... cooking barbecue chicken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hamburger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We usually have steaks, meat.

MORTON: Often food cooked outdoors. Gas grill versus charcoal -- that argument will rage. Chefs will brag about their particular barbecue sauce. The way that usually works out we end up eating some and wearing some. But picnics are never formal and no one will mind.

Oh, and many Americans -- most, maybe -- will watch fireworks at some point during our national day.

What do politicians do on the 4th? It's not so different. They're still trying to get our attention, of course. Voters keep saying they don't care yet. But on the 4th, some just have a good time.

Texas Governor George W. Bush will ride in a parade in Belton, Texas: population, about 12,000, near Temple, due south of Dallas. He won't be the grand marshal, but he will speak.

Vice President Gore, Bush's Democratic rival, flies overnight to New York City from California and plans some family time. The 4th isn't just the nation's birthday for him..

GORE: Our grandson Wiat was born on the 4th of July. He's a Democrat.

MORTON: Hillary Rodham Clinton will be spending a first lady day, not a Senate candidate day, watching the tall ships in New York with her husband, the president, and then coming back to Washington with him to watch the fireworks from the White House lawn.

Her Republican rival, Rick Lazio, will take a bus tour in upstate New York, his second since becoming a candidate. But they have parades and fireworks in upstate New York, too. Maybe barbecue. Certainly Buffalo wings.

So for most, it's a holiday. For candidates, a working holiday mainly. The country's used to that. If you count from 1776, this is its 224th birthday. Many happy returns.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And as we prepare for the 4th of July, we want to pause just a moment to say goodbye to someone who's been an important part of the INSIDE POLITICS family for the last 3 1/2 years. She is my researcher-producer, Kathleen Greyhouse (ph). She's off to California after seven years at CNN. If I've done anything right since she's been with me, it's mainly due to her.

So Kathleen, you go with our blessings and our love, and good luck. We'll miss you.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. You can go online all the time with CNN's allpolitics.com. This programming note: Be sure to tune into CNN's "LATE EDITION" on Sunday, with guests former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole and Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. The action begins at 12:00 noon Eastern, 9:00 Pacific.

I'm Judy Woodruff. "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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