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Inside Politics

Gore Gets Enthusiastic Reception at NAACP Convention; Democrats Attack Bush's Fiscal Record in Texas

Aired July 12, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not asking to you read my lips. I'm asking to you read my heart, and watch my feet, and watch the work of my hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore tries to make points with the NAACP as he criticizes his opponent on minority issues.

And...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A governor who aspires to the presidency takes credit when times are good. But when things go bad, he also gets the blame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Chris Black on potential trouble in Texas and its impact on the Republican hopeful.

Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Could he look at Gore and croon that old love song, embrace me you sweet endorsable you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Bruce Morton on one-time rivals who may soon be singing the same tune.

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

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

Vice President Gore appeared to get a lift today when he addressed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at its convention. The civil rights group showed respect earlier this week for George W. Bush, but it displayed true affection for Gore.

As CNN's Bill Delaney reports, Gore seized the occasion as a chance to draw some distinctions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Embraced by what's a less-than-tough crowd for any Democratic candidate, Vice President Al Gore at the 91st annual NAACP Convention, a speech laced with taunts at his opponent, George W. Bush, who appeared on the same stage Monday.

GORE: I know that you heard some nice-sounding words on Monday afternoon. You know from a hard history and a long struggle that talk is cheap. It's deeds that matter.

DELANEY: Gore, calling for action, as he has all week, to get Clinton administration programs through the Republican Congress, emphasis on issues important to African-Americans, like his support for the minimum wage; blasting Bush for not condemning the Confederate flag when it flew over South Carolina's capitol; and accusing the Texas governor of opposing hate-crimes legislation, despite pleas from a nephew of James Byrd, the black man who died in Texas, dragged behind a pickup truck.

GORE: Talk doesn't cost much. The true test is telling Trent Lott and Tom DeLay the time has come for a tough new law against hate crimes, because they are different. We need to pass hate-crimes legislation.

DELANEY: Calls to defend affirmative action, create a prescription-drug benefit, spend more money on broken schools, well- received by the people in the hall and leadership of the NAACP, which doesn't formally endorse anyone -- formally.

JULIAN BOND, NAACP CHAIRMAN: The only promise Governor Bush made was one he would have to make under the constitution, that was to obey the civil rights laws.

DELANEY (on camera): What do you think of Governor Bush?

BOND: He seemed to be a very, very pleasant man.

DELANEY: And?

BOND: And a very, very pleasant man.

DELANEY: Gore has continued to hammer Bush for refusing to get as mad at the Republican Congress as Gore is, saying the Texas governor should prod his party's leadership to act on legislation the Clinton administration wants passed.

(voice-over): In Texas, Bush responded: GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Instead of reinventing government, Vice President Gore continues to reinvent himself right in the middle of a campaign. Just this week, he decided to attack the Congress, even though he himself is the president of the Senate. He offers more of the same, the same old sequel to a tired period of time.

DELANEY: As Gore continued to trumpet his new slogan: the people, not the powerful, the person he seemed to have most on his mind was George Bush.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Baltimore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: At home today in Austin, George W. Bush is coming under attack from Texas Democrats, who blame the governor's most recent tax cut for problems with the Texas budget. Some are seizing on a projected drop in the state budget surplus to charge that Bush put his presidential ambitions ahead of the people he governs.

CNN's Chris Black is in the Texas capital.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK (voice-over): The state budget surplus in Texas is melting away, depleted by higher-than-expected health care and prison costs, and according to some critics, Governor George W. Bush's almost $2 billion tax cut.

GONZALO BARRIENTOS (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: There were those who would push for a, I thought, somewhat misguided, so-called tax cut. And it turns out, it was not much of a tax cut at all. And it looks like we are going to need that money in the near future.

BLACK: Although state revenues are supposed to be $1 billion higher this year than last, the high cost of prescription drugs for the elderly and a large prison population are costing the state an extra $610 million. At the same time, the go-go state economic growth rate has slowed slightly. An independent watchdog group says the fiscal chickens are coming home to roost. The Center for Public Policy Priorities has long-argued the surplus should have been used to -- quote -- "adequately fund state programs or be set aside in the state's rainy-day fund to protect against a future economic slowdown."

Critics say this shows Bush's support for a large tax cut is unsound. But the state's lieutenant governor dismisses the criticism as politics as usual.

LT. GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Any of these people who are criticizing George Bush, the idea that they have got a crystal ball, that two years ahead of time can address issues like prescription drugs increases in our Medicaid program, the prison population issue that we got here in the state -- I suggest that they're just barking up the wrong tree, frankly, and using some politics to try to gain a leg up on George Bush. BLACK: For the past year, Bush has campaigned on his record in Texas, bragging about his ability to cut taxes and balance the budget, and calling for a federal tax cut of $1.7 trillion.

BUSH: People have got more money in their pocket. Now, I've performed in office. When given the chance to lead, when given the chance to lead, the people of the second most populous state have said: We overwhelmingly endorse Governor Bush's record.

BLACK: But presiding over a state while running for president can be used against a candidate. In 1992, President George Bush ridiculed Governor Bill Clinton as CEO of a backwater southern state. It did not work. But in 1988, then-Vice President George Bush did make it work, probing the dark underbelly of the so-called Massachusetts economic miracle to undermine that state's governor, Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential nominee.

(on camera): A governor who aspires to the presidency takes credit when times are good, but when things go bad, he also gets the blame.

Chris Black, CNN, Austin, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: In the last election, much was made of the so-called soccer moms and their overwhelming support for the Clinton-Gore ticket. If early indications are accurate, suburban women are not exactly flocking to the Gore campaign.

CNN's John King went to suburban St. Louis, a background -- battleground region, rather -- to learn why not.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spend a little time with Connie Silverstein and two things are obvious. She's proud of her daughter and disgusted with her president.

CONNIE SILVERSTEIN, MOTHER: I wish that Bill Clinton had resigned, because I thought he just humiliated us from a moral standpoint.

KING: It's a view that colors her thoughts about election 2000. She's leaning in favor of Al Gore, but troubled by recurring questions about his controversial 1996 fund-raising.

SILVERSTEIN: I don't think he has been truthful with us. And I am concerned about truthfulness, because of what we have just been through with Clinton.

KING: So she's watching and waiting.

(on camera): The support of suburban mothers was critical in both of Bill Clinton's successful presidential campaigns. But the so- called gender gap is nonexistent so far in campaign 2000. And conversations here suggest the vice president's suburban struggle is at least in part due to the legacy of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

(voice-over): Maureen Helfers is a mother of four boys.

MAUREEN HELFERS, MOTHER: I would like for them to see a leader that they could really respect. And I am hoping that George Bush will be the person.

KING: Gail Holcomb is a mother of two, a likely Gore voter who still laments the changing times.

GAIL HOLCOMB, MOTHER: I grew up looking up at the president, and I wish that my children could, but I don't think that they do.

KING: There's ample evidence among this group of suburban St. Louis moms of what the pollsters call cross-pressures. Governor Bush, for example, has a clear edge when the conversation turns to values.

SUSAN MCGRAW, MOTHER: I do think what's going to stick out most for me is, there again, leadership, and who can we trust, and who is going to be a good leader for our country; somebody we're not going to have to be embarrassed about.

KING: But many find themselves leaning in the vice president's direction when the talk turns to topics like the environment and gun control.

SILVERSTEIN: As much as I like W., you know, I am just sick about his whole deal with concealed weapons.

KING: His limited experience in elective office works against Bush with some in this group.

COPY FORRESTAL, MOTHER: I don't want to send a junior man out there.

MAUREEN MCDONNELL, MOTHER: Because the state gives their governor such limited power, I'm not sure he actually would be prepared to be the president.

KING: Besides the weather, not much has changed in this suburban battleground since a visit three months ago. For now, the coffee talk tends to be more about the stifling heat or summer travel plans. It just doesn't seem like time for politics yet.

LORI MERSMAN, MOTHER: It seems pretty distant and it doesn't seem that, you know, crucial right this minute, so I haven't been that involved.

KING: What worries many of these mothers has little to do with Bush or Gore, yet could ultimately influence their mood come November. Laurie Sneden just learned the lyrics of a song her son likes.

LAURIE SNEDEN, MOTHER: And he sings about raping his mother, killing his mother, and doing the same to the mother of his daughter. And it's like -- and he's eight, and I almost bought him this CD, because I didn't have a clue. KING: Most use the Internet and know their children do too, often for the wrong reasons.

HELFERS: To me, the sad thing is that their innocence has been taken away from them and it will never be replaced.

KING: No support for censorship here, but some wonder if something is missing.

LIZ REINUS, MOTHER: We do have a dearth in this country of role models, but should it be in one place? Should it be in Washington?

KING: It's a question to ponder while waiting for the conventions or the debates to bring the campaign into focus.

SILVERSTEIN: I'm just kind of waiting to see either who kind of steps on the rake, or who emerges by coming up with something really brilliant and inspired, and I could swing like that.

KING: But for now, it's an election many suburban moms, like Connie Silverstein, say is proving difficult to frame.

John King, CNN, Clayton, Missouri.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, two candidates, two very different receptions. We'll hear more on the presidential hopefuls and the NAACP from Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Pictures today of Texas Governor George W. Bush in a meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the Bush campaign describing this as one in a series of routine meetings the Texas governor is holding on international policy matters. That meeting appears to be at the governor's mansion.

WOODRUFF: Well, joining us now to talk about this presidential campaign and perhaps more is Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine and Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard." Let's go back to the NAACP appearances this week, not only by Al Gore, which one would expect, but by George W. Bush.

Tucker, what does the Texas governor gain, or does he gain anything by meeting before this group?

TUCKER CARLSON, "WEEKLY STANDARD": I mean, Gore accuse him of pandering; they're both pandering. Everyone panders in an election year. I think Bush has the more courageous pander, because he's the one pandering at the risk of being booed, and he wasn't -- there were some protesters at the beginning, but by and large, he got a pretty good reception. I think it underscores the point he tries to make at almost every appearance, which is, I'm a moderate guy who wants to expand the base of the Republican Party.

WOODRUFF: Is it smart for Bush to appear before this group, Margaret?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, he gets points just for showing up, to paraphrase Woody Allen. There were none of the body slamming hugs that Gore got or the cheers. But remember, Dole did not go. He snubbed that convention, and look what happened to him.

So there's nothing to lose by going unless there is some huge heckling event that embarrasses you.

T. CARLSON: Pie throwing.

M. CARLSON: Yes, egg in the face, yes, but otherwise, I think it was a very good thing.

WOODRUFF: Monday, he's with the NAACP. Tuesday, he's appearing with foster children, many of them minority children, clearly a very organized effort on the part of the Bush campaign to picture him with minorities.

M. CARLSON: You hardly see a picture of bush without Hispanics, you know, one of each. Every picture I've seen he's surrounded by the constituencies he wants to reach out to, and it's very effective.

WOODRUFF: And today, Henry Kissinger.

T. CARLSON: Yes. And tomorrow, he's going to Cuba to hug Fidel. I mean, really.

M. CARLSON: He's doing the Teletubbies and Barney.

T. CARLSON: That's absolutely right.

WOODRUFF: Well, is there a method to this madness?

T. CARLSON: He's going to chain himself to a redwood.

M. CARLSON: Has he pinched your cheek yet?

T. CARLSON: Actually he has.

M. CARLSON: No, again...

WOODRUFF: Has he really?

T. CARLSON: He really has. He's a cheek pincher in the best way.

No, but the Gore campaign at the very beginning, and I was talking to one of the people from the Gore campaign working on the Gore message, eight months ago, who said we're going to hit him on abortion, we're going to hit him on guns, we're going to make him into this scary right-wing monster, and Bush has neutralized that, I think completely. That is not a credible attack anymore. Even if -- you know, you could still make the argument that it's objectively true, but I just don't think it's going to work. M. CARLSON: Yes, he came out from the primaries neutralizing most of those issues. I'm not sure he neutralized abortion. But in every other way, he's reached out to -- he stole Gore's groups from him right under his nose. Now Gore has time to get him back. In fact, Bush hopes the campaign is over and Gore hopes it hasn't begun.

WOODRUFF: But how does Gore, quote, get him back? What does he -- does he go and campaign before right-wing...

M. CARLSON: He gets the pictures that Bush has. But it's a fact that we're watching but not everyone is, so starting in July, August, or August from the convention on, he has time to nail down his base and get those people back from Bush, and you know, show that he's not scary to business, which is one of his problem which the "let's get rid of the car."

WOODRUFF: Another aspect of the Bush campaign quickly moving on to the vice presidential decision-making process here. The name John Kasich appears to be back on the table. Tucker, is this a potentially serious choice by the governor?

T. CARLSON: I don't think so. I'd be interested, as always interested to know how these names get in the press, and I don't think anybody...

M. CARLSON: It's like the vitamins -- one a day.

T. CARLSON: That's exactly right. No, but you wonder where they come from. I don't think anybody has higher regard for John Kasich than John Kasich. He's his own biggest fan.

M. CARLSON: And he's the son of a mailman, remember that?

T. CARLSON: He said that several thousand times. I think he is actually legitimately friends with Bush. That's important, Bush says that again and again; you have to have personal chemistry. I think that's true, but I think Kasich may be a little too close in age to Bush and probably doesn't add much.

M. CARLSON: He has to get the stature thing just right -- not too much, not too little. Kasich would be too little. And Kasich is very good, a great Budget Committee Chairman, but he has a little bit of the bouncy Dan Quayle about him. And I think it would remind us of New Orleans to have John Kasich bounding out and hugging George Bush the way Dan Quayle hugged his dad.

WOODRUFF: What about on the Democratic side, any new names surfacing or disappearing?

T. CARLSON: Bud Graham of Florida. "Time" magazine had really one of the most remarkable pieces I read, really this millennium.

(CROSSTALK)

T. CARLSON: That's right, where he keeps -- you know, every time he goes to the bathroom, he writes it down. And I think most people who read this said -- I, in fact, last night talked to a Democratic strategist, a Gore adviser, and just to be mean, I sort of rubbed it in. He said, yes, poor Graham, Mr. Graham's name is off the list, I think.

M. CARLSON: Diaries are poor anyway. I mean, Bob Packwood, Josh Steiner, and this one is kind of a crazy diary, because he puts down he changed from his red pants to his blue pants and he rewound "Ace Ventura" while his daughter was in labor, and he handed over the diaries. I mean, "Time" magazine should get all the credit in the world, but it isn't as if we pulled this out of him. I mean, he handed 4,000 over.

T. CARLSON: Color-coded.

M. CARLSON: By season.

WOODRUFF: Are there any other Democratic names out there that are serious looks at least on the part of the vice president?

M. CARLSON: I think there was a hug of Joe Lieberman this week in Connecticut, and Joe Lieberman would be a great choice, a little bit of a surprise, but very serious lawmaker, the great sense of humor.

WOODRUFF: Why a surprise? Why would it be a surprise?

M. CARLSON: Well, Lieberman is such a new Democrat that he's almost right of center.

WOODRUFF: Almost not a Democrat.

M. CARLSON: He was the first -- he was the first Democrat to accuse Clinton of misbehaving in the White House. And you say, "How can Gore get back, you know, get over and get some of the people that are in Bush's camp?" That's one way to do it.

T. CARLSON: John Kerry is the name, I think. People are talking about John Kerry, for what it's worth.

WOODRUFF: Massachusetts.

T. CARLSON: Yes.

WOODRUFF: And what does Tucker Carlson think about the name?

T. CARLSON: Oh, I think it's -- actually it makes sense. I mean, the rationale is...

(CROSSTALK)

Yes, he looks impressive. Well, I think geography really isn't going to play a role in the choice on either side. And he's got a good story. He's articulate.

WOODRUFF: Tough campaigner.

T. CARLSON: Sure, very. Smart.

M. CARLSON: He's got a Mount Rushmore face. He beat Bill Weld, and that was quite an achievement. So maybe. A little liberal I think for Gore.

T. CARLSON: Yes...

M. CARLSON: I mean, Gore may want to go to his right a little bit.

T. CARLSON: It'll reel in the Nader voters.

M. CARLSON: I mean, Massachusetts. Right -- which he needs to get back.

WOODRUFF: And that was something that we should have talked about today, but we'll talk about the next time you're both here.

Tucker Carlson, Margaret Carlson, thank you, both.

M. CARLSON: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

SHAW: Still to come, which states will shape the presidential election? Our Bill Schneider checks the latest polls.

Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In this election year, any movement toward providing prescription drug coverage for seniors is a political winner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Kate Snow on the campaign benefits of moving forward on this key health care issue.

And later...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: It's a summit meeting: No, not that one. A summit in Wisconsin Thursday between Al Gore and the man he beat in the Democratic primaries, former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Bruce Morton looks ahead to the long-awaited meeting between two primary rivals.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Day two of the Camp David summit found Yasser Arafat inviting other Palestinian leaders to meet with him in the U.S. tomorrow. It also found the Israelis hoping that a gesture of good will toward Washington might improve prospects for success in the Mideast negotiations.

Joining us from Maryland with more on all this, CNN's Jerrold Kessel.

Jerrold, hello.

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy.

Difficult, serious and a struggle: That's the terminology used by presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart briefing reporters on the talks at Camp David. And by one calculation of some reporters, he used the term "difficult" eight times, he used the word "serious" five times, "struggle" four times, all in the space of a very short briefing. It suggests that means there is something of a struggle going on there.

But Joe Lockhart also said that the informality that we've seen yesterday of that playful tussle between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak has also played a part and the atmosphere was generally good at the talks. The Israelis -- a veil of secrecy over proceedings there, but the Israelis were anxious to get out one piece of information, the fact that they're scrapping that controversial AWACS deal with China and the Falcon deal, as it's called. And that, they hope, will clear the air not only with Congress but also the possibility of Congress being able, if the president were to go to Congress, were a deal to be signed, to underwrite with a massive amount of funding for such a deal. And that, the Israelis hope, will clear the air on that score.

The Palestinians have also been looking over their shoulders. Yasser Arafat, when he came here to the United States for the summit, invited opposition leaders, opposition Palestinian leaders to come, too. And today we've learned that he asked these opposition leaders, many of whom have opposed the whole peace process from the beginning, seven years ago, to come to meet with him at Camp David, possibly tomorrow, to underline that they support his negotiations at the stage in this finale stage, heading toward a summit.

Now, it's not clear whether that would mean that they were to support an emerging deal or to buttress him in rejecting any emerging deal. The United States is not all that happy with that, officials saying they expect those teams that are at Camp David to stay there and no one else to come in. But the chief of the Palestinian mission in Washington told CNN the president -- President Arafat, that is -- believes and feels he needs to meet with the entire Palestinian leadership, and he said, we will find a way to do so.

We shall be following whether the Palestinians will have their way on that -- on that front.

I'm Jerrold Kessel, CNN, reporting live near Camp David in Maryland. WOODRUFF: Thanks, Jerrold.

And we are expecting the next Camp David news briefing shortly from presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart. CNN will carry that live. That's tentatively set for around 6 o'clock Eastern.

SHAW: An attorney for Philip Morris tells a jury in Miami any penalty against "Big Tobacco" would be -- quote -- a reward to smokers. Arguments come in the final phase of a 2-year-old product liability trial. Hundreds of thousands of Florida smokers are seeking $154 billion in punitive damages. The companies argue that a penalty that size would wipe them out. The jury's decision could come Friday.

A new drug could slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease in its later stages. Researchers say the drug, Memantine, seems to help patients with such tasks as bathing and dressing themselves. So far, it's the only drug developed for late-stage Alzheimer's. More tests are needed for FDA approval. Memantine is currently used in Germany to treat dementia.

WOODRUFF: The U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to vote on eliminating the marriage penalty before the party's convention, the Republican Party's convention begins in three weeks. The marriage tax costs many couples thousands of dollars that they would not pay if they were single. The bill would cut taxes by $182 billion over 10 years. President Clinton, though, vows to veto the bill unless Congress passes Medicare reform.

SHAW: Next on INSIDE POLITICS, battleground states of election 2000. Our Bill Schneider will examine the trends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: An abortion-rights group has released a television ad criticizing the record of George W. Bush. The ad begins running next week on nationwide cable -- it says Americans need the facts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PLANNED PARENTHOOD AD)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bush calls himself compassionate but would restrict funding for family planning, and put a gag-rule on doctors. He agrees he is the most anti-abortion governor in America and supports a constitutional amendment that would take away our right to choose. Does that sound compassionate or responsible?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The Planned Parenthood ad is to run through the Republican National Convention, which starts July 31st in Philadelphia.

Also today, the Democratic National Committee released a TV spot that shows Vice President Gore speaking on the crime issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE AD) GORE: If somebody has been a crime victim and the person who committed that crime is about to be released, they ought to be notified. If there is a trial, they ought to have a right to speak to the jury. The people who are hurt by crime need to be heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: This ad will run in 17 states, including the key electoral states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

From Los Angeles, we are joined now by CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider, who has been looking for clues on how some of those key states might vote in November.

Bill, what are we seeing in the polls?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, we're seeing indications that this election may involve heavy ground combat over disputed territory. Now, start with territory that's not supposed to be in dispute. The South and the Rocky Mountain states should be Bush territory. Let's look at what state polls, taken in June and July, have been showing. Arizona and Florida: both went for Clinton in '96. My God, Arizona had not voted for a Democrat since Harry Truman. Can Gore hold onto them -- doesn't look like it.

Arizona is going strongly for Bush. Bush is eight points ahead in Florida, which is just at the margin of error. Bush is leading big-time in Oklahoma. He is the governor of Texas after all, which is otherwise know as Baha Oklahoma. If doesn't look like Bush needs too much help from Governor Frank Keating if he wants to carry Oklahoma. Bush is ahead in North Carolina, but by just five points, within the margin of error. North Carolina is right next door to Tennessee. Now, that's a sign the Democrats should not give up on the South.

WOODRUFF: All right, what about the Democratic base, Bill? Is Gore holding onto that?

SCHNEIDER: Judy, bi-coastally speaking, yes. The Democrats' core territory is now the Northeast and the West Coast, including the two states with the most electoral votes, New York and California. Gore looks golden in both of them: 11 points ahead. Gore's lead here in California is so secure that even Ralph Nader on the ballot as the Green Party candidate doesn't make any difference in the field poll. But other states that ought to be strong for Gore don't look so secure: Connecticut, for instance.

Gore's ahead there by just one point, too close to call. How about Gore's home state of Tennessee? Gore's ahead there, but just by five, within the margin of error. If Gore can fight for North Carolina, by God, then Bush can fight for Tennessee. Now here's a shocker: Gore is behind in Minnesota -- yah, you betcha -- according to a poll out today in the "St. Paul Pioneer Press" by just three points. But still, Minnesota is supposed to be reliably Democratic: nine out of the last 10 elections.

What does Gore have to do to carry Minnesota: become a professional wrestler?

WOODRUFF: All right, maybe. What about the so-called battleground states? How do things look there, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Looks like a battle. The battle belt is the swathe of big industrial states from New Jersey across the nation's midsection to Missouri. Gore is ahead in New Jersey, but that's within the margin of error -- maybe a job for "The Sopranos." Bush leads in Pennsylvania, but that, too, is within the margin of error. Would it help if Bush put Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge on the ticket? Oh, yes. Ridge would give Bush a seven-point boost according to today's Keystone Poll.

Bad news for Gore: Bush is leading in Michigan. That, too, would be within the margin of error. But if Ralph Nader gets on the ballot in Michigan, the EPIC-MRA" poll shows Nader would take a lot of votes -- probably union votes -- from Gore. More bad news for Gore: yesterday's "Kansas City Star" poll shows Bush with a solid lead in Missouri. Looks to me, Judy, like the farther you get away from the East Coast, where you are, and West Coast, where I am, the more trouble Gore's got -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Hmm, Bill Schneider, and that map matches your tie. They're both very handsome.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bill -- Bernie.

SHAW: Yesterday, Judy interviewed Terry McAuliffe. He's the chairman of next month's Democratic National Convention Los Angeles. Today, it's the turn of Andrew Card, general co-chairman of the Republican National Convention. Guess where he joins us from: Philadelphia...

ANDREW CARD, CO-CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION: Here I am.

SHAW: ... where the convention begins July 31st.

How are you going to make this one better than previous Republican conventions?

CARD: First of all, we have got a great candidate. Governor Bush is a different kind of Republican. He is running a different kind of campaign. And this will be a different kind of convention. We are going to have a terrific convention here in Philadelphia. And we know that a lot of people will want to come and watch it and join us in the celebration. But this is a campaign that we will be talking about reviewing America's purpose. And we're going to do that by working together. We've got some terrific themes. We'll talk about the opportunity in America and the responsibility that goes with it. We will talk about strength and security, prosperity. And, of course, we will have a presidential candidate that will be a president with a purpose. SHAW: Yesterday, Terry McAuliffe took some digs at your convention still to come. He said that Republicans are going to be discussing the issues Democrats normally air at their convention: Social Security, education, health care.

CARD: Well the differences is, they've discussed them. We will be doing something about those issues. Governor Bush is talking about Social Security reform. He's not just talking about Social Security. He's talking about Social Security reform. And he's talking about education and an educational system that will leave no child behind. That's exactly what this kind of campaign is all about, and it's exactly what Governor Bush is going to do as president.

SHAW: Andy Card, any suspicions in your mind about the fact that the Democrats will hold their Los Angeles convention 11 days after yours?

CARD: Well the party in the White House gets to hold their convention last. And so they get the opportunity to come after the Republican convention. But we will come out of our convention with the public understanding our clear, positive message. We will accentuate the issues that we want to talk about in the fall election. We'll be reflecting the concerns of people in America. This won't be a convention like theirs, where they really have to look back. They'll be looking back at the Clinton era.

And it's not a very pretty picture. So we will be presenting a very positive vision for the future. And Governor Bush is the kind of leader that will take us to the future in such a way that we can have prosperity with a purpose.

SHAW: Will Bush bounce out of Philadelphia with a bounce, percentage-wise, in the polls?

CARD: Well we expect to come out of Philadelphia with a lot of positive momentum. Understand that Governor Bush has run the kind of campaign that has solidified the Republican base. In fact, the Republican bases is about as solid as it has ever been. Usually, when you get a convention bounce, the first bounce comes from -- by consolidating the base.

The Democrats have an awful lot of work to consolidate their base. They've got a fractured base right now. Our base is pretty solid. And we will be talking about issues that people who are not in the Republican Party understand as well as those people who are in the Republican Party. This is about presenting a positive program for America. And it's about presenting a president whose issues and policies will reflect the concerns of real America.

SHAW: So, as you say, the governor leaves Philadelphia with his base intact. You would expect a pretty good bounce?

CARD: We're expecting a very positive momentum coming out of Philadelphia. Understand that the Republican base is solid. We are very proud of the candidate that we are going to nominate here in Philadelphia on August 3rd. His acceptance speech will set the stage for a terrific campaign in the fall. It'll be a tough campaign. We are ready for it. Republicans are anxious to bring some prosperity back to America, and that prosperity will renew America's purpose.

SHAW: What happened to your traditional "attack the opponent" night?

CARD: Well, we're not going to practice the old politics of attack, attack, attack. The traditional campaigns have had one speaker or one night dedicated to attacking the opponents. This is a positive campaign. We'll be talking about the future and the policies that we're going to bring into office. So you won't find that one speaker or that one dedicated evening attacking the opponents.

We will contrast with the opponents, because we know that our message is different than theirs, and we'll present the contrast, but we'll really be talking about what Governor Bush plans to do for America in this convention.

SHAW: Well, time to let you get back to work, Andrew Card...

CARD: Thank you, Bernie.

SHAW: ... the Republican chair in Philadelphia. You're quite welcome. And Judy,and I rest of our team will see you up there very shortly.

And up next, a Capitol Hill compromise on prescription drugs. We're going to look at the politics moving this issue forward.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: While Al Gore has made prescription drug coverage a primary issue on the campaign trail, there is a move on the Hill to find a way to provide a drug benefit to Medicare recipients. Today, the Senate Finance Committee met to discuss the issue.

And as Kate Snow reports, the move may be more about politics than prescription drugs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): In this election year, any movement toward providing prescription drug coverage for seniors is a political winner. Vice President Al Gore has been slamming the Congress for doing nothing and Republicans in the Senate are anxious to show voters they're serious about finding a compromise. And the man they've put in charge? Finance chairman, Senator William Roth. Senator Roth's plan moves away from what House Republicans passed in June. His plan would put the government in charge of providing prescription drug coverage. Medicare recipients would have a choice -- stick with their current coverage or move to an "expanded option plan." Under that new option, the government would share the cost of drug coverage, patients would pay a deductible, perhaps $500, and above that, they would pay half of prescription drug bills, until the cost reaches $3,500. The government would give subsidies to lower-income recipients for their prescription drugs. SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: I'm glad to have Senator Roth be part of an effort to get a prescription drug benefit for people. Of course he's been the chairman of the Finance Committee all of these years. We could have done this months ago, a year ago. It's one of those election year conversions which are always entertaining, but nevertheless, helpful.

SNOW: Roth is in a tough re-election battle in his home state of Delaware. Polls show him running behind Delaware's Democratic Governor, Tom Carper. And he admits pushing for prescription drug coverage would help him win over a state where seniors, who tend to go to the polls, make up 12 percent of the population. But Roth insists his prescription drug proposal is not simply aimed at scoring points.

SEN. WILLIAM ROTH (R-DE), FINANCE CHAIRMAN: My committee, under my stewardship is known for not being political, but for trying to get things done, to really address problems.

SNOW: Publicly, Republican leaders say the plan has potential.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: Not only do they have a green light to go forward with this effort, they've got encouragement for this committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Privately, Republicans are less optimistic and unsure about the fate of Roth's deal. But senior GOP aides say that the plan for leadership is to avoid criticizing Roth, at least for now, and let him run with the idea since he has a tough reelection bid ahead.

Kate Snow, CNN live, Capitol Hill.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Kate.

Prescription drug coverage is also at issue in the New York Senate race. The latest ad from the New York Democratic Party criticizes Republican Congressman Rick Lazio for his position on a recent House bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, N.Y. STATE DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE AD)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: New York seniors are struggling with soaring drug costs, yet Rick Lazio voted against guaranteed prescription coverage under Medicare. Bowing to the drug companies, Lazio backed a plan that would leave millions without affordable coverage.

Tell Lazio, next time vote for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: This ad will run in upstate New York, beginning tomorrow. It is scheduled to air for a week and a half, in what the party calls a "significant" ad buy.

Joining us now with his reporter's notebook, Bob Novak of "The Chicago Sun-Times."

Bob, I understand you have found some Republican leaders not very happy with John McCain?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Again, so what else is know? What upsets them this time is that Senator McCain has agreed, tentatively at least. to talk to the alternative convention in the weekend preceding the Philadelphia convention. This is being run by Arianna Huffington, who is not exactly a friend of George W. Bush these days. And the people said, why does Senator McCain feel compelled to do this? Now Sen. McCain's people said he is not going to say anything bad about George W. Bush, as he advocates campaign finance reform. He's going to be a good, loyal Republican, but it makes him very nervous.

The fact is that's not definite that he's going to appear. For example, he doesn't know, Senator McCain doesn't know, who is financing this convention, and perhaps, he'd like to find that out before he finally makes his decision.

WOODRUFF: Now you've also been doing some checking around, picking up information about Democrats, vice presidential choice for Mr. Gore.

NOVAK: I am told by a very good source that inside the Gore operation, the stock of Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, despite the joking about his minute-by-minute diary, has risen again. The reason that it has risen again is that Bill Nelson, the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Florida, has a private poll showing that, believe it or not, that the Democrats will carry Florida if Graham is on the tick. That could mean the presidential election. The only problem is there a lot of suspicion in the Democratic Party about that poll. A lot of suspicion that under any conditions, whether Al Gore could carry Florida.

WOODRUFF: You were in Minnesota recently, and I understand that you found some people a little bit upset with the vice president.

NOVAK: Democrats were not happy when Al Gore came into Minneapolis and had this prolonged lovefest with Jesse Ventura, the very popular, independent governor of Minnesota. They felt that they are ignored. One of the leaders in the parties said, how would the Republicans feel if George W. Bush came in and didn't call the Republican leadership? But I don't -- there a rumor going around that Al Gore is considering Jesse Ventura for vice president. I think that's nonsense. But he would like to get an endorsement. He would like to get his help, and as we upon from the polls that Bill Schneider showed, percent percentage point lead by George Bush in Minnesota, a state that the Republicans have not carried for presidents since 1972.

WOODRUFF: Hubert Humphrey's home state.

Finally, some information about Ohio Congressman James Traficant.

Well, James Traficant in English means "maverick." And James Traficant, you never know what he's going to. But he has said on several occasions, he told me several times, that under any conditions, he will vote for Denny Hastert to be the next speaker of the House, no matter what happens in the election. He says the Republicans have shown kindness to him that the Democrats never did. He's not changing parties, he says.

Now there is a lot of people in the Democratic caucus who would like to kick him out of the caucus immediately if he votes for Hastert or even says he's going to vote for Hastert, or at least take away his committee assignments. But if you take away his committee assignments, he'll leave the caucus anyway. So, that's a difference -- a distinction without a difference.

But I think Traficant -- a lot of people say he's just trying the highest bidder. I don't believe so. I think Traficant is committed to Hastert and that is a problem for the Democrats. It means they have to get seven seats instead of six seats to take control in the 2000 election.

WOODRUFF: He's living up to his name.

Bob Novak, thanks very much.

SHAW: Thank you.

In California this day, presidential hopeful John Hagelin accepted the endorsement of the leaders of the San Francisco Reform Party, this after last week's endorsement by the New York Reform Party. Hagelin is challenging Pat Buchanan for the Reform Party nomination and he's critical of the former Republican's effect on the party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HAGELIN (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My question is: How can we reach out to the 115 million disenfranchised nonvoters? Not through a message of exclusivity and intolerance, not by embroiling the Reform Party in divisive social issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Also today, Hagelin accused Buchanan of submitting voter lists to the party's national committee that may not contain valid Reform Party voters. Hagelin says the list should be open for verification.

WOODRUFF: Next on INSIDE POLITICS, the return of Bill Bradley. How far will he go on behalf of his former rival?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: When it comes to endorsements, among the most valued is the one that comes from a vanquished opponent. Sometimes it's quite a sight: former political rivals turning best of friends -- sort of.

Tomorrow it's Al Gore and Bill Bradley. Here's CNN's Bruce Morton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): It's a summit meeting. No, not that one. A summit in Wisconsin Thursday between Al Gore and the man he beat in the Democratic primaries, former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. As soon as he lost, Bradley said he'd support Gore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BRADLEY (D), FORMER NEW JERSEY SENATOR: I've called him. I said I would support him. I intend to support him, and I intend to work for the Democratic ticket and for Democrats to regain control of the Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: But he didn't use the "e" word, "endorse." In fact, during and after the campaign Bradley -- another "e" word -- sounded exasperated by what he viewed as Gore's unfair attacks on him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRADLEY: You can only take misrepresentations and misleading statements up to a certain point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: All those Gore attacks on Bradley's health care plan he meant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRADLEY: Wait! Wait!

GORE: How many expenses do you have to have before you get any money in your plan?

BRADLEY: Your plan would stop at -- I'm sorry. This is a tactic. See, this is a tactic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: All those attacks on other issues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: You know, racial profiling practically began in New Jersey, Senator Bradley.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: Even when he pledged support after losing, Bradley criticized Gore's campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRADLEY: I've been very direct in saying that I felt that there were times where there was distortion and negativity. And I'm a very direct about that. I also am direct about the need to have a Democratic president, and that's why...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(INTERRUPTED FOR BREAKING NEWS)

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