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Inside Politics

Bush Calls for Closer Ties With Latin America; Young Voters Leaning Toward Bush

Aired August 25, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Should I become the president, I will look south, not as an afterthought, but as a fundamental commitment to my presidency.


FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush highlights his interest in Latin America and his focus on Latino voters in this country. Does the Bush camp's latest ad tell it like it is? We'll check the facts.



RICHARD HATCH, "SURVIVOR" WINNER: Just know who you are. Don't try to figure that out once you're in the midst of the game.


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

SESNO: And thanks for joining us. I'm Frank Sesno, sitting in for Bernie and Judy today. And we begin with George W. Bush's ongoing efforts to prove he can hold his own on the world stage. Today, the Texas governor is playing to his strength, U.S. relations with Latin America, particularly those nations just south of the border. At this hour, Bush is due to meet with Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox near Dallas.

And as our Jonathan Karl reports, Bush began the day by giving an international policy speech in Miami.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In what his campaign billed as a major policy address, George W. Bush called for stronger ties with Latin America.

BUSH: Should I become the president, I will look South, not as an afterthought, but as a fundamental commitment to my presidency. KARL: Calling for more open trade and better cooperation on trade and security issues, Bush said the Clinton administration has "squandered" opportunities to forge closer ties with Latin America.

BUSH: We were promised fast-track authority, as every American president has had it for 25 years, and yet this administration failed to get it. We were promised a free trade area of the Americas, yet it never happened. Chile was promised partnership in NAFTA, and it was delayed.

KARL: The Gore campaign responded by saying the Clinton-Gore administration has negotiated 270 trade agreements, including the landmark North American Free Trade Agreement. Bush promised to push for free trade agreements covering the entire Western hemisphere. He also said he'd spend $100 million for so-called microcredit loans to help the Latin American poor start businesses, and another $100 million a year to offer debt reduction in exchange for protecting tropical forests, an expansion of a current program.

BUSH: These forests affect the air we breathe, the food we eat, medicines that cure disease, and are home to more than half of the Earth's animal and plant species.

KARL: Bush's speech was meant in part to reinforce his embrace of Hispanics in the United States, declaring -- quote -- "We are now one of the largest Spanish-speaking nations in the world. "

BUSH: For years, our nation has debated this change. Some have praised it; others have resented it. By nominating me, my party has made a choice to welcome the new America.

KARL: Playing to the local crowd in Miami, Bush got his biggest applause with tough words, spoken in Spanish, against Cuban leader Fidel Castro.



BUSH: Freedom is not negotiable.

KARL: In advance of his meeting with Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox, Bush called for forging a special relationship with Mexico, as close as U.S. ties to Britain and Canada. To help make that happen, he said he would hold a U.S.-Mexico summit immediately following the elections in November.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Miami.


SESNO: And today, the Bush campaign begins airing a new television commercial dealing with issues that hit many senior citizens close to home.

Our Brooks Jackson has been checking the ad and the facts. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He said it at the convention...


BUSH: We will strengthen Social Security and Medicare.


JACKSON: Now he's repeating the promise a thousandfold in a new TV ad starting Friday night in targeted states.


BUSH: We will strengthen Social Security and Medicare for the Greatest Generation and for generations to come.


JACKSON: Nothing new here, but you could get the wrong impression.

On Social Security, Bush says:


BUSH: No changes. No reductions. No way.


JACKSON: Actually, that promise only applies to persons already getting Social Security, or about to. For everyone else, Bush favors big changes -- private investment accounts, funded by a portion of Social Security taxes. Highly controversial. The Ad doesn't mention that. And Medicare? He sounds like Al Gore.


BUSH: We will make prescription drugs available and affordable for every senior who needs them.


JACKSON: Actually, Bush does not favor expanding the current Medicare program to include drug coverage, as Gore does, and he opposes any increase in Medicare payroll taxes. Bush favors the sort of approach endorsed by a majority of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. That would give the elderly a certain amount of money to buy private health insurance, choosing from a variety of government-approved plans, including some covering prescription drugs. But the idea is controversial, opposed by the Clinton administration, among others.

(on camera): So this latest Bush ad doesn't tell the whole story, and it could be part of a one-two punch. CNN has learned the Republican National Committee has prepared a companion ad, accusing Gore of backing a "big government" Medicare plan that let's bureaucrats decide medication for seniors. So the campaign could be about to get rougher, and it's not even Labor Day yet.

Bruce Jackson, CNN. Washington.


SESNO: Ads are often a good indicator of political strategy. We've seen that time and again. But also, sometimes, you can learn a lot by watching the shows in between the commercials.

Our Bill Schneider joins us from Los Angeles, where he's been glued to reality programming. Really, Bill?


You know, this week, politics triumphed. Flat-out, cold-blooded political calculation finally paid off, and record numbers of Americans were enthralled by the spectacle. Anything that gets 50 million Americans excited about a campaign surely deserves the political "Play of the Week." Al Gore? Well, yes. Him, too.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Want to see political reality? forget the conventions, those are staged events. For real political intrigue, you had to tune-in to "Survivor" on CBS. It had backstabbing, personal agendas, coalitions and manipulation -- all the things that make politics fun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This island is pretty much full of only two things -- snakes and rats. And in the end of Mother Nature, we have Richard the snake, who knowingly went after prey. And Kelly, who turned into the rat, that ran around like the rats do on this island, trying to run from the snake. I feel we owe it to the island's spirits that we have learned to come to know, to let it be in the end the way that mother nature intended it to be, for the snake to eat the rat.

SCHNEIDER: A typical decision by a typical voter. More than 50 million people watched the final episode of "Survivor" Wednesday night, more than twice the number who watched the political conventions.

In fact, a parallel storyline showed up in the presidential campaign. This is the week that Al Gore, the consummate politician, got back into the game. In his acceptance speech last week, and this week on the campaign trail, Gore finally found a message that resonated with voters, one he borrowed from John McCain -- straight talk.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people deserve to have a serious, intelligent, adult discussion of the choices that we face in this election year of 2000, so I'm going to give you specifics, and I'm going to talk about issues, because I think you deserve to know, and I think you deserve the right to be able to judge for yourself.

SCHNEIDER: All week long, Gore had George W. Bush on the defensive. On the economy:

GORE: Those on the other side who recently said we're worse off than we were eight years ago, I don't think so.

SCHNEIDER: On the military:

GORE: That makes me concerned when others try to run down America's military for political advantage in an election year. That's not only wrong, in fact, it's the wrong message to send our allies and adversaries across the world.

SCHNEIDER: And on tax cuts:

GORE: And I'm not going to stand for it. I will never support a tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

SCHNEIDER: Bush is facing a calculating, cold-blooded, cunning politician. It's a game he may not be fully prepared for.

BUSH: I'll be the same person, and if people like it, great, and if they don't, that's just what happens in the Democratic process.

SCHNEIDER: Just like some of the people on the island.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not a politician. I didn't come here to campaign for myself.

SCHNEIDER: She was a loser. The winner turned out to be a calculating, cold-blooded, cunning politician, the least popular figure with viewers, but he was fully prepared for the game.

HATCH: For me, it's not about you deciding who the best person is. I don't think you really know who I am. But I certainly had a strategy, and I came to play a game, and I was playing a game.

SCHNEIDER: So was Gore.

GORE: The presidency of the United States is not just a popularity contest; it is a day-by-day fight for real people.

SCHNEIDER: This was a good week for political survivors. Rich ended up with $1 million. Gore ends up with the political "Play of the Week."

And public display was part of the survivor's political strategy. Rich put quite a bit of himself on display to throw his competitors off-balance.

And talk about a public display of affection: Gore planted quite a smooch on his wife to show voters where his family values were -- Frank.

SESNO: Well, is Rich piloting the straight talk canoe, then, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Apparently he is.

SESNO: Gerry Seib here is wondering whether this is an attack ad or a comparative ad that we saw there on "Survivor."

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, the Bush campaign got itself into quite a twist this week, because The Republican Party made an ad in which they cited a Gore interview -- they used footage from a Gore interview -- in which he attested to President Clinton's truthfulness. The problem was that that interview was 6 years old. So it would have been deceptive to put that on air, and Bush insisted that they pull the ad.

The problem for Bush and the Bush campaign right now is that he promised to change the tone in Washington away from bitterness and backbiting toward bipartisanship. But how's going to do that without running tough negative ads? It's going to be a problem for him.

SESNO: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks a lot. "Political Play of the Week." You're a survivor. See you soon.


SESNO: Keeping President Clinton out of the spotlight has been part of the Gore campaign's survival strategy. Let's talk about that with Francine Kiefer of "The Christian Science Monitor" -- she's written about it -- Gerald Seib of "The Wall Street Journal."

Good day to you both.


SESNO: Talking about surviving. We're all here. It's Friday.

You have written about this rather extensively about the dos and the don'ts of where the Clinton campaign is allowed to overlap with the Gore campaign.

KIEFER: Right. The White House and the Gore campaign came up with a minideal recently to cover the period right after the convention, and what the president is allowed to do is to enact foreign policy. And he's over in Nigeria this weekend, nice and far away from the election scene, and he's allowed to fight the legislative battle in Congress. And of course, he's allowed to hold a lot of fund-raisers.

But he's not on the campaign trail for Gore right now and he's not doing any high-profile executive orders kinds of things that would overshadow the Gore campaign.

SESNO: The calculation, Gerald Seib, being? GERALD SEIB, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, the calculation being that Al Gore has to be what he said in his acceptance speech that he was, which is "My own man." It's a fairly direct statement of fact, but necessary for Gore to make.

I think what's lost some times here is what Bill Clinton can do for Al Gore still even while having a lower profile. He can energize the base, the black voters in particular -- tremendously popular with them. He can raise a lot of money, and he can manage the end game here in Washington with the Republican Congress over the next couple of months to the advantage of Democrats and to the advantage of Al Gore. And he's a master at that.

SESNO: Let me be counterintuitive for a moment. There's been a lot of hand-wringing about whether the character cloud that Bill Clinton may cast could jeopardize and darken the prospects of Al Gore. Has maybe, just maybe than been overstated?

KIEFER: Well, if you look at what some of the party leaders want out in the country, state Democratic leaders are telling me they'd like the president to come out. They're not worried about any of, you know...

SESNO: The character cloud?

KIEFER: Yes, they're not worried about that. They think he can energize the base, and one leader, the head of the Democratic Party in Missouri, which is a battleground state, told me today he'd like the president to come out on a multi-city swing tour to help get out the vote.

SEIB: And there's a piece of evidence that says that voters still have this concern beneath the surface. I mean, in a "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll that we did during the Democratic convention, we asked, "Which party do you think stands for strong moral values?" And Republicans by a 22-point margin did better than Democrats on that question.

So it's still there at subsurface. What I don't know is whether people really apply that to Al Gore.

SESNO: The question, though, is when we were going through impeachment we remember it well. People, you know, very soundly in poll after poll condemned the behavior, but they still supported the job that Bill Clinton was doing. The question is to what extent that translates to a political calculus?

SEIB: Right, and it's a two-edged sword, because in that same period it became clear that people didn't want to be reminded about Bill Clinton's transgressions, his personal transgressions, and to the extend Republicans try to raise those now I think they run that risk once again.

KIEFER: But you know, it also depends on what group of voters you're looking at, because Democrats are still interested in solidifying the base. The Republican base is still more behind Bush than they are -- than Democrats are behind Gore. And they feel that Democrats don't care about the whole scandal thing, and if -- if the president can come out there and energize them, that's a positive.

SESNO: Francine, I'm fascinated by a quote you have in your story. You're quoting a White House official saying, "We think -- and the vice president's campaign agrees as well -- that we can be very effective in framing the legislative debate this fall."

KIEFER: Right.

SESNO: Now, what does that suggest? That Clinton's going to go be back here framing the legislative debate while Gore's out doing something else?

KIEFER: Well, what it suggests is that they feel that -- that -- that Bush is out there blurring the lines between Democrats and Republicans. Bush -- Bush is out there...

SESNO: Triangulating...

KIEFER: Yes. Yes. He's out there. He's getting centrist, very centrist, and the Democrats want to point out there are real differences between us and them. And they feel that by engaging Clinton in the legislative battle, where you'll have differences on minimum wage or the patients' bill of rights or whatever, that Clinton can help point out those differences.

SESNO: Jerry, what has happened to the refrain that we heard at the Republican Convention that this election is about character and integrity and values in the Oval Office?

SEIB: Well, one of the things Al Gore did successfully in Los Angeles was call that into questions, I think, and he said the opposite. He said this election is about issues and details, and it was a complete response to the Republican convention, I think: subtle and implicit, but nonetheless a response, and it's had some resonance.

I think we'll find out because Republicans -- and I think the discussion about the kind of advertising Republicans are going to do bears this out -- are thinking about how to get the election more squarely back on those character, values and integrity questions that they want to focus on. But right now, as we talk, Al Gore has shifted it away from that somehow.

SESNO: Gerry Seib, Francine Kiefer, appreciate it. Great to see you, both.

And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, Ron Brownstein on the electoral battlegrounds, plus youth and politics.


NICK PISTENIS, COLLEGE FRESHMAN: I think if I voted today I'd probably still lean toward Bush, but if you give me another week, my answer might change. I don't know.


SESNO: We'll find out how the presidential candidates are faring with the younger generation, still ahead.


SESNO: You see it right mere. Today, vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman making his first solo campaign trip since joining the Democratic ticket. While Al Gore took the day off from the campaign trail, Senator Lieberman was in Delaware. He praised the Gore tax proposal, which includes a tax credit for higher education.

And while their parents might consider an education-related tax break as a plus, America's youngest voters seem to favor Republican George W. Bush. A new survey shows the Texas governor ahead with one caveat: These young supporters may not show up at the polls in November. That's a problem.

Kate Snow reports.


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brian Taylor and Nick Pistenis are just starting college, about to vote for the first time this fall.

BRIAN TAYLOR, COLLEGE FRESHMAN: Right now I'd go with Bush just because I think his spending is less. So he's going to help out more people.

SNOW: Bush is the big man on campus according to a new poll by a group geared toward Generation X voters. Neglection 2000 found Bush and Gore in a statistical dead heat among registered voters of all ages, but look what happened with the 18- to 34-year-old crowd: a 10- point lead for Governor Bush.

PISTENIS: I think if I voted today, I'd probably still lean toward Bush, but if you give me another week, my answer might change. I don't know.

SNOW: That sort of attitude might explain the numbers.

BRENT MCGOLDRICK, PROJECT DIRECTOR, NEGLECTION 2000: They aren't focused yet. Bush is sort of a new commodity. They've heard about Al Gore for the last eight years, and they're not sure, and they're willing maybe to give Bush a second look.

SNOW: At the trendy Trist Coffeehouse in Washington, voters in their 20s and early 30s say they didn't watch the recent conventions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was very celebrity-oriented, and I don't think the president has to entertain me.

SNOW: That's reflected in the poll. Only 13 percent of voters between 18 and 34 paid a lot of attention to the Republican National Convention. As voters get older, the numbers grow larger. Same thing for the Democratic convention. The youngest voters were least likely to pay a lot of attention. Republicans brought out George W. Bush's charismatic young nephew, George P. Bush. And the Democrats put Gore's eldest daughter, Karenna, on stage.

But in focus groups run by Neglection 2000, many young voters said it's not enough.

MCGOLDRICK: They don't feel like their vote can automatically be bought just because a young person is sort of trotted out on stage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to get out there and do it themselves, not send out their children or their relations to go out and do it, but really make the honest, open effort to go out and communicate with their younger voting demographics.

GORE: Our nation has always depended on young people.

SNOW: The Gore campaign says young people simply haven't tuned in yet, and both campaigns say they're actively going after the young vote, organizing voter drives on college campuses, doing Web chats online. Al Gore has even agreed to ever debate offer so far, including one from "The David Letterman Show," popular with the 20- something audience. Bush is considering it.

(on camera): Historically, voters between 18 and 34 don't have high turnout rates on Election Day. But neither campaign is dismissing their importance. In a tight race, young voters could make all the difference.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.


SESNO: Joining us now to talk, among other things, about the electoral college and the key November battlegrounds for George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times," great to see you.

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Good to see you, Frank.

SESNO: Let us start, though, with some of what we were just seeing in Kate's piece there, and some of what we were talking about as it went by, because you had a very interesting observation thing these younger voters.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, historically, if you go back to 1972 when we lowered the voting age to 18, in every election since, unless I'm mistaken, younger voters have voted for the winner, which suggests, I think, they are probably of all voters, as some of those numbers indicated, the least tethered to the process, the least connected to the debate, and they tend to get swept along by the general current of the election, and as a result, they have backed the winner every time.

SESNO: Are their different issues that appeal to different demographics this time around, since we don't have a Vietnam War that's sort of galvanizing the electorate or anything of that scale.

BROWNSTEIN: One of the big problems I think both candidates are having is that there is no single issue that is galvanizing the election, and in fact, you have an election in which you have two candidates who are topping a ticket for the first time about whom not that much is not really known, and you don't have a driving issue. As a result, you have a certain of volatility. I mean, both campaigns I think were a little freaked by the amount of voters who moved, you know, back and forth at the conventions. It suggests that the attachment to these candidates is not that deep. It also suggests that what happens after Labor Day could be more important than usual.

Usually, we think of the election as being essentially decided by Labor Day. Only twice has Gallup polling had the lead changed hands by after Labor Day, but this time with no big issue and candidates who's connections really I think are just forming, the events of September, October could be more important than we're used to.

SESNO: As they say, let's go to the map.

All right, now that the conventions are over, what does this electoral map start to look like?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think it's beginning to come into a little clearer focus, about what is realistic and what is not realistic for each side. Before the Democratic convention, Stan Greenberg, who is now one of Gore's pollsters, said to me that if Gore went up, he would go up disproportionately in Democratic areas, and it turned out to be exactly right. When you look at the first post-convention polling, Gore is back into very solid positions on the coast, in California and New Jersey with 12 to 13 point leads. The Bush campaign can talk all they want about competing in California, competing in New Jersey and in the Northeast, but this is a reminder that in anything but a blowout election, it is going to be almost impossible for Bush to win those places.

Now conversely, I was struck that at the same time when the numbers went up from 12 and 13 on the coast, in New Jersey and California, the poll that came out in Michigan post-convention had Gore up, which is the good news, but only up two, in a state that Clinton won by 13. And that was a poll that had him up two at a point where he's really at the height of his bounce. It suggests the Midwest is still really tough terrain for Gore. He's having a lot of trouble in a number of these Midwestern states, particularly with men, particularly with white men. That's a battle he's got to fight all the way through.

SESNO: It would be really interesting, too, to see what happens in border states, like Kentucky, for example, which Clinton won reasonably comfortably in '92, and a real squeaker in '96. And the polls there have been showing Bush country. It's run very Republican.

BROWNSTEIN: And in fact Republicans cite the fact that in this first round of Gore ads, there's only a minimal buy in Kentucky, suggesting that they're not really competing there. But if you look, there a whole series of states in the Midwest -- Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, I put in Illinois in a different category. Illinois should move in the same direction as New Jersey and California, but these other states are states where the swing voters are more culturally conservative, where gun control and abortion aren't a slam- dunk issue for Democrats, and where Gore, again, is going to have to move some numbers among men.

Almost all of the movement, depending on the poll you look at, post-convention for Gore has been among women. He's still losing among white men by 25-30 points, depending on the poll, and that, in the end, probably is not sustainable, since a candidate like Bush, who has his education focus a softer tone, you're probably not going to run up the numbers among women that you need to offset a disadvantage like that. So he's got to really find a way to start reaching some more men, especially, I think in the Midwest.

SESNO: How about a state like Florida? There was George W. Bush there today speaking Spanish, striking a hard line on Fidel Castro, contesting another state.

BROWNSTEIN: Florida is fascinating, I think, because all year, I mean, Florida has been a staunchingly Republican state, up until '96 when Clinton carried it in the previous. you know, 30 years. But the fact is that all year, Gore has been running at least as well as he has nationally in Florida, sometimes slightly ahead, and that suggests that when the race is close nationally, he can compete in Florida. He's got a big senior population, where he may be able to make some inroads on Medicare and Social Security, raising questions about the Bush approaches that Brooks talked about earlier in that piece. But also, Florida is a state with a big suburban population, and Gore may be able to do what Clinton did in '96, which is move a lot of those suburban women, just as he did in New Jersey, just as he did in Illinois, just as he did in Michigan.

So it is there for him and it may have to be there for him, given some of the problems he's having in the Midwest.

SESNO: Is there any suggestion that Joe Lieberman for the Democrats or Dick Cheney for the Republicans are having any impact in any of these critical states.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I mean, at the margin, perhaps, I mean, you can certainly, you know, you can talk about a higher Jewish turnout in a place like Florida because of Lieberman. But in the end, you know, especially as you go deeper into the fall, people vote for the president, you know, and that is the driving factor. And right now, you've got two candidates who are both looking at fairly broad maps. That's one of the fascinating things about this election. There are a lot of states in play. You have Gore competing in Florida. You have Bush competing in Wisconsin, and Ohio and the Pacific Northwest, states that have been reliably Democratic in the quarter century from '68 to '80 -- I'm sorry, in the last few elections for Clinton. So you have a really a broad map, and you have a lot of places in play, which makes it a truly fascinating election, I think.

SESNO: And we'll see how long they can stay in play in all of those places, because that's time and treasure. BROWNSTEIN: And money.

SESNO: And money.

BROWNSTEIN: A lot of money.

SESNO: All right. Ron Brownstein have a great weekend.

BROWNSTEIN: All right, thank you.

SESNO: There is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Just up, a closer look at George W. Bush and his ideas on international policy. Plus, two nominees and a party divided: the latest on the battle over who carries the Reform Party label.

And later:


MORTON: An estimated 80 million people watched the first Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960, more than watched the finale of "Survivor" this past week.

SESNO: There it is again, "Survivor."


SESNO: Bruce Morton on why presidential debates are must-see TV.


SESNO: We'll will have more of the day's political news in just a moment, but we want to give you some of the other top stories at this hour.

The United States Navy looking into allegations that a sailor groped a woman during last week's Tailhook Convention in Nevada. The civilian woman accuses the sailor of inappropriate touching in a hotel near Reno. The navy aviator group's 1991 convention was marked by charges of widespread sexual misconduct. Following that scandal, several senior Navy officials resigned and were punished. The Tailhook Association is not officially supported by the Navy.

In the case of the missing White House e-mail, White House lawyers today failed to get an obstruction of justice suit dismissed against the administration. Instead, former White House counsel Charles Ruff was ordered to testify as early as Monday about how he responded when he learned of the problem back in June, 1998. White House officials are accused of dragging their feet to delay production of e-mail relating to the Monica Lewinsky and campaign finance matters.

President Clinton is on his way to sub-Saharan Africa. It's his second trip there in two years -- first stop, Nigeria. In support of that country's Democratic transition, President Clinton will offer U.S. aid for health and education. Mr. Clinton will also visit Tanzania and encourage peace efforts in Burundi's civil war between the Hutus and Tutsis.

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is upset over some billboards sponsored by the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They show him with a milk mustache and the phrase "Got Prostate Cancer?" PETA charged the billboards in Wisconsin, the heart of the nation's dairy industry, to protest dairy products.


MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: I think that it's highly objectionable. And I also think it gives an incorrect message. I mean, milk is healthy. And milk has absolutely nothing to do with why I have prostate cancer. And I think that it's horrible that they are trying to affect an entire industry like that.


SESNO: PETA says dairy products are -- quoting here -- "horrible for human health." Giuliani says he may sue over the ads.

Investigators apparently have more clues in Wednesday's Gulf Air crash off the coast of Bahrain. Official sources tell CNN the Airbus jetliner was too fast and too high as it approached the airport runway. That crash killed all 143 people onboard the airliner.

President Clinton is sending another 500 Army soldiers to the fire-blistered West. The troops have been training at North Carolina's Fort Bragg. Another Army battalion and a Marine battalion, both from North Carolina, will go in the next couple of weeks. The goal is to have five full battalions on the fire lines by Labor Day, and one in reserve.

A private group says Congress gets a grade of "F" for its support of state parks. Backed from a new report by the National Park Trust, they say there is no consistent funding policy at the state or federal level to allow state parks to expand. And urban sprawl, they say, is creeping ever closer. The National Park Trust would like to see buffers created between developed areas and the parks.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns: third party sideshows, past and present.


SESNO: Now we focus on the plight of third-party presidential candidates. The infighting that split the Reform Party at its national convention is playing out at the state level now, as election officials try to determine which of the party's dueling candidates should appear on the fall ballot.

Some examples for you: In Montana, the secretary of state listed John Hagelin as the Reform Party nominee instead of Pat Buchanan, after he put both their names in a box yesterday and chose Hagelin. But Buchanan fought back in court. And now a judge has put the ballot selection process on hold until a hearing next week. Over in Iowa, officials drew lots from a specially purchased glass bowl to determine who would be named on the ballot as the Reform Party nominee.

Buchanan won. But Hagelin will be listed separately as -- we're quoting here -- "nominated by petition." In Kansas, the secretary of state has refused to put Buchanan's name on the ballot. But Buchanan is challenging the decision. And Tennessee election officials say both Buchanan and Hagelin will appear on that state's presidential ballot. But how they will be labeled still has not been decided.

As for the Green Party's presidential nominee, Ralph Nader, well, he has his own problems. Our latest poll suggests Nader's support has dwindled to the same level as Buchanan's. And in a four way match-up, Nader gets three percent, Buchanan two percent, in the CNN/"USA Today" Gallup survey of likely voters. Nader hit a high of six percent in our survey back in June.

Buchanan has remained at around 2 percent -- or at times even less.

Well, what to make of it all -- we're joined now by Megan Garvey of the "Los Angeles Times," and Ben Wattenberg, host of a PBS special next week on the history of third parties.

Megan, first to you, you've begun out on the roads somewhat and looking at these states, and listening to all this. What are we to make of these third and fourth parties this time around? And specifically, what are the prospects?

MEGAN GARVEY, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": What are we to make of them? I think, you know, as with Ross Perot, I think that Mr. Nader this time around has been affected in pushing an agenda -- a populist agenda. I think he argues somewhat convincingly on the road that without some of what he's had to say, and without some of the interest in him being as high been -- at least in the past -- that you wouldn't hear Vice President Gore out on the campaign trail and at the convention talking about the people and the powerful and who he is for.

And so in that sense, I think they are playing a very tradition role, sort of moving their party -- or their political philosophy -- successfully moving a mainstream party toward their way of thinking.

SESNO: Though it is hardly traditional to see people pulling names out of a special bowl, Ben Wattenberg, to determine who the nominee is the going to be. What's left of the Reform Party as a party?

BEN WATTENBERG, HOST, PBS' "A THIRD CHOICE": Well, I don't know. That will depend on probably how well Pat Buchanan does. And one of the great stories of this election is how remarkably poorly he's running in those polls. I mean, he has no excuse of being not well known. He has no excuse of not being able to get on the air. He's stated going into this tailspin last year before he left the Republican Party.

If you remember, he was running last or next-to-last in that Iowa straw poll. And so, somehow -- and we all feel that there are more than one or two percent of the people in America who, you know, would find some sympathy with Pat's views. But it seems as if he has become -- to use perhaps an appropriate phrase -- he has become not kosher to the American people.

SESNO: Megan, back to you for a moment -- because you have been watching and covering the Reform Party closely -- what are we seeing playing out in the states now?

GARVEY: Well, what we are saying is sort of what happens when a party falls apart the way it did so dramatically at its convention. And conventions are meant to bring parties together. They're meant to sort of put aside the differences, the fights during the primaries, the problems that they have leading up to it, and to head forward out of the convention as a unified -- as unit, you know, that has a single goal in mind, which is to get as many votes as possible for its nominee.

But when you come out with two distinct factions that literally hate each other at this point, and have entirely different ideas of what November should look like in terms of the Reform Party, then I think you get exactly what you have now, which is complete chaos.

SESNO: And is this reflected at the grassroots level, Megan -- at the grassroots level, this thing is disintegrating?

GARVEY: Well, I think that Buchanan would argue it had disintegrated long before he ever made his appearance on the Reform Party scene, that the party -- he has argued in the past -- and argues continually -- that the party had -- was defunct in many states; was not well attended; and that he brought his people in and that he reenergize the party; and that what you're seeing are people who disagree with him so vehemently that they were willing to sacrifice the Reform Party on the whole in order to get their point of view across.

SESNO: Ben Wattenberg, compare the third-party movement now -- if we can do that -- with what you have looked at and studied for your special upcoming PBS, third-party movements in the past.

WATTENBERG: Well, you know, it's always been in the American political deck. The first one -- or almost always -- the first one was in 1836, with Anti-Masonic Party, who came up with the wonderful -- which came up with the wonderful idea to have a party convention. And Abraham Lincoln was arguably -- depending on how you define it -- a third-party candidate.

Theodore Roosevelt, after he was president, was a third-party candidate. Robert La Follette got 15 percent of the vote. Both of them contributed heavily to putting the progressive movement's agenda on the docket. The socialists, Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas had an enormous -- didn't get many votes -- but had an enormous role of changing the agenda, particularly of the Democratic Party. George Wallace, perhaps not so much on his racial aspect of his campaign -- but on the law-and-order had a powerful impact.

And Ross Perot has had a powerful impact on the budget deficit. So these are legitimate tools. And I think they're on balance, healthy. I don't happen to agree with what Ralph Nader is saying. But he represents a real position on -- certainly on the trade issue. If Buchanan never rises, the other issue that Buchanan is flacking, is one that Nader doesn't want to play, which is the anti-immigration card. And, you know, I'm very pro-immigration. But there's a real constituency for that


SESNO: Megan, back to you for just a moment. What's next for the Reform Party, as we watched and talked about what's happening in this states? Where does it go from here?

GARVEY: Well, as it turns out, the FEC says today that they do have petitions from the Buchanan faction saying that he is the candidates in the 10 -- the 10 minimum states he need to certified in order to apply for the $12.6 million in federal matching funds, that are due whoever is determined to be the Reform Party's nominee. And the so the clock starts now. The 10 days go forward now which in the FEC will make a decision about who gets the money.

And everyone thought from the very beginning that whoever was first in with the certification would have the best shot at getting the $12.6 million.

SESNO: Megan Garvey, thanks very much. Appreciate your time.

Ben Wattenberg, great weekend to you both.

GARVEY: Thanks you.

SESNO: And still ahead, the Republican nominee and where he stands on some key international policy issues, as INSIDE POLITICS continues.



BUSH: This country was right to be concerned about a country like Kosovo, for example. But there are more refugees in conflict in Colombia. America's right to be concerned about Kuwait. But more of our oil comes from Venezuela. America is right to welcome trade with China. But we export nearly as much to Brazil. Our future cannot be separated from the future of Latin America.


SESNO: Today, George W. Bush has been focusing on U.S. relations with Latin America, perhaps as part of his continuing efforts to allay concerns over questions about international-policy experience.

Our David Ensor takes a closer look at what the Texas governor's stands on some key global issues.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Governor Bush announced his support for a broader national missile defense, Republican heavyweights joined him on stage. The unspoken message: The candidate may not have much hands-on experience with international issues, but people who do are backing him up.

BUSH: Our missile defense must be designed to protect all 50 states, and our friends, and allies, and deployed forces from overseas, from missiles attacks by rogue nations or accidental launches.

ENSOR: Bush wants a much more ambitious missile defense than President Clinton and Vice President Gore have advocated, including interceptors to knock out enemy missiles based not only on land, but at sea, and possibly in space. On the key question of when to use American troops overseas, the governor criticizes the deployment in Haiti, sees no exit strategy in Kosovo, and suggests the Clinton administration has used troops too often.

BUSH: America must be involved in the world, but that does not mean our military is the answer to every difficult policy situation, a substitute for strategy.

ENSOR: With Russia, Bush says he would stick to vital U.S. national interests: issues like cutting nuclear arms and safeguarding nuclear materials. Aides say he would put less emphasis than the Clinton administration has on promoting change in Russia through assistance for political parties and for market reform.

On China, Bush says he would treat the world's most populous nation as a strategic competitor, although he supports permanent normal trade status. Bush argues the Clinton policy has been inconsistent.

BUSH: One year, it is said to be run by the "Butchers of Beijing." A few years later, the same administration pronounces it a strategic partner.

ENSOR: On global issues, Governor Bush is firmly in the Republican mainstream, an internationalist opposed to isolationism, but he has so far mostly avoided getting into the all-important details.

LEE HAMILTON (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Governor Bush is still a work-in-progress with regard to foreign policy.

ENSOR: The governor may skimp on specifics, but he does not lack for confidence that he can persuade other leaders to do what he wants.

BUSH: The quickest way to reduce the price of gasoline is to convince our friends and OPEC to open up the spigots.

HAMILTON: He has confidence in a kind of a tough guy, straight- talk approach. The question is: Is he going to be as successful in persuading OPEC to produce more oil or the Russians to accept a limited missile defense system or a broader missile defense system as he thinks he will be? My own judgment on that is that he's going to find that task tougher than he may think.

ENSOR (on camera): Is Governor Bush overconfident about what he could achieve if elected president in an arena where he has little experience? His advisers say Governor Bush can be very convincing, and they say he has something more important than experience: good judgment.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


SESNO: Just ahead, when the candidates debate will America watch? Our Bruce Morton says yes, absolutely.


SESNO: The campaigns of George W. Bush and Al Gore are still working to hammer out the schedules and the forums for the presidential debates. But in the long run, do debates really matter? Well, based on their history, our Bruce Morton says yes, they matter a great deal.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The candidates need no introduction. The Republican candidate, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, and the Democratic candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An estimated 80 million people watched the first Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960, more than watched the finale of "Survivor" this past week. A poll then showed an estimated 4 million people voted solely based on the debates. They were for Kennedy, 3 to 1. He won the election by fewer than 120,000 votes.

Do debates matter? In 1976, President Gerald Ford insisted that communist Poland was not dominated by the Soviet Union.


GERALD FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't believe that the Poles consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. Each of those countries is independent, autonomous.


MORTON: Edward Fouhy is a past executive producer of presidential debates.

EDWARD FOUHY, FORMER EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: In a campaign as close as that one was with Jimmy Carter, you could say the left-handed Unitarian vote decided it. But the fact is that that was a moment that everybody in America was watching.

MORTON: Debates do draw big audiences. Four years later, Ronald Reagan may have sealed his victory over Jimmy Carter with one line from their TV debate.


RONALD REAGAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you better off than you were four years ago?


MORTON: Maybe it's because they're important the candidates argue so hard over format, over who should ask questions.

The Reagan and Mondale campaigns between them in 1984 vetoed about 100 reporters.

Do details matter?

FOUHY: It probably matters a little bit, but by the time they get to this stage in a campaign, the candidates are very, very comfortable at all manner of formats, and particularly this year, where there have been so many primary debates.

MORTON: And sure enough, Reagan, after looking old and uncertain in his first debate with Mondale, turned the tables in their rematch with a single line.


REAGAN: I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.


MORTON: Traditionally, underdogs want debates; favorites aren't so sure. Bill Clinton sent chickens after President Bush in 1992. And in one of their debates, Bush was spotted checking his watch as if impatient with the voters' questions.

We don't know what will happen this time -- how many debates, what format -- but when they happen, many will watch. They are one of the few campaign events to which Americans, apathetic about politics, pay attention. People watch, people talk about them the next day. They matter.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


SESNO: They matter. That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. You can go online all the time at CNN's

And these weekend programming notes, former Democratic president candidate Michael Dukakis will be among Wolf Blitzer's guests on "LATE EDITION" on Sunday. That's noon Eastern.

And at 5:30 p.m. Eastern, also Sunday, Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Lieberman will be the guest on "BOTH SIDES WITH JESSE JACKSON."

For now, I'm Frank Sesno. Have a great weekend. "WORLDVIEW" is next.



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