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Inside Politics

Gore Unveils Prescription Drug Plan; Bush Touts His Education Proposal

Aired August 28, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The real question here is not what's good for me or what's good for my opponent, it's what good for you.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore tries to personalize his prescription drug plan, amid signs he has the edge on the issue.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Al Gore is trying to do for prescription drugs what Hillary Clinton tried to do for health care.


SHAW: George W. Bush's campaign responds with a blast from the not-too-distant past.

Plus: revisiting the dark side of Richard Milhous Nixon. Do new allegations ring true?

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

SHAW: Thank you for joining us. Judy is off today.

We begin with Al Gore, putting prescription-drug coverage front and center and accusing George W. Bush of failing to do the same. Gore's swing through Florida today made it even more clear that his campaign is trying to seize an opening on health care issues.

CNN's Pat Neal reports on Gore's pitch and the Bush camp's counterattack.


PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the pharmacy counter to a public forum, Vice President Al Gore highlighted his proposal to expand Medicare to include prescription-drug benefits. GORE: Now, a lot of times, if a senior is on fixed incomes -- on a fixed income -- that person will have to choose between paying for the prescription medicine and paying for food -- or paying for rent.

NEAL: Gore believes this is a tailor-made issue in Florida, where one-third of the likely voters is over 60. The Gore proposal would cost an estimated $253 billion over the next 10 years. It includes recoverage for low-income Medicare recipients. Higher-income recipients would pay half the costs of their prescriptions up to $5,000 annually. Gore believes he has Bush on the defensive.

GORE: Our opponents in this election have not put out a prescription-drug plan.

NEAL: Bush aides say details will come shortly. But they say Bush supports a bipartisan plan before Congress that would provide subsidies for Medicare recipients to purchase private insurance.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Seniors at their choice should be able to pick and choose amongst a variety of plans, all of which will include prescription drugs.

NEAL: But when it came to attacking Al Gore's plan, a Bush adviser was more specific.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Al Gore is trying to do for prescription drugs what Hillary Clinton tried to do for health care: and that's have the government control the prescription drugs.

NEAL: Both parties started a fight over the airwaves, targeting voters in the same nine states.


NARRATOR: The Gore prescription plan: Bureaucrats decide. The Bush prescription plan: Seniors choose.



NARRATOR: The issue: prescription drugs. George Bush's approach leaves millions of seniors with no prescription drug coverage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glad to have you here.

NEAL: Bush continues to lead here in Florida polls, but the race is tight, despite Bush's advantage of having his bother as the governor. Gore thinks his health-care proposals give him the edge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, what's happening is the issues that are salient to people today really benefit the Democrats -- in particular, Al Gore. NEAL (on camera): Historically, Florida is a must-win state for Republicans. Clinton-Gore took the state in 1996, making them the first Democrats to do so in 20 years. Gore thinks he can repeat that by focusing on issues that appeal to the largest and most reliable block of voters: seniors.

Pat Neal, CNN, Tallahassee, Florida.


SHAW: The political debate over prescription-drug coverage also is playing out in some Senate races, and, in turn, in the TV ad wars.

That story from CNN's Jeanne Meserve.



BRAIN SCHWEITZER, MONTANA SENATE CANDIDATE: This bus-load of people will save $24,000 by buying prescription medicine in Canada for a 12-month period.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Montana farmer Brian Schweitzer has come out of nowhere, riding a bus and the issue of prescription drug prices to pose a significant challenge to incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns.


SCHWEITZER: People say: Oh boy, one little group like this, we can't change Congress. Watch us.


MESERVE: The Burns campaign says Schweitzer is just engaging in gimmickry. But a group funded by the pharmaceutical industry is taking Schweitzer seriously enough to put up an ad accusing him of trying to import so-called socialized medicine and price controls.


NARRATOR: We've all heard of seniors going to Canada for their medicines. But have you heard about the seniors who come from Canada to the U.S. because Canadians say their government-controlled health system is in crisis?


MESERVE: Drug prices may be the issue that decides the Montana race. In Michigan, Democratic Senate candidate Debbie Stabenow is trying to make hay with it in her race against Republican incumbent Spence Abraham.


NARRATOR: Spence Abraham supports private drug insurance, backed by drug companies who have contributed over $100,000 to his campaign.


MESERVE: The AFL-CIO has also weighed in with ads on Stabenow's behalf. But Abraham has countered. When Stabenow recently took a bus-load of seniors to Canada to buy cheaper drugs, Abraham had a truck emblazoned with his message following along.

Ed Bernstein in Nevada is another Democrat hoping to capitalize on the drug-price issue. He has taken seniors south to buy prescription drugs in Tijuana, Mexico.


NARRATOR: In one year, the pharmaceutical industry spent $87 million to influence Congress.

NARRATOR: Eighty-seven million to let them charge us up to three times more for prescriptions than in Canada or Mexico.


MESERVE (on camera): The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has encouraged Democratic candidates to use the drug price issue to differentiate themselves from Republicans. But in a twist, the Republican Senatorial Committee has helped to put up an ad in Rhode Island touting the drug-price voting record of incumbent Lincoln Chafee. The odd thing is, Chafee voted with the Democrats.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: And turning back to the presidential race, George W. Bush tried to draw attention away from prescription drugs, and back to what he's billing as his number one issue, education. Bush accused Vice President Gore of offering only an illusion of accountability in the nation's schools.


BUSH: Without comprehensive regular testing, without knowing if children are really learning, accountability is a myth and standards are just slogans. Without real accountability, children will be shuffled through school, they won't know how to read, and they will be left behind. And recent studies show us children are being left behind under the Clinton-Gore administration.


SHAW: Mr. Bush spoke outside the governor's mansion in Austin, Texas. As he and Gore continue positioning themselves on the issue, our new poll shows the presidential race remains neck-in-neck. Bush has 46 percent, Gore 45 percent in the CNN/"USA Today" Gallop poll of likely voters nationwide. Statistically, there has been no real change since about a week ago when Gore trailed Bush by one point.

We're joined now by Beth Fouhy, executive producer of CNN's political unit, and Jay Barney of "Time" magazine.

I have to ask you, has this race decided not to wait for Labor Day to start in earnest?

JAY CARNEY, "TIME": I think not, Bernie.

I think that ever since Michael Dukakis in 1988 made the colossal error of going on vacation after the Democratic Convention and letting George Bush -- then the vice president -- catch up and surpass him in the polls, the lesson has been that you come out of convention and you campaign straight out. That's what Bill Clinton did effectively in 1992. It's what he did again in '96. And it's what both candidates are doing now.

There is no break to be taken. And the candidate who goes on vacation, I think, does so at his own peril.

BETH FOUHY, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, CNN POLITICAL UNIT: And it also seems that because the change in the polls was so dramatic -- and all of the press and the voters who are paying attention now really cottoned to it -- it really seemed to change the dynamic between the two candidates as well. It definitely looks now like George W. Bush is playing defense -- whether it's just something that we observe, or whether it's really happening.

And it also -- what strikes me as sort of odd is that we are told by the campaign that Karl Rove, all the strategists, have prepared for this change, that Gore was going to get a significant bounce, that the polls would tighten up, and it would be a real horse race. Well, even if that's the case -- and Bush and his -- Bush's staff definitely seems to be prepared for that, Bush the candidate perhaps is not.

He seems to be a candidate that much prefers to coast, must prefers to cruise. And it lets out his best skills, his personal qualities, his gift of gab and so forth. But now that it's become a real tight race -- and when he had to sort of defend his position -- he looks like a much more uncomfortable candidate.

SHAW: Well, has he been caught off guard by having to defend his positions so soon?

CARNEY: I think the mistake he made, Bernie, is that, coming out of the Democratic Convention, there was a feeling in Austin that as long as their candidate stayed on his issues, stayed on message -- which has always been a virtue that George W. Bush has had -- that he would be OK. And yet, immediately last week, the moment Al Gore started attacking George W. Bush on Bush's tax plan, Bush reacted. And instead of a week about education policy -- which is a Bush strength -- we had a week of fights over whose tax-cut plan was better and whether or not Bush's tax cut plan would explode the deficit and that sort of thing. This week, we have similar problem. It is supposed to be education week for George W. Bush. And yet, it looks like it's going to be a prescription-drug week, because Al Gore wants it to be a prescription-drug week.

And I think that's, again, a sign of Bush on the defensive and not necessarily a good thing for his campaign.

SHAW: Gore: this week, health care, prescription drugs...

FOUHY: Right.

SHAW: ... a centerpiece. How well is Gore playing this issue?

FOUHY: He's doing a great job, it seems, in terms of taking the theme of his convention speech -- which is the people versus the powerful -- and then shifting it right into specific issues -- as Jay described, last week: taxes. He's really going after the Republicans on their big tax cut.

It's an obvious thing to go after for people who think that the richer are always favored by Republicans. It's clearly something that Gore tapped into.

Health care this week, tapping into that concern that, wow, you know, my grandmother can't pay for her prescription drugs and yet all these pharmaceutical companies are making record profits. He -- Gore has very skillfully kept the focus on issues that play into that theme.

Whether it's strategically planned or not, or whether he's going to shift back to his old mode of sort going back and forth on all sorts of issues remains to be seen. But right now, he's doing a good job.

SHAW: But Jay, given what Beth just outlined, if Gore focuses on health care, banging away at prescription drugs, and the governor concentrates on education, when will the governor ever catch up to Gore on prescription drugs?

CARNEY: Well, the...

SHAW: It's an imbalance there.

CARNEY: Well, the governor, I believe, is going to announce his prescription drug plan some time early next week. It's going to be a modified version of a plan supported by some Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. It will be a much more limited coverage plan. But at least it will get him in the game, and they will, as we're beginning to see -- they being the Bush campaign -- will try to portray the Gore campaign as sort of profligate spenders, you know, going to fritter away the surplus on massive entitlements, much like Hillary Clinton wanted to do with the health care plan. I think as a counterattack that can be reasonably effective. Just like on tax cuts, they can say that Gore's plan tries to lard up the IRS tax code with all these specific combinations of benefits that you can get if you have just the right number of family members going to college and in need of dependent care. They can sort of say that Al Gore wants the IRS to run your life: We just want to give you a tax cut.

FOUHY: You know, but in a way, I mean, it's as though that the Bush campaign, and even to some degree some of the Republican campaign committees, recognize that the party, the Republican Party has been on the wrong side of the prescription drug issue.

We just heard from Jeanne Meserve that a Republican Senate candidate, the incumbent, Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island, voted for the Democratic plan, and the Republican Party is touting his vote, saying that's a real sign of independence.

But clearly, the party knows that people are for a really generous prescription drug program for seniors and that seniors vote in large numbers. And bush is really in a position now of having to, to use an old term, triangulate: Stay away from the Capitol Hill Republicans but also stay away from Gore, and sort of his craft his own plan.

SHAW: We're being chased by the clock, but I have to ask you before you leave us, given all we've said, what is driving the closeness of this race right now?

CARNEY: I think it's the ambivalence of the public. There is no single cutting issue. There is not a great deal of love for either candidate. It's an open seat, Bernie. This is -- you know, neither one is really an incumbent.

And so I think voters, those crucial -- that crucial sort of 20 percent of swing voters that always decide a race, are going back and forth, you know, thinking, well, maybe I'm for Bush, maybe I'm for Gore.

FOUHY: And yet, at the same time, I mean, this really was supposed to happen: that the base vote of the Democratic Party would take another look at Gore and actually realize that hey, yes, this is the guy who's probably talking about my issues more than Bush is. Bush is doing a very good job of reaching out to those people and broadening the Republican message. But the real base vote typically goes back to their traditional person, and that's what we've seen happen.

SHAW: Beth Fouhy, Jay Carney, thanks very much. Good to see you as always.

And still ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, the Republican hopeful prepares for a trip down memory lane. Plus, has Al Gore sparked a new campaign tradition?


SHAW: George W. Bush will revisit the scene of his primary defeat tomorrow. Bush will make a campaign stop in New Hampshire nearly seven months after losing the-first-in-the-nation GOP primary to Arizona Senator John McCain.

Bush says he has learned a lot since that February contest.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: Well, I learned that first place is better than second place, and I'm not nervous in the least. I look forward to seeing my friends in New Hampshire and hope full well I can reach out to some of John McCain's supporters and carry that important state.


SHAW: Bush's trip to the granite state comes as a new poll shows him solidly ahead among likely voters there. The ARG survey puts Bush's support at 50 percent with Al Gore at 35 percent.

Campaigning for the Democratic ticket in the battleground state of Illinois, Senator Joe Lieberman combined political issues with religion. This morning, Lieberman delivered a get-out-the-vote message at an interfaith breakfast in Chicago.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I want to tell you that the people in this room have the capacity together to motivate your flocks to come out and vote in a way that will carry the state of Illinois.


SHAW: Yesterday, at a Detroit church the Jewish vice presidential candidate talked about the religious significance of his candidacy.


LIEBERMAN: I hope it will enable people, all people who are moved, to feel more free to talk about their faith and about their religion. And I hope that it will reinforce a belief they feel as strongly as anything else that there must be a place for faith in America's public life.


SHAW: Lieberman also called for improved relations between members of different faiths.

There is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PIERRE THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To understand George W. Bush's record on crime and gun control, you need only to come to Harris County, Texas.


SHAW: Pierre Thomas takes a closer look at the Texas governor and his record on crime. Plus, what do Joe Lieberman's international policy positions reveal about Al Gore? David Ensor reports.

And later, a tell-all book and its allegations about the late President Richard Nixon. We will talk to the book's author and to a Nixon biographer, who disagrees.


SHAW: We will have more of the day's political news coming up, but now this look at some other top stories. For the first time in two years, John and Patsy Ramsey are talking to Boulder police about the unsolved murder of their daughter, JonBenet.

CNN's Brian Cabell joins with details from downtown Atlanta, where the meetings took place -- Brian.


The Ramseys have been upstairs here at their lawyer's office for the last eight hours so far, and take away an hour, that's still a very lengthy interview. They wanted to talk to Patsy first. They were still talking to her as of about 2:15. Afterwards they would talk to John. This will continue through the late afternoon, perhaps into the evening, and possibly into tomorrow morning. We don't know.

When they came out for lunch this afternoon, about 1 o'clock Eastern, both the Ramseys and their attorneys seemed to be relaxed. They were smiling. And they seemed to be overall very pleased with the tone of the interview.


LIN WOOD, ATTORNEY: I don't want to characterize substantively. Let me say this: From my perspective, the questions have been fair, consistent with the request made by Chief Beckner about new questions dealing with information developed or that has been found since June of 1998. So it's going very smoothly. I hope it's being productive to the investigation.


CABELL: Before the interview, the Boulder police chief was asked, "Are the Ramseys suspects?" He played a bit of a semantic game. He said: "No, they're not suspects. They are under suspicion."

I think it would be fair to say that at the end of this whole process, this interview process, the Ramseys would like to be neither suspects nor under suspicion. But again, what sort of -- what sort of we'll have at the end of this we certainly don't know.

The Boulder police chief and the prosecutors have not said they'll come out with a final statement on this here in Atlanta or perhaps back in Denver for quite some time. So we will just have to wait and see.

Again, this may not end until tomorrow morning -- Bernie.

SHAW: Brian, what do the Ramseys hope to gain from these meetings?

CABELL: Well, quite simply, they want to find the killer of their daughter. That's what they will tell you repeatedly. That's what they've said for 3 1/2 years. Secondarily, they would like to clear their name, clear their reputation. But they say there is still a killer out on the loose. We heard that from them almost day one. They say that killer is still out there. They want to help the police, they say, find that killer.

SHAW: OK, Brian Cabell in Atlanta, thank you.

Congressional investigators questioned Firestone executives today about how they dealt with the company's tire safety problem. Investigators say they want to know who knew what and when they knew it.

Firestone is in the midst of a massive recall of tire models being investigated in dozens of traffic deaths. Critics say Firestone officials knew about defects long before they told U.S. customers.

Meanwhile, a report by the Venezuelan government on possible sanctions against Firestone and Ford is expected to be released Tuesday.

The army is sending in another 550 soldiers to help firefighters battle fires in 11 western state. The latest troop deployment heads to Montana. Wildfires there are threatening some 150 homes near Yellowstone National Park.

An Army spokesman says the fires are considered a domestic enemy.

At least two bodies have been recovered from a burned-out television tower in Moscow. Firefighters in the Russian capital say the fire, which started yesterday, is now out. This tower is nearly 1,800 feet tall. It's the world's second-tallest free-standing structure.

President Clinton is lending United States support for the Burundi peace effort. He and former South African President Nelson Mandela today attended peace negotiations in Tanzania. They hoped to witness the signing of comprehensive agreement ending seven years of civil war in Burundi. But U.S. officials said the talks are in turmoil. A pact was signed, but key factions in the conflict did not participate. President Clinton's next stop: Cairo, Egypt, where he will discuss the Middle East peace process with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, another drop in the crime rate prompts new sparring in the presidential race.


SHAW: The Gore campaign is touting new crimes statistics and trying to use them against George W. Bush. The Justice Department reports violent crime dropped another 10 percent here in the United States last year to its lowest level since the government began keeping such records in 1973.

The Gore camp cites President Clinton's "cops initiative" to put 100,000 new community police officers on the streets as a key factor in the reduction in crime. And Gore's Web site takes aim at Governor Bush for saying he would eliminate that program.

In response, the Bush campaign says the cops initiative is just another big government initiative and the governor favors local control.

Now, let's take a closer look at Governor Bush's plan to combat crime in America. Here's CNN's Pierre Thomas.


THOMAS (voice-over): To understand George W. Bush's record on crime and gun control, you need only to come to Harris County, Texas, a conservative tough-on-crime community where 33,000 residents have permits to carry concealed weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Criminals are using guns to accomplish their aims, and I need to do something to better protect myself and make myself more their equal.

THOMAS: Pro-death penalty.

CHUCK ROSENTHAL, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: There are some crimes that are so heinous that if you commit those crimes you have to pay for it with your own life.

THOMAS: Since Governor Bush took office in 1995, Texas has put more than 130 inmates to death, more than any other state in the Union.

BUSH: The death penalty is not an easy subject for a lot of folks. I'm going to uphold the laws of the land, and if it costs me politically, it costs me politically.

THOMAS (on camera): Bush's position on the death penalty should come as no surprise. In fact, in one recent survey, 73 percent of Texans were in support of capital punishment.

BUSH: Is everybody OK?

THOMAS (voice-over): Bush supporters point to the death penalty as indicative of a get-tough-on crime attitude.

Bush has supported one of the nation's largest prison build-ups. Under the construction program which began in previous administrations, the number of Texas prison beds will grow from 41,000 in 1989 to 150,000 when completed this year. And he signed legislation toughening penalties against juvenile offenders, including allowing youth as young as 14 to be tried as adults.

But in this campaign, any talk of crime fighting also often leads to the question of gun control, and it is here Bush walks a political tightrope; balancing the proud pro-gun Texas tradition against the need to appear more moderate before a national electorate which generally favors more restrictions on firearms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had a history where people have had and owned pistols, shotguns and rifles.

THOMAS: Bush supported a law limiting the ability of Texas cities to sue gun manufacturers, he opposes a three-day waiting period for firearms purchases and weekend gun shows. And in 1995, Bush signed a law legalizing the possession of concealed weapons despite opposition from a number of state law enforcement officials.

BUSH: He said, I believe law-abiding citizens should be able to protect themselves and their families.

THOMAS: Since the measure became law, 212,000 Texans have received concealed weapons licenses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have doctors, lawyers, we have federal judges, district judges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two shots, fire!

THOMAS: Many Texans say Bush helped level the playing field against criminals who are now on the defensive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are running scared out there, because they don't know who's carrying and who's not.

THOMAS: But Bush critics say he is in the hip pocket of the National Rifle Aassociation.


NARRATOR: No wonder the NRA says...

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: If we win, we'll have a president where we work out of their office.


THOMAS: Bush supporters scoff at any notion that he's soft on guns. They say he increased state funding for gun crime prosecutions, supports trigger lock distribution programs, and has sometimes taken positions at odds with the gun lobby. He favors raising the legal age for handgun possession from 18 to 21, and would maintain the federal ban on assault weapons, which the NRA wants repealed.

So what has all Bush's actions meant to the Texas crime rate, and how does Texas compare nationally? Statewide from 1994-1999, there was a 20 percent drop in crime in Texas, a drop that mirrors the national crime decline that began seven years ago during the Clinton- Gore administration.

Pierre Thomas, CNN, Harris County, Texas.


SHAW: And tomorrow, Pierre Thomas takes a closer look at Al Gore and his record on crime.

In the New York Senate race, Republican Rick Lazio is making his tax returns public. The Long Island congressman has been promising to do so for weeks, giving Hillary Rodham Clinton an opening to suggest he has something to hide. As for Lazio's campaign platform in Texas, Mrs. Clinton is taking aim at that, too, calling it "Bush Light."


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: My opponent should stop misleading New Yorkers about his tax plan. He should give us the real numbers, because if you can't trust what he says about his numbers, how can we trust our future to him? And so, I want to call on him again, to admit that his tax plan costs more than a trillion dollars. I believe that it's a kind of "Bush Light." You know, he is trying to...


He is trying to disguise what he is really doing.


SHAW: Last week, Lazio unveiled a plan to cut federal taxes by $776 billion over the next 10 years.

Up next, global policy and the Democratic ticket.


SHAW: Returning now to Atlanta, where Lin Wood is the lawyer for John and Patsy Ramsey, they have been meeting with the Boulder, Colorado police. The lawyer now talking to reporters outside his law office in Atlanta.


LIN WOOD, ATTORNEY FOR RAMSEYS: ... the request that Chief Beckner made. Mr. Cane's (ph) position is that that was obstructionism, that I was afraid to let John and Patsy answer questions because I thought those answers might harm them and that obviously, unless he was given free rein to ask any question he wanted to, he didn't want to participate in the interviews.

QUESTION: But it was about the security arrangement?

WOOD: Yes, it was about -- in part -- in large part it was about matters that had nothing to do with legitimate areas concerning the investigation of JonBenet Ramsey's murder.

QUESTION: ... looking seriously at other suspects?

WOOD: Michael Cane is not.

QUESTION: Are the others?

WOOD: Again, I came out and I complimented Chief Beckner, that is the first time I have had a chance to meet him face to face. I think Chief Beckner is, from what I have seen in my discussions with him, an individual who I think is interested in trying to be objective and fair and cover all of the areas that the evidence will lead him to cover. I feel like he's someone that we can deal with, I would be comfortable in dealing with him. Again, I'm going to give Mr. Cane another try tomorrow, but I don't have a lot of hope. But maybe tomorrow is new day, maybe we're a little bit tired late in the afternoon.


WOOD: I'm going to let Patsy and John probably answer a few questions tomorrow. I don't want them to be put in the position of answering questions today since we still have the interviews remaining to be finished. But you'll have a chance, hopefully, they will be able to talk to you tomorrow.


WOOD: Patsy Ramsey answered every question that was fair, truthfully and, you know, at one point I asked Michael Cane when he was up and threatening to leave, I said, you know, why don't you stay if you got a hundred questions? Maybe 10 of them I won't let her answer because I don't think it's within the request of Chief Beckner, but you'll at least get 90 of the questions answered. And, you know, he was going to walk out. I don't think they came here to get information, Michael Cane did not.

QUESTION: Did you break off the interview?

WOOD: No, I've been -- it got to be 5:00 and six of them are working on Colorado time, so it's 3:00 to them, it's 5:00 to me. I am tired, my clients are tired. It was a long back and forth in the afternoon and maybe we'll come back tomorrow a little more fresh and more rested, and we'll get off to a better start than we ended today.

OK, thank you and we'll talk to you tomorrow. SHAW: Lin Wood, the attorney for John and Patsy Ramsey. One part of this couple has been answering questions put forth by the Boulder, Colorado police, among them police chief Mark Beckner. We heard Lin Wood say -- quote -- "he is someone we can deal with." The Ramsey's daughter, JonBenet was found murdered the day after Christmas in 1996. The Ramseys deny any involvement and they say they would like to find who killed their daughter.

When we return, the controversial biography of the late-President Richard Nixon. We will talk to the author, Anthony Summers, and to Nixon biographer Stanley Kutler.


SHAW: Supporters of Richard Nixon are dismissing the claims made in a new biography of the late-president. Author Anthony Summers raises allegations of spousal abuse and drug abuse in his new book, "The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon."

Our Bruce Morton takes a look at the book and the reactions.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The most scandalous charge in the book is that Nixon, after losing the race to be governor of California in 1962, beat his wife Pat, hitting her hard enough to give her a black eye. Author Anthony Summers offers no direct evidence, quoting former Nixon aide John Sears (ph) as saying two men, lawyer Walter Taylor (ph) and Nixon friend Pat Hillings (ph) told him that. Sears says yes they did, but both Taylor and Hillings are dead.

JOHN TAYLOR, NIXON LIBRARY AND BIRTHPLACE FOUNDATION: There is no family member, no son-in-law, no close aide, no personal friend of President and Mrs. Nixon who could say that he had ever struck her, because he never did. The only sources in the book are second and third-ring campaign aides, hangers-on.

MORTON: The book also says that in 1968, Dreyfus (ph) Fund founder Jack Dreyfus gave Nixon a prescription drug called Dilantin, which can alter moods.

ANTHONY SUMMERS, AUTHOR, "ARROGANCE OF POWER": Jack Dreyfus, a respected man, a great advocate of Dilantin, says that just before the beginning of the presidency, he told Nixon over dinner about Dilantin and Nixon said, I would like some of those, and he went out to the car and brought him back a bucket of a thousand of them.

TAYLOR: Mr. Dreyfus undoubtedly gave Dilantin to President Nixon. In the 1980s, when I was President Nixon's aide in New York, Mr. Dreyfus sent a batch of Dilantin to President Nixon when he was suffering from shingles. The president wrote him a very polite thank you note and threw the pills away.

SUMMERS: And -- but then again, in the middle of the Watergate period, in 1973, Nixon was given another bucket of a thousand. Again, it's simply not possible for the Nixon librarian now to say that Nixon didn't take them.

MORTON: Stephen Bull was President Nixon's personal aide from 1969 through 1974, and made trips to the president's medicine cabinet.

STEPHEN BULL, FMR. NIXON AIDE: I knew what was in his desk, because I had to, you know, go in and find a piece of paper for him. I knew what was in his medicine cabinet, he sent me up there one time to get an allergy medication for him. I mean, this is just not true.

MORTON: Summers writes about Nixon's visits to a New York psychotherapist, Dr. Arnold Hutchnecker (ph), in the 1950s, but Hutchnecker wrote in "Look" magazine in 1969 that he detected no sign of mental illness during his treatment.

Finally, and more important, Summers thinks, Vietnam.

SUMMERS: Of far greater importance to me in the historical sense is the evidence, for example, that in 1968 in order to get himself elected Nixon sabotaged Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam peace initiative.

MORTON: The evidence is mixed. Summers says veteran Asia hand Annie Shinult (ph) was the intermediary and cites a phone call which could have come from Nixon's running mate asking her to tell the South Vietnamese, hold on, we are going to win, they'd do better under Nixon. Shinult says she no longer remembers who said what, adding that the South Vietnamese always meant to postpone the peace talks until after the election, which is what they did.

Maybe the last word belongs to former Nixon aide Leonard Garment (ph), who Summers quotes as saying: "Those who have campaigned for the presidency have to have been among the strangest Americans. Richard Nixon just happened to be the strangest of a very strange group."

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: Joining us now, the author of "The Arrogance of Power," Anthony Summers.

You intended the major emphasis of your book to be on Vietnam and Richard Nixon. Are you concerned that that attention will be distracted by your revelations?

SUMMERS: In the long run, no, and it's quite obvious that people would jump on the reference to the problems that were in the Nixon marriage. I think that there is no question that there were such problems and it isn't rarely in the big picture a terrific issue as to whether or not he hit her on one occasion. I used that because, journalistically, I had it from more than one source and in ways that fitted together, that dove-tailed together. I have not made the allocation that this was a habitual thing throughout his life.

I think that it was a very difficult marriage and at that particular point, from two good sources, I gathered that Pat Nixon actually considered the possibility of divorce. But it didn't happen and I think that after the resignation, much later, this remarkable woman, who put up with a great deal for a very long time, and her husband entered a more serene period before he died.

SHAW: Do you think you had adequate enough substantiation to write that he struck and beat her?

SUMMERS: I did not write that he struck and beat her, I reported the allegations that fitted together from several different witnesses. It wasn't only John Sears. And by the way, contrary to what the man from the Nixon Library says, John Sears was a very significant aide in the years and months before the 1968 election, and then went on to serve in the White House. There were other -- Bill Van Patton (ph), who served on the "Los Angeles Times" as a journalist at that time, knew about it. Funny enough, Governor Pat Brown, who was Nixon's opponent in that gubernatorial election in 1962, also talked about it, as did one of his campaign aides. Now, people on the Republican side might say, they would, wouldn't they? But it wasn't just from one source.

SHAW: Very briefly, why was it a difficult marriage in your judgment?

SUMMERS: There came a time after the Kennedy defeat in 1960 and after the gubernatorial in 1962 when she just simply wanted out of politics. Nixon had been beaten and beaten again, and what's more, she found that living in California where he had become a lawyer and their income suddenly became very big and very good, was a pleasant way -- the way she wanted to live. But when eventually he decided to run in the 1968 election, she went along with him and she stood it out...


SUMMERS: She thought it through and stood by him.

SHAW: OK. Mr. Summers, when former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger ordered the military not to receive orders from this President, Nixon, unless they were cleared declared by him and/or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, does Schlesinger take this action because of the president's action, his behavior?

SUMMERS: He became concerned for a variety of reasons over several months: not -- as I think reported yesterday in the "New York Times" -- because of concerns that he, Schlesinger, had about Nixon's mental or emotional condition, particularly, but because many people -- not just Schlesinger -- were evincing concern at the time that someone in White House -- that out of the White House might come a move to try to keep Nixon in office in the face of Watergate in those last months: either by sealing off the capital with troops, sealing of the White House with troops.

I interviewed former Defense Secretary Schlesinger several times. He talked in great detail about it. And it's buttressed by interviews I did with the late Admiral Zumwalt, who was then heading the Navy -- and other -- another member of the former Joints Chiefs who preferred to remain anonymous, but who is still alive. SHAW: Time is always the enemy of complex subjects, so I have to conclude by asking you just one umbrella question: To your thinking, what was Nixon's guiding principle during his presidency?

SUMMERS: During his life, I'd rather say: Win, win. And he, much of the time, lost sight of principle -- during his presidency, a seesaw -- and I think your next interviewee may be able to talk well about that -- but in the end, of course -- in the second presidency -- hold on, hold and. It's the period in which -- no time to discuss it now, as you say -- but in which there are more and more signs of him becoming aberrant for whatever reason. And the great concern that the psychotherapist he saw all over the years had early on was that he could not with -- that Nixon could not stand up under pressure.

And I think that that was the problem for him. He was a man who wanted to seem strong, but he couldn't stand up under pressure.

SHAW: Anthony Summers -- the book: "The Arrogance of Power."

Thanks for joining us.

SUMMERS: Thank you.

SHAW: You're quite welcome.

And joining us now, Watergate historian and Nixon biographer, Stanley Kutler.

I have to ask you right away, as an a Nixon biographer, how do Mr. Summers allegations and conclusions strike you?

STANLEY KUTLER, NIXON BIOGRAPHER: Well, first of all, I'm at a disadvantage. I just got the book today. And I have read bits and pieces and snatches -- some subjects that interest me. Taken as a whole, I think that what Tony Summers has done here has reinforced a long-standing view of a disruptive, sometimes bleak, unstable, self- aggrandizing, self-serving man in the presidency for those six-plus years. I'm convinced that this book will not restore any Nixon reputation, nor does one particularly deserve to do that.

The problem here, though, you know, may deal with some of these things that are of the moment and the current news: wife beating, drinking, psychiatrists and so forth. Unfortunately, they take the play away from the subject of Nixon and his presidency.

SHAW: Let me ask you specifically: Has Summers shed any new light on the roll of former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger during the Nixon era?

KUTLER: Well, I disagree on that very, very strongly. When I looked at this matter, I uncovered the memoranda in the State -- in the Defense department -- I sent them to Secretary Schlesinger and asked him to comment on it and never heard from him. I suppose I went about it the wrong way.

But very, very simply, the orders that went out to the military were -- there were to orders that went out on August 8th -- one was from -- under Gerald Fords' name saying that he was now the commander- in-chief. He looked forward to their -- the military's cooperation and help. The other was from Schlesinger, saying that they owed their legion and support to the new commander-in-chief.

Well, the reaction of the military to this was quite vehement. One former chairman of Joint Chiefs, Thomas Moorer was furious about this. And he said this is what -- we know what we are supposed to do. More importantly, I think one of the more significant men in the military was General Bruce Palmer, who of the number-two man in the Army. And he said: We don't need to be told what your constitutional responsibilities are. We do what we are supposed to do.

I think that what is going on here, this is just an extension of a long-standing internecine war between Schlesinger, Haig, and Kissinger of no consequence to us.

SHAW: OK. Let me ask you in an umbrella sense, is Richard Milhous Nixon forever to be the lightning rod in death that he was in life?

KUTLER: Well, he left us an enormous record. He's been demonized by others. He's demonized himself with this long record -- paper trail of memoranda, tapes. People think the tapes are all. On the contrary, there are hundreds of thousands of pages of memoranda and messages back and forth that do not tell a flattering portrait.

SHAW: Well, let me interrupt you -- however rudely -- and ask you: How would you characterize Richard Nixon's historical standing?

KUTLER: Well, I think I now the way history is written. And over a period of time, we tend to squeeze an event or a period of time into less and less space. And 50, 100 years from now, I am quite convinced that the history of Richard Nixon will start with a simple sentence: that he was the first president of the United States to resign, to resign, and in disgrace.

There may be another sentence or two of something that he did. But 100 years from now, I don't think any of those things will be of any great moment; 100 years from now, somebody may ask: Well, why weren't we recognizing China for 50 years -- not why did we recognize China.

SHAW: All right.

Stanley Kutler, thank you very much for joining us -- Nixon Biographer, Watergate historian.

Never enough time, isn't there?


SHAW: Thank you.

Because of our coverage of the Ramsey news conference. We were unable to run David Ensor's piece on Al Gore and Joe Lieberman's international policy, but we promise you, we will bring that to you tomorrow.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

You can go online all the time at CNN's

And this note: George W. Bush will give an online interview tomorrow at 9:10 at Another note: Who has the better prescriptions for health care: Vice President Al Gore or Governor Bush? That's the topic on "CROSSFIRE" with representatives Nita Lowey and J.D. Hayworth, starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Bernard Shaw.

"WORLDVIEW" is next.



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