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Inside Politics

Gore Appears on 'Oprah Winfrey,' Takes Entertainment Industry to Task; Bush Scrambles to Regain His Lead in Florida

Aired September 11, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore tries to enhance his appeal to women voters by sitting down with Oprah and by taking the entertainment industry to task.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I call on these industries for an immediate cease-fire.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We'll tell you why Gore is taking aim at Hollywood violence now and whether it may backfire.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't blame it on my brother.


We're going to carry Florida.


SHAW: George W. Bush sounding sunny and fighting hard on the other Governor Bush's turf.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. President Clinton may have inaugurated the touchy-feely talk-show style of campaigning, but Al Gore took the "Oprah-ization" of politics, as some have called it, to a new level today by appearing with Ms. Winfrey herself.

As our Candy Crowley reports, it was part of Gore's two-pronged effort to enhance his advantage with women voters.



OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: Please welcome Democratic president candidate and vice president of these United States, Al Gore!



CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a guy trying to court the female vote and take away the culture issue from Republicans, Monday was a double: the warm and fuzzy female-centric "Oprah Winfrey Show."


WINFREY: Favorite childhood memory.

GORE: Hmm. Playing baseball with my dad.


CROWLEY: And a report from the Federal Trade Commission, charging the entertainment industry with marketing adult-rated CDs, videos and movies to children.


GORE: What we're calling for in this case is industry self- restraint and self-regulation.

WINFREY: Not censorship?

GORE: No, not censorship at all. It's about parenting.


CROWLEY: Still, the vice president says if the industry doesn't voluntarily stop trying to sell children material that is inappropriate for their age, he would enact tougher, though unspecified, penalties. Suggesting that Gore is late to this cultural war, GEORGE BUSH saw the new report as evidence of the need for what he's been saying all along.

BUSH: I'm going to remind moms and dads their biggest responsibility is to make sure their children are not watching and or playing with these violent games; secondly, to have character education in our schools, to welcome faith-based programs and after- school programs.

CROWLEY: Meanwhile, back with Oprah...


WINFREY: Favorite book of all times? Favorite book of all time?

GORE: In addition to the Bible, everybody has to say that... WINFREY: OK.

GORE: Maybe "The Red and The Black."


CROWLEY: For Gore, "The Oprah Show" kicks off a week when education will be the focus and swing-voting women the primary target.


GORE: We have to change our society and our culture to honor families, and to give moms and dads and daughters and sons the chance, the flexibility, the respect and the time to live out their lives in the context of their families.


CROWLEY: Gore's agenda includes a call for an expansion of family leave as well as better discipline and character education in schools.


CROWLEY: Gore's warning shot over the entertainment industry may meet with a sensitive target later this week. He intends to go to three glitzy galas, fund-raisers for the Democratic National Committee. Among the headliners, Cher, Bette Midler and Jon Bon Jovi.

Back to you.

WOODRUFF: Candy, we -- we know Al Gore is doing "Oprah" today, George W. Bush is doing her pretty soon. Why the candidates doing this program now?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, first of all, because she's got a great audience and it's an audience that they're trying to reach, and that's women. It is a largely female audience, and it's just a good forum. It's also not a harsh forum. It's not, you know, one of the Sunday talk shows, and it's one where she has said, look, I want to learn all about you.

So both men are convinced enough of their individual charms that this looks like something they'd like to do.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley on the road. Thanks a lot -- Bernie.

SHAW: And our Bill Schneider is here with more on Gore's challenge to Hollywood.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST; Well, Bernie, it's called a not "supposed to," like conservative Richard Nixon was not supposed to go to China, but he did. A Democratic like Bill Clinton was not supposed to criticize rap artist Sister Souljah, but he did. Democrats are not supposed to threaten the entertainment industry, but Al Gore is.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Conservatives like Tom DeLay are supposed to condemn Hollywood and popular culture.

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: The liberal establishment in education and in Hollywood only seem to glorify violence while demonizing police. It's time that America says enough is enough.

SCHNEIDER: Joe Lieberman joined forces with Republicans to condemn what he calls America's "sewer culture."

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are we sitting back, if you will, like couch potatoes and watching the systematic elimination of all the lines that separate the acceptable from the unacceptable in our culture?

SCHNEIDER: Now, Gore is joining forces with Lieberman, warning the entertainment industry that if they don't clean up their act, he is prepared to support -- quote -- "tougher measures to hold the industry accountable."

GORE: We are foolish if we do not realize that it is harmful to expose children to that kind of constant diet of violence and irresponsible sexuality.

SCHNEIDER: Isn't Gore worried about offending his Hollywood contributors? Apparently not. Isn't Gore worried about censorship? Apparently not.


GORE: Well, it's not about censorship; it's about citizenship.


SCHNEIDER: What worries Gore is that he is losing traditional values' voters, like middle-income churchgoers, who began leaving the Democratic Party back in the '60s when the party seemed to spurn their values. Traditional values' voters make up a fifth of the electorate, and right now, they're going for Bush by almost 20 points.


SCHNEIDER: Gore and Lieberman aim to re-establish the Democrats' claim two traditional values, and that's very important after the Clinton scandal and after those school shootings that created a sense of moral drift amidst prosperity.

SHAW: Bill, what do we know about those traditional value voters?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Bernie, they're older. Almost half of them are over 65. Gore has had trouble holding onto seniors, because a lot of seniors feel closer to Bush on values. Now, the risk for Gore is that by calling for government sanctions on the entertainment industry he will seem hopelessly uncool to younger voters of the Internet generation, who tend to be more libertarian. But they don't usually turn out to vote in large numbers, and eventually many of them become parents, just like baby boomers did. And you know what? Their views on traditional values change.

SHAW: Transformation. Thank you, Bill Schneider -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, while Gore ventured into nontraditional territory, George W. Bush was revisiting Florida, where he is engaged in a tougher fight than many people expected.

Our Jonathan Karl has more on Bush and the Florida battleground.


BUSH: Thank you for your hospitality.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Faced with internal polls by both parties showing Bush's lead in Florida has evaporated, Republicans are hitting the state with a vengeance.

BUSH: When I look you in the eye and say prescription drugs for seniors is a priority of mine, I'm the plain-spoken enough fellow to mean it.

KARL: Bush strategists had once hoped the popularity of Governor Jeb Bush would give them a clear advantage here. Now, they are calling the state an up-for-grabs battleground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shouldn't you be ahead given the advantages, including the fact that your brother there is the governor?

BUSH: Well, don't blame it on my brother!


We're going to carry Florida. I've got a good message.

KARL: A message and a lot of money to buy advertising.


BUSH: Every senior will have access to prescription drug benefits.



NARRATOR: And Al Gore? Gore opposed bipartisan reform. He's pushing a big government plan that let's Washington bureaucrats interfere with what your doctors prescribe.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KARL: According to an analysis by Competitive Media Reporting, nearly one out of every five dollars spent by the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee during the first half of last week was spent in Florida, a rate of spending far surpassing the Democrats in the state.

Bush aides acknowledge Gore has made inroads here with a plan to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. They're trying to turn that advantage into a liability by portraying the Gore plan as a one- size-fits-all government bureaucracy.

BUSH: My opponent's point of view is that in order to have a prescription drug benefit, than a government-run HMO in 15 regions -- only one government-run HMO, you'll be thrown into it. That's where you're going to end up, in a government-run HMO.

KARL: With this hand-picked crowd at the top of the world retirement community in Clearwater, Bush's message seemed to be getting through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that the Democratic plan is more like an ongoing Medicare plan, where the bureaucracy would tell people what they can or cannot have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I feel about Gore is that he made promises and Clinton for eight years, and where has it been?

KARL: The Gore campaign says its plan to administer a drug benefit through Medicare is preferable to Bush's plan to rely on insurance companies.

(on camera): Eager to counter the perception that Vice President Gore is campaigning harder than Bush, the Bush campaign is hyping its schedule this week. Bush will travel nearly 8,000 miles, visiting nine cities in five states, representing 106 electoral votes.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Clearwater, Florida.


SHAW: Now a closer look at Bush's prescription drug plan.

CNN's Pat Neal went to Pennsylvania, where many older voters already are getting help dealing with the issue of high drug prices.


PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After heart bypass surgery, Mary Hawkins' lifeline is a prescription drug benefit provided by her home state of Pennsylvania called PACE.

MARY HAWKINS: If I didn't have PACE, I wouldn't be taking that medicine, because I couldn't afford it.

NEAL: Mary lives entirely on her Social Security benefits, which amount to just $12,000 a year. George W. Bush wants to offer low- income seniors like Mary a plan to get quick relief from the exorbitant cost of medicine.

If elected, Bush says he'd immediately send $12 million a year for four years to the 50 states to model the prescription drug benefit offered by Pennsylvania.

ROBERT BROWDIE, PENNSYLVANIA SECRETARY OF AGING: I think our track record would lead one to say, well, gee, we know this works.

NEAL: Pennsylvania is one of 23 states that has authorized some prescription drug plan for seniors. It is the largest and one of the oldest, started 16 years ago.

RON POLLACK, FAMILIES USA: The vast majority of the programs are unlike Pennsylvania. They're relatively small, they only focus on the very poorest of the poor, and they only reach a tiny fraction of the poorest of the poor.

NEAL: Bush wants to build on these state programs, while Congress tackles his overall Medicare reform package. His plan, called Immediate Helping Hand, would give free drug coverage to seniors making under $12,000 a year. Seniors with incomes up to $14,600 would pay a small amount of the prescription cost.

UNIDENTIFIED PHARMACIST: Do you want to pay for that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm going to charge it.

NEAL: Any prescription drug costs in excess of $6,000 a year would be covered for all seniors, no matter the income level. The Bush campaign says seniors across the country would get relief within one year.

BROWDIE: I think it would be imposing but certainly not impossible.

NEAL: Critics don't agree.

POLLACK: It's really a fantasy to say this is going to happen immediately.

NEAL (on camera): First, Congress would have to approve the plan and appropriate the money. Then state legislatures would have to give their OK. And then those 27 states that don't have drug benefit plans, they need to create them.

(voice-over): Even states with existing programs, like Pennsylvania, would have to go back to the legislature to revise them. But the secretary of aging here thinks it's all doable.

BROWDIE: Most states would probably be able to have something up and running within nine months to a year.

CLAUDE HUMPHRIES: This is Prilosec. That's for the divaticulitis (ph).

NEAL: Claude and Ruth Humphries have an income of $24,000, too high to be eligible for PACE.

HUMPHRIES: When you're spending $300 and it's out of pocket, and with a minimum income, you have to save on every nickel you can. You don't go bowling.

NEAL: But if Bush's plan takes effect, states with existing programs would likely take the new federal money and expand benefits to include more seniors like the Humphries.

Still, critics raise many questions about the Bush plan. What happens to the states after the initial four years of funding?

I think they're also worried that Congress is never going to enact the larger program that Governor Bush has proposed, and the states will be left holding the bag.

NEAL: Pennsylvania funds its program with lottery proceeds. Other states don't have resources. Even Republican-dominated National Governor's Association determined that prescription drug coverage should not be a state responsibility.

Even though Bush's plan could provide relief to many poor seniors, it doesn't reach millions in the middle class, including those in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. And it's that group who are zeroing in on this issue this election year.

Pat Neal, CNN, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


WOODRUFF: Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS, October surprises: Should Al Gore or George Bush be worried about a possible international crisis prior to the presidential election?


MORET: There is concern in the White House that one or more of the nation's international foes may cause trouble as the presidential election draws closer.

As national security correspondent David Ensor reports, it is also something that Al Gore and George W. Bush may want to keep a sharp eye on.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If this is September in an election year, and you are George W. Bush or Al Gore, then it is time to worry about an October surprise.

LESLIE GELB, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: October surprises have occurred with such frequency over the years that one can't reject the notion of their happening again.

ENSOR: Back in 1980, the Ronald Reagan campaign worried that President Jimmy Carter might pull an October surprise by obtaining freedom for the American hostages in Tehran. It didn't happen. They did not get out until January, Mr. Reagan's inauguration day.

Gary Sick of the Carter White House wrote a book suggesting that there may have been a surprise, but for Carter, not Reagan.

GARY SICK, AUTHOR, "OCTOBER SURPRISE": My conclusion was, based on what a lot of people told me, that the Reagan campaign, particularly Bill Casey, who was the campaign manager, got in contact with the Iranians during that period of time, the run-up to the election, and did a deal to persuade the Iranians to keep the hostages in Tehran until after the election.

ENSOR: But Sick has to admit there still is no proof such a deal was done. A bipartisan congressional report also said no proof.

There have also been recent allegations, again not proven, that in the 1968 campaign, candidate Richard Nixon encouraged the South Vietnamese not to make peace with the north, since if elected he would get them a better deal than President Johnson, or candidate and Vice President Hubert Humphrey would.

If there is a surprise this year, it could come from outside the two campaigns, in fact, from abroad. For example, U.S. intelligence is monitoring Serbian forces closely for evidence that Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic could be planning, in October, to invade neighboring Montenegro. And U.S. officials put a battery of Patriot missiles on alert for possible travel to Israel to deter Iraq's Saddam Hussein from seeing the month before the election as the perfect moment to fire off some Scud missiles.

SAMUEL BERGER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We thought it was prudent to put ourselves on a somewhat higher state of readiness.

LESLIE GELB, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: It's possible that Saddam and Milosevic might feel that if they took military action in the heat of an American presidential campaign that we would ignore it, that they could get away with it. But that would be very dumb of them. Presidents jump on the chance to use force if anyone makes the mistake of committing aggression or giving us a good excuse for military action in the run-up to the November elections.

ENSOR: It tends to be the challengers -- the party not in the White House -- that worry the most about late-breaking developments overseas. But history shows they can favor either side. And nobody likes surprises.

David Ensor, CNN, the White House.


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

SHAW: Up next:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The same smile that Rick Lazio displays as he poses for pictures with supporters appears in a photograph that has given New York Democrats cause to call him a hypocrite.


SHAW: Frank Buckley tells us how Hillary Clinton and her supporters have pounced on a picture of her Senate rival.

WOODRUFF: Plus, Senator Rod Grams, vulnerable in Minnesota: We'll look at his hurtles to reelection.

And later:


CHILDREN (singing): We wish you would come to Denver, we wish you would come to Denver, and bring candidates.


SHAW: Kentuckians: singing the praises of hosting a political debate.


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

Wen Ho Lee is about to become a free man. The former nuclear scientist has agreed to a plea bargain in which he will plead guilty to one count of mishandling classified information and be released on time served. Initially, the federal government had suspected Lee of giving nuclear secrets to China, but he was never charged with espionage.

WOODRUFF: More oil is on the way from OPEC producers. Ministers voted formally today to raise oil production by 800,000 barrels a day. But OPEC officials say the increased output is not the sole answer to soaring gas prices.

As CNN's Peter Humi reports, it is the taxes on fuel that inspired protests in France.


PETER HUMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): British tourists left high and dry at channel port in the North of France: Protesting fisherman had blockaded the harbor and left thousands stranded.

Police stand by -- and although the actions breaks both French and European Union laws -- do not intervene. A few days later, a huge refinery is crippled near Le Havre, as protesting trucker and farmers park vehicles across access roads. Service stations run dry, France's economy handicapped. And yet, as this poll shows, a substantial majority of the population approved of the action that severely inconvenienced them.

PROF. JEAN-FRANCOIS AMADIEU, SORBONNE: It's because French people would like to get also tax reduction. And last week, government decided to reduce taxes, but it's not enough for people. They want to get more.

HUMI: And even when protests spill over into violence or vandalism, little, if any, legal action follows. This summer, workers who occupied a chemical plant in the east of the country eventually gave up the sit-in to save their jobs, but not before dumping a few thousand liters of acid into a nearby street. No one was punished.

The government, it would seem, is reluctant to intervene with force, no matter how disruptive the protest. Taking to the barricades is a tradition with its roots in France's revolutionary past, which as recently as 1968, led to the end of the de Gaulle era of government. The recent spate of fuel protests didn't threaten to topple the current French government, but it was a classic confrontation.

In other European countries, the work force resorts to strikes or protests after negotiations fail. In France, the opposite is the norm.

AMADIEU: When a group of workers wants to get something, because there is no negotiation of collective bargaining, this group must (UNINTELLIGIBLE) do something dramatic.

HUMI: In other words: Protest first, talk later.

(on camera): And who pays the bill? Well, ultimately it's the French taxpayer of course: the same taxpayer who, according to the polls, supports man and the women on the barricades.

Peter Humi, CNN, Paris.


SHAW: Here in the United States, deposed Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight says he will be telling his side of the story over the next two days. Indiana University announced his firing yesterday, after a freshman student claimed he was manhandled and cursed by Knight. I.U. president Myles Brand said the incident followed months of what he calls "defiant and hostile behavior" by Knight.

WOODRUFF: Suspended New York Yankees player Darryl Strawberry is being held in a Tampa, Florida jail on charges of reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Authorities say his SUV hit a street sign and a car while weaving through traffic today. No one was hurt.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns: an update on two Senate races of primary importance.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SHAW: Eight states hold primaries tomorrow, including Hillary Clinton's expected cakewalk in the Democratic Senate race in New York. In two of the other states, Rhode Island and Minnesota, Democrats are vying to face off against vulnerable Republican senators in November.

Now, let's take a look at that Minnesota Senate race and why incumbent Rod Grams appears to have a tough fight on his hands. Here's CNN's Patty Davis.


PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you ask Minnesota's Republican senator how his re-election prospects look, he'll tell you he's headed for victory.

SEN. ROD GRAMS (R), MINNESOTA: I think I'm working in the right direction, and I think I've got the overwhelming support of the majority of Minnesotans.

DAVIS: But his personal and job approval ratings signal a candidate in trouble.

STEVEN SCHIER, CARLETON COLLEGE: Very seldom over the last six years have either of those been over 50 percent in statewide polls. Now, that's a sign that this person isn't very well-known and well- liked and is vulnerable in running for re-election.

DAVIS: Add to that Grams' personal woes: a divorce and charges police went easy on his son, who was found with a bag of marijuana. All this talk of vulnerability, and Grams doesn't even have a Democratic opponent yet. That's about to change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to a debate between the DFL candidates for United States Senate.

DAVIS: Tuesday, Minnesotans go to the polls to choose one of four candidates battling it out in the state's primary.

(on camera): It's expected to be the most expensive race in Minnesota history. The Democratic race has been dubbed the battle of the megamillionaires. The two leading candidates have spent more than $7 million of their own money so far.

(voice-over): Candidates Mark Dayton, heir to the Dayton Hudson fortune, and Mike Ciresi, a trial lawyer famous for taking on tobacco companies, are pouring money into television ads.


NARRATOR: Look what he's done: You'll know what he can do.

Mike Ciresi, count on him.




DAVIS: The ads have catapulted Dayton to front-runner status with Ciresi in second place, this to the dismay of lesser-known and less well-financed candidates, State Senator Jerry Janezich and construction company executive Rebecca Yanisch.

REBECCA YANISCH (D), MINNESOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: We, in the past, have certainly rejected the multimillionaires in favor of candidates that have much fewer resources.

DAVIS: The candidates are trying to set themselves apart on the issues. Dayton would require all employers to provide health insurance. If Ciresi is elected, he vows not to take the Senate's health insurance until Americans get the same coverage.

Meanwhile, Janezich, who won the party's endorsement last June, rails against free trade.

Beyond issues, there's intrigue. Anonymous e-mails intended to discredit Ciresi have been linked to a Grams' aide. Grams has denied any involvement.

GRAMS: Mike Ciresi filed these charges before he even filed a candidacy to run for the U.S. Senate. But what more can you expect from a trial attorney?

MIKE CIRESI (D), MINNESOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: They're attacking me because they know that I'm their worst nightmare.

DAVIS: With Democrats eying the Minnesota seat to help them win back a majority in the Senate, Grams says he knows he's in for a tough fight against Tuesday's primary winner. He logged 8,000 miles last month meeting voters, voters who have proven notoriously independent- minded when it comes to choosing their elected officials.

Patty Davis, CNN, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


WOODRUFF: In the New York Senate race, meanwhile, Hillary Rodham Clinton got some campaign assistance from her husband today, even as her allies used a photograph as ammunition against her Republican rival, Rick Lazio.

CNN's Frank Buckley has a snapshot of the contest and the controversy.


BUCKLEY (voice-over): The same smile that Rick Lazio displays as he poses for pictures with supporters appears in a photograph that has given New York Democrats cause to call him a hypocrite.

ED KOCH, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Look at that! That is a hypocritical embrace.

BUCKLEY: Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch among those criticizing Lazio for a photo showing him shaking the hand of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, a photo taken during a Mideast trip with the Clintons in 1998 regarding the revision of the Palestinian charter calling for the destruction of Israel.

KOCH: What this does is show someone who's a hypocrite, and people don't like that.

BUCKLEY: Lazio was open to attack because he has criticized first lady Hillary Clinton for these pictures, showing her embracing the wife of Yasser Arafat just after Suha Arafat delivered a speech against Israel.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: It's the latest example of Rick Lazio saying one thing and doing another. That describes his congressional voting record. It describes his campaign. I've seen so many examples of it in the last months so that I think people in New York need to know that there's a big difference between what he says and what he does.

BUCKLEY: Rick Lazio says the image of him with Mr. Arafat is not equal to the one of her with Mrs. Arafat.

REP. RICK LAZIO (D-NY), SENATE CANDIDATE: It wasn't a kiss, it wasn't a hug, and it wasn't a call for a Palestinian state. And there's a world of difference between what Mrs. Clinton did and the reason I was there.

BUCKLEY: Ms. Clinton did not mention the issue on Monday during a joint appearance in New York with President Clinton, who endorsed a new government report criticizing the entertainment industry and his wife's candidacy.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason I think that she ought to be New York senator is that this media issue is another example of a lifetime of commitment to the whole idea of what our common responsibilities are for our children and for each other

BUCKLEY: Mrs. Clinton will vote on Tuesday in a Democratic primary, forced by Dr. Mark McMahon, a New York City orthopedic surgeon.

He is barely known anywhere in the state. He is being ignored by Hillary Clinton and most voters.

MARK MCMAHON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: We New Yorkers can show the rest of America what we're made of by sending Hillary Clinton back to Arkansas.

BUCKLEY (on camera): Mrs. Clinton's is expected to dispatch the doctor out of politics and back to the practice of medicine by Wednesday in time for her more significant clash Wednesday night against Rick Lazio, whom she meets in the first debate of the New York Senate race.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.


WOODRUFF: Still to come, on the stump for voters as the latest polls show a tight race for the White House.


WOODRUFF: In our daily CNN/"USA Today" Gallup tracking poll, Al Gore still has a lead over George W. Bush in a four-man race. Bush is favored by 49 percent of likely voters, Bush 42 percent.

Taking a look at some state polls out today, in the battleground state of Illinois, Gore now holds nearly a 15-point lead over Bush in a Zogby survey of likely voters.

Gore is also well ahead of Bush among likely voters in the New York state, 56 percent to 31 percent in the latest Marist Institute poll.

In New Hampshire, Bush and Gore are tied at 42 percent each in the newest WMUR poll.

And in a new poll in Colorado, Gore got 43 percent of the registered voters surveyed, Gore 40 percent. Bush held a 14-point lead in Colorado back in July -- Bernie.

MORET: And joining us now with their take on the poll numbers and other political developments, Beth Fouhy, executive producer of the CNN political unit, and Jodi Allen of "U.S. News & World Report."

What does this snapshot of the polls tell you, Jodi?

JODI ALLEN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Well it tells you, Bernie, that it is still neck and neck. I mean, these things change from day to day, especially a tracking poll. But it sure does seem to indicate that, at the moment anyway, the tide continues to run in Al Gore's direction, especially when you see a state like Colorado. That's the one that jumps out to me.

The -- you know, it was sort of assumed that Bush would carry the big sweep of western states, and yet here Gore is essentially even with him, within the margin of error. So New Hampshire too, those are states that are really surprising. And, of course, Illinois, that's the big prize.

BETH FOUHY, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, CNN POLITICAL UNIT: Well New Hampshire's been trending Democratic. I agree with you, though, about Colorado. It's really surprising. I mean, of course Bill Schneider tells us all the time, as you know, Bernie, that a tracking poll is only good for measuring trends. We're really not supposed to look at it as a snapshot of a particular day. Of course, everybody tends to do that, because it's exciting. It's the new piece of information. But like you're saying, the trend seems to be going Gore's way, with a three-point difference yesterday. And, you know, that's got to be very troubling to the Bush campaign.

I mean, what's really surprising to me, if we're talking trends, is how everything was going Gore -- Bush's way for such a long time, not only at the national polling level but also in all these state-by- state surveys. And in such a short time -- we've got this huge country, 250 million people live in this country. You'd think it would be a very, very, very slow ship to turn around, a very big ship. And it's turning out not to be. It turned around very quickly, which, of course, means it could turn around again very quickly.

MORET: That leads me to this next question.

Jodi, you used the phrase neck in neck. If there's not a breakout by either candidate, would you expect that all the way down to the eve of Election Day, November 7th, that it would be neck in neck?

FOUHY: It's really hard to say because we don't know what the next several weeks hold in terms of issue debates, you know, possible surprises. However, it is really interesting to see the fact that even though we've all been talking about the fact that Bush has had a lot of problems, slips and slides in the last couple of weeks, the fact it's still so close. I mean, that definitely suggests that there is a very strong well of support for him that hasn't really moved, that's going to be there, and that the narrow list of independent- minded voters is still undecided.

It's really not a race where Gore's walking away at this point, despite the problems that the Bush campaign has had?

ALLEN: I think it's important to remember that 20 years ago -- everybody goes back to the Carter-Reagan race, that not for 20 years have we had a race that was this close at this time. But remember that all of a sudden, in those last couple of weeks, something happened. I mean, partly it was the second debate. In the first debate, Reagan didn't do that well. But in the second debate, all of a sudden people looked at Reagan and said, you know, I'm kind of sick of Jimmy Carter, and this Ronald Reagan isn't as scary as I thought. And the whole thing shifted very quickly. So, as Beth says, it ain't over until it's over.

MORET: As did Yogi Berra. I'd better shift subjects.

Today, Federal Trade Commission report saying that Hollywood especially, the entertainment industry, marketing to kids, CDs, videos and movies that are adult rated. Vice President Gore, Joe Lieberman pouncing on that, Gore saying, if you don't clean up your act, you're going to get it federally, in terms of laws coming from this great capital of ours. My question is, what is the politics of this move?

ALLEN: Splendid. I think that it's a very good move for Gore. He nailed it today on "Oprah." The place that he has been gaining the most is with women, especially mothers, that only a couple of months ago he was actually behind Bush. Bush was ahead, not only wildly ahead among men but actually leading by I think six points among women. That's turned around entirely now, and Gore has a very healthy lead by 20 points in some polls.

And all of the polls that are polling that we at "U.S. News," the battleground surveys that we use and special surveys and our individual reporting, shows that when you go out and talk to mothers, they are very concerned about these issues. They think they do a pretty good job taking care of their kids, but they know that they can't watch them every minute of the day, and there's an awful lot of smut out there.

FOUHY: Yes, but I would also say that this is -- the politics, as you were discussing, it's the politics of a campaign that's feeling very confident right now. I think if Gore were behind significantly, he would really be wondering about whether to stick his neck out into an issue that to some degree is going into enemy territory, talking about potentially censorship, talking about morality, which is supposed to be the Republicans' turf.

Before, for many, many months, he was having to shore up base. Well, in fact, when we went to Los Angeles for the convention, the discussion was how is Hollywood going to handle this ticket, the Gore- Lieberman ticket, Tipper Gore and her rock lyrics, Joe Lieberman denouncing Hollywood. And they were having to do a little bit of explaining. Now we're seeing a very confident campaign that can reach out to this so-called "enemy territory" and really try to own it.

MORET: But Beth...


MORET: Hollywood giveth big bucks to the Gore campaign. Now Gore biting the hand that feedeth? Hypocrisy?

FOUHY: Well, sure, to some degree. But as we were jokingly saying this morning, he's probably already cashed the checks. He can do this. And it's also -- I mean, what is Hollywood going to do? This is certainly a ticket that is overall in their view going to be more favorable to their issues. So as any sophisticated political operation has to do you, you have to make some compromises. And that's evidently what Hollywood is willing to do.

MORET: I was going to switch subjects with the remaining minute unless you wanted to add an addendum to that.

ALLEN: Oh, go right ahead, Bernie.

MORET: OK, Dick Cheney has a campaign plane, he's getting more into the campaign. Joe Lieberman on the other side, out there campaigning. What do you make of what these two No. 2 choices bring to the tickets?

ALLEN: Well, of course, Cheney doesn't look like such a good pick in retrospect. He was the luxurious pick of a front-runner, and he was supposed to bring weightiness to the ticket, and he seems to have been more of a dead weight. And Lieberman, on the other hand, seemed like a sort of dangerous choice, but he's just played out beautifully. I mean, he turns out to be a very popular, warm candidate, something that, you know, Cheney is just never going to be a big-time baby-kisser. And it seems to come naturally to Lieberman.

FOUHY: Yes, but I would still say, Bernie, I mean, in the end, Gore and Bush are the candidates at top of the ticket. People are going to vote for Gore and Bush. So I think that's really the bottom line we have to remember.

I mean, what we've really seen, if we look at the history of this campaign, once it's written, is Lieberman, the day that he chose Lieberman was the day Gore's campaign started to turn around, not particularly because of Lieberman but because of how Lieberman makes Gore feel and seem. He became a better candidate once he chose Lieberman, it wasn't that Lieberman himself made the difference.

MORET: But Dick Cheney also points out, I'm a Westerner. I don't talk a lot.

Beth Fouhy, CNN's political unit executive producer, and Jodi Allen, "U.S. News & World Report." thanks a lot.

And when we return, a small town in America wishing, hoping for a big-time debate.


WOODRUFF: The flap over the presidential debates is getting another hearing. Janet Brown, the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, says she expects to meet with representatives of the two campaigns Thursday.

Our Bruce Morton traveled to a small Kentucky town that has its fingers crossed that the candidates will stop all their talking and get down to debating.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Danville, Kentucky: about 17,000 people, south of Lexington, on the edge of bluegrass country. History? Well, they had the convention that wrote Kentucky's constitution here. Elizabeth Taylor made a movie here once.


ELIZABETH TAYLOR, ACTRESS: Some people thought he could have been president.


MORTON: And this year, Danville, Kentucky, has made a wish. The kids in Betsy Tipton Grise's (ph) music class at Mary Hogsett Elementary School can explain. CHILDREN (singing): We wish you would come to Danville, we wish you would come to Danville, we wish you would come to Danville and bring candidates.

MORTON: Just about every man, woman and child in Danville asked the National Commission on Debates to bring one here. And the commission said OK: vice presidential candidates Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, as it turned out, October 5th.

ASHLEY SIDES, CENTRE COLLEGE DEBATE INTERN: This will be the first time ever that a nationally-televised presidential/vice presidential debate will be held in a town this size.

MORTON: She's a senior at Centre College -- about 1,100 students. They're just starting school this week. These are freshman, working to clear the area around a nearby Civil War battleground. And the debate is on everyone's mind, even ahead of football and soccer.

LES FUGATE, CENTRE COLLEGE REPUBLICANS: This year, that's all they want to talk about is the debate -- Will we have it? What can we do to help? -- and the excitement of being a part of the process.

JOHN ROUSH, PRESIDENT, CENTRE COLLEGE: Depending on where we are with this -- all this debate stuff, we are going to have a big rally right down there.

MORTON: Centre's president, John Roush, was a leader in pressing for the debate.

ROUSH: Number one, because we know that it would be good for the college. It will be good for the small city of Danville, Kentucky -- in fact, for all of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We want to make a difference with this.

MORTON: They've got a state-of-the-art theater, which can seat 1,500. a media room, telephone wires already in, an athletic field, where the satellite trucks can park. They're ready -- and not just the college. School kids and grownups wrote letters asking for the debate: lots and lots of letters. The Kentucky School for the Deaf chipped in.

CHADWICK NOEL, KENTUCKY SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF: We want them to come to show that they can -- that politicians are real people, that we can meet them and they can understand maybe what our culture looks like, and that we can make -- deaf people can become politicians, maybe even president of the United States.

VIRGINIA SILVESTRI, KENTUCKY SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF: I think it's the best town to live in the USA, so that's why the debate should be here.

MORTON: Business leaders, too.

LOUIS PRICHARD, PRES., FARMERS NATIONAL BANK: Obviously, they'd come here and hopefully find that there would be some amenities that they would enjoy, enjoy our history, enjoy our heritage, enjoy our environment. Maybe they might even want to come back after the debates.

MORTON: The commission said: Yes, of course. How could they not? But now everything's up in the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in the corner.

MORTON: Even in the pool hall -- oldest business on main street, one player said -- somebody asked: Is it on? Do you know?

The town is worried.

MAYOR ALEX STEVENS, DANVILLE, KENTUCKY: It'd be hard to elaborate on the effort that's gone into this by the college and the citizens. And for that to go to naught would be a real jolt to everyone.

MORTON: At the Main Street Restaurant, the pancakes are 99 cents, but they're enormous. Just look. We found one skeptic about the value of the debate, but only one.

DON JANZEN, DANVILLE PRESIDENT: I don't know whether we've ever had protesters come in. I don't know if they even know the number of people that they can expect. There's a lot of unknowns, I believe, in doing this,

MORTON: Mostly, Danville is optimistic.

ROUSH: I believe that everyone is going to come to their senses and recognize this the right thing to do and do it.

SILVESTRI: We will have this debate. It's going to happen.

MORTON: So much hope. So much work.

CHILDREN (singing): Please bring presidential hopefuls for debate of the year.

MORTON: Bruce Morton, CNN, Danville, Kentucky.


SHAW: And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

We'll see you again tomorrow, when Al Gore will be on the campaign trail in Ohio and New Jersey. And George W. Bush: He will be in Florida and Missouri.

WOODRUFF: And of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's

I'm Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: I'm Bernard Shaw.

"WORLDVIEW" is next.



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