ad info

Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  





Bush signs order opening 'faith-based' charity office for business

Rescues continue 4 days after devastating India earthquake

DaimlerChrysler employees join rapidly swelling ranks of laid-off U.S. workers

Disney's is a goner


4:30pm ET, 4/16









CNN Websites
Networks image

Inside Politics

George W. Bush Appears on 'Oprah'; Polls Show Presidential Race Tightening; Gore Calls for Tougher Privacy Laws

Aired September 19, 2000 - 5:01 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... a bolt of lightning: Thou shall be president.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Thou shall be president.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush jokes with Oprah about his inspiration to run for office. Will his hour with the media mogul get him more than a kiss?

Al Gore stops in California, in what his aides are calling "yellow flag" mode. We'll explain.

Plus: some matters dogging the vice president, from a pet issue to his role in U.S. relations with Russia.

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

SHAW: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today.

It's not quite a warm-up for next month's presidential debates, but George W. Bush got some more experience with that talk show format today. It was the second time in eight days that the main attraction of the presidential race played out on, of all places, "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Our Candy Crowley reports on Bush's appearance and what he hoped to gain from it.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you've got a gender-gap problem, and George Bush does, "The Oprah Winfrey Show," with its large and overwhelmingly female audience, is the place to be.


WINFREY: Favorite dream?

BUSH: Favorite dream?



CROWLEY: And whatever your dreams, if your quest to be president requires female, suburban, swing voters, then upscale, family-friendly Oprah is the one to, as she puts it, get a sense of politicians as human beings.


WINFREY: Favorite sandwich.

BUSH: Peanut butter and jelly.

WINFREY: On white bread or whole wheat?

BUSH: White.


CROWLEY: Touchy-feely personal introspection is not his thing. But it's hers.

What has he done in his life that requires forgiveness?


BUSH: When my heart turns dark, when I'm jealous or when I am spiteful.

WINFREY: I'm looking for specifics.


BUSH: I know you are, but I'm running for president.



CROWLEY: That's about as far as she got by way of introspection, say, for a couple of questions.

As Laura Bush watched on a television in a restaurant nearby, the Republican nominee cited the birth of his twins as a defining moment, recalling how he and Laura were trying to adopt when she became pregnant.


BUSH: And she became ill, she got toxic -- toxemia and so. We had to move from out of West Texas and she moved to the hospital in Dallas and she got on the airplane. She said, these babies are going to be born healthy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: He was asked about his decision to stop drinking the day after a boozy 40th birthday party.


BUSH: Alcohol was beginning to compete for my affections.


CROWLEY: And he talked of the reluctance of his now college-age daughters to be a part of his campaign.


BUSH: They are sensitive girls, I can understand why. I've been the son of a president and a presidential candidate, and it's not a pleasant experience. It's much easier to be the candidate than it is the son.

WINFREY: You don't care what other people think about you?

BUSH: Well, I care what 51 percent of the people think about me.



CROWLEY: Her questions, if not his answers, were mostly unpolitical, but the context and the stakes were hyperpolitical.


BUSH: I've got a program for reducing taxes, I've got a program for strengthening the military to keep the peace, I've got a plan that says we're going to provide prescription drugs for seniors.

WINFREY: Well, Al Gore says the same thing.

BUSH: Well, that's fine, except he can't get it done.


CROWLEY (on camera): For George Bush, who once led among female voters, the Oprah show fit nicely into a week designed to reclaim some of that support.

On the other hand, last week, when Al Gore did the Oprah show, it fit nicely into his plan to solidify the female support he has siphoned out of the Bush campaign.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Chicago.


SHAW: Oprah Winfrey's unprecedented televised chats with Bush and Gore are further evidence of her national influence.

That is, if you needed reminding that she is a one-woman phenomenon.



SHAW (voice-over): To babies and wives, add Oprah.


WINFREY: Thank you. Thanks for the kiss. Let's talk about how...

BUSH: My pleasure.


SHAW: In his appearance last week, Al Gore missed his chance.


WINFREY: OK, no kiss, I was hoping for something like...



SHAW: But he made up for it with a compliment.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Then now look at you, you're a one-person media conglomerate now.


SHAW: That's no hype. Beyond the show, there's the Oxygen network, the bestseller-making book club, movies, a Web site, a production company, a magazine.


Winfrey reached the top taking the high road. She risked her ratings by swearing off trash talk, and it paid off. Last season "The Oprah Winfrey Show" took back the daytime syndicated talk show crown from Jerry Springer.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the average size of Winfrey's daily audience is more than 7 million people, and according to her production company, 76 percent of her viewers are women.

Winfrey won't talk about her personal politics, but according to Federal Election Commission reports, she has supported Democrats in three recent elections. In 1998 she gave $5,000 to the Democratic National Committee. In '96, she gave 10,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. And in '92, she gave $1,000 to Illinois Democrat Carol Moseley-Braun's successful election bid for the Senate.

Whatever her political leanings, Oprah played the perfect host, rousing the crowd for the Republican.


WINFREY: W.W.W.'s in the house!


SHAW: And dealing swiftly with an unwelcome heckler.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry to interrupt, but I need to ask you this...

WINFREY: I'm sorry, you're interrupting, and we're going to go to commercial break and remove you from the audience. Thank you.




SHAW: Now that she's involved in the political campaign as an interviewer, Winfrey seems to have scaled back her own personal political activity.

According to FEC reports, she has not given money this cycle.

Forty-nine days before the election, our daily tracking poll suggests the presidential race may be tightening. Gore now holds a 4- point lead in the CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup survey of likely voters after Bush appears to have gained some ground in recent days.

But it is too soon to tell if this is a blip or a trend in the making.

Our Bill Schneider has been going over the polls to consider a question Oprah might ask -- Bill.



SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They did it in 1996. If it were up to men, Bob Dole would have been in the White House for the last four years. But women are far from a bloc vote. In July of this year, women were splitting their votes almost equally between George W. Bush and Al Gore. After the Republican convention in August, Bush enjoyed a solid 12-point lead among women.

Now, that's reversed. Gore's ahead among women by 16 points. Just in the last three months women have swung, first to one candidate, then to the other. Gore can't take them for granted. Bush can't write them off.

What's the key to the women's vote? A kiss like this one? Or this one? Is it so-called women's issues like abortion or child care?

Actually, all the issues this year are women's issues because there's a fundamental debate going on over what government should do to help working families.

Gore wants government to step in and end discrimination.

GORE: Let's cut the wage gap between men and women.

SCHNEIDER: Secure the safety net.

GORE: To make sure that women get the best health care, not just the cheapest.

SCHNEIDER: And protect children.

GORE: We need safe and drug-free schools.

SCHNEIDER: Bush wants government to get out of the way and give families more resources.

BUSH: The tax burden on the American families makes it harder for families to realize their responsibilities.

SCHNEIDER: More flexibility, and more responsibility.

BUSH: ... you're responsible for decisions you make in life. That if you're a mom or a dad, the most important job you'll ever have is to love your children.

SCHNEIDER: Women are driving this debate.

How do we know? Because when men are asked which is more important to their vote, issues or leadership qualities, men give the edge to personal qualities. Women are far more interested in the issues.


SCHNEIDER: It's the same old story. Men vote with their emotions. Women are more rational. They vote with their heads.

Well, Bernie, I understand there's a little news to report about you, Mr. Shaw.

I understand you have been invited to moderate the vice presidential debate in Kentucky on October 5th, is that right?

SHAW: That's correct, and I gladly accepted it, accept it as an honor to represent CNN and also as an honor to be part of the very serious process that American voters will be part of as they decide whom to vote for on November 7, election night in our great country, and I accept the responsibility knowing that the candidates are the story, not the moderator, the candidates are what matter, and their views, so that Americans can make judgments about their positions on issues, so thank you.

SCHNEIDER: Well, just be careful not to confuse Dick Cheney with me. We're supposed to look alike, they say.


SHAW: OK, thank you, Bill Schneider.

Now, onto California, where Gore now is 9 points ahead of bush in a new survey of likely voters. Last month, Gore had a 3-point lead in a similar PPIC poll taken after the GOP Convention, but before the Democratic Convention.

Gore is in the Golden State this day, and as our Jonathan Karl reports, he is sticking with familiar themes and trying to keep his risk factor to a minimum.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a campaign stop in Los Angeles, Vice President Gore continued his "people versus the powerful" theme by vowing to force insurance companies to protect medical privacy.

GORE: Your medical privacy has to be protected with the full force of the law.

KARL: Ticking through several horror stories of people who have had their private records sold or otherwise used without their permission, Gore said he would push for sweeping new privacy protections, including stiff penalties for companies who violate them.

But Gore's trip to California is more about money than policy, dual fund raisers in Hollywood and Silicon Valley bringing in more than $7 million for the Democratic National Committee. Aside from the fund raisers, Gore has scheduled only two public events for his two- day California swing.

The Gore campaign has entered what one senior aide called "yellow flag" mode, referring to the time in a car race when there's no passing and the pace slows down. Part of the thinking is that voters are more focused on the Olympics than politics, but Gore strategists also believe that undecided voters are unlikely to make up their minds before the debates. So the strategy is simple: try to preserve the lead by taking few risks. Part of that is avoiding the press.

Gore hasn't held a news conference in more than two months, and in recent weeks he has kept reporters at even greater distance than usual. But the campaign can't fully avoid Republican efforts to push them off message, such as the latest allegations he fabricated a personal anecdote about his mother-in-law and his dog to make a point about prescription drug costs.

That leaves the tough questions to press secretary Chris Lehane.

CHRIS LEHANE, GORE PRESS SECRETARY: We've answered this a couple times, I'll do it again for you one more time, which is that the Bush campaign seems to be mired in mispronunciations, rattled by "rats," now they've gone to the "dogs."

KARL: Tough questions for Lehane, but the candidate avoids the press and the questions, keeping on message.


KARL: Next week, Vice President Gore is scheduled to be out campaigning for only four days, leaving three days of downtime available to prepare for the debates -- Bernie.

SHAW: Jon Karl with the latest from Burbank.

We heard in Jonathan's report about a flap involving prescription drug cost -- well, we're going to have an update on that a bit later.

While in California, Gore is adding to his credits as a talk show guest. The vice president is scheduled to appear on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" this evening, just five days after Gore was a guest on the rival "Late Show With David Letterman." Not to be outdone, George W. Bush will appear live on Regis Philbin's morning show this Thursday, but no, he's not serving as a guest co-host. Now, this all brings back memories of Bill Clinton's ground-breaking appearance on the talk show circuit back in '92 when Arsenio Hall's late show was all the rage.


SHAW: Bill Clinton playing "Heartbreak Hotel."

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, is Russia the next campaign issue? A look at the Republican report that has Democrats crying foul.


SHAW: Here in Washington today, Republican lawmakers released a scathing report on the administration's policy regarding Russia. The report specifically criticizes Vice President Al Gore's role in shaping that policy. That has Democrats calling the report "partisan politics."

Our national security correspondent David Ensor joins us now with more -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, one thing's for sure, this is a highly political document written by House Republicans, led by Chris Cox of California. It is a partisan attack on the Clinton-Gore record on Russia. A sampling, on President Gore (sic), the report calls him "uninterested. The virtual absence of any non-ceremonial presidential involvement in the greatest foreign policy opportunity for the United States since World War II was to prove crippling to the development and execution of United States policy toward Russia," says the report.

On Vice President Gore, the report says he and two others ran -- quote -- "a fatally flawed U.S. approach to Moscow, including an overly close relationship with Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin even after the CIA and others noted evidence of corruption. The Gore- Chernomyrdin Commission contributed," it says, "to a deliberately uninformed U.S. policy toward Russia. It refused to acknowledge failure, and even worse, celebrated failure as if it were a success."


REP. CHRISTOPHER COX (R), CALIFORNIA: Without question, over time, as evidence continued to mount about the corruption of Victor Chernomyrdin, the vice president should have been more circumspect, should have distanced himself for the sake of the United States, from a person about whom such questions were being raised.


ENSOR: The Cox report was angrily denounced by Democrats today, they say it should never have been put out as a congressional document, that the report breaks the golden rule that politics are supposed to end at the water's edge.


REP. ELLEN TAUSCHER (D-CA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: This is a document that is on the wrong stationary frankly. It should not be on congressional stationary, it should be on the NRCC stationary and the Republican National Committee stationary, and then we could call it exactly what it is, a partisan political document that is meant to inflame the electorate 48 days before the election.


ENSOR: House Democrats also defended the administration's policy toward Russia as highly effective. Until today, those interested in international policy matters and leaders overseas complained that the campaign was ignoring the world around us, Bernie; now, the campaign is focusing on the international policy question -- the question is whether American voters are going to care.

SHAW: Thank you, David Ensor.

And there is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not so long ago, they promised to take the high road. But look at what their campaigns are doing now.


SHAW: Brooks Jackson looks at the bickering between the presidential camps. Plus, the ad battle, and the dollars fueling it. And later...


STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Americans love a spectator sport, and they appear to like politics as much as the swimming, diving and gymnastics, and that's saying a lot for the politicians.


SHAW: ... the candidates going for the gold and vying for attention with those games down under.


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

Three children are among nine people rescued from ocean waters after their Russian-built plane went down in the Gulf of Mexico. The nine are being taken to Florida for treatment. A 10th person is dead. The Castro government says the plane was hijacked from Cuba.

The very latest now from CNN's Mark Potter in Miami -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, there are still -- are a lot of questions about exactly what happened here, but here's what we know now. As you indicated, there are nine survivors and one person who died aboard a Panamanian freighter, called the Chios Dream. It is about 60 miles west of Key -- Cuba, heading toward Key West at this hour.

We're told that the ship found the survivors and the deceased person at about 1:45 Eastern Time this afternoon in an area quite far from where the Coast Guard originally was searching for the plane. We're told that they picked up four males, three females, as you said, three children. One of the males died and one of them is in pretty serious condition, with head and neck, head and neck injuries.

The Coast Guard is now sending a helicopter into the area of the ship -- has asked the ship to head to Key West. It's going to meet it halfway, bring the person back to either Key West or Miami for treatment. Still to be determined, what happens next? The Coast Guard admiral, Thad Allen, in charge of this district, said that the original search site was more toward Key West than where they original -- they finally found the survivors and the debris from the plane.


REAR ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN, U.S. COAST GUARD: A short time later, we were advised that the Coast Guard -- that the aircraft was located about 60 miles southwest of the Marquesas Key, just to the east of Key West. That is considerably to the east of where the aircraft was finally located, and we are researching into the reason we had two different locations.

But as we were launching aircraft to proceed to that scene, we were advised by the Chios Dream that they'd encountered the wreckage and we simply extended our patrol to that location and have been talking to the master since then.


POTTER: And that area that he's talking about, where the survivors and the debris was found, is in the Yucatan Pass area, about 60 miles west of Cuba. And to wrap up, the nine survivors are still aboard that ship, and the authorities must now determine what to do with them. They know that one will be brought to the United States for treatment. They still have not determined yet what to do with the rest.

This is Mark Potter, CNN, reporting live from Miami.

SHAW: Thank you, Mark.

On Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate approved legislation today granting China permanent normalized trade relations.

Our CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett joins us with the latest.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Bernie. Well, the Senate voted 83-17 in favor of granting China permanent normal trade relations, sort of anti-climactic. The White House had expected a lopsided Senate victory for months. But even anti-climactic victories taste sweet, particularly here at the White House.

White House officials considered granting China permanent normal trade relations one of its top agenda items, both in economic terms and international policy terms. The president came to the briefing room just a few hours ago to praise the Senate vote and to thank especially Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Noticeably absent from the president's accolades, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, who opposed the president, along with most of House Democrats and organized labor. However, this victory for the president, as the White House sees it, does not come at a particular cost politically to Vice President Gore. The White House support for permanent normal trade relations with China had antagonized organized labor and the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters had for a time withheld their endorsements. But both are in the Gore camp now, so as the White House sees it cities, they've got a victory on economic policy and international policy and no great harm to Vice President Gore.

Major Garrett, CNN, reporting live from the White House.

SHAW: Thank you, Major.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, are these the dog days of the campaign?


SHAW: ... specifically said his mother-in-law pays $108 a month. But today, the Gore camp tried to clarify that, saying Gore's mother- in-law's medication costs $2.13 a pill. Her monthly costs still are not clear, nor do we know whether or she pays for the medication or whether insurance picks up the tab.

The Gore camp also revealed today that the Lodine prescription for the vice president's dog, Shiloh, costs 92 cents a pill. Again, no monthly equivalents were given. Here's what Gore said about the human-dog cost comparison during his remarks in Florida last month.


GORE: So while it costs $108 a month for a person, it costs $37.80 a month for a dog. Don't you think that that ought to be changed? Don't you think that we ought to reduce the price for seniors?


SHAW: Now, there Gore spoke more generically about the cost of the drug for a person and a dog. He never specifically said Shiloh's medication cost $37.80 a month. The Gore campaign has acknowledged those monthly numbers were from a House Democratic study of prescription drug costs, not from the families' medical bills.

Well, beyond prescription drugs, the Bush and Gore camp seem to have plenty to quibble about these days. Our Brooks Jackson has been checking out some areas of dispute on the trail and on the airwaves.


JACKSON (voice-over): Not so long ago, they promised to take the high road.

BUSH: We are going to herald what we stand for in a positive and constructive way.

GORE: I'm not going to say a single negative personal thing about my opponents. You will not hear from me in this entire campaign.

JACKSON: Well, that's what they said then. But look at what their campaigns are doing now. Republicans run misleading descriptions of Gore's Medicare proposal.


NARRATOR: But his prescription drug plan forces seniors into one HMO selected by the federal government.


JACKSON: That's wrong, of course. Gore's government-run plan is voluntary. And seniors who sign up could still buy their medication from pharmacies.

Democrats countered with this about Bush's prescription plan:


NARRATOR: And Bush forces senior he does include to go to HMOs and insurance companies for coverage.


JACKSON: That's wrong, too. Bush's approach is also voluntary. Nobody would be forced to buy coverage. HMOs and insurance companies would compete. Now Republicans are escalating with a new ad.


NARRATOR: Al Gore will charge seniors a new $600-a-year government access fee.


JACKSON: Oh, come on. Misleading again. That government access fee is actually an insurance premium, and only $288 a year to start, as estimated by the congressional budget office, only reaching $608 in the year 2010, as benefits are increased. And for the same coverage, premiums would probably be higher under the Bush approach, because he proposes much less federal subsidy.

(on camera): But if you think those misleading ads are sinking to a low level, take a look at the campaigns' press releases. This is how the Gore campaign reacted to Bush's release of a so-called "Blueprint for the Middle Class."

(voice-over): This e-mailed release called the Bush document "a misleading 15-page picture book" -- quote -- Bush's blueprint: "15 pages, 2,644 words, six pictures." Gore's book: "191 pages, 69,042 words, no pictures."

(on camera): Oh, please. But in case some voter out there cares about word counts, the Bush campaign had this release...

(voice-over): ... saying -- quote -- "Gore comes up short in the budget document battle," and saying Bush's previous policy book had twice as many pages as Gore's: 457 pages, 126,000 words. Oh, boy. A Republican party release accuses Gore of "star-studded hypocrisy" for raising money from Hollywood while criticizing its marketing of sex and violence. This one says he fabricated a story about prescription drug costs.

(on camera): And here's one from the Gore campaign, saying it's releasing a "comprehensive, complete analysis of Bush child care and preschool proposals" -- quote -- "working around the clock, Gore camp examines the minute details of Bush plans."

But scroll down to the -- quote -- "detailed, comprehensive and complete chart" of Bush's proposals and you find nothing, just a footnote saying: "Bush doesn't have any child care or preschool proposals." Ha ha.

It goes on like that day after day. And the scary part is, some of the people behind this stuff will probably end up working on the White House staff.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: And we're joined now by Kate O'Beirne of CNN's "CAPITAL GANG," and Bill Press of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."

Kate, starting with you, are both Bush and Gore endangering the voters' understanding of this prescription drug issue?

KATE O'BEIRNE, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": With the contrasting advertising. A 30-second -- even a 60-second TV ad is not the place to describe fairly complicated prescription drug ads.

SHAW: That is why I asked the question.

O'BEIRNE: Absolutely. If we pay closer attention, they're both covering more details about their plans. Both plans are available on their Web sites. But few voters go to that trouble. I think for the moment, most voters will appreciate that both want too somehow provide seniors prescription drug coverage. And that is why I think George Bush -- because it's an issue that typically benefits Democrats -- I think George Bush has helped himself by having a plan.

SHAW: Bill?

BILL PRESS, CNN "CROSSFIRE": I just think they're both trying to obfuscate and not to educate, Bernie. And, you know, to the extent that it is -- remains cloudy, I would say it goes in Al Gore's favor, because, as Kate says, it's generally something that -- and if you look at all the polls, people trust Democrats more on that issue. Bush is on the field, but I still think they trust Gore. But I don't find any of these ads helpful at all.

SHAW: Does Bush have Gore on the mother-in-law-dog drug issue?

O'BEIRNE: This one is much easier. Yes. Yes, Bernie, he does. He does. It showed again the propensity of Al Gore to just sort of make stuff up if he's got some point he wants to make. And there's no explanation really coming from the Gore campaign, other than: Well, yeah, he sort of made it up -- because now we are told he really doesn't know quite what his mother-in-law is paying -- not sure whether or not it's even being reimbursed, not -- she could be on a generic, for all we know, as most elderly are on this drug -- take a generic.

Chances are, of course, it is covered by insurance. Two-thirds of all elderly people have their pharmaceuticals covered by insurance. All they try to do, the Gore campaign, is finger point that the Bush campaign shouldn't be raising this issue. It is a credibility issue. And given Gore's record on credibility, I think it's before perfectly legitimate to remind people.

This time -- he has used family members before -- but now he has sunk to the level of using his dog, Bernie. Even lower, Bill.

PRESS: To make -- wait -- to make a very important point, I mean, it stunned me that yesterday the Bush campaign -- this is the first day of their new -- focusing on issues. They took time out to put a press release out about Bush's dog -- I mean, Gore's dog and Gore's mother-in-law.

These people cannot stop the attacks. Bernie, the facts are -- and that's why I think Bush has better be careful here -- the facts are that Gore's mother-in-law takes an arthritis drug. The facts are that Bush's -- Gore's dog needs some kind of arthritis dog. And in -- here is the "Boston Globe" story that first reported this -- I just want to read one line.

It says: "Gore's overall message was accurate, that the many brand-name drugs that have both human and animal applications are much more expensive for people than for dogs."

O'BEIRNE: Yes...

PRESS: There are a lot of seniors out there who know this. Gore is talking to them. And Bush is trying to make a joke of it. I think it could backfire.

O'BEIRNE: But Bill, isn't Gore then again demagoguing? It makes sense that drugs proscribed for humans are going to be more costly, because they are safety-tested to a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- the typical drug costing $500 million to get approval, which we do not do with respect to prescriptions for animals. It makes perfect sense. We wouldn't want it another way.

PRESS: Here's the problem -- no, here's the problem, Kate -- no, here's the problem. Because prescription drugs are the number-one cost in health care for seniors. And they can't afford it. So they choose food over drugs. Or they skip days when they don't take their drugs. Or they go out and get drugs that are meant for animals. This is a serious issue. Don't belittle it.

SHAW: I didn't believe we would spend this much time on it. But let -- let me button this up by asking: Isn't Gore's problem right now the fact that the devil is in the details, not that he stressed the point you made about drugs costing more for adults than animals, but the details in how he presented this argument, isn't that really the crux of his problem in this?

PRESS: I think he tried to humanize it by putting two names on the story. And he should have kept the names out of that.

O'BEIRNE: Yes, by making up...

PRESS: And that created a problem. But I...

SHAW: Did he go too far?

PRESS: Not serious. I think Bush has a bigger problem if he makes too much of it.

SHAW: OK, on to Bush's perceived change in agenda and campaign tactics: long overdue or timing right?

O'BEIRNE: I think most of his supporters are grateful that there's been the switch in tactics, and there is some good news for Republicans this week in some of the most recent polls, which are showing the race tightening up again, with even the CNN poll only showing 5 points. So, yes, there is welcome news this week for Republicans in the polls.

PRESS: You know, Bernie, he's changed his strategy now, he's changed his slogan, and he's changed his message. I think pretty soon George Bush may be reinventing himself if he keeps going. He had to do this. The character thing was a total dud, they spent too much time on it, it didn't work. They had to get to the issues. He has no other choice. I think it's risky ground for Bush, because you have to be able to understand the issues and explain them, and that's not necessarily his long suit.

SHAW: And very quickly, even though Gore is winning the electoral vote race right now, is this still any man's race?

O'BEIRNE: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. It's terribly tight. But we might mark George Bush's boffo performance on "Oprah" this week as the beginning of his comeback. And he certainly had no trouble explaining to that audience of women his tax-cut plan, how a single woman would get a tax cut under his plan, not under Al Gore's, and it was very well received by those women.

PRESS: If I were the Bush campaign, I'd put George Bush on "Oprah" everyday, I thought he did great today. Al Gore is on "Leno" tonight. So it's going to be the campaign of the talk shows, and we'll see what happens. But clearly, Bernie, as we said the last time I was here, it's a close race now, it's going to be close, I believe, all the way down to the end.

SHAW: Bill Press, Kate O'Beirne, always good to see you folks.

O'BEIRNE: Thanks, Bernie. PRESS: Thank you, Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you.

PRESS: Congratulations, by the way, on October 5. We're very proud of you.

SHAW: Thank you very much. Thank you.

And for those of you keeping score in the contest for endorsements, we note Al Gore officially accepted the long-awaited backing of the Teamsters Union in Las Vegas yesterday. At about the same time, George W. Bush was in Chicago to thank the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police for its endorsement. In the coming days, another endorsement may be offered, but probably with less fanfare. Several thousand members of the Internet adult entertainment industry reportedly are expected to throw their support behind Gore during an upcoming trade show in New Orleans.

Just ahead, the presidential ad spending is piling up. David Peeler has the latest numbers.


SHAW: With the ad war heating up, we turn to David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

David, how much have the campaigns spent over the last two weeks?

DAVID PEELER, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Well, Bernie, the last two weeks we've seen an acceleration in the ad wars. If we look at the Republicans, they're taking the battle to the airwaves in 20 key battleground states. The Bush campaign has spent about $4.1 million in those 20 states, the RNC has weighed in with $5.3 million in a lot of those same states. So the Republicans are spending very, very heavily in what they consider 20 battleground states.

As we move onto the Democrats, it's a slightly different story. The Democrats view their campaign, or the battleground states to be 17 states. We've seen the Gore campaign weigh in with $3.6 million, almost $3.7 million worth of spending, the DNC is a little behind that in $3.2 million worth of spending. So they're spending at about the same rate, but they're not spending in as many states, so they're focusing their battle a little more tightly than the Republicans at this time in the campaign.

SHAW: Now, David, of those states, where are the candidates spending the most money?

PEELER: Well, Bernie, I think you have hit the nail on the head. The interesting stories here is what's happening on a state-by-state basis. Let's take a look at the top five spending states, the first one is Pennsylvania, where we see the RNC and the Bush campaign weighing in at $1.7 million in spending versus the DNC's $1.5 million, so that's a very, very competitive state. As we move onto the state of Ohio, you'll see that in this case the DNC is outspending -- the DNC and Gore are outspending the Republicans and Bush $1.4-$1.1 million.

The next state, I think is a very interesting, telling state. You know, Florida, as we know, is a state that the Bush camp always felt was in their hands, Jeb Bush is the governor of that state. The RNC and the Bush campaign have spent almost $2 million in that state to counter what Al Gore spent with just a little over half a million dollars. So it could be the Lieberman pick, it could be a lot of different dynamics going into the state of Florida that's caused the Republicans to have to spend in that state.

Moving onto Michigan, we've seen Michigan in the last two weeks greatly accelerate their rate of spending, we would speculate that perhaps that's to get after the McCain independent voters. But that's a very competitive race between the Republicans and the Democrats.

And lastly, Washington, a state on the West Coast. Again, a very competitive state, both spending at a great rate, both consider that state up for grabs. In fact, George Bush was just in that state touting his environmental record last week. So this is a battleground state, a strategy, the ad wars are on.

Let's remember, 20 states are seeing the ad wars, 30 states are not.

SHAW: Very interesting. David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting, thanks very much.

PEELER: Thank you, Bernie.

SHAW: Welcome.

In Washington state this day, voters are going to the polls to choose a Democratic candidate to oppose Republican Senator Slade Gorton in November. Maria Cantwell, a millionaire and former congresswoman, is favored in the Democratic race over state insurance commissioner Debra Sand. Gordon faces only token primary opposition as he seeks a fourth term.

In New York state, it's now official: Congressman Michael Forbes lost his bid for re-election in last week's Democratic primary by 35 votes. Forbes was seeking a fourth term after switching from the Republican Party. Seventy-one-year-old former librarian Regina Seltzer won the recount today by 35 votes. She will now face Republican Felix Grucci in the general election.

When we return, competing with the Olympic hopefuls for American attention. Our Bruce Morton considers the match-up.


SHAW: In Nebraska, George W. Bush has a hefty 17-point lead over Al Gore. But Democrats actually have found something to cheer about. That's because in Nebraska's second district, which includes Omaha, Gore trails Bush by only four points, within the poll's margin of error, and if Gore wins in the second district, he will pick up an electoral vote, even if the state goes for Bush. Nebraska's one of two states -- Maine is the other -- that award electoral votes to the winner of each congressional district. Two bonus electoral votes go to the winner statewide. Former Congressman John Cavanaugh, a Gore supporter, said as close as this race is -- quote -- "It could come down to one crummy electoral vote" -- unquote.

Well, as the candidates compete for electoral votes, they are also competing for voter attention. With the Olympic games under way in Australia, Americans may not be giving politics their full attention. Or are they?

Our Bruce Morton takes a look.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sydney, the Olympics: Everyone in America is watching. Well, no. In fact, NBC's ratings are 32 percent lower than the Atlanta Olympics four years ago, 10 percent lower than the Seoul Olympics in 1988, the last games held this late in the year.

Over the weekend, NFL football beat the Olympics: 7.6 for the Olympics Sunday in the 11 largest markets; 11.1 for the first game of Fox's NFL double header; 9.4 for the CBS game.

Presidential candidates worried nobody is watching, cheer up. The CNN/"USA Today" election tracking poll asked likely voters, "If you could only watch one thing on your TV the next few weeks, would you choose the Olympics or the campaign?" The Olympics won, but hey, it was close.

STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There is a lot of complaining about dull candidates and negativity, but Americans love a spectator sport. And they appear to like politics as much as the swimming, diving and gymnastics, and that's saying a lot for the politicians.

MORTON: Again, the poll asked likely voters, about half the country. Still, the candidates are in the game.

The old politicians' lament was nobody pays attention until after the World Series. And of course, baseball has a longer season now. Divisional playoffs before the Series and so on. Still...

ROTHENBERG: It's not only the presidency: It's the House, it's the Senate, it's the Supreme Court. Many people realize that. I think they're going to be watching politics as well as the World Series.

MORTON: We could have events: most babies kissed, most hands shaken. No, maybe not. Serious things are at stake, of course, and the first debate, just a couple of weeks away, is likely to have a lot of people watching, whatever sports are under way.

Americans watch the debates. It's a tradition, like the Series or the Olympic games. Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, but of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's We'll see you again tomorrow when Al Gore will be on the trail in California and here in the nation's capital, and George W. Bush will be campaigning in Pennsylvania and New York.

I'm Bernard Shaw. "WORLDVIEW" is next.



Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.