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Inside Politics

Al Gore Interrupts His Focus on Seniors to Answer Questions on MTV; George Bush Campaigns in California, Focuses on Education

Aired September 26, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the highly unlikely chance that you may lose, what will you do if you don't?

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, it's a purely hypothetical question.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore answers to the MTV generation in a format that made the question "Boxers or briefs?" famous.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush courts Californians again, amid questions about whether he's wasting his time.

WOODRUFF: Plus, an update on the battle for electoral votes. Our own CNN analysis, state by state.

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

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

In the countdown to election day, you could call this "turning point Tuesday": exactly six weeks, or 42 days, before Americans cast their votes and exactly one week before the first presidential debate of this fall campaign.

At this stage of the game, George W. Bush and Al Gore remain locked in a neck-and-neck race. After some recent tightening, our daily tracking poll of likely voters now shows Bush ahead by two points.

Against that backdrop, Al Gore tried today to bolster his support among a new generation of voters in a way that President Clinton did before him. As CNN's Jonathan Karl explains, the medium was, to some degree, the message.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taking a brief detour from his focus on seniors, Al Gore appeared on MTV before a crowd of students at the University of Michigan. He was welcomed with a video telling his life story, MTV-style.


ANNOUNCER: He listened to rock music, rode a motorcycle and even smoked the herb.


KARL: The questions were all over the map.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm wondering if you are considering legislation toward the legalization of medicinal marijuana?

GORE: Well, I do not favor any steps that legalize marijuana, and I don't agree that it's medically effective.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a gay man, I can't fathom, and frankly I'm mad as hell that, you know, while I don't have any guarantees to the kind of protections that marriage offers, my friend, one of my straight friends, could jump into a car, drive down to Vegas one night, get drunk, and get married to a total stranger, and boom, they have every marriage -- every benefit, every privilege that marriage offers.

GORE: I favor legally recognized civic unions that have the legal protections of the kind that marriage confers.

KARL: Gore's most animated comments during the 90-minute session were about the environment.

GORE: When you guys get to be my age, the world could look like a very different place unless we take action within the next four years to start reducing the amount of greenhouse gases. It's really getting extremely serious.

KARL: Gore and his daughter Karenna, who heads up his youth outreach effort, believe the environment is the key issue to getting the youth vote. The extremely Gore-friendly audience, hand-picked by MTV, dutifully waited online for more than two hours before the event. Finding a Republican in this crowd was a bit like finding a Braves fan at Yankees Stadium.


QUESTION: Who are you going to vote for?








KARL: Now Governor Bush has also been invited to appear on MTV and the Bush campaign says the invitation is being considered -- Bernie.

SHAW: John, what is Gore hoping for from this appearance?

KARL: Well, clearly, this is an effort to reach out to young voters, but it was a brief effort. Immediately following this appearance on MTV. Gore went down the road here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and went before another audience of senior citizens, because this week's message is all about Medicare. And the crowds he has been addressing all week long have been to crowds of senior citizens, not crowds of younger voters.

And in fact, if you look at the issues that have animated this campaign, they are precisely the issues that will appeal to older voters, not necessarily those that will appeal to younger voters.

So what's happened here is an opportunity, again seeing the medium as the message, reaching out to young voters in the course of a campaign that is very much focused elsewhere.

SHAW: Jonathan Karl in a key battleground state, Michigan. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And as Jonathan suggested, Gore's MTV appearance drives home the importance of the youth vote and the fact that Gore does not seem to be doing as well with that segment of the electorate as he probably would like.





WOODRUFF (voice-over): From "boxers or briefs" to Napster...

GORE: I think Napster is a terrific innovation.

WOODRUFF: ... politicians are always looking for a way to click with young voters. Now, with six weeks to election day, the youth vote is once again up for grabs.

Our latest tracking poll gives George W. Bush a slight lead among 18- to 29-year-olds, but their opinions are extremely volatile. The last month alone saw some wild swings, frequent lead changes in the first half of September followed by a huge spike for Al Gore and an equally dramatic turn back to Bush. A likely explanation for that volatility: Few young voters have firmly defined political views, and their allegiances to political parties are even more tenuous.

The 1960s image of young Americans at the vanguard of social and political change no longer holds true.


CROWD: Peacefully assemble.


WOODRUFF: And while this year's youth protest got a lot of attention, they've had no noticeable effect on the race.

In fact, the candidate most closely identified with the anti- globalization movement, Ralph Nader, has just as little support among young voters as other age groups.

Two things we can say for sure about young voters in 2000: They are paying less attention to politics than any other age group and they are likely to change their minds at the last moment. So while the young may not be the most motivated swing group this election, they could well be the last to decide, making their votes critical.


WOODRUFF: And this footnote: While Al Gore was on MTV today, Governor Bush was getting ready for an appearance tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE." He will appear along with his wife, Laura -- Bernie.

SHAW: And now, more on the Texas governor, who was in California again, today, a state where his poll numbers are by no means golden.

Our Candy Crowley is on the road with Bush.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In few places has the economy boomed quite so loudly as in California's Silicon Valley, but in a computer-filled classroom here, George Bush sounded a warning.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If American students don't lead the world in math and science, the next generation of Americans may not lead the world.

CROWLEY: Bush says American students lag behind students of many other industrialized countries in math and science. It is part of what he calls the "education recession."

Convinced that the way to the heart of swing voters is through the classroom, Bush is spending a lot of time at school and on the air discussing the issue. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RNC AD)

NARRATOR: Fifty-eight percent of fourth-grade kids in our low- income schools can't read. There's an education recession in America. Governor Bush has a plan: require strict accountability and measurements that Al Gore opposes, propose a teacher protection act that Gore won't support.


CROWLEY: The ad is not running in California. In fact, the Bush campaign has not spent any ad money in the state since the primaries. The Republican National Committee has some ads up now on behalf of the Bush campaign, but political pros say the dollar amount is not substantial enough to suggest a major play to win the state.

Bush's commitment to California is always a subject of conversation. He has a double-digit deficit in the polls, and Republicans worry he will abandon California, as they believe Bob Dole and George Bush did in '96 and '92, an abandonment that hurt Republican contenders down the ballot.

The Bush campaign insists it is committed to a California fight, noting this is Bush's third trip here since the Republican convention.

(on camera): And Bush does show up where it helps. Though his stay in California is brief, it's also profitable. He will attend two fund-raisers expected to net about $1 1/2 million. All the money goes into state party coffers.

There are at least five Republican members of the U.S. House who are battling to retain their seats, and they can use the money.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Redwood City, California.


WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk a little more about California politics now with Mark Shields of CNN's "CAPITAL GANG," who is just back from a trip to the Golden State.


WOODRUFF: Mark, what is your sense of how Bush is doing there?

SHIELDS: Well, when George Bush was 10 points ahead nationally, he was about even with Al Gore, a little ahead in California. California, now that the race is even nationally, according to our latest tracking poll, he's about 10 points behind in California.

California is about 10 points, percentage points, more Democratic than the country. So you can figure out how they are going. That's where -- Candy is absolutely right. It's double-digit deficit.

WOODRUFF: Is that all the story, just that it happens to be a less Republican state? SHIELDS: No, it's become a different state. It's not the same state that Ronald Reagan won and dominated for a generation. Tom Davis, the Republican House Campaign Committee chairman, said the Reagan coalition is over and we've just got to face that.

The biggest problem that the Republicans have in California is that Pete Wilson, running for re-election in 1994, facing an uphill fight, endorsed Proposition 187, which was seen at the time as punitive toward immigrants. It prevented the children of undocumented aliens from attending public schools.

And Latinos, who are the great slumbering giant of California politics, and whom Reagan had gotten 45 percent of the vote of Latinos, George Deukmajian had gotten 45 percent, they turned -- they saw this as an anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant act on Pete Wilson. Pete Wilson won the battle and lost the war.

Since that 1994 vote on that referendum, Judy, Republicans, including Dan Lungren running for governor in '98, Bob Dole running in '96, have lost by 3-to-1 and 4-to-1 margins among Latinos, who are projected to be 15 percent of the vote instead of the 6 percent they were just 10 years ago.

WOODRUFF: You labeled that the Latinos going in the other direction. The gift that Pete Wilson gave the Democrats, it keeps on giving.

SHIELDS: The gift that -- Pete Wilson gave the Democrats the gift that keeps on giving, absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Mark, does all this mean that George Bush cannot make it competitive in California?

SHIELDS: Well, I think -- again, Candy's piece pointed out, they are not spending any money. They're not spending any hard money. They're spending Republican National Committee soft money out there. You can't get as big a buy.

In other words, the candidates get the best rate at the TV stations. If you are really serious, you go in and spend your hard dollars, your candidate campaign committee campaign dollars. They aren't, Judy. And it is going to take $1.5 to $2 million a week to run a statewide campaign in California. They're not going to do that.

WOODRUFF: If that is the case, why is he back this time? Why is he saying he may come back again?

SHIELDS: Well, I think there's two reasons: one noble and one perhaps less than noble. One less than noble is he's got a couple of fund raisers. It's -- California is still the cash cow of American politics to both parties. So both Al Gore and George W. Bush will be back.

The second is that, at one level, the Republicans cannot write off Latinos permanently. And George W. Bush, by going out there, by continuing to pursue them, is the man who got close to one out of two Latino votes when he was running for reelection in Texas. It at least shows -- plants the Republican flag in that community, even though at the most recent survey, Al Gore was getting 70 percent of the Latino Vote.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mark Shields, you can come back and see us anytime, whether you've been to California or not.

SHIELDS: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, running for vice president and for the Senate: the two campaigns of Joe Lieberman.


WOODRUFF: New York Senate candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was joined by Hadassah Lieberman -- wife of the vice presidential candidate -- today while campaigning in New York. The two appeared at the Riverdale Young Men's and Women's Hebrew Association in the Bronx. Mrs. Clinton discussed her Senate bid and praised the efforts of the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

Vice presidential hopeful, Joe Lieberman, was campaigning today in New Jersey as part of the Democratic ticket. But just 24 hours ago, Senator Lieberman was on the trail pushing his bid for reelection in Connecticut.

Our Frank Buckley reports on the politics surrounding Lieberman's parallel campaigns.



FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman, was back home in Connecticut, running for the U.S. Senate, saying voters and the Democratic Party would not have enough time to properly choose a replacement candidate if he pulled out of the Senate contest now.

LIEBERMAN: I still think that the best course is for there to be a special election. Should I be fortunate enough to be elected vice president, there should be a special election early next year, giving enough time for party nominations, a full open list of candidates, primaries -- if that's required -- and then a good debate and election of a successor.

BUCKLEY: But John Rowland, Connecticut's Republican governor, says he'll veto any bill calling for such a special election, meaning, if Lieberman wins his Senate race and the vice presidency, Rowland would likely appoint a Republican to fill Lieberman's seat in the Senate until the year 2002, dimming Democrats' hope of gaining control of the Senate, which now stands at a 54-56-seat Republican advantage. It has given Lieberman's Republican challenger in the Senate race, the relatively unknown mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut, Phil Giordano, an issue in an otherwise lopsided race that favors Lieberman.

PHIL GIORDANO (R), CONNECTICUT SEN. CANDIDATE: I think he is sending a message to the state of Connecticut saying: Hey, look, I really want to be the vice president. However, you can be my consolation prize, should I not be the vice president.

BUCKLEY: Lieberman leads Giordano in the most recent poll on the race by a wide margin. But when Connecticut voters are asked if they approve of Lieberman running for the Senate and the vice presidency at the same time, nearly half say they don't approve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I think he should make a decision. It's one or the other. I don't think he does his constituents well by you know, hedging like this.

BUCKLEY: Critics say it points to Lieberman's lack of confidence in his own national ticket.

CHRIS DEPINO, CONNECTICUT GOP CHAIRMAN: Why would anyone want to run in both places at the same time if he thought one place wasn't going to be successful? And that's clearly the message here.

BUCKLEY (on camera): Lieberman can legally run for both offices. Connecticut's secretary of state says no law prohibits it. But doing so could exact negative political consequences.

(voice-over): Most notably the loss of Lieberman's Senate seat to a Republican, however short the term may be. For the moment, senators and their aides say no one is exerting pressure on Lieberman.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I believe this is a personal matter for Senator Lieberman. This is a decision he has to make himself.

BUCKLEY: One Lieberman says he has already made, one he can change, however. Under Connecticut law, he has until October 27.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New Haven, Connecticut.


SHAW: There is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Still to come...


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are unmistakable signs of the changing seasons, reminders the country is on the cusp of two of its most cherished traditions: picking a pumpkin and a president.


SHAW: John King sizes up the fall battle for electoral votes.



DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why do they sometimes sound like they could be running for secretary of Education, rather than commander in chief?


SHAW: David Ensor on the subject that is not coming up on the campaign trail. And later, four decades of televised debate: a look at how it all began.


WOODRUFF: We'll have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. Yugoslavia's opposition parties are rejecting the Belgrade government's call for a runoff. Slobodan Milosevic's government announced today that the president received enough votes to require a runoff October 8th. The opposition candidate, Vojislav Kostunica, and his spokesman insist that he won Sunday's election outright.


ZARBO KORAC, OPPOSITION LEADER: We are not going to participate in a runoff. We have very definite prove that Mr. Kostunica won in the first round. We're going to challenge the statement of the Federal Election Commission.

By the way, the Federal Election Commission didn't have a meeting in 24 hours, and all of a sudden, we hear from the Yugoslav official news agency that we have to go into a second round of presidential elections.


WOODRUFF: Kostunica's supporters have been taking to the streets, celebrating what they consider his victory over the weekend. Mr. Milosevic is defying international demands that he step down. President Clinton says it is clear the opposition defeated President Milosevic.

SHAW: As world financial leaders confer today in the Czech Republic, demonstrators clash with police. Rocks and firebombs were answered with tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons. A number of people were injured and there were a number of arrests as well. IMF- World Bank meetings in Prague were not disrupted.

The demonstrators are anti-capitalists opposed to globalization.

WOODRUFF: Romanian national television reports the country has returned its two remaining Olympic medals in protest after a gold medal gymnast tested positive for a banned stimulant.

Andreea Raducan says a cold remedy is behind her positive drug test. Raducan is the first gymnast ever to be stripped of a medal because of a drug violation.

American shot-put champion C.J. Hunter says that he will also fight against Olympic doping charges. He appeared with his wife, track and field gold medalist Marion Jones. Jones says that she fully supports her husband.

SHAW: Here in Washington, FBI and Justice Department officials say Wen Ho Lee is no hero. Officials told the Senate hearing today, the former Los Alamos scientist used an elaborate scheme to move the nation's sensitive nuclear secrets. They say his activities were not careless or innocent.

The FBI and the Justice Department have been criticized for Lee's prison treatment.

From the Supreme Court, a victory for Bill Gates and for disabled golf pros. The Supreme Court says it will decide if Casey Martin may legally use a golf cart at PGA Tour events. The U.S. justices also announced today they will not hear the Microsoft antitrust case. The court says the case will go to an appellate court first.

WOODRUFF: The United States poverty rate is at a 20-year low. A Census Bureau report places the 1999 poverty rate at 11.8 percent. The number of poor dropped in every racial and ethnic group. Meantime, median household income reached a record high, nearly $41,000.

SHAW: When INSIDE POLITICS returns, our take on the electoral map, and David Broder's take on the presidential campaign.


SHAW: Another new poll shows Al Gore has the advantage over George W. Bush in the battleground state of Washington. Gore leads by seven points in the Elway poll of registered voters. Back in July, polls showed Bush leading in the state, which went for Clinton-Gore in '92 and '96.

Washington is one of 14 battleground states where the presidential contest is likely to be decided this year. Our John King has been traveling around the country and analyzing the fight for electoral votes. Here is his report on where the race stands state by state.


KING (voice-over): They're planning a big birthday party here, a celebration of the things that make Ohio special, like this...

CURT STEINER, GOP STRATEGIST: No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, period. KING: So consider the Buckeye State ground zero in a six-week sprint to election day and the center of a fierce competition for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

A CNN analysis shows Vice President Gore with a slight advantage entering the stretch. Anchored by his strength in California, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, the vice president leads in 16 states and the District of Columbia, 208 electoral votes in all. The South and interior West are the Texas governor's territory. Bush leads in 20 states with a combined 167 electoral votes. Fourteen states with a combined 163 electoral votes are considered tossups. Florida and its 25 electoral votes stand out on this map, a worrisome sign for Republicans.

BILL MCINTURFF, GOP POLLSTER: George W. Bush is going to have to make some big decisions to decide where he's going to put his emphasis, his money and his resources. Al Gore has a little more flexibility at this stage.

KING: Five of the 14 battlegrounds are in the industrial belt: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri offer a combined 84 electoral votes and are getting a lot of attention.

In the 15 days from September 4 through 19, the two campaigns and the Democratic and Republican parties spend $17 million on television advertising, more than half of that, 9.8 million, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Add in Florida, where Republicans outspent the Democrats by more than three to one during that period, and more than 70 percent of the money spent on television ads went into the six states viewed as the most critical battlegrounds.

(on camera): This is a state many saw as a perfect fit for Governor Bush. It's a place known for its common-sense conservatism. Every elected statewide official is a Republican as are both of Ohio's U.S. senators. But these days, when Republicans list Ohio as Bush's strongest state in the industrial belt, it is a statement of concern, not confidence.

(voice-over): Statewide polls show a tiny Bush lead, and Columbus is the battleground within a battleground. Michael Coleman is the city's first Democratic mayor in 28 years, the first African- American mayor ever, and a key player in the vice president's effort to win Ohio and the White House.

MAYOR MICHAEL COLEMAN (D), COLUMBUS, OHIO: There's a lot to do. There's the field mechanics that need to take place. There's getting out the vote, persuading the voters, mayors around the state saying this is the right thing for our cities.

KING: Blue-collar men are a critical voting bloc in Ohio and across the region.

MCINTURFF: They are, for the most part, social conservatives. They are not comfortable with the Democrats on guns and a lot of those kinds of issues. On the other hand, guess what: They're economic populists. They don't trust big business. And so they've got -- and so they're kind of just frozen, because they've got a lot of concerns about Vice President Gore, but they're not quite comfortably with Governor Bush.

KING: The unemployment rate is 2.4 percent in Columbus, just 4 percent statewide. The leading Republicans here are urging Bush to be careful when he talks tax cuts.

STEINER: He needs to reframe the message about the tax cut and really put it in terms of Al Gore being for bigger government, Al Gore being for more regulation, things that will hurt people's jobs and hurt their lives, and not really be the same kind of middle-of-the- road president perhaps that Bill Clinton was.

KING: Organized labor is strong where Gore needs help the most.

STEVE ROSENTHAL, AFL-CIO, POLITICAL DIRECTOR: In the '96 election, just as an example, in Michigan 40 percent of the vote came from union households. In Illinois, it was about 31 percent of the vote. In Ohio, 34 percent of the vote.

KING: Fellow Republican governors are critical to Bush, Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge among those who recently urged the Bush campaign to sharpen its TV ads.

GOV. TOM RIDGE (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The message is there, the crowds are strong. They're very enthusiastic. But I do believe that we need to rethink how we're delivering the message.

George is doing fine. Dick's doing fine. But the surrogates and the delivery mechanism we just have to change and adjust, as campaigns do. You just change and adjust.

KING: Still warm enough for a bike ride means still time to make up ground and for the race to rock back and forth a little. But there are unmistakable signs of the changing seasons, reminders the country is on the cusp of two of its most cherished traditions: picking a pumpkin and a president.

John King, CNN, York, Pennsylvania.


WOODRUFF: And we are joined now by David Broder of "The Washington Post," who traveled this past week with the Bush campaign to Illinois, and to two of those states on John King's toss-up list, Ohio and Florida.

David, before I ask you about those individual states, what's your sense from being around the Bush people of how they're doing overall? What do they think?

DAVID BRODER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think last week was a good one for Governor Bush. He stayed on-message. He was recapitulating some of the policy papers that he put out earlier in the campaign. He delivered his message well. And he stayed on message. At the same time, as you know, Judy, there were a number of flaps of no great dimension, but cumulatively, a bit of an embarrassing week for Vice President Gore.

So they felt good about last week.

WOODRUFF: David, let's talk one by one about the states that you were in with Governor Bush. Let's start with Florida. What did you see there?

BRODER: Well, Governor Bush has been spending an inordinate amount of time in Florida, which is the signal that even though his brother is the governor there, even though the state's been trending Republican in state politics, they realize they have a real struggle to put it into the presidential column for Governor Bush.

What's happened in Florida, I think in the Democratic analysis, is that after the Republicans took over control of Congress in 1994, those senior citizens, who are such an important voting bloc in Florida, who want low taxes and not very much in the way of services at the state level, have federal programs that they're very interested in and they've been voting for federal office seekers who will protect those programs.

They went for Governor Clinton -- President Clinton in 1996 and they show a tendency now to have a good look at his vice president for this time around.

WOODRUFF: All right. What about Illinois? What did you see there?

BRODER: Well, Illinois, I was not with Governor Bush. I was traveling on my own and looking at a battleground congressional district just north of Chicago. And the Republicans in that area, which is core Republican, suburban constituency, are very concerned, because they don't see a real effort in Illinois from the Bush campaign, though the Bush people in Austin deny it. They are afraid that Bush is about to cut his losses in Illinois, where he trails by double-digits in all the polls, and leave them on their own in that congressional district.

WOODRUFF: But they haven't done that yet?

BRODER: They have not done it yet, but they are not putting much of an effort into Illinois, the Bush people aren't at this point.

WOODRUFF: And finally, David, Ohio?

BRODER: Ohio, as John King's piece made clear, is a real battleground, and some of the tracking polls that I have been told about there have shown that race swinging by 10 or 12 points one way or the other just in the last two week.

I think at the moment Governor Bush seems to be coming back a little bit in Ohio, but that's a state that's probably going to be a battleground right to the end, Judy. WOODRUFF: So, David, this is a campaign, an election rather that's going to be won state by state, or an election that's going to be won nationally, or both?

BRODER: It's interesting, because it's not really a national campaign any longer. It really has come down to about a half a dozen or eight states where the election will be decided.

Each man has enough in his base to make him competitive. Gore may have a little bit of an advantage, but it really is going to be in those six or eight states that are highlighted in your map that this election is fought from this point on.

WOODRUFF: And the fact that it is state by state, to the extent that it is, rather than national, does that very fact benefit one candidate or another?

BRODER: Not necessarily, because you have Republican governors in most of those battleground states. You also have very strong labor organization helping Gore in most of those states. It's going to be a real dog fight in all of those places.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're glad that you're there to help us cover it.

David Broder, thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: And it's going to be a long election night.

In Massachusetts today, former Reform Party members, who quit over Pat Buchanan's presidential nomination, launched a new political coalition with the Natural Law Party and the Independent Party. Apparently, it will serve as a vehicle for the presidential campaign of John Hagelin, who is running as the Natural Law Party candidate and who lost the Reform Party nod to Buchanan.

Hagelin's running made the coalition's sentiments clear.


NAT GOLDHABER, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, NATURAL LAW PARTY: Do not waste your vote this season by voting for a Republican or a Democrat. This season, choose to vote for a third party. I hope you vote for Dr. Hagelin and myself. But vote for a third party, as long as it's not Pat Buchanan.


SHAW: Former Reform Party Chairman Russ Verney also is a member of this new coalition. Its leaders say they hope to put together a national party on a state-by-state basis.

WOODRUFF: Up next, why the candidates are not talking about global policy: a look at the nonissue in the presidential election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Both major-party presidential candidates have spent a great deal of time talking about education, prescription drugs, and the budget surplus, among other domestic issues. But there is at least one issue that is not prominent on the campaign trail.

Our David Ensor looks at why international policy is not at issue.


ENSOR (voice-over): It is all there in Article 2, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution: The president is commander in chief. Only he can make treaties, appoint ambassadors. The job has greater powers in foreign affairs than in domestic matters.

JAMES LINDSAY, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: In foreign affairs, the president can do what he wants, unless Congress says no. In domestic policy, the president can't do anything until Congress says yes.




ENSOR: In 1976, there was a special presidential debate on national security issues. In 1984, there was another -- but not this year.

BUSH: One of the things I'm making as a focus of my campaign is education. It's my number-one top priority.

GORE: I will fight for the single greatest national commitment to education since the G.I. Bill.

ENSOR: Why do they sometimes sound like they could be running for secretary of Education, rather than commander in chief? For starters, the Cold War is over. The U.S. won. There is no challenge to America's lone superpower status from the Russians or anyone else.

Look at this poll: Asked to rank the issues in order of importance, Americans put national defense 10th, foreign affairs 12th, foreign trade last. Then there is President Clinton's example: He ran as a domestic policy leader, and he was reelected.

And on global issues, there are few critical differences between Governor Bush and Vice President Gore. Both support free trade, for example. Both oppose isolationism. But with 10 percent of U.S. jobs dependent on exports, and with U.S. troops deployed in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, some analysts argue the candidates are cheating the voters.

LESLIE GELB, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I'm not only dismayed by the lack of discussion on foreign affairs in this campaign, I'm outraged by it, because never has foreign policy and the world been more relevant to the lives of Americans than it is today.

LINDSAY: When you don't campaign on foreign affairs, you don't make an issue out of it, you don't build public support, you create problems for yourself down the road politically for sustaining an argument against the Hill for doing anything overseas.

ENSOR (on camera): The lack of debate, the lack of clear positions plainly stated means, say some analysts, that whether it is Gore or Bush in November, the next president could have a hard time bringing Congress and the American people along on international issues.

David Ensor, CNN, the White House.


SHAW: And still ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS: how the first televised presidential debate shaped American politics. Our guest panel members will discuss 1960.


WOODRUFF: Today, the Presidential Debate Commission sent out the official invitations for the first presidential debate a week from tonight. Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush were the only ones to qualify. Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader and the other third-party presidential contenders did not meet the required average of 15 percent of the national polls by today's deadline.

Invitations for the other two presidential debates will go out later.

SHAW: This tradition of televised debates began exactly four decades ago: September 26, 1960. That night, Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon and Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy met in the first of four debates.


RICHARD NIXON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president has asked for my advice, I have given it. Sometimes my advice has been taken, sometimes it has not. I do not say that I have made the decisions. And I would say that no president should ever allow anybody else to make the major decisions.

As far as what experience counts, and whether that is experience that counts, that isn't for me to say.

SEN. JOHN. F. KENNEDY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'll just say that the question is of experience. And the question also is of what our judgment is of the future, and what our goals are for the United States, and what ability we have to implement those goals. The question really is, which candidate and which party can meet the problems that the United States is going to face the '60s.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SHAW: Joining us now, from Chicago: Sander Vanocur, one of the journalists who posed questions during that 1960 debate. And from the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California, where they are participating in an issues conference on that Nixon-Kennedy debates -- and the others --presidential biographer, Richard Reeves, and our own Bill Schneider.

Sandy, first to you in Chicago.

Did both Nixon and Kennedy appreciate the impact a televised debate would have?

SANDER VANOCUR, FORMER DEBATE PANELIST: I don't think either one knew what the impact would be. I certainly didn't know that night when I left the studio. I had to wait two days. And I called a man named Kenny O'Donnell, who was a staff aide to President -- Senator Kennedy -- and I said, "What happened after you flew to Painesville, Ohio?"

He said, well, the first person knocking on the door the next morning was Frank Lausche, the Democratic senator. I grew up in Cleveland. Frank Lausche was our mayor. He could cry equally at bar mitzvahs and christenings, and he was wonderful. He went on to be governor. He went on to be senator, running as a Democrat and voting as a Republican.

And when I heard Frank Lausche was outside Kennedy's door at 7:00 a.m. in Painesville, I figured Kennedy had done well.

SHAW: Richard Reeves, do you see any similarities between Senator Kennedy then, in 1960 and, say, Governor Bush now, in this campaign?

RICHARD REEVES, PRESIDENTIAL BIOGRAPHER: Yes, I think they're almost totally similar. Kennedy, we forget now, was seen as a kind of likable lightweight against the vice president of the United States, who seemed to know everything about everything.

I think that there are real parallels, except that, in this case, Bush is Kennedy and, to a certain extent, all he has to do is show up and not faint and people will say he did fairly well.

SHAW: And Bill Schneider, how about you? Do you see any similarities between then and now?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the elections are very similar in the sense that they're very closely contested. Either candidate can win. Of course, we have an incumbent vice president running in 1960: Nixon; and in 2000, Gore. And, as Dick Reeves just said, the challenger has to show that he is the equal of the presumably more experienced, certainly in national affairs, vice president.

But there is also the sense that the voters are genuinely torn. 1960 was the closest election, still, in American history. In this election, we've seen both candidates in front and now a very close election, right down to the wire.

Voters are torn between believing, you know, they've never had it so good, and it's time for a change. So the debates are critical in an election like that.

SHAW: Sander Vanocur, back in Chicago, let's step back in history. When you were sitting there in that studio at WBBM television on the north side posing your questions to those candidates, did you realize, then, that this medium, television, would forever change American politics?

VANOCUR: I didn't have a clue, Bernie, because in those days, reporters didn't have deep thoughts. We call a thought the victim of the late Eddie Lehy (ph) of the late "Chicago Daily News," who once said, every good journalist assignment reporter ought to have the depth of a one-pound box of candy.

Now, I just sat there, rather like that old line about Noah Card (ph) being quizzed by a method actor about what his motivation was. And Card said, dear boy, just memorize your lines and don't try to bump into the furniture.

We didn't have any deep thoughts, no. I knew it was an important event, I had no idea the consequences of it.

SHAW: And Bill Schneider, as you look over these past 40 years of televised presidential debates, how have they changed American politics?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Bernie, when you looked at the -- when I read the transcripts and saw the tapes of the debates 40 years ago, you had a sense that this was a momentous decision in which you had two candidates who are competing to be the leaders of the free world, and there was a sense of real gravity about those debates.

I mean, they were talking about the challenge to world leadership; about who would fight for freedom in the contest, the life or death struggle with communism. International policy was at the core of all those debates, even though they were announced -- the first one was supposed to be about domestic policy.

The Cold War infused everything. There was a sense of very high stakes, an enormous amount of substance, and it was just a very different tenor than the debates are today.

SHAW: I would like to pose a question to each of you, now, as we conclude this very interesting discussion; and the question, basically, is this: What have you concluded about televised presidential debates?

Richard Reeves, first starting with you in Yorba Linda.

REEVES: Well, what they do -- television is a tremendously equalizing, Democratizing -- I won't say medium because it's really an environment; it's what we live in. And what we learned from that debate is that everyone is the same size on television; and, so, that suddenly you had a relatively unknown candidate, John Kennedy, who was given equality with Richard Nixon for the first time because of the kind of medium, or environment, that television provides.

Nothing's been the same. The entire political system changed. Primaries replaced conventions because primaries work for television. They happen in one place at one time after prime-time -- so that nothing was the same after that day.

SHAW: Sander Vanocur in Chicago?

VANOCUR: I think that what has changed and what the significance was -- it was the end, or the beginning of the end, of the morning and news cycle in American journalism, and we have evolved over the years into a 24-hour-a-day electronic news service. I call it the electronic tapeworm that has to be fed all the time.

What made those debates unique, was they were unique. It was like Karl Sandberg said of America, nothing like us ever was. There was nothing like those debate 40 years ago.

Now, they've become quite commonplace, and we've got handlers and all of the rest that goes it. We even have music now, too.

SHAW: Bill Schneider, your conclusions about 40 years of televised presidential debates?

SCHNEIDER: Very simply, I think that they began this period of personalization of politics. Personalities grew bigger and bigger because television is a very personal medium, and Kennedy came across as a more personable figure.

That's what Ronald Reagan used the debate for in 1980 when he debated Jimmy Carter. He reassured voters, using his enormous power of personality, that he wasn't a radical or an extremist who would start a war or throw old people out in the snow.

The personal has become political; candidates communicate to voters through television, the voters communicate back through the polls and that's become the dominant factor in American politics. Personality weighs a lot more than it did before 1960.

SHAW: OK, thank you very much. Bill Schneider at Yorba Linda in California at the Nixon Library along with the highly respected presidential biographer, Richard Reeves, and a good friend in Chicago, Sander Vanocur.

Gentlemen, thanks very much.

WOODRUFF: Very interesting.

SHAW: Very interesting.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS but, of course, you can go on-line all the time at CNN's We'll see you again tomorrow when George W. Bush will be on the trail in California and Al Gore will be looking for votes in Iowa.

WOODRUFF: And these programming reminders: George W. and Laura Bush will be the guests tonight on "Larry King Live." That's at 9:00 Eastern. Al and Tipper Gore will join Larry on Thursday night.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

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



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