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CNN Late Edition

Political Debates Give Viewers Something to Think About; Kostunica Takes Power in Yugoslavia; Violence Continues in Middle East

Aired October 8, 2000 - 11:30 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: ... on the race for the White House. But we begin with the just-concluded Senate debate.

CNN's Frank Buckley joins us now from what's called "the spin room" just outside the debate studio -- Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're waiting for the surrogates of both campaigns to come here and to start spinning us. Even before that happens, we had a running real-time response from both campaigns in terms of e-mails, I can tell you I got eight from the Clinton campaign and nine from the Lazio campaign.

This debate did seem to have a slightly less raw tone to it than the first debate did. You'll recall the enduring image from that first debate was Rick Lazio coming across the stage and demanding that Hillary Clinton sign the soft money ban that he was proposing.

That soft money ban did, in fact, go into place a few days after that debate, and that was one of the issues that came up during this debate. The ad -- the issue surrounding the fact that Rick Lazio's campaign has been running an ad this week in -- on New York television, paid for in part by the Republican National Committee, in violation of the ban, according to the Clinton campaign; something that was allowed, according to Rick Lazio's campaign, and there was an exchange on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: I have made my choices. I'm here with my daughter, whom I'm very proud. We have a family that means a lot to us, and I'm going to continue to stand up and speak out for what I believe, what I think is important, and many of my experiences in my life will give me insights into what I can do to be a good senator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: Now, that was a question -- that was an answer from Hillary Clinton in response to a question by the moderator, Marcia Kramer, regarding why Mrs. Clinton chose to stay with her husband in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Now let's go to the exchange on soft money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), SENATE CANDIDATE: This an area where I disagree with my opponent. My opponent opposes a ban on partial-birth abortions, she is supported by NARAL, that is so extreme on this issue that it wants to kick the Vatican out of the U.N.?

CLINTON: My opponent is just wrong. I have said many times that I can support a ban on late-term abortions including partial-birth abortions, so long as the health and life of the mother is protected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: That was in response to an issue difference on the late-term abortion.

Now, maybe the third time will be a charm, let's try to hear about soft money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAZIO: ... had a history up until this last election of having one senator in each party of influence. I'm looking forward to working with Chuck Schumer in the Senate, I work with him in the House. I've been in the minority and the majority, and let me tell you, I know that in the majority, it's the people in the majority who craft the bills, who write the language, who are in a position to actually get the job done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: We can tell you that Rudy Giuliani has just stepped into the room. Aides to Rick Lazio told me this week that Rick Lazio in the first debate felt that he had to be more aggressive, because he had to answer critics who said that he wasn't strong enough, big enough to take on first lady Hillary Clinton. They thought that they accomplished that in the first debate. This debate, they said, would focus more on issues and on Lazio's legislative record, and in fact, the tone of this debate was less raw, as we said earlier, than the first debate -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Frank Buckley in New York, thanks for joining us.

And joining us now is CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. You watched this debate very closely, you watched the first debate, the big difference in your mind?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this time he lightened up and she got tough. That was the difference in tone. I think that in that first debate it looked to many viewers in New York and elsewhere like two men beating up Hillary Rodham Clinton; the moderator, Tim Russert of NBC News, showing videotape of her talking about the Lewinsky affair and having to explain it, and then Rick Lazio trying to get her to sign a piece of paper for an agreement, and she was a very sympathetic figure, she looked like she was being victimized.

In this debate, she was the one who got tough and she was the one who had the key accusation against Rick Lazio, which we -- I can quote to you. What she said was, "New Yorkers can't trust him to keep his word for 10 days; how can we trust him on the big issues?" That's because he refunded money that was used from the Republican National Committee to fund an ad in violation of the agreement that he asked her to sign in the last debate.

BLITZER: But he quickly came back with a very fast line about, how dare someone who runs, quote, "Motel 1600," referring to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, raise this issue of campaign finance reform.

SCHNEIDER: That's right, he did mention that, but by and large he passed up the opportunities to really criticize and attack her. For instance, when he was questioned about his references to integrity, the rule of law and character, he said, "I'm not going to talk about the first lady, I'm only going to talk about myself." She was the one in her closing statement who quoted his letter that said "I'm running against Hillary Rodham Clinton." She was the one who tried to depict him as running a tough, aggressive, negative campaign, and he was the one who tried to lighten up in this debate.

BLITZER: All right, Bill Schneider, stand by.

We're going to get some reaction now to this morning's debate from Mrs. Clinton's camp, joining us from the debate site is Ann Lewis, she is a senior adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign.

Welcome to LATE EDITION, Ann Lewis.

Good to have you on our program.

ANN LEWIS, SENIOR ADVISER, HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Pleased to be here.

BLITZER: What we did hear from the first lady was a bit of a tougher tone toward Rick Lazio, as Bill Schneider points out, than we heard the first time around. Was that one of the recommendations she got going into this second debate?

LEWIS: Well, what we saw in this debate was Rick Lazio once again trying to change himself, he votes with the Republican leadership in Congress, comes back to New York and says he is a moderate, so he showed up today and tried to be a slightly different person, and we thought it was important -- Hillary thought it was important that New York voters remember he can't change his voting record, he goes along with the Republican leadership; he can't change the fact that he doesn't have an upstate economic plan; and of course he can't change the fact that he broke the campaign finance reform agreement.

BLITZER: How difficult was it for Mrs. Clinton to break with her husband's position on this U.S. decision last night, the Clinton administration's decision last night to abstain rather than veto a resolution condemning Israel's use of -- quote -- "excessive force" against the Palestinians?

LEWIS: Well, I know from having spoken to her throughout this week that she has been very troubled and really disturbed by what she has seen going on in Israel, the excessive use of violence, the escalating violence, the fact that Chairman Arafat has been unwilling to step forward and take steps to stop it, and she felt it was very wrong to have a one-sided declaration that really overlooks all the steps that Israel has taken.

BLITZER: On this issue, though -- this is going to be a major issue. How can she distance herself from her husband and Jewish voters, other supporters of Israel in New York state, who watch this very, very closely, as you well know?

LEWIS: Well, I think, for example, you heard her make a key point when she said Israel actually withdrew troops from Lebanon and yet the border with Lebanon is one of the places that violence has broken out. So to have a one-sided resolution that only criticizes the actions of Israel does not credit Israel for the steps it's taken, is inaccurate, it's wrong and it has the effect of rewarding violence. And I would say, is it difficult for her? Well, she feels very strongly about this, and she believes she must speak out. You know, if she is elected -- if she hopes to be elected senator from New York, she is going to be speaking out for what she believes is right, and that is what people heard her do today.

BLITZER: Getting back to this issue of campaign finance reform, I remember at the first debate when Rick Lazio went over to her space near her podium, asked her to sign a declaration to ban the use of soft money in the New York Senate race; this time it was a lot more civil, a lot less invading of her territory, if you will, which seemed to cause some problems for Rick Lazio in the aftermath of that first debate.

But he does make the point that, how dare Mrs. Clinton talk about this whole issue of campaign finance reform given the widely publicized reports of campaign finance abuse during the eight years of the Clinton administration, and he referred, as I pointed out, to what he called "Motel 1600," the White House, on Pennsylvania Avenue.

LEWIS: Yes, that was a classic Rick Lazio attack, perhaps he said it from his own podium this time, but instead of taking responsibility for what he did and what his campaign did -- and remember, Wolf, that just like 10 days, less than two weeks after he agrees to campaign finance reform agreement, he finds himself having to backtrack and give money back -- instead of owning up to that, taking responsibility, he's trying to point fingers and blame the Clinton administration.

BLITZER: Is it your sense that she is going to continue to make this point about Rick Lazio being aligned with Newt Gingrich, when everyone knows that Newt Gingrich is not running for the Senate from New York state, it's Rick Lazio who is running, and he's aligned with Rudy Giuliani and Governor George Pataki?

LEWIS: Well, I think what Hillary has said is if Rick Lazio wants to talk about his record -- and that's absolutely appropriate -- the years he spent as deputy whip to Newt Gingrich are part of that record. And so when people want to know what will he do for the future, it's useful to know what has he done in the past. People of New York voted for Rick Lazio from his district, sent him to Washington, and he aligned himself with Newt Gingrich and cast some very troubling votes, votes that were bad for New York. He said last week, he had absolutely no regrets about his votes. So unfortunately, I think that may be an accurate predictor of how he would vote in the future, and that's information that New Yorkers should have.

BLITZER: All right, Ann Lewis, a former White House official, now working for Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign in New York state, thank you for joining us.

LEWIS: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And just ahead, how did the other candidate do? We'll hear from Rick Lazio himself when this special post-debate LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Rick Lazio- Hillary Rodham Clinton debate that was just completed about 10 minutes or so ago in New York City.

Joining us now from New York is Congressman Rick Lazio, he is getting ready to answer our questions.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION, Congressman Lazio.

LAZIO: Great to be on again, Wolf.

BLITZER: You heard Mrs. Clinton go after you repeatedly on your connections to Newt Gingrich, that seems to be a refrain we heard her make during the first debate, now during the second debate. How damaging is that in New York state?

LAZIO: I don't think it's damaging at all. Listen, if Mrs. Clinton wants to run against Newt Gingrich, she should move down to Georgia. This is about New York, and there are two candidates in New York, I'm one of them. And this is about my record of serving New York for 17 years, eight years in the United States Congress, being an advocate for housing, for the homeless, for the disabled, writing legislation that affects people who are families of missing children, of environmental legislation, of all the things that I have done to help create jobs, lower taxes, write the first balanced budget in a generation.

That's what I think people are looking for, somebody who will work and defend New York, somebody who has the ability to cross party lines, to get the job done, somebody who has a record of delivering for New York. BLITZER: Congressman Lazio, we seem to have seen a slight shift in your approach in the second debate as opposed to the first debate. Are we right in seeing that you fine-tuned it, you're a kindler, gentler Rick Lazio the second time around as opposed to the first time?

LAZIO: This is the Rick Lazio you know and love, Wolf. I chained myself to the podium for this particular debate.

BLITZER: You got a little grief for having supposedly invaded her turf the last time around, you weren't about to do that again?

(LAUGHTER)

LAZIO: Well, it was effective in terms of making sure that we had the agreement that we were able to have. But it was important today, I think, to talk about the issues and my record and, I think, calling on New Yorkers to focus on that which really matters and will be important to them next year; to have a standard in both parties, to make sure that you elect somebody who has a record of being bipartisan, of building alliances, of standing up for principle, of crafting legislation, and in getting the job done, of being effective.

This is a lot about not just what you talk about during a campaign -- I have been through seven campaigns, you can talk about anything during a campaign, this is about who is in a position and who has the ability to be effective and get the job done for New York.

BLITZER: What about her complaint that -- we heard it repeated by Ann Lewis just a few minutes ago -- that you can't be trusted because you broke that agreement supposedly, to ban soft money, the unregulated, unlimited amount of money going into this New York Senate race only within 10 days after making that agreement?

LAZIO: It's nonsense. First of all, the contribution that I received was hard money, not soft money, every expert will tell you that. But you know what? They complained about it. So, I will refund the money, we'll -- you want to be held to a different standard, we'll be held to a different standard, too. I want to make sure that we retain this agreement, this is the agreement that I fought for, that -- we made sure that we got an agreement. You know, it would have been helpful, I think, and we wouldn't have had this problem if we would have had the public in the room, like we wanted, during the negotiations, if we would have had a written agreement, if we would have had monitors, all the things that we wanted. I thought it was curious then, and I thought it's curious now.

But now I think I understand why they didn't want to have the press in the room, why they didn't want to have a written agreement, and why they didn't want to have monitors. The point is, I think that we want to maintain the soft money ban, that my campaign has been run without raising or spending a dollar of soft money. On the other side, they have raised and spent millions and millions of dollars in soft money and used it to purchase ads that are patently false, not just because I say they've false, but because some of New York's leading newspapers say that they are false. BLITZER: And -- but -- just to nail down this one point, if you did nothing wrong and it was so-called "hard money," why bother to return it?

LAZIO: Because they are raising this as a smoke screen, I think -- I want to eliminate this issue so that we don't have -- we don't give them an excuse to violate the ban. This is all about making sure that this ban sticks and that New York demonstrates that we don't need a law to do the right thing, and every barrier that they put up we are going to knock down.

So we are going to make sure we clarify to the people of New York there is only one person in this race who has voted for campaign finance reform, who voted for McCain-Feingold twice, who has run his campaign without raising or spending any soft money, who urged a pledge -- a written pledge -- so that we didn't have that in this campaign. And we are going to do everything we possibly can to make sure that the other side doesn't get out of it and that we are held to the same high standard. I want this race run with integrity, and I think that reflects me.

BLITZER: Congressman Rick Lazio, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York, thanks for joining us. We hope you'll be back soon...

LAZIO: Will be, Wolf.

BLITZER: ... on LATE EDITION. Thank you.

LAZIO: Thank you.

BLITZER: And we should say we did invite first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to be on the program today as well, she declined. We hope that she will reconsider and join us in the not too distant future.

And coming up next, how did Mrs. Clinton and Rick Lazio fare in today's Big Apple showdown? We'll hear from two of the candidates' most prominent supporters: Republican Governor George Pataki and Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel.

Our special post-debate LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAZIO: We want somebody who has the flexibility, the independence, who has the ability to cross party lines and work well with others, to be effective and to get the job done.

CLINTON: Last month, Mr. Lazio said that this was an issue of trust and character, he was right. And if New Yorkers can't trust him to keep his word for 10 days, how can they trust him for six years on issues like Social Security, Medicare, prescription drugs, and education? (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: New York Senate candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rick Lazio facing off in their second debate.

Welcome back to this special post-debate LATE EDITION.

Joining us now are two prominent guests: at the debate site is New York's Republican governor and Lazio supporter, Governor George Pataki, and in our New York bureau is New York Democratic congressman and Clinton supporter, Charlie Rangel.

Good to have both of you back with us on LATE EDITION.

And let me begin with you, Governor, the most recent Quinnipiac poll shows Mrs. Clinton is at 50 percent, Rick Lazio is at 43 percent. He seems to have a way to go if he is going to beat her in this campaign.

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Wolf, I think Rick is doing fine, and if you think back in 1994, "The Daily News," on the Sunday before the election had me losing by 14 points, so, what matters is your vision, your passion, and your record and your ability to articulate that vision, and Rick Lazio showed that today. I think he showed a very real difference and distinction from Mrs. Clinton, he has a record in Washington, he understands the state, he is from New York, and I think the people of Washington saw that, saw someone they would like to see as their senator, and that's Rick Lazio.

BLITZER: Congressman Rangel, you are the dean of the New York state congressional delegation, you have worked closely with Rick Lazio over the years. Would he be a strong fighter for New York state if he defeats Mrs. Clinton?

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: He may be a strong fighter, but at the end of the day, Rick Lazio will be voting with the Republican leadership. The whole idea that he wants to be the Republican assistance to Senator Chuck Schumer is absolutely ridiculous, he will be voting for Helms, he will be voting for Lott the same way he voted for Gingrich and for -- and against Gephardt. And so, when you look at the votes, you will find that no matter how hard Lazio fought that he voted with the Republican leadership, and more often than not against the state of New York. So he is not voting for Giuliani, he is not voting for Governor Pataki.

BLITZER: All right, what about that, Governor Pataki, the argument that if Rick Lazio is the senator from New York state, he will be beholden to the Republican leadership as opposed to New York state, Republicans, let's say like you?

PATAKI: When Rick Lazio is our senator he will have one interest and that is the interest of the people of New York state. I'm pleased that my friend Charlie Rangel has acknowledged that Rick Lazio will be and has been a good fighter for New York state. And it's kind of sad to me that instead of going after his record, because he has an outstanding record on the environment, on delivering for New York state, on helping to clean up the Long Island Sound, and working with the disabled, and to provide housing opportunities, the Democratic tactic is to link him to people from outside of New York state, from the South, or the West.

Well, Mrs. Clinton is from the South and the West, Rick Lazio is from Long Island, so I think people are going to understand that he is going to have one priority and one interest in Washington and that is going to be fighting and delivering for New York state. I think it's Mrs. Clinton who is going to have more of a national agenda and more of a Washington agenda than a New York agenda, and I think New Yorkers have an inherent understanding that that's the case.

BLITZER: Well, what do you say about that, Congressman Rangel, that Mrs. Clinton is interested in these national issues and not really interested in the parochial, more mundane matters of New York state?

RANGEL: We are not talking about Gingrich being from Georgia, we are talking about the basic difference between Democrats and Republicans when you get to the national level, and we know that Lott is against the state of New York, we know that Gingrich was against the state of New York. And we are talking about basic differences, whether we are talking about cuts in taxes, where Lazio is for a trillion dollar tax cut at the expense of Social Security, at the expense of Medicare -- now he could be fighting against these Republican ideas, but the truth of the matter is that when you get down to what's good for the state of New York, the Republican Party in Washington has not been kind to our city and has not been kind to our state.

BLITZER: Governor...

PATAKI: Wolf...

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead, Governor.

PATAKI: Wolf, if I might reply, I would love to debate Congressman Rangel, unfortunately we -- or fortunately, we run for different offices. But take a look at who has actually fought for New York, it is Mrs. Clinton when she was in Washington, who proposed a health care plan that would have have been devastating to New York state, to our teaching hospitals, to our health care system, to our taxpayers; and she now kiddingly refers to it as maybe a learning experience, it was a horrendous blunder that, if it hadn't been blocked by Republicans in Congress, like Rick Lazio standing up to it, would have devastated our health care system. Rick Lazio will fight and deliver for New York.

RANGEL: The whole idea that the first lady could have a health plan passed into law that would hurt the state of New York with Charlie Rangel there on the Ways and Means Committee is ludicrous. There are a whole lot of proposals, but it is really the Congress that disposes.

BLITZER: How much of the support, Governor, that Rick Lazio has in New York state is not necessarily a vote for Rick Lazio, but more a vote against Mrs. Clinton who is, as you well know, a divisive figure in New York?

PATAKI: You know, Wolf, in any race it's a combination of factors: you have those who are going to be voting against your opponent, those who will be voting for you. And I think what Rick Lazio did today is get more people to vote for him, and I think one of the important distinctions -- and it's important in New York and it's important in Washington -- is to work in a bipartisan way, you can't just have a narrow partisan approach, Republicans are this, Democrats are that.

Republicans have a diversity of opinion, Democrats have a diversity of opinion, and you have to build a coalition, generally bipartisan coalitions, in the interests of your state. Rick Lazio has the experience and the ability to do that. I think Mrs. Clinton is seen, rightfully so, as a very partisan and divisive figure, so there are those who will vote against her, there are those who will vote for Rick. I hope that the people of New York understand and find Rick Lazio and his record to be as important in voting for him as they do in any other reasons to support his candidacy.

BLITZER: And final word -- you are going to get the final word, Charlie Rangel. This race looks like it's going to be very close. Mrs. Clinton -- you were one of the early proponents of her running, you are absolutely convinced she is going to win?

RANGEL: You bet your life. That's why the Republican National Committee is sending millions of dollars, even though Rick calls it hard dollars -- hard dollars, soft dollars, they are out after Hillary Clinton, and she will be our next senator from the great state of New York.

BLITZER: Congressman Charlie Rangel, Governor George Pataki, thank you -- to both of you for joining us on this special LATE EDITION, always good to have both of you on our program.

And coming up next, a full 90-minute LATE EDITION.

We'll get to the latest situation, the crisis in the Middle East. We'll talk with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about the latest developments. Then, a conversation with Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, as the race for White House begins its final month.

All that and much more, coming up on LATE EDITION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, SECRETARY OF STATE: We can't live with this kind of violence and neither can those people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: New violence in the Middle East shatters the peace process. And a revolution returns democracy to Yugoslavia, as President Slobodan Milosevic finally gives up.

We'll talk about these flash points and more with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Then -- the race for the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Did Al Gore make promises in 1992? Absolutely. Did he deliver? Big time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A LATE EDITION exclusive: Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman joins us in his only Sunday interview.

And as the presidential race enters its final month, we'll hear from top strategist for each candidate. The Bush campaign's Karl Rove and the Gore campaign's Mark Fabiani.

Plus our LATE EDITION roundtable: Steve Roberts, Susan Page and Tucker Carlson. And from RFK to John Lennon, Bruce Morton has the "Last Word" on the fate of the assassins, the infamous men who stole lives of promise.

BLITZER: It's noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles; 6:00 p.m. in Belgrade and 7:00 p.m. in Jerusalem. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this special LATE EDITION.

We'll get to our interviews with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman in just a moment but first, the hour's top stories.

We begin in the Middle East where violence between Arabs and Israelis has pushed an already fragile peace process to the brink of collapse.

CNN's Mike Hanna's in Jerusalem with the latest developments in that troubled region.

Mike, what's going on today?

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, Wolf, the sun's gone down, signaling the beginning of Yom Kippur, the most holy and solemn holiday in the Jewish calendar, the day of atonement. On this day, Ehud Barak, who repeated his ultimatum that if the Palestinians do not end the violence by sundown Monday, then he will regard the peace process as over.

Rejection and anger from the Palestinians at the ultimatum. They have maintained their position that it is not up to the Palestinians to end the violence, it is up to the Israeli government, and in particular its security forces that they have accused of using excessive force. On this day, Israeli forces destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip. These buildings at the Metzarene (ph) junction, Metzarene a Jewish enclave in the Gaza Strip that has been a focal point of much of the violence in recent days, the Israelis saying the buildings were destroyed because they were being used by Palestinians to attack the enclave, to the Palestinian demonstrators for the evidence of what they say is excessive Israeli force.

Fears, too, on this day of a wider escalation of conflict, the capture of three Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah guerrillas raising the possibility of Syria, of Lebanon, of Israel's neighbors being brought into a wider round of confrontation.

So the ultimatum remains from the Israeli point of view: Sundown Monday, if the violence is not ended then the Palestinians will be held responsible. The peace process will be at an end. But among many Palestinians and some independent observers, the belief that it is the peace process that lies at the source of problem, that perhaps it's the peace process that is flawed. And it's a frustration among many Palestinians and some Israelis with the peace process that has led to the current round of conflict -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mike Hanna, our Jerusalem bureau chief, thank you.

And we now go to Yugoslavia, where for the first time in 13 years there's a government not headed by Slobodan Milosevic.

CNN's Belgrade bureau chief Alessio Vinci is in the Yugoslav capital with more -- Alessio.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN BELGRADE BUREAU CHIEF: Hello, Wolf.

Well, on this first day of the post-Milosevic era, there is a sense that the main battle has been won, but still many challenges lay ahead. Mr. Kostunica -- President Kostunica must now, first of all, select a prime minister and form a government. But he needs a two- thirds majority in the federal parliament to approve that government. And Mr. Kostunica at this point doesn't have that majority.

He also must prevent any acts of revenge against old socialist rulers, but at the same time get rid of Milosevic's allies that could block Kostunica's programs of reforms. He also must restore an equal relationship with Montenegro. Kostunica wants to change the constitution back to what it was before, to have the two republics that form Yugoslavia on an equal footing.

Mr. -- Finally, of course, all this will happen until -- until Mr. Milosevic has decided to remain in power, which is an option that, of course, many here said is pure fantasy. And many opposition leaders are saying that this is not going to happen at all. But still, Mr. Milosevic controls some deputies in that parliament and must agree to a choice of Mr. Kostunica's choice for prime minister.

All the while, there might be already a new crisis happening here tomorrow -- as early as tomorrow, when the powerful Serbian parliament meets here. Mr. Kostunica doesn't have any allies, any deputies at least, in that parliament, and many opposition leaders here say that that parliament should be now disbanded. And if they don't do so, they threaten more demonstrations.

So Mr. Kostunica's ability now is seeing if he can balance all this and perhaps introduce a government of technocrats, rather than politicians, at least for the beginning of this transition between the Milosevic era and the Kostunica era -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Alessio Vinci, our Belgrade bureau chief, thank you so much for joining us.

And now joining us to talk about these latest developments in Yugoslavia, as well as the Middle East, is the U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright.

ALBRIGHT: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Madam Secretary, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Let's begin with the crisis in the Middle East right now. As you know, yesterday, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, imposed a 48-hour deadline. He says the Palestinians must end the fighting. It's now 24 hours. It's been 24 hours.

Is this a good idea for him to impose this kind of deadline, some call it an ultimatum?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think this has to be put into context. What has been going on here is increasing violence in terms of the Israelis feeling under siege by the Palestinian rock-throwers and the street gangs, the Tanzim (ph), and feeling, basically, as they have pulled back from places, that the Palestinians have moved in.

Obviously, there is also a lot of criticism of too much use of firepower by the Israelis, and tremendous frustration at the fact that they are not able to move on with the peace process. And I think that in the various interviews and statements that Prime Minister Barak has made in the last day, he is showing that he really does want to have a peace process work. He wants a partner. He does want a peace process.

And I think what is important here now is for all of us to work to lessen the violence, because this cycle of violence has to be broken. And there has to be disengagement, and the security measures that we worked out in Paris have to be put into place.

BLITZER: He's now raising questions, Prime Minister Barak, about Yasser Arafat's commitment to the peace process. I want you to listen to what the prime minister said earlier today on "Meet The Press."

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Until now, I ordered our people not to act but just to respond. From now on, if it will become clear that there is no partner, we will have to see him as a rival, not a partner, and to act upon this judgment accordingly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Are you convinced that Yasser Arafat is still committed to the peace process as envisaged by Israelis?

ALBRIGHT: I think that Yasser Arafat has made some very hard decisions in the last seven years, in showing that he wants the peace process to move forward. I think that he is someone who wants peace for his people. The question is, whether anyone, at this point -- whether they are looking, his people, at the steps that are possible there to move forward in the peace process.

I hate to begin to think that Yasser Arafat is not a partner. He has been a partner. He needs to regain control over what is going on. And they need to disengage and get back to the peace track. I mean, we had been working on it. We were so close, Wolf, and I think that we -- there are many good ideas on the table. It's important for them to get back to the peace table.

BLITZER: You have heard the Israelis say -- and I'm sure they have said to you directly -- that if Yasser Arafat wanted this to stop, he has the authority to stop it. There's security services. He could put out the word to stop the stone-throwing, stop the demonstrations, get back to peace negotiations.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I believe that it's important for him to regain control. That he has had control. He is somebody that I think is obviously the leader of the Palestinian people. He is respected. He needs to control the various layers. And there are many layers here, Wolf. I think that is part of the complication. But it is essential that both sides really work very hard to lower the level of violence and blame-placing. And what has to happen here is to look to the future, and not a future of stone-throwing and tanks, but of basically getting back to the peace talks.

BLITZER: Are you saying he does not have the authority, the power right now, to control this situation?

ALBRIGHT: I believe that, you know, he is their recognized ruler and he needs to -- we expect him to exert the control.

BLITZER: We heard from one of his chief supporters, Hanan Ashrawi, earlier today on ABC's "This Week," who is making it very clear, speaking for the Palestinians, that the situation is not their fault. It is Israelis who are responsible for this deterioration.

I want you to hear what Hanan Ashrawi said earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANAN ASHRAWI, MEMBER OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY'S LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL: We will not go -- gentle into that good night, if they insist on shooting and killing us. At least we have the right to defend ourselves. We are not occupying their territory -- the Israelis are occupying Palestinian territory.... (END VIDEO CLIP)

ALBRIGHT: I think that the bottom line here is that there is violence that is escalated and that Israelis feel besieged by the stone throwing and the various violence on the streets and they are reacting. And the truth is that looking for who started what when, you have to go back thousands of years. And the point here is to move forward and not get into a posture where it is impossible to break the cycle of violence.

And I would hope that they could in fact move ahead. And let me tell you something very interesting. These measures that we worked out in Paris was a way that the security people from both sides would be able to meet with our facilitation. That is going on as we speak.

BLITZER: It hasn't stopped the violence.

ALBRIGHT: No. But they -- it has gone -- there have been kind of ups and downs in it. And I think that we have to just keep watching and waiting. But these security measures have to get into place. They have to disengage. They have to.

And I think that we are not going to get anywhere if we try to point fingers. We just have to move forward to a future that is good for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

BLITZER: Your ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, immediately after the U.S. decision to abstain on that resolution, passed 14 to nothing with one abstention, the United States. He called it so very one sided. He in effect condemned the resolution. Why did the Clinton administration -- why did President Clinton -- I assume it went up to his level, decide to abstain instead of veto that resolution.

ALBRIGHT: I think it obviously is a one-sided resolution. We wanted it and Ambassador Holbrooke worked to try to get a more balanced resolution. It was not possible. And we did think and talk about this a long time.

We have to remember what our role is. And our role in the Middle East is to try to be the negotiator, the mediator, the honest broker, and to be able to work with both sides. That is one reason we felt that an abstention was appropriate. And the other is that we have larger responsibilities within the whole region. And we had to look at the effect of a veto on that. But I truly do believe we knew that this resolution was lopsided. Ambassador Holbrooke made that statement in his, what's called the explanation of vote, and we think that this was the best position and frankly the only position, for the United States to take at this time.

BLITZER: You met with Barak and Arafat in Paris, in Sharm el Sheikh.

Is there anything specific right now that the U.S. government is planning on doing to try to ease this situation, get the peace talks back on track? ALBRIGHT: Well, we are talking to everybody.

BLITZER: Any meetings planned, anything like that?

ALBRIGHT: Well, we are looking at various options. I mean, we did just meet, as you said, in Paris. And then Prime Minister Barak did not come to Sharm el Sheikh. But it is not just matter of meetings. What it is is trying to talk to the parties, trying to lower the temperature. We are very concerned about the fact that three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by the Hezbollah.

I spoke to Foreign Minister Sharaa of Syria yesterday and to President Lahoud of Lebanon. I've been speaking to Kofi Annan because this is a violation of Resolution 425. And we are -- because also, as you know, some Palestinians broke through the fence that was at the border and so we are working on lessening the tensions there and trying through these security groups with our facilitation to lower the temperature.

BLITZER: Any prospect of those three Israeli soldiers are about to be returned?

ALBRIGHT: I have no recent information on that, but there is a lot of concern about it not only from us and the United Nations, but other countries also.

BLITZER: Very quickly, there's been some suggestion that Saddam Hussein in Iraq is looking at this situation in this month before the U.S. presidential election thinking that perhaps this is a time for him to do something.

Is the U.S. government getting any of those indications, any of those reports?

ALBRIGHT: Well, we're always suspicious of what Saddam Hussein is doing, but at the moment, I think there's no -- I've been told there are no unusual movements and we have also made very clear our red lines, which are that he cannot threaten his neighbors or our forces, or reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction or move against the Kurds in the North, and we have force in region and we have made our position very clear.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the situation in Yugoslavia. Many people have described the war in Kosovo, Bosnia and in effect, but really in Kosovo, Madeleine's war, Madeleine Albright's war.

When you take a look at situation now, a new president democratically elected, but Slobodan Milosevic an indicted war criminal may be allowed to stay in Belgrade, may be allowed to exercise political power in the opposition, would that cause the U.S. to reconsider lifting economic sanctions against Yugoslavia if he's allowed to walk free in Belgrade.

ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think we really should be very congratulatory to the Yugoslav people who actually went out on the streets in huge numbers, voted and under very difficult circumstances, voted Milosevic out. The signs that they carried made very clear that they wanted him to go. They wanted -- they wanted more than that. I mean, a lot of them basically wanted him to end in some way or another. And I think that they have shown their feelings, and by their votes and by their feet, and President Kostunica now has the very difficult job of consolidating his power as your correspondent pointed out very accurately there are myriad problems out there that he has to deal with and we want to be as helpful as possible.

The Serb people are not the ones that are responsible for what happened, it was Milosevic who basically was an ethnic cleanser and ordered these things. So they need to have some sense of reward for what they've done. Their economy is a disaster and the Danube is blocked and so we want to give them assistance and lift the economic sanctions.

BLITZER: Even if Milosevic stays in Belgrade?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that those economic -- there are a variety of sanctions, and the immediate economic ones would be ones that help the people and help Kostunica consolidate his regime.

BLITZER: You probably saw the editorial in "The New York Times" yesterday. Let me read a sentence from that editorial. "In recent days, Dr. Albright has been unusually quiet in her public comments about Mr. Milosevic's extradition."

ALBRIGHT: I liked the other parts of the editorial a lot. But let me say this, I have not been quiet. I have said that our position has not changed, is very clear, there is no statute of limitations, I have been a great supporter of the war crimes tribunal. In fact, one of the things I'm proudest of at the United Nations was having been there at the founding of it.

There has to be accountability, and there will never be a completely normal Yugoslavia until it's able to deal with that. And the importance of the war crimes tribunal is that what it does is erase collective guilt and assign individual guilt. And all these countries that have gone through changes, where they've gone from a communist dictatorship to a new democratic era look at their past and deal with it. Yugoslavia has to do it and former President Milosevic's time is coming, and there's, as I said, no statute of limitations and you will not hear me being silent on this subject.

BLITZER: We are all out of time, but I know you always wear those lovely pins and today's has an especially important meaning to you. Very briefly tell us what are they.

ALBRIGHT: Yes, well the large pin is from Leah Rabin who is always saying that it takes a lot of doves to make peace in the Middle East and it's an olive branch with doves and the little bitty one that people maybe can't see right here, is the seeds for peace pin and, which is a fabulous organization, and I'm wearing it in honor of the young man that was killed.

BLITZER: OK.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

BLITZER: Madam Secretary, always good to have you on LATE EDITION. Thanks you so much for joining us, good luck to you.

And up next, we'll shift gears and talk about U.S. politics. We'll reveal some new poll numbers in the U.S. presidential race, plus a special interview with the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We turn now to the U.S. presidential race. At this hour, we are releasing our new CNN/"USA Today" Gallup tracking poll numbers. Governor George W. Bush has expanded his lead over Vice President Al Gore, 49 to 41 percent. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader hold steady at 4 percent, and the Reform Party's Pat Buchanan has 1 percent.

Earlier today, I had the chance to speak with the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Senator Lieberman, thank you so much for joining us on LATE EDITION.

I want to begin right with the news of the day, namely the crisis in the Middle East. The Clinton administration, last night, abstained on a U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned, what was called, the excessive use of force against the Palestinians. A lot of Israelis and supporters of Israel here in United States are disappointed that the Clinton administration did not veto that resolution.

LIEBERMAN: This was a very tough call for the administration. And I know that the ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, worked very hard to change some of the language in the original drafts that was much more condemnatory of Israel's action and more one-sided, let's put it that way.

Look, the United States is the only country in the world that has the capacity to negotiate with parties on all sides in the Middle East. And, ultimately, I think the administration decided that the best course was to express its opposition to the resolution by abstaining, but to veto, I think, would've broken some of the lines of communication that we are going to need in this crisis in the Middle East in the next few days.

We're on the edge of a real explosion of what has been a remarkable movement toward peace in that region. And it's a time when the leaders there are going to have to exercise not just restraint but leadership, particularly in the days ahead. Chairman Arafat, and other leaders in the Arab world, will have to stop acts of violence and desecration, such as occurred at Joseph's Tomb yesterday, and get those three Israeli soldiers returned. Because, if they are not, no Israeli government, let alone this one headed by Prime Minister Barak, can sit back. And the cycle of violence begets more violence. It takes us away further and further from the peace process. And that peace process, honestly, is -- before this happened, was very close to a genuine, permanent peace -- final peace agreement.

BLITZER: So, basically, what you are saying is that you could support that decision to abstain, as opposed to veto?

LIEBERMAN: Tough call. A lot of variables going on. But, yes, the right decision, because it preserves the United States's capacity to mediate a peace here and, most important, stop the hostilities. And remember, the resolution now has, what I'd call, an indirect criticism of Israel and commits the Security Council to act more aggressively to stop the hostilities. And that's exactly what we need to happen now, and, particularly, to have those three soldiers returned.

BLITZER: The other big international story in the past few days, the situation in Yugoslavia, the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, a new democratically elected president in Yugoslavia.

At the debate last Tuesday night, George W. Bush said it would be a good idea to get the Russians involved. The Clinton administration eventually did get the Russians involved, supported the President Putin's getting involved in this process.

Al Gore at that debate pooh-poohed it, pooh-poohed the whole notion of Russian involvement, saying the Russians were not on board.

But wasn't George W. Bush proven correct on this issue?

LIEBERMAN: No. In fact, this is a classic of the unfortunate tendency to politicize international relations at a time when they should not be politicized. The fact is that, unfortunately, President Putin stuck with Milosevic very long, and when George Bush said at that debate, Wolf, that we ought to get the Russians involved, Al Gore said quite correctly, knowing exactly what was going on, which was that the administration and other European powers were trying to convince the Russians to break from Milosevic. He said to George Bush, you better not get the Russians involved unless we know they are on our side.

And, incidentally, Governor Bush said, well, of course we wouldn't get them involved if they are not on our side. The fact is they weren't, as Al Gore said, on our side on that occasion.

LIEBERMAN: So you know, ultimately this is much ado about nothing, except that Al Gore was right at that point. And it is part of a pattern of exaggerations about exaggerations which is taking a bad turn in this campaign.

BLITZER: Well, speaking about exaggerations, as you know, the Republican campaign the Bush-Cheney ticket is accusing the vice president, Al Gore, of grossly exaggerating his own achievements over these years.

I want you to listen to what Dick Cheney said on Wednesday, the day before his debate with you.

LIEBERMAN: Good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD B. CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Al Gore has described these presidential debates as a job interview with the American people. I've learned over the years that when somebody embellishes their resume in a job interview, you don't hire them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Strong words suggesting that Al Gore repeatedly has embellished his own resume.

LIEBERMAN: Strong, unfair, untrue words spoke by Dick Cheney about Al Gore. And very regrettable. I've got to tell you, I was in this -- that was Wednesday, I gather. I was in this debate with Dick Cheney on Thursday night, a good civilized debate. We talked about the issues, which is what the campaign is all about. And then Friday morning, Dick Cheney, shockingly to me, went back on the attack with the most vicious comments.

He and Mrs. Cheney and my old colleague, Alan Simpson, about Al Gore. Just not true. And I have got to tell you, it has got to stop. I mean, Al Gore and I made a pledge earlier in this campaign that we were not going to make a negative personal attack on George Bush and Dick Cheney. And we said over and over again these are decent men. We just disagree with their plans for America.

And I think what's going on here, as the Bush-Cheney ticket is not doing as well as it thought it would at this point, and particularly, because they have concluded that the American people agree more with Al Gore and me on the issues that are important to America's future: education, health care, Social Security, Medicare. That they are trying to take down the character and credibility of a good man.

BLITZER: But doesn't the vice president give the Republicans an opening. When, for example, on whole issue of whether he went to visit flood inspections in Texas with James Lee Witt, the FEMA administrator. And that turned out not to be true. Doesn't that give the other side an opening, to point to a whole series of areas where Al Gore has not been precise, let's say.

LIEBERMAN: You know, this all about proportion. The fact is, and I hate even to spend the time on it, that Al Gore went to Texas after those -- to visit the scenes and discuss the wildfires that occurred. He actually went with a deputy director of FEMA. He had made other trips with James Witt two years ago. Is that a big deal really? Does that matter as much to the American people as what kind of prescription drug benefit Al Gore will provide them as opposed to the phony benefit that George Bush will provide them?

I don't think so. People make mistakes. But -- and George Bush a while ago was asked what was his favorite book when he was a child. One of the books he cited was "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Well, it turned out that Governor Bush was in his 20s when that book was published.

So what? I -- I'm in 50s, Wolf, and I still enjoy the "Very Hungry Caterpillar." The point is, let's get back to the facts.

In most of these cases that they are talking about exaggerations, either they are irrelevant or the point that Al Gore was making is accurate. And that is -- this nonsense is not what this campaign should be about.

Let me put it another way. I have known Al Gore for 15 years. Not only do I trust him, I don't know anyone in public life who has worked with him who doesn't trust his word. He is an honorable man. And I think the American people trust him on the things that matter to them. Not exactly whether he was with this person on this day at this time, but will he work hard to try to make our schools the best in the world?

Does he have a good record on health care? And let's look at the Bush record on health.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We have to take a quick break.

Coming up, more of our interview with the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman. LATE EDITION.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: I'm delighted to be here tonight with you Joe, and I too want to avoid any personal attacks. I promise not to bring up your singing.

(LAUGHTER)

LIEBERMAN: I promise not to sing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat Joe Lieberman sharing a laughter during Thursday's's vice presidential debate moderated by our own Bernard Shaw. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We return now to my conversation earlier today with the vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: You pointed out that your debate with Dick Cheney was on a high level,..

LIEBERMAN: Yes.

BLITZER: ..very civil, in fact the two of you seemed almost friendly, during and after that debate on Thursday, but the next day as you point out, Dick Cheney in effect mocked you and mocked Al Gore's tax cut proposal.

I want you to listen to what Dick Cheney said on Friday.

LIEBERMAN: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: I don't know if you watched the debate last night. At one point you saw Joe Lieberman explain it.

(LAUGHTER)

He's really clear. I don't think there -- I don't think they're worried about ever having to give anything out, because nobody will ever understand the code to be able to apply for the credits to get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: His point is that they have a simple tax cut proposal, everybody gets a tax cut, it's across the board, people who pay the most in taxes get bigger tax breaks, people who pay less get smaller tax breaks. Yours, he says, would require thousands of new IRS agents, a very complicated process that only a CPA could love.

LIEBERMAN: Again, you know, I don't know who that Dick Cheney was at the debate on Thursday night. He was a rational, civil man and he goes back out and becomes an attack dog. On Friday morning -- I think the American people understand the difference between these two tax plans, the fact is that under the Bush-Cheney tax plan, almost $700 billion, more than 40 percent goes to top one percent of the American people, who make almost a million dollars a year.

Under our plan, do people understand the idea that Al Gore and I want to say every middle class family, you can deduct up to $10,000 dollars a year from your taxes for the cost of college tuition for your kids or yourself. That's pretty easy to understand. Do people understand that we're going to dramatically increase the tax credit they can take for putting their kids in child care working families, or they can take a $3,000 tax credit off of their liability for taking care of an elderly parent with long-term care, or another tax credit for health insurance or a tax credit for a savings plan.

Seventy-five million American Americans making $100,000 dollars or less can do a retirement savings account on top of a guaranteed Social Security benefit. I think people understand this because these are the areas in which they feel pressure, so I think he's not giving the American people the kind of credit they deserve.

BLITZER: But when you say that he's an attack dog, using strong words like that, what's wrong with trying to show that there are serious differences between -- on policy issues, tax cuts for example, between their policy and your policy without engaging in those kinds of descriptions.

LIEBERMAN: I got to tell you, the tone was mocking. That's a much better place to have an debate, and I'm happy to enter that debate any time and Al Gore is happy to enter that debate because the truth is, we are confident that our plans for America's future will meet with much more favorable response from the American people than the Bush-Cheney plan and that is why they are indulging in the kind of nasty personal attacks on Al Gore's credibility based on nonsense, which is not what this campaign is about. I'm confident the American people are not going to be fooled by, that's where we ought to draw the line. Let's raise the debate backup to where it was Thursday night when we're talking about what are you going to do for people and what records are.

Look, the fact is that George Bush's record on the environment in Texas is horrible. They have the most toxically polluted air in America. Houston is the dirtiest city. Kids in Houston don't know whether they can go out to play every day until the school officials, or the local officials check the air quality.

BLITZER: But you could blame George Bush for what's built up in Houston over many, many years?

LIEBERMAN: You can blame it for how's it's going down in those years. Heath care, children's defense fund has dropped Texas during the years in which George Bush has been governor to the third worst place in America to raise kids. A 1,200,000 kids without health insurance and the state under Governor Bush held to account by a federal judge for not enforcing or carrying out in good faith the law that obliges them to offer health insurance to children in the state.

LIEBERMAN: We ought to be talking about those kinds of issues, not this nonsense about how the -- again, the famous story about Al Gore's mother-in-law and the dog and the prescription drug benefits, that was a real story. And the point is one that is not exaggeration to tens of millions of senior citizens in America, who know that they are paying more for same prescription drugs than most of the rest of us are for ourselves and, indeed, for our pets.

BLITZER: Senator Lieberman, unfortunately, we only have a few seconds left, but I want to ask if there is any reconsideration you are giving at all for running for reelection for the Senate from Connecticut. You can run for both. You have until, what, October 27 to make up your mind. Are you not confident enough that you are going to win the vice presidency that you want this fail safe as a guarantee?

LIEBERMAN: No. No October surprise here. I am confident, because I believe so much in Al Gore and I believe that the plans we have for America's future are so much better for the American people, particularly the hard-working, middle-class people, that I'm confident, in the end, we are going to win.

But, you know, the Connecticut Democrats nominated me. They want me to stay. They want this seat to be filled six years in the Senate, not on the run, but in an election that can be held next year with all the candidates who may want to get involved, getting involved with a full debate on issues that everybody can participate in. That is the way it ought to happen.

BLITZER: All right. So you'll be running for both.

LIEBERMAN: Yes.

BLITZER: OK, Joe Lieberman, thanks. You sang on Letterman. I'm not going to have you sing on LATE EDITION.

LIEBERMAN: It's too early, too early. It wouldn't be pleasing.

BLITZER: Thank you so much for joining us.

LIEBERMAN: Take care. See you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And coming up next, there is just one month to go until the presidential election. We'll talk about where the race for the White House stands right now with Bush campaign chief strategist, Karl Rove, and Gore deputy campaign manager, Mark Fabiani.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He would spend more money on tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent than all of the new spending that he proposes for education, health care, prescription drugs and national defense -- all combined.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm beginning to think not only did he invent the Internet, but he invented the calculator. It's fuzzy math.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore facing off last week in the first of three presidential debates. They'll meet again this Wednesday night in North Carolina.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Joining us now are two key figures from the Bush and Gore camps. In Austin, Texas, Karl Rove. He's the chief strategist for the Bush campaign. And in Nashville, Tennessee, Mark Fabiani. He's the deputy campaign manager for the Gore campaign.

Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

And, Mr. Rove, let me begin with you. I want to give you a chance to respond to what we just heard from Joe Lieberman on some specific points. First of all, he goes after Dick Cheney being civil during the debate Thursday night, but then Friday becoming, in his words, an attack dog, going after Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.

What do you say about that?

KARL ROVE, BUSH CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Well, look, Secretary Cheney made appropriate comments. The vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket is the attack dog. He came to Houston, Texas, recently, and proceeded to attack Governor Bush on environmental issues. You heard some of his rhetoric. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Houston is -- its air quality is better than Los Angeles. Los Angeles has now got the worst air quality in the country. Texas, despite the fact that we are rapidly growing state with a lot of cars and about, I guess, a third of the nation's refining capacity along our coast and in our industrial areas. Despite that, Texas leads the country in reducing toxic pollution from the air. The Clinton-Gore -- Environmental Protection Agency say that.

This idea that in Houston, Texas, kids can't go out and play at recess unless the Environmental Agency gives them an all clear sign is absolutely ludicrous. It's another, sort of, made up exaggeration by this Clinton-Gore campaign -- by the Gore-Lieberman ticket, in which the serial exaggerations of Vice President Gore seem to be being picked up by Senator Lieberman.

BLITZER: Mark Fabiani, the response that you are getting from the Bush campaign is one that continues to emphasize the exaggerations, the discrepancies, that your candidate, Al Gore, is making throughout this campaign.

MARK FABIANI, DEPUTY GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, you know why they are doing that, Wolf. They can't talk about the issues. The American people disagree with Bush and Cheney on the issues. So we end up arguing about whether the director of the emergency agency or the assistant director was in Texas.

Let's look at the record in Texas. Governor Bush has a failed record of leadership there on the environment, on health care, on guns, and now Governor Bush has a failed record of being able to explain his policies in clear English. I don't know if you saw, Wolf, his attempt yesterday to explain his tax plan. One paper said that he sounded like a computer gone haywire. Bush ought to be held to presidential standards, and what he did yesterday didn't meet up to Dan-Quayle standards. BLITZER: Well, Karl Rove, let's talk about the specific point that both Al Gore and, today, Joe Lieberman, is making. The specific point on the tax cut proposal envisaged by Governor Bush. Lieberman, on our program just a little while ago, said that $700 billion of the benefits would go, in his words, to about -- 40 percent of the benefits would go to top 1 percent of the income earners, those making almost $1 million a year.

Where is the fuzzy math there?

ROVE: How ludicrous. Yes, well, first of all, the -- it -- the advantage to people at the top 1 percent of the tax rate cut, the benefit that they get from it is $223 million -- billion dollars, excuse me. Governor Bush spends $445 billion in new spending on health, education, defense, and prescription drugs, and $9.9 trillion over the next 10 years on those a areas.

The only way that they can come up with these dummy numbers, in which they say all the benefit goes to people making a $1 million a year is to assume that when you abolish the death tax, all the benefit of abolishing the death tax goes to people who are making $1 million a year, which is ludicrous. People who have wealth distribute, when they die, may distribute it to a wide variety of people. They don't just give it people who are making $1 million a year.

When a small businessman or a small businesswoman or a farmer departs this earth and leaves a farm or a small business to their heirs that's worth more than $1 million, that business that they give on or that farm that they give on does not give people $1 million a year income. So it is ludicrous. If you look at the Joint Committee on Taxation Numbers (ph), the value of reducing all of the tax brackets, not just the top bracket -- top bracket alone is $149 billion.

ROVE: But if you reduce all the tax brackets, when you reduce the lowest tax bracket, that affects people at the very top as well.

BLITZER: All right.

ROVE: It's $223 billion dollars. Let me make one other point. They talk about the one percent at the top. They don't talk about the six percent at the bottom. There are five million families, five million taxpayers -- representing nearly six million taxpayers, who get dropped off the rolls altogether. If you make $35,000 or less, you get a 100 percent tax cut under Governor Bush. If you make $50,000 a year you get a 50 percent federal income tax cut. If you make $75,000 a year, you get a 25 percent tax cut. They like to focus on that one percent at the top and exaggerate, exaggerate, exaggerate. But they don't talk about the fairness that this represents to people up and down the scale.

BLITZER: Mark Fabiani, you just heard a preview of what we expect Governor Bush will probably say in that second debate coming up this Wednesday Night.

FABIANI: You know Wolf, I'm not sure about that. It is one thing to send your flack out to explain your tax plan, but the American people want to hear the candidate explain the tax plan. They want to ensure that Governor Bush meets up to presidential standards. And Governor Bush tried to explain his tax plan yesterday. And as I said, "The New York Times" described him as a computer gone haywire. He was incoherent; he was babbling. People want to hear Bush explain it, not Karl Rove explain it. And Bush hasn't done that. He failed in the first debate. He's under pressure now to do it in the second debate. .

BLITZER: Governor Bush I'm going to get ...

ROVE: Bush absolutely did it -- met presidential standards in the first debate. That's why he's moved so dramatically in the polls this week. People saw a petulant child on Tuesday night in Al Gore ripping up paper, sighing 19 times, trying to constantly interrupt. The person acting in an unpresidential manner and an undignified manner was Al Gore on Tuesday night.

FABIANI: Again, Wolf, this ...

BLITZER: One second, Mark Fabiani, we are going to get to giving you a chance to respond to that.

FABIANI: Thanks.

BLITZER: We will also talk about the latest poll numbers and a lot more. But we have to take a quick break. Just ahead, more with Karl Rove and Mark Fabiani. And I'll ask them if they have new strategies for this week's presidential debate.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're talking about the race for the White House with Karl Rove, Governor Bush's chief strategist, and Mark Fabiani deputy campaign manager for Vice President Gore.

Mr. Fabiani, you probably heard me report earlier in this program our new CNN/"USA Today" tracking poll number which shows Governor Bush expanding his lead. Today's number 49 percent for Governor Bush, 41 percent for Al Gore. Pretty significant difference compared to only what that number was a few days ago.

FABIANI: Well, a couple of things, Wolf, first of all, I doubt anyone in the poll saw Governor Bush babble about his tax plan yesterday. I think that will get reflected in the next couple of days.

Second of all, your poll had the vice president ahead by 11 points last week. That was unrealistic, we never thought we were 11 points ahead and believe me, we're not eight points behind.

This is a very close race, we have a narrow lead, it's a steady lead, we have significant leads in the battleground states. There's a new poll out in Florida that puts us up by 3 points in Florida. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Florida since Calvin Coolidge back in the 20's. So, we're in a position where we're very strong all around the battleground states, and we're looking forward to this next debate.

You know, George Bush got credit for just showing up at the first debate and that's fine he should get credit for showing up and for not making any big mistakes. But he lost that debate. He's got it coming -- he's got to win this debate. It's not enough just to show up any more, so we're really looking forward to Wednesday.

BLITZER: Karl Rove, the latest CNN electoral map projections that we're releasing today, I want to show these to you, I want to put them up on our screen. Right now those who are inclined, those states inclined to vote for Gore represent a total about 215 electoral votes. Those states inclined to vote for George W. Bush, 167 electoral votes. That means there's a toss up right now of about 156 electoral votes including such states as Florida, which seemed to be too close to call right now.

Florida a critical state. A lot of people don't believe your candidate, Governor Bush, can win this election without carrying Florida.

ROVE: Well, we feel good about Florida. The governor was there with large, enthusiastic crowds yesterday, our polling and other polls show Governor Bush ahead in Florida. We believe that it's going to be a close election. We got a slightly in most of the tracking polls an overly generous lead, I think, in your Gallup poll, but nonetheless, we've shown great momentum over the last week.

And what's interesting about this map is that we're competing in states that Republicans have not won in recent years. We're competing in five states for example, doing well in them that Michael Dukakis carried.

So we feel very good about the state of the campaign now, and we've got tremendous momentum the last week. Governor Bush did very well in the debate, the American people were pleased to see him, and saw in him their next president and reassured that he had the command of issues and the vision that's necessary and they responded by move -- by showing us pretty good dramatic and upward movement in most of the polls.

BLITZER: Mark Fabiani, in the new CNN/"Time" magazine poll that's just out today, there's a disturbing number for Vice President Gore, I want to show -- put this on the screen. The question was asked, would they say anything to get elected. Sixty percent of those who responded said that Al Gore would say anything to get elected; 43 percent Governor Bush would say anything to get elected. Means there's a lot of people out there presumably, a lot more think that skeptically of Vice President Gore than Governor Bush.

FABIANI: Well, I think what's happened after the debate is that Governor Bush because he can't talk about the issues, cause he's not up to talking about them and people disagree with him when they can understand him. He's come out and he's launched a full bore assault on these so-called exaggerations, and people are listening to that.

But that's a short-term thing when people understand that these exaggerations aren't really exaggerations, that Governor Bush is incapable of explaining his own positions on the issues coherently. Those numbers will even out again and I think, you know, you look across the country "the New York Times" this morning says that Governor Bush is in danger of seeing Pennsylvania slip away from him. He's behind in Florida, things are not looking good, although I think the popular vote, you're right Karl, is very close and this will be a very close election right up to the end.

BLITZER: Unfortunately gentlemen we have to leave it there. Mark Fabiani, Karl Rove, thanks again for joining us, we'll all be watching, of course, Wednesday night at this second presidential debate.

Thank you for joining us.

For our international viewers, World News is next.

For our North American audience, stay tuned for another 30 minutes of LATE EDITION. We'll get a live report from the Middle East then we'll go round the table with Roberts, Page and Carlson, plus Bruce Morton's "Last Word."

It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We'll get to our roundtable in just a moment, but first, an update on the tense situation in the Middle East.

Joining us once again is our Jerusalem bureau chief, Mike Hanna.

Mike, what's going on?

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's been a reduction in the intensity of the conflict, it appears, on this day. Several incidents of violence were reported from within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and within Israel itself. However, nit the intensity of conflict we've seen in recent days.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, he reiterated his ultimatum to the Palestinians made Saturday, that if the violence does not come to an end by sundown Monday, that he will regard the peace process as having ended.

Angry resentment from the Palestinians at the ultimatum, saying it is Israel, not the Palestinians, who have the power to end the conflict.

Israel demolished a building in the Gaza Strip in the course of this day. The building was overlooking an Israeli outpost guarding the Jewish enclave of Metzarene, a flashpoint of many incident of violence in recent days. Israel says Palestinians were using the building s to attack the Israeli outpost and attempt to attack the enclave.

But it does appear throughout the course of this day, a reduction, it appears in the intensity of the conflict. However, still deep fears about a possible escalation, given its capture of three Israeli soldiers in the far north of Israel by Hezbollah guerrillas. This may be leading to fears of a possible escalation of the conflict involving Israel's neighbors, such as Syria and Lebanon, adding yet another dimension to this ongoing conflict between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors -- Wolf.

BLITZER: CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Mike Hanna, thank you for joining us.

Time now for our LATE EDITION roundtable.

Joining me, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today"; Tucker Carlson, political writer for the "Weekly Standard"; and from our San Francisco bureau, Steve Roberts, contributing editor for "U.S. News & World Report."

And let's begin, shifting gears from the situation in the Middle East. Let's talk a little bit about what we saw in these debates this week. I want to begin with Steve out in San Francisco. We did see one kind of debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore on Tuesday. We saw very different kind of debate more recently between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman.

STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, in some ways, of course, the stakes are a lot higher in the presidential debates, so I think there was higher level of anxiety, a higher level nervousness on the part of the two presidential contenders. But you are right, the tone on Thursday night was very different. We saw two grown-ups. We saw two professional politicians, a lot of talk about bipartisan cooperation in this campaign. Here are two guys who actually acted that way. I know Tucker doesn't like bipartisanship, but I think this is a very good lesson for the American public, the fact that they talked to each other in a civil respectful way.

In some ways I think this was politics at its best. And I think in some ways, that is the most important thing they accomplished. They showed the American people that actually it is possible to disagree and disagree with a sense of respect and civility.

BLITZER: Although some of that respect and civility seems to have gone away in both what Cheney said the day after and what Joe Lieberman said today, referring to Dick Cheney as an attack dog.

You know, Tucker, I want to give our audience a sample of what we saw Tuesday night in that first debate. The attacks that went back and forth between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I believe they have had moved that sign the buck stops here from the Oval Office desk to the buck stops here on the Lincoln Bedroom. And that's not good for the country.

GORE: Well, I think we ought to attack our country's problems, not attack each other. I want to spend my time making this country even better than it is, not trying to make you out to be a bad person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, which campaign is the attack dog?

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I hope they both are. Let me just correct what Steve said. I don't mind bipartisanship; it is niceness in politics I abhor. And neither of these guys was particularly nice. I think Gore tried the technique that has worked pretty well for him in past debates, which is attack your opponent, whine when he attacks you, claim that he is being unfair. I don't think it worked as well for him.

This debate, you'll notice, I think has been evaluated largely in terms of appearance. Who looked nicer, and I think Gore did lose a lot of points by making background noise when Bush was speaking. I heard the line that Bush should have used was, stop sighing about my record. He didn't. He didn't say anything nearly that witty. But I think in the end, despite the fact that he may have won technically on points, he lost because he came off as having unattractive character traits.

BLITZER: That's a good point, Susan, because a lot of people, experts thought that Al Gore did show a greater expertise in a lot of the domestic and international issues.

But, in terms of the flavor, certainly in our new poll numbers and your new poll numbers, which happen to be same poll numbers, it doesn't look like George W. Bush lost that debate at all.

SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: You know, if you want to figure out why Al Gore is having some trouble in the "USA Today"/CNN tracking poll, just look at the favorable/unfavorable ratings. In the past month, Al Gore's unfavorable rating has gone up 10 points. And in the past month, George Bush's favorable rating has gone up 9 points, and I think that accounts for the decline in Gore's standing in this poll.

People -- it seems to me that neither of these candidates did what they really needed to do in the first debate. Gore needed to be more likable, and I don't think he really did that. Bush needed to look more knowledgeable. And, particularly, on the central issue of his tax cut. I don't think he conveyed that either. If anything, what we've done is raise the stakes for this next debate that is coming up in a couple days.

BLITZER: Coming up Wednesday night.

Steve, a lot of people paying attention to what, presumably, should not be all that significant -- the sighing, the reaction, the cut-away shots, as we call them in television, of Al Gore listening to George W. Bush. You've seen a lot of these debates over the years.

How important is that?

ROBERTS: They are very important. Look, Democrats were pleased to take advantage of George Bush, the elder, when he looked at his watch during the middle of the debate. They thought that was very significant, about how he was impatient and he wasn't very confident. Well, now they are saying it is trivial when Al Gore makes similar kinds of mistakes. And I think that is silly.

I think these things are important. Joe Lieberman says this campaign is just about issues. It is not just about issues, it's always been about personality, about character, about temperament, about the ability to connect and lead the American people, quite apart from their stance on the issues. And I do think these messages people get are important.

And one of the things that we saw was that the post-debate polls were very favorable to Gore, because, as Susan said, there was sense of him being in command and talking about the issue. But in the days to follow, you saw those follow-up stories showing he maybe exaggerated, embellished in certain ways. And the mood started to shift two or three days afterwards.

You can call them trivial. The Democrats are calling those embellishments trivial, but they do speak to a tendency on the part of the vice president to always embellish. And I think that's not something the American people like, and I think it's one of the reasons why he is falling in polls.

BLITZER: Tucker, is that beginning to catch up to Al Gore, this accusation that he embellishes and exaggerates?

CARLSON: I think it is, and the Bush people think it is. I mean, it has taken a long time, I believe, for the Bush campaign to come around to idea, which I think is true, that this campaign is really about Al Gore. It is not so much about Bush's vision, it's about the incumbent. All things being equal, the incumbent tends to win. And the Bush people, I think, have realized that, gee, it's really important to give people a reason to vote against the incumbent. And they're going to do that, and I think they're going to be running some pretty rough ads about Gore's credibility. And I think it works. It resonates.

BLITZER: You know, Susan, one of the things that we saw in the vice presidential debate that we didn't see in the presidential debate, was element of laughter, humor, goodwill, but there was also an interesting exchange between Cheney and Lieberman. Cheney has this reputation that he is not necessarily such great campaigner, but I think he probably got the better of Lieberman on this exchange.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: I'm pleased to see, Dick, from the newspapers that you're better off than you were eight years ago, too.

CHENEY: And most of it...

(LAUGHTER)

And I can tell you, Joe, that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.

LIEBERMAN: I can see my wife, and I think she is thinking, gee, I wish you would go out into private sector.

CHENEY: Well, I'm going to try to help you do that, Joe.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAGE: You know, Cheney's had a pretty rough ride since he got named. He's taken a lot of hits. But I think in this debate, we saw the reasons Cheney got chosen to be the running mate. He was knowledgeable and low key, he conveyed a sense of authority. I mean, some people say that he seemed to have more authority than his running mate at the top of the ticket.

I do think one thing we could say -- we've now had six vice presidential debates. The first was in 1976. And this was the first time, I think, where people came away with the feeling that both of the candidates clearly had the stature, the knowledge to be president. Reassuring in a way.

ROBERTS: It is interesting, Wolf, that Cheney has not been particularly effective on the stump. There have been a lot of stories about his inexperience. You've got to remember Dick Cheney, as a candidate, only ran five times for public office, always in the small state of Wyoming. He's a rookie when it comes to national campaigning.

But when you talk about a setting like that when he's been on TV hundreds of times -- he's been on CNN and PBS. This was his arena where he is very experienced. And, in fact, he was so good that a lot -- out here there was a big column in San Francisco papers saying maybe the campaign should flip their tickets. I know a lot of people are making that comment.

The one danger that Cheney poses for Bush is, that when people see how knowledgeable Cheney is on foreign and military policy, they're going to say, hey, that's a pretty stark contrast to Bush, who looked like Dan Quayle when he answering those questions, with that dazed look in his eye.

CARLSON: The comparison between Bush and Cheney on foreign policy works very much against Bush.

BLITZER: You know Tucker, not only did some columnists and others and average people out there suggest that maybe they should flip both of these tickets that Lieberman and Cheney should be at the top of the tickets as opposed to Bush and Gore. But some other people were saying you know, that ticket -- the friendship, the bipartisanship that was shown during that debate, wouldn't it be a good idea to have Lieberman and Cheney or Cheney and Lieberman their own ticket.

CARLSON: That would be confusing. But, not as confusing as a lot of other things that are going on in the political world these days. I mean perhaps that would work, though I do think though that people don't realize that A, the Lieberman routine, the ingenuousness and the sort of light humor does wear thin after a while, and that Cheney can't work a rope line, and that's something that's important. I also think that people underestimate the importance of sitting down, that makes a huge, huge difference and the Bush people are saying, I know that they believe that Bush is going to have a big advantage because next debates will be in a less formal setting.

BLITZER: I've always insisted that our roundtable, we sit during these roundtable discussions. I hope you are sitting out, Steve Roberts out in San Francisco. We have to quick a break, just ahead the New York Senate debate who won?

We'll ask the roundtable, when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable. All right Susan, it's the second most widely watched contest in election 2000, namely the New York Senate race between Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio. We all watched the debate, the WCBS debate that aired on CNN earlier today.

Who won that debate?

PAGE: I think you have to say Hillary Clinton is poised to win this race. She's at 50 percent in the polls. There was nothing in this debate to upset that dynamic and I think you saw also interestingly, both candidates learning something from their first debate, Hillary Clinton being a little more aggressive, Rick Lazio being a little less aggressive, but I don't see anything that changes the dynamic of race which has Hillary moving toward a victory.

BLITZER: I want to get -- Tucker and Steve's opinion a second. There was an interesting exchange on this whole agreement that they had supposedly, an agreement to ban soft money in this campaign. Listen to this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON: Mr. Lazio's campaign violated the very simple agreement that we entered into. It was a self enforceable agreement that anyone could follow and see whether we were abiding by it.

LAZIO: Mrs. Clinton, please, no lectures from motel 1600 on campaign finance reform.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Sixteen Hundred Pennsylvania Avenue, Tucker, in case you didn't know, is the White House. CARLSON: Is it true?

BLITZER: Of the White House and the Lincoln bedroom is there. So, who won this debate?

CARLSON: Well, Mrs. Clinton lost the debate. I mean, I think, you know, you could argue how well Lazio did. I think he was better than he was last time and Mrs. Clinton was good in certain ways for summing up her defense of her sort of carpet bagger status was fluid and made some sense. On the other hand, she came across as not only not a new Democrat but sort of a time machine Democrat, I mean she is -- holding with positions that are just nowhere near the center of the Democratic party, and it's odd she didn't -- she defended them in this way that really does remind you of being scolded by a kindergarten teacher, very unattractive.

PAGE: Well, of course, she's not running in a state that's in the center of the Democratic Party, ...

CARLSON: That's true.

PAGE: ...where liberal Democratic positions and especially on issues like the Middle East serve very well if you're running for office.

BLITZER: All right, Steve, let's bring Steve Roberts. You watched this debate, what was your sense.

ROBERTS: Well, I thought that I agree with Susan, I think Mrs. Clinton did well enough to hold her lead. I think this whole idea of trying to attack Rick Lazio is being a clone of Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott. We heard Jesse Helms, I'm not sure that's a very good tactic, although those folks are hardly popular in New York state. Lazio, of course, is running as if he wasn't a Republican, I mean he used the word bipartisan, he had nice words to say about Democrats.

He knows that if he's running too much as a Republican particularly connected to the Republican leadership in the Congress, that he's out of the main stream. Tucker might say that Hillary is out of the main stream on the left wing of the Democratic Party, but clearly the Republican leadership and the Congress is way outside of where New York voters are, so I think Mrs. Clinton probably smart to do that, I'm not sure it's very effective. I think she held her own, I think she's getting better as a campaigner.

She's not a particularly likable person in the same way that Al Gore is not particularly likable candidate, but she's got the advantage in running in New York. Al Gore's going to run nationwide, a million people going to have to change their votes as Susan pointed out last week. A million people who vote for Al Gore are going to have to vote for Lazio. I think that's too big a mountain for him to climb.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see who's going to climb that mountain. Unfortunately we have to leave it right there. Tucker Carlson, Susan Page, Steve Roberts in San Francisco, hopefully you'll be back here in Washington next week, thanks for joining us.

ROBERTS: I'll be there.

BLITZER: And up next, Bruce Morton's "Last Word."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian immigrant who shot and killed Robert Kennedy as he was celebrate victory in the 1968 California presidential primary, is 57 now. Still in prison in California.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Infamous assassins, where are they now?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's "Last Word" on the men and women who tried and in some cases succeeded in cutting short some famous lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): Mark Chapman, who murdered John Lennon almost 20 years ago, lost his first bid for a parole this past week. Chapman, now 45, is serving 20 years to life in New York State's maximum security Attica prison, sentenced after pleading guilty to second degree murder after shooting and killing Lennon in December 1980.

Chapman is one of several killers and would-be killers of famous people in American jails. He killed a musician; the others we remember aimed at politicians.

Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian immigrant who shot and killed Robert Kennedy as he was celebrating victory in the 1968 California presidential primary, is 57 now, still in prison in California. He has repeatedly been denied parole.

Arthur Bremmer, who wounded the late Governor George Wallace and three others at a Maryland shopping center when Wallace was running for president in 1972, is 50 now, serving a 53-year sentence in a Maryland prison.

Bremmer, who seemed unrepentant during an unsuccessful 1996 parole hearing, had also stalked Richard Nixon, according to his diary. Wallace, whom Bremmer crippled, confining him to a wheelchair, died in 1998.

Two women tried to kill Gerald Ford while he was president. One, Sara Jane Moore, is 72 now in a California prison, the only one in the country which allows inmates to lock and unlock their own cells. The officials have keys, too, of course. The inmates can't leave prison, just lock and unlock their cell doors. The second, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a member of the Charles Manson family, the murderer whose name the current rock band uses, turns 52 this month, and is in a federal prison and medical center in Carswell, Texas. One newspaper report says she contributes to a web site dedicated to Manson.

And John Hinckley, who shot Ronald Reagan and was found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined at St. Elizabeth's Hospital here in Washington, is allowed to leave on occasional short day-trips with hospital staff. He lost a bid to have weekly unsupervised visits with his parents.

Hinckley and his lawyers say he's well now. One judge recalled a 1987 Hinckley diary entry: "Psychiatry is a guessing game, and I do my best to keep the fools guessing about me. They will never know the true John Hinckley."

Did any of these six commit hate crimes? People and legislatures argue now over whether that's a special kind of crime. And if they killed or tried to kill ordinary, not famous, people, would some of them now be free?

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.

When we come back, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Time now to look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.

"Time" magazine declares Yugoslavia free at last, an inside look at the revolution that toppled President Slobodan Milosevic from power on the cover.

"Newsweek" has "Yugoslavia People Power: The Last Days of the Dictator and the Risks Ahead," on the cover. And on the cover of "U.S. News & World Report" Sleepless in America. New research links lack of sleep to health problems like obesity, diabetes and the common cold.

Before we leave, one correction. We inadvertently showed you a graphic in our electoral map which had Nebraska as a toss-up state in the presidential race. Nebraska is clearly in the Bush camp.

And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, October 8. Be sure to join us next Sunday and every Sunday at noon eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

This programming note. On tonight's "DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA," I'll have a special report on what may be the most dangerous conflict on Earth. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The Persian poet Sheiksadia (ph) once said of Kashmir, "If there is any heaven on earth, it is here." But much of heaven on earth has turned it to hell. Tens of thousands have died in fighting between India and Pakistan. Now it's feared the disputed territory of Kashmir wedged between India, Pakistan, and China could be the flash point for something much worse, something the world has not seen in more than 50 years: a nuclear war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: "DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA" that airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. And coming up next on "CNN.COM, the battle over online music. Will the big record labels end up drowning out independent online music companies?

For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Happy Birthday to my dad who is 80 and to my daughter Alana (ph), who is 19.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

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