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Inside Politics

Al Gore Confronting the Credibility Issue; Bush Campaigns in Gore's Home State of Tennessee

Aired October 10, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... to get the details right, and I'll also be sighing a little bit less in this debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Hoping to win high fives after tomorrow's debate, Al Gore confronts the credibility question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I understand that my opponent is fixing to go down to Texas or somebody on his team is, and kind of try to tear down our state. Come on down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: George W. Bush brushes off a planned blitz in his backyard even as he goes on the attack in Gore's home state.

Plus, a closeup look at the other star of the second Bush-Gore face-off: the table.

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

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

In a bit of a role reversal, Al Gore heads into his second debate with George W. Bush tomorrow as the candidate who may have more to prove. Even Gore is acknowledging that he needs to watch his words or risk another bombardment by the Bush camp on his statements and his credibility.

Gore spoke with our Jonathan Karl today in Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Vice President Gore prepares for debate No. 2, one item on the agenda is making sure he gets all the facts right, leaving no room for Republicans to accuse him of distorting the truth.

GORE: I'm going to do my best to get all the details right. You know, when I said I went to those fires in Texas with James Lee Witt, I did go to the fires, and I have made 16, 17 similar trips with James Lee. But two years ago on that trip, I was with one of his assistants instead, and that was a mistake, and I take responsibility for it.

It was not a willful mistake, but it was a mistake.

But it's important to get all the details right, and I'll do my best to do better on that.

KARL (on camera): Aside from trying to be careful and not make many mistakes, do you have to do anything to counteract that, because, again, whether it's right or wrong, there is that perception?

GORE: I'll do my best to get the details right. And I'll also be sighing a little bit less in this debate.

KARL (voice-over): Aides say Gore's heavy makeup was also a distraction in the first debate, taking away from what they say was his clear victory on substance.

(on camera): Any other points on style? A new makeup artist perhaps?

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: I don't -- I don't have any comment on that. I don't know about that art.

KARL (voice-over): During his break from debate preparation, Gore talked about his education plans at Manatee Community College. With this latest visit to Florida, Gore has now spent nine of the last 14 days here, an effort that is now to be matched with a big advertising push.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC AD)

NARRATOR: Two million more pounds of toxic chemicals dumped into Texas waterways, leading the nation in the number of factories that can violate clean water standards. Now imagine Bush's Texas record in Florida's Everglades.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: The Democratic National Committee and the Gore campaign plan to spend a combined $1.5 million on TV ads over the next 10 days, more than tripling their rate of spending here.

TAD DEVINE, GORE CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: This commitment is for real. It's based on a belief that we can win here in Florida, and we're about to put a substantial investment of resources behind that belief.

GORE: The people of Florida agree with us. They disagree with the positions on the other side. And the more we can talk about the issues here, the more we feel good about our chances to win Florida.

KARL: Both the Gore and Bush campaigns claim to be leading slightly in Florida, but both also say their internal polls are within the margin of error, making the race a statistical tie.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: As Gore prepares for the next debate, his campaign is trying to play the expectations game, something they believed that Bush clearly won before the last debate when in the words of one Gore adviser, "The bar was so low for Bush that it was on the ground."

This time around, Gore's aides insist that Bush must not only survive the debate but actually win it -- Bernie.

SHAW: John Karl, you mentioned preparations for the debate. Behind the scenes, what's going on?

KARL: Well, there has been some pretty intense preparation sessions, actual mock debates that they've been holding. Paul Begala has been standing in again in the role of George W. Bush, and Bob Shrum, one of the top media adviser for the vice president, is playing the role of the moderator, Jim Lehrer. They've been going through these practice sessions.

This time around, none of those special advisers that we saw during the preparation for the last debate, those so-called "real people" that they brought in for more photo opportunities. This time around, it's a little bit more intense, a little bit more focused. Gore only taking the one break today to go out and talk a little bit about education, but primarily doing these mock debates.

SHAW: Thank you, Jonathan Karl, with the latest from Florida.

On the eve of this debate No. 2, George W. Bush is trying to keep Gore on the defensive. But as our Candy Crowley reports, the Bush camp believes the perfect place to do that is in Gore's home state of Tennessee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not since George McGovern in '72 has a presidential candidate lost his home state. So this one would be sweet.

BUSH: Tennessee is going to go George W. and so is America.

CROWLEY: Encouraged by polls showing a dead heat on Al Gore's home turf, George Bush dropped by with a gentle jab based on a June story about a woman living on property owned by the vice president who accused Gore of being a slum lord.

BUSH: Tennessee is a fine place to live. I guess it, though, depends on who your landlord is.

CROWLEY: The Gore people claim they have fixed up the place, but the woman, a mother of eight, has since moved to Ohio, courtesy of Republicans.

Bush dropped by Tennessee en route to Wednesday's debate in North Carolina, offering up a flavor of what's to come.

BUSH: My opponent is of Washington, for Washington and by Washington. He thinks all knowledge and all wisdom exits in Washington, d.c. Ours is a campaign that trusts the American people.

CROWLEY: The Bush campaign thinks the "big spending" tag on Al Gore is beginning to stick and show up in the polls. Look for that point to be made early and often Wednesday evening. Likewise, look for the idea that Bush, as he has put it for months, is a uniter, not a divider, a leader who can work across the aisle.

With Democrats, including former President Jimmy Carter's attorney general, at his side, Bush further underscored his point by taking note that the Gore campaign has Texas in its sights.

BUSH: And I understand that my opponent is fixing to go down to Texas, or somebody on his team is, and kind of try to tear down our state. Come on down.

(APPLAUSE)

We welcome to talk about the Texas record. This is a state where both Republicans and Democrats have worked together.

CROWLEY: The Bush team is dispatching a group of Texas Democrats and independents to the battleground states to help combat the Gore campaign's attacks on the Texas record.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Aides say Bush arrives here in North Carolina with -- quote -- "the wind at his back," meaning that overall polls recently have trended in his direction. Bush's task tomorrow night is really quite simple: Make sure the weather doesn't change -- Bernie.

SHAW: Candy, would you suppose that the governor is boning up on the Middle East and possibly anticipating questions from Jim Lehrer about world trouble spots tomorrow night?

CROWLEY: They absolutely do expect that there may be more international policy questions tomorrow night, simply because of what's happened in the news in Yugoslavia and in the Middle East. They say, however, there was no more boning up during this debate prep than there was for the first debate because they fully expected that about half the questions would be about domestic policy and the other half about international policy. But clearly, this is an area that they want Bush to shine in, and so they say they would welcome the questions on foreign policy and they're looking forward to it.

SHAW: Candy Crowley on the ground in the Tar Heel state.

Governor Bush is getting new help today from the Republican National Committee as he tries to take on Gore in California. The RNC says it will buy an additional $1 million worth of spots per week in the Los Angeles market, continuing through election day. The party's current ad buy there is about a half million dollars.

Initially, the RNC will run two ads that have been airing in battleground states: one on education, the other on prescription drugs. The RNC says it is responding to a Zogby poll commissioned by Republicans which shows Gore is only six points ahead of Bush in California. However, the last Field poll of likely voters in California shows Gore with a 13-point lead.

And while we're on the subject of ads, our Brooks Jackson has been checking out more presidential campaign commercials and double- checking their numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bush said it.

BUSH: The man is practicing fuzzy math again.

JACKSON: And now Bush's side is doing it, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RNC AD)

NARRATOR: Under George Bush's plan, a family earning under $35,000 a year pays no federal income taxes, a 100 percent tax cut. Earn 35,000 to 50,000, a 55 percent tax cut. Tax relief for everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: Everyone? What an exaggeration! Bush's plan gives no relief for millions of low-income persons who don't earn enough to pay any income taxes but still have to pay payroll taxes. The average income-tax reduction is just over 6 percent, according to the bipartisan Joint Tax Committee of Congress. And that very different tax table in the ad applies only to families with two children, who get bigger credits under Bush.

And let's go back. Where does that table come from? The ad says it's from "The Wall Street Journal," but that's fuzzy attribution and misleading. It's not from the paper's news columns at all. It's from an editorial. And look where "The Journal" editorial writers got their information: quote, "an adviser to the Bush campaign."

The ad goes on...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RNC AD)

NARRATOR: And Al Gore's plan? Three times the new spending President Clinton proposed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: They say candidate Clinton proposed $800 billion in spending, but in fact Clinton's 1992 "Putting People First" proposed less than $220 billion in new spending over four years. The $800 billion figure comes from the Bush side, a 10-year figure they calculated this way: quote, "by projecting to 2002, using the 8 percent annual growth rate Clinton/Gore used from 1995 to 1996 converted to the equivalent in fiscal year 2000 dollars." Clear? Or fuzzy?

But how about Al Gore? Is his math in focus? The latest from his campaign hammers away again at the Bush tax cut plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: Almost half goes to the richest 1 percent. What trickles down? An average of 62 cents a day for most taxpayers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: An exaggeration, as we've said before. Gore's source is Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal group, which says the top 1 percent get 43 percent of Bush's cut, and the bottom 60 percent get an average of $227 a year, 62 cents a day.

Bipartisan analysis from the Joint Tax Committee shows just over half the benefits go to those making over $100,000 a year. Lopsided, but not as much as Gore's ad says.

And here's another...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: Al Gore understands middle-class families need help. Ten thousand dollars of college tuition tax-deductible every year to help middle-class families send their kids to college.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: Another exaggeration, as we've also said before. Ten thousand dollars of tuition will already qualify for a $2,000 tax credit under current law. Gore would increase the maximum benefit by $800 a year.

One reason Gore keeps overselling his $800 tuition proposal: His campaign research shows talking about a $10,000 deduction is his single most popular initiative.

(on camera): As the campaign heats up, the exaggerations seem to grow, and the math just seems to get fuzzier on both sides.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: Both Bush and Gore are likely to spew more numbers when they sit down for tomorrow night's debate at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The fact that they will be sitting down at the same table is notable, because, as our Bruce Morton explains, it could create a different dynamic between the presidential candidates than we saw last week. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know what presidential debates are like: two guys at lecterns. Sure, they've tried "Oprah"-style formats once or twice, but usually it's standup stuff.

Not Wednesday. Bush, Gore and moderator Jim Lehrer will sit at a table, the way the vice presidential candidates did last week. They were polite, grown-up. Remember?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I promise not to bring up your singing. So I...

SEN. JOE LIBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I promise not to sing.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: Bush and Gore are not Cheney and Lieberman, of course, but does the format make a difference?

ROBERT ASMAN, SPEECH COACH: It will lend itself to a more reasonable exchange.

MELISSA WADE, EMORY UNIVERSITY DEBATE COACH: When we're standing behind a lectern, we're sterner, we're more formal. We're presenting our material out for the masses, but we're doing it from a position of authority because we're standing. We look down on an audience.

MORTON: Bush and Gore have debated this way before, and it can be scrappy. Bush on "LARRY KING," with Senator McCain, just before the South Carolina primary. Campaign finance reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE," FEBRUARY 15, 2000)

BUSH: The people who decide who the candidates are and who the victors are will be the press. I'm sure you're looking forward to that opportunity.

LARRY KING, HOST: If I gave you a million dollars, don't you have to take my phone call?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sure. Ask any -- ask any...

KING: Don't you owe me something?

BUSH: Not necessarily.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORTON: Scrappy. So was Gore's most famous table-stakes debate with Ross Perot in 1993 over the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE," NOVEMBER 9, 1993)

ROSS PEROT: It doesn't work.

GORE: Well, what specific changes would you make in it?

PEROT: I can't -- unless you let me finish, I can't answer your question nows.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: Scrappy. So this time, does the format favor one candidate over the other? Can Gore repeat what most judged his win over Perot?

WADE: It'll be interesting to see what he does because he's got the critique from the first debate to maybe tone it down a little bit and not appear to be condescending.

ASMAN: I would say that Governor Bush probably has the advantage. I mean, this is the kind of setting he likes. If you recall, even at the podium situation, he seemed to be much more casual, conversational, a little less bombastic perhaps than his opponent was.

MORTON: In that NAFTA debate, Perot actually called Gore a liar. No one is likely to go that far Wednesday. Are they?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: Still ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS, the candidates and the numbers: explaining the ups and downs in the presidential tracking poll.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Twenty-eight days, or exactly four weeks, until voters go to the polls. It appears the presidential race has tightened once again. George W. Bush now leads Al Gore by three points in our daily tracking poll. Bush led by eight points in yesterday's CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup survey of likely voters.

Gallup's Frank Newport joins us now to talk more about the tracking poll and the fluctuations in the daily results.

First of all, Frank, how do you explain this fluctuation -- wide swings in these polls?

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR IN CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: Well, you know, Bernie, we think it's perfectly normal. We're in a very information- intensive environment, it's a very loosely held attitude we're talking about, who are you going to vote for. People are expected to change their mind. It's not like, do you support the death penalty or an abortion attitude, it's something that people are trying to decide.

And from day-to-day, when we pollsters call them up, we have a significant group of people, we think, who one day say, well, I guess I might vote for Bush if I had to vote today, and the next day it's Gore.

It's also an extraordinary time where people are spending millions of dollars exactly to try to change people's minds. That's what the advertising is about that's what we just saw the critique on. The debates were set up, explicitly, to provide new information to voters so they could either change their mind or make up their mind.

So it doesn't come as a surprise to us that, as we move into this three-week debate season, we're going to see a lot of movement up and down as all this new input comes in to the voters.

SHAW: Now, this poll uses a likely voter model, which is different from some other polls we know about.

What is a likely voter model, and is this the best way to get the best polling numbers?

NEWPORT: Well, obviously, Bernie, we think it's absolutely the best way to get the best polling numbers. It's something we've been doing, and actually working on and trying to perfect, now, for about 50 years at Gallup.

The bottom line is half of the voting-age population in America votes, so you've got to do something. You don't want to just report out: This is what would happen if all Americans voted, because that's unrealistic -- in '96 about half voted.

So we do our best to try to model, based on a lot of experience and, hopefully, scientific input, who are those people that, if the election were held today, would actually turn out and vote.

Remember, in '94, you had a skewed Republican turnout that helped the Republicans take over Congress. In '98, Democrats got energized and did better than expected in the congressional races. Back in 1980, our research shows that Republicans got really energized behind Ronald Reagan and that helped him beat Jimmy Carter by more than expected.

So that's what it's all about, Bernie. We're trying to figure out, day-to-day, if the election were held today, who is it that would turn out to vote -- and then that's what we report on in terms of our likely voter numbers.

SHAW: One last question: What kinds of questions are put to these likely voters?

NEWPORT: Well, obviously we asked the ballot and the other questions. Those are the substantive questions. But we have a series of questions that we ask to try to model their probability of voting, such things as: As of today, how closely are you following the race? As of today, how likely is it, based on your own self report, that you would turn out to vote. Do you know where to vote in your neighborhood? Did you vote back in 1996?

And for 18-21-year-olds, we give them a pass on that one, because they couldn't have -- and other questions along those lines. And we put all those into the model and then try to figure out all -- as of today, these are the people we think that are most likely to turn out to vote. And this is what they would do when they got in the voting booth.

SHAW: Frank Newport, from the Gallup Poll, thanks very much. You cleared up a lot for me.

NEWPORT: Good to be with you, Bernie. Thank you.

SHAW: Thank you. Always good to have you.

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

Still to come:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sit right between Tennessee, which is where the vice president is from, and Texas, where Governor Bush, of course, is from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Location and politics: a look at the battleground state of Arkansas. Plus: the New York Senate race and the strategies to win support upstate. And later, finding the humor in politics? The latest ads and spending with David Peeler.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Embattled tiremaker Bridgestone/Firestone has a new chief executive. John Lampe today vowed to work hard to rebuild the Firestone name and reputation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN LAMPE, CEO, BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: I want my first act as the new CEO of Bridgestone/Firestone to be an apology for those who have suffered personal losses or have had problems with our products. The burden is clearly upon us to earn your trust all over again. But it's going to take more than words. It will only be through our actions that people will once again think well of our company.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SHAW: Lampe replaces Masatoshi Ono, who says he is stepping down for health reasons. He says he offered to leave after the company recalled 6.5 million tires in August. National safety experts are investigating links between defective tires and more than 100 traffic deaths.

A Court TV reporter reportedly has been taken hostage at a correctional facility in Clinton, New York by inmate Kenneth Kimes, who was convicted this summer of murdering a Manhattan millionaire. Authorities say Maria Zone was interviewing Kimes in the visiting room of the Clinton Country Correctional Facility when he grabbed her and held a pen to her throat. Authorities say a prison crisis unit is talking with the inmate. But he is still holding the pen to the woman's neck. CNN will keep you up to date on developments in this story as they come in.

More violence in the Middle East today, as diplomats scramble to salvage that peace process. Israelis and Palestinians clashed in the West Bank and Gaza. The death toll from nearly two weeks of fighting is about 90. Israeli soldiers were blamed today for shooting a Palestinian boy in the head, reportedly leaving him clinically dead. The White House says President Clinton has talked to leaders from both sides about whether to call an emergency Mideast summit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE SIEWART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Ultimately, we're focused on substance, on diplomacy. The president has spent a lot of time on the phone this weekend and this morning, not just discussing where and when -- whether to have a summit, but whether we can break the cycle of violence. And ultimately, we are going to be focused on the steps. That may involve a trip. It may not involve a trip.

But ultimately, we are going to make a judgment about what we think the president can do to best move the process forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Get more on the story on "Special: Crisis in the Middle East." That's at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, live from Jerusalem.

President Clinton is poised to sign a bill granting permanent normal trade relations with China. The bill could translate to billions of dollars in new sales for U.S. farmers, manufacturers and service companies. The president right now is speaking. When he finishes, he's going to sit down and take pen to the bill. Critics say it will undermine efforts to fight human-rights abuse in China.

The United States and North Korea take their first step toward reducing 50-year-old tensions: President Clinton and North Korean official Jo Myong Rok met today in the Oval Office. This meeting is described as frank, direct and warm.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns: Al Gore's problem in what is supposed to Clinton country. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: An apparent turnaround in the presidential race in New Hampshire: Al Gore is eight points ahead of George W. Bush in an new ARG poll in the granite state. Bush led by five points two weeks ago.

But Bush appears to be holding on to a slight lead in North Carolina. He is four points ahead in a new Research 2000 poll.

Now we turn to Arkansas, where polls are showing Bush and Gore locked in a close race, despite the fact that it is Bill Clinton's home state.

CNN's Pat Neal has more on Arkansas as a battleground.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fertile land along the Mississippi River helped Arkansas earn its name, "The Land of Opportunity." It's where a boy from Hope grew up to be president, an entrepreneur named Sam Walton became the richest man in America and a team called Razorbacks rule.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touchdown, Arkansas!

NEAL: Both Al Gore and George W. Bush see opportunity here in Arkansas, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to come down to the wire and probably going to come down to every vote we can get out.

STEVEN JONES, CRITTENDEN COMPANY, GORE COORDINATOR: We sit right between Tennessee, which is where the vice president is from, and Texas, where Governor Bush, of course, is from.

NEAL: The latest polls here show a dead heat, with support breaking down across geographic lines. Besides cotton, the eastern part of Arkansas, along the Mississippi River, produces a lot of Democratic votes. It's a stronghold for Al Gore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Order up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

NEAL: Jim McNease (ph) is a regular at Ray's Barbecue in west Memphis. He says the best parts of the Clinton legacy live on in Gore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like he's a chip off the block that's in there, and the guy that's in there balanced our budget.

NEAL: Both the southeastern part of the state and the southwest, where Bill Clinton was born and raised, are Gore country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-four years of experience and, you know, just in everyday world stuff, you know; and I really, I really admire that.

NEAL (on camera): Arkansas is considered the most Democratic of the Southern states, but it has increasingly voted Republican.

(voice-over): George Bush is staking a claim to Arkansas by counting on big turnout in the northwest, the Republican stronghold of the state. The party's standing has been boosted by booming business in this area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the strength of our party, so the key is to maximize our voters up here -- get 65, 70-plus percent of the vote here.

NEAL: Republicans count on retirees who've moved into the Ozark Mountain resort town of Bella Vista in the northwest corner of the state. Along with their golf clubs, they've brought in some Midwest conservatism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gore -- you know, you can't trust anything he says. I mean, the guy is a lying -- he's a liar, and everybody's afraid to say it.

Let's face it, he's a liar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many little fibs has he said this year already?

NEAL: In the center of the state lies Little Rock, the state's capitol and most populous area. The central region of Arkansas is more politically balanced than other areas. This is the battle zone.

Winning here, historically, means victory in Arkansas.

Linda Mealey (ph) backs Gore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like his ideas about Medicare and Social Security.

NEAL: But Darlene Langley (ph) says Bush's opposition to abortion rights has won her over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It weighs heavily in my decision.

NEAL: But Gore has a powerful weapon in the state's favorite son. Bill Clinton is pushing hard for Gore in Arkansas, regularly calling Democratic leaders and friends. He's also fund-raising heavily for Gore and for congressional Democrats, even planning a fund-raising visit later this week.

But does Clinton still have the pull to help Gore, or will this increasingly Republican state go with Bush? Both campaigns say, with a race for six electoral votes so tight, turnout will determine who wins this land of opportunity.

Pat Neal, CNN, Little Rock.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: In New York, a boost today for Rick Lazio's Senate campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Binghamton "Press & Sun Bulletin" endorsed Lazio, the first major daily to back either candidate in that race. It comes at a time when Lazio is trying to shore up his support in some traditionally Republican areas.

CNN's Frank Buckley reports from upstate New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here was upstate New York, Buffalo. It was Hillary Clinton's 19th trip to the Buffalo area since beginning her listening tour last summer.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: You're going to get tired of seeing me, not only in the next five weeks, but in the next six years.

BUCKLEY: The first lady's intensive efforts upstate appear to be paying off -- recent polls of upstate voters showing her in a very close race with her opponent, Congressman Rick Lazio.

RICK LAZIO (R), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: I'll have to ask that question and find out.

BUCKLEY: For Lazio, close is not good enough upstate. Many believe he has to win this region by at least 10 points to have a chance of winning statewide.

(on camera): Upstate New York is traditionally Republican territory, but Democrat Charles Schumer showed, in the 1998 New York Senate race, that a Democrat who does well in the larger urban areas upstate can offset the Republican advantages in the smaller, rural areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you win.

CLINTON: Thank you. With your help, I will.

BUCKLEY (voice-over): Mrs. Clinton's strategy upstate, modeled to mirror Schumer's success.

Lazio is also concentrating his efforts in the area -- on this particular day in, of all places, Clinton County.

LAZIO: New Yorkers say, I think, that they want a senator who has a record of delivering for our state.

BUCKLEY: Lazio is confident, though, it will not be Clinton country on election day, despite the polls.

LAZIO: As somebody who was down 20 points in the polls and won by eight the first time I ran for Congress, you have a great appreciation of the fact that the only thing that matters is what you feel in the street. I've been through seven campaigns right now. I can feel a winning campaign in my bones. This one is one of those.

BUCKLEY: Mrs. Clinton is campaigning upstate on a variation of the '92 Bill Clinton campaign mantra: It's the economy, stupid.

Parts of this region haven't benefited from the nation's economic expansion, and Mrs. Clinton has successfully made it a major issue in the Senate race.

CLINTON: I've got specific ideas in a plan about how to recruit and keep good jobs in upstate New York.

BUCKLEY: Lazio is also addressing upstate concerns. He'll be in the region every day this week. His view: the economy here needs attention, but has turned a corner.

LAZIO: I think it's important, though, that the people from outside New York don't look at this region as some vast economic wasteland, which is what my opponent would like to portray.

BUCKLEY: Lazio proposes a number of tax cuts, but "The Buffalo News" was critical last month, saying in an editorial that Lazio didn't see a problem upstate, and wasn't proposing targeted help for the upstate economy. It said that's "the view from whatever political planet Rick Lazio is now orbiting."

MARGARET SULLIVAN, EDITOR, "THE BUFFALO NEWS": The idea, there, was that there was a reality, and to talk about an image as opposed to a reality of economic problems was somewhat out of touch.

BUCKLEY: Bob Tobin, who is president of the Small Business Council, the Rochester Chamber of Commerce and an undecided voter, says neither candidate has given him reason for optimism.

BOB TOBIN, ROCHESTER BUSINESSMAN: Stop the partisan squabbling and let's talk about some real strategies that they're going to try to implement if elected to help our area.

BUCKLEY: Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio both insist they already are. And as their campaigns rev up for the last mile of the Senate race, both hope upstate voters will come aboard with them.

Frank Buckley, CNN, Buffalo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: The United States Supreme Court agreed today to settle one of the major controversies in the world of campaign finance: whether political parties can spend unlimited amounts of hard money for the express purpose of electing a candidate. Such, quote, "coordinated expenditures have been capped for both House and Senate races"; but an appeals court struck down the limits in May in six Western states.

The Supreme Court will take up the case early next year, too late to affect this year's election. And INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: New York Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling on Republican Rick Lazio to release all fund-raising letters and ads. The campaign took the action after it was reported that Lazio has used national cable to reach supporters outside of New York to raise money for his Senate bid. The ad, which asks for help in fighting "Mrs. Clinton's millions of soft money" -- unquote -- aired as recently as last week on national cables channels, including MSNBC, CNBC and the Weather Channel. The Lazio campaign says the ad also ran over the summer and did not say how many campaign contributions were generated.

For more on the New York Senate race, we're going to turn now to David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting, who tracks ad spending in the top 75 media markets.

David, how much ad spending have we seen in this race?

DAVID PEELER, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Well, Bernie, as we suspected, it was going to be a big spending race, and that's what it has indeed become. In the last 30 days, we've seen Rick Lazio spend $6.6 million to Hillary Clinton's $4 million. What's interesting here is that we also tallied up what the soft-money spending, which has been the big issue here, tallied up in the last 30 days, and it was 33,000 for the New York Conservative Party on behalf of Rick Lazio and almost $1.9 million by the New York Democratic State Committee in support of Mrs. Clinton. So clearly, up until September 27th, that was the big issue.

Since that period of time, we've seen spending by Rick Lazio total $2.7 million. He is now outspending Hillary Clinton's $1.9 million.

You'll recall last week the big issue was about this soft money ad that Hillary claimed that Rick Lazio and the RNC had put on air. Rick Lazio has since reimbursed the RNC for that spending, and so he's tallying that in his $2.7 million.

So it looks like the soft ban money -- the soft-money ban has been holding in the last couple of weeks.

SHAW: Now, let's go South to another Senate race, Georgia. Democrat Zell Miller was appointed to fill the seat of the late Republican Senator Paul Coverdell, and now he's running for election. His challenger is former Republican Senator Mack Mattingly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MILLER CAMPAIGN AD)

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: To make prescription drugs a guaranteed benefit under Medicare and available to all those who need them.

NARRATOR: Zell Miller, U.S. Senate, the man who brought hope to Georgia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MATTINGLY CAMPAIGN AD)

MACK MATTINGLY (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: No one can really fill Paul's shoes, but I am the only one in this race who can and will vote just like Paul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Now, David Peeler, how much are these two candidates spending in this race?

PEELER: Well, in this race, Bernie, Zell Miller is far outspending his opponent. He's spent to date about almost half a million dollars, including or plus $128,000 by the Democratic Party. So he's far outspending Mattingly: $74,000. The interesting story of the day down in this race is that Mattingly has a new creative on the air that incorporates a quacking duck, which an insurance company, AFLAC, has come out and said kind of copies or infringes upon their creative license with their own ads, and so I guess if you're a Republican and the insurance companies are lining up against you, you've probably got a tough campaign to go.

SHAW: Now, a closely watched house race, also in Georgia. Democrats have targeted Congressman Bob Barr, who helped lead the fight to impeach President Clinton. His challenger is Democrat Roger Kahn, whose ads attack Barr's conservative record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, KAHN CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: ... two different views of education. Bob Barr voted for the largest education funding cuts in history. Barr voted against hiring more teachers, and against reading and math programs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: But the Barr campaign is using humor to attack Kahn, questioning his ability to represent the 7th District.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BARR CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR (singing): He's the great pretender, pretending he lives on a farm.

(spoken): Roger Kahn tells us he's a farmer. Farmer? He's a millionaire carpetbagger from Buckhead. Like Hillary in New York, he recently brought property in the 7th District just to run for Congress. But Bob Barr's really from the 7th District. He's really like us. The only place we're sending Roger Kahn is back to Buckhead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: David, how much are these candidates spending?

PEELER: Well, it's nice to see that humor's back in the campaign. It's been kind of dry so far.

SHAW: It certainly is.

PEELER: We see Bob Barr spending about $244,000 to Kahn's $734,000, and I'm told that that doesn't include all of the change of address modifications that Kahn had to send out to move into the district. So it's silly season in politics, and here we go.

SHAW: Here we go, indeed. David Peeler, thanks very much.

A new ad by Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan is drawing criticism in California. The ad begins with a man who chokes on his dinner after hearing that English is no longer America's official language.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BUCHANAN CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for calling 911. Please listen for your language. For Spanish press 1. For Korean, press 2...

NARRATOR: Do you ever miss English? Immigration is out of control. Bush and Gore are writing off English for good. What can you do? Vote for the third party that puts Americans first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: The Buchanan campaign would not release the size of the ad buy, but says the ad will run in 22 states, with a focus on California and Arizona. California Democrats and Republicans have already criticized this ad, and at least one Latin-American citizens group has expressed concern over the ad's message.

The Republican National Committee is turning to radio to reach key voters. Starting today, four ads are airing on stations of the American Urban Network, aimed at swaying young African-American voters.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, RNC RADIO AD)

NARRATOR: So listen, Republicans want to give us the choice where to send our kids to school. That's school choice, and I know you support that. They want to let us invest our Social Security money and cut our taxes. You know, that puts the power in our hands, and I like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Um. You know, that is something to think about.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SHAW: The RNC would not release the amount of the ad buy, but is calling it a substantial sum.

When we return, the issues, the debates and voter enthusiasm. A look at the presidential race with Rich Lowry and Farai Chideya.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Look at this -- tomorrow evening, Al Gore and George W. Bush face off once again, this time here, on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Joining us now, author and journalist Farai Chideya, who has a political Web site, popandpolitics.com; and Rich Lowry of "The National Review."

Looking at the two candidates for tomorrow night's face-off, what is Vice President Gore up against, Farai?

FARAI CHIDEYA, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: Well, I think that the vice president has been shown in many polls to have seemed a bit smug and supercilious.

And what I really think is interesting is that the American public is one that really wants people to be warm, and Vice President Gore spent a lot of time pointing out people in the first debate, there's a gentlemen in the audience, he has this problem, and I'd like to recognize him here tonight, and he made a gaff during the debate -- an anecdote that didn't quite happen. And a lot of times in the second debate, in the third debate, he is going to have to watch himself and make sure that he doesn't make any more gaffs of that type so that he doesn't seem to be fabricating. There is a real need that the American people have for warmth, but Gore doesn't want to fall into the trap of fabrication.

SHAW: Rich Lowry, how do you see Gore's situation?

RICH LOWRY, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I think we'll see a little less of the Darth Vader breathing from Al Gore, which didn't go over particularly well last week. And the challenge for him, and it's a tough one, is he has to pretend to be likable. You know, he is a natural attack politician, naturally very aggressive in these sort of debates. So what we saw last week was the real Al Gore and people didn't like it. So the challenge for Gore is how does he be aggressive while he is sitting at the same table with George W. Bush without coming across as arrogant and overbearing? And I think it's going to be a tough challenge for him.

SHAW: And, Rich Lowry, how do you handicap the situation for Governor Bush?

LOWRY: Well, it's a little odd, Bernie. Before the first debate, we had this weird expectation game, where both candidates were talking about what great debaters the other guys were. And now we have the strange thing where the Gore campaign is actually lowering expectation for Bush. I mean, they're making it sound as though they're running against Forrest Gump. So I think they're setting up a dynamic again where if Gore -- if Bush just is adequate and gets through it without any major stumbles, he'll be OK.

So I think that the challenge for Gore is basically the same as in the first debate: he has to avoid any major gaffs, he has to try to project a sense of command and authority, which he didn't really necessarily have last week, and he has to be able to answer the 1 percent charge on his tax plan much better this time than he did last week.

SHAW: And, Farai, your take on the governor?

CHIDEYA: Well, I think what's interesting here is that the governor is in a position where he certainly has benefited from seeming likable, but he really has not been able to sell himself as someone who can clearly deliver to all Americans. The RNC, as you mentioned earlier in the broadcast, is now starting to target African- Americans. But I would point out that the NAACP is running counter- ads pointing out that the -- the governor's record in Texas has really targeted African-Americans for execution, has not been strong on targeting African-Americans for the improvements in the schools that the governor has claimed to be so strong on.

And so I think that the record of Governor Bush is very much in question. And a lot of points are going to be pulled out of these debates. Now, what is very difficult here is that Gore can seem like he is an attack dog when he simply pointing out the flaws in the governor's record.

SHAW: And, as we conclude, your succinct thought or impression of the swing in these tracking polls, Farai?

CHIDEYA: Well, what is very difficult here is that we have to separate the personality from the politics: These debates are both. People are looking at these two candidates, looking at how they talk, looking at their nuances of body language.

But we also have to focus on the fact that this is very much about the policies. We have to judge the vice president on some of how he has governed. We have to judge the governor on the kind of state that he has had. And that is a state with a lot of environmental record problems, a lot of problems in terms of education, and a lot of terms -- problems in terms of health care.

SHAW: And Rich, concluding with you.

LOWRY: I don't think those anti-Texas ads are going to work, necessarily. This -- this is really our prize of the Bush campaign from 1992, where Bush went after Arkansas -- the record in Arkansas -- in a very harsh and strong way. And it didn't work. I don't think it will work this time.

Also those ads, they just look like negative ad. So I think voters tend to tune them out. And the thing we learned from the first debate is: Voters say they care about policy specifics, but they really don't. And really they go on atmosphere and style. And so far, that is the area where Gore has really been lacking.

SHAW: Rich Lowry, Farai Chideya, thanks very much for joining us. We'll all be watching tomorrow night.

LOWRY: Thanks for having us.

SHAW: Quite welcome.

And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com. And this reminder: We will begin our pre-debate coverage tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. At 9:00 p.m., we will go live to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the 90-minute presidential debate.

And immediately following the debate, we will have live coverage of a CNN/"TIME" magazine town meeting from St. Louis with Wolf Blitzer.

I'm Bernard Shaw. Coming up next: "CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST," a special live report with Christiane Amanpour live from Jerusalem.

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