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Inside Politics

Gore Blasts Bush's Social Security Plan in Florida; Bush Stumping in Traditionally Democratic States

Aired November 1, 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: You will vote and you will and I ask you to save Social Security when you vote on Tuesday. It is very much on the ballot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore plays the Social Security again, in Florida. Could that state be the "big one" that gets away from George W. Bush?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what's going to happen on November the 7th? We're going to carry Minnesota.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Bush promises to upset Gore in Minnesota, perhaps, with a little help from a man named Nader.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If anybody asks you, well, after election day, would you be sorry if George W. Bush was elected? Here's my answer: I'll be very sorry if either of them are elected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Ralph Nader presses on with his long-shot presidential bid, refusing to see himself as a spoiler.

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

SHAW: Thanks for joining us. A day after the Bush camp acknowledged that Al Gore's attacks on the governor's Social Security plan are having an impact, the vice president plunged right back into that issue. And he did it in one of the states where it can help him most, Florida. Gore is campaigning there today before moving on to Pennsylvania.

CNN's John King reports on the battle for the Sunshine State.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Target, Florida; focus, Social Security.

GORE: Instead of a system where everyone is in it together, the Bush plan would turn Social Security into a grab bag where everyone is out for himself. You might call it social insecurity, and that's wrong for our values.

KING: It's a pitch aimed, first and foremost, at the elderly voters who hold significant sway here. But the vice president also hopes his critique convinces independent-minded swing voters that Governor Bush is overpromising and isn't ready to be president.

GORE: The American Academy of Actuaries looked at his plan and concluded that it would lead to catastrophic results in these financial matters. He said that he -- I heard him last night -- he said he rejects their premise. Well, which premise? Addition, or subtraction?

KING: At issue is the Bush plan to give individuals a choice of diverting a small percentage of their Social Security payroll taxes into private retirement accounts. Mr. Gore says the transition to such a program would drain $1 trillion from the Social Security trust fund and put the program at risk.

GORE: Under our plan, Social Security will remain financially sound for more than 50 years into the future. The choice is yours, and it's on the ballot on Tuesday.

KING: Governor Bush hasn't fleshed out the details of his plan, but says the vice president's math is wrong and he accuses Mr. Gore of trying to win votes by scaring older Americans.

Florida is one of the bright spots for a candidate who is largely on defense in the campaign's final day. Visits to Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Mexico, Missouri, Iowa, West Virginia, and even his home state of Tennessee are on tap in the days ahead: all places Bill Clinton carried twice; all battlegrounds this time around.

PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: It is an amazing year when you come down to the end and Al Gore is still going to what we consider the base states.

KING: The vice president's closing pitch leans heavily on the theme that only one candidate in the race is ready to be president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: He led in the fight for welfare reform. Now his cause is prosperity for all, improved education with new accountability and smaller class size. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Mail is another way to reach targeted voters. Social Security, prescriptions drugs for the elderly, and the environment subjects of a hard-hitting Gore barrage in the campaign's closing days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: November 7th, if you wait and say, well, I'll go later on. Just get out there and just exercise that right. The focus more and more is on getting out the vote.

KING: The focus more and more is on getting out the vote. This radio show with Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and Labor Secretary Alexis Herman aimed at boosting African-American turnout.

GORE: This is the national press corps, Mr. President.

KING: But while he was happy to stand side-by-side with the actor who plays the president on TV, Mr. Gore is again resisting urgent appeals by some Democrats that he send President Clinton into Detroit, Philadelphia and other major cities in the final days.

(on camera): Instead, at the Gore campaign's insistence, the president's travels will be limited to California and Mr. Clinton's home state of Arkansas. As the vice president put it himself, he is going to win this race, or lose it, on his own.

John King, CNN, Kissimmee, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Thank you, John. And at this hour, Al Gore is campaigning before a crowd in Tampa, Florida. He is talking about the environment and CNN has learned that this evening, the Democratic National Committee will be reinforcing that message with an ad that -- on the subject of the environment. It will be criticizing the oil policies of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

GORE: I'm proud of the work that you and I were able to do together to forge this extraordinary consensus, and now I join with you in urging leaders.

WOODRUFF: Again, Al Gore addressing a crowd in Tampa.

Well, today, Governor Bush is targeting a state where he is doing better than expected: Minnesota. He has a second rally in that state this evening, before traveling on to Iowa. A new poll shows Gore ahead in Minnesota by 3 points after some other recent polls showed Bush with a slight lead. In this new survey, Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader gets 8 percent.

CNN's Candy Crowley has more on Bush's battle in Minnesota.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Bush has never campaigned in Minnesota until today.

BUSH: You add it all up and you get a $2 trillion spending spree over 10 years, about $20,000 per family, spent on more government. His is a plan of spending without discipline, spending without priorities and spending without an end.

CROWLEY: They showed up in droves to hear Bush outline his agenda and slice up Al Gore's. After months of pounding by Democrats on his Texas record, Bush is hammering back.

BUSH: Twelve times while in Congress, he was rated a "big spender" by the National Taxpayers Union. Three of those times, he earned the worst rating of any member of Congress, and considering the competition, that's quite an achievement.

CROWLEY: Minnesota is one of those "who'd a thunk it stops." The last time a Republican presidential candidate won here, "Gunsmoke" was a top-rated TV show. It was 1972.

But the Minnesota electorate is eclectic enough to put a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican in the U.S. Senate and independent Jesse Ventura in the governor's house. That, and Ralph Nader have helped keep Bush competitive, and in some polls slightly ahead.

BUSH: You know what's going to happen here on November the 7th? We're going to carry Minnesota.

CROWLEY: Momentum, or the feel of it, is critical at this point. So there is confidence in the rhetoric and there is confidence in the schedule. As surprising as his stop in Minnesota was Bush's stop in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what we do with this?

CROWLEY: Despite a 16-year dry spell for Republican presidential candidates, Washington along with Oregon are seen by the Bush camp as doable.

In a final forage for West Coast votes, Bush strolled Seattle's waterfront market, peddling his tax-cut program.

BUSH: I'm asking for the vote, but I'm also telling hardworking people they're going to get tax relief if I'm the president. People who work hard for a living need to get a refund from some of this surplus.

CROWLEY: And sometimes just trying to get the basics down.

The Bush schedule ahead contains other surprising opportunities so late in the game, including West Virginia, Iowa, Arkansas, and Tennessee. But other surprises are less pleasant. Expect to see the Bush campaign back in Florida, where polls show the state could go either way.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Minneapolis. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: Bush and Gore are applying the same state-by-state logic of their ground campaigns to their ad campaigns.

Joining us now, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting for a snapshot of the candidates' spending in the top 75 media markets. David, how has the spending in the states changed in these final weeks?

DAVID PEELER, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Well, Bernie, you hit the nail on the head. It -- the air wars are also a state-by-state air campaign.

If we want to look at the Bush campaign first, what we'll see is looking back over the past two weeks, two weeks ago, the Bush campaign and the RNC combined to spend $8.3 million in 21 states. Last week, they increased that spending to $9.2 million and added one state, so they are now on in 22 states. Where they increased spending is in Minnesota, where Bush was today and where the polls show that he's closing; also in Connecticut, which is Joe Lieberman's home state; the vital state of Michigan; Tennessee, Gore's home state. He's pulled back some spending in the states of New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and for the first time in a few weeks he's back on in Illinois.

As we move on to the Democrats and Vice President Gore, two weeks ago, he spent $4.6 million in conjunction with the DNC in 17 states. Last week, he increased that spending to $5.9 million in 19 states. He's up in Pennsylvania -- where he'll speak tonight -- Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Tennessee, where he's had to counter Governor Bush's spending there. He went on in Kentucky and Minnesota, which were two new states for him. And despite Bush's push in California, the Gore campaign to date has not spent any money there.

What does this mean in terms of what people are seeing? Well, it's really kind of carpet-bombing. There's 20,000 ads that have been run by the Bush campaign in the last two weeks, to 17,000 ads by Vice President Gore. So that's a tremendous amount of air ammunition being spent.

You know, I think what we're looking at now is that there is really three tactics coming out. You see that they're -- all -- both candidates are having to spend in some critical states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. They're all looking at the polls. And if they get close, or if they move the needle a little bit, they spend some more money in those states. And clearly, from a creative standpoint, Vice President Gore has gone on a more of a state-by-state approach, where -- excuse me, Vice President Gore has gone on state-by-state approach, where Governor Bush has gone on more a three-or-four-themes, let's- get-that-message-out.

So they are employing some slightly different tactics from a creative standpoint.

SHAW: Very interesting. Now, we all know Green Party candidate Ralph Nader has emerged as a real issue for Gore: in some of those key states, threatening to siphon off votes. Nader's latest ad begins airing on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NADER 2000 AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I grow up, I want the government to have the same problems it has today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to vote for the lesser of two evils.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: The campaign says this ad will run in a total of 30 states.

David, how much have we seen Ralph Nader spend on his ad campaign lately?

PEELER: Well, you know, Ralph Nader may not win the conventional race, but I'll tell you what: From a media standpoint, he's doing a hell of a job. He spent only $3,000 in the states of Washington and Oregon last week in this campaign. However, he is attracting a tremendous amount of attention. He has some very good creative out there. He's been able to get people excited in those markets, so much so that NARAL has come out and spent $73,000 in some of those markets in order to suggest that a vote for George Bush -- or a vote for Nader is a vote for George Bush.

So -- so he's having an effect. And really, all he's trying to do is to try and get over the 5 percent level, so that he can get matching funds for the Green Party next year. So he's running a very, very -- from a media standpoint -- a very, very effective race.

SHAW: Only $3,000 in two weeks. Well, he always was frugal.

(LAUGHTER)

PEELER: Pretty effective. Thanks, Bernie.

SHAW: Thanks very much. Yes -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Today, Ralph Nader is campaigning in Wisconsin, one of those Battleground states where the Green Party candidate appears to be draining support from Al Gore. A new poll shows George W. Bush leading Gore by 7 percentage points in Wisconsin. The survey shows Nader with 5 percent support.

CNN's Bob Franken has more on Nader's swing through Wisconsin and his effect on the presidential race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He has a ragtag organization riddled with inexperience. And the crowd didn't compare to the 15,000-plus at Al Gore's rally on the same Statehouse steps in Madison last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please welcome Ralph Nader.

FRANKEN: But Ralph Nader was still able to draw a couple of thousand.

NADER: The Democrats wanted me to stay out of Wisconsin. You know what I told them.

FRANKEN: Nader is giving the Democrats fits in Wisconsin. It's one of those battleground states where he hovers around 5 percent in the poll. As volatile as things are here, Democrats are gripped with fear that the Nader vote could take the state and its 11 electoral votes away from Al Gore, and hand Wisconsin, as well as several other states, to George W. Bush.

NADER: Anybody asks you: Well, after Election Day, would you be sorry if George W. Bush was elected? Here's my answer: I'll be very sorry if either of them are elected!

(APPLAUSE)

FRANKEN: Many Gore supporters, who have so long have been Nader supporters, are scrambling to head Nader off, like these Sierra Club leaders who confronted the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We let them talk. We won't be heckling him.

CROWD: Liar! Liar! Liar!

FRANKEN: Some analysts here believe the Democrats may be more worried about Nader than they need to be.

DAVID WEGGE, ST. NORBERT COLLEGE: Nader's support tends to be relatively soft in the state of Wisconsin. And because of that, I think that -- and he seems to be pulling a little bit more from Al Gore than he is from George Bush. With that soft Nader support, I think some of the those Nader voters are going to come back to Al Gore.

FRANKEN: Nader is bristling at what he calls a betrayal by progressive Democrats, who he feels have turned on him: such as abortion-rights leader, who have questioned his comments on abortion, particularly when he calls the issue a (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

NADER: First of all, RU-486 and its successors are going to pretty much dim the abortion fight in the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRANKEN: The more pressure he gets, the more defiant Ralph Nader seems to get. The Democrats are very worried that Nader's quest, once that they considered his tilting of windmills, now is a very real danger to topple Al Gore -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken on the trail in Wisconsin, thanks.

Our Bill Schneider is here now with more on the Nader effect -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, how worried should Democrats be about a candidate who's only getting 3 percent in the national polls? Well, we now have enough Nader supporters in our tracking poll to take a close look at them.

Now, we asked them: How would they vote if the only names on the ballot were Al Gore and George W. Bush? Only about half of them say they'd be for Gore if Nader were not running. About one in five would vote for Bush. One-third of Nader voters tell us they wouldn't vote for either one of the candidates Nader describes as corporate sell- outs. So it's true: Nader hurts Gore more than Bush.

But don't assume that all Nader voters come out of Gore's hide. A lot of them wouldn't vote for anybody but Ralph. Now, we looked at the state polls to see where Nader poses the most serious threat to Gore. That would be in states where Nader is getting a relatively big vote, more than 5 percent, and where Gore and Bush are close. Now, that's true in four states: out West in Oregon; down East, as they say, in Maine; and in between, in Wisconsin and Minnesota -- a total of 32 electoral votes.

That's a Texas-size chunk of votes that Nader may take away from Gore. Now, here are five states where Gore and Bush are close, but where the Nader vote is not particularly large: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Missouri, in the Midwestern battle belt; Florida and Washington state. Nader is relatively weak in those states, but because Gore and Bush are so close, any votes Nader gets are a threat to Gore.

Finally, here are seven states where Nader is doing very well, but either Gore or Bush is so far ahead that Nader is unlikely to affect the outcome. Take California. Nader is doing well in the Golden State, but Gore has a big enough lead that Nader really isn't a real problem. The same is true in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. Nader also does well in Colorado, but that's a state where Bush is far enough ahead that Nader really isn't really making much of a difference.

The Nader threat in these states is theoretical, not real.

WOODRUFF: But real in those other states you talked about.

SCHNEIDER: In the first states: real and big.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks.

And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: the New York Senate race, as the candidates battle over Jewish support.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: In New York, Vice President Al Gore received the endorsement today of "The New York Observer," which called him the superior choice. The newspaper split its ticket, however, and endorsed Republican Congressman Rick Lazio in the New York Senate race. "The New York Daily News" today endorsed his opponent, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As Frank Buckley reports, the issue on the Senate campaign trail today was not endorsements, but the politics of the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: Too different and strange to fit in, they all feared.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Hillary Clinton was cuddling with children, she was hitting her opponent hard in the final days of the New York Senate race, claiming Congressman Rick Lazio was hitting below the belt by saying she cavorts with terrorists.

CLINTON: This campaign should be not about me or my opponent and certainly not about his misleading, inaccurate, offensive, outrageous, despicable attacks.

BUCKLEY: Mrs. Clinton angry about state Republican Party phone calls to voters accusing her of supporting "the same kind of terrorism that killed our sailors on the USS Cole."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: Rick Lazio is trying to exploit this tragedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: A Clinton commercial now attacking Lazio using footage of the stricken ship. Lazio firing back, saying the Clinton fusillade was really a smokescreen.

REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), SENATE CANDIDATE: I think the real story here is there is only one candidate that has had to return $50,000 because of the donor's linkage to terrorism and violence.

BUCKLEY: Lazio referring to Mrs. Clinton's recent return of campaign contributions to an American Muslim organization, whose leader backs the right of Palestinians to use force in resisting Israel.

LAZIO: Now it is time for America to stand by Israel as an ally.

BUCKLEY: Lazio appeared at a yeshiva in his ongoing effort to attract Jewish voters and released a new ad featuring the former candidate against Mrs. Clinton: New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LAZIO CAMPAIGN AD)

RUDY GUILIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: In vote after vote, Rick has always supported Israel. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: On Mrs. Clinton's side, it's the president who is increasingly visible. Acting, he says, as the cheerleader-in-chief.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She is going to make you profoundly proud that you have helped her in this.

BUCKLEY: Both candidates now crisscrossing the state as new polls indicate how tight the race is. The Marist Institute showing Mrs. Clinton ahead of Lazio by 4 percent among likely voters. Another poll from Quinnipiac University showing Mrs. Clinton ahead by three.

(on camera): The unknown number for now -- turnout. The presidential race may not excite New York voters because Gore is expected to easily beat Bush here. If voter turnout among Democrats is low as a result, Mrs. Clinton could be in trouble. If turnout is moderate to high, Democrats would have to cross party lines in large numbers to give Lazio a victory.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

SHAW: Still to come, who is up, who is down, and what it all means. The latest tracking polls plus insight from Tucker Carlson and Margaret Carlson. Also:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a cliff-hanger. It's a nail-biter all the way. It's kind of again, a microcosm of the Bush-Gore race at presidential level. Nobody can figure out who's going to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: a competitive house race in a battleground state as we look at the fight to take Capitol Hill. And later:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSS PEROT, REFORM PARTY CANDIDATE: I don't have any experience in running up a $4 trillion debt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Using experience as a campaign issue: the strategies, past and present.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We will have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. Singapore Airlines is defending its pilot's decision to take off in high winds and heavy rain. Flight 006 crashed in Taipei yesterday in stormy conditions. Seventy-nine people died. But the airline does not believe weather was a factor in the accident. It says it suspects the jet hit something on the runway before breaking up and bursting into flames. Investigators are now searching for that mystery object. They will begin looking for clues from the plane's black boxes tomorrow, while others continue to look for the reason why some died and others survived.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHELTON RALPH, SON OF SURVIVOR: You look at the results, the numbers that have been transmitted since they've learned, and you realize the mere difference between being alive today, and not, is the seat you were sitting in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: This the first major accident in Singapore Air's 28 years of operation.

Both Israelis and Palestinians are dead in new clashes in the Middle East. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in violence today in the West Bank. Six Palestinians died today, three in the West Bank, and three in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is now warning of difficult consequences unless Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat halts Palestinian unrest. The death toll from nearly five weeks of violence exceeds 170. We'll have more on CNN's "WORLDVIEW" at the top of the hour.

SHAW: It's being called the largest product recall ever, and it targets some 500 million horizontal window blinds. The blinds in question have loops in their ends of their cords that could strangle babies and young children. The cords have been blamed for 130 such deaths since 1991. A free repair kit is available by calling 1-800- 506-4636.

Emotions apparently don't have anything to do with heart attacks. A study reported in the "New England Journal of Medicine" says hostility, depression and stress don't cause clogged arteries. However, obesity, high blood pressure, and bad cholesterol do. One odd note: Researchers say anxious hypochondriacs are the least likely to develop clogged arteries.

Coming up, Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson weigh in on the presidential race and the power of scare tactics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: We're going to win Florida!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Another snippet from Al Gore's rally this evening in Tampa, Florida, which also features some music by Jimmy Buffett.

Meantime in Minnesota...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: This military needs to be rebuilt. We ain't seen nothing yet. Social Security needs to be fixed and we ain't seen nothing yet. But one thing is, we've seen too much. It's time for new leadership in Washington, D.C.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: George W. Bush turned one of Al Gore's favorite phrases against him.

Well, six days before voters choose a president, Bush and Gore are staying active on the trail as you can see and no doubt keeping an eye on the latest polls. Right now Bush leads Gore by five points in the CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup tracking poll. And the interviews conducted over the past three days are averaged. The Texas governor has maintained a small lead for several days now. The numbers remain the same when the interviews conducted over the past six days are averaged.

And comparing our tracking poll to others, Bush also has a five- point lead in the Reuters/MSNBC poll. Bush is up by three points in the ABC News poll. And "The Washington Post" poll has him up by two points. Bush has a four-point lead in a Pew Center survey.

SHAW: Let's talk about those polls and the presidential race with Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard" and Margaret Carlson of "TIME" magazine.

George Bush slightly ahead of Vice President Gore, but in a race this close, Margaret, Tucker, does either candidate have an advantage?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Bush feels, acts like he is ahead. He is bouncier, more optimistic. Gore is hoarse and looks a little frantic. It helps to feel like you're ahead, because you come across better. But in Florida, that cheeseburger in paradise, I think that really matters. That it's hard to see how Bush wins without Florida and Gore is doing well in Florida because it's the only place that people have the leisure time to actually figure out what is going on with that Social Security plan, which Bush actually hasn't had to answer where that 1 trillion is coming or going.

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Margaret has a good point, that with Jimmy Buffet on his side, there really is no stopping Gore.

M. CARLSON: It is paradise down there.

T. CARLSON: It is, it really is. Well, I mean, the Gore people point out correctly that a lot of these polls are within the margin of error. Bush's lead is within the margin of error. But margin of error doesn't mean anything in an election. I mean, you either win or you don't, and I mean, I think the key fact is they've remained stable for over a week. So if you're leading for over a week in every poll, in most polls, that means you're leading.

M. CARLSON: If only we had a margin of error in life altogether. .

SHAW: Let's reach into this campaign and take a state that symbolizes strategy, pick this apart. Gore is ahead in California. Bush has been back to California, Bush has been declaring, "I'm going to win California." Real possibility?

T. CARLSON: Well, the declaration itself is what, I think, what matters. I mean, just that he's -- as Margaret said, I mean, it matters who seems ahead at some point. I mean, the fabled undecided voters, some of them will look at this and say, well, gee, you know, he's winning, I'll help him. So...

M. CARLSON: He looks like a winner.

T. CARLSON: Yes, that's right. So I think, you know, it's a statement more than it is a reality now.

M. CARLSON: The California Party chair, Republican chair, Gerald Parski (ph), took me aside at the convention in Philadelphia and said, "Margaret, you can be the smartest person in journalism if you predict that California is in play and Bush will win it." Now...

(LAUGHTER)

T. CARLSON: Don't take the bait, Margaret.

M. CARLSON: I'd like to be the smartest person in journalism and I wish I had brought it up sooner. But the fact that he was there was either complete arrogance, you know, like a victory lap -- he's so far ahead he can waste time -- or Gore's in trouble.

SHAW: Let's quickly go, conversely, to Florida where Gore, Bush?

T. CARLSON: Well, I mean, it depends on what poll.

SHAW: Gore saying, "I'm going to take Florida."

T. CARLSON: Well, there is something like, I think, it's a 14- point or 15-point spread depending on which poll you believe. I mean, Bush is either up three or four, or Gore is up 11 in one poll. But I mean, but I think the key fact is Florida probably will not differ much from the overall number, which is to say this will become at some point, very soon, a national election. So if Bush is three or above nationally, it's hard to see him losing Florida. Florida is just not that different from the rest of the country.

M. CARLSON: It's not that different, but it is the place where he has the edge on Social Security, Gore has the edge in that. And if it plays out there that way, then he could take Florida.

SHAW: Let me hamstring you: two once-sentence thoughts from each of you as we run out of time, thoughts about Ralph Nader.

T. CARLSON: The Ralph Nader candidacy makes sense because it appeals to people who actually exist, liberals with no place to go. Therefore, it matters.

M. CARLSON: He could go down in history as either the person who really generated a third party with some staying power or a spoiler, and I think he will, you know, if he stays out of some of these states where it's really close, he'll come out of here with 5 percent and head up a third party with some oomph behind it.

SHAW: You both have two short sentences. Do you think the Democrats are stupid for pointing out Nader's threat to Gore?

T. CARLSON: I do. I mean, attacking people for casting a vote of conscience? I thought votes of conscience were what the Democratic Party was all about. I think it makes them look icky. There are subtle ways to attack Nader. They haven't tried them. They've just gone for the full, sort of ham-handed, he's bad. It didn't work.

M. CARLSON: Yes, I kind of agree. They waited too long to be subtle. By the time they got around to it and saw the threat, they were coming out with a hammer and tong.

Was that short enough, Bernie?

SHAW: Very short. Thank you, Margaret Carlson, Tucker Carlson.

And please, be sure to join Tucker Carlson along with Bill Press as they talk presidential politics in "THE SPIN ROOM." That's at 10:00 Eastern tonight on CNN.

And just ahead, two key races in two swing states: a look at the battles that could affect the balance of power on the Hill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Now let's look at two fiercely contested races in the fight for control of Capitol Hill: one from the Senate and one from the House. First, to Michigan where Democrat Debbie Stabenow's Senate bid has left her House seat up for grabs.

CNN's Mike Boettcher reports on the political battle playing out in the state's Eighth Congressional District.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From her wheelchair, a Michigan voter practices political mind reading.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to look real close so I can see who they are.

SEN. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: Well, look me in the eyes and you'll know, right? BOETTCHER: State Senator Mike Rogers, Republican candidate for Congress in Michigan's eighth district, hopes the look in his eyes does the trick -- believability to win in a district that is key to both Republican and Democrat plans to win the majority in the House. Key, too, perhaps, in the race for president.

DIANNE BYRUM (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Dianne Byrum -- thank you so much.

BOETTCHER: That is why Democrats are sending big guns like Cabinet secretary Donna Shalala to help their candidate in the eighth, Dianne Byrum, who is also a Michigan state senator.

DONNA SHALALA, U.S. SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: She will go to Washington and hit the ground running for the people of the Eighth District.

BOETTCHER (on camera): A key battleground district in a key battleground state, Michigan's eighth is truly a cross-section of America.

(voice-over): Split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, but voting for Democratic national candidates the past eight years, it stretches from suburban Detroit to this central-Michigan heartland. In it are huge auto factories, rich farmland, university towns, big- city dwellers and country folks, blue collar and white collar, conservative and liberal.

WILLIAM BALLENGER, EDITOR, "THE MICHIGAN INSIDER": It's a cliffhanger. It's a nail-biter all the way. It's kind of, again, a microcosm of the Bush-Gore race at the presidential level. Nobody can figure out who's going to win.

BOETTCHER: But, in some respects, different from the presidential race in style and substance. Rogers and Byrum debate at the drop of a hat, a total of 14 face-to-face encounters during their campaign.

ROGERS: Mike Rogers, running for Congress here, good to see you, how are you?

BOETTCHER: On the stump, Rogers tries to stick to Governor Bush's language of compromise.

ROGERS: I tell you what, I we don't -- we got to start working together. Washington D.C. is a very partisan place.

BOETTCHER: For her part, Byrum never strays far from the central themes of Vice President Gore.

BYRUM: I want to fight to ensure that our local, community public schools are strong.

BOETTCHER: Byrum hopes a centrist Democratic message, which has worked here in the past, will work again. Her problem is, Republican Mike Rogers has adopted the same successful strategy. In central Michigan, with no one issue standing out, it has come down to a case of, who do you believe?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to make two and two make four instead of six. Got the message, kid?

BOETTCHER: The two candidates in Michigan Eighth District's do. And if the final day, eye contact and handshakes, credibility and sincerity, are the deciding factors.

Mike Boettcher, CNN, Livingston County, Michigan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: And now to Washington state. There, Republican Senator Slade Gorton is fighting for re-election against well-funded Democratic challenger Maria Cantwell.

Our Chris Black traveled to Washington for a closer look at the candidates and the issues.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON SENATE CANDIDATE: After 41 years in political office, it's time for Slade Gorton to retire.

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrat Maria Cantwell is telling Washington state voters it is time for a change, that incumbent Senator Slade Gorton's time has come and gone.

CANTWELL: I'm somebody who wants to fight for change, and make sure that the special interests don't have too much clout.

BLACK: At 42, Cantwell is 30 years younger than Gorton. But he's turning the tables, accusing her of being the old-fashioned politician.

SEN. SLADE GORTON (R), WASHINGTON: She claims to represent a not only a new generation, but a new approach to politics when the paradox is she really represents the old generation of politics.

BLACK: Still, Gorton is campaigning on his seniority, saying it means he can deliver for the state.

GORTON: I have the experience and the influence over my colleagues to do far more for the people of the state of Washington than Miss Cantwell possibly can.

BLACK: But Cantwell says Gorton has lost touch.

CANTWELL: He's played this leadership role, slamming down programs that I think would be effective and the people in Washington state would want.

BLACK: Though Gorton calls himself the senator from Microsoft, Cantwell has reaped the real benefits of Washington's dot.com economy. After losing a U.S. House seat in 1994, Cantwell went onto make millions at the software company RealNetworks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's around. He's talking to people.

BLACK: She is largely financing her own campaign, already spending more than $6 million of her own money, refusing all PAC money, and has asked the Democratic Party not to advertise on her behalf.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CANTWELL CAMPAIGN AD)

CANTWELL: That's why I want to run my campaign differently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Gorton accuses Cantwell of trying to buy a Senate seat. But the GOP and other outside groups are spending millions of dollars for advertising on his behalf.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AMERICANS FOR JOB SECURITY AD)

NARRATOR: Support Senator Gorton in his to fight to save the snake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANTWELL: I will definitely use these to fight for seniors on these issues.

BLACK: With older voters, the key to victory, Social Security is a top issue. Gorton promotes a plan for younger taxpayers to invest some of their Social Security tax dollars in the stock market. Cantwell questions his faith in Wall Street, since the price of her RealNetworks stock dropped from $96 a share to $10 in the past year.

CANTWELL: Being in my position, I can tell you about the stock market, and it doesn't always go positively.

BLACK: Gorton, who lost his Senate seat once before in 1986, hopes Washington voters look positively on his 40-year political career.

GORTON: This is a Republican Saturday.

BLACK: And give him another Republican Tuesday next week.

Chris Black, CNN, Seattle, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: And for more on the Washington Senate race, please tune in to cnn.com, which airs Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Eastern on CNN.

WOODRUFF: Still ahead, Bob Novak's take on the electoral outlook.

Plus, Jeff Greenfield on the pros and cons of turning experience into a campaign issue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A new electoral college roundup by the "Evans-Novak Report" shows little change from two weeks ago, with Governor Bush still ahead. It gives Bush 23 states, including much of the South and the Plains states. Another 11 states, including Florida, Michigan and Tennessee list as leaning Bush. That's a total of 308 electoral votes. It takes 270 to be elected.

"Evans-Novak" gives Vice President Gore eight states plus the District of Columbia with another eight states, including Pennsylvania, Oregon and Washington, listed as leaning to Gore. Now, that is a total of 230 electoral votes.

Joining us now, Bob Novak.

All right, Bob Novak, the total numbers are the same. You've done a little shifting, though, in terms of who gets which state.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, CNN "CROSSFIRE": Yes, we finally put Tennessee in Bush's corner, Al Gore's home state, 11 electoral votes. And we shifted Minnesota, 11 electoral votes, back to Gore from Bush. So it balanced out.

What we've been doing since 1968, with some fair success -- and I have never been so nervous, because there are so many of these states where there is conflicting poll information, and you really just have to talk to the politicians and make a guess. For example, the two very, very tight states are Michigan and Florida, where we have Bush ahead. If Gore were to win just those two states, just those two states, he goes ahead and wins the election.

WOODRUFF: And that is what I was going to ask you about, because today I noticed that Zogby Poll, a poll that you cite pretty often, has Gore, some would say, a remarkable 12 points up in Florida. Michigan -- I happened to talk today to the person running Michigan for Gore, John Sasso (ph) -- and he says they've got a good -- they're not predicting victory. But he's saying -- he says it's hard to see how you can predict Bush at this point...

NOVAK: Well, I've...

WOODRUFF: You've got the ground war with union support.

NOVAK: I disagree, because I think they've got a very good ground war in both of those states for Bush. The state I'm a little less certain on is Florida. That could more easily go to Gore.

But the funny thing is, contrary to the conventional wisdom, according to our electoral map, Bush can lose Florida and still win the election.

WOODRUFF: Why are you so confident about Michigan?

NOVAK: The -- I think there is a real problem with the union vote in Michigan. I think a lot -- there's big defections for Bush, partially on the gun control issue. The Democrats have completely abandoned talking about gun control, and there's a tremendous pro-life vote. People don't talk about it. It's about 600,000 pro-life voters in Michigan.

WOODRUFF: So when Gore's man, John Sasso, says they -- he thinks Gore will get over 60 percent of the union vote, you say...

NOVAK: Well, 60 percent of the union vote is not...

WOODRUFF: Is not enough?

NOVAK: ... is not enough, in my opinion.

Let me say one other thing, that if Bush were to carry states which are very close, like Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Illinois, Bush would have a landslide if they all went in his direction. On the other hand, just two states -- let me repeat, Michigan and Florida -- switch over to Gore and everything else stays the same, Gore wins by -- do you know what the vote count would be? 273 to 265.

WOODRUFF: Can't get much closer than that.

NOVAK: Not much.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Novak, thanks a lot.

SHAW: Boy, what a night we're going to have Tuesday night.

Well, here now to talk about one central issue in this presidential race, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Jeff, we hear Gore supporters along with vice presidential candidate Lieberman saying -- quote -- "Bush isn't ready to be president" -- unquote. But it seems a battle between candidates with very different kinds of experiences. Hardly unusual, right?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: In fact, Bernie, I think it's typical. I mean, even when John Kennedy was running against Nixon, Nixon used the fact that he'd been vice president to contrast with Kennedy's Senate record. But normally, I mean, a lot of times you have a governor -- by definition, an outsider -- facing somebody who's an insider.

When Carter ran against Jerry Ford, when Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter, when Mike Dukakis ran against Vice president Bush, when Clinton ran against President Bush, and now with George W. versus Al Gore, it's a -- it's a more and more frequent fact of political life in America that there's an outsider running against an insider.

SHAW: So how do less-experienced candidates answer the issue?

GREENFIELD: Well, John Kennedy actually did it with some humor. At the Al Smith Dinner in 1960, which marked the start of the humor part of that tradition, Kennedy got up and announced that there was very bad news for Richard Nixon, that Casey Stengel, the longtime manager of the New York Yankees, had just been fired, and he said, "I guess that proves that experience doesn't always count."

In 1980, Ronald Reagan, in that famous debate in Cleveland, Bernie, used Carter's record to say that his experience hadn't done anything good for America. You may remember that, we'll take a look at it now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1980)

RONALD REAGAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: Now, Bernie, there's a case where that litany said in effect, you can look at Carter's experience, but it didn't do you any good.

I have a more favorite example, though. It's what I called in a widely unread book "Political Judo," which is the art of taking your liability and flipping it. And that was when Ross Perot in 1992, in his first debate, directly addressed his own lack of experience.

Just take a look at what he did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSS PEROT (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, they've got a point. I don't have any experience in running up a $4 trillion debt.

(LAUGHTER)

I don't have any experience in gridlock government, where nobody takes responsibility for anything and everybody blames everybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: That was a clear winner in saying: No experience, you're right, let me tell you why.

SHAW: Well, how about this year?

GREENFIELD: Well, you know, I don't do predictions, but there is one interesting thing, and that is that with the single exception recently of George Bush, the vice president, versus Governor Dukakis, almost every governor who's run against a more -- quote -- "experienced fellow" has beaten that experienced fellow: Carter to Ford, Reagan to Carter, Clinton to Bush.

So you know, it seems, by the way, that not only is that a pattern, but that the insider's tactic of trying to attack the outsider's experience in terms of governing a state, that almost never works.

SHAW: OK. Thank you, Jeff Greenfield.

GREENFIELD: OK.

SHAW: Well, that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. "WORLDVIEW" is next.

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