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CNN Late Edition
Campaign 2000 Heads into the HomestretchAired November 6, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Atlanta, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 5:00 p.m. in London, and 8:00 p.m. in Moscow. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this special two-hour LATE EDITION election preview.
We'll get to our interview with Florida Governor Jeb Bush in just a moment. But first, the latest from the U.S. presidential campaign trail.
And on this last weekend of the presidential campaign, George W. Bush and Al Gore are making a final and fierce push for votes. Both candidates are spending the day campaigning in states that could deliver them the White House. Bush is focusing on Florida, which has 25 electoral votes. The Texas governor plans stops in West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando. Later today, the vice president plans to crisscross the Midwest with appearances in Michigan and Wisconsin. He is currently campaigning in Philadelphia.
CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King is in Philadelphia, as well. He joins us now with the latest.
BLITZER: And now, let's take a look at the latest poll numbers. The new CNN/"USA Today" Gallup Tracking Poll results are being released at this hour. It shows George W. Bush with 48 percent, Al Gore 43 percent, Ralph Nader with 4 percent, Pat Buchanan with 1 percent.
And those numbers are similar to other tracking polls. Take a look: ABC's poll has Bush at 49 percent, Gore at 45 percent; The Washington Post, Bush at 48 percent, Gore at 46 percent; the NBC-Wall Street Journal tracking poll, Bush at 47 percent, Gore 44 percent. And both the CBS and MSNBC-Reuters-Zogby tracking polls have Bush at 46, Gore at 44 percent.
Let's take a little look behind those numbers right now with our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.
Bill, take us behind the scenes. The numbers seem very, very consistent, all the polls.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and rather stable. What's important about these polls, Wolf, is that almost all these interviews, certainly in the CNN poll, were taken after the story about Bush's 1976 arrest for driving under the influence was released. And they show really very little impact. The polls average a 3 percent lead for Bush, 3 percent nationally, which is virtually unchanged from what it was before that story came out.
BLITZER: Historically speaking, on the weekend before election, how reliable are these polls, these tracking polls?
SCHNEIDER: Well, we checked the last two elections, and in both cases, they got the bottom line right, that is, they showed the right winner, Clinton, in both of those elections. If anything, the polls tended to understate the support for the challenger just a little bit, Perot mostly in 1992, and Dole in 1996.
So that is not good news for Bush -- I'm sorry, for Gore, because Bush is the challenger in this case.
BLITZER: And then, further, there's also not such good news for Al Gore. If the race is really, really close, the Ralph Nader factor could take away some votes from him.
SCHNEIDER: What we're seeing is 4 percent for Ralph Nader, as you just reported. That's virtually -- very close to the 5 percent he needs to get federal funding. What that signifies is that liberals are giving trouble to Al Gore. Gore is Clintonism without Clinton, and liberals seem a little unhappy with that.
Whereas Pat Buchanan is getting 1 percent of the vote, he's virtually disappearing. The conservatives are not giving Bush any trouble this year, and that's amazing, considering how much trouble they gave Bush's father in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996.
BLITZER: And Ross Perot has of course endorsed George W. Bush.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, he has.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thanks, as usual, for joining us.
And one of the states that was considered at one point a lock for George W. Bush no longer appears to be such a lock. The race in the Sunshine State is still very much up for grabs, despite the fact that the state's governor is Jeb Bush, brother of the presidential candidate.
Earlier today, I had a chance to speak with Florida governor, Jeb Bush.
BLITZER: Governor Bush, thanks for joining us on LATE EDITION. And let me begin with what's been in the news for the past couple days, this disclosure that your brother was arrested some 24 years ago for drunk driving. Shouldn't this be relevant to any election, a past drunk driving record?
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: Not 24 years ago, and not brought out by a Democratic candidate for governor and a delegate to the Democratic National Convention this year, five days or six days before the election. People have discounted this. They're smart. They understand that. They've looked at it, and they've said it's not important.
BLITZER: You know, there was a story in Friday's Tampa Tribune. I want to read to you from that article. You may be familiar with it. It says the Republican education commissioner, the candidate, Charlie Crist (ph), hastily pulled a television ad, saying his Democratic opponent, George Sheldon (ph), is unfit to hold the office, in part, because he had a drunken driving conviction in 1984. Are you familiar with the decision to pull that ad at this point in that campaign?
BUSH: Absolutely. In fact, a month ago, when it was presented to me as an idea, I said don't do it. And, you know, it is the wrong approach to campaign using these types of things to try to give people the wrong impression. Now, you know, George Sheldon (ph) shouldn't be commissioner of education in our state, and Charlie Crist (ph) should, because he's got the right ideas. And Charlie's going to win, because he can advocate those. Same thing in the presidential race.
BLITZER: The outgoing Democratic senator from Nebraska, Bob Kerrey, was on "Meet The Press" earlier today, and he was really, really outspoken in criticizing your brother. Listen to this excerpt from Bob Kerrey's interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB KERREY (D), NEBRASKA: He has made the issue that you can trust me. I will tell you the truth, regardless of what the political consequences are. And I don't think there is any question that, this year, he made a decision that I really don't want to disclose this because I'm concerned it could have adverse political consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Tough words, in effect, saying your brother lied to the American people by not disclosing this information.
BUSH: I'm really disappointed in Senator Kerrey, because I admire him greatly. And this is all, you know -- we're two, three days away from a closely contested election, and people are going over the top. And they ought to take deep breath and maybe chill out a little bit and reflect on what they're saying before they speak.
The fact is that this happened 24 years ago. It won't have any difference in the election. But more important for my brother is, how he is as a father. What kind of role model he is for his children. And that was the decision he made, and it was the right decision. There should be a white line between private life and public service. And things that happen in private lives while you're serving, that is fair game. But something that happened 24 years ago is completely irrelevant.
BLITZER: With hindsight -- I want to move off this subject, but I just want to ask you one last question about it -- with hindsight, wouldn't he have been better off himself disclosing this information, rather than allowing his political enemies to release it?
BUSH: Well, I'm glad you pointed out, though, that it was his political enemies that released it five days before, because that is the pure motive. That is the reason why I'm having to answer this question.
The answer is, my brother put his family first. And, he made the decision that he, what he did, was in the best interests of his family. And, I think that is an admirable trait.
And my brother transformed himself since then. He's not drinking now. He has grown in his life experiences to have the right stuff to be president. And, he has led with distinction, I think, as governor of Texas to prove it.
BLITZER: Governor, there is a poll out, a recent poll over the weekend, a Florida poll, that shows Al Gore at 49 percent, George W. Bush 44 percent, Ralph Nader 2 percent, in Florida.
Florida, a few months ago, was supposed to be a slam-dunk for George W. Bush, in part because you are a popular governor of that state. What happened? Why is this race in Florida now so competitive?
BUSH: I've got six polls in the last week, by the way, that show us up two or three or four. It is a close election. But Florida is a little different than the rest of the country in that it changes every election cycle. We have a lot of new people that come in. We have a lot of people that actually leave our state. And so it is a new group of people that make up their minds.
It is never been a slam-dunk. Bill Clinton carried Florida in 1996. We have worked hard. We have incredible, intense support for my brother. You ought to see crowd sizes when he comes to this state. In a close election, that will make a difference. We will win because we have a -- we are better organized and we have more intense support.
BLITZER: So was it always a wrong assumption that we made that you ...
BLITZER: ... Governor Jeb Bush could simply deliver Florida for your brother, just as he could deliver Texas for himself?
BUSH: Yes. It was a wrong assumption. And I cringed during the spring and early summer when I saw people consistently say this from outside the state. Candidates have to make their own case, and my brother has come aggressively into our state and is making that case, and I believe he will win.
BLITZER: Do you believe he can win the presidency without carrying Florida?
BUSH: I believe in my heart and soul that he will carry Florida.
BUSH: So it's a hypothetical I would rather not answer.
BLITZER: So if he doesn't carry Florida, he's obviously going to have to make up those electoral votes someplace else.
BUSH: Yes, but -- look, I mean, look where Vice President Gore is having to campaign, in Tennessee, West Virginia, and states -- Wisconsin -- in states that Democrats consistently win. We are moving to a new era politically, and part of that is that the deck is being reshuffled a bit. My brother is carrying his message to places that Republicans never have had a chance before.
BLITZER: The Democratic vice presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman, has been a frequent visitor to Florida in the last several months, as you no doubt know. He's getting really tough also, with your brother. I want you to listen to what Joe Lieberman had to say this past week at a rally. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd have to say with all respect, right now, George Bush is not ready to be president of the United States, not the kind that we need, as we go into a new century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is that kind of rhetoric going to resonate -- the rhetoric that...
BLITZER: ... that your brother is not ready to be president of the United States, coming directly from the Democratic vice presidential candidate.
BUSH: It's not going to work, and you know I thought the selection of Joe Lieberman was a good choice for Vice President Gore. I admire Joe Lieberman, but he's turned into an attack dog. And it is kind of disappointing to see him have to follow the script from Nashville on these kinds of things.
He's living in Florida, so we are happy to have him, and it's helping the economy. But that is not going to help their campaign. You know, the last time we heard this was, there was a western governor named Ronald Reagan that was running, and a lot of people whispered that wasn't up for the job. And I think he was a great president.
And my brother has the same sense of importance of the office and the role of the president. It is not to be, you know, the winner on the celebrity Jeopardy contest, you know where you have every fact at the tip of your tongue, and can pronounce every word perfectly. That is not what people are looking for.
They are looking for someone that shares their values, that has a vision for the future, that will bring people together to solve problems. My brother has proven that he can do that as governor of Texas, and all of this other stuff, people are discounting, I promise you.
BLITZER: And Governor, what about the whole issue of Social Security, which is an issue, of course, very close to hearts so many of the elderly especially in Florida. The Gore campaign is trying to raise concerns, alarm bells, over Governor Bush's proposal to privatize at least a small portion of Social Security. And a lot of older people remember when there were recessions, even when there were depressions. A lot of them say they're nervous about this whole scheme which could be, could be as the Gore people say, risky.
BUSH: Yes, that's what they say for everything. Everything's a risky scheme and we can't change at all. The fact is if we don't change, the next generation of Americans aren't going to be able to get their benefits. Everybody recognizes that. And you just can't ignore this issue. They've done it for seven and half years in Washington.
So my brother has said for the -- there's trillions of dollars of benefits that will go out, and there's projected surpluses for those benefits being paid to people that are about ready to join Social Security or are already on it. But after that, there's still a surplus, and a small portion of that ought to be invested -- be allowed, if people want to, to invest in secure bonds and stocks so that they can have a bigger return than the two percent return that the Social Security system delivers now. And if we did that, we won't have to make these draconian choices 30 years from now. And that requires leadership of bringing people together.
The same Senator Kerrey that is now attacking my brother had courage to propose something quite similar in this, in a bipartisan fashion. It was completely rejected by the vice president and president, because they love this issue to come down to states like Florida and scare seniors that they're going to lose their benefits. I can assure you, that under my brother's plan, no one's going to lose their benefits at all.
BLITZER: OK, Governor Bush, always good to have you on our program.
BUSH: Thank you Wolf.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, we're all out of time. Thank you so much for joining us. If you run into my parents in Florida, give them my love.
BUSH: I will.
BLITZER: Thanks again. And when we return, the must-win states: Florida's just one the three heavy electoral college states that both campaigns believe are critical to win on Tuesday. Pennsylvania and Michigan are the other two. We'll talk about the tight race with two senators from those states, Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter and Michigan Democrat Carl Levin. Our special two-hour LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My plan will shrink government spending to its smallest share of the economy in 50 years. I want a smaller, smarter government that focuses on the real needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His vision of reform is to build a better bureaucrat, not to empower people to make their own decisions. No matter what new name you give them, there is no way to rally the Congress or the nation around tired ideas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Al Gore and George W. Bush making their case in the campaign trail, in this final week of the race. Welcome back to special two-hour LATE EDITION.
Joining us now are two guests who represent states where the race is still very, very tight. In our Detroit bureau, is Michigan Democratic Senator and Gore supporter Carl Levin. And joining us from our New York bureau, is Pennsylvania Republican Senator and Bush supporter Arlen Specter.
Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Senator Specter, has a new book, by the way, that's just come out entitled, I want to make sure I get it right: "Passion for the Truth," an excellent memoir that I've been reading. I have to recommend it to our audience out there.
But let me start off with a tough question for you, Senator Specter, after I've said such a nice thing about your new book. There's a new poll that's just out in Pennsylvania that shows Al Gore at 48 percent; George W. Bush, 45 percent; Ralph Nader at 2 percent. Pennsylvania's going to be critical in determining the next president, Gore looks on this weekend before the election at least he looks ahead right now.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Wolf, that's within the margin of error. I believe that Governor Bush will carry Pennsylvania. I've have spent the past week and more traveling through the state campaigning for Governor Bush, Senator Santorum and others. I think there is a line which runs through Appalachia -- West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania up into Northern, Central Pennsylvania -- where people are very much concerned in the coal industry about what Vice President Gore says.
I think that in the Philadelphia suburbs, we've been making a very strong point that the moderate and independent women should not be concerned about Governor Bush trying to overturn Roe vs. Wade. He has said he will not move for a constitutional amendment. He will not impose a Litmus test and one idea which has really caught on. I tell people that Governor Bush understands women issues and women's issues from being Barbara Bush's son. You can't be Barbara Bush's son for 55 years, 54 years, and not be understanding of women's issues.
BLITZER: All right, Senator Levin, in Michigan, the race looks like this. Take a look at the latest Michigan poll, Research 2000, it has Al Gore at 46 percent, George W. Bush at 41 percent. Look at this, Ralph Nader with four percent.
The Ralph Nader factor, 3 percent in that poll, the Ralph Nader factor, could be very, very important in Michigan. Listen to what Ralph Nader had to say earlier today on "Meet the Press."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I say to the liberals who are supporting Al Gore: What standard of failure do you have for that Democratic Party that's only a shred what it was years ago when it represented working families? It's now a hollowed out party competing for the same millions of dollars from the same business interests as the Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How critical, Senator Levin, is that Ralph Nader factor going to be? It could make or break Al Gore in Michigan.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Well, if Nader does very well, that will be very helpful to George Bush and that's why many Nader voters now are shifting over to Al Gore because they really see that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.
And the comment about failure: I think what the folks in Michigan here see is that there's been really significant successes during the Clinton-Gore years. We had a very large jump in employment and in job creation and in median family income.
Just to give you one example, the auto industry lost 40,000 jobs during the Bush years and gained 160,000 jobs during the Clinton-Gore years.
So the differences here are real. The differences as to how the surplus will be spent is a huge difference here and people really are focused on that issue. They want the surplus to be spent for all of us, they want it to be spent for economic growth, they want it to invest that in reducing the national debt, protecting Medicare, they want to invest in education, and they do not want that surplus to be spent mainly on a tax cut, most of which goes to upper income people. And that is where the Nader voters are and why many of them now, according to these polls, are going to vote for Gore rather than vote, in effect, for Bush by voting for Nader.
BLITZER: Senator Specter, some people are criticizing, some political strategists, think it may not have been so wise for your candidate, Governor Bush, to have raised this entire issue of Social Security, supposedly the third rail, that you don't bring this up. He wants to privatize a small portion of Social Security. The Democrats, especially Al Gore, are saying that this is a very, very risky scheme. There's a lot of elderly people, as you well know in Pennsylvania, one of the highest rates of elderly people in the country. Are they going to be nervous because of Governor Bush's Social Security program? Can you live with that idea?
SPECTER: Well, there's a real problem on their being nervous because Vice President Gore has demagogued it so badly. But there is a lot of support for taking a small portion of the Social Security fund and investing it in conservative stocks or bonds, so that you have some benefit from inflation.
We are going to be facing a lot of problems in the future with an expanding pool of Social Security recipients, and I think that Governor Bush's plan is sound, because most of it will be set aside without being in stock market, and to a modest extent, there will be these benefits. So, when you take a hard look at the facts, I think the Bush plan is a solid one.
BLITZER: On that point, Senator Levin, even some of your Democratic colleagues, like Senator Bob Kerrey, Senator John Breaux, they've suggested that maybe it is a good idea to take a look at the entire Social Security fabric, see if there is an opportunity for some private investments to make sure the long-term health of the Social Security system is solid.
LEVIN: Well, the problem with the Bush plan is it takes $1 trillion of the Social Security surplus, which is supposed to be there not just for current retirees but for people who are now in their 40s and 50s who are going to retire, who rely on that surplus -- it takes $1 trillion of that surplus that's being relied on and transfers it into this privatization deal.
And that is what is very, very concerning to people, not just who are retired now, but people who are in their 40s and 50s who are relying on a surplus being built up. And when they hear that George Bush takes $1 trillion of the surplus and puts it into his privatization deal, they then say, "Whoops, now this thing is becoming very, very risky indeed, and I want a better explanation of that." And they have not gotten that explanation from George Bush.
BLITZER: I'm going to give you brief chance to respond to that, Senator Specter. Would you like to respond to that?
SPECTER: Well, he may not have gotten an adequate response from Governor Bush, but I don't think Governor Bush has said anything that satisfies the Democrats.
But, Carl, how about my response? That was a pretty good one, wasn't it?
LEVIN: No, I don't think you've responded either, because the $1 trillion that goes into the privatization deal comes out of that surplus. We weren't supposed to touch that surplus. Instead, we are reducing -- apparently using that $1 trillion twice. That has not been explained by George Bush. How do you use $1 trillion both for this privatization deal that he is proposing and at same time not reduce the Social Security surplus being relied upon by those folks who are retired and who are in their 40s and 50s who will be retiring in the next 10 or 20 years?
SPECTER: Because those funds are placed in conservative stock investments and bonds which are solid, and there is a long actuarial record of those producing increased revenues the way the economy has been going.
LEVIN: The Social Security groups, the ones that are fighting to protect Social Security, very much oppose this scheme.
BLITZER: All right, Senators, stand by. We have to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about when we come back.
We'll also take your phone calls for Senators Carl Levin and Arlen Specter.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to this special two-hour LATE EDITION. We are talking about the race for the White House -- still a very tight race, with only two days to go -- with the Michigan Democratic Senator, Carl Levin, and Pennsylvania's Republican Senator Arlen Specter. Senators, let's take a quick call from here in Georgia. Please go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Yes, Senator Specter, what will be the impact of the Christian Coalition and the NRA on the elections? And do you feel the Republicans will be able to retain control of the House and Senate?
SPECTER: I believe that we will retain control of the Senate in a pretty clear-cut way. And I think on the House, it is going to be very, very close, but my instinct is that Republican control will be retained there.
I think that with respect to the Christian Coalition, that there is a lot of base support for Governor Bush, but they have been very quiet and very modulated, so that Governor Bush can express his views that he is not going to use a litmus test in selecting Supreme Court justices to allay fears about Roe versus Wade. And also, that he is not going to push for a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe versus Wade. With respect to the NRA, I saw headline in The Washington Post, recently, that Vice President Gore was trying to have it both ways, because the gun owners are very strong in many of the critical states. And the Post said that while Gore was trying to play it both ways, which is sort of a pattern of his, he was losing out in both camps. So I think it is going to be helpful to Governor Bush.
BLITZER: Let's take another caller from Oklahoma. Please go ahead with your question. Oklahoma, go ahead.
We lost Oklahoma. But let me bring Senator Levin into this conversation. Senator Levin, some people are saying, the Bush supporters of course, that it was all dirty tricks, this revelation in the last few days that Governor Bush 24 years ago was arrested for drunk driving. That this is just a smear, and it's outrageous that it comes out at this late moment. And that in the end it's going to back -- there is going to be a backlash against Al Gore. What do you say about that?
LEVIN: Well, first of all, the Gore campaign had absolutely nothing to do with the so-called revelation. But secondly, a TV reporter overheard a conversation and dug it out. This was not something which the Gore campaign put forward, but it was something that a TV reporter overheard, found out, and then, got the information on.
I'll tell you, the people in my home state -- the people in my home state are trying to really figure out the position of George Bush on issues such as Social Security and such as the surplus, and this big tax cut for wealthy people. And that is what are they trying to figure out rather than why it is that he hid this conviction for 25 years. That is not what his first and foremost on their minds. They are focused on issues. And that is why the polls are now showing the undecided in Michigan moving towards Al Gore very distinctly, as the poll that you mentioned shows. This morning, Al Gore is up 5 points, which is more than the margin of error.
BLITZER: Senator Specter, you're a former prosecutor. Is this drunk driving record, is this something the American people should be focusing on at this late moment in the campaign?
SPECTER: I think what happened 24 years ago has absolutely nothing to do with Governor Bush's qualifications to be president. He has pretty much conceded that he drank too much before he turned 40, in 1986, and he has been on the wagon since.
I think that when this campaign is over -- this is a hunch and speculation -- that it is going to turn out that the vice president's campaign people knew about it.
LEVIN: Knew about what? Knew about what?
SPECTER: Knew about this matter being held until the Thursday before the election.
LEVIN: Do you have any evidence of that? SPECTER: Which is the most -- no. I say very candidly it is a hunch, speculation, but when Lehane, who is Gore's spokesman, makes a denial --I've had some personal experience with Lehane.
LEVIN: Well, I think that's really unwarranted.
SPECTER: I don't -- and I don't take his representation at all.
LEVIN: That's a desperate hunch. That's a desperate hunch, Arlen.
SPECTER: I think that the vice president -- well, wait a minute. Let me finish, Carl, then you can have plenty of time. It's a two- hour program. I think when this matter comes up on Thursday, which is the most crucial day in the election before Tuesday, that the vice president has an obligation to speak to it himself.
SPECTER: We have seen real problems with Gore on credibility, saying the Buddhist temple was not fund-raiser in face of enormous evidence to contrary, and raising hard money, and the business about the coffee klatches.
And I said it was speculation, a hunch, but I think when this election is over, it is going to go right to Gore's lap.
LEVIN: I think that -- if I have a chance to respond -- I think that is a desperately stated hunch with no evidence. We have all seen that TV reporter, the young lady who overheard that conversation, explain it. And I just think it is wrong to try to put that kind of a coloration on it.
But talking about whoppers, let me tell you something: Bush the other day said Social Security is not a federal program. Bush says that we have two divisions that were are not ready for duty in the Army. They were on duty in the Balkans.
Bush said that he brought Democrats and Republicans together in Texas behind a very good patients' bill of rights. In fact, he vetoed the patients' bill of rights in Texas.
The prescription drug program that the Democrats have offered, a voluntary optional program under Medicare, has been characterized by George Bush as something which would force seniors into Medicare.
Those are whoppers, let me tell you, big whoppers.
BLITZER: All right. Senators, unfortunately, this may be a two- hour program, but we're all out of this segment. We'll have to leave this discussion for another time. I know both of you will be back on LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.
SPECTER: Thank you, Wolf, nice being with you.
LEVIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you. And just ahead: As Governor Bush attempts to close the deal, he's getting help from some high-profile supporters. We will hear from one of them, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll get to our interview with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in just a few moments.
But Governor George W. Bush is now speaking in West Palm Beach at rally. Let's listen in and hear what he has to say.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to get rid of the partisan bickering that has plagued Washington, D.C. We need to get rid of the politics of anger and name-calling and ugliness. We need a fresh start, folks, after a season of cynicism, and that's what my administration will bring.
There's reason why we need new leadership and that's to confront the important issues that face America.
We need to rebuild our military power to keep the peace. For all the veterans here in Florida, you will know, should I become the president, you'll have a president who stands side by side with you to make sure the VA does its job. And for those of you who have relatives or friends who wear the uniform, you will have this pledge. We will rebuild the military power of the United States in order to keep the peace.
Another important role is to make sure every child is educated and not one child is left behind. I do want to assure your good governor I'm not interested in becoming the federal superintendent of schools. I don't believe in being the national principal. I'm not for the federalization of education. I don't believe in all the mandates and strings out of Washington, D.C.
See, we stand on principle. We trust the local people of Florida to run the schools of the state of Florida.
There are two important issues that relate to Florida, as well as other states of course, and one is Social Security. I'm sure you have heard of all the scare tactics that they are using. My attitude is somebody who tries to scare people into the voting booth, must not be very confident about his own positions.
You know what's going to happen November 7? We're going to send a message loud and clear we are going to reject the politics of scaring folks. We are going to embrace a candidate who brings a positive agenda on an issue like Social Security. The seniors of Florida must hear this loud and clear. A promise our nation has made will be a promise this nation keeps to the seniors. A Social Security trust will be solid and sound.
But the younger workers must also know I'll be willing to think differently, to bring Republicans and Democrats together, to not only save the system for the elderly today, but to let younger workers manage some of their own money in the private markets, to get a better rate of return on Social Security tomorrow.
They can try to scare. They can make all those ugly phone calls and fake TV ads. But we have a chance on November 7th to purge this country of the old-style politics, the old way of politics.
BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, speaking in West Palm Beach, Florida, his stump speech.
The vice president, the Democratic presidential candidate, is speaking in Philadelphia right now. Let's listen in to see what he has to say.
GORE: I think it is time raise the minimum wage $1 an hour for those who most need help. I think it is time to recognize that women who work just as hard and then come home to work a double shift often, shouldn't receive an average of 76 cents on every $1 a man earns. I'm for an equal day's pay for an equal day's work, good for men as well as women.
Now that we have this big surplus, the question that is on the ballot is prosperity itself. The question on the ballot, put another way is: What should we do with this prosperity? How should we use this surplus?
I believe that we should balance the budget and pay down the debt and pay off the debt so it's not a burden on the backs of these children. And then within those balanced budgets, I think we should give a new incentive for young workers to save and invest.
I think that we need middle-class tax cuts for the people who have the hardest time paying the taxes, the people who are making car payments and house payments and making ends meet. For example, I think that we ought to make college tuition mostly tax deductible for every middle-class family, up to $10,000 a year. Are you with me?
Now, my opponent has a different recommendation. He sees the past differently than do we. And he sees the priorities very differently for our future. He wants to squander this surplus on a giant tax cut, mostly for the wealthy, with almost half of it going to the wealthiest 1 percent.
You are way ahead of me. The reason that is a mistake is not because we begrudge those who are very wealthy, their success, or begrudge them a tax cut. But the reason it is a problem is it hurts the rest of us. It puts us back into deficits again. It takes away from us the opportunity to balance the budget and pay off the debt. It raises interest rates and puts our prosperity at risk. We are better off when we are creating jobs than we are when we're losing jobs. We're better off putting people to work, giving them the skills that they need, opening the doors of opportunity.
Let me give you a couple of figures from -- just to illustrate how basic this choice is. My opponent would propose to spend more money on tax cuts just for the wealthiest 90,000 multimillionaires than he would propose in new spending for all 90,000 public schools throughout the United States of America.
BLITZER: Vice President Al Gore delivering his stump speech in these final few days of the campaign. We earlier heard from the Republican presidential candidate, George W. Bush.
We have to take another quick break. When we come back, our interview with New York mayor and Bush supporter, Rudy Giuliani. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
With George W. Bush and Al Gore making a final push for victory, both candidates are taking all the help they can get. Earlier today I spoke with New York mayor and Bush supporter, Rudy Giuliani. He joined us from West Palm Beach, Florida just before attending that Bush campaign rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Mayor Giuliani, thanks for joining us on LATE EDITION.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: You're a good Republican. You were elected mayor of New York City. George Pataki is a good Republican. He was elected governor of New York. Why is George W. Bush so far behind in the polls in New York State in this presidential contest against Al Gore? Recent polls showing him 15 to 20 points behind Al Gore.
GIULIANI: You know what really is more telling: Why is Al Gore behind George W. Bush in Tennessee where Al Gore comes from, where he was in the Senate? And this morning on the front page of the newspaper in Tennessee, it has George W. Bush beating Al Gore in his home state by 3 percent. That's got to tell you something about the people who know Al Gore best.
BLITZER: But you know...
GIULIANI: Whereas in Texas, George -- whereas in Texas, George W. Bush is whomping Al Gore. The people who know George W. Bush best, the people who have seen him govern, Democrats and Republicans, support him big time. The people who know Al Gore best are supporting George W. Bush. That's more impressive than a poll in a state where people really don't know either candidate quite as well as they do in their home state.
BLITZER: But you know New Yorkers better than almost anyone. You know people in New York State. I'm from New York State. Why are they so reluctant, apparently according to all of the polls in New York, to vote for George W. Bush?
GIULIANI: Come on, Wolf. Why are the people in Tennessee reluctant to vote for Al Gore? They watched him as a senator. They see George W. Bush. They think he's better. I mean, you can't pick one state. There are states in which George W. Bush is whomping Al Gore, so you could pick that state and put it up on the board.
The fact is, it's a close election. And to me, the most important thing is the people in the state that have watched George W. Bush govern, Democrats and Republicans alike, overwhelmingly support George W. Bush. He's going to beat Gore in that state by 30 percent. Just about everybody is going to vote for him.
BLITZER: How concerned are you, if you are concerned at all, about this drunk driving revelation coming so close to the end of this campaign?
GIULIANI: I'm very, very proud of George W. Bush. I think he was asked this question, you know, a number of times. He never hid the fact that he had problems in his life, that he's overcome them. Everybody has problems in their life, everybody has things they're embarrassed of.
And then when he was faced with the question a couple of days ago, he looked in the camera and he didn't do, "no controlling legal authority." He didn't do, "define it for me," see how we can define it. He looked in the camera and he did something really refreshing in this era. He told the truth, and it was tough to do that, and I respect him for it, and I think the revelation of it at the last minute by a Democratic operative is typical of the way in which they've been playing politics, and hopefully the American people are just sick and tired of it.
BLITZER: You saw that story from that reporter in the Dallas Morning News saying that when he directly asked a question about any arrest record a few years of Governor Bush, Governor Bush didn't directly answer the question. And he also went on to say that he got the impression the governor said no. Karen Hughes, the communications director...
GIULIANI: I don't...
BLITZER: Go ahead.
GIULIANI: His communication director said that that isn't so. And on the record, George W. Bush has been asked this question and on the record he said, "I'm not going to discuss my life in that kind of detail, but I had problems." I can respect that.
I'm a public figure, I resent some of the invasions of my privacy. There are certain things about all of us that we rather not have our children know. I know when you run for president, it all comes out, but you're still a human being and I think this man handled it the way a man should handle it.
BLITZER: All right.
GIULIANI: I think he was concerned about his children, and I think that he had a human response to it. And I think what the Democrats did -- and it certainly came out of the Democrats, I'm not saying the Gore campaign, but the people who put this out are all Democratic Party operatives, a candidate for governor of Maine, people who work in the Democratic Party, were at the convention.
This is the kind of dirty politics that Americans -- I believe they're going to resent that. I tell you what, I think this is going to help George W. Bush. And the way in which he handled it, which was quite human, and then the cheap politics that are behind this.
BLITZER: You know that Vice President Gore and Joe Lieberman have been making a major issue of the competence, if you will, whether or not George W. Bush is ready to be president of the United States and they're referring in recent days to what he said about Social Security.
There's a new Gore campaign ad that's now running on this very point. I want you to listen to it and we'll get your reaction. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): Is Social Security a federal program? Of course it is, but it seems George Bush doesn't understand that.
BUSH: They want the federal government controlling the Social Security, like its some kind of federal program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well it is a federal -- it is a federal program obviously.
GIULIANI: Yes, it is. But then they leave -- Wolf, they are so dishonest. I wish the American people can just -- could see what -- could see that and hear the rest of that answer.
George W. Bush then goes on to say, it's a -- it's not the government's money, it's your money. What he's trying to say to people is, we don't want to see Social Security handled like a federal program, where the federal government confiscates your money, keeps your money. This is your money, you have a right to it. You have a right to be protected. And you have a right to use it.
That's what he was trying to say.
GIULIANI: If you had the rest of that quote right after it where he says, "this is not the government's money," then I think you would understand that.
But as for competence, look to people of Texas. They've watched him govern, they've seen what he's done in Texas, and Democrats and Republicans re-elected him by 70 percent. And right now, he is destroying Al Gore in Texas, and he's beating Al Gore in Tennessee. That tells me more about somebody's competence than a lot of spinning and dishonest ads do.
BLITZER: You've seen the speculation, I'm sure, Mayor Giuliani, that if Bush is elected, there could be, theoretically, a position for you in a Bush administration. You are a former U.S. attorney. Would you be interested in becoming the attorney general in a Bush administration?
GIULIANI: I made the decision that I'm going to remain as mayor of New York City, finish out my term, take care of my health and get better. I'm in the middle of radiation therapy right now. I know it's going to come out all right; I pray that it does. But my job is to finish my job as mayor of New York City, so my interest in this is for America.
I want to see the Clinton-Gore era end, and I think George W. Bush is a very, very fine man. He's been a great governor of Texas, and I want to see him reform education for America, like he's done it in Texas. That's my interest in this.
BLITZER: Let's quickly talk a little bit about the Senate race in New York State. There's a new poll in The Daily News, The New York Daily News, today that has Mrs. Clinton at 47 percent, Rick Lazio at 40 percent. How concerned are you that the next senator, the junior senator, from New York might be Mrs. Clinton?
GIULIANI: I believe it's going to be Rick Lazio. I think New Yorkers are going to reject the idea that somebody can come in and just kind of take the Senate seat never having lived there, never having worked there, not having much knowledge. Rick Lazio has served our state in the Congress.
I'm on my way back to New York; I'm going to campaign with him all day tomorrow. I've done everything I can to try to convince people that they should vote for him. I believe they are, and I also believe that there's a hidden vote for him. I think there are a lot of people that are going to come out and basically say, we want a New Yorker representing us in the United States Senate, and I think Rick Lazio's run a really fine campaign. So, you know, obviously it's close. We want to work really hard, but I think he's going to win that election and surprise everyone.
BLITZER: You know, you mentioned it earlier, your prostate cancer. You look great, you sound great. Tell us how you feel.
GIULIANI: Honestly, some good days and some bad days. I feel pretty good. I'm right in the middle of the radiation therapy, so I get some days that are a little tougher than others. But by and large, I feel pretty good, and I'm very, very hopeful that it's all going to come out all right. So it doesn't really end until late December, and then I'll know, but I've gotten a lot of encouragement, a lot of people that have helped me, and I've had a chance to help a lot of people. So, that's the good side of this.
BLITZER: Well, Mayor Giuliani, as you of course know, we hope it turns out excellent for you. We're praying...
GIULIANI: Thank you.
BLITZER: ... and we're hoping that all these treatments make you a 100 percent back to normal, so that we can see you back on the campaign trail or someplace in the not too distant future. GIULIANI: Well, I sure -- I sure enjoyed the turnout here in West Palm Beach for George W. Bush. It's overwhelming me. I've been in a lot of big campaigns and been to a lot of campaign rallies, I've never quite seen something like this. They are lined up, looks like to me, for about two miles; it's unbelievable.
BLITZER: I'm sure you've run into a few ex-New Yorkers living in Florida as well.
GIULIANI: This is -- this is like part of New York. It's one of our boroughs, I think.
BLITZER: Thank you so much, Mayor, for joining us and good luck with -- good luck with the treatment.
GIULIANI: Thank you very much, Wolf, good luck.
BLITZER: We have to take a quick break, for our international viewers, world news is next. Four our North American audience, stay tuned for the second hour of LATE EDITION. We'll check the hour's top stories, and get Gore campaign response from senior advisor Bob Shrum.
Then, a conversation with Democratic Party activist Jessie Jackson, and conservative activist Bill Bennett.
Plus our LATE EDITION roundtable and Bruce Morton's last word. It's all ahead in the second hour of LATE EDITION.
BLITZER: This is the second hour of LATE EDITION, countdown to election 2000. We will talk with Gore senior adviser Bob Shrum in just a moment, but first, here is Gene Randall in Washington with the top stories.
BLITZER: And now we'll return to the presidential race. Joining us from Nashville, Tennessee, is Gore campaign senior advisor Bob Shrum.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION, Mr. Shrum.
I want to get your reaction to what Mayor Giuliani just said. Take a look at the latest poll number, the Tennessee poll, the Mason- Dixon poll. I want to show it -- put it up on our screen as well: George W. Bush with 49 percent of the vote right now; Al Gore, 45 percent, in his home state. Pretty embarrassing for governor -- excuse me, for Vice President Gore to be behind in his own home state.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's going to be more embarrassing for Governor Bush to lose the presidential election, Wolf. But the truth of the matter is that there is a poll, for example, in the Knoxville paper, that shows Al Gore winning this state. This has always been a close state. This is a very competitive state. It was close and tough in '92 and '96. And Al Gore is going to win it in 2000.
BLITZER: The other point, though, that Mayor Giuliani makes is that the people who know George W. Bush best, the people of Texas, they are voting overwhelmingly for him, including many Democrats, whereas the people supposedly who know Al Gore best, in Tennessee, it's a real horse race, as you yourself acknowledge.
SHRUM: Well, actually, if Mayor Giuliani -- and I'm sure he hasn't, or if he had, he wouldn't mention it -- had read the Texas press yesterday, he would have seen that the governor's approval rating has fallen rather sharply, as people have focused in on the fact that Texas ranks 50th in health insurance for families, that he appointed a polluter to help enforce the state's environmental laws, and now Texas have has the worst air quality in the nation.
And that if you go into his education record, which was mentioned, the Rand Corporation, which he used to cite to say that he'd done a great job in education, now said that the results on some of those Texas tests were, and I quote, "false." So, I think that people in Texas are even beginning to focus a little more on governor's record.
But look, this is a national election. This is an election about what's going to happen to our prosperity. Are we going to extend it and are we going to make it work for everybody, or are we going to make it work for the few? And I think as that message is carried out in the last few days of this campaign, Al Gore is going to prevail.
BLITZER: Mr. Shrum, a lot of people are looking at the Electoral College map, and they are saying that Al Gore, in order to win the Electoral College and the presidency, will need what they describe as a trifecta: Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Do you need all three of those in order to get Al Gore into the White House?
SHRUM: I don't think so, and I would actually argue to the contrary. I would say that it's very, very hard, to figure out the electoral math for George Bush if he loses Florida. I believe he is going to lose Florida, because despite Mayor Giuliani throwing out words like "dishonest," and Governor Bush throwing out words like "scare tactics," the fundamental fact is he won't answer a question that is central on mind of Florida voters, which is how can you take a trillion dollars out of Social Security, promise it to younger workers to invest, and then promise it to seniors so that current benefits will continue.
If you do that, the Social Security system either goes bankrupt sometime between 2015 and 2023, or in the alternative, you have to begin cutting benefits now by as much as 20 to 50 percent.
Now it's a simple question. It wasn't just Al Gore who asked it.
SHRUM: Jim Lehrer asked it in the third presidential debate. And George Bush doesn't have an answer about Social Security. BLITZER: On the whole issue of Social Security, as you know, Mayor Giuliani was critical of that Gore campaign ad which referred to the statement that Governor Bush made about Social Security not being a federal program, said if we went on and played the whole thing, you will see in context he was referring to the people's money.
I want to play the entire sound bite of Governor Bush speaking about Social Security the other day and get your response. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BUSH: They want the federal government controlling the Social Security, like it's some kind of federal program. We understand differently though. You see, it is your money, not the government's money. You ought to be allowed to invest it the way you see fit.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: But as supporters are saying, he may have misspoken. But don't all politicians once in a while, including Al Gore, don't they misspeak from time to time? You get the gist of what he was trying to say, that the money that goes into Social Security is the people's money.
SHRUM: Well, of course it is. All money that goes to federal government is the people's money. It's not the federal government's money. The fact of the matter is that Social Security is a program, it's a federal program started by Franklin Roosevelt. It is probably the most successful federal social program in the history of this country.
I think everybody, including the press -- and by the way, Wolf, your network, CNN, which made a very big deal of that quotation, was startled by fact the governor didn't even seem to know that it was a federal program.
It is very much like the fact that he can't explain his tax cut, how he can take $1.6 trillion out, basically exhaust the entire surplus, and then not take us back into deficit. He doesn't have an answer to that question.
BLITZER: You heard -- I don't know if you did -- but we heard Senator Arlen Specter suggest that after the election, it's going to come out that the Gore campaign was aware of the 24-year-old drunk driving charge -- conviction -- of George W. Bush, and that this was all related to some sort of campaign dirty politics -- dirty tricks. What can you say? As a representative of the Gore campaign, did anyone in the Gore campaign know of the 24-year-old charge?
SHRUM: No. And I want to say something about Senator Specter, because you cannot replace, as George Bush says, a season of cynicism with civility and then turn around and engage in those kind of smear tactics. I think the Bush campaign made a very bad mistake when this happened by deciding that they were -- without any evidence at all -- going to accuse the Gore campaign. I think the apology is owed to the Gore campaign.
And I want to say one good thing about one Bush. Governor Jeb Bush was asked about this on another show this morning, and he said he did not believe and there was no evidence that the Gore campaign had anything to do with this. I think Senator Specter ought to stop the bitter partisanship, ought to remember what he learned in law school and as prosecutor and stop accusing people without any evidence at all. He ought to apologize to us.
BLITZER: Senator Specter specifically referred to Chris Lehane, the press secretary for the vice president, Chris Lehane, whose relatives live up in Maine. And the assumption is -- some people assuming -- that perhaps Chris Lehane may have known about this.
SHRUM: You know, there are about a million people who live in Maine. And I don't think anybody would take that kind of case into court, into any kind of Senate committee. It has been absolutely denied. Jeb Bush says he believes there was no involvement of our campaign. And Senator Specter ought to know better. He ought to be ashamed of himself for making that kind of charge without any evidence whatsoever.
BLITZER: What's the priority, number one, for Al Gore right now, during these final 48 hours?
SHRUM: To talk to people about what he wants to do with the prosperity this country has, how we extend that prosperity, how we make it work for everybody and not the few.
How we, for example, pass a real patients' bill of rights so that patients and doctors make the decisions in medical care instead of having HMOs and insurance companies do it.
Governor Bush is standing with the HMOs and insurance companies. Al Gore is going to stand up and fight for patients and doctors and against the HMOs and insurance companies who are denying people needed care.
BLITZER: All right. Bob Shrum, unfortunately we have to leave it right there. You'll be busy the next 48 hours.
We'll be busy at CNN covering all of this over the next 48 hours as well.
Thanks for joining us.
When we return, rallying the base. With the race so close, both George W. Bush and Al Gore are counting on a big showing from the parties' most loyal voters. We'll talk about what's at stake on Tuesday with two party faithfuls: Democrat Jessie Jackson and Republican Bill Bennett.
Our special two-hour LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORE: I've said before, these are not personal differences. I have refrained from any negative personal attacks against my opponent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: It doesn't have to be the way it is in Washington. We need a uniter, not a divider.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The candidates repeating their promises to take the high road during the final days of this campaign.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now are two guests with very different views on the presidential campaign. In New York, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/PUSH coalition and supporter of Vice President Gore. And in Washington, Bill Bennett, co-founder of the group Empower America and a supporter of Governor Bush.
Gentlemen, always good to have you on LATE EDITION.
I want to begin with you, Reverend Jackson. The African-American base of the Democratic party was always energized for Bill Clinton, but correct me if I'm wrong, it doesn't seem too be as energized for Al Gore as it used to be for Bill Clinton. Why?
JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: The African-American vote is part of a coalition: African- Americans and workers and women have a shared interest in this campaign. We are all on the one hand frightened by the prospects of a strict constructionist Supreme Court that would attack affirmative action, that would attack -- that would choose right-to- work laws over the right-to-organize, would attack women's right to self-determination. That's a unifying thing for our coalition.
On the other hand, prospects of Gore and Lieberman and Charlie Rangel and Chris Dodd and Daschle and a team of leaders committed to inclusion and growth is real exciting. The base is excited.
BLITZER: You know, a similar question to you, Bill Bennett: Social conservatives, religious conservatives, are they as excited for George W. Bush as they used to be, let's say, for Ronald Reagan? They really got pumped up for Reagan. I sense that there's not that kind of enthusiasm this time around. Am I wrong?
WILLIAM BENNETT, EMPOWER AMERICA: I think you are wrong. Everybody is in on our side, Wolf. You have seen the numbers in terms of expected turnout of Republican base. You have seen the numbers in terms of approval.
We had a vigorous primary. John McCain drew a lot of people, but you have seen John McCain everywhere in support of George W. Bush, and John McCain's people -- sometimes called the McCainiacs, but they are all sane people -- supporting George W. Bush. I think you are going to see a tremendous turnout across the board. This is a united party. And one very good thing for this party, is Pat Buchanan is gone, and that makes the Republican party unified, with a basic philosophy and with a good strong vision for the future.
BLITZER: And on the other side, though, Reverend Jackson, the Democrats have to worry about Ralph Nader. The Republicans, at least according to the polls, don't have to worry about Pat Buchanan, but the Democrats have a potentially enormous headache in Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington State because of that so-called Ralph Nader factor.
JACKSON: Well, that is true. Buchanan did leave. Bush tried to keep him from going, but he did leave.
On the other hand, I'm convinced that even those Democrats who are alienated, who want to support a policy to stop corporate greed and runaway sweatshops, they are going to find the affinity with organized labor and with Democrats, because in reality if a Bush- Clarence Thomas-Scalia driven court is empowered, it will first attack organized labor. They will attack NLRB. They will attack women's right to choose. They will attack affirmative action. They will attack consumer interest lawsuits. So even though you see more and more of those Democrats going, that they do not want to have the unintended consequence of electing someone who would empower the court that, in fact, could destroy 40 years of social progress.
BLITZER: Well, let's ask Bill Bennett about that. Forty years of social progress will be destroyed if George W. Bush becomes president?
BENNETT: I don't think so, but we are here at the scare point. I would guess, judging from the distemper of some of the Democrat guests, Bob Shrum is obviously in a very bad mood, very unhappy at the prospect of things to come on Tuesday.
You have already got the left wing journalists arguing, blaming Ralph Nader for -- or blaming Gore's politics here for the loss, and Gore's approach. You've got the left already in a fight, and a lot of people in a snit about this, about who lost the election, so I don't think that unity is there.
Nader has made, I think, a very persuasive case about where he disagrees with Gore on fundamental issues and with Bush on fundamental issues. We acknowledge the existence of a Ralph Nader, who is a legitimate person with legitimate views, but the Gore people somehow want to suggest that what he is doing is undemocratic. We did not hear these points made when Ross Perot was draining votes from George Bush.
JACKSON: Wolf, I suppose the real case is that there is no greater issue in this campaign than the Supreme Court. That is not a phony issue. Bush says he supports strict construction courts.
BENNETT: Oh, here we go.
JACKSON: He supports Clarence Thomas and Scalia.
BENNETT: Here we go.
JACKSON: Such a court would come directly at organized labor, because they choose right-to-work laws over right-to-organize. They will come directly at Roe v. Wade. They will come directly at affirmative action. They will come directly at consumer interest lawsuits. And so, they are a real threat to an open democracy.
BENNETT: Well, let's look at how George Bush has governed in Texas, and let's look at how the judges that George Bush has appointed to the Texas judiciary -- these are moderate, middle-of-the-road judges.
What we're getting now is the kind of stuff, I think, that is going to turn more people off than excite them. But we got this commercial, this James Byrd commercial, which I think Jesse Jackson approves of, which virtually suggests George W. Bush is guilty of manslaughter in this horrible case -- you know, it's like my father's dying again -- this gross and horrible commercial. And now we're getting this stuff this morning -- we are going to be going back.
BLITZER: Wait a second. Reverend Jackson -- hold on, hold on one second, Bill Bennett, Reverend Jackson.
BENNETT: Let me finish.
BLITZER: We have that commercial from the NAACP, and we're talking about it. Let's play it now, and I want to get Reverend Jackson -- when we're playing it -- I want to get your response, because, as Bill Bennett says, a lot of people think it is outrageous that this kind of accusation against Governor Bush has been put forward. But let's listen to the commercial first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCIS RENEE MULLINS, DAUGHTER OF JAMES BYRD: On June 7, 1998, in Texas, my father was killed. He was beaten, chained, and then dragged three miles to his death all because he was black. So when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Reverend Jackson, is the NAACP going too far in suggesting that Governor Bush is someone who could support the murder of James Byrd?
JACKSON: No, I would say this, that that was a very painful experience. I went to the funeral along with Senator Hutchison and others of them. The family was very disappointed that George Bush did not come to the funeral, did not call them, did not show compassion. When they asked for a federal hate crimes support, he did not offer them support. So I think that asking for a ban on race profiling, a ban on hate crimes, is reasonable and should not be difficult thing to do.
BLITZER: What about that, Bill Bennett?
BENNETT: This is awful politics. They should be ashamed of themselves. The painful experience -- whatever painful experience Reverend Jackson had -- the real painful experience was by James Byrd, and George Bush's state of Texas arrested the perpetrators. Two of them are going to die. One of them is going to have a life sentence. A lot better record than Bill Clinton's Justice Department. If you want justice, follow the model in Texas, not the model of Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
JACKSON: I think the killing of 150 people does not really solve the problem. He said that when a man was crying because he lost his home in a flood in Texas, he embraced the man who lost his home in the flood. You can't make floods illegal, but you can make hate crimes illegal.
BENNETT: You need to take a look at the crime rate in Texas, Reverend Jackson, under George Bush, and you will see that he has done a phenomenal job. Compare that to state of California: Compare those two states over the last six or eight years, and you'll see that Texas has done remarkably well. And you know that the victims of most violent crimes are inner city, minority people.
JACKSON: That is true, but, you know, it's interesting that for youth -- they who are driving under the influence, under 21 -- they get immediate 60-day suspensions. And it seems that he wants, for the poor, zero tolerance, but for the wealthy, he wants the prodigal son treatment, and he wants mercy.
BLITZER: Gentlemen, unfortunately, we have to take a quick commercial break, but we have a lot more to talk about, including your phone calls, when we return.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
We're talking about Bush versus Gore with Gore supporter Jessie Jackson, who joins us from New York, and Bush supporter Bill Bennett, who joins us from Washington.
Let's take a caller from Alabama, please go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Hi, Mr. Bennett. I want to tell you that I too am a strong Bush supporter, but I'd like to ask the question. I too am tired of all the partisan politics in Washington and the finger- pointing. How do you think that "president-elect" Bush is going to bring our country together in a very quick and amicable way as soon as the election is over?
BENNETT: Well, I think most Americans, whatever the outcome -- and I think it will be a win for George Bush -- most Americans will say, let's get behind the president. I know I've done that the last couple of times, not happily but loyally, because when you're an American, we realize we have only one president.
The thing about George Bush, though, I think that adds to the plausibility of having a unified country is that he has succeeded in Texas. George Bush has brought together Republicans and Democrats. You know, he's got a lot of Democrat support, and on the issue in which we've just been speaking, George W. Bush has unprecedented support from minorities, from blacks and Latinos, and that's a very promising sign, too. If anything, I think even his critics would have to concede that this is a man who very much wants to be inclusive and who has been inclusive.
BLITZER: Reverend Jackson?
JACKSON: I think, Wolf, it's interesting, there's been a lot of focus on this issue of trust. Mr. Gore earned trust as a journalist, earned trust as a Vietnam war veteran, earned trust as a congressman, a senator, a vice president. While he was earning trust as a public servant, Bush is in something called "youthful indiscretion" until he was 40. We do not know what all is behind the mystery that will not be discussed, but it makes more anxiety than it does make for trust.
BLITZER: On that point, Bill Bennett, the arrest 24 years ago, you've always been a straight talker. Put on your morality cap right now. Should a father...
BENNETT: It's never off, Wolf.
BLITZER: ... should George Bush have told, been straight with the American people and said, "Yes, 24 years ago, I was 30 years old, I had a problem with alcohol at that time, and I was arrested for drunk driving?"
BENNETT: Yes, I mean -- look, "morality cap" isn't something you should put on or off; I think the three of us can agree on that. Yes, as I wrote in the Wall Street Journal a year ago, I think, you know, disclosure. When you're running for president, you should disclose more rather than less. So, yes, I think that should have been disclosed.
Now that it has been, the public can make a comparison, if they want, of the character George Bush, and the character of Al Gore. This was 24 years ago. He fessed up to it, he didn't hide behind daddy, he didn't call like the Kennedys do in much more serious circumstances. He paid his fine, took his responsibility.
There are serious questions about Al Gore's behavior as vice president of the United States, in his official capacity. I wrote this up in an article. There is question after question, that the FBI believes Al Gore answered dishonestly, so let's do the comparison.
JACKSON: He did not confess up. It came out in the media; he could not deny it.
BENNETT: No, no.
JACKSON: He said this happened when he was 30, but he didn't stop drinking until he was 40.
BENNETT: No, you misunderstood. When he was arrested, he didn't do a Kennedy dodge. He didn't do a Clinton dodge. He paid his fine, he pleaded guilty and paid his fine.
JACKSON: We're discussing Bush. Today in Texas, if a youth commits the same crime, he gets zero tolerance. In the case of Mr. Bush, he got mercy. This was at age 30. He stopped drinking...
BENNETT: He stopped drinking; fine.
JACKSON: He stopped drinking at age 40. He drank longer than Dr. King lived at age 39. I'm not sure what all of this means.
JACKSON: But let me say this to you, Mr. Bennett. My concern now is that we put our focus these last hours on what is good for America. Social Security must be secure. I'm convinced, for example, to shift back to something's that's real, is that when he was going to put one-sixth of that Social Security money in the market place. The market dropped 400 points one day; Social Security money would have been jeopardy with that have high risk spending scheme.
BENNETT: I agree that we should do what's good for America, and again I'll say that the stuff you guys are doing, these ads, comments you just made about comparing Martin Luther King and drinking and George W. Bush drinking is not good for America. It's not good for American politics, it is fairly typical of the Democrat Party.
BLITZER: Reverend Jackson...
BENNETT: Those are the issues we should debate and the Social Security idea that George Bush has is a very sensible idea.
JACKSON: Does it matter that you have one set of policies in Texas for youth who are poor, another set of policies for youth who are privileged? Does that matter?
BENNETT: The law is no such thing, Reverend Jackson, and George Bush did not get mercy, he did not get special pleading. He paid his fine and took his responsibility. That's the way it's supposed to work. BLITZER: All right, we only a minute left. Reverend Jackson, I want to get your response to this. The president of the United States, Bill Clinton, was on the Tom Joyner radio show earlier this week, Tom Joyner saying that he lamented the fact that Bill Clinton couldn't run for another four years. The past eight years, he said, have been terrific.
BLITZER: In response, President Clinton said this: "But you can get the next best thing. I'll tell you, we've got to win this election. And I feel very strongly that we're going to win if our folks vote."
Bill Clinton already being criticized saying that he would have been best thing but Al Gore is the next best thing.
JACKSON: Well, a lot of people feel highly about President Clinton. We've known eight years of unprecedented success. We've gone from deficit to surplus, more people are homeowners, more people are working, more youth are in school.
And so, I think in the excitement of that moment he says, if you can't get me, I'm not running, but Vice President Gore is the next best thing, and I support Al Gore very strongly.
I think that, Wolf, what we're looking at is, we come out of last hours -- there are two teams. It's Bush and Cheney and Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Orrin Hatch, Trent Lott. And there is Gore and Lieberman, and Charlie Rangel and Chris Dodd, and Tom Daschle. We must choose a team on this coming Tuesday.
BLITZER: All right, Bill Bennett, you have the last word.
BENNETT: Well, I would say, yes, let's look through the keyhole, as Jesse Jackson says. George Bush and Dick Cheney and Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and J.C. Watts -- you bet I'll take that team.
As for Bill Clinton's comment about the next best thing: Clinton's the worst thing. I believe George Bush is -- I believe Bush is going to...
JACKSON: Based on -- based on George Bush's policy...
BENNETT: Let me finish, let me finish.
JACKSON: Colin Powell would never have been a general under Bush.
BLITZER: Reverend Jackson, hold on one second.
(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: Reverend Jackson, let Bill Bennett finish, then I'll give you a very, very brief response.
But go ahead, Bill Bennett.
BENNETT: It's going to be a generous comment; it's going to be a generous comment: I believe George Bush is going to win this election. But no matter who wins this election, we will improve the presidency, the occupant of the White House after Tuesday. That is for sure. This disgrace is almost over.
BLITZER: All right.
JACKSON: Based upon the policies of George Bush, Colin Powell would never have been general. And the next, Colin Powell would have been (inaudible) up...
BENNETT: Oh, no...
JACKSON: ... because he does not support affirmative action.
JACKSON: ... he does not support the policies that made Colin Powell a general. That's not fuzzy, that's a fact.
BENNETT: He's a superbly qualified man. He didn't need any help.
BLITZER: We're not going to get into a whole debate about affirmative action and Colin Powell right now. We'll leave that for another time, but it's always good to have Jesse Jackson and Bill Bennett on LATE EDITION.
Thanks so much for joining us.
BENNETT: Thank you.
JACKSON: Keep hope alive and stay out of the bushes.
BLITZER: Thank you, thank you so much.
Just ahead: With the campaign in the home stretch, what else can the candidates do to win on Tuesday? We'll go around the table with Roberts, Page and Carlson when LATE EDITION continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I want you all -- all of those of you who've been working at the grassroots level: Thanks for you work, but keep going. I'm counting on you.
I'm counting on your support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORE: I need your help to breath life into this campaign. I need you to lift me up. And on Tuesday night, I'm going to say, "Thank you, Memphis."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Al Gore and George W. Bush rallying the troops as they head to the finish line of a marathon presidential campaign.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Time now for our roundtable.
Joining me from Washington: Susan Page, White House bureau chief for "USA Today"; and Tucker Carlson, political writer for "The Weekly Standard"; and in New York, Steve Roberts, contributing editor for "U.S. News & World Report" -- all of you in boxes.
Right now, Steve Roberts, it's a very, very close election. Nobody really knows who's going to win. What do these two candidates have to do in the next 48 hours to win the White House?
STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the single biggest thing is to get out their base. At this point, the people who have not made up their minds tend to be people who are likely not to vote.
It's sort of interesting that you just played that shot of Al Gore saying, "I need you to breathe life into my campaign." If he needs someone else to breathe life into his campaign the last few days, he's in trouble.
I do think that, however, that, as Reverend Jackson was pointing out, the stakes are high for a lot of Democratic interest groups -- labor unions, minorities -- and if they can get that base out in key states, I still think Gore has a chance.
BLITZER: Well, Tucker, you know, a lot of people think the stakes aren't so high. They don't see a whole lot of difference on many issues between Bush and Gore.
TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: That's true, but, actually I think turnout is going to be better than people realize. Actually, I think there's -- when the history of all this is written, I think it'll be understood that there was maybe a higher level of interest in this campaign than is now being given credit for.
But I do think the Gore people think it is all a matter of turnout, which is why you see Gore focusing with this pinpoint accuracy on, for instance, minority communities.
And they really have -- the Gore campaign, I think, has been trying to win ugly, playing race card in the most aggressive way. You saw at a prayer breakfast the other day, Gore described the Bush campaign as, quote, "evil," and implied that his Supreme Court justices, Bush's, would be, you know, coming up with replicates of the Dred Scott decision that called black Americans three-fifths of a human being, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
I mean, it really is rough, and I think low.
BLITZER: Well, what about that, Susan? Can the Democrats get their base out in big numbers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida -- three critical states by all accounts? Can the Republicans get their people out to the polls?
SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, that's the question. I think the one state to look at is Florida. It seems to me, the candidate who wins Florida is going to win the presidency. The other candidate would have to have a kind of clean sweep of the other toss-up states in the Midwest.
And that's really an extraordinary situation. We never expected a Republican-leaning state with a Bush brother as governor to be the critical point. But you saw earlier in the show, we saw George Bush speaking to a rally in Florida. Al Gore is going to spend Monday night and Tuesday morning campaigning in Florida. I think that that's the simplest indicator of which way this race is going to go.
BLITZER: You know, a lot of people looking at the other big development on the campaign trail this week, Steve, involving George W. Bush being arrested 24 years ago for drunk driving.
In our new CNN-USA Today-Gallup tracking poll, look at this. We asked, our people, was this relevant, the drunken driving arrest? Sixteen percent said yes, but 77 percent said no, it really isn't relevant so many years later.
ROBERTS: Well, 24 years is a long time. He wasn't exactly a kid when it happened, he was 30. But I don't think that's the issue. I think the issue is: Why didn't he tell us about this? Here is a guy who says he's going to be open and candid. He hasn't talked about it.
His campaign says it was a dirty trick. Excuse me? This is in the category of spreading vicious truths. It's not a dirty trick to tell the truth.
And the fact is, that he wasn't candid about it. And if anybody believes that the real explanation -- his brother, the governor said his real explanation is that he didn't want to hurt his family -- I don't know anybody who believes that.
The real explanation clearly is he thought it was embarrassing. And the fact that he says it was a dirty trick to spread this -- this at the last minute, indicates that he thinks it's embarrassing, it was something shameful, it was something he tried to hide. And in that sense, I think, at least on the margins, it could slow his momentum a little bit and it should.
BLITZER: Tucker, you even heard Bill Bennett say the governor should have come clean with this a long time ago, but in the scheme of things, it pales compared to Al Gore's record.
CARLSON: Well, sure, and Bill Clinton, I mean, who did obviously, you know, raised the bar a bit on personal peccadillos.
I agree with Steve, it is embarrassing. It's always embarrassing when you get arrested. But I think when people evaluate Bush's failure to reveal this earlier -- and I think he should have revealed it earlier -- they evaluate it in terms of a political decision, which is to say, you know, politically it was a bad idea not to get this out, say, six months ago. But at least judging by polls, they are not taking it as some sort of terrible sign of a bad character.
BLITZER: You know, Susan, Ross Perot got back into the thick of things this past week on "Larry King Live." Earlier in the week, he endorsed George W. Bush. Listen to what Ross Perot said earlier today on "Meet the Press" in furthering that endorsement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSS PEROT: If you look at George Bush's record as governor of Texas, he has shown maturity, stability, absolute integrity, no scandals, no animal house down in Austin. Now the White House has turned into animal house in the last eight years. Lying is just a pattern in the White House. The vice president has a pattern of lying that is just unacceptable to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I'm sure a lot of Bush supporters are happy that Ross Perot is endorsing the Texas governor, but do you think it's going to make a huge amount of difference in these final few hours?
PAGE: I think the Bush folks are happy and also kind of surprised, given the animosity between George Bush the senior and Ross Perot. I think the most striking thing is to think that this man, who just eight years ago got 19 percent of the popular vote in an election had a big impact on who got elected president, now seems to have, I think, virtually no impact.
Now just to get back to the earlier point on the drunk driving conviction, you know, our polls show that only 16 percent said it was relevant. You know, in a race that's this close, 16 percent is not an insignificant number of people. In this race, you only need a very limited impact to swing some of these very close states. So I think I'm not quite ready to say this turns out not to be an important factor. I think we're going to have to wait until Tuesday night or maybe Wednesday morning to figure that out.
BLITZER: That's an interesting point. I want to point out, also, that among that 16 percent, if you go further into our poll, more than 60 percent of the 16 percent identified themselves as Democrats. Presumably, they would be voting for Al Gore under any circumstance.
But on the Ross Perot factor, Steve Roberts, is this going to be -- in a tight race, could this make any kind of significant difference?
ROBERTS: I don't think so. I think Ross Perot is a totally discredited figure. I don't think anybody is listening to him. Maybe Larry King is listening to him, but he might be the only one.
I do think, however, that Ralph Nader will make a difference and that continues to be -- he's the third-party candidate who really makes a difference in this race, not Pat Buchanan, certainly not Ross Perot. And it continues to be a big problem for Democrats, because, as we all know, in several key states that Gore should be winning -- Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin -- Nader -- it does not appear right now that Gore has been able to pry enough Nader votes away.
ROBERTS: Now, the history of third parties is that when people actually go into the voting booth, they tend not to pull that lever for the third party. They tend to pick one of the two people who has a chance. But right now, Nader is doing well enough, so that's got to be a major source of concern for the Gore campaign right now.
BLITZER: Tucker, before we take a break, button up the whole Ross Perot factor, as far as you are concerned.
CARLSON: Well, I guess I'm firmly with Steve, that is to say, among those who don't want to believe that Ross Perot could have a huge effect on this or any other race. Though I do think it is interesting, again, given how much animosity over the years he showed toward the Bush family that he, you know, did this.
Let me say one thing about Nader, though. It is true that third party candidates do usually fall off at the very end, when people realize that casting a vote for them won't actually mean anything. So it is striking, I think, that in the last couple of days Nader has actually gained a point, and I think that's partly due to the fact that he has addressed that issue head on. He's taken out these ads that say, you know, it means something when you vote for the candidate who can't win. He has gone right at that argument directly and apparently with success, so that's bad for Gore.
BLITZER: All right. We'll take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about with our roundtablers when LATE EDITION returns.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable.
It's become a weekly focus of attention, what "Saturday Night Live" does on Saturday night, as far as the political campaign is concerned. Last night, they took a little fun, looked ahead to see what a Bush presidency and a Gore presidency would look like.
Let's run a little excerpt from that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORE IMPERSONATOR: We could agree, Americans, that these have been a difficult first two years of my presidency.
CLINTON IMPERSONATOR: You've been president for two weeks.
GORE IMPERSONATOR: Oh, man. Really?
CLINTON IMPERSONATOR: I told you this is hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH IMPERSONATOR: OK, listen. I'm just going to get this address thing over with. As we assess the state of the American union today, he have reason to hope, because... Holy crap, when did all this happen?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORE IMPERSONATOR: Tonight I have some important issues to briefly discuss, which is why I have secured this four-and-a-half-hour block of prime time. You know, as I do every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Super Bowl.
Come on, will you get out of here?
CLINTON IMPERSONATOR: Ooh, sorry, teach, are you on?
GORE IMPERSONATOR: Yes, I'm on.
CLINTON IMITATOR: Let me guess: Internet blah blah, lockbox blah blah. I'm just kidding you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Tucker, you look so serious. Why aren't you smiling when you watch that?
CARLSON: Well, I'll tell you. Some of us -- people -- friends of mine and I have been sort of doing a weekly tracking of the Saturday Night Live sketches over the past couple years, and I think they reached their peak about three weeks ago. But I think the trend is down for NBC comedy writing, and it concerns me. I thought last night was not quite as good as it had been earlier in the month.
BLITZER: All right, the TV critic, Tucker Carlson. What about that, Susan? You were smiling.
PAGE: Hey, lighten up, Tucker, you know. You know, I'll tell you a serious point, though. Whoever does get elected is going to have a hard time, because they're going to be elected by a very narrow margin, we think. The House and Senate are probably going to be even more closely divided than they are now. And, you know, this is a job that is going to prove to be very difficult; four years where the two parties are virtual parity. It's going to be a real task.
BLITZER: And it's going to be something that immediately begins, Steve Roberts. We're going to know in the next few days, presumably, unless there is a tie, 269 to 269 -- which is not out of the realm of possibility in the Electoral College -- we are going to know who is next president of the United States.
ROBERTS: We will, but we also know that whoever is the president, Susan is right. The margins in the House -- whoever controls the House and the Senate, the margins are going to be very small. That means that nobody is going to have a mandate to govern: no party, no president, no individual. And we're going to have a continuation of the situation we've had for the last couple years, which is everybody in Washington has a veto power over everybody else.
And both of these parties in last few days have had to play to their base -- Democrats, labor and minorities, Republicans trying to get out the conservative base. But the fact is whoever is president is going to have to govern from the middle, or it's going to be four years of a total gridlock in Washington. And that we know: No matter who is going to win, no matter who wins either house, no one is going to have a clear mandate.
BLITZER: All right, we've got to leave it right there. Steve Roberts, Susan Page, and Tucker Carlson, our LATE EDITION roundtable, thanks for joining us.
And when we return, Bruce Morton's last word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One Washington think tank estimates that total spending on federal elections -- president, Senate, House -- will come to $3 billion this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Spending to win. Is there a realistic way to limit the amount of money in political campaigns?
BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's last word on politics, money and the limits of campaign finance reform.
MORTON (voice-over): We can't tell you for sure yet who the next president will be. But we can tell you one serious, big time, you could say truth. This will be the most expensive election the United States has ever had. Pretty exciting, huh?
One Washington think tank estimates that the total spending on federal elections -- president, Senate, House -- will come to $3 billion this time, up from $2.2 billion four years ago, which of course was a record then. That includes spending by candidates, parties, issue groups like the teachers unions or the NRA, everybody, $3 billion.
And as the late Everett Dirksen, for years the Republican Senate leader, used to say: A billion here a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.
So for $3 billion, we ought to have the finest federal government money can buy. Does all this money, much of it raised from special interests, make a joke of the notion that we each have one vote and they all count the same? Of course. Does it prompt cries for reform? Sure, hundreds of them.
Ban soft money, limit what outside groups can contribute. Why? Doesn't the First Amendment free-speech guarantee apply to them? Limit what a candidate can spend on himself. Why?
In New Jersey, Democratic zillionaire Jon Corzine, an unknown, spent millions of his own money to get recognition, win the primary, and compete in the general election. There wasn't any other way for him to get known. The party wouldn't have spent all those bucks.
And anyway, all of today's much violated rules started life as reforms. Do you really think campaign consultants and lawyers won't find ways around any new rules?
Harold Ickes, an able and experienced political adviser, told Fred Thompson's Senate Committee on Campaign Finance: Water finds a crack, money finds a political campaign.
All the evidence of the last 30 years suggests he's right.
There is one way: public financing. But is that Constitutional if somebody wants to spend his own money? And do taxpayers want tax dollars going to fund political campaigns anyway?
Good questions. All of which is to suggest that, yes, the system is a mess, that most candidates spend more time raising money than worrying about issues and so on, but also to suggest that fixing the system won't be easy, that a lot of proposed reforms raise legal questions, and if passed, will probably turn into loopholes right before your eyes.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.
And when we return, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Now a look at what is on the cover of this week's major news magazines. You might be surprised to see the presidential candidates are not on any of the covers. That's because these issues will be on the news stands all week long after the election.
"Time" magazine uncovers the shame of foster care: "An investigation into a system in shambles," on the cover.
"Newsweek" looks into America's prison generation: "14 million Americans, mostly black or Latinos, will spend part of their lives behind bars," on the cover.
And on the cover of "U.S. News & World Report": "The Mormon way -- how a Utah-based church became the world's fastest growing religion."
And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, November 5. Be sure to join us next Sunday and every Sunday at noon eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
Join me again tomorrow night, 8 p.m. Eastern, for an election eve town meeting, Countdown to Election 2000. Among my guests: John McCain, Ralph Nader and Gore campaign chairman, William Daley.
And coming up next on CNN, a special edition of Democracy in America profiles the two major presidential candidates. The first hour takes a look at Al Gore. That's followed at 3 p.m. Eastern with a closeup of George W. Bush.
Now thank you very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
I'm Wolf Blitzer at CNN election headquarters in Atlanta.
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