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Inside Politics

President Clinton to Meet With Yasser Arafat; Bush Team Still Searching for a Democrat to Name to the Cabinet

Aired January 1, 2001 - 5:00 p.m. ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Clinton prepares to meet again with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Does it offer new hope for Mideast peace?

It's George W. Bush's year. Will he launch his presidency, 19 days from now, with a Democrat on his team?

Also ahead...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": From snowy Iowa and New Hampshire to the long count in Florida, this has been a year and a campaign to remember.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Election reflections from analyst Ron Brownstein. And one good countdown deserves another. So our Bill Schneider will count down the political bloopers of 2000.

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

BLITZER: Thanks for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer, sitting in for Bernie and Judy.

On this New Year's Day, President Clinton and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat have agreed to meet in Washington later this week to discuss how to move the Middle East process forward.

CNN's Eileen O'Connor is over at the White House. She joins us now with details -- Eileen.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, White House officials are saying the two could meet as early as Tuesday afternoon, tomorrow afternoon. It all depends on the logistics for the Palestinian leader, and Palestinian sources are telling CNN that he is going to be boarding a plane within the next four hours, from the Gaza City.

Now, the two men agreed to meet in a 45-minute phone call that President Clinton placed from Camp David. White House officials say the president decided to reach out to the Palestinian leader in order to clarify some of the points that he made last week when President Clinton met with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators.

In that meeting at the White House a week ago Saturday, the president put forward some parameters that he believes could help move forward the peace process.

Now, U.S. officials and U.S. negotiators have been talking throughout the week to both sides, and the Palestinian side and the Palestinian leader had expressed some concern, some questions over some of those parameters, wanting clarification. So President Clinton decided to reach out to the Palestinian leader and to try to clarify those points. During the 45-minute conversation, White House officials are telling me it was really both sides that decided that these issues were too important, that they needed to meet in person, face-to-face, to really clarify these points.

White House officials say the president wants a common understanding on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian sides, as to these parameters.

Now, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has already said that he is willing to accept these parameters and move the peace process forward if the Palestinian side and Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat agrees to these parameters as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Eileen, as you know, there was a car bombing today in Netanya, the Israeli coastal town north of Tel Aviv. Some 20 people were injured. Over the weekend, there were some high-profile killings as well, on both sides.

How is this latest violence playing into President Clinton's decision to invite Yasser Arafat to the White House?

O'CONNOR: Well, as I said, it was a mutual agreement for them to meet in person, but it did play into the decision to reach out to the Palestinian leader to make this phone call. White House officials feeling that it was important, since he was at least willing to talk about these parameters, they say that this latest spate of violence, Wolf, just shows that there are people opposed to the peace process, and they say it shows just how high the stakes are, and that all sides have to do everything possible to move the process forward.

By the way, in that phone call, they did discuss this violence going on in the region, and in fact, President Clinton expressed his concern over the violence and also said that he believed both sides needed to work much harder and do everything at all possible to stop the violence on both sides -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Eileen, finally, can I assume from your reporting that Barak is not necessarily going to be invited to come to the White House this week following Yasser Arafat because he basically has already indicated he's going to go along with the proposals President Clinton is putting forward? O'CONNOR: Exactly. In fact, I asked White House officials that, if we would possibly see a meeting with the Israeli prime minister, and they said that no, Mr. Barak has basically said the move for him, the next move he believes needs to be made, from the Palestinian side, that what they're waiting for is a yes from the Palestinian Authority leader, Yasser Arafat, to those parameters and only that "yes" will move this process forward -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Eileen O'Connor at the White House, thank you very much

And for many Americans, this is a day filled with anticipation, optimism and resolution as they prepare to meet the challenges in the year ahead. That would seem particularly true for President-elect George W. Bush. He's resolved, among other things, to promote bipartisanship in his administration, and having a Democrat in his Cabinet appeared to be key to that commitment. But as our senior White House correspondent John King reports, reaching out to the other side is not always as simple as it might seem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Only a handful of top jobs left and so far an all-Republican team.

MARSHALL WITTMANN, HUDSON INSTITUTE: The elusive Democrat is something that seems to be befuddling the Bush team. And all the country is anxiously awaiting Bush to show bipartisanship by selecting that symbolic Democrat for the Cabinet.

KING: Labor, Energy and Transportation are the three Cabinet posts still open, and Mr. Bush also needs to name an ambassador to the United Nations and a director for the Central Intelligence Agency.

SCOTT REED, GOP STRATEGIST: I think it's important that one or two of the Cabinet slots have a Democrat -- that can show Bush's ability to be bipartisan, reach across party lines and do what's best for the country in a whole, not just for the Republican Party.

KING: Clinton CIA chief George Tenet is a candidate to stay on. Former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, Texas Congressman Ralph Hall, and Alaska Governor Tony Knowles among a half-dozen other Democrats mentioned as possibilities.

AL FROM, DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: All the big Cabinet positions have been filled. It's too bad that we don't have secretary of defense, secretary of state, attorney general, one of the Cabinet officers who's a Democrat. But that is now not going to happen.

KING: More important to many Democrats than a place in the Cabinet is just how Mr. Bush defines bipartisanship, whether he negotiates through the Democratic leadership or just searches for votes on a case-by-case basis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to have to do it in a serious way or Democrats aren't going to play with him. KING: Key tests are just ahead. Mr. Bush's positions on tax cuts and education reform are at odds with the Democratic leadership, and Democrats are gearing up to challenge the views of Bush Cabinet nominees, especially attorney general designee John Ashcroft, and Gale Norton, the choice for interior secretary.

GALE NORTON, INTERIOR SECRETARY NOMINEE: Thank you, Mr. President-elect.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: So whether there is a Democrat in the Bush Cabinet in the end is just one of the tests of those promises of bipartisanship made in the days after the contested presidential election, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) significant strains in policy and philosophy in the way as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let me ask you this question, John: Is there a sense in the Bush team in Austin that if George Tenet, the CIA director, who is basically an intelligence expert, worked on the Hill as an aide for some senators, if he is asked to stay on, that would fit the bill of a Democrat?

KING: Oh, Wolf, they certainly would suggest that he is a Democrat and that is a very important position. But they understand unless it is somebody from the elected Democrat community, a prominent Democrat either holding office now or a former officeholder, that they won't get credit throughout the Democratic Party for that.

But many of them think that they shouldn't worry so much about that, that for the short-term credit you would get among Democrats and perhaps around the country for naming a Democrat, you might in the end get grief. And from what we've seen so far, the No. 1 test for the Bush Cabinet is loyalty to the president,the president-elect still.

So a lot of transition officials saying that he would like to have a Democrat, but he doesn't want a Democrat just to name a Democrat. It would have to be somebody who fits with the overall philosophy, at least at the department, of course, that Bush would name that Democrat to.

Some now saying it's increasingly unlikely that would happen, but we've seen surprises in the past from the president-elect, and there's still a handful of big jobs to fill.

BLITZER: OK, John King in Austin, Texas, thanks for joining us.

We're now joined by Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" and David Nyhan of "The Boston Globe."

Let me begin with you, David, how important is it for this new Bush administration to have a prominent Democrat in the Cabinet?

DAVID NYHAN, "BOSTON GLOBE": Not very. I don't think most people in the country really care about the makeup of the Cabinet. And I also think the Democrats might be wise to let Ashcroft through without making a big stink.

Generally, people, while they were divided on the election -- and I think most people didn't like what happened in Florida -- they want to give the new guy a break, and I think it's important for Bush that he get off to a good start by ushering Clinton off stage gracefully, and that means with no indictment from the -- from the independent counsel.

But I think most people in the country want Bush to succeed and they will give him a break and it doesn't mean that he has to name a congressman or a senator to a Cabinet post.

BLITZER: Do you think, Ron Brownstein, that it really will make any difference if there's a Democrat someplace in that Cabinet?

BROWNSTEIN: At this point no, in the jobs that are left, but I disagree with David. I think it actually would have been useful for Bush only in the broader symbolic sense. I mean, what we've seen since the election is Bush doing very little -- in fact, it's hard to identify anything that he has done that would be different than if he had won a significant mandate, if he had won 320 electoral votes or had won the popular vote. I mean, it really has been nothing in particular that he's done that would say, "Look, I'm trying to reach out to the other party in a way that reflects an acknowledgement of the unusual circumstances under which I'm taking office."

So in that sense, yes, if he had picked a Democrat for a central job, perhaps Education or HHS, I think it could have been an important symbol.

BLITZER: David, how serious of a confirmation battle do you expect John Ashcroft to have for attorney general?

NYHAN: I think that depends on the Democratic leadership in the Senate, and I think Bush could head off a lot of grief over Ashcroft if he negotiated with people like Tom Daschle or maybe Ted Kennedy or senior Democrats, and tried to work something out in advance.

He's a president who skates in on very thin ice. He's only had six years experience in elected office as governor of Texas, which is a weak governor system and a very conservative state, and he's in a -- he's in a whole different level here, and I think he has to move very cautiously.

And if I were the incoming president, I would make it a very high priority to work with the existing Democratic Congressional leadership, particularly since the odds are quite likely that he's going to lose the Senate two years from now, and the Democrats will have a majority then. He should get off on the right foot with Daschle, would be my advice.

BLITZER: You expect, Ron, that John Ashcroft will have a tough time in the end getting through and Gale Norton as interior secretary as well.

BROWNSTEIN: I suspect the Democrats will use them both more as mobilization efforts than as a serious attempt to stop, and Ashcroft, especially, as a former senator, is very unlikely not to be confirmed. i had to use a double negative there.

But I think with the Democrats -- what some of the Democrats will try to do both cases is try to use these confirmation fights to define Bush away from the center, to move him away from effort to define himself as different kind of Republican, and to basically try to mobilize their constituency groups around the argument that he is really bringing in a more conservative agenda than he's let on.

BLITZER: David, the whole issue of tax cuts, the Bush $1.3 trillion proposal, the president-elect so far is showing no signs whatsoever of backing away from that, insisting he's going to go full speed ahead. You expect a huge fight over that?

NYHAN: Well, he's the son of "read my lips," and he's -- so far, he's sticking with it. During the campaign, he said we had such a great surplus we needed it. Now that he claims there's a recession on our doorstep, he said that's another reason to do it. He wants tax cuts either way.

The consensus seems to be in Congress that he will get targeted some specific tax cuts, but not the big push that he wants. I think he's going to have a bigger problem with trying to keep American confidence up over the economy. I've talked to one of the major real estate developers in New England just this morning, he thought that the new incoming president made a huge mistake in talking up recession. He said that's just what we don't need from the top.

So, I thought that was kind of a rookie mistake by Mr. Bush, and I think the economy should it should help him next year. It won't be as good as it was under Clinton, but it's not going to be recession, I think.

BLITZER: Ron, do you remember -- you and I covered the Clinton transition in 1992. Shortly after he won the election, before he was inaugurated backed away from his middle class tax cut proposal which he ran on during the campaign. I guess what we're hearing now is George W. Bush is learning the lesson you don't back away that quickly from campaign promises.

BROWNSTEIN: There's been nothing on which he's backed away from, you know, all across the board on his agenda. And I think that's right. I mean, I think he is certainly within his rights to do it. The question is will he govern in Washington the way he governed in Texas, because in Texas, if you look back through his term and half, on every significant policy initiative he put forward, he made significant, substantive compromises.

He got along with Democrats not only because he remembered the names of their wives and he slapped them on the backs he had them over for coffee, but he made agreements that resolved -- responding to the problems of other party, whether education or taxes or any issue. If he wants to achieve that kind of bipartisanship in Washington, he could have a very successful term. The question, as Al From and John King asked, is he instead going to do a model like Reagan '81 where you simply try to peel away a few conservative Democrats on each vote. That's a much more difficult strategy, Wolf, because in the Senate, it's going to be hard to find 10 conservative Democrats on a consistent basis to break a filibuster.

BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, "The Los Angeles Times" and David Nyhan of "The Boston Globe," thanks to both of you for joining us.

And coming up on INSIDE POLITICS,

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Laura Bush is not a follower. Laura Bush is her own person, and a partner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Bernard Shaw takes a close-up look at our next first lady and the role she may play during the next four years.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Whenever a new first family moves into the White House, they face comparisons to the previous occupants. In the case of Laura Bush, some may view her as the antithesis of her predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, a traditional first lady in the model of her mother- in-law, Barbara Bush.

CNN's Bernard Shaw has a profile of Laura Welch Bush, her style and what she stands for.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURA BUSH, WIFE OF PRESIDENT-ELECT GEORGE W. BUSH: Good morning.

I think America's ready for a new kind of leader.

SHAW: Laura Bush is not a follower. Laura Bush is her own person and a partner.

L. BUSH: Did you register to vote?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I'm definitely going to.

SHAW: Partner of a man who wants to be president, wife of nearly 23 years, mother of twin daughters.

L. BUSH: Good morning, Officer Buckle. It's time for our safety speech.

SHAW: Fifty-three-year-old Laura Welch Bush has her own story, which blends naturally with strong, political support of her husband.

(on-camera): How has he earned your loyalty? L. BUSH: Well, by being so loyal himself. George is a very loyal friend and that's why he's earned everyone's loyalty. But he's also been a very loyal father to our children and husband to me. And I think that's the way he earned my loyalty.

SHAW: And yet, this is not the path this only child, raised by her parents in the small west Texas oil town of Midland imagined for herself.

L. BUSH: I remember the big sky. Midland has a huge sky since there are no trees, no native trees. The sky isn't obscured at all. But mostly, I think I remember a feeling of being really sheltered. You were free in Midland to ride your bike anywhere and go all around town by yourself. But at the same time, I think you felt a lot of love from a lot of people.

GAMMON: You'd go to the football game on Friday night. There'd be family picnics, you know. Most people went to church on Sunday.

SHAW: Oldest, dearest friend, Regan Gammon. She follows and cheers on the race for the White House but she remembers their earlier life, a life of innocent times.

L. BUSH: We were in a Brownie troop together. You know what Brownies are, the little, you know, Brownies, Girl Scouts.

SHAW: I was a Cub Scout.

GAMMON: All right, there you go.

We would listen to 45 records all the time. We loved to dance around in our socks, I mean, just like in, you know, you see in the movies.

SHAW: Twenty-five hundred Humble Street. For Laura Welch, growing up here was very much where her heart was. Her mother read to her from "Tahoe Days."

(on camera): Do you remember the first story your mom read to you?

L. BUSH: I don't know if I remember the first story, but I remember a lot of the things she read. She read "Little Women" to me long before I could read. And, of course, I cried when Beth died. I loved all "The Little House on the Prairie" books. The main character in those books is Laura, so I really identified with her, Laura who had brown hair.

SHAW: At San Jacinto Junior High School, friends recall an emerging passion: books.

JAN O'NEIL: She loved to stay home and read her books. And, you know, we'd go over. I mean, she never missed anything because of the course, but you know, she'd finish that one chapter and we'd run by and pick her up on our way to wherever we were going and that kind of stuff. SHAW: I want to take you back in your life, way back, at a time when the conversation was about, what do I want to be? What were you saying then? What was Laura saying then?

GAMMON: It was really day-to-day life and, you know, where's everybody going to college. And that was as far as we really projected. Laura, I think, knew that she wanted to be a teacher, wanted to go into education.

SHAW: And she did. An education degree from Southern Methodist and then a master's in library science. Laura Welch got down to business, teaching nine years in the Texas public school system.

So, Marie, librarian Laura Welch, a prime resource here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she was.

SHAW: Laura was determined not only to help educate but to inspire the hundreds of children she saw.

Some fellow teachers remember.

JUDY HARBOUR, FELLOW TEACHER: You'd have to hunt for her because she was usually pulling books for a classroom. Plus she had story time. All day long, she was scheduled up and the children came in in classes and she had story time. And she was very animated.

SHAW: No disrespect to you, but would libraries have a friend...

L. BUSH: Libraries would definitely have a friend.

SHAW: ... in the White House?

L. BUSH: Former librarian that I am.

SHAW: 1977, 30 years old, she meets the man. He would alter her life forever and she, his.

L. BUSH: Well, what I liked about George when I first met him was I liked his personality.

SHAW: Though they lived just miles apart as children and were at the same junior high school for a while, a friend's barbecue 20 years later in Midland brought them together.

L. BUSH: I liked that he gave me a lot of energy because of the energy of his personality. Plus, he was funny and we laughed a lot. Both of us love to laugh and I think that's great.

JAN O'NEIL: Well, you always want your friends to marry friends so that you'll continue your relationship. So, you know, with Joey having such a long history with the Bus family and, of course, my being so close to Laura, you know, it would be neat if they meet, of course, but that's just matchmaking.

GAMMON: She came back and she said, well, I had dinner with George Bush. She said, he's really a cute guy, and you know, I think he liked me." And then he came to Austin, and then he came to Austin, and he came to Austin.

G. BUSH: I saw an elegant, beautiful woman who turned out, not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time.

L. BUSH: Not all of them -- only kidding.

SHAW: Within six weeks, engaged. Within three months, married.

L. BUSH: It was a small wedding, just about 75 people. It was in the church I'd been baptized in as a baby and had always gone to and in the church that George joined with me and where our babies were baptized. So it was, you know, a really wonderful way to start a new marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

G. BUSH: I married a public school librarian.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Laura shelved her librarian's career for the paramount role of mother, raising twin baby girls: Barbara and Jenna.

L. BUSH: We were thrilled. We had waited a long time to have children and so when we got to have two at once, we were especially thrilled.

G. BUSH: I was in the operating room and I can remember showing them to Laura. And I'm an emotional person. I got weepy. And then I realized our life had changed forever in a positive way, that these little human beings were little women that just needed a daddy and a mom to love them.

SHAW: With her husband, Laura knew what she had on her hands: grandson of a senator, son of an ambitious father, who was everything -- national party leader, ambassador, president...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THAW: Laura knew George W. Bush's saturation in politics since boyhood might move him toward a powerful legacy.

G. BUSH: I'm proud to be called George Bush, but for many people, you know, kind of the positive shadow, there are those saying, you know, this boy's never done anything. Just running on his daddy's name. And that's fine. That just means I'm going to be underestimated in the political arena.

SHAW: You like that?

G. BUSH: I'd rather be underestimated than overestimated, I'll tell you that.

SHAW: In 1994, Bush wanted to become the next governor of Texas and he did, defeating incumbent Ann Richards by winning more than 53 percent of the vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

G. BUSH: A woman who will be a great first lady of Texas, Laura Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: With Laura behind and beside him, Bush emerged the Republican leader of Texas. Now, for the most private Laura Bush, no more quiet life in the background, not as first lady of Texas.

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: In fact, a lot of people now love to have her as a speaker, whereas before she said, promise me I'll never have to make a speech. And George did promise. And, of course, he broke that promise. And thank goodness she did, because she has grown to be a fabulous speaker.

L. BUSH: When my husband was a Cub Scout, his mother was his troop den leader. And it was then that her hair turned white.

DR. MYRA GUTIN, HISTORIAN: Barbara Bush has said that Laura is unflappable, and she's unflappable in a family that's not known for its calm.

I think maybe you have to be the kind of person who draws a very definite line and says, this is going to be the public part of my life and this will be the private part of my life.

SHAW (on camera): What's the most trying part of having a politician husband?

L. BUSH: I think the criticism that you hear, I mean, just because that's a fact of life in politics. I think that's by far the hardest part. It's fun. I've had a wonderful time. It's been great to campaign around our country and meet people everywhere and see terrific things that are going on all over our country. But sometimes, when I start to read a really critical article, I don't like that part of it.

GAMMON: And she said, you know, if George is elected president, that will be wonderful. If George is not elected president, she'll still have a wonderful life.

SHAW: Is this too much for a family to sacrifice?

L. BUSH: No, no. I don't think so. I mean, it's a huge opportunity. It's a huge opportunity for me if George is elected to work on things that I've always worked on that I think are really important. So I don't think it's too much of a sacrifice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: There is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Up next: the most memorable and surprising moments of campaign 2000. Analyst Ron Brownstein tells us what stands out most on his mind.

Also ahead:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We have labored mightily to separate the bad from the chad in order to bring you the top 10 political bloopers of the year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Bill Schneider on the twists in 2000 that some political figures would prefer to forget.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We will have more political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories: Palestinian president Yasser Arafat could meet with President Clinton as soon as tomorrow. A Palestinian spokesman says the two spoke by phone today discussing the U.S. framework for peace negotiations.

Around noon today, 7:00 p.m. Israeli time, a car bomb exploded at a busy intersection in the Israeli resort city of Netanya. At least 20 people were injured, one of them seriously. Investigators are exploring the possibility the injured person might be involved in the bombing. Several businesses in the coastal town were damaged. And Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called an emergency meeting of his security cabinet. Israel remains on high alert following the weekend killings of a Jewish settler and his wife.

Thousands of people remain without power in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma, parts of which received more snow on New Year's Eve. Old man winter's icy wand even touched the deep South this holiday. In Atlanta, it was delicate driving for the few who ventured out this morning. In places like Birmingham, today was the rare occasion to get out the sled.

In parts of the state of Florida, citrus crops were sprayed again today to protect against a potential hard freeze. Growers say most of the crop has been picked already.

(WEATHER BREAK)

BLITZER: And when INSIDE POLITICS returns: our video scrapbook of campaign 2000.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: For journalists who covered campaign 2000 from day one, the past year may, at times, seem something of a blur. And yet, on this New Year's Day, there are certain moments that remain crystal clear in their minds, moments that helped define the presidential race and determine its outcome.

Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" takes a look back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWNSTEIN: From snowy Iowa and New Hampshire, through the long count in Florida, this has been a year and a campaign to remember. For those on its frontlines, it's been turbulent and passionate, unpredictable and unforgettable. The biggest surprise of the year: It had to be George Bush using the three debates to recover from Al Gore's surge after the Democratic Convention. Literally no one in either camp thought that the debates would be Bush's moment to shine.

G. BUSH: It's time to have a fresh start.

BROWNSTEIN: In fact, though he wasn't spectacular, Bush gave a steady performance in the three debates, erased a lot of the doubts voters had about his readiness to be president, and, above all, had the good sense to stand by the side while Al Gore chewed his leg off, especially in the first encounter.

The second biggest surprise: It had to be Dick Cheney -- who is ordinarily a campaigner so starch that it's tempting to look for a dry-cleaning tab on his neck -- out-pointing Joe Lieberman in their vice-presidential debate.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm pleased to see, Dick, from the newspapers, that you are better off than you were eight years ago, too.

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And most of it...

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BERNARD SHAW, MODERATOR: This question is to you. But...

LIEBERMAN: I can see my wife. And I think she is thinking: Gee, I wish you want go out into the private sector.

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

LIEBERMAN: No, I...

(LAUGHTER)

BROWNSTEIN: Cheney showed a lot of personality, a dry wit. And he was generally more comfortable and reassuring than Lieberman, which is something that very few people expected walking into Danville that night.

Best one-liners of the year for the candidates: For Bush, it's an easy winner.

G. BUSH: I'll challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations.

BROWNSTEIN: A euphonic and resonant line that he used to denounce the expectation that low-income kids can't perform as well in school as well as those from more affluent backgrounds It was probably the best of many lines that speechwriter Mike Gerson crafted to flesh out Bush's compassionate conservative.

For Gore, the pick is a bit harder. The most memorable line of the year is when he stood there on the stage of the Democratic Convention and said:

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I stand here tonight as my own man.

BROWNSTEIN: It was successful in the sense that it helped him separate himself from Clinton and move out of shadow of the Clinton scandals. On the other hand, it prefigured something that was more ambiguous in the campaign, which was a desire to set a policy direction distinct from Clinton. Republicans, in the fall, turned it around and said: Look, you are not Clinton. You are not a new Democrat. You are really an old liberal Democrat.

And they used that attack with some success.

Worst miscalculations of the year -- so many to choose from, so little time -- John McCain's decision to attack Christians conservatives after the Michigan primary.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We are the party of Ronald Reagan, not Pat Robertson.

BROWNSTEIN: A time when he needed to solidify his Republican base backfired and basically snuffed out his insurgent campaign. A few weeks earlier, George W. Bush had a similar problem, in reverse, when he went to Bob Jones University in South Carolina, trying to mobilize the Christian Conservative base, but failed to condemn the university's anti-Roman Catholic sentiments. It's an omission that cost him badly through the rest of the primaries.

Gore probably topped them both by failing to run on the record of the Clinton administration and its successes over the past eight years. Call it Henry Hyde's revenge. Gore got so spooked by impeachment that he failed to emphasize the economic gains that most of the country had seen since Clinton took office. After the election, Gore make another decision that is bound to stir controversy for years: his decision to protest the certification of the vote result in Florida left him less time for the contest phase.

And, ultimately, the contest was where the courts had more power to order almost anything they wanted as a remedy if they had agreed with him. The Florida Supreme Court agreed with him, but the U.S. Supreme Court said the clock had run out.

Best moments of the campaign: For Bush, it came in a very unlikely place: on a warm February night in the small town of Gaffney, South Carolina, at a town meeting that was so crowded that people were literally lined up outside the doors waiting to get in. One man got up and asked him a conventional question: What are you going to do about illegal immigration? Bush started off by giving him a conventional answer. But then he went in a different direction.

G. BUSH: First of all, family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River. People are coming because they want to feed their children. It's a human instinct that is powerful. And it will never be eradicated by law.

BROWNSTEIN: That wasn't the answer his conservative rural audience was waiting to hear. But it showed the breadth of empathy that Americans want in a president.

LIEBERMAN: God bless America.

BROWNSTEIN: Gore's best moment came when he picked Joe Lieberman as his vice president. In one stroke, Gore showed a sense of history, an ability to think outside the box, and the capacity to take a big risk: all things that had really been lacking in him before. And it was probably the moment where he stood tallest in the whole campaign.

Worst moments of the campaign -- easy choice for Bush and McCain -- their refusal to support the removal of a Confederate flag from the state capital in South Carolina. Each man was plainly agonized by his silence, especially in private. But neither would publicly say so for fear of alienating the conservatives who proved so important in that state's election.

For Democrats, the worst moment was probably around race, too: both Al Gore and Bill Bradley, at a debate in Iowa, failing to utter even one word of criticism of New York's complex but ultimately divisive and demagogic African-American leader, Al Sharpton. Both sides in this campaign were afraid to stand up for the national interests of common standards for all around racial issues.

The biggest unanswered question: Can Bush govern with a narrow majority that he's going to have in the new Congress? During the campaign, both Bush and Gore produced agendas that seemed to have demanded much larger majorities than seemed plausible. And now, in fact, Bush is left with the most closely divided Congress probably in a century. Does he have the creativity, the willingness to compromise and the insight to reshape his agenda in a way that can generate broad support in both parties and get through this precariously balanced Congress?

Bush said he was the man for the job. He said his experience was as a uniter, not a divider. Now he'll face the test.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Reflecting on the year past is standard procedure at the start of a new year. And we have only just begin to get nostalgic. So sit back now and enjoy some campaign snapshots from our CNN "Scrapbook," beginning with the primary season.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TIPPER GORE, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: My husband Al Gore, the winner of the New Hampshire primary.

A. GORE: This Tennessean is in the end zone. And it feels great!

MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

BUSH: New Hampshire has long been known as a bump in the road for front-runners. And this year is no exception.

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a fight about more than Al Gore or me. It's a fight about the kind of America we know we can become.

ALAN KEYES (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to talk to all those folks who listened to the words and the message of moral renewal and said in their hearts: That's what I believe.

GARY BAUER (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I'm withdrawing from the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.

STEVE FORBES, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We were nosed out by a landslide. But I have no regrets. And you shouldn't either.

MCCAIN: We are the party of Ronald Reagan, not Pat Robertson. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, not Bob Jones.

BUSH: You can't lead America to a better tomorrow by calling names and pointing fingers. He's playing the religious card. That's not Reagan-esque.

GORE: Why don't we get rid of these policies that have been the best we've ever had and go back to the policies that have been about the worst we ever had?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said: Mom, someone told me that Senator McCain is a cheat and a liar and a fraud.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm calling on my good friend George Bush to stop this now.

BUSH: If anybody in my campaign has done that, they're going to be fired.

MCCAIN: Tell his sleazy Texas buddies to stop these negative ads, take your money back to Texas where it belongs.

GORE: We knew that Governor Bush was in the hip pocket of the special interests. Now we find out what a deep pocket that is.

BUSH: It's amazing that Vice President Gore is talking about campaign funding when he's the person who went to a Buddhist temple.

BRADLEY: They do not have the right to buy our democracy.

BUSH: Tonight, we have good news from sea to shining sea.

GORE: You ain't seen nothing yet.

BRADLEY: The vice president and I had a stiff competition, and he won. I congratulate him. He will be the nominee of the Democratic Party and I will support him in his bid to win the White House.

MCCAIN: I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush.

BUSH: By the way I enthusiastically accept.

GORE: Tonight, the South put us over the top, and this son of the South is never going to forget it.

BUSH: Laura and I are grateful tonight for the overwhelming support of voters in Florida and Louisiana and Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you, George.

BUSH: I'm honored by all these victories. It's especially great to win at home. Thank you, Texas.

GORE: You shouldn't be asked to play stock market roulette with your retirement savings in the Social Security program.

BUSH: People who are on Social Security today will have a Social Security check. The government will keep its promise. It's a necessary promise. It's a promise that we will keep, and that's a solemn pledge.

GORE: I will expand access to quality after-school programs to as many as 10 million more young people across the country to give them more time for learning and less time for trouble.

BUSH: No child in America should be segregated by low expectations, imprisoned by illiteracy, abandoned to frustration and the darkness of self-doubt.

RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The progressive Green Party movement wants you, needs you, and will be with you.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: And we'll wrap up Campaign 2000 later in the program, but up next on INSIDE POLITICS: Who put the "oops" in the political bloopers of the year? Only our Bill Schneider will be able to name names.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In years to come, Election 2000 may be remembered for the things that went wrong in the end, but plenty of mistakes were made throughout the campaign year.

And, as always, our Bill Schneider was watching.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: You might say the whole year was one big political blooper. But do not fear, gentle viewers. We have labored mightily to separate the bad from the chad in order to bring you the top 10 political bloopers of the year.

Blooper No. 10: The election forecasters get it all wrong. Remember the experts with their fancy models? They insisted Al Gore would be the easy winner. The economy was doing great. President Clinton had a high job rating. The forces were with Gore.

But what did the experts miss? Well, the campaign, for one thing. Plus certain unmeasurable factors, like the desire for new leadership and the sense of moral decline in the country. You don't see that in the economic figures or the president's job ratings or in the experts' forecasting models.

Blooper No. 9: Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan end up as flops and spoilers. It's quite an achievement to do both at the same time. The two third-party candidates did miserably at the polls: less than 3 percent for Nader; less than 1/2 percent for Buchanan. Can big-time losers also be spoilers?

NADER: Well, you can't spoil a system spoiled to the core.

SCHNEIDER: Here's how. Nader got just over 97,000 votes in Florida. Without Nader in the race, Gore would almost certainly have carried Florida and won the election. In Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico and Oregon, Gore beat Bush by tiny margins, smaller than the number of votes Pat Buchanan got. Without Buchanan in the race, Bush might have won all four states. He wouldn't have needed Florida.

Blooper No. 8: The Republican also-rans run out of steam. Famous names like Dan Quayle and Elizabeth Dole never even made it to New Hampshire. Lamar Alexander was plaidless and hapless. Gary Bauer flipped out. Steve Forbes spent over $30 million of his own money. He even got religion, but very few votes. Orrin Hatch went from Senate giant to campaign jester.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I've campaigned hard and the results were immediate. Within a month of my announcement, I moved to No. 9. A few weeks later, I was No. 8. Then I inched up to No. 7. And then, within a month, I was No. 6. Now some nitpickers may say that this was because Lamar, Dan, Liddy and Pat dropped out, but I kind of like the trend.

SCHNEIDER: Why did they all flop? Because after eight years of Bill Clinton, Republicans desperately wanted a winner.

Blooper No. 7: Bill Bradley misses his shot in Iowa. Caucuses favor candidates with strong organizational support from the party and the unions. Bradley's appeal to independent voters was more likely to pay off in New Hampshire, but Bradley wasted precious time and money in a doomed Iowa effort.

BRADLEY: And I'll move on from Iowa and continue the battle.

SCHNEIDER: Bradley lost New Hampshire to Gore. It might have all been different if Bradley had written off Iowa and concentrated his time and money on New Hampshire, the way John McCain did.

Blooper No. 6: Bill Richardson becomes radioactive. Energy Secretary Richardson had been a hot prospect for the second spot on the Democratic ticket. As the first Hispanic candidate for national office, he could have galvanized that fast-growing minority. That talk stopped when disk drives with the nation's nuclear secrets turned up missing for several weeks at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Blooper No. 5: The Gore legal team fails to request a statewide recount in Florida. There were perfectly good reasons why the Gore campaign requested hand recounts in only three counties. That's where the problems were, and a statewide hand recount seemed impractical. But it looked like Gore was just fishing for votes in Democratic waters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES BAKER, BUSH CAMPAIGN OBSERVER: I believe that most observers, whether at home or abroad, are troubled by the prospect of seemingly endless counts and recounts until a candidate achieves the result he seeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: The Florida Supreme Court ultimately ordered a hand recount of undervotes statewide. By then, however, there was little time left, and the U.S. Supreme Court shut the process down.

Blooper No. 4: John McCain attacks Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and turns the religious right into an enemy. Clearly smarting from his defeat in the South Carolina primary, McCain startles the political world with this blistering attack on the two evangelical leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: What does it get McCain? Respect from Democrats, but precious little support in his own party.

Blooper No. 3: Al Gore becomes the great exaggerator. Gore displays an unfortunate inclination to embellish the facts, like when he talks about the union lullaby his mother used to sing to him.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (singing): Look for the union label...

SCHNEIDER: Except that the song wasn't written until he was in his 20s. Or when he talks about touring flood damage in Texas with the federal emergency management director.

GORE: First I want to compliment the governor on his response to those fires and floods in Texas. I accompanied James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out.

SCHNEIDER: Except that Gore never went on that tour. Why do these minor embellishments cause Gore so much damage? Because they remind voters of Bill Clinton, a man who has trouble with straight talk.

Blooper No. 2: The Republicans have a candidate who can't talk straight, like when he answers charges that his campaign is exposing voters to secretly coded messages.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You talk about subliminable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Sometimes Bush's malapropisms have a certain logic, like when he says -- quote -- "Internet millionaires have become rich beyond their means." And sometimes they're a little disconcerting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Because they want the federal government controlling the Social Security like it's some kind of federal program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Experts speculate, does Bush have a cognitive disability? Are his misstatements a sign of intellectual limitations? One thing is clear: the late-night comedians are looking forward to a Bush administration.

And now, the big prize, the blooper of the year, from January to December, a constant source of dismay and embarrassment. One word -- Florida.

It was Florida that gave us the Elian Gonzalez story, with its rich tapestry of political intrigue and ethnic soap opera. The Miami relatives; the noble fisherman/housecleaner; the beleaguered attorney general; the pandering vice president; the media circus; the angry crowds; the federal raid; the happy reunion; the painful farewell.

It was also Florida that gave us the election recount, with its sudden reversals and shocking twists of fate. The butterfly ballots; the battle of the chads; more angry crowds; another media circus; two former secretaries of state reduced to political spinmeisters; a wily country judge; a state supreme court that issued astonishing rulings; a U.S. Supreme Court that topped them.

Florida, we thank thee for giving us a year that began with Marisleysis and ended with Katherine Harris.

KATHERINE HARRIS (R), FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: I want to reassure the public that my decision in this process has been made carefully, consistently, independently, and I believe, correctly.

SCHNEIDER: In the year 2000, the sunshine state became the blooper state. You know the millennium bug everybody was worried about a year ago, where they said everything that could possibly go wrong would? Well, we found it -- in Florida.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And stay -- stay with us as INSIDE POLITICS continues at the top of the hour. We'll have a live update from Texas on George W. Bush preparing to assume the presidency.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Another blast of violence in Israel as President Clinton continues his 11th hour push for Mideast peace. We'll have an update on George W. Bush and his administration in the making as they prepare for challenges around the world and at home.

Also ahead, memories of former Campaign Senator Alan Cranston. And on a later note, analyst Stuart Rothenberg awards the political winners, losers and oddballs of 2000.

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

BLITZER: Bernie and Judy are off. I'm Wolf Blitzer, filling in today on INSIDE POLITICS. Welcome back.

Within the next few hours, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat is due to leave Gaza for Washington. He plans to meet with President Clinton perhaps as soon as tomorrow to discuss ways to move the Middle East peace process forward. The agreement to meet came during a 45-minute telephone call placed by Mr. Clinton today. The two also discussed the latest violence against Israel. A series of bomb blasts went off in a car in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya earlier today. At least 20 people were injured, one of them critically.

When George W. Bush is sworn in as president in less than three weeks, any White House efforts to advance the peace process will fall to him and to his administration. Of course, the president-elect is still putting together his Cabinet and his senior staff. Our senior White House correspondent, John King, is in Austin, Texas, covering the Bush transition.

John, first of all, on the Middle East, I assume that the Bush team is giving the green light to President Clinton, even in these final three weeks, less than three weeks, to try to advance the peace process as much as possible.

KING: Absolutely, Wolf. The official public line on any question involving the late Clinton administration actions is that we have one president at one time and that perhaps President Bush, when he becomes president in three weeks, would review any late decisions.

Now, they voiced concern about late judicial appointments, late environmental regulations, but when it comes to the Middle East peace process, this is one where they would be very encouraged and very happy if the president could make progress, and thrilled if he could ultimately get a peace agreement and take this troublesome issue off the table for the president.

They have some concerns: Would there be U.S. troops involved in any peacekeeping arrangement if a peace agreement is made? How much money would the United States commit in any peacekeeping arrangement -- any peace agreement, excuse me?

But most of all, they would love for the president to at least end the violence, and if he could get further than that and get a peace agreement, they would applaud him quite vigorously.

BLITZER: Now, John, we're hearing -- maybe you can confirm this -- that there may be a news conference that the president-elect will have as early as tomorrow afternoon for some more announcements, Cabinet announcements?

KING: We can confirm that there will be at least one announcement tomorrow. We don't know what it is as yet. One of the things President-elect Bush and his team have prided themselves on is the element of surprise in all this, and it's even harder to find out information on this day, given that everyone was spread out over the holiday weekend. But yes, he has scheduled a public press event here in Austin for tomorrow afternoon.

He has a very busy week ahead: a meeting with economists to discuss the economy, and he hopes to fill out by the end of the week his Cabinet as well as those other senior positions that he's yet to fill BLITZER: You mentioned earlier on INSIDE POLITICS, John, that there could be some confirmation -- headaches at least -- for John Ashcroft, who's been nominated to become the attorney general, and Gale Norton as the interior secretary. How worried, if at all, does the Bush team seem to be about the confirmation process for these two potential Cabinet nominees?

KING: Senior transition sources don't seem worried that any of the picks would ultimately be confirmed by the United States Senate. They do expect the toughest questioning to be for Mr. Ashcroft and for Ms. Norton.

One of the big questions is, though, how aggressive will that questioning be, how active will not just the Democratic members of the Senate, but Democratic interests groups -- anti-abortion groups are gearing up to fight Mr. Ashcroft as well as Governor Tommy Thompson, although they don't expect to defeat either nomination. Environmental and conservation groups gearing up to fight Ms. Norton.

The questions is what will all of this do to the atmosphere of bipartisanship. President Bush will take office having lost the popular vote nationally, having promised to reach out to Democrats, but so far, it's an all-Republican team. And as these Democratic groups get activated again, fresh from the fight over the election, there is some concern, on both sides, but especially certainly among senior Bush advisers, that it will be very difficult to get off on a bipartisan footing if right out of the bat we have very partisan fights over some of his nominees for the Cabinet.

BLITZER: John King in Austin, Texas, thank you very much.

And amid all the looking forward, many political figures also are remembering today former Senator Alan Cranston. The California Democrat died yesterday at the age of 86. He was a man known for his strong convictions and the controversy that ended his career.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER (voice-over): Former California Senator Alan Cranston gained national prominence running for president in 1984 on a promise to end the nuclear arms race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ALAN CRANSTON (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many Americans -- I believe an overwhelming majority -- share my concerns about a nuclear arms race that is undermining our economy and our society, and threatening our very existence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He finished second to the eventual Democratic nominee Walter Mondale in an early straw poll, but failed to win a single primary and dropped out early.

But Cranston was also one of the "Keating Five," senators who were disciplined for trying to influence federal regulators on behalf of a campaign contributor, Lincoln Savings & Loan President Charles Keating.

Cranston received the severest rebuke, a reprimand for conduct that was deemed -- quote -- "improper and repugnant." He accepted the reprimand, but not without firing back at his colleagues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRANSTON: Since I have been singled out for a reprimand on access today, who among you can be sure you will not be singled out for a reprimand on access tomorrow?

Here but for the grace of God stand you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Cranston called for campaign finance reform in language similar to last year's speeches by Senator John McCain, another member of the Keating Five.

CRANSTON: And I hope that my remarks will lead to reforms that the United States Senate desperately needs not only for itself and for those who serve in the Senate, but to benefit the people of our country and lead to a more equal voice for all the people of our country in the actions we take.

BLITZER: Cranston maintained he had done nothing wrong, but said he was sorry for the pain the scandal had caused.

CRANSTON: I apologized because there was an appearance of wrongdoing that turned out, despite my best intentions, to do damage to me, bring anguish to my family and friends and supporters and Senate staff. And since it cast reflections upon me, it cast reflections upon the Senate.

BLITZER: Cranston retired in 1993, citing ill health. He mostly dropped out of public view, continuing his work against nuclear weapons.

Alan Cranston died Sunday at his home in Los Altos, California at age 86.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Finally, who needs the Oscars or the Emmys when you have the "Stuies"? CNN political analyst Stu Rothenberg has been reviewing the campaign performances of the past year.

Stu, the envelope, please.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STU ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Now, the third annual Rothenberg year-end campaign awards for 2000.

The first category, a number of nominees. It was a very close contest. The weirdest political event of 2000.

And the nominees: First, Senator John Ashcroft for losing to a deceased candidate. Doesn't happen very often.

Actually, deceased candidates did quite well this year. They were undefeated. Candidates who were alive had more of a problem.

No. 2, Al Gore planting a big kiss on wife, Tipper. Al, please! We know you love her. Not in public.

No. 3, the Pat Buchanan-Lenora Fulani alliance. This is a strange duo that makes Mary Matalin and James Carville look compatible.

The fourth nominee, George W. Bush, referring to a "New York Times" reporter in an inappropriate way, and his running mate agreeing, "Big Time."

And fifth and finally, anything, anything having to do with either Ralph Nader or the Reform Party. They're weird.

Next, worst showing by a former television personality. And the nominees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON KLINK: Let's go ahead and take a look right now at the national map and show you where...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTHENBERG: Ron Klink, former Pittsburgh TV reporter, ran for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, a pretty inept campaign.

Next, Rich Rodriguez, a former Fresno anchor and Los Angeles TV reporter. Didn't know much about issues, didn't know much about campaigning. He lost.

And finally, the clear front-runner in this category and somebody who's going to be awfully tough to beat, I think, is -- is outgoing U.S. Senator Rod Grams, a Minneapolis news anchor incumbent who drew 43 percent of the vote. There's only one way to describe him: As a candidate, he's inept. I hope he was a better reporter.

Next, best showing by a carpetbagger or nonresident. The nominees. The overwhelming favorite -- she leads the pack -- Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. senator-elect from New York. Never lived in the state. Lived in other states. Lived in Arkansas and Illinois, lived in Washington, D.C., doesn't know anything about New York. But she's the U.S. senator -- strong showing for a carpetbagger.

Second of all, a strong candidate also, Mike Ferguson, Republican congressman-elect, elected from New Jersey's seventh congressional district. Why is this one interesting? Well, two years earlier Mike Ferguson ran and got 40 percent of the vote in the neighboring sixth district. He figured he couldn't win there, he'd try the next district. What the heck!

A third, Ed Whitfield, congressman from Kentucky, Republican from the first district. Doesn't live in the district. Doesn't matter: The voters continued to vote for him in spite of the fact that his opponents run ads saying he doesn't live in the district. Where does he put down as his residence? His mother's house.

Come on, Ed. You don't live with your mom.

And fourth and final nominee is Sam Gejdenson, Democrat from Connecticut's second congressional district. I don't think he's going to win this category in terms of best showing for he a carpetbagger or nonresident.

Yes, he is really a nonresident in that district, but Sam lost. It might have helped if he had lived in the second district.

Worst candidates of 2000. The nominees, Tom Keane (ph) Jr., a great political name and a nice young man. He's probably going to be ready for Congress in another 15 years, but not this year.

Next, Jim Humphreys, a trial lawyer from West Virginia who spent $6 million to win the nomination and the general election. He didn't. $6 million in West Virginia? Isn't that the state budget?

Next, Joan Johnson, a woman who had never held elective office before, nominated by the Republicans in Long Island's second congressional district in New York. They had a fund-raiser, they had a candidate. Didn't know anything about issues.

I'm still trying to figure out why she was nominated.

Next, Scotty Baesler, a former congressman from the Lexington area, former Senate candidate, supposedly the top Democratic congressional recruit of 2000. Got under 40 percent of the vote. A bad candidate the voters apparently didn't want to see any more of.

And finally, Jon Corzine, who was elected to the Senate from New Jersey, but who spent over $60 million in doing so. Jon, if you have to spend that much money, they really don't want you.

The best campaigns of 2000. The nominees: first, Hillary Rodham Clinton, senator-elect from New York. She never lived in the state, but ran a really good campaign, upstate and downstate and in the suburbs.

Second, Anne Northup, a very, very tough candidate, strong fund- raiser, highly targeted by the Democrats in a very difficult district. Anne Northup proved once again she'll do what she has to, to win.

The next nominee is Rob Simmons from Connecticut's second congressional district, a Republican, who knocked off Sam Gejdenson in a significant upset. Simmons was ignored early on, but ran a strong campaign and an aggressive campaign.

Fourth, George Allen, who knocked off Chuck Robb. Allen proved that he could fund raise and that he could dish it as well as he could take it out.

And finally, Brian Schweitzer from Montana, a Democratic Senate nominee who lost, but nevertheless ran a strong campaign and dictated prescription drugs as a political issue around the country. Not just in Montana.

The most memorable physical miscalculations of 2000. And the nominees.

First, Al Gore for getting into the face of George W. Bush in debate No. 3. Al, give him some room. Everybody needs their space.

Next, Rick Lazio walking over to Hillary Rodham Clinton in their debate, shoving some papers at her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), SENATE CANDIDATE: Sign it right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTHENBERG: Ooh, ooh. Don't make (UNINTELLIGIBLE) more sympathetic than she is already, Rick.

Third, Rick Lazio during a parade, falling down, hitting his face, getting a big bruise on his lip. Didn't look good, Rick.

And finally, the fourth nominee and a very strong contender is Gary Bauer falling off that stage in New Hampshire, when he was flipping pancakes. I don't think you'd make a good short-order cook, Gary.

Rothenberg's political person of the year in 2000. The winner? Broward County Judge Robert Rosenberg. You know that guy who took his glasses off, rubbed his eyes all the time, put those ballots up there looking for hanging chads? The guy who had the magnifying glass that went with the chads as if they were moon rock and he was looking for life on the moon?

He typifies the year 2000 politically. A strange year.

And there's one other reason why I like giving him the award. I rather like acknowledging people who are 50 years old, balding and named Rosenberg, if you get my drift.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: I got your drift,

Coming up next: part two of our campaign 2000 video scrapbook. From the conventions to election day, the words and images we remember most. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Nineteen days from now, George W. Bush will be inaugurated as president. There will be a new administration to report on along with a divided Congress and the political battles likely to ensue. And perhaps before you know it, the time will come to look ahead to the next election and the presidential contest after that.

So before the political tumult of 2001 begins, let's, once again, take the luxury of looking back at an election year unlike any other.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my running mate, Dick Cheney.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM NICHOLSON, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: So it is my privilege to proclaim the 2000 Republican National Convention in session.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the goal is to unite our country, to make a fresh start in Washington, to change the tone of our politics, can anyone with conviction say that the man for that job is Al Gore?

AUDIENCE: No!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We are now the party of ideas and innovation, the party of idealism and inclusion, the party of a simple and powerful hope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Mr. Chairman, delegates and my fellow citizens, I proudly accept your nomination.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT BUCHANAN, REFORM PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We welcome everybody, and we welcome folks -- even those poor homeless, destitute conservatives up there in Philadelphia who are locked in the basement. They can come in here, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is America a great country or what?

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: We Democrats will expand the prosperity. They will squander it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: I stand here tonight as my own man and I want you to know me for who I truly am.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Should I become your president, the mission of the United States military will be -- will be to be trained in order to fight and win war, and therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: Our military is the strongest and the best in the entire world. If you entrust me with the presidency, I pledge to keep it that way, with whatever it takes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: There's Adam Clymer, a major league (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

CHENEY: Oh, yes, he is. Big time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: While it costs $108 a month for a person, it costs $37.80 a month for a dog.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: Tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent.

BUSH: Practicing fuzzy math again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I've had a record of appointing judges in the state of Texas.

(GORE SIGHING)

That's what a governor gets to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: I will put Medicare and Social Security in a lockbox.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I'm beginning to think not only did he invent the Internet, but he invented the calculator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADER: This is amazing. I mean, just put yourself in my place. We have an invitation here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: We've had eight years of promises on prescription drugs and no action. The Social Security problem has not been addressed. We have had of eight years of talk and no action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: Bernie, Dick Cheney must be one of the few people in America who does -- who thinks that nothing has been accomplished in the last eight years. I mean, the fact is that promises were made and promises were kept. Did Al Gore make promises in 1992? Absolutely. Did he deliver? Big time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: You're better-off than you were eight years ago too.

(LAUGHTER)

CHENEY: And most of it...

(LAUGHTER)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM LEHRER, MODERATOR: Governor, welcome. Vice president, welcome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: I'm sorry to tell you that, you know, there is a record here. And Texas ranks 49th out of the 50 states in health care -- in children with health care, 49th for women with health care, and 50th for families with health care.

G. BUSH: If he is trying to allege that I'm a hard-hearted person and I don't care about children, he is absolutely wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEHRER: Your running mate, your campaign officials have charged that Vice President Gore exaggerates, embellishes and stretches the facts, et cetera.

G. BUSH: I think credibility's important. It is going to be important to be -- for the president to be credible with Congress. It's important for the president to be credible with foreign nations. And yes, I think it is something that people need to consider.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

A. GORE: I can't promise that I will never get another detail wrong. I can promise you that I will try not to -- and hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: Let Ralph debate! Let Ralph debate!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADER: Have fun, Debate Commission, because this is your last monopoly control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: How you doing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEHRER: Governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEHRER: Governor, the vice president says you are wrong.

BUSH: Well, he is wrong. Just add up all the numbers. It is three times bigger than what President Clinton proposed. The Senate Budget Committee...

LEHRER: Three -- excuse me, three times...

BUSH: Bigger than what President Clinton proposed.

GORE: That's in an ad, Jim, that was knocked down by the journalist who analyzed the ad -- said it was misleading.

(CROSSTALK)

LEHRER: Go ahead.

BUSH: My turn?

LEHRER: Yes, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: During the last five years, Texas' government has gone up in size. The federal government has gone down. Texas' government has gone up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: That is what the question in this campaign is about. It is not only what is your philosophy and what is your position on issues, but can you get things done? And I believe I can.

(LAUGHTER)

LEHRER: All right.

GORE: What the Dingell-Norwood bill?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: And I believe the people who pay the bills ought to get some money back. It's a difference of opinion. He wants to grow the government. And I trust you with your own money. I wish we could spend an hour talking about trusting people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One more day! One more day!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We have laid the groundwork. And if people do what I think they are going to do, you are looking at the next president of the United States.

(CHEERING) (END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: This is the last official stop of campaign 2000.

(CHEERING)

It's not an accident that it is here in Tampa. It is not an accident that it is in West Central Florida, because Florida may very well be the state that decides the outcome of this election.

And looking at you and hearing your enthusiasm, what I'm hearing from you is: Tonight, when the vote comes in, we're going to win Florida.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And that's all for this New Year's Day edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com. AOL keyword: CNN. And this programming note: Join me tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Among other things, we'll have some laughs with political humorist, Mark Russell.

Before we go, a look now at some of the folks behind the scenes here at CNN who help bring you our programs throughout the year.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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