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Governor Jeb Bush makes it Official

Aired June 8, 2001 - 17:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.


GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I intend to run for reelection.


ANNOUNCER: Florida Governor Jeb Bush makes it official. Are memories of his brother's presidential win throwing a curve into his campaign?

Also ahead: more partisan feuding over the 2000 Florida vote and a new Civil Rights Commission report.

And inside stories from the shaken-up Senate. For some, emotions are running high.


SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: The truth of the matter is, I have been publicly raped.


ANNOUNCER: Now Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. Jeb Bush's decision to run for a second term as Florida governor wasn't much of a surprise. But his timing seems to have caught some people off guard. His staff suddenly urged reporters to re-ask the question they've been asking for weeks, with an understanding that today Bush would give them an answer.

CNN's Mark Potter has more on Bush's informal announcement, and the challenges he faces in one of the premier contests of 2002.


MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a serenade by school children in Miami, Governor Jeb Bush finally made the announcement Republicans and Democrats had been anticipating.

J. BUSH: I intend to run for reelection. I've had the time to...


J. BUSH: I have -- after the legislative session, I've had a chance to spend some time with my family and with my wife, who has been completely supportive of this. And I believe that we have unfinished business.

POTTER: The election is still almost a year and a half away and the Democratic field is yet to be determined. But the Florida governor's race has already become a national campaign, with some analysts comparing it to last year's Hillary Clinton-Rick Lazio New York Senate matchup, in terms of potential visibility.

SUSAN MACMANUS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: Both of the them have the two "M"s of politics that are critical: money and motive. And there's a lot of pride at stake. Neither one of them wants to lose Florida, because they each want to prove that they really carried Florida in Election 2000.

POTTER: Democrats who once feared Jeb Bush might be invincible now argue he is damaged politically and can be beaten.

BOB POE, FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN: This race is an exciting opportunity for Democrats to go up against Jeb Bush. He's vulnerable, and we're ready to take the governor's mansion back.

POTTER: Because of last year's election controversy, where Florida narrowly gave the White House to George W. Bush, Democrats see next year's gubernatorial race as a chance to retaliate. The state party has launched a national $15 million fund-raising campaign to oust Jeb Bush.

JIM KANE, EDITOR, "THE FLORIDA VOTER": Well, they want revenge. Many Democrats feel that the presidential race in Florida was stolen in 2000, and because of Jeb Bush's relationship to the president, being his younger brother, they'd like to pay them back by taking the governorship away from them.

POTTER: Democrats also believe if they retake the governor's mansion in this key electoral state, they have a much better shot at the White House in 2004.

But Republicans warn the Democrats face an uphill battle.

AL CARDENAS, FLORIDA GOP CHAIRMAN: We've got a governor who is one of the most popular politicians in the country, whose favorable/unfavorable margins are still over 30 points. Very difficult to beat an incumbent under those circumstances. Jeb's a great campaigner and a formidable foe.

POTTER: Some political analysts, including Jim Kane, editor of "The Florida Voter," believe Democrats may be wrong about Governor Bush's vulnerability.

KANE: I think that that's greatly overstated. In actuality, he's as popular, more popular, than Lawton Chiles was during his first term.

POTTER: But several issues have energized the Democrats, including the possibility that Former Attorney General Janet Reno may enter the race. While still a controversial figure nationally, she has a strong base of Democratic support in Florida.

CROWD: Go, Janet, go! Run, Janet, run!

POTTER: African-Americans have also targeted Governor Bush. On top of their anger over his dismantling of affirmative action programs, many black Floridians say the widespread voting problems in the presidential election caused thousands of black voters to be disenfranchised.

Already, the Florida governor's race is shaping up to be next year's marquee political campaign, not only a referendum on last year's race, but a preview of the year 2004.

Mark Potter, CNN, Miami.


WOODRUFF: Political fallout from the Florida election dispute also was on display here in Washington today. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights approved a study that found thousands of Florida voters, especially blacks, were disenfranchised last November. But as CNN's Candy Crowley reports, Republicans on the panel and in Florida, cried foul.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says the real story of Election 2000 was not how close the vote was in Florida, but how many votes were thrown out or never cast.

MARY FRANCES BERRY, CHAIRWOMAN, U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS: The disenfranchisement of the voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of African-Americans. Other people were affected, but it fell more harshly on the shoulders of African-Americans.

Statewide, based upon county-level statistical estimates, African-American voters were nearly 10 times more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected.

CROWLEY: The only two Republican-appointed members of the commission dissented from the findings, arguing that the report was based on faulty analysis and unsubstantiated reports. The political tension was palpable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a spoiler out there? Was Jeb Bush wandering around spoiling ballots?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abigail, let me answer that. First of all, I didn't write that, but let me say, you all heard at the beginning of my talk, I said, I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. CROWLEY: In a written statement, the two dissenters blasted commission chairwoman Mary Frances Berry, a Gore supporter, accusing her of turning the commission into an agency dedicated to furthering a partisan agenda. That theme was echoed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who commented as he announced his intention to run for reelection.

J. BUSH: This appears to be a very partisan response to an issue that Florida now has made a major effort to solve.

CROWLEY: The commission found no evidence of conspiracy to disenfranchise black voters, but the report is sure to fuel anger within the largely Democratic African-American community about the way Election 2000 came out. At the state and the national level, the Bush brothers face an enormous, and perhaps at some level an impossible task.

REP. J.C. WATTS (R), OKLAHOMA: I there's going to be many, for the next 20 years, that's going to try to redo the elections, and have the elections over and over again. It's kind of like the fish that you catch. That fish continues to get bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. The injustice, in the minds of many, is going to continue to grow and grow and grow.


CROWLEY: White House staffers say they believe President Bush is well on the road to trying to make some inroads into the African- American community. They believe it is not a matter of changing policy, but rather explaining it. They think that in education and Social Security reform, and home ownership, George Bush has a lot that should appeal to the African-American community -- Judy?

WOODRUFF: Candy, what about this report by the Civil Rights Commission? Does it go anywhere from here? Does there have to be some sort of response to it, formal response?

CROWLEY: There will be lots of responses. They would like a Justice Department investigation just into the issue of whether or not this -- there was any sort of conspiracy around this disenfranchisement. Now, there's already something under way at the Justice Department. We tried to get the attorney general to talk about it today, but he said he didn't discuss ongoing investigations. So you'll hear more about this.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley, thanks very much, and we'll see you a little later on the roundtable.


WOODRUFF: Just a short while ago, I discussed the Civil Rights Commission report and Jeb Bush's reelection bid with Steve Bousquet of "The Miami Herald." I started out by asking him if anyone was surprised by Governor Bush's announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEVE BOUSQUET, "THE MIAMI HERALD": No. It's the worst-kept political secret in the Sunshine State, I think. It was just a question of when. The governor wanted to get through the legislative session, and I think and sources said last night, that he wanted to sort of end the suspense before the big fund-raising dinner Saturday night in Orlando, where Vice President Cheney is the key-note speaker.

WOODRUFF: Do people think Jeb Bush is beatable?

BOUSQUET: Well, the Democrats think he's beatable and I think some Republicans think he's beatable. I think that he's had a strong first term and a very controversial first term, not just because of what happened with the recount, but his One Florida initiative, which dealt with scaling back affirmative action. He has really offended a lot of state workers here who are, for the most part, Democrats anyway. I think he's had the effect of energizing the Democratic base. Having said that, he's very strong. He'll have all the money he needs. He's ahead in every poll that we've looked at, although the poll that we did against Janet Reno shows a very competitive race. It's Jeb Bush's race to lose at this point, I think.

WOODRUFF: So if you had to sum up, you've just ticked off some of his assets and liabilities. What about the fact that his brother is president? Is that overall an asset or not?

BOUSQUET: Probably not, at this point, and I say that because everything we've seen and everything we can see, Jeb Bush is more popular in Florida than his brother, the president of the United States. It's not dramatic, but we noticed these big fluctuations in polls of George W. Bush's popularity here that we don't see with Jeb Bush.

And so I think that to the extent, again, the Democrats are going to make this race for governor in 2002 basically a midterm referendum on the Bush presidency. So for that reason, I think -- I think having his brother in the White House actually complicates things for Governor Jeb Bush.

WOODRUFF: In your view, who would be the strongest Democrat to run against him?

BOUSQUET: Well, looking at it today -- and it's a long way out, 18 months out, which is an eternity in Florida politics -- I think you have to give a slight edge to Janet Reno. And I say that because she's by far the best known. She won't have to spend $10 million building name recognition.

Remember, we're a state with 13 television markets. It's a phenomenal job to get known statewide in Florida if you're not already well-known. And Reno has that going in. Of course, she also is the lightning rod for a lot of controversial things.

We've also -- a very important point in Florida -- we have abolished the run-off election for 2002. That means basically, as in a lot of other states, whoever gets the most votes in the Democratic primary is the nominee. Well, where are most of the Democratic votes in Florida? They're in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. That's where Janet Reno is strongest.

WOODRUFF: Steve Bousquet, let me turn now to the subject of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission report, finding that there were numerous irregularities, that African-American voters in Florida were disenfranchised. What's the overall reaction to that report?

BOUSQUET: Well, it's mixed, because, first of all, much of what the U.S. Civil Rights Commission said in the report is not news to Floridians who have been following this. They had hearings down here that were widely publicized. And of course, you also have the controversy or the debate as to whether or not the Civil Rights Commission is truly independent: that is, that, you know, that the Democrats who dominate the commission had a heavy hand in writing the report. Jeb Bush has...

WOODRUFF: But there were outsiders -- but there were outsiders like professors and others who did some of the research, were there not?

BOUSQUET: Yes, there were, and they took a lot of testimony down here. But -- but I don't think the U.S. Civil Rights Commission is viewed in Florida with the same level of credibility as say the attorney general would be, the Justice Department and so forth. There is a -- there is a political tint across -- across what they proposed.

But I think a lot of people also take seriously these allegations of disenfranchisement and so forth. The governor, Jeb Bush, has said that he does not control the elections apparatus in the state. And it's true that we have 67 independently elected election supervisors in Florida.

WOODRUFF: Just quickly, Steve Bousquet, do you think there will be change in Florida before the next election with regard to minority voters?

BOUSQUET: Well, I think what's happened in this state -- we had a presidential election last fall. We had an unprecedented turnout by African-American voters. And I -- it's my judgment at this point that it's going to be there again in 2002. So to that extent, that very much enlivens the situation down here, because there is a -- because of the Civil Rights Commission report, because of what happened with the recount -- we're coming into a reapportionment year in Florida -- there is going to be a very active, vibrant political feeling in the minority community here.

WOODRUFF: All right. Steve Bousquet with "The Miami Herald,"thanks very much.

BOUSQUET: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We'll analyze the week's big political stories later on our Friday political roundtable. But up next, the president heads down to the farm.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, I've heard somebody say, well, you know, the death tax doesn't cause people to sell their farms -- I don't know who they're talking to in Iowa.


WOODRUFF: Now that the president's tax cut is the law, Mr. Bush travels to Iowa to promote its benefits.

Also ahead, New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli raises big money for the future and goes on the offensive against federal investigators.

Plus, Los Angeles voters have their say and help determine "The Political Play of the Week." This is INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: President Bush plans to spend the weekend at his ranch in Texas, but he took a detour by way of Iowa today, where he stopped off to give a plug for the new tax cut plan. Mr. Bush has already signed the cuts into law, but for some members of Congress, the details remain up for review.

Here's CNN's White House correspondent, Kelly Wallace.


BUSH: Thanks for coming.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A promise made, a promise kept: That was President Bush's message as he returned to this family farm outside Des Moines, where he made his first major tax pledge during the presidential campaign.

BUSH: I said, if given a chance to be the president, I would do everything I could to get rid of the death tax. The bill I signed yesterday gets rid of the death tax over time.

WALLACE: "Over time" is the key phrase when it comes to the tax on estates handed down from one generation to the next. Under the new law, the estate tax is gradually reduced from 55 percent to 45 percent by 2007, and then to zero, a full repeal, by 2010.

BUSH: After all, it's the people's money. It's not the government's money.

WALLACE: But beginning in 2011, the estate tax repeal and all other tax cuts just signed by the president will expire: that is unless Congress acts to extend them. And that is why Republicans are pushing legislation to make cuts permanent while Democrats, who believe most of the cuts benefit the wealthiest and take money away from other priorities, talk of rolling them back in the future.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: We probably will have to come back and revisit the tax bill. Now, even they are acknowledging we've got to revisit this tax bill, I mean, before the ink has dried.

WALLACE: But Republicans say Mr. Bush will veto any Democratic attempts to wipe away the tax cuts.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-IA), FINANCE COMMITTEE: What they need to do is read the president's lips. He signed this bill. He's going to stand behind it.

WALLACE: Strutting his stuff on the baseball field, throwing the first pitch at the College World Series, the president is hoping to follow his tax cut victory with another big win.

(on camera): But getting one won't be easy with Democrats now in control of the Senate. The president, though, trying to be more of a team player, reaching out to both sides, and that charm offensive is expected to continue.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, Omaha, Nebraska.


WOODRUFF: Well, if the president was in Iowa today, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt will be in New Hampshire this weekend. The Missouri Democrat plans to attend local party fund-raisers, including a spaghetti supper and a pig roast. As for the obvious question about this trip, a Gephardt spokesman says the congressman will decide about a possible presidential run after the 2002 elections.

Well, as home to the nation's first primary, New Hampshire regularly plays host to potential presidential hopefuls. And joining us to talk about these early trips is columnist David Nyhan of "The Boston Globe."

David, it's not an election year, I'm not sure if this seems right, having you on the program today -- but there's always politics.

DAVID NYHAN, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": It never stops in New Hampshire, Judy.

WOODRUFF: David, is it is a coincidence that Dick Gephardt is in New Hampshire today -- or this weekend?

NYHAN: No, he's always -- he's harbored national ambitions. He ran for president quite ruggedly in 1988. But I think he's also, this time around, looking to recruit candidates to run for the two House seats held by the Republicans in New Hampshire.

There's widespread speculation that Congressman Sununu, son of the chief of staff in the old Bush White House -- the first Bush White House -- is going to take on, in the Republican primary, Senator Bob Smith, the rather erratic conservative who quit the Republicans with a blast last year, and then came slinking back when they made him chairman of the Environmental Committee. But smith couldn't lick -- couldn't hold his seat in a primary against Sununu. So I think Gephardt is looking for changes in the Congressional delegation here, as much as for Gephardt for president.

WOODRUFF: But what about his own potential presidential interest in running for president? What sort of landscape would he meet with there in New Hampshire?

NYHAN: Gephardt has friends up here, and he's close to organized labor, which can do you some good in New Hampshire. But a lot of people think that he's more likely to become the next speaker of the House than the next president.

WOODRUFF: David, who else is up there? We know he's not the first person who's considered a possible presidential contender.

NYHAN: Well, I should tell you, really, who is not here.

Senator Edwards has not been here. Joe Lieberman is penciled in for, I think, October. Al Gore made it up yesterday as far as Cambridge, where I ran into him in Ken Gelbreigh's (ph) backyard. But former Vice President Gore is due to go back in New Hampshire in the fall.

Joe Biden, who ran in '88, the year Dukakis won the New Hampshire primary has a lot of friends here -- the federal judge who's the husband of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who died in the Challenger explosion. Biden still has kept his contacts. He's kept his fertilizer coming, he's visited, he's sent cards.

But the early line on the favorite up here would be, surprisingly, not Al Gore, who is still -- he disappointed a lot of people by losing New Hampshire. You know, Judy -- and I know you know, but the viewers might have forgotten -- New Hampshire was the only state in the Northeast that Bush won last November, and he won it by 6,800 votes, and a lot of people think if Gore had sent Clinton in in the last weekend that he won have won New -- the Democrats would have won New Hampshire. And it was New Hampshire's four votes that really -- that made Bush president.

So -- but the strongest guy locally would have to be John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, Vietnam veteran, silver star. New Hampshire's a great state for veterans, although Bob Kerrey...

WOODRUFF: So somebody like John Kerry wouldn't need to spend that much time in New Hampshire, would he, because he's already...

NYHAN: He's -- a lot of Boston television blankets southern New Hampshire, which is where the -- most of the votes are, and most of the democratic votes are.

And John Kerry is, some people think, the best television debater of any Democrat now that Bill Clinton is out of business. He had a lot of debates against Bill Weld, whom he -- when Weld was governor, Kerry defeated him for the Senate in a real heavyweight contest. The early line on the Democrats is Kerry probably first, because two out of the last three contested New Hampshire primaries were won by Massachusetts politicians: Dukakis and Paul Tsongas.

WOODRUFF: And just quickly, David, do these early, early visits really help these people?

NYHAN: they help you line up people who you can hire and pay and then have them invite you back to their county party dinner. Jimmy Carter showed that the way to make hay in New Hampshire was to come early and often, and bring money.

WOODRUFF: Well, it's always election year when we have David Nyhan on the program. It's great to see you, David.

NYHAN: All right, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Take care, thanks very much.

Only three days remain as Timothy McVeigh faces death. The latest on preparations for the first federal execution in almost four decades. And we check some of the day's other top stories.

Also, the attorney general says he will enter the fight over the latest legal issue in the McVeigh execution: Kelli Arena's interview with John Ashcroft and the ruling in question, later in this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: We'll have more of this day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.

A federal appeals court has temporarily stayed an order directing the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to videotape the execution of Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh is scheduled to die by lethal injection Monday morning for the Oklahoma city bombing. McVeigh's attorney says McVeigh would not oppose his execution being videotaped, but attorney general John Ashcroft says he wants to prevent any measures that might aggrandize McVeigh. Yesterday, a U.S. district judge granted the request of a murder defendant who hopes to use a tape of the execution to try to escape the death penalty, should he be convicted.

Education and police officials in Japan say they will work to improve school safety after an elementary school massacre today. At least eight children were killed, and about 20 others injured when a man armed with a knife ran through first and second-grade classrooms stabbing the students. Police arrested the 37-year-old intruder, a former employee of another school, who reportedly has a history of mental illness. Counselors are working with students, staff and parents.

In Alliance, Ohio, a mass inoculation is underway against a disease related to meningitis. Students and staff at six area high schools are getting shots that will cost the state $55 each. Health authorities say the inoculations are precautionary, but also necessary to erase fears in the town. The illness has killed two students, and has sent a third to the hospital.

Some Gulf Coast states are still feeling the impact of the remnants of Tropical Storm Allison. Rainfall has saturated coastal Louisiana and Texas for a fourth straight day, flooding streets and neighborhoods across the region. The Louisiana governor has declared a state of emergency in several locations. High winds toppled a tree onto a truck Thursday, killing the driver. Allison stalled after it made landfall, and there is no relief in sight for the next couple of days. In the Houston area, rain has damaged the estimated 1,500 homes, and forced the evacuation of about 150 people. And in Missouri, residents are struggling with flooding from the rising Missouri River. It is expected to crest today at 30 feet.

What could quiet the world's largest stock exchange in the middle of trading today? A computer glitch, that's what. Trading in New York was halted for about an hour and a half this morning because of problems with an overnight software upgrade. Initially, it prevented small investors from trading in certain stocks, but management decided to freeze all activity.

And up next on INSIDE POLITICS: A senator says that he has been


SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: The truth of the matter is: I have been publicly raped.


WOODRUFF: Robert Torricelli holds a fund-raiser for the future, and delivers a message to his critics.


WOODRUFF: Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli raised more than $600,000 last night at a New Jersey fund-raiser. Torricelli used the event to make clear that he does plan to run for re-election, and that he expects to survive a federal investigation of his 1996 election campaign. Torricelli told more than 500 supporters that he welcomed the investigation and he hinted at possible political motives behind recent leaks to the news media.


TORRICELLI: I have been publicly raped. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a pain that I cannot describe, but it is a reality. I want you to understand this: I play by the rules, but I play tough. I win, but I (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


WOODRUFF: Earlier this week, Torricelli's attorney asked for a special counsel to take over the investigation in a letter that also questioned the fairness of the current probe. As this very eventful work week ends for members of the Senate and the House, we are going to join CNN congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl and find out what is in his reporter's notebook, all those things he's been keeping up this week.

Jonathan, let's start in the Senate and tell us about whether an agreement has been reached with Republicans on how they want to see the Senate reorganized.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to Pete Domenici, he's one of the five Republicans that Lott appointed to negotiate with Daschle on the reorganization of the Senate committees under Democratic control, Domenici is saying that yes, they have finally wrapped up what they want to do. They are ready to present something to Daschle on Monday.

Lott's office is not making any official comment on that, but what we do know is that the Republicans have backed away from their initial big demand, which was a Senate rule change that would mean that presidential nominees, even if they get rejected by a Democratically-controlled committee, would still get a vote on the Senate floor. Republicans have backed away from that.

They are now prepared, we are told, to simply accept Daschle's statement of goodwill that the Democratically-controlled committees will work on the presidential nominations, but no promises are made. And also, Democrats -- Republicans said they have got assurances from Daschle that when they reorganize the committees to make them one-seat Democratic majorities, that that will be done by adding a Democrat, not kicking off a Republican.

WOODRUFF: Now, John, as we know last night, the new leader in the Senate, Democratic majority leader Tom Daschle had dinner with the president. What have you learned about what came out of that?

KARL: Well, we do know, again, it comes down to the meal here, Judy, and another somewhat Tex-Mex specialty here. Chicken enchiladas were served for three. It was the president, as well as Linda Daschle and Tom Daschle.

We are told not much of substance, mostly a social occasion. But Daschle was very high on this, that this would be something that they would continue, he hopes for a continued further regular contact with the president.

And I will tell you this, that Republicans up here are giving Daschle high marks with his takeover. They are saying that unlike people like Robert Byrd and George Mitchell, the two last Democratic majority leaders here in the Senate, Daschle has not come into power kicking people out of office space, demanding keys to offices. He has come out with words of reconciliation, and that's one of the reasons why they say the things are going so well in this reorganization resolution. Republicans right now giving Tom Daschle, the new majority leader, very high marks here on Capitol Hill.

WOODRUFF: Well, looking back at the Republican switch, now what are you hearing about how close Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee came to leaving the Republican Party?

KARL: It's very interesting. I spoke with Chafee earlier in the week, and he said that he came far closer to switching parties than really anybody had thought up here, that he seriously considered this. He was so concerned about the direction he saw his party going up here in Congress, especially on the issue of the environment and a couple of other issues, that he came very close.

He said that during his negotiations with Democrats, he learned that his father, the great liberal stalwart, Republican liberal stalwart John Chafee, also of Rhode Island, had once considered switching parties as well, but decided against it, and Chafee in the end also decided against it, thinking, very much like his father did, that he'd like to work within the Republican Party. But he said he had never known that his father actually got so upset with his party at times that he considered switching too.

WOODRUFF: Jonathan, back on Senator Daschle. He is now saying that a patients' bill of rights is going to be his top priority going forward. How is the White House reacting to that?

KARL: Well, Josh Bolton, the top domestic adviser for the -- the top domestic policy adviser for the president, and Tommy Thompson, the HHS secretary, were up here to meet with John McCain, yesterday on that. John McCain, of course, is working with the Democrats on a patients' bill of rights, working with John Edwards and Ted Kennedy on that.

At that meeting, the White House said they want to follow up with another meeting within the next week or so, a summit of sorts, that would include not only McCain, and Edwards, and Kennedy, but also Breaux and Frist who are the two who are working on the White House's approach to this, and also some of those critical of even that, people like Don Nickles and Phil Gramm. They want to get everybody in the room, try to work out some kind of an agreement.

But one senior Republican source here, leadership source, tells me that the only people up here who think that there will be some kind of an agreement on the patients' bill of rights are actually over at the White House. They say they are very far apart, the battle lines are drawn. And in fact, Tom Daschle today was asked about this, and as far as Daschle is concerned, he thinks the Democrats have already compromised.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm just hopeful that now that we have come so far to the middle, you know, we can't go any farther to the right, because then I think we would lose the middle and the compromise.


KARL: This will be the first big battle under Democratic control in the Senate. And right now, it's also interesting, Judy, is that vote counters say that no approach seems to have the critical 51 votes, not the Kennedy-McCain approach, nor the approach advocated by the White House. So, it will be an interesting battle. WOODRUFF: All right. Finally, Jonathan, tell us what you're hearing about this joint venture between former aides to President Clinton and Vice President Gore?

KARL: Well, you've seen some reporting out there saying that Al Gore and Bill Clinton are not even on speaking terms, or aren't getting along very well, or have not talked much since the election. Well, not so some of their top aides.

What I've learned is there will be a new group formed. It's going to be called the Glover Park Group. It's a political consulting and advertising organization, and it's going to include some of the top advisers to Al Gore, including Michael Feldman, the 32-year-old who traveled virtually everywhere with the vice president during his campaign, Carter Eskew, who was the vice president's top message person during that campaign, and also Joe Lockhart, a former CNNer, but also the former press secretary to Bill Clinton.

They will be coming together. Their offices will be in the Glover Park section of Washington, D.C., which is why they are calling themselves the Glover Park Group. At first, primarily corporate and interest group clients, not political clients right off the bat.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jonathan Karl with a look at his "Reporter's Notebook." Thanks very much. And as the Senate moves forward under Democratic control, the challenge for the president and his conservative allies here in Washington becomes more complicated.

Grover Norquist of the group Americans for Tax Reform joins me now. He hosts a weekly strategy session for Washington conservatives, usually attended by representatives from the White House and Capitol Hill.

Is that an accurate way of describing this group?


WOODRUFF: Let me just start out by asking, the president in the last few days seems to be trying if not move to the center, at least appear to be reaching out more to the center, to moderates in his own party, to Democrats. Is that an accurate perception, do you think?

NORQUIST: Well, certainly the tax bill that the president put forward had strong bipartisan support. It passed with 12 votes in the Senate.

Anything you pass through the divided Senate, now or two months ago, has to have strong support in the center. That's the tax bill, that's future legislation as well.

WOODRUFF: What do you think the president, what tack should the president be taking now? Should he move to the center, as some Republicans, some conservatives are saying, or should he hold his ground and fight holding the kind of ground that he seemed to be holding before this? NORQUIST: Well, I think all during his term he's been governing as a center-right candidate: the tax reduction, restraint in spending, strong national defense. If you've got 60 or 70 percent of the country with you, you're governing from the center-right. That's where he has been governing. That's where I think he should stay.

WOODRUFF: So you don't think -- you don't think it would be smart for him to make any change in his approach to -- either to the substance of what he wants to get through or the tactic, in therms of how he gets it through?

NORQUIST: I don't think so. Again, not much has changed. No vote in the Senate has changed. We had 62 votes for the tax cut. You had a lot of Democrats who voted with all the Republicans to -- to reduce taxes in the Senate. You had a lot of Democrats in the House who were willing to vote with the president on tax reduction.

National missile defense is something that's also in the past has had strong Democrat support, the Hawaii Democrats and others.

So there are a whole series of issues that we can move forward on a nonpartisan or a bipartisan basis. Further tax reduction, capital gains tax reduction. Dianne Feinstein, Lieberman -- many Democrats have called for reducing the capital gains tax. I think we should do that soon.

WOODRUFF: At the same time, we hear from Tom Daschle that his top priority going forward now is a patients' bill of rights. What should the president's response to that be?

NORQUIST: Well, the president, of course, supports a patients' bill of rights that doesn't make trial lawyers rich. Tom Daschle wants a bill that will would make trial lawyers rich at the expense of patients and doctors. There's a very serious difference.

Tom Daschle is not the center of American politics. He's, unfortunately, very hard left, and we're going to see that more now that he's been elevated to the majority leader.

But there are two ways to have a patients' bill of rights: one that focuses on patients -- the president stands for that -- and the other that makes trial lawyers rich suing people. Edwards of South -- North Carolina probably prefers that.

WOODRUFF: Let me quote to you something that Paul Weyrich, a prominent conservative, said in the last few days. He said, quote, "It's going to make it" -- speaking of the Jeffords switch, the Democrats taking control of the Senate -- "It's going to make it very difficult for the president, very difficult to advance anything at all in the next 18 months." You don't sound like you agree with that.

NORQUIST: No, I think the big change that's taken place is that they'll slow down, the Democrats will slow down appointments being confirmed, although it's been fairly slow so far anyway, and they'll slow down judges. And they could have some more hearings, higher- profile hearings on the Senate side led by Democrats than you otherwise might have.

But anything that passes the Senate needs strong nonpartisan, broad support. That was true before. That's still true.

WOODRUFF: So you don't -- just, Grover Norquist, just to be clear. You don't agree with the -- sort of the perception, one of the perceptions that was out there that the president was coming in with a more conservative agenda than he appeared to have campaigned on and that now it would be wise for him to pull back a little bit on that?

NORQUIST: No, I think...

WOODRUFF: You're saying the perception is just wrong?

NORQUIST: Yeah. Well, look at what he got -- ran on and how he's governed. He said he was going to reduce taxes. The tax bill that passed with bipartisan support is almost exactly what he said he would run on: get rid of the tax rates, cut marginal tax rates, expand the per-child tax credit, get rid of the marriage penalty. That's exactly what his -- what his bill does. He said he wanted to rein in spending so it didn't run away too much. That's part of his agenda, as well. National missile defense. I mean, everything he said he was going to do when he was running is what he's doing now.

WOODRUFF: All right. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, we thank you very much for being with us.

NORQUIST: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: I'll see you again. Thanks very much.

Thirty seconds that changed a campaign. Our Bill Schneider on earning a "Political Play of the Week" with a single move.


WOODRUFF: In political races, you might say, momentum is a coveted commodity and finding a way to seize the "big mo" can earn a candidate more than just an election victory. Our Bill Schneider joins us from Los Angeles to explain.

Hi, Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Judy. You know, a funny thing happened on the way to electing the first Hispanic mayor of Los Angeles in more than 100 years. The voters of this city began to have second thoughts. Something changed the momentum of the campaign. Was it bigotry? Was it fear?

Actually, it was a television ad, and it was "The Political Play of the Week."


CROWD: Hey-hey, ho-ho, we support Antonio. SCHNEIDER (voice-over): When former California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa came in first in L.A.'s mayoral primary in April, he seemed poised to become the most prominent Hispanic political figure in America. He ran a cautious campaign for the June runoff. He didn't talk about Hispanic power. He didn't run Spanish-language commercials. He talked about uniting the city, not dividing it.

Villaraigosa had the endorsement of the whole political establishment, including the Democratic governor and the Republican mayor. His message to Los Angeles was you have nothing to fear.

But doubts began to set in as his opponent, city attorney James Hahn, challenged Villaraigosa's voting record on public safety issues. Did Villaraigosa favor the rights of criminals over the rights of victims? Was Villaraigosa an ACLU liberal? Wouldn't be surprising -- he was once president of the local ACLU.

Villaraigosa had already started to slip in the polls when, during the last week of the campaign, Hahn started running a dramatic and controversial television ad.


NARRATOR: Fact: Villaraigosa wrote the White House Pardon Office for the drug dealer, claiming he was wrongly convicted.



SCHNEIDER: The ad raised doubts about Villaraigosa's character: Can you trust this man? It challenged Villaraigosa's commitment to public safety: Is he soft on crime? And Villaraigosa's supporters said it raised a nasty ethnic stereotype about drugs and minorities.

But were the accusations false? Villaraigosa never answered the charges. Instead, he tried to create a backlash against Hahn for running a fear campaign.


NARRATOR: On June 5th, you have a choice between a candidacy of hope and a candidacy of fear. Please vote.


SCHNEIDER: It wasn't enough. On Tuesday, Hahn won a decisive victory with an odd coalition of supporters. African-Americans supported Hahn largely out of loyalty to his late father, who had represented the black community and championed their interests for 40 years. Conservatives were drawn to Hahn, a liberal Democrat, because of their doubts about Villaraigosa. In a race between two liberals, conservatives hold the balance of power.

On the big liberal issues of education and jobs, the candidates were rated about equal. But Hahn had a decisive edge among voters concerned about crime. The ad worked.





SCHNEIDER: It crystallized doubts about Villaraigosa and threw him on the defensive.

Why didn't he see it coming? Apparently, he never believed his opponent was tough enough to score "The Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: Now you can't say L.A. voters were not ready to elect a Hispanic because on the very same day they rejected Villaraigosa, they elected Hispanic Rocky Delgadillo to be city attorney. What a wonderful name. Delgadillo carried both blacks and conservatives, just like Jim Hahn -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider. Thanks very much. We'll see you back in Washington.

From the balance of power on the Hill to politics West Coast style. Our weekly roundtable weighs in on the issues and events of the week, just ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Now to our Friday roundtable. And this week's participants our own senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield. We hoped to have David Jackson of "TIME" magazine, but right now he's stuck in traffic Los Angeles, and if he gets here he will join us.

To you, Candy, first on the Los Angeles mayor's race which we just heard Bill Schneider talking about. What does this outcome say about politics in the city of angels?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it doesn't pay to be seen as soft on crime. I mean this was a pretty classic race. I would love to make something of the Latino vote and the power of it. But the fact of the matter is that you can't take a lot of conclusion from this. These were two Democrats running against each other. I think this was a politician who was made as looking soft on crime.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN political analyst: I think that's absolutely right. In fact with the decline in crime of the '90s of some 25 percent there was a lot of speculation that maybe the crime issue wouldn't be playing the way it did when Nixon and Reagan and Bush made such hay with it against allegedly soft on crime Democrats, and it worked. I think the other thing though is that anyone who tries to read broad national implications into a local race has got a very high bar to leap. The last time I think you could legitimately say that about anything in California was when proposition 13 passed in 1978 statewide, presaging the tax revolt and the Reagan revolution. So I think Candy is right. Apart from the potency of the crime issue, I think you've got to kickback a little bit.

WOODRUFF: Candy, how different is it believed that a Hahn administration will be from a Richard Riordan Administration which L.A. has had over the last eight years?

CROWLEY: Probably not much. First of all you're talking about a mayoral position that does not have a lot of power, within the city, believe it or not. And second of all, there's not going to be a whole lot of difference between a Republican mayor who had the positions that could get him elected and a Democratic mayor in Los Angeles. So, not a huge difference between the two of them.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, are we going to see much of a difference with Democrat Hahn following Republican Riordan?

GREENFIELD: No. But since that was the short answer let me footnote it. The one local race this year that could have real national implications for obvious reasons, you touched on that a few moments ago, is the governor's race in New Jersey.

If Robert Torricelli's position becomes untenable and he has to leave next year and a new governor is elected this fall, the appointment could change the Senate back Republican if a Republican gets elected governor this fall and Torricelli can't survive. So, that's one race I have a feeling all of us will be watching with a little extra added interest.

WOODRUFF: Let me do a sharp turn here to the subject of Timothy McVeigh. As we know, his execution scheduled for Monday morning June 11. Candy, is this expected to spur a whole new debate again in this country over the death penalty?

CROWLEY: I don't think so for a couple of reasons. No. 1, and it's not unconnected to what we talked about, it's still a fairly losing position to be a national politician who is against the death penalty. The polls still show, although numbers are dwindling, that most people favor the death penalty. You can word it in such a way as in, would you rather see someone get life without ever the possibility of parole, or the death penalty? Sometimes you can get even a bigger shift here.

But the fact of the matter is that the country is still largely pro death penalty. And while certainly this occasion as all executions do, will bring that argument to the forefront. The dynamics have not changed that much.

WOODRUFF: Jeff, is the death penalty even much of a political issue anymore in this country given where the country is shifting on it? GREENFIELD: Well, it isn't for one reason is that nobody, as Candy said, the last anti death penalty national candidate in a major party was Michael Dukakis. You may remember our former colleague, Bernie Shaw, and how that question went. So it's been co opted in that sense. What interests about the McVeigh case, in one sense it was absolutely the poster boy for capital punishment. He wasn't poor, he wasn't black, he had adequate counsel, he was clearly and the crime was absolutely horrific beyond the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

On the other hand, there were some conservatives who, after the FBI, it turned out had bungled the procedure, at least one up here wrote, I have always been a death penalty conservative. I've changed my mind because if the FBI couldn't do what it was supposed to do in this high profile case, it makes me more convinced that there's probably some poor under represented defendant wasting away on death row who may not have done it or at least had been the victim of prosecutorial misconduct.

That's the only way that that issue may have played out for both sides and had some long-lasting impact.

WOODRUFF: All right, less than a minute left. I know you both have given a lot of thought to the change over in the Senate this week. Candy, we just heard Grover Norquist, citizen for tax reform tell us he didn't think the president needs to make much of an accommodation. Are things really not going to be that much different in the Senate?

CROWLEY: Well, sure they're going to be different because it puts things on the plate that the Democrats want on the plate. I mean already we have found that Tom Daschle, the new a majority leader wants to have a patient's bill of rights. This is not particularly something that the Bush Administration would have put out there as their next thing that they want to have accomplished.

Having said that, as we've said ever since we knew about the Jim Jeffords move, the votes have not changed. And I think what you could find is that post-Jeffords in terms of just the shear voting and the numbers there and pre-Jeffords are not that much different, that both sides may still be, despite all this talk of bipartisanship and coming together, that both sides may still try to cherry-pick out of other side rather than actually come together in the middle.

WOODRUFF: Jeff, is that what you're anticipating as well?

GREENFIELD: Yes, we have a scintillating discussion of this on GREENFIELD AT LARGE, 10:30 p.m. Eastern time -- thank you very much -- but the most interesting part of the decision I think is whether, or perhaps not whether but how much the Democrats will attempt to force vote after vote after vote, since they're in charge of the machinery on issues that are designed not as legislation but as one of our guests called it "wedgeislation," designed to force the Republicans to cast politically unpopular votes, the better to run against them next year.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield, our senior analyst and host of GREENFIELD AT LARGE, as he said, tonight at 10:30 Eastern. Candy Crowley, our senior political correspondent. Thank you both. Have a good weekend.

The final chapter in a national tragedy. From the nation's capitol to the site of the bombing, an in-depth look at the issues at hand, as the execution of Timothy McVeigh approaches when INSIDE POLITICS continues.


ASHCROFT: I don't think that an individual who kills 168 people should be in any way memorialized or aggrandized.

WOODRUFF: The attorney general fights a court order to videotape Timothy McVeigh's execution.

Also ahead: the Texas political scene -- how lawmakers are trying to draw lines with Latinos in mind.

And, what should U.S. politicians be reading into Tony Blair's reelection in Britain?

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


Although Timothy McVeigh dropped his legal battle to delay his execution, 24 hours later a new court fight is underway. The U.S. Justice Department is appealing a federal judge's order to videotape McVeigh's death.

CNN's Kelli Arena spoke to Attorney General John Ashcroft about this matter, and the McVeigh case.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Timothy McVeigh heads to execution Monday, a defendant in an unrelated capital case wants the lethal injection videotaped.

Joseph Minerd, accused of killing his girlfriend and her daughter with a pipe bomb, hopes to show the videotape to a jury, if necessary, as a reason why he shouldn't be put to death. The request is before a three-judge appeals court panel.

And the Justice Department is staunchly opposed.

ASHCROFT: The Justice Department respects the rule and regulation of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which prohibits the taping or recording, memorializing of executions. And the Justice Department will do everything within its power to sustain that ruling and to observe it.

ARENA: Timothy McVeigh's attorneys say he doesn't have a problem with the request. CHRISTOPHER TRITICO, MCVEIGH ATTORNEY: When we had a conference with Tim -- a telephone conference with Tim, I raised the issue. He said he was not opposed to the videotaping, or the use in that case.

ARENA: McVeigh's execution is the first federal execution in 38 years.

(on camera): His attorneys argue mistakes and time constraints in McVeigh's case raise serious fairness questions, but Attorney General Ashcroft says both the government and the courts have acted responsibly.

ASHCROFT: We value our freedom, and we value the lives of American citizens so profoundly that we want to send a signal that we take it so seriously that we will impose the death penalty on those who inflict this kind of damage on America and on her people.

ARENA (voice-over): Some critics suggest the circumstances will only serve to turn McVeigh into a martyr. Ashcroft says he's more concerned about the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing and their families.

ASHCROFT: And we have a responsibility to the victims. One hundred and sixty-eight people were killed, including 19 children, hundreds more people injured. And it's our responsibility, and it's the responsibility of the justice system to come to a completion of the process.

ARENA: Closure will come for some Monday morning as Timothy McVeigh's life comes to an end.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: McVeigh's lawyers say he is preparing himself psychologically and emotionally for his execution on Monday.

CNN's Jeff Flock is outside the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Judy, that's pretty much the most of what we know about Tim McVeigh right now through his attorneys. In fact, two of them, Nathan Chambers and Rob Nigh, are on his witness list -- that is, people who will witness his execution on Monday morning.

Now, in terms of other headlines for you today: The next big step for McVeigh is the move from death row to the death house. That could come at any time over the course of the next two days. As you can imagine, quite a crush outside this prison here. We have some pictures that king of give you some sense of what it is like. As you can imagine, a lot of reporters gathering. We don't know how many exactly, but we do know that the credential number is now up to about 1,700. And it's worth noting, Judy, that this a big story not only, I think, from the perspective of it being the execution of Tim McVeigh, but it being the execution of anyone, period, by the federal government, which, of course, hasn't taken place since 1963. And, in fact, the federal government has never executed anyone by lethal injection. There have been electrocutions and hangings and firing squads in the past, but never a lethal injection.

And this death house is a fresh one, and a new one. And it will be, by all accounts, put into play -- into place on Monday morning.

That's the latest from here now, Judy, but of course we'll be watching this throughout the weekend. Back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Flock reporting from Terre Haute, thanks.

And now we turn to Oklahoma City, where those personally touched by the 1995 bombing are bracing for McVeigh's execution.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is there -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, he sits in the Terre Haute penitentiary, knowing exactly how and when he will die. But six springs ago, he had his complete and utter freedom. And Tim McVeigh used that freedom to drive a yellow Ryder rental truck right behind me, park it and blow up the Murrah Federal Building. Suffice it to say there are many people here in Oklahoma City very glad his day of death is near.

Right now a memorial has taken place at the Murrah Building. A reflecting pool sits in the middle of the memorial. It's on what used to be Northwest 5th Street. The reflecting pool is where Timothy McVeigh parked that van six years, two months ago. On each side of the memorial, two arches. One arch says "901," one arch says "903." They frame 9:02 a.m., the time when the explosion happened. And there are 168 chairs at the memorial, one for each life that was taken.

Now, it's fair to say that most of the family members of the victims and survivors here in Oklahoma City favor the death penalty. But there are certainly those who do not.

Kathy Wilburn is the grandmother of Chase and Colton Smith, 3- and 2-year-old brothers who died during the bombing six years ago. She's afraid that when Timothy McVeigh dies, so will many of the secrets of the Oklahoma City bombing, so she does not want him to be executed.

Nonetheless, she says she will watch the closed-circuit viewing of the execution here in Oklahoma City.


KATHY WILBURN, VICTIMS' GRANDMOTHER: If someone kills your children, that's just the thing you ought to do. I mean, there's no book, there's no protocol to tell you what to do. And it just seems like, for me, that it's the right thing to do, to be there to represent Chase and Colten.

TUCHMAN: If you could talk to Chase and Colten right now and tell them about what's going on at the moment, what would you say? What would you do?

WILBURN: I don't know, but I wouldn't be talking about McVeigh.

TUCHMAN: What would you say to them?

WILBURN: Oh, I'd love to just wrap my arms around them and hug them one more time, and to kiss them. You know, I don't know what I'd say, but I wish I had that opportunity.


TUCHMAN: Kathy Wilburn is one of 300 people invited to watch the closed-circuit viewing at a facility right near the Oklahoma City Airport.

Another 10 Oklahomans have been picked by lottery to watch the execution in person in Terre Haute, Indiana.

One of them is Paul Howell. He lost his daughter, Karen. Now, there's a lot of discussion among people who will be witnessing the execution, about Timothy McVeigh's final words, and how that could potentially hurt them.

But Paul Howell says he won't let it bother him.


PAUL HOWELL, VICTIM'S FATHER: What I've done in the last six, seven months since he's been speaking out pretty heavy -- i just let him speak, I let it go in one ear, out the other. I don't even pay any attention to what he says. And I think I', going to be able to do the same thing there.


TUCHMAN: Now, McVeigh is free to say what he wants with his final words, and it's quite obvious from talking to many people over the days, weeks, and months that not everyone is as confident they'll be able to take it as well as Paul Howell.

Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right, such a range of emotions. Gary Tuchman in Oklahoma City.

You can go to our Web site for an in-depth special report on the Timothy McVeigh execution. The address is If you're an America Online subscriber, the AOL keyword is CNN.

And coming up tonight on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": McVeigh attorney Richard Burr will be Wolf's guest. That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Leading a minority: Does Prime Minister Tony Blair owe his landslide to the leader of the Conservative Party? Our Bill Schneider on What William Hague did wrong in just a moment.


WOODRUFF: As expected, British Prime Minister Tony Blair led the Labour Party to a rousing victory in yesterday's election. After a formal visit with the queen, Blair unveiled his cabinet just a little while ago. In a surprise move, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook will leave his post, and will be replaced by current Home Secretary Jack Straw. In what observers are labeling a demotion, Cook will stay in the cabinet as leader of the House of Commons.

While the Labour victory is being hailed as a landslide, Blair's opponent William Hague announced that he will step down as leader of the Conservative Party.


WILLIAM HAGUE, CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER: We have not been able to persuade a majority, or anything approaching a majority in the country that we are yet the alternative government that they need. Nor have I been able to persuade sufficient numbers that I am their alternative prime minister. I believe that the next general election will be a far closer contest than the one just held.


WOODRUFF: For more now on what drove the Labour victory and the Conservative defeat, we turn once again to our Bill Schneider in Los Angeles -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, you could the British election a reluctant landslide. I mean, turnout was way down. It's not that Tony Blair and his policies are wildly popular, it's that the conservative opposition has lost credibility. They've gone too far.

Is there a message here for American politicians? You bet there is.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tony Blair is not a widely-trusted figure in Britain, all spin and presentation, his critics say, a man of slippery principles, even a man of borrowed principles.

When "The Times of London" endorsed Blair on Tuesday, the newspaper wrote, quote: "After only four years, Labour has consolidated many elements of Thatcherism, a recognition that taxation at a certain level inflicts more harm than good and a distrust of trade union power are further entrenched today than they were four years ago."

The conservatives' problem is, they have too many principles, most of them right-wing, anti-Europe, anti-immigrant, anti-public services. Even the voters who are dissatisfied with Blair don't want to go that far.

ROBERT WORCESTER, CHAIRMAN, MARKET AND OPINION RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL: William Hague would have liked this election to be about the European single currency, the referendum on the euro. The public didn't buy it. They think this election is about service delivery: health, education, police, law and order, combating crime.

SCHNEIDER: Hague and the conservatives squandered their opportunity. Instead of running on Blair's vulnerabilities, they went too far to the right and made themselves a target.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Put that cross on the ballot paper. You're taking this country forward. We're building on what we have started, and we're not going back to the years of conservative instability, cuts in service and social division.

SCHNEIDER: It's a mistake Blair's own Labour Party made in the 1980s, when it went too far to the left and kept the conservatives in power for 18 years.

In the U.S., Democrats made the same mistake in the 1980s with Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. Newt Gingrich became famous for going too far. And now, guess what some people are beginning to say about President Bush? His tax cut, his energy policy, his missile defense plan -- they go too far.


SCHNEIDER: So, what's the cure for going too far? Losing. That's the message British voters are sending the Conservative Party: we're not entirely happy with Tony Blair, but you conservatives have gone too far. You lose -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Bill, what does this mean for the future of the Conservative Party?

SCHNEIDER: They've got to pick a new leader now, and it's a very elaborate process. And the question is, are they going to continue with their very conservative agenda, their right-wing policies? There are a number of leaders who could continue in that mold. Or, are they going to essentially rethink their position, the way the Labour Party did, the way the Democratic Party did in the United States, and try to move to the center? They are going to face that choice in the next couple of months.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, reporting today from Los Angeles, but talking about the British elections. Thanks.

SCHNEIDER: My pleasure.

WOODRUFF: In Iran, early returns show President Mohammad Khatami way ahead of his nine challengers in his race for re-election. Mr. Khatami cast his vote today in a suburb of Tehran. Observers said that he needed heavy voter turnout to win a mandate for his reform programs, because he faces resistance from Islamic hard-liners within the government.

In a positive sign for Khatami's campaign, polls were kept open several hours longer than scheduled to accommodate long lines of voters. 74 percent of voters backed Mr. Khatami in a pre-election poll done by Iran's official news agency.

Lobbying for political power, will Texas give Hispanics a district of their own? Ethnic politics and the redistricting debate when we return.


WOODRUFF: In Texas, lawmakers have been busy this week working on a congressional redistricting plan. They're trying to carve out two new congressional districts which the lone star state picked up in the 2000 census.

As CNN's Ed Lavandera reports, the state's growing Hispanic community is one of the key factors in the redistricting debate.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Mexican ranchera music echoes through the streets of a predominantly Hispanic Dallas neighborhood. Once famous for being the home of the Texas theater where police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald after President Kennedy's assassination, this strip today is better-known for having a distinctly Latin flavor.

Democratic State Representative Domingo Garcia says this area illustrates how a booming Hispanic population is affecting the world of politics.

DOMINGO GARCIA (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: What you see is political empowerment, and that political empowerment will then translate into economic empowerment during the course of a couple of years, much like the immigrants, Irish immigrants in Boston or Italian immigrants in New York or Chicago. That's what you're seeing with Latino immigrants here in the Southwest.

LAVANDERA: Ensuring proper representation is what Texas lawmakers are struggling to accomplish. The challenge is finding a balance in a state where Republicans hold every major elected office and the needs of Latino voters who traditionally vote Democratic.

Texas is slated to get two new congressional seats in 2002. But where those seats go is still in question? Several plans have already been proposed and rejected. Most of the rejected plans called for a conservative district in either Dallas or Houston and another heavily Hispanic district in South Texas.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Gerrymandering to create a political advantage for one party or the other is not in Texans' best interests. So I -- absolutely, I think with fair redistricting a Hispanic citizen of the state of Texas is going to be better-served. GARCIA: Well, I'll quote President Bush's top Republican strategist, who says, "We've run out of white guys to get." You know, they have to go and look for votes in other locations, and the Latino community is a rich -- is a rich potential base.

LAVANDERA: A special redistricting board will start meeting this week to iron out a plan. If they can't agree, the issue heads to the courts.

(on camera): Hispanic voters are changing the political landscape in Texas. The state is now 32 percent Hispanic and some say it's only a matter of time before Latinos make up a majority of the population.

Latinos are basically not a monolith. It is not one mind and it is not one political attitude. So that overall the responsiveness, the increased responsiveness of candidates will have to slant toward Latinos.

(voice-over): What does this mean for the average Latino voter? As one political observer put it, "It's easier to get a pothole in your neighborhood fixed when so many politicians are eager to win your vote."

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


WOODRUFF: Well, there's more INSIDE POLITICS coming up, but first, let's go to Lou Dobbs for a preview of what's ahead at the bottom of the hour on "MONEYLINE."

Hi, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Judy. Coming up on "MONEYLINE," stock prices tumble after a computer breakdown on Wall Street. We'll hear why the New York Stock Exchange had to close from "Big Board" chairman Dick Grasso. And with California facing a critical energy shortage, we'll hear from the man who's in charge of buying wholesale power for that state.

Also tonight, a live report from Havana, Cuba on a business meeting of American capitalists and Cuban communists. All that and more coming right up on "MONEYLINE." Please join us.


WOODRUFF: Former first lady Barbara Bush has suggested that their behavior is reminiscent of their father's younger days when he helped turn her hair famously gray. But during his trip to Iowa today, President Bush noted that he is careful to do as his mother tells him, at least on this particular day.


BUSH: As you know, we Bushes are used to taking orders from people named Barbara.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy birthday.

BUSH: That's right. It is her birthday. I want you to know for those in the press corps, I called her first thing this morning.


I wished her a happy birthday.


WOODRUFF: And happy birthday from here too: former first lady Barbara Bush, 76 years old today.

Before we go, a quick check of this weekend's political calendar: Tomorrow, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt continues his visit to New Hampshire. And in New York, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will present the trophy to the winner of the Belmont Stakes.

On Sunday, former President George Bush attends a fund-raiser for Congressman John Sununu, the son of Mr. Bush's former White House chief of staff.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's AOL keyword, CNN. Our e-mail address is

And these weekend programming notes: new Senate Majority Whip Harry Reid will be the guest tomorrow on "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS." That's at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. And on Sunday, new Majority Leader Tom Daschle will be one of Wolf Blitzer's guests on "LATE EDITION."

I'm Judy Woodruff. "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE" is next.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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