Skip to main content
CNN.com /transcript


CNN TV
EDITIONS

CNN INSIDE POLITICS

California Releases Redistricting Maps

Aired August 31, 2001 - 17:00   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: This is INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. California lawmakers have gone public with their proposed remap of Gary Condit's congressional district.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kate Snow on Capitol Hill. I'll review that map and the implications for Condit's political future.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington with a play of the week you can sink your teeth into.

WOODRUFF: And we'll serve up the hot issues of the week in our Friday roundtable.

ANNOUNCER: Now, Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. We first want to tell you that story that CNN has been following in Los Angeles, the barricading of a man suspected of shooting to death a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy. We are expecting perhaps 15, 20 minutes from now there will be a news conference in Los Angeles by officials of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, again, in connection with the barricading of a man inside the House that you are seeing here. CNN watching this story, and we'll bring you that news conference just as soon as it gets underway.

And now to a very different story in the state of California. The newly unveiled redistricting maps from California certainly are of importance to all the representatives from the state who serve here in Capitol Hill. But the proposed changes in Congressman Gary Condit's district are getting the most attention because of the national focus on his already shaky career.

Our congressional correspondent, Kate Snow, joins us now with details of the political lines that are being drawn in California.

Kate, what do we know about the plan? What is it showing?

SNOW: We know a lot about it, Judy. In fact, the plan has been released on the Internet now, not only Gary Condit's district, of course, but every other congressional district in California. You know, every 10 years after the new census numbers come out, every state in the union looks at their numbers and rejiggers the lines. California, one of the most complicated, they start with 52 congressional districts this year. They now have 53. They had to move a whole lot of lines. And Gary Condit's district, the 18th, is one of the most impacted.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): Under the California legislature's plan, the outlines of Gary Condit's 18th district won't look the same in the north, a strange new shape: 189,000 people who have never been represented by Gary Condit suddenly would be, a majority of them, Democrats.

In the process, Condit also loses a chunk of conservative voters. End result: the district overall goes from 46 percent Democrat to 52 percent. While that may sound like good news for Condit, political analysts say it may not be, adding thousands of voters to Condit's district who only know him as the man at the center of a scandal could be politically fatal. State senators on both sides of the aisle say there's not much love for Gary Condit in Sacramento right now.

LAWRENCE GIVENTER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Now Gary Condit could have preserved his district and could have called the shots with respect to any drawing of boundaries in order to secure his seat in Congress for the next 10 years. But now, he has no allies and no friends.

SNOW: But Democratic officials in Washington and California are downplaying the impact of the change. They say the idea had always been to strengthen the Democrats' hold on the 18th district.

ART TORRES, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN: Many of these changes were contemplated a long time ago when we started receiving the census data.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And Condit supporters say that this is certainly not going to hurt Gary Condit. In their point of view, Condit's chief of staff, Mike Lynch, spoke to CNN a little bit earlier. He said this: "This district is so much better for a Democrat. For anyone to suggest his future," Gary Condit's future, "has been negatively impacted by this map is pure silliness." Still, Lynch does concede that this could open the way for a potential challenge to Gary Condit at the primary level. Another Democrat could try to take him on, since this is such a new district now. And he said that could happen anytime a politician's district is changed around like this. And already, Judy, Democrats are buzzing about who might run against Gary Condit.

WOODRUFF: Well, now, Kate, just because the state legislature has drawn up this new map, does that mean this is the end of it, this is a done deal?

SNOW: No, not at all. In fact, these are, we should remember, Democrats who control the process in the state Assembly and in the state Senate. They're the ones who essentially drew up this map, and they do expect they'll be able to pass it, but they'll need some Republican support for that. They've got public hearings next week, two days worth of public hearings. So they've still got to pass it through their legislature with a two-thirds majority voter if they want to avoid a referendum across the whole state. So there's some work to be done before this reaches Governor Davis.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kate Snow at the Capitol.

And for more on Condit's political future and his public relations campaign, let's bring in CNN national correspondent, Bob Franken. He's outside Condit's district office in Modesto, California.

Bob, what is the thinking at this point, this new plan? What bearing is it expected to have on Condit's decision whether to seek reelection?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, we're told by the people close to Condit that it will have little bearing, but that's not really what the discussion is about. The discussion we're told is one that we've heard reflected in the various "Larry King" shows that the Condit surrogates have been on. And the question is: Is it worth it? Is it worth it to him to continue in political life considering the fact that he has become, at least for now, such a pariah.

We're told that he is considering not resignation. That doesn't seem very much to be in the cards, but the possibility that he will not announce for reelection again in about 14 months, that he will pack it in after that and then just serve out this term with some of the controversy gone, he (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by the fact that he would not be seeking reelection -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Now, Bob, in the midst of all this, we've learned that the person who was advising Congressman Condit on public affairs, public relations has stepped down, resigned from his team. Tell us what's going on behind there -- behind that.

FRANKEN: Well, the Condit people will say she was one of thousands who have offered advice, solicited and unsolicited. But Marina Ein was in charge of this. She had been brought on by Condit's attorney, Abbe Lowell. She's a well-known Washington publicist. But according to sources, she had been complaining for some time. Her advice was not always followed, but sometimes she wasn't even kept in the loop on what the decisions were. So for whatever reason, she's decided now, as she put it, not to be part of the team. She's only saying that any calls about public relations should be referred to the Condit office.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken reporting from Modesto.

Well, two guests join us now, also from California. They are state Democratic Party chairman, Art Torres; and GOP political consultant, Allen Hoffenblum.

Art Torres, to you first. You just heard the reporting from Kate Snow and from Bob Franken. We're hearing from the Condit staff that this newly drawn district is good news for him because it has more Democrats in it. Is that the objective view in California?

TORRES: The objective was to create a stronger Democratic district, not only here but in the Honda seat, the Tauscher seat in the East Bay of Northern California, and the Adam Schiff seat in Pasadena-Glendale.

But the real story today is not about Condit. The real story should be the Democratic Party. And with the Democratic support, it's created two new Latino seats. The Condit seat has 37 percent new Latino registered voters and a new seat would be in southeast Los Angeles County would also be a Latino seat. So I'm very happy with the plan as it's produced now. And really the story should be that Latino representation is going to increase once again at the benefit by the Democratic Party in California.

WOODRUFF: Well, Allen Hoffenblum, if these voters are mostly Latino, does that help or hurt Gary Condit?

ALLEN HOFFENBLUM, GOP POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, first of all, let me squash this whole statement about, you know, that the Democrats were planning to increase the Democrat or make the Condit seat more Democratic. You got to remember, prior to the scandal, one of the most closest political allies that Gary Condit had was Gray Davis, the governor of California. And no reapportionment plan would have been accepted by the governor of California, Gray Davis, prior to the scandal unless, in fact, it was approved by Gary Condit. But because of the scandal, Gary Condit has lost total control of how district is drawn, and has gone from a Modesto-based seat to one that is probably more based in Stockton.

And it's great that we have 37 percent Latino, but there are a lot of Democrats in that district, including former State Senator Patrick Johnson, maybe John Garamendi and others who have held elective office in that area before, which I think are most highly likely to run for that seat rather than an unknown Latino.

TORRES: No, they're not. No, they said they're not interested.

HOFFENBLUM: Oh, do you have a candidate?

TORRES: Well, they said they're not interested. There is Senator Michael Machado, who's a very qualified candidate if Gary should decide not to run who could probably get into the race and put on a pretty good race.

HOFFENBLUM: No, I agree with that.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me try to get back to the question I posed originally to both of you. And that is: Is this good or bad for Gary Condit?

Art Torres, let's try once again with you on that question?

TORRES: Sure. Again, I don't think the story is about Gary Condit, because I don't think either good or bad could be applied.

WOODRUFF: I know it may not be about that, but could you just answer the...

TORRES: Judy, I don't think you can apply that analysis to Gary Condit, because I don't think there's anything good right now on the horizon given what he's been going through. The only good thing maybe is that he's going to take some time to reflect upon a decision, and he has until December 7th to do that on either to run for reelection or decide not to.

WOODRUFF: Allen Hoffenblum, you see it the same way, that even if there are more Democrats here, it's not good news for him?

HOFFENBLUM: It is not good news for Gary Condit. Gary Condit, If it wasn't for the scandal, would never have allowed the congressional district to be drawn in such a way. You got to remember, he's the chair of the blue dog Democrats, one of the most conservative Republicans -- excuse me, conservative Democrats in the delegation. If you want to know the truth of the matter, most of the liberal Democrats are almost glad that they were given the opportunity, that they were able to draw with this in such a way that they will not have a Blue Dog Democrat going back to Washington, one that's more traditional, more aligned with labor. So probably when you're dealing with the people who are drawing those line, most of whom are liberal Democrats, they were just as glad to see that the more conservative Gary Condit is no longer going to be holding public office.

TORRES: Yeah, but, Allen, this really is a bipartisan effort. You maintain the 20 Republican seats. Even Mr. Brulte, the Senate Republican leader, suggests that this plan may very well get substantial Republican support. It's the first time, as Bruce Cane (ph), the political analyst, said the Democrats and Republicans have gotten together in over 30 years.

WOODRUFF: Art Torres, why is it...

HOFFENBLUM: Oh, I don't want to...

WOODRUFF: Go ahead, you can respond, Allen Hoffenblum.

HOFFENBLUM: Well, I don't want to debate Art right now, because we don't have the time as to the entire plan from Oregon to Mexico. I think there's some real serious problems, particularly among certain Democrats who are not going to like the plan. You know, all of a sudden what you have are two...

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask Art Torres about one of them. Let me ask about Ellen Tauscher, Art Torres. She's clearly not happy about this. You described it as a more Democratic district. She's a Democrat. What happened here?

TORRES: I don't know why she's not happy with the lines, because they were designed to strengthen her majority in that district as we did with Mike Honda and Adam Schiff. And I think once people begin to look at the precincts and look at the entire map -- and you're always going to have this in reapportionment year. People are not going to be initially happy. Her staff is responding to rumors. They need to take the time to look at the lines, look at the precincts and then make a determination whether the district is good for them or not.

WOODRUFF: All right, we are going to have to leave it there, gentlemen. Allen Hoffenblum, thank you.

HOFFENBLUM: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Art Torres, thank you. It's good to see both of you two times in one week. You know we'll come back to you again.

And turning now to redistricting in the state of Missouri. House minority leader Dick Gephardt's political organization reportedly raised $230,000 in large, unregulated contributions to fund his redistricting battle. Missouri's new congressional map puts Gephardt in a more Democratic leaning district than he has now. The "St. Louis Post Dispatch" reports that Gephardt used a special committee to raise funds mostly from out-of-state donors, funds that are not subject to federal election laws. Now some Missouri Republicans say that that, quote, "raises red flags." But Gephardt spokesman calls it a legitimate effort to counter a Republican-led campaign to target Gephardt's seat.

Stay with us. This is INSIDE POLITICS.

ANNOUNCER: His associates are a who's who of American extremists. And he is accused of illegal fund-raising. We'll follow up on a CNN exclusive report on a money trail between the U.S. and Britain. Also ahead, they're not candidates, but Martin Sheen and Eddie Murphy do have featured roles in our look at politics outside the Beltway. And...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Everyone agrees it's a good story. Gary Condit? No. Bigger than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Our Bill Schneider goes after a bigger fish in the political play of the week. Live from Washington, there's more of INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Senator John McCain checked out of a Phoenix hospital today. McCain said he felt fine after surgery Wednesday for an enlarged prostate. He said he's looking forward to returning to Washington, and he predicted the battle over the budget will quickly take center stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Oh, I think this whole budget issue and the disappearing surplus is going to be very big. We have all of our spending bills, and so I think that's going to be a very tough fight. And I think the Democrats are gearing up for a very, very tough fight on spending. And I think the president's committed to holding the line on spending, and I intend to support him on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Senator McCain said he received a lot of calls from colleagues during his hospital stay, including a call from President Bush.

Before he was hospitalized, Senator McCain taped a television ad endorsing Republican Mike Bloomberg's campaign for New York mayor. The spot begins airing today. In it, McCain praises the billionaire media mogul as a man who is willing to stand up against special interests. It is the second celebrity endorsement this week in the New York mayor's race.

Actor Martin Sheen, who plays the president on the hit TV series, "West Wing," is featured in a new radio ad for Democratic candidate Mark Green.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR: This is Martin Sheen with a question for you: What kind of mayor do you want for New York? Mark Green spoke out early against police misconduct. He fought insurance fraud to protect seniors. He helped stop HMO bureaucrats from making medical decisions. He's fought for us as public advocate, and I know Mark Green will do even more as mayor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: And before we go into an interview, I want to make a point and correct something that I said in the last segment. We got a call from the office of California congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who told us that she is, quote, "Very happy with the way her district has been redrawn by the California state legislature." I had said otherwise, that she was upset about it. And my apologies. And we're glad to have that call from the congresswoman's office.

But now back to that volatile campaign for mayor of the city New York, and the race next door for governor of New Jersey. For that, I'm joined by Joel Siegel of the "New York Daily News," and John Hassell of the "Newark Star-Ledger."

John Hassell, to you first. What is going on in the governor's race? Some pretty dramatic changes since the last time we checked in?

JOHN HASSELL, "NEWARK STAR LEDGER": Absolutely. Well, Bret Schundler, the Republican, who pulled off incredible upset in the primary back in June, has now 19 points down to the Democrat, Jim McGreevey. And he finds himself fighting a battle on at least three fronts, not just running against Jim McGreevey but also finding himself dealing with problems within his own party. He's more conservative than the mainstream establishment Republican Party in New Jersey and has yet to mend his fences with a lot of folks there. And thirdly, he just left office last month as mayor of Jersey City, was replaced by a Democrat. And the new administration is doing everything they can to find ammunition for Jim McGreevey in this campaign.

WOODRUFF: How did all this happen, John Hassell? He went into this race as almost the fair-haired boy on the Republican side, didn't he?

HASSELL: Well, he actually was running against the establishment candidate in the spring. First, you had the acting governor, Donald DiFrancesco, who was the party favorite and the presumed front-runner. His campaign more or less imploded in the spring as newspapers uncovered stories about his past business dealings and conflicts of interest he may have had. He was replaced at the last minute by former U.S. representative, Bob Franks, who inherited the title of party favorite and front-runner.

Schundler, throughout all of this, just kept plugging away and eventually pulled off an upset at the last minute; shocked a lot of people. He's more conservative than most statewide Republican candidates in the state. Ever since he won the primary, we've heard very little about anything other than his positions on abortion and gun control. Whether he can turn that around, now this far behind remains to be seen, although we certainly have a history in New Jersey of screaming left turns before election day.

WOODRUFF: Well, that is true. And now I want to -- speaking of quiet elections, let's turn to the city of New York to Joel Siegel with the "New York Daily News."

Joel, bring us up to date on the Democratic side there. Who's ahead, who's behind?

JOEL SIEGEL, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, we're 11 days until the primary. It's a four-way race. And Mark Green, a New York public advocate, he's the second in command, second ranking official in New York City. He has a lead that's anywhere from double digits to maybe the high single digits. And then the three other leading Democrats, named Democrats, are bunched together: Peter Vallone, the city council speaker; Alan Hevesi, the city controller; and Fernando Ferrer, the Bronx borough president.

WOODRUFF: Why is Mark Green so out front, do you think?

SIEGEL: Well, if you ask Mark Green, he'll say it's because of his long record in New York of advocacy, of fighting for families and children. If you ask his opponents, they'll say that his support is very wide but not deep and it's all based on name recognition. And once the voters start paying attention to the contest, that his lead will start to evaporate.

WOODRUFF: Does he -- what is your view? Do you think he has it sewed up?

SIEGEL: Well, no, not at all. I think there's a feeling that we have a very unique situation in New York. Actually maybe not that unique; it's in other cities. If the winner of the primary does not get 40 percent, there'll be a runoff between the top two finishers. It's felt that Mark Green probably has enough support to finish first or second. The question is: Will he be able to make 40 percent? Some people feel he will, most feel he won't. So he's likely to be in the runoff and one of the other three Democrats will be with him.

WOODRUFF: All right, John Hassell, back to New Jersey now. We know that there's some prominent Democrats and Republicans coming into campaign for these candidates. We know that President Bush is expected to come into campaign for Bret Schundler. Is that expected to help him?

HASSELL: Well, we'll see. I mean, the latest poll numbers we have in New Jersey show that President Bush's approval ratings are somewhere in the mid 50s. He lost the state, however, by 16 points to Al Gore, so it's anybody's guess how effective his presence here in the state will be. He will probably not be brought in so much to campaign for Schundler as to raise money for him. Schundler still has not raised the maximum amount that he needs to receive all the public matching funds that he needs to run in this race.

WOODRUFF: And what about the Democrat, McGreevey? We understand that Al Gore is going to be in the state for him? Does he help?

HASSELL: I think he does. Although, again, endorsements -- you know, it's anyone's guess how much they help in a governor's race. We'll see Gore. We'll probably see President Clinton -- former President Clinton before this is all over. And McGreevey brings in a lot of other interesting acts as well. His fund-raiser this fall is expected to feature acts like 'N Sync and Stevie Wonder. And he's going to try to generate a lot of excitement that way.

WOODRUFF: That'll get some attention.

And just quickly, Joel Siegel, last question. The Republican side, Mike Bloomberg spending a lot of money. Is that money going to win it for him?

SIEGEL: Well, he'll be over $20 million I think by this weekend. That's unprecedented in a New York City race, even for how expensive it is to run a campaign here. I think it's going to be very difficult for Herman Badillo, his challenger in the Republican race, to win. Mike Bloomberg likely will have the Republican nomination. I still think it will be a tough road for him to win in November, because in New York, Democrats far outnumber Republicans. And there's really no sense of crisis right now, no sense that people have to reach over to the Republican side to elect somebody.

WOODRUFF: All right, well, we're going to have to leave it there. Joel Siegel with the "New York Daily News," John Hassell with the "Newark Star-Ledger", good to see you both.

SIEGEL: Thanks, Judy.

HASSELL: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And moving down south to Florida, former Attorney General Janet Reno is showing more signs that she may enter the race to challenge Jeb Bush for governor. "The Miami Herald" reports that Reno has interviewed possible campaign managers. She's met with a Washington consultant, and she's used focus groups to gauge voter attitudes about her Parkinson's disease. Reno also is keeping her schedule filled with public appearances, including one last night in Gainesville with six potential Democratic opponents. Reno has not announced a final decision, and she has not yet hired a staff or opened a campaign account to raise money.

A new poll finds a reversal of fortune in the Detroit mayor's race. State representative Kwame Kilpatrick is leading city council president Gil Hill by 10 percentage points in a survey done for the "Detroit Free Press." Four other candidates combined for 12 percent. Three weeks ago, Hill had an 11-point lead over Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick's mother is a member of Congress, and his father is a former county commissioner. Hill is also well-known to Detroit voters. Hill is, that is. He's a former Detroit police detective. He appeared alongside Eddie Murphy in the movie, "Beverly Hills Cop."

We'll check some of this day's other top stories straight ahead, including a standoff near Los Angeles that ended with one sheriff's deputy dead and this house burned to the ground.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Joining us now with our regular Friday roundtable: in Atlanta, Cynthia Tucker of the "Atlanta Constitution." And here in Washington, John Dickerson of "TIME" magazine and Ed Chen of the "Los Angeles Times."

Cynthia, I'm going to start with you. The president's already back in Washington, the Congress comes back next week. What should we expect?

CYNTHIA TUCKER, "ATLANTA CONSTITUTION": Oh, we should expect a lot of bickering and a lot of finger-pointing a lot of name-calling over what happened to the budget surplus.

Judy, I think the Democrats are already licking their chops. They are only pleased to be able to say, they think, to the president, "I told you so," over the budget. And the president is gearing up for that as well. He's already making speeches, saying he won't stand for a lot of nonsense from the Congress. So what we're going to see is a major clash over the budget and over budget priorities, because the surplus has shrunk to nothing. There is a lot less money to spend than there was when the president was elected, and so there will be a big clash over defense and education spending and Medicare and Social Security.

WOODRUFF: And Ed Chen, are the Democrats right to be licking their chops, as Cynthia said?

ED CHEN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, they certainly are, and we'll see if that works. It's going to be a very acrimonious session, I believe, as Cynthia said.

But the White House is -- I think, has some strategies up its sleeves, and they're looking at how another president named Bill Clinton handled this situation a few years ago.

WOODRUFF: They're looking at the Clinton playbook?

CHEN: The strategy. How he snookered Congress.

WOODRUFF: Any examples? Any -- do we know anything more about whether they're going to...

(CROSSTALK)

CHEN: I think they plan to try to say that it is the spending that's caused us to be where we are, and certainly not the tax cut.

WOODRUFF: John Dickerson, right now, just both sides pointing fingers at each other -- does either side have an advantage, really?

JOHN DICKERSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: No, right now we're in this -- for most Americans, it's an extraordinarily boring debate between CBO and OMB. The question of who lost the Social Security surplus is important, but we're going to get into a question of specific programs soon, and that's where it will get really interesting. Democrats are kind of looking over the horizon to see what program they will use to try and go at Bush. And Bush -- Ed's exactly right. Bush is trying to follow the Clinton model. The big difference though: the economy is in much worse trouble than it was under Clinton, and what may happen is this fight over the budget may get confused in the American mind as a fight over the economy, and that's tough for the president.

WOODRUFF: Cynthia, is that the White House worst nightmare, if you will?

TUCKER: Oh, absolutely. I mean, no one predicted that we would be in the kind of economy we're in right now back at the first of the year. Of course, economists saw the slowdown coming. President Bush started talking about it, even before he was in the White House so he could blame it on Clinton -- "this economic slowdown started before I got there."

But I don't think any economist predicted the kind of slowdown that is looking more and more like the R-word, a recession, at the moment. More bad news from the stock market today, consumer confidence is down and the presidents always get blamed, rightly or wrongly, for a bad economy.

WOODRUFF: Ed Chen, let me ask you about the president's vacation. I've heard it said that he's almost damned if he did, and damned if he didn't. He went off on vacation to take a month. Some people said the vacation is too long, other people said, yeah, but he's been spending all of it working.

I mean, what has he accomplished, and has he has taken any long- lasting hits from this, do you think?

CHEN: I don't think any long-lasting. Of course, they called it a working vacation from the start. It became very sensitized to the fact, and the perception that the president was taking a whole month off after only six months in office. And so we saw that the White House staff really tried to come out do a lot of the events. And he had every opportunity in public to talk about how much work he's doing -- the briefings, the phone calls. And actually, it turned out to be more work than we all had anticipated.

WOODRUFF: John?

DICKERSON: Well, that's right. In fact, they talked about how much work he was doing so often, it made you kind of think, well, they really are worried about this. And I think it's something that probably will go away, but there is one small problem for the White House, which is that it's very simple for regular people to understand this, and I was struck by how many people brought it up to me, which is a simple fact. I don't get a month off for vacation. Why does the president?

Now, clearly he was working, clearly, he did a lot. Clearly, he's got the best telecommunicating skills and ability of anybody, but the point is for people, this can be shorthand, and if they don't think the president's on the job while the economy is going down, that could be a problem for the White House.

WOODRUFF: But presidents have always taken vacations.

DICKERSON: Sure they have. This is just -- it's a symbolic thing. And this president worked quite hard, but it's a symbol, and if the economy is in trouble and people think he wasn't on the job, they will come back to this.

WOODRUFF: All right, Cynthia, to another story coming up this week in Washington, the visit of Mexico's President Vicente Fox, very much on the agenda, considering immigration changes, allowing some sort of guest worker program, after the president initially hinted he might go along with some sort of amnesty for Mexican workers in U.S. illegally.

What should we look for there?

TUCKER: Well, I think the president is going to try very hard, and he's already begun trying to dampen expectations of what is going to happen with this amnesty proposal. I think he had thought earlier that he could have a lot of support for an amnesty proposal that he could present to Vicente Fox when he came here, and the President Bush would be able to roll that out.

Clearly, that's not going to happen. It's run into a lot of controversy. And, quite frankly, the souring economy ties into that. There are an awful lot of illegal immigrants in this country who have been important to U.S. economy. But as we see more and more layoffs, amnesty for illegal workers will be more and more controversial among Americans.

WOODRUFF: We've got less than a minute. Ed Chen, can President Bush now make Vicente Fox happy on this issue, do you think?

CHEN: I think so, Judy. I think President Bush understands that this is a long term process. Even down in Texas, he talked about the history of U.S.-Mexico relations, and that they were pretty rocky and hostile at times -- and those were his words. So he sees this as a chance to move the bar along, but not for some magic answer next week.

WOODRUFF: John Dickerson, last word.

DICKERSON: I would agree with that. They may have nothing, or not too terribly much substantive to talk about, but we're going to see a lot of pictures that we haven't seen between American presidents and Mexican presidents, and I think that's going to work fine for the president.

WOODRUFF: All right, John Dickerson, Ed Chen, Cynthia Tucker, thank you all three. Great to see you, and have a terrific Labor Day weekend.

DICKERSON: You, too.

WOODRUFF: Meantime, a former aide to George W. Bush's campaign media adviser was sentenced to one year in prison today for sending a videotape of Bush debate preparations to the Al Gore campaign.

Juanita Yvette Lozano also was fined $3,000. Lozano pleaded guilty to mailing the tape, along with a strategy book and other papers, to Gore adviser Tom Downey. Downey turned the material over to the FBI. The incident attracted a great deal of media attention at the height of the campaign, when much of the focus was on the debates.

The unofficial vacation season is almost over, but our Bill Schneider seldom takes time off. When we return: One last trip to the beach, for the "Political Play of the Week."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As we approach the Labor Day weekend and the summer draws to a close, our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has been looking for the story that made this summer memorable -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Well, what makes a good summer blockbuster? I'd say, compelling images, mystery, danger, media hype, and of course a little sex. Put all that together, and you've got this summer's blockbuster and this week's "Political Play of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Everyone agrees it's a good story. Well, almost everyone.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I think it's out of proportion to the story, but you know, here's what happens. There is a big focus on one thing, and then it subsides and there'll be some other story.

SCHNEIDER: Gary Condit? No! Bigger than that. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to politics, "Jaws" is back, just like the blockbuster of '75. It's "the Summer of Sharks." But what does that have to do with politics? STEPHEN HAYES, TECHNOPOLITICS.COM WRITER: You can make a case that there are a lot of similarities between politicians and sharks, actually. The sharks are getting pretty decent coverage.

SCHNEIDER: Talk about good media: Sharks have been all over the tube this summer. And they're getting closer and closer to the voters.

(on camera): See these specimens here at the Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of Natural History? Sharks haven't changed in millions of years. For that matter, neither have politicians.

RICHARD ELLIS, MARINE BIOLOGY AUTHOR: They've been around for roughly 300 million years. And if something moved in the water, it was edible to a shark. All of a sudden, in, say, the last couple of hundred years, people have started swimming in the water, and they resent the fact that sharks have been trained, as it were, have evolved to eat things that move in the water. That's really all it is.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Why the sudden interest in sharks? Well, it's a redistricting year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So sharks that normally are found in warm water are migrating toward the north.

SCHNEIDER: Could it have something to do with the Florida recount?

GARY VIOLETTA, CURATOR OF FISHES, SEAWORLD: If you were to look at a map of the state of Florida and the shark attacks that occurred, you would notice that Volusia County and Brevard County probably have the two highest shark attack incidents than any other counties in Florida.

SCHNEIDER: More absentee voters! This summer blockbuster has vicious personal attacks, media hype, and of course, a little sex.

NIGEL MARVEN, DISCOVERY CHANNEL: Sometimes we may get in between a male and a female shark, and then they attack. We may be in their territory.

SCHNEIDER: Just like politicians and the press? But there's one big difference. When it comes to sharks...

HAYES: They're not as dangerous as people think. Politicians maybe just as dangerous as people think, actually.

SCHNEIDER: This summer, the sharks have gotten better press. And the "Political Play of the Week."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Politicians however, are safe, because if they go in the water, the sharks will not attack them. Professional courtesy. WOODRUFF: All right, who's more dangerous, politicians or sharks? You have to answer.

SCHNEIDER: Well.

WOODRUFF: Doesn't mean you are off the hook!

SCHNEIDER: Let's say I wouldn't go swimming in the Capitol building.

WOODRUFF: INSIDE POLITICS will be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: That's all for this Friday edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's Allpolitics.com. AOL keyword: CNN. Our e-mail address is insidepolitics@cnn.com.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

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

 Search   




MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 














Back to the top