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In Atlanta, Two Liberal African-American Women Locked in Desperately Close Race

Aired August 20, 2002 - 11:34   ET

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


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Voters go to the poll today in Georgia and Wyoming in primary elections. One of the most interesting and visible races is in suburban Atlanta's fourth district, where two liberal Democratic African-American women are locked in a desperately close race.
As CNN's Martin Savidge explains this morning, September 11th has become a crucial factor in that process.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Can you spot the member of Congress in this crowd? She is Cynthia McKinney, a five- term Atlanta-area congresswoman who dances to a different beat, flamboyant, outspoken, controversial. Now under fire for taking on the White House over September 11th, and in danger of defeat in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: Let me tell you, in my own words, that I was not elected to keep secrets once I got Washington. I was not elected to remain silent, to sit down or to shut up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

SAVIDGE: And shut up she has not. McKinney told a California radio station the Bush administration had advance warning of the terror attacks, and hinted it did nothing, so supporters could make a profit.

MCKINNEY: Those engaged in unusual stock trades immediately before September 11th knew enough to make millions of dollars from United and American Airlines.

SAVIDGE: Critics zero in on Muslim-American campaign money going to McKinney; 18 different donors belong to groups that have come under investigation by the U.S. government, for possible money ties to terrorism, or have spoken out in support of radical Islamic terrorist movements.

STEVEN EMERSON, AUTHOR, "JIHAD IN AMERICA": I think there is a direct relationship between her views, her statements in support of these organizations, and their policies and the degree to which they have been willing to support her campaign.

SAVIDGE: Her campaign manager says it is all perfectly legal.

(on camera): You must not aware of damage could be done if people are associated with terrorism, contributing to her campaign.

BILL BANKS, MCKINNEY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: There is nothing can I do about that. We don't associate people with anything. But if there is no indictments or indication of the person had done anything illegal...

SAVIDGE: The combination of McKinney's money and mouth has her locked in a race that has become too close to call.

DENISE MAJETE (D), CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: I want to go to Congress to be a legislator, not an agitator.

SAVIDGE: Fellow Democrat Denise Majete is a former state judge who has risen from relative obscurity to realistic threat. Her political war chest has grown to almost double McKinneys, with a substantial money of her coming from out of state Jewish supporters.

MAJETE: I make no apologies for accepting contributions from people who see that this is an important race and that this has more than local implications, and that I am the kind of candidate that they can feel proud to support.

SAVIDGE: The word September 11th may never be spoken at campaign stops like this. But they certainly were heard here, in a weekend rally led by nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

LOUIS FARRAKHAN, NATION OF ISLAM: Cynthia was not wrong in raising a question; she was just wrong because she is black and raised that question.

SAVIDGE: Whatever happens, don't expect McKinney to go quietly.

Martin Savidge, Stone Mountain, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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