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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

How Much Political Clout Do Women Have?; NY Lt. Governor Candidate Admits Fathering Children out of Wedlock; Republicans Clash Over Iraq

Aired August 26, 2002 - 16:00   ET

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


JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Exactly 82 years after women were guaranteed the right to vote, how much political clout do we really have heading into the next election?
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bruce Morton in Washington. I'll look at the evolution of women in politics from the suffragettes to the record number of women now serving in the U.S. Senate.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jeff Greenfield in New York where a candidate for lieutenant governor has acknowledged he fathered two children out of wedlock. Could this really help decide who the Democrats nominate for governor?

WOODRUFF: Also ahead, Republican big guns clashing over an attack on Iraq. Today the vice president chimed in.

Thank you for joining us. It is a right that many Americans take for granted, a right that more than half the population was denied until August 26, 1920. On that day, the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote took effect. So many years later the gains women have made in politics are remarkable. But the hurdles they still face can be frustrating. We'll spend some time this hour discussing both the gains and the challenges and whether women are using their political influence wisely. We begin with our national correspondent, Bruce Morton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): The movement's founders, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton died before the fight was won, while senators were still saying said giving women the vote would mean a family with two heads, a house divided. The suffragettes did win the vote 82 years ago, and at first nothing happened. Geraldine Ferraro running for vice president in 1984 would get letters, small contributions for women, I won't tell my husband, but I'm for you and then she said, they voted just like the men. In fact, the famous gender gap women voting more Democratic than men really only emerged in late '80s when budget cuts in programs like education that women liked became issues.

Women did, ever so slowly, gain power. Pundits called 1992 the year of the woman in politics. Six, including four newcomers elected to the Senate. There were 47 women in the House that year. But 2,000 was the real year of the woman. Seven women elected to the Senate. Every woman who was on the ballot that fall won. Newcomers Cantwell of Washington, Stabenow in Michigan, Clinton of New York, Carnahan of Missouri and three incumbents, Feinstein of California, Hutchison of Texas, Snowe of Maine. In all, there are 13 senators in this Congress, a record and 60 women in the House. Democrats elected a woman, Nancy Pelosi of California the first female House whip, the number two position.

Pat Schroeder elected in 1972, served 12 terms, sees progress.

PAT SCHROEDER, FMR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: They've gotten more visibility and they have gotten more powerful positions and they're taken a lot more seriously when I first came, we could have met in a phone booth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON: Women serve now on what used to be boys committees, Armed Services, Budget, Finance. They've had a harder time getting elected governors but a number are favored this fall and women could end up with the top job in as many as 10 of the 50 states. Ms. Anthony, if you're watching, take heart. Your coin never sold well but your sisters are getting stronger all the time. Judy.

WOODRUFF: You'd have to have a pretty big phone booth these days.

MORTON: You would indeed.

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Bruce. Well, there now are five women governors in the United States and that number is likely to increase after the fall election. In Massachusetts, a Democrat in the race for governor and a Republican who dropped out offer striking examples of the ups and downs experienced by female candidates. CNN's Bill Delaney is in Boston.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In historic terms, the big deal about a woman politician like Shannon O'Brien, may be that her being a woman isn't a big deal as she now runs for governor of Massachusetts. Nineteen women had ever been governors. This year alone though, there are 15 women who are seriously major party candidates.

(on-camera): Still here in Massachusetts, the continuing pitfalls of being a politician who's female can be readily illustrated by comparing Shannon O'Brien as a woman in the running, to the outgoing governor here, Republican Jane Swift, who's been all but run out of town on a rail.

(voice-over): A recent headline concerning Massachusetts first woman governor who declined to speak with CNN. A smart likable young lawyer, she's been accused throughout her tenure of political blundering and some headed straight for the sexist play book, calling her a ditz without focus who had aides baby sit her kids and eventually, she got defensive. ACTING GOV. JANE SWIFT (R) MASSACHUSETTS: I guess I should be accustomed to powerful men trying to tell me that they know better than I do.

DELANEY: Shoved aside in the end as Republican candidate this fall by a powerful man, Mitt Romney. But it may be just a small measure of how far women have come in politics that polls indicate Swift's image problems have not tainted Shannon O'Brien, the state treasury secretary, now leading three men for the Democratic candidacy, to face Romney.

How much does the gender of a candidate matter now?

SHANNON O'BRIEN (D), MASS. GOV. CANDIDATE: I think the gender matters in that your gender colors your life experience and so it certainly colors how you view things. I'm mother of a 3-year-old daughter, Regan and so I know that it colors how I view education. I do believe that that stereotype does exist and that women candidates do have a tighter rope to walk between being tough enough to do the job and too tough and other names that go along with that.

DELANEY: She is often asked how she'll govern and also raise a child. You wouldn't ask a man that.

O'BRIEN: People do consider how a woman is going to balance her responsibilities as a mother and as a public figure. I happen to be married to a terrific guy. My husband, Emmett (ph), actually quit his job to help me in this campaign for governor.

Like so many other areas of our lives, women are judged much more harshly and held to a much higher standard than men are. And sometimes the harshest judges are women.

DELANEY: Women 82 years since they got the vote being the majority of voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think women have gotten so used to male politicians failing them that they want women to do even better.

DELANEY: Should Jane Swift hand power over to another woman? That would be one of three such first time ever gubernatorial double- headers for women this year. Don't count on seeing the last of double standards. Bill Delaney, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Let's go on the record with two women in politics. Janet Napolitano is Arizona's attorney general and is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Republican Lorraine Hunt is seeking reelection as the lieutenant governor of Nevada. Janet Napolitano, to you first, why do you think we are seeing so many women this year with a better chance than ever of being elected to top office and particularly governorships.

JANET NAPOLITANO (D), ARIZONA GOV. CANDIDATE: I think it's an evolution. Many of us who are running for governor now have been in public office and public service for quite a while. I myself was the former United States attorney for Arizona. I'm the attorney general now. And as you build that experience, those credentials and the credibility, it's much easier to take on the top job.

WOODRUFF: Lorraine Hunt you see it the same way. It's an evolution.

LT. GOV. LORRAINE HUNT (R) NEVADA: Certainly an evolution as in my case. I come from the private sector. I'm a business woman, a small business owner and had many years in banking and finance and I reached a point in my life where the kids were grown and out of the house and the business was stabilized and I decided I would serve, public service for a while and I've really been enjoying my work as the chairman of the Nevada commission on economic development and tourism for the state.

WOODRUFF: Janet Napolitano in Arizona, is gender a factor in your race?

NAPOLITANO: I don't think it is. And you have to realize, Arizona is unique in this regard. When I was elected attorney general, all five of the statewide constitutional officers elected that year from governor on down were all women, the first time in American history that happened. So Arizona's got a pretty good track record of electing women. But I also don't run as a woman candidate per se. I'm running on my education platform, my economic development platform, my wanting to move Arizona forward platform and it's not a gender specific race.

WOODRUFF: In Nevada, Lieutenant Governor Hunt, is gender a factor for you?

HUNT: Well, as in Nevada, we're very similar to Arizona in that our constitutional officers we have five women that were elected. I think in Nevada, it's a very entrepreneurial state and in pioneer like, very much so, and they look for people with substance. They look for people with experience and qualifications. So I don't think gender is the big factor.

WOODRUFF: Janet Napolitano, do you think there's a stereotype facing women who seek executive office, a notion that is still widely held by many people that women just can't hold a job at the top?

NAPOLITANO: I think if there was that stereotype it is fast disappearing and one of the things that all of us who are women running for the chief executive office are doing now is really smashing that stereotype to bits. And as we get elected and do good jobs in the governor ships and so forth that, that stereotype will be a thing of the past.

WOODRUFF: Do you see a stereotype in your case Lorraine Hunt?

HUNT: No, actually I really don't. I think European countries for many years have recognized that women can be very competent in leadership in government. A perfect example is Margaret Thatcher and certainly Nevada has great opportunities for women. It just has to do with confidence and qualifications and the confidence of the voters that you can do a good job.

WOODRUFF: I want to read you both a quote from Kathleen Sabelia (ph). She's a candidate for governor in Kansas. She's actually the Democratic candidate. She said quote, unless you can elect women as governors, there's going to be no opportunity to elect a woman as president. Janet Napolitano, do you think that's the case? Women are going to have to show what they can do as governor before people will consider them to be president?

NAPOLITANO: I think she has a good point. Our recent track record is that our chief executive officers at the Federal level comes from the chief executive office at the state level. So I think that there is an appropriate focus on electing women to the governorships and I think it is an appropriate stair step for Federal office and something that I think the national groups in Washington, D.C. have also recognized.

WOODRUFF: Lorraine Hunt, do you think serving as governor, you're a lieutenant governor but you're obviously very close to the governor in your state, is serving as governor, is that going to be a prerequisite?

HUNT: Well, I do concur with the general statement, but I don't think it as prerequisite. In Nevada I have already under this administration served equivalent to more than five months as acting governor. But as far as president or vice president of the United States of America, I would think the proper candidate would have an opportunity again if the public felt they had the confidence in that person, whether it was a woman or a man, but most certainly the opportunities are there for women.

WOODRUFF: Attorney General Napolitano, do you think we'll ever see a day when we stop asking these questions of women candidates?

WOODRUFF: You know, I'm looking forward to that day, quite frankly. But in a way I don't mind the asking because I think we are setting new -- a new historical pattern now and we're moving up.

WOODRUFF: All right. Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt in Nevada and attorney general and gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, Janet Napolitano. Good to see both of you.

NAPOLITANO: Thank you very much.

HUNT: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Well, the group Emily's list has a reputation for helping Democratic women get elected to public office. But has it been picking losers lately? We'll ask the group's president next.

Also ahead, the usually low profile race for lieutenant governor in New York takes a tabloid turn.

And later... (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDY RIOS, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: The partial birth abortion, one man holds the key and that's Tom Daschle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: A new voice for conservative Christians, Sandy Rios talks to our John King about morality and her message. This is INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The grass roots political group Emily's list is among the most powerful women's interest groups in the country. The group funnels money to Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights. Recently the strategy has come under fire from fellow Democrats angered by the group's role in several high profile primary races. Here now CNN congressional correspondent Kate Snow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE SNOW, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Emily's List once praised Democrat John Dingell as one of the most powerful members of Congress. But this year in Michigan, he was the enemy.

REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICH.: We do have all kinds of outlanders, coming in to meddle in the affairs of this district. And frankly, it's not going to help.

SNOW: Although Dingell supports abortion rights, Emily's list came out for the women in the race, his Democratic opponent in the primary, Congresswoman Lynn Rivers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RIVERS CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: In her eight years in Congress Lynn Rivers has fought for background checks and child safety locks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Emily's list says they spend at least $350,000 backing Rivers. The Dingell campaign says try at least $2 million.

DEBBY DINGELL, MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: What I was surprised at was the amount of money that they put into the race.

Debbie Dingell is a Democratic party leader in her own right. She says Emily's list drove up the cost for both sides, hurting all Democrats.

DEBBIE DINGELL: It was some place between 8 to $10 million congressional race that otherwise, those are dollars that would have gone to electing Democratic candidates in the fall.

SNOW: Emily's list makes no apologies. They say it's their mission to put good pro-abortion rights women in office.

ELLEN MALCOLM, PRES, EMILY'S LIST: It is a family fight we didn't look for. But when we were in that race, of course we're going to do what we can to win and of course all of the people supporting him did the same thing. That's the way it works in primaries.

SNOW: But Democratic strategists say Emily's list is making bad choices, not just in Michigan but across the country. Democratic operatives say they are frustrated the group is picking battles it simply can't win and spending loads of money on issue ads that have nothing to do with abortion.

Washington insider Rahm Emanuel says he fights for working People, but Emanuel led the fight for the NAFTA agreement.

SNOW: Democratic insiders estimate Emily's list spent three quarters of a million dollars attacking former Clinton aide, Rahm Emanuel's record on labor. But like the Dingell race it didn't work. In fact, critics point to a string of losses this year. Of the 10 House primaries Emily's list was heavily involved in this election cycle. They lost six. Malcolm stresses the wins.

MALCOLM: Two of those primary battles were Diane Watson and Linda Sanchez in California who won primaries in heavily Democratic seats. They're going to go to Congress. Those are going to be two new Democratic women in the House.

SNOW: Malcolm says she sees all this criticism as a compliment that Emily's list is finally powerful enough to draw fire. Kate Snow, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And with me now here in Washington is the woman you just saw, the president of Emily's list, Ellen Malcolm. A lot of Democrats are upset with you. What's going on here?

MALCOLM: You know, it's really interesting Judy. I think we bat 60 percent of the women we've helped elect have had primary races. Nobody ever said a word about it until we ran candidates running against Rahm Emanuel and John Dingell who have a lot of friends here in Washington. So it's the Beltway boys are upset. Paul Begalas (ph) said that's when he got mad and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said it was his pal, Rahm Emanuel we were running against.

WOODRUFF: Well, one of the things they're saying is that if your goal is to elect Democratic women who are pro choice and you've got a pro choice woman running against a pro choice man, why not focus on those contents where you've got a pro-choice candidate running against somebody who's not?

MALCOLM: You know they would like to define our mission, but we think our mission is to elect pro-choice Democratic women to the House and to the Senate and to governorship. That means we have to compete in primaries. And right now, six out of seven members of Congress are men. That means our representative democracy doesn't have women in the mix and so we're going to have to fight in primaries. We're going to run women against men that we may agree with on the issues because we want our women in there talking about issues that are important to women and families.

WOODRUFF: The question some are asking that I talked to is, are you picking the right races? For example in the Rahm Emanuel race in Illinois, I understand he was about 11 points ahead when you got involved. He ended up spending another half million dollars and he ended up winning by 11 points. Did you really make a dent in that race?

MALCOLM: Well, you know, it is not the right choice if you don't want the boys in Washington to get mad at you. There's no question about that. If you want to elect women and you want to have women in Congress, you're going to defend women who are hurt by redistricting as Lynn Rivers was. You're going to have primary fights like we did for Linda Sanchez and Diane Watson and then we're going to get over all this. We're going to look at November and we are going to be the best allies the Democrats have running against the Republicans in November.

WOODRUFF: Ellen Malcolm, what about their complaints, both in the Dingell and in the Rahm Emanuel races that Emily's list, which focuses on women and pro-choice, ended up focusing on in the Emanuel race on trade, on NAFTA and in the Dingell race on gun rights. They are two issues far afield from your agenda or not.

MALCOLM: No, we have, for many years, worked on the women's vote project talking to women, listening to women, understanding what women voters care about so we can motivate them to vote. They say they care about jobs and the economy right now, education, health care, prescription drugs, and those are the issues we talk about. You know, it is not for the boys in Washington it tell women voters what their agenda is. Women care about reproductive rights but they care about a lot of issues and those are the ones we're talking about.

WOODRUFF: Kate Snow just said, out of 10 races that you've been in this year, you've lost in six. Is there a reason to rethink your strategy, rethink your approach here?

MALCOLM: Absolutely not. If you look at an environment that we face, where 95 percent of members who run for reelection are reelected and only a couple dozen open seats across the country, that means if you want to add newcomers and you want to add women, you have you to get involved in primary fights. We have every -- as much right to be in these races as the guys do. Nobody says labor should stay out of primaries. Nobody says labor should talk about a narrow agenda. We're going to play by the same rules as the guys do. We're going to play hard and we're going to win.

WOODRUFF: Let's finally broaden this out. When you look at women candidates overall, we've been reporting women given a serious shot this year at winning more governorships than ever before in history, have we reached some sort of turning point now for women do you think or is this just a struggle that's going to have to go on forever for women. MALCOLM: I think it is building wave. We've seen women run in some really tough races. Debbie Stabenow, Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton in the last election. They've shown voters that women can compete in tough races. Voters know now what it is to see a woman run. And now we've seen a lot of women that have make their credentials, built credentials at the state level and they're ready to run for governor. So I think all these factors build when we find these good opportunities now. We have a lot of women that are ready to take advantage of them.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ellen Malcolm. She is the head of Emily's list out there fighting for their candidates. Thanks very much. Good to see you Ellen. We appreciate you coming by.

MALCOLM: Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Well, more Republicans suggest a go-slow approach when it comes to Iraq. One of the topics ahead in our taking issue segment.

But up next, a check of the "newscycle," including word that thousands of Air Force reservists will be kept longer on active duty.

But first, let's turn to Allan Chernoff. He's at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update. Hi, Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Well, stocks battle back from early losses. Buyers took control here on Wall Street. Market watchers warn though it could be a very volatile week because many people are simply on vacation. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 46 points. The industrials had been down more than 100 earlier in the session. The Nasdaq composite ending with a gain of 11 points.

On the big board Hershey jumped $1.77 on a report it has received a sweet buy-out offer. "USA Today" says Swiss foods giant Nestle bid $11.5 billion for the biggest U.S. candy maker. Neither company is commenting. In fact Nestle calling the idea a market fantasy.

In other news, a double shot of economic reports showing the housing market is still red hot as low mortgage rates and solid home appreciation keep Americans buying. Sales of previously owned homes rose 4 1/2 percent in July. A separate report showing sales of newly built homes up nearly 7 percent last month hitting a record high. That is a quick wrap up of the action on Wall Street. More "Inside Politics" in a moment, including the political debate over how the administration should carry out its goal of removing Saddam Hussein from power.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Among the stories in our "newscycle": a passenger train collided with a tractor trailer about an hour ago in Miami. At least one person was injured. The trailer was shoved off the track at a 90-degree angle to the truck's cab. Two rescue teams are on the scene of the accident.

The Defense Department plans to keep about 14,000 Air Force reservists and National Guard units on active duty for up to two years, an extra 12 months from what was first expected. The affected units are assigned to security, communications, and combat patrols over the United States.

Vice President Cheney today told a meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that when it comes to Saddam Hussein, quote, The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action. Cheney said Iraq is a threat to its neighbors as well as the U.S. In his words, quoting again, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are not weapons for the purpose of defending Iraq. These are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam can hold the threat over the head of anyone he chooses in his own region or beyond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: With us now: Betsy Hart of the Scripps Howard news service, and Ryan Lizza, of "The New Republic." Let's first talk about Iraq, what the vice president had to say. You just heard that. Over the weekend, James Baker though, who was the secretary of state to the first President Bush, George Bush the father, put an op-ed in the "New York Times" in which among other things he talked about how essential he believes it is for the United States to get the OK of the United Nations. And he said quote, seeking new authorization now is necessary politically and practically and will help build international support.

Betsy Hart, here's somebody people listen to.

BETSY HART, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SRV. Well, it's no surprise, Judy. I mean James Baker is very tough when it comes to presidential campaigns but when it comes to matters of state he tends to regress into the Kumbaya, let's hold hands and all get along mode and of course back in the Gulf war one if you will, he was the one who orchestrated the U.N. resolution. He wants to see that done again. I think it's a big mistake. First you have the moral issue. We have the moral high ground when it comes to Iraq. It's not as if we're sort of weighing in the balance and we have to really prove we're better or that they're a problem.

Second, as a practical issue, who knows what we would have to give us as far as our ability to make decisions and direct the campaign in order to get that resolution OKd.

WOODRUFF: Ryan Lizza, is Jim Baker right, that the U.N. has got to be on board here?

RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Well, I think the question is, is Baker just raising these questions because he's dead set against the Bush policy on Iraq or does this represent a shift in the Colin Powell State Department position. They want to solve series, they want a series of questions answered before we go forward where on every important issue with respect to Iraq, Baker in that editorial is on the opposite side of the hawks in the Pentagon on the number of troops it'll take, on whether we should go to the U.N., on how important the Israeli Palestinian conflict is and even on whether we should go it alone if our allies aren't on board.

So the question is, is he raising these questions because he's truly opposed to regime change or if he's just being more practical about how we go about this policy.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying it's still up in the air. Let me quickly change the subject. In fact, to something that you wrote about in "The New Republic" this week. And, Ryan, I'm going to quote.

You were arguing that the 2002 midterms are becoming a referendum on President Bush. And, among other things, you said, "Bush has spent a lot more time, energy and political capital trying to elect a new Congress than he has spent working with the current one. The danger for Bush," you wrote, "is that the more time he spends politicking out of the country, the more the 2002 election results will be interpreted as about him."

Betsy, you agree?

HART: Well, I agree that -- and elsewhere where Ryan talks about that Bush hasn't been spending his political capital, and I do agree with that. He hasn't use his veto pen. He hasn't pushed, for instance, for tax cuts, which is somebody very much needed at a time right now where we are having these economic problems.

On the other hand, I think if Bush sat in the basement of the White House from now until Election Day, it would still be called a referendum on Bush, depending on how it goes. If the Republicans are successful in actually taking seats in Congress, believe me, the Democrats will suddenly tell you: "Oh, no, these were all local races."

If they lose seats, the Republicans are going say, "Look, the party in the White House always loses when it comes to the election."

WOODRUFF: You don't think it has anything to do with how much time he's spending out on the campaign trail?

HART: No. I actually think he's smart to spend the time out there, because, no matter what he does, it's going to be spun according to the winners and the losers. And he may as well take what is his popularity on the road and try to win where he can.

WOODRUFF: What about that, Ryan?

LIZZA: Well, that's true. To a certain extent, midterm elections will always be interpreted as a referendum on the president. But Bush has done more than any of his predecessors in trying to elect a Republican Congress this far into his presidency.

He's traveled to more states. He's been to more fund-raisers. He's raised more money. And if you look at what he's done...

WOODRUFF: You quantified it? You know for a fact that he's...

LIZZA: Sure. If you look at Bush and Cheney, it's about 100 fund-raisers and about $110 million so far just this year, and about 35 states.

HART: My point is, there isn't a big downside to that, because, if he's successful and he wins a Republican Congress, terrific. If he is not successful and he loses, they're going say, "Oh, well, the party in power always loses anyway." And he is popular. So I think he's kind of making the smart move.

LIZZA: The more political capital he spends on trying to win back that Republican Congress, the more people like us are going to say, this was a referendum on Bush, and Bush lost.

WOODRUFF: All right, we are going to leave it there. It's a good discussion for a Monday.

HART: Probably would have said that anyway, so what the heck.

WOODRUFF: Betsy Hart, Ryan Lizza, good to see you both.

HART: You bet.

LIZZA: Thanks.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thank you.

A politician's private affairs become public. Up next: a candidate's headline-grabbing admission in New York.

Plus: And is Hollywood trying to take some of the luster from Rudy Giuliani's image?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In New York today, lieutenant governor candidate Dennis Mehiel says he thinks voters will be understanding about the fact that he fathered two children with two women while he was still married to his first wife.

A day after the Democrat went public with his story, CNN's Garrick Utley looks at the fallout.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you are running for your party's nomination for governor, you shake lots of hands, hold onto the flag, and play to the camera, all at the same time.

Just watch Carl McCall, the current comptroller of New York state. If you are running for lieutenant governor, you stand discretely to one side waiting for your moment. And if you are Dennis Mehiel, a wealthy businessman-turned-candidate, you hope you don't turn up on the front page of the high-octane New York tabloids, as your private life is hung out for public scrutiny, as it was today.

When he learned that the story was about to break, Mehiel acknowledged publicly that two of his seven children were born out of wedlock.

DENNIS MEHIEL (D), NEW YORK LT. GOV. CANDIDATE: I am the father to these children, as I am to the other 5. As I said yesterday in my statement, I'm deeply involved in their lives -- that's time, love, financially -- in every way.

UTLEY (on camera): For the record, Dennis Mehiel separated from his wife in 1992. Later that year, he had a daughter with a woman who doesn't want to be identified. In 1996, he had another daughter with another woman. In 1999, he and the wife, who had been separated for several years, finally got a divorce. And, in 2001, he married the mother of the child that he fathered five years earlier.

Question: Is this a political campaign issue?

(voice-over): Mehiel says it is, only because Andrew Cuomo's campaign, which is also fighting for the nomination, leaked the story.

MEHIEL: I felt compelled to share with the public that particular part of my life, because our opponents had decided that they wanted to make it a political issue in the campaign.

UTLEY: When the Cuomo camp heard that charge, it called it an outrageous diversion attempt.

ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I want to have nothing to do with any personal innuendo, any personal items.

UTLEY: Carl McCall, with whom Mehiel has formed a campaign alliance, says his campaign knew of the background of the two children.

CARL MCCALL (D), NEW YORK GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Dennis Mehiel has been close to and involved in the life of his children and supports his children.

UTLEY: And as the campaign continues:

MEHIEL: We are going to stay on the high road. We are going to stay positive. And all the other stuff just rolls off our back.

UTLEY: That's where things stand in this latest episode of love, family life and politics.

Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And now Jeff Greenfield is with us from New York. All right, Jeff, the office of lieutenant governor in New York, probably the responsibilities aren't what you would call crucial, so why does it matter if one of the candidates is caught up in this embarrassing kind of story?

GREENFIELD: You're absolutely right.

Unlike Texas, where the lieutenant governor has a lot of clout, in this state, the lieutenant governor has no power. And it wouldn't matter most of the time. But, as it happens, this year, both of the Democratic candidates, as Garrick told you, Comptroller Carl McCall and Andrew Cuomo, have formed these alliances with running mates, even though the voters choose the governor and lieutenant governor nominees separately, and they run together in November, like the president and vice president.

Now, McCall's choice, Dennis Mehiel, is a very wealthy businessman. So his personal fortune has been used in the McCall campaign to pay for joint ads, campaign appearances, campaign headquarters. So, in this particular case, it's conceivable that an embarrassment for Mr. Dennis Mehiel could kick back on McCall, much as we've seen happen to presidential candidates in the past with some of their running mates.

WOODRUFF: But that assumes that voters actually care a great deal about whether a candidate has fathered children out of wedlock.

GREENFIELD: Exactly.

The most recent figures show that, nationally, about a third, a third of all children are born out of wedlock. In New York state, it's slightly higher. It's about 36 percent. And we know for sure that personal matters that once would have proved absolutely fatal to a politician -- divorce, say, 50 years ago, past infidelities, even -- not to bring up some recent unpleasantness -- contemporary misbehavior by, say, presidents, say, near the Oval Office, have not proven to be fatal or even all that damaging.

But, in this case, there are also two more twists to this New York City tale, one of which is a little uncomfortable to mention.

WOODRUFF: And what are those?

GREENFIELD: Well, the first one is that the fact that it was the campaign of the other lieutenant governor candidate, Charlie King, who first got wind of the press interest in the story, warned the opposition.

And there is an angry argument going on now about whether the camp of Andrew Cuomo had anything to do with leaking the story. They say absolutely not. But we have seen in the past, if the issue were to become whether the Cuomo camp leaked the story, that could actually wind up hurting Cuomo more than McCall.

But here's the somewhere uncomfortable part. Carl McCall, of course, is an African-American, the first one elected to statewide office in New York. He's got a big lead right now in the polls for the gubernatorial nomination. Dennis Mehiel is white. But the other candidate for lieutenant governor, Charlie King, is black. And it's not exactly a secret, whatever the polite public protestations might be, that the Democrats would find the idea of both parts of the top of the ticket to be African-American presenting them with a difficult political situation.

In New York, tickets are balanced all the time. But because the voters pick the New York governor and lieutenant governor separately, candidates can't balance it. It's up to the voters. And this could be a dilemma.

WOODRUFF: I have a feeling we are going to be talking about this some more.

Jeff Greenfield, thanks very much.

GREENFIELD: Welcome to New York, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Welcome back, too.

Well, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani apparently has a new ally who is trying to preserve the afterglow of his post-September 11 image. Actor James Woods is set to play Giuliani in a cable TV movie. But "The New York Daily News" reports that he has demanded a rewrite of the script because it didn't make America's mayor look heroic enough.

Woods reportedly told television executives that the script spent too much time on Giuliani's troubled relationships with his father and his ex-wife, Donna Hanover.

The inspiration for "Doonesbury" enters the political arena next in our "Campaign News Daily."

Also ahead:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JESSE VENTURA (I), MINNESOTA: We talk about lunch with the governor today, we are talking about lunch on a stick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Political candidates aren't the only ones enjoying carnival food. Ron Brownstein joins me from the Minnesota State Fair.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": The Republican Senate primary in New Hampshire is heating up. Over the weekend, "The Manchester Union Leader" endorsed Congressman John Sununu over Senator Bob Smith.

And a new TV ad for Sununu echoes the paper's recent criticism of Smith, labeling him as a Washington insider. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: Smith attacking Republicans again. First, he attacked Republicans on the Senate floor, calling our party platform meaningless; now negative ads against John Sununu, "an attack ad," says "The Telegraph." "The Union Leader" calls Smith desperate, misrepresenting Sununu's record. Even worse, Bob Smith has changed. He's gone Washington, become a Washington insider.

Bob, after 18 years, we've had enough. It's time for a change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Washington insiders are bad.

Well, in Missouri, a new poll finds a tightening Senate race between Democrat incumbent Jean Carnahan and GOP challenger Jim Talent. The Zogby Survey gives Talent a one-point edge over Carnahan. An April poll showed Carnahan leading Talent by six points.

In Connecticut, a Green Party candidate for Congress is making the most of his links to a popular comic strip. Charlie Pillsbury is collecting signatures to run in the state's 3rd Congressional District. Pillsbury was a Yale roommate of "Doonesbury" comic strip creator Garry Trudeau. And Pillsbury was the inspiration for the character Mike Doonesbury. Trudeau is permitting Pillsbury to use the character in his race for his Congress. Pillsbury's Web site features the usual policy statements, along with a large drawing of Mike Doonesbury.

Well, some of the most intriguing campaigns in the country are in Minnesota, where candidates for races up and down the ballot are currently stumping for votes at the state fair.

Our political analyst Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" has been walking the fairgrounds. And, earlier, I had a chance to ask him about all the fun he's having.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: To start with, Judy, I would tell you there's more food here than you can shake a stick at, except that most of the food here is already on a stick.

You can get corn on a stick, hot dogs on a stick, fried alligator on a stick, deep-fried macaroni-and-cheese on a stick, and then my personal favorite: a deep-fried Snickers bar rolled in powdered sugar on a stick.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWNSTEIN: Now, what makes this even doubly fun for people like us is that the only thing almost as plentiful as the food is the politicians. Virtually everyone running for any office in Minnesota, from senator to governor, down to the statehouse, are here through most of the next two weeks, through Labor Day, every day, shaking hands, walking the midway, talking to the folks.

WOODRUFF: So, there's real campaigning going on there.

All right, first of all, tell us about the Senate race. The incumbent Democrat, Paul Wellstone, how is he doing?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, it's a fascinating race.

You know, this is one of four states in the Midwest where Republicans are making serious challenges to Democratic incumbents: Wellstone here in Minnesota; Tim Johnson in South Dakota; Jean Carnahan in Missouri; Tom Harkin in Iowa.

Wellstone seemed to be struggling earlier in the year. You saw a really sharp movement in Minnesota. Even though Al Gore carried the state, rural parts of the state really swung towards George Bush in 2000, as they did all throughout the Midwest. But lately, he seems to be feeling stronger, as the agenda has moved away from national security toward some of the economic and corporate corruption issues, where he feels stronger.

WOODRUFF: All right, now tell us a little about the governor's race, Ron. As we know, the independent, Jesse Ventura, is not running for reelection. Where does that leave everything?

BROWNSTEIN: This is really fascinating. It's a test of whether the Independence Party can institutionalize itself and remain a force after Jesse Ventura.

Judy, only once since World War I, has an independent party managed to elect a second governor to succeed the first governor that it put in office. But here they have a real chance. Tim Penny, a former Democratic congressman, is running even in the early polls with Tim Pawlenty, the Republican, and Roger Moe, the Democrat.

It's a mixed legacy he's receiving from Ventura. People like a lot of his policies. But he's been a polarizing figure. And his approval rating has dropped. It's really a critical election for that party, because, if they can't hold the governorship, they made very few inroads in the legislature while Ventura was here. And if they lose that platform, they may be sort of marginalized in Minnesota very quickly.

WOODRUFF: All right, so, is there one group of voters there that's going hold the key, one swing group or not?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, I think both sides are really focused on what they call the exurban voters here. Those are voters outside of the first ring of the suburbs. The Minneapolis metropolitan area still is pretty strongly Democratic. Even the inner suburbs, Democrats do well, just as they're doing well in a lot of suburbs north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

But when you get further out to where the suburb blends into the countryside, Republicans have made a lot of gains in those counties, really all across the region. Those are the kinds of places where Bush picked up a lot of ground in 2000, especially among men. And that's where Democrats are going to make some recovery if they're going to hold these seats in 2002.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein, you going to hold up that fried Snickers?

BROWNSTEIN: No, but I do have -- bringing the two themes together -- political propaganda on a stick.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: What I really wanted to see was the alligator and the macaroni-and-cheese. Maybe next time.

BROWNSTEIN: It's a triumph of engineering, Judy.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: I can imagine.

All right, Ron, great to see you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We'll see you soon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Can a women's group replace the Christian Coalition? Up next, we will hear from a new force for the religious right and why she's taking on Tom Daschle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A new ad begins running in South Dakota today taking on Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and a flash point in the abortion debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: He listened and twice voted to ban the horrible practice of partial-birth abortion. Now he's Senate leader and he must choose between South Dakota values and Washington values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The ad urges Daschle to schedule a Senate vote on the issue. The spot is funded by the Concerned Women for America, led by conservative radio host Sandy Rios.

She spoke recently with our John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDY RIOS, PRESIDENT, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: And that's why we at CWA have been fighting hate-crimes law here, because... JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The radio show reaches one million people a week. Organizing is paramount.

RIOS: Can you come and join us? It's very affordable. And we have some fabulous speakers. You will not be disappointed. I promise. The phone number is 1-800-458-8797.

KING: Gay rights is a frequent topic.

BOB KNIGHT, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: But still there is a trend in corporate America to try to show that they're tolerant by promoting homosexuality.

KING: Morality the overriding message.

RIOS: Let me just say that, at these events, they bring in all of these different booths for sadomasochistic sex. They do what they call live play-cutting and bloodletting. It is just unbelievable.

KING: Sandy Rios assumed the presidency of Concerned Women For America 10 months ago. The organization was founded back in 1979 by Beverly LaHaye and has more than 400,000 dues-paying members. It's new president is thinking bigger.

RIOS: We are growing steadily. We have 900 women who are leaders in various states. But we have chapters, official chapters in about 20 states right now. We would like to have them in 50.

KING: Prime office space in downtown Washington, and though Rios is diplomatic, ambitions to replace the Christian Coalition as the leading political force among cultural conservatives.

RIOS: I believe that it's true that Concerned Women for America has emerged as a leader in the family movement. But that's not something that we are trying to be to diminish others. It is just a series of circumstances, I think. And we are glad to take that mantle on, if that's what it means, but in cooperation, not in competition.

KING (on camera): Let's talk about some of those issues. One piece of legislation the pro-family movement has wanted for some time is legislation that would ban late-term abortions. Some people call them partial-birth abortions. That legislation has been held up in the Congress.

Do you have any hope that it can move now, this late in an election year? And are you disappointed at all that the administration has not been more publicly vocal in demanding action by the Congress?

RIOS: Well, first of all, yes, I would like this administration to just -- I would like anybody in public office to speak their mind.

I get very tired of people being so reticent to speak their convictions. So I wish the president would be more bold. I am, however, grateful that he's been as consistent as he has been to hold to the life position.

On partial-birth abortion, one man holds the key. And that is Tom Daschle. All he has to do is call for a vote. Both houses of Congress are prepared to move this thing forward. In fact, the House already has. The Senate is prepared to do that. The president is prepared to sign it. All he has to do is call for it. It is not controversial. And so if he doesn't call for it, it speaks very badly of Tom Daschle.

KING: Any other issues? I know you have criticized this administration, particularly the attorney general, John Ashcroft, for a declaration he made recognizing gay rights. Did that disappoint you?

RIOS: It was a very a big disappointment. We feel that our role is to hold his feet to the fire, as we hold the president's and others. That is our job: to make sure they stay consistent with what they say they believe. And so we were disappointed. But the attorney general has said that it won't happen again. And we are hoping that, next year, it will not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Sandy Rios of Concerned Women for America.

A candidate boldly flaunts his "Star Trek" connection. I'll be back in a moment with that story, but now let's take a look at what's coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- hi, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Hi, Judy.

Vice President Dick Cheney outspoken and on the offensive. The nation's No. 2 has Saddam Hussein in the crosshairs. Hear his case for war. An apparent scary security lapse at one of the world's busiest airports: Learn what made it on board a plane. And two popular diet doctors duke it out. Who makes the stronger case, Atkins or Ornish? A segment to watch before you plan your next meal.

I'll see you at the top of the hour, right after INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: "Star Trek" fans have been known to flock to conventions that features stars of the groundbreaking TV series and its numerous spin-offs.

With that in mind, the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, turned up at a weekend fund-raiser for Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan. So did actress Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Janeway on the more recent series, "Star Trek: Voyager." Now, Mulgrew is married to Hagan, who is running against Republican incumbent Bob Taft. Hagan defends the use of his "Star Trek" connection, saying, if his wife worked at the 7/11 and her pals campaigned for him, you would say, that's what friends are for.

I guess we would. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next.

I'm Judy Woodruff. Thank you for joining us.

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