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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

The Washington Area Sniper Remains At Large; Political Ads Seem To Be Turning Even More Negative In The Final Weeks Before The Election

Aired October 16, 2002 - 16:00   ET

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

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us. Judy is on assignment.

We begin with dampened hopes for a breakthrough in the sniper investigation. Authorities had expressed confidence that information from the latest shooting would ultimately lead to an arrest. But efforts to put together a composite picture of the sniper came up blank.

CNN's Daryn Kagan is at police headquarters in Montgomery County, Maryland -- Daryn.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Candy, hello to you.

Yes, there was a lot of hope coming he coming out of the last shooting which was two days ago because at that shooting there were eyewitnesses who believed that they did get a good look at the shooter or shooters, but as we learned today during the news briefing, there still is no composite.

Police say here that they believe the witnesses when they say they got a good look, but they just don't have enough information yet to make a composite. Now it is two weeks since the first shooting.

Want to let you know what out Jeanne Meserve learned about is happening at the site of the latest shooting in Virginia, in Falls Church, Virginia. And that is Home Depot officials turning over surveillance camera video of what might have happened in and around that store on Monday night. Also, police using surveillance cameras from nearby buildings and an interesting bit of information: they're taking the cameras that are on some of the police vehicles, those vehicles that rush to the scene during that dragnet as soon as news broke of that latest shooting. They want to see the cars that were heading in the other direction to see if perhaps they can get a good look at somebody who was fleeing the scene at the time or right after the shooting.

Now, when you look at all these resources that are being put toward this investigation, locally, here, all these police jurisdictions, state and federal officials and agents and officers, a lot of questions about how many resources there are to keep this going. Well, the Executive of Montgomery County, the man who is like the mayor of Montgomery County, Doug Duncan, addressed that issue earlier today. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG DUNCAN, MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXECUTIVE: We are all struggling together in these shootings, everyone of us, individuals, families, neighborhoods, groups, businesses. We are all struggling together to get through this. And all segments of the public have helped us in the investigation, all segments of the public -- working together is what's going to enable us as a community to come out of this.

We've done no analysis of any economic impact from these shootings. We are not going to do any analysis of any economic impact. We are not going to distract from the single focus of the investigation and everyone involved in this, and that single focus is to catch whoever is doing this as quickly as we can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: One more note, Candy. A lot of people in Fairfax County, where the shooting took place on Monday night, thought not in their county since it had been skipped up until Monday night.

Other counties now in Virginia don't want to have that attitude. Jeanne Meserve also learning earlier today that county officials all around Virginia meeting, trying to come up with a proactive plan of what to do before the sniper hits in their county.

Back to you.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Daryn Kagan, out in Montgomery County for us. We appreciate it.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it's examining legal questions raised by the defense department's assistance in the hunt for the sniper. The Pentagon confirmed yesterday it will provide surveillance technology to investigators. A top ACLU official says that may violate strict limits on the use of the military for domestic law enforcement.

As the sniper spree continues, the White House appears to have shifted its position on a national system to trace bullets. The administration has asked firearms officials to conduct a review of the so-called fingerprinting of guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president wants this issue explored and, to that end, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have been meeting and met yesterday afternoon with White House staff to start to discuss the various issues, the technical issues, the feasibility issues, the pros and cons of how this could possibly be effective, whether it could work or whether it would not be able to work. And those are the issues we're going to explore. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Yesterday Fleischer seemed to suggest the president could not support such a system because he was concerned about its accuracy and about gun owners' privacy. But today, as you saw, Fleischer denied suggesting the system was a non-starter with the president.

Twenty days before the midterm elections, the sniper spree may be an issue in a couple of races in Maryland. But are guns leaving a mark on many other contests? Not in a way you might think.

Here's our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, this year on the campaign trail you're more likely to see Democrats toting guns than touting gun control.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX SANDERS (D-SC), SENATE CANDIDATE: I hunt because my daddy hunted. He hunted because his daddy hunted. I want to go to Washington and take aim at corporate corruption.

KARL (voice-over): South Carolina Senate candidate Alex Sanders has pulled that ad in the wake of the Washington area sniper attacks, but he's made his point. He's a pro-gun Democrat. Out in Idaho, the Democratic Senate candidate suggests Larry Craig, an NRA favorite, is soft on guns.

ALAN BLINKEN (D-ID), SENATE CANDIDATE: You know the phrase, some talk the talk, others walk the walk? My opponent Larry Craig talks about the rights of gun owners, but he hasn't even had a hunting license in Idaho for years.

I came to Idaho to hunt and fish. As your senator, I won't just talk about our way of life. I live it and I'll fight for it.

KARL: And Democratic Senator Jean Carnahan wants voters to know she supports the Second Amendment, which is why she did a photo op at a skeet shooting event in Bragadocio, Missouri.

There are a couple of things going on here. First, the majority of close races this year are in rural, western and southern areas, where people like their guns.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I know that in the West and the South, we like -- we feel like we have a right to bear arms. And we have them. We have lots of them. And we generally don't shoot our neighbors with them either.

KARL: And there's a common belief among Democratic strategists that strident, anti-gun rhetoric has hurt the party in previous elections.

Now even some gun control advocates tip their hats to the Second Amendment.

JONATHAN COWAN, AMERICANS FOR GUN SAFETY: Democrats should stand proud as a party that wants to protect gun rights, promote hunting, support hunters and other legitimate gun owners.

And Republicans should also stand proud as a party that not just supports gun rights, but also supports moderate, sensible gun safety laws.

KARL: But in light of the sniper attacks in the D.C. area, gun control advocates like Carolyn McCarthy say party strategists would be making a mistake to run away from the gun issue.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY: I think personally think that the Democratic party shouldn't run away from this issue. I believe that the people of the United States as a whole care about this issue very much and it's a shame that tragedies have to happen when the issue comes back up.

You know, and it's up to people like me to make sure that we keep working on the issue, but the party...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Just yesterday, the House passed a bill written by Congresswoman McCarthy that will give nearly a billion dollars to states to help them improve the technology of their background check systems.

The bill passed overwhelmingly with the support of the NRA, and it's exactly the kind of incremental gun legislation that can now pass, the kind of thing that will improve the enforcement of existing laws. But, Candy, the idea of passing new gun control laws is a much tougher sell in this environment -- Candy.

CROWLEY: On Capitol Hill, Jonathan Karl.

Thanks, Jonathan.

While Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy presses her gun control campaign, she is the target of a new add linking her to Barbara Streisand and, in turn, Saddam Hussein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Barbara Streisand defends Saddam Hussein, then rips George Bush as a frightening dictator.

"The Post" calls her, "Baghdad Babs." But Carolyn McCarthy calls her "a contributor."

After McCarthy voted to slash defense $2 billion, Streisand wrote her a fat check. Now McCarthy is silent, as her liberal pal bashes our president. That's wrong. Dr. Marilyn O'Grady...

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: The campaign of McCarthy's GOP opponent, Marilyn O'Grady, said the ad began running yesterday on cable TV and some broadcast outlets in New York.

Barbara Streisand's spokesman issued this response: "This is another example of the Republican way of trying to discredit the messenger before the public can get the message. Dr. O'Grady's deceitful radio ad puts egregiously fabricated words in Ms. Streisand's mouth."

For the record, Marilyn O'Grady is not shy about flaunting her own celebrity connection. Her Web site devotes an entire page to pictures of O'Grady with soap opera star Susan Lucci.

Checking the headlines at "Campaign News Daily." Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Shannon O'Brien says she would sign a bill approving gay marriage if it were to pass the state legislature. An aide says O'Brien remains personally opposed to gay marriage, even though she's now pledged to make it law if given the chance.

O'Brien's Republican opponent Mitt Romney accused her of a political flip-flop. Romney is on the record opposing gay marriage.

A new poll finds a North Carolina Senate race has tightened slightly, but Elizabeth Dole is holding her lead. A Mason-Dixon survey gave Dole a 10-point cushion over Democrat Erskine Bowles. Last month, Mason-Dixon showed Dole with a 14-point advantage.

A TV ad for Maine's Green party candidate for governor is raising protests from some Italian Americans. The ad for Jonathan Carter features a tough-talking narrator who questions Democrat John Valducci's one time support for a casino in Maine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Want to role the dice and trust Valducci? If he flipped, he can flop. Bada bing, bada boom, know what I mean?

Jonathan Carter? Hates the idea. Always has. No casinos. We ain't going to be Vegas or Jersey. Not now. Not ever. Never. In other words, forget about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: A Carter campaign spokesman says the ad was not, in his words, "geared to be anything ethnic." It was designed, he says, to make a connection between casinos and organized crime.

Another eye popping, ear grabbing campaign ad, this one from Oklahoma. It targets GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Largent, his attendance in Congress and a swear word he used when a reporter pressed him about his record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: We'll never forget where we were.

(MUSIC)

STEVE LARGENT, (R-OK), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: That's bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The election?

LARGENT: No, all this stuff about, you know, where were you on, you know, 9/11...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Largent was hunting in Idaho, out of touch while Congress was in session. But to Largent.

LARGENT: That's bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

CROWLEY: The ad by independent candidate Gary Richardson uses a clip from a local TV report in which Largent complained that questions about where he was on September 11 were not matters of policy. Largent apologized for using off-color language. The former pro football player said his wife has chastised him for his response, saying, What's right on the football field isn't always what's right in a political campaign.

We have only just begun to explore nasty campaign ads on INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

Up next: the owe Osama factor in Georgia. Senate candidate Saxby Chambliss defends his tactics in our "Taking Issue" segment.

More on guns and politics and the D.C. area sniper. Are some Democratic candidates running scared?

And later, another formal step in the showdown with Iraq. If there's war, will it help or hinder the Mideast peace process?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ...to admit homosexuals. Seven 10-second ads like that attacking his votes on taxes, abortion and this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Max Cleland voted to use tax dollars to buy needles for drug addicts. Why would he do that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: Cleland did that to allow Washington D.C. to try to curb the spread of AIDS with the needle exchange program. But rather than defend his vote in his own ads, Cleland counterattacked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Why is Saxby Chambliss running so many negative ads distorting Max Cleland's record? He's desperate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: Now wait for it. Here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Congressman Chambliss voted to cut Medicare $270 billion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: Stop. That vote was seven years ago. Democrats also voted to cut Medicare, but less.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Chambliss even supports privatizing Social Security, risking trust fund money in the market.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: Chambliss could have defended private accounts, voluntary, for younger workers, leaving benefits untouched for today's seniors.

Instead, he came back with a scare ad of his own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: As America faces terrorists and extremist dictators, Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: Stop. Rewind. Osama bin Laden? The ultimate political bogeyman. And the point of this...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Max Cleland has voted against the president's vital homeland security efforts 11 times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: Vital? One vote was to require Senate confirmation of the White House anti-terrorism chief. Another would have made the head of the new Homeland Security Agency a member of the National Security Council.

Bush doesn't want either one, but how are such partisan turf wars vital to getting Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein? Come on.

But is Cleland's side any better?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Saxby Chambliss, he's been well trained by the HMOs and drug companies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: This Democratic party ad accuses Chambliss of siding with insurance pharmaceutical interests.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: And when the drug companies needed their vote to kill legislation lowering the cost of prescription medicine, Saxby Chambliss was their man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: The best you can say for these political bean balls is that they stick to the political issues, more or less. Neither side has sunk to political attacks, so far. There's still almost three weeks to go.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Joining us now, Congressman Saxby Chambliss. Thank you very much.

REP. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Good to be with you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Look, the bottom line from Brooks' piece is nothing particularly untrue in the ads but pretty rough.

Even Pat Buchanan said that your ad with the Osama bin Laden was raw.

CHAMBLISS: Well, there was no linkage between bin Laden and Hussein and my opponent. There was linkage between bin Laden, Hussein and the lack of homeland security bill and that's what the issue is here.

You know, here we've been -- it's been a year since we've been attacked on September 11, 2001. We have waded through the mine fields of the Department of Homeland Security issue. We found out where the flaws were. The president came forward with a proposal to create a Department of Homeland Security. And now, we have folks who are blocking that. And I have campaigned all along on the fact that every day we delay that, that we are putting the lives of Americans at risk and Max Cleland is part of the delaying. So that's where the linkage is, not to bin Laden.

CROWLEY: Sure, but you know how this -- you've been in the business a long time and the images are everything. And here you've got a man that is a bona fide war hero, who gave up a lot for his country, in the same ad suggesting somehow that he's supporting, you know, or giving comfort to Saddam Hussein.

Isn't that sort of the gist of it?

CHAMBLISS: That's really not what it is at all. I mean, I have great respect for anybody who served in the military and I said all along I have respect for Mr. Cleland for his service to the military and his sacrifice.

That's not the issue. His voting record is the issue. He's out there campaigning on the basis of supporting the president of the United States on homeland security as well as other issues. But yet, every time he's had the opportunity to vote with the president on homeland security, he's voted against him.

Now, the focus of the ad is on his voting record, not on his war record or on the terrorists. The focus is on his voting record. He doesn't want to answer for you why he's voted against the president. He'd rather go out there and tell the people of Georgia that he supports the president on this issue when he doesn't.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you something. Of course, the other campaign will say, Look, he's putting this ad out here because he's behind and he's desperate. What's your take on these ads and the counter ads? What's going on?

CHAMBLISS: It's hard to be behind when even the liberal Atlanta press has us neck and neck right now.

But, you know, what you have to do is to put out ads, No. 1, that certainly get the attention of people.

CROWLEY: Well, you did that.

CHAMBLISS: We did that, didn't we? But they're factual. That's the thing. You've never heard coming from the Cleland camp the fact that our ads are not factual, because they are.

CROWLEY: Well, but the ads...

CHAMBLISS: The heat gets on and they can't stand it in the kitchen. Then they come after you to try to deflect you in another direction. We're not going to do that. We're going to stay focused on his record. That's what he deserves to explain to the people of Georgia and he's simply not willing to do that.

CROWLEY: I got to leave it there. Congressman Saxby Chambliss, thanks very much.

CHAMBLISS: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY. Appreciate it.

We check in with the Carlsons next in our "Taking Issues" segment.

Also: President Bush signs a Congressional resolution on Iraq. Details on that and the White House arrival of the Israeli prime minister in our "News Alert."

But first let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler at the New York Stock Exchange for an update.

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN SR. MARKET CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Candy.

A reversal of foreign tune on Wall Street. Stocks fell sharply following a four-day rally for the major market averages. Dow Industrial average tumbling 219 points. Nasdaq fell 50 points.

Tech stocks were hard hit after Intel warned late yesterday it will miss sales quarters for the current quarter. Motorola lost a quarter of its value after warning sales and earnings will miss forecasts for the current period.

And coca-cola warned full year earnings could miss targets. IBM fell sharply during the session but a few moments ago, Big Blue issued earnings that beat expectations.

Overall, there wasn't a great deal of concern about this pullback considering the strong run-up in the previous four sessions.

Meantime, accounting firm Arthur Andersen has been given the maximum sentence for its part in the Enron scandal. The company was fined a half a million dollars and given five years' probation for obstruction of justice. The sentencing largely a formality. Since its conviction in June, Arthur Andersen has shed most of its work force and stopped auditing public companies.

Andersen says it will appeal.

That is the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including tales from two states of political wrong numbers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: The Carlsons are here, Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine, Tucker Carlson of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."

Let's talk gun politics. Seems to me, Margaret, the Democrats are in sort of a bad position at this point, having spent so much time out there in the rural areas proving that they actually are pro-Second Amendment. Not much they can do about the sniper problem here in the D.C. area in terms of turning it into politics.

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: True enough, Candy.

It hasn't worked for Democrats. They've shied away from it. In Maryland, it could possibly work because Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Ehrlich are in such different positions on gun control. And she can use it politically more than some other candidate because she has her own real sorrow, so it doesn't look as if she's taking political advantage of somebody else's sorrow. So it might work there.

But it is a dicey issue to use. CROWLEY: Tucker, do you go along with that? I'm just wondering whether it looks like maybe Kathleen Kennedy Townsend jumped on that a little hard.

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN CO-HOST: Well, sure, I mean she could potentially have the 9/11 problem where everyone recognizes it's unseemly, maybe even wrong, to use that tragedy for political gain and there may be some backlash against politicians who attempt to use the sniper for the same.

She also has the problem that there's a story in "The Washington Post" that says the state of Maryland neglected to perform criminal background checks on people who bought firearms within the state for a number of months last year when, of course, she was lieutenant governor.

So, I mean, that definitely exposes, I think, a flank, a vulnerable one for her.

CROWLEY: Look, are there any tangential issues here that can catch the fire -- the gun ballistics, that fingerprinting? We sort of saw the White House saying, Well, no, we're kind of against it, and now they're sort of looking into it.

Is there any political potential there?

M. CARLSON: Well, Ari Fleischer tried to dodge that yesterday at the briefing when he said it's about values, it's not about ballistics fingerprinting. But the administration's own Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms unit says that ballistics fingerprinting is a good technique and the NRA comes back and says, Because it won't catch every killer, it shouldn't be used to catch most killers. And it seems to be nearly foolproof even more so than fingerprints themselves.

CROWLEY: Tucker, how much of an issue is it politically though?

T. CARLSON: Well, I mean, it would be an issue if Ari Fleischer, the president got out there and said Charlton Heston is against it, therefore I am too. But that's not, of course, what they're saying.

They're saying, You know, We need to look at. It's not foolproof. Let's bat it around. Everything ought to be on the table. That's a reasonable point of view. Most people agree with it.

I mean there -- when you get into the details, and I'm not going to do it now, there are definite problems and shortcomings to doing the fingerprinting which exists mostly in the theoretical realm.

But I think Republicans are open to talking about it and that leaves them unscathed, politically, I think.

M. CARLSON: Open mindedness suggests that it has been settled and it is a very good thing. It would be hard for the White House to say, We don't know and continue to ignore this tool that could really help.

CROWLEY: OK. We're going to have to leave it there. I was going to move you on to something else but you talked too long.

T. CARLSON: I like the reasoning there, Margaret.

M. CARLSON: Sorry, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Margaret and thank you, Tucker. See you again.

M. CARLSON: Bye.

CROWLEY: Still ahead, possible war and the quest for peace in the Middle East. We'll have a live report on President Bush's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Will the showdown with Iraq come between them?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: In our "News Alert": another formal step in the showdown with Iraq. President Bush today signed a congressional resolution authorizing the use of force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein. Dozens of lawmakers from both parties were on hand for the ceremony and to hear Mr. Bush say again that war with Iraq would be his last resort.

The prospect of war with Iraq was a key topic of conversation when President Bush sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, John King -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Candy, that meeting yet another reminder of the very delicate puzzle the president faces diplomatically as he tries to build support for a war with Iraq.

It was the seventh meeting between President Bush and the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, wrapped up just a few moments ago here at the White House. Prime Minister Sharon has said, this time, unlike the Persian Gulf War 11 years ago, if Israel is attacked with Iraqi missiles, it would retaliate. The president hopes to convince the Israeli leader otherwise, to sit on the sidelines, just as it did 11 years ago, and let the United States handle the fight.

No word as to whether any progress made, White House officials very reluctant to discuss the private conversations. But the president did make clear that he would have a very different view if Iraq attacks Israel now, outside of any U.S.-led military campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Iraq attacks Israel tomorrow, I would assume the prime minister would respond. He's got a desire to defend himself. Our hope is that the Iraqi regime will disarm peacefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: More diplomacy on the president's plate: Earlier today, he signed that congressional resolution authorizing him to use military force against Iraq. Presidents are not required to sign congressional resolutions, but Mr. Bush staging this event so he could turn his focus on the debate and his frustrations at the debate up at the United Nations.

The administration wants a tough new Security Council ultimatum to Iraq. France and Russia have been objecting. Mr. Bush says it is time for the United Nations to act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Every nation that shares in the benefits of peace also shares in the duty of defending the peace. The time has arrived once again for the United Nations to live up to the purposes of its founding, to protect our common security. The time has arrived once again for free nations to face up to our global responsibilities and confront a gathering danger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It will be five weeks ago tomorrow that the president addressed the United Nations General Assembly, said he wanted action on Iraq within days and weeks, not months and years -- a growing sense of frustration here at the White House. Senior administration officials met last night to discuss the U.N. diplomacy.

Officials want a resolution agreed upon by the end of this week, or certainly by this time next week, Russia and France, though, still objecting to what the United States and Great Britain want. More tough diplomacy in the days ahead -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks a lot, John King, at the White House.

We're going to bring in now our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, on the same story.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, President Bush's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today brings a key issue into focus. Will a U.S. war with Iraq help or hinder the Arab-Israeli peace process? The experts have very different opinions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Here's one opinion. The U.S. has its priorities backwards.

SHIBLEY TELHAMI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: We had an opportunity, actually, to define the Arab-Israeli issue as a critical issue for us, the priority issue. And Iraq, in my judgment, could have waited.

SCHNEIDER: The thinking is, the Arab-Israeli conflict makes it far harder for the U.S. to win Arab sympathy. TELHAMI: They see America through the prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is still their top priority, which is still the one that they see on their television screens every day. And as a consequence, they blame the U.S. for much of that bloodshed.

SCHNEIDER: Here's a second opinion.

ROBERT LIEBER, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: The road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad, not vice versa. In other words, the defeat of Saddam, his ouster, and the overthrow of this thuggish regime will have very beneficial effects in fostering an Arab-Israeli peace process.

SCHNEIDER: According do this line of reasoning, the ouster of Saddam Hussein would remove a key source of support for Palestinian terrorism and rejectionism. It would enhance U.S. influence in the Middle East. That could make peace between the Israel and the Arabs more likely. After all, the U.S. victory in the 1991 Gulf War led Israel and its adversaries to sit down and talk peace.

LIEBER: And it was the Gulf War and the defeat of Saddam in January, February of 1991 that made that possible. And it also is what ultimately led to the Oslo agreements and the signing on the White House lawn in September '93.

SCHNEIDER: Arabs fear that won't happen this time.

TELHAMI: The grand fear in the region, the grand fear in the region: that, after a war with Iraq, the U.S. will be so preoccupied with the consequences and aftermath of that war, that Sharon's government will be able to do whatever it wants to do on the Arab- Israeli issue, and there will be no incentive, actually, to bring about a peace process, a successful peace process in that environment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Much depends on how the U.S. wins in Iraq. A swift, decisive victory, with Israel staying on the sidelines, could foster the peace process. A painful, costly war, where Israel is a combatant, could radicalize the Arab public and make peace far more difficult -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks very much, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

CROWLEY: Appreciate it.

To absolutely no one's surprise, Saddam Hussein was declared the winner today in a referendum on his two decades of military rule in Iraq. Some Iraqis celebrated, this after the announcement of 100 percent turnout and 100 percent yes vote for Saddam, the only person on the ballot.

David Letterman fudged with the numbers a bit to make a joke on politics, Iraq style, and politics closer to home. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: Congratulations to Saddam Hussein, reelected to another seven-year term. Congratulations to Saddam Hussein. They had the elections. It was very close. He received 99 percent of the vote. And 1 percent of the vote went for last-minute candidate Frank Lautenberg.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Up next: Male candidates struggle to find the right way to address their female opponents.

Also: Who has cash left for the home stretch? We'll check the latest FEC filings just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: With more and more women entering politics, more men are having to get used to addressing their opponents face-to-face in formal settings. Just one problem: Some men seem to have trouble deciding what to call their female opponents.

Here's a sample.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ROBERT EHRLICH (R-MD), MARYLAND GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I have faced the voters. I've faced them with regard to the same kind of attacks that you've given me, taking hundreds and thousands, tens of thousands of votes on how to put up with a Newt Gingrich. "He's mean. He's rotten. He's this. He's that," everything you're trotting out now, ma'am.

You know how easy it is to take a vote out of context. We have voted for the largest increases in student loans in the history of this country, particularly Pell grants. I don't know what about student loans, ma'am.

ERSKINE BOWLES (D), NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: I that it's really important for the people of North Carolina to understand that there are honest differences between where Mrs. Dole and I stand on the issues.

ELIZABETH DOLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: I just want to respond that, the very next day, a negative ad was running against me after e turned me down.

DICK POSTHUMUS (R), MICHIGAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: This is another one of the word games that Jennifer is playing. She said she's for the Second Amendment rights, but not for the ability for law-abiding citizens to have a CCW. Now today, she changed that because she knows that, politically, it's dangerous to be on the other side. Jennifer, you just can't do that. That's not what leadership is about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: After taking some political heat for referring to Jennifer Granholm as "Jennifer" in their first debate, Republican Dick Posthumus tried a change of strategy. In yesterday's debate, he repeatedly referred to Granholm as -- quote -- "my opponent." Smart man.

Now from our "Sorry, wrong number" file. GOP gubernatorial candidate Sonny Perdue had to pull his first fall campaign ad in Georgia. It included a phone number to call and offer ideas for improving the state. But the last two digits were transposed, so, when voters called the line, they reached the phone machine of some guy named Daniel.

A different kind of mixup in Hawaii: Thousands of residents received calls at 5:30 Monday morning from a phone bank, urging them to vote Republican. But the calls were meant for voters in Indiana, where it was almost noon. The Republicans in Indiana were mistakenly given voter lists in Hawaii.

With the election still 20 days away, the two major political parties already have raised record amounts of cash. The Republican National Committee had collected $184 million as of October 1, with $30 million cash on hand. The DNC had raised $110 million, with $15 million left.

In the tight Texas Senate race, Republican John Cornyn has $5.2 million to spend in the closing weeks, to Democrat Ron Kirk's $810,000. In another key state, Missouri, Democratic Senator Jean Carnahan has outspent Republican Jim Talent 2-1. But Talent has the edge in cash on hand, nearly $3 million, to just over $1 million for Carnahan.

Still ahead, we hit the trail with Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. HOWARD DEAN (D), VERMONT: I don't know what I'm doing. You probably ought to tell me what I'm doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: We'll follow ups and downs of a still unofficial no- frills campaign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: A number of would-be Democratic presidential candidates already are making political pilgrimages to Iowa; perhaps the least recognized of the bunch: Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Our Bruce Morton tagged along to watch Dean in action in the Hawkeye State.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN: Wow. Holy cow, we're almost to Missouri.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Howard Dean, a doctor, a Democrat, longtime governor of Vermont, is running for president -- softly. No staff, one Vermont State Trooper, one from Nebraska, where the day began. No advance team.

DEAN: I don't know what I'm doing. You probably ought to tell me what I'm doing.

MORTON: What he's doing is visiting Graceland College in Southwestern Iowa. Campaign literature, no problem.

DEAN: Anyone want any propaganda here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MORTON: Often labeled a liberal, he tells the students he's the fiscal conservative running. He's balanced budgets.

DEAN: I don't think the Republicans are fiscal conservatives, because we haven't had a Republican president that's balanced the budget in 33 years in this country. We need balanced budgets.

MORTON: He brags about his record on health care. Everyone should have it, he says, but you have to go step by step.

DEAN: In Vermont, 96 percent of all our children under 18 have health insurance.

MORTON: Republicans, he tells a small crowd in Omaha, were surprised.

DEAN: It took Republicans a little while to realize that all kids had health care in our state, and they were outraged.

MORTON: He get good marks from the National Rifle Association because he opposes new federal gun laws.

DEAN: Keep the assault weapons ban and the Brady Bill and all that, but don't add more. Just enforce what we have and let each state decide what kind of gun control they want for themselves.

MORTON: But he is also the governor who signed Vermont's law legalizing civil unions for gays and lesbians. As president, he would leave that decision up to the states as well. But he speaks often to gay groups and leaves no doubt as to where he stands.

DEAN: We have people dying in Afghanistan who are gays. Then they ought to be treated equally when they get back home. And I just do that because I thought it was the right thing to do.

MORTON: Insiders in this state know him. Most voters don't yet. And he says he is in this race to stay, no matter how he does in the early states.

DEAN: I'm going to be in this until the 50th primary, because I believe that by, being out there, I will pull my party back towards the center and I'll pull the Republicans back towards the center.

MORTON: Howard Dean is running, running to a different drummer, running down a long, long road.

Bruce Morton, CNN, on Route 2 in Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: From Iowa out to California, where Bob Novak has been since Monday, looking over the state's political scene, now from Los Angeles with some "Inside Buzz."

So, Bob, give us the lay of the land.

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Candy, it's been assumed out here and in Washington that Governor Gray Davis, the Democrat, was way ahead of a failed campaign by Republican Bill Simon by double digits. But that's not what the polls show.

There are separate tracking polls, nightly tracking polls by Republican pollsters, reputable pollsters, showing that the lead has been as low as under two points. Right now, the Davis lead is between four and six points, a real battle. What's more important is that all the reputable politicians I talked to, who I trust on both sides, Democrat and Republican, say that, although Davis is favored, Simon can win.

CROWLEY: Bob, it sort of sounds like perhaps Mr. Simon could use some help from the White House. Is he going to get it?

NOVAK: Nobody knows. High sources in the White House say they are considering another presidential trip to California. It had been ruled out about a week ago, but now it is a possibility.

The media here says he -- the president might go to the Gary Condit district, where there is a fairly close congressional race, with the Democrat still pretty far ahead. But the White House says that is not true. If he comes out here, it will be to campaign for Bill Simon.

CROWLEY: OK.

And since you're out there, I've got to ask about celebrities. It's California. Anybody going to cross over and become a politician?

NOVAK: Well, there is a big campaign in behalf of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's got a lot of former Governor Pete Wilson's people. And they're trying to get money for an after-school initiative. But everybody knows Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to run for governor in 2006. Now, that's assuming that the Republicans don't win this time. But there is also a Hollywood type who might get in that 2006 race for the Democrats: Rob Reiner. You know Rob Reiner, the Hollywood producer and actor? And there is a tip, Candy, of why he is a possibility. He's trying to lose weight. When a Hollywood type tries to lose weight, he's got one of two things on his mind, and one of them might be running for office.

CROWLEY: And so it is with politicians as well.

Thanks, Bob Novak, out of California. Be careful out there.

NOVAK: I'll try.

CROWLEY: Straight ahead: taking credit where credit is due.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: In the 12 years that Wellstone has been our senator, Minnesota has never been hit by a Category 5 hurricane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Our Jeff Greenfield takes a look at some political ads you'll probably never see.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: A quick glance at what's in the works for tomorrow's INSIDE POLITICS: The show goes on the road. Judy will be back reporting from Florida with the latest on that state's governor's race, including an interview with Democrat Bill McBride. She'll also be joined by humorist Dave Barry.

Now, our Jeff Greenfield has discovered something interesting about political ads around the country. Candidates like to talk about what they've accomplished. And they've accomplished a lot more than what you might have realized.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (on camera): Promise, large promise, is the soul of advertising Samuel Johnson once wrote. When it comes to political ads from incumbents, the promise of great things done is very large indeed. Listen to enough of these ads and you think they were all running for re-election as governor of Eden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

ANNOUNCER: No governor has done more than our governor, George Pataki. Cleaner air and water. More open space. Health care for children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEMALE CANDIDATE: I also fought for tighter accounting rules and prison time for CEOs who commit fraud. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

ANNOUNCER: He gave us the $500 per child tax credit and the Social Security Benefits Guarantee Act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Having Tim Johnson on the appropriations committee meant for the Watertown School District a grant of $220,000.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

ANNOUNCER: The finance committee chairman who got millions for Montana highways, creating 11,000 jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: All pretty standard stuff, you'd agree. But there's one incumbent senator who has, we think, broken bold, new ground with one of his claims.

SEN. WAYNE ALLARD (R), COLORADO: It's going to be a close race.

GREENFIELD: The incumbent, Colorado Senator Wayne Allard, locked in a tough re-election fight with Tom Strickland. In a mailing to senior citizens the Allard campaign claims "Social Security benefits for Colorado seniors have increased every year Wayne Allard has served Colorado in the U.S. Senate."

Now, that claim is literally true. Of course, benefits have increased for all seniors, not just those in Colorado because those cost of living increases were long ago locked into the law. Those benefits would have gone up even if Senator Allard had never set foot in the U.S. Senate.

When "The Rocky Mountain News" pointed this out to the campaign manager his response was, and we're quoting here, "OK, but what's your point?"

Well, maybe the Allard campaign is on to something here. We think it opens up whole new vistas of opportunity for hard-pressed incumbents. For instance, maybe Minnesota's Paul Wellstone could argue that:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

ANNOUNCER: In the 12 years that Wellstone has been our senator, Minnesota has never been hit by a category five hurricane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: Or perhaps, Maine's Susan Collins could claim that:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

ANNOUNCER: The gross domestic product has increased by $2.269 trillion during her years in office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: And why doesn't California Governor Gray Davis argue that:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

ANNOUNCER: Not one, not two, but three California baseball teams made the postseason even before he finished his first team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD (on camera): In fact, it's too bad that South Carolina's Strom Thurmond has decided at age 100 not to run again for the U.S. Senate. Do you realize how much faster automobiles go ever since Strom first got into the Senate?

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: A final note: Maybe you caught Judy Woodruff last night moonlighting on Comedy Central. She stopped by to talk about midterm election politics with "The Daily Show"'s Jon Stewart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW")

JON STEWART, HOST: Everywhere I go in New York: "John, the midterm elections, what's happening?"

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: These are the most exciting elections in your lifetime, Jon Stewart.

STEWART: It's insanity. People are abuzz.

WOODRUFF: They are. You're being facetious, but the truth is...

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Damn it!

WOODRUFF: We've got governor's races that are tight as a tick. We've got Senate races that are cliffhangers. It's going to be a great election.

STEWART: Here's my prediction. Here's my prediction: lowest turnout in the history of elections.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: May I come back after the election?

STEWART: Yes. WOODRUFF: All right. You want to bet? Let's bet.

STEWART: Oh, yes.

WOODRUFF: Lowest turnout? All right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Judy with the last word.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley.

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



Seem To Be Turning Even More Negative In The Final Weeks Before The Election>

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