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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Paul Wellstone, Wife, Daughter Laid to Rest; Minnesota Senate Race Heats Up with Coleman, Mondale

Aired October 28, 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 St. Paul, Minnesota. Even as Paul Wellstone, the former (UNINTELLIGIBLE) today -- is the man who had hoped to defeat him already moving into campaign mode?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: On Wednesday, we are going to have to go from being in mourning, and grieving, to OK, now, the realities look to the future, and there needs to be a vigorous campaign, vigorous debates and all of that stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I'm Jeff Greenfield in New York. As former Vice President Mondale appears to be prepared to take up Wellstone's battle for the Senate, I'll look back at his career and ask, can Republicans paint Mondale as a voice from the past?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill. Many Democrats are still stunned by Wellstone's death. The political implications, and their personal loss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul, the campaign goes on. And your battles will go on, and we're going to miss you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul, may you and yours rest in peace forever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. I'm outside Paul Wellstone's campaign headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, where people have been coming and going literally for the last three and a half days, paying their respects, leaving flowers, leaving messages of remembrance.

A private funeral and burial being held today for Wellstone, his wife and their daughter, three days after they were killed in a plane crash in northeastern Minnesota. A public memorial service is scheduled for tomorrow at the University of Minnesota.

Democratic sources tell me that on Wednesday, former Vice President Walter Mondale will publicly agree to replace Wellstone on the ballot. Advisers are emphatic that Mondale intends to serve a full six-year term if he is elected.

Also on Wednesday, Republican Senate candidate Norm Coleman is expected to call on Mondale to debate him. Former Minnesota Governor Arney Carlson (ph) today is urging his fellow Republicans to show respect for Wellstone and stop proposing debates until Mondale is actually a candidate.

Meantime, GOP sources are telling me that the party is already conducting polling on the Coleman versus Mondale campaign. They say the results are shockingly positive. My interview with Norm Coleman is just ahead. But right now, I want to bring in my colleagues John King, who is of course, covering President Bush, and Jonathan Karl, who is watching politics from Capitol Hill.

Jon Karl, to you first. I know you have been talking to Democrats and Republicans as I have today. It is as if the two parties see two completely different campaigns in the five or six days that this election will play out.

KARL: Yeah, it's incredible. National Democratic Party leaders, actually the executive leader of their Senatorial Committee on the Democratic side, said there will be no campaign, that the Democratic Senatorial Committee will not run any advertisements at all between now and election day in Minnesota, and that this election really is all about Paul Wellstone's memory.

But on the Republican side, you referred to the polling, the Republican polling. In fact, there have been two private polls conducted by the Republicans. One by the state party in Minnesota, and one by the National Senatorial Campaign Committee. One showed Mondale with a three point lead, the other Mondale with a two-point lead. Both within the margin of error. Both essentially a dead heat. That's got Republicans encouraged that they really can win this race, and they are, make no mistake, talking about winning this race. They say the campaign will begin respectfully but vigorously on Wednesday, the day after that memorial service, tomorrow's memorial service for Senator Wellstone.

But, Judy, remember, even on the Democratic side, from the start, even from late in the day when Wellstone's death on Friday, Democrats were talking about the need to go out there and win this one for Paul, to win in Paul's memory. So very clearly two different pictures of what this campaign will look like, but make no mistake, it will be a campaign, it will be a vigorous one.

WOODRUFF: And, John King now. John, we know the White House has been very involved in this campaign. Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, was the one who recruited Norm Coleman in the first place. What are they saying there? How much advice are they giving? What are they thinking?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, they say Norm Coleman will call the shots from here on out, deciding what the message is, deciding whether there will be any ads critical of the former vice president, Mr. Mondale.

Mr. Bush is scheduled to go to Minnesota on Sunday. White House aides say that trip has not been finalized yet, but they fully expect the president to follow through on that promise to campaign once again for Norm Coleman. He was in Minnesota just last week.

This is a tough one for the White House, because Karl Rove and President Bush personally recruited Mayor Coleman for this race. He was thinking about running for governor. They urged him to run for this Senate seat. White House officials are not as optimistic as those national Republican party folks Jon Karl was just talking about. One official telling me a short time ago, is it impossible for him to win? No. Meaning Coleman. Improbable? Yes. They say because of all the coverage of the memorial service and the funeral, and all of the coverage nationally and locally about Vice President Mondale's return to politics, it will be very difficult to cut through in that environment.

But Judy, the president campaigning here in Colorado today, talking about how important it is to change control of the Senate. He also will keep his commitment to Norm Coleman, if the Coleman campaign believes it would help if the president comes down on Sunday.

WOODRUFF: And just quickly, Jon Karl, how can the Republicans be as optimistic as they are, given what you and John are talking about, and that is this overwhelming sense of sympathy in the aftermath of Wellstone's death?

KARL: Well, I'll tell you, over the weekend, Republicans did sound quite dejected about their prospects in this race, but the committee folks looking at those overnight polls, and it was simply an overnight poll that the national party did, but one that was a pretty big sample size. They believe that they've got a chance now in this, and they also have already been gearing up what kind of a campaign this would be, looking at Walter Mondale as somebody who is a voice from the past. Norm Coleman is somebody that is the voice for the future.

They're saying, yes, everybody feels horrible about what happened to Paul Wellstone. There is a great outpouring of sympathy. But starting on Wednesday, this is not about Paul Wellstone anymore, as far as the Republicans are concerned, it's Norm Coleman versus Walter Mondale. In the Republican view, the past versus the future.

WOODRUFF: John King, you say the president, of course, out campaigning in Colorado today. What is the president going to be doing between now and election day?

KING: Seventeen states, Judy, on the schedule now. The possibility more will be added. Vice President Cheney also out aggressively, as well. In at least 10 of the states the president will go to, there are those key Senate races. Not only Minnesota; the president in the next week is scheduled to South Dakota, twice, to New Hampshire, to New Jersey, Tennessee, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, finishing up in his home state of Texas, where there is a competitive Senate race as well. And the president's speech changing a bit. He is openly talking now as he campaigns, and he did so today in New Mexico and Colorado, about how important it is for Republicans to get out to vote, to keep Denny Hastert as the Republican speaker of the House, and the president is saying that he needs a change of leadership in the Senate. And here in Colorado, that would mean keep Senator Wayne Allard, a Republican, in the Senate. Mr. Bush saying he wants a change in the leadership of the Senate so that he could get his judicial nominees through, so that he could get a homeland security bill through.

The president directly talking about now how he wants a Republican Congress to enact his agenda, and that is because, Judy, the president knows full well, he's not on the ballot next Tuesday but certainly the shape of his agenda in the next two years, that run-up to the Bush reelection campaign, will be determined by the outcome on Tuesday.

WOODRUFF: No question. All right. John King traveling with the president, Jon Karl in Washington, thank you both. And I think Jon Karl is going to be coming back here to Minnesota tomorrow.

While we are back in Minnesota, talking about the contest here, Norm Coleman clearly in a tough spot politically. There was one political observer today who said in so many words, Houdini couldn't get out of this box.

I sat down earlier today with Norm Coleman to talk to him about the situation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Norm Coleman, thank you very much for talking with us.

Everything came to an abrupt halt on Friday with the death of Paul Wellstone. Do you by necessity now have to get your operation going again right now?

COLEMAN: I think so. I mean, I -- you know, we have still have to bury the dead. That's a service -- I believe that Wellstone had a private service today, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a public service tomorrow.

I just think we need a little more healing. There is lots of folks getting geared up, and the reality is that there will be, starting Wednesday, six days left. That's what this campaign will be.

But I think here in Minnesota, this personally -- and I think that the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) need a little more healing time.

WOODRUFF: But by necessity, this election is a week away. So I mean, your campaign was having to shoot new television ads over the weekend. you've got the leaders of the state Republican Party already out there drawing contrast between you and Walter Mondale. They're saying you're younger, he's the past, you're the future.

COLEMAN: I'm not going to comment on that. I mean, both sides are ready. The chatter is up. You know. On both sides right now. And that's what they do. But that's not what I'm going to do, and I don't think that's what most of the Minnesota is going to do right now.

WOODRUFF: Right now, other people are drawing those contrasts with Walter Mondale. Are you going to be drawing them after Tuesday night's memorial service?

COLEMAN: There should be a vigorous campaign. Should be a vigorous campaign. Should be an exchange of ideas. It will be a wonderful thing to have. But again, let's -- can we wait will Wednesday? You know? Wednesday -- on Wednesday, we have to go from being in mourning and grieving to OK, now the reality is look to the future. And there needs to be vigorous campaign, vigorous debates and all of that stuff.

WOODRUFF: But it's your party too. You're right: They're gearing up, and your party's gearing up too.

COLEMAN: If I ruled the world, Judy, we'd all still be on your knees and saying some prayers.

WOODRUFF: So debates?

COLEMAN: I think Minnesotans want that, I think Minnesotans expect that, I think Minnesotans will expect whoever is in there in the last five days to be challenged in a positive way, a challenge of ideas. And I think that's part of what we are in Minnesota. No one ever gets handed anything, it's not a walk in the park. It's vigorous, and it's tough, and it's engaging. And then when it's all done, it's just an election, and we move on and figure out how to come together.

WOODRUFF: Walter Mondale -- you were in high school when he was first appointed to the United States Senate. 1964 I mean.

COLEMAN: I was a Mondale fellow in 1989 at the Humphrey Institute. I was the first Mondale fellow. There were a group of us.

WOODRUFF: This is when you were a Democrat.

COLEMAN: This is 1989. I was working in the Attorney General's Office. It was for young leaders, and it was -- you know, he was the creator of that program.

I'm not going to say much about Walter Mondale. He's a great man. He is. There's no question about it. Paul Wellstone was a great man. We disagreed about some things. I always believed we had the same objectives. We wanted the best for every child, every family, the best they can be. We differed on how to get there. I'm not going to comment much on Walter Mondale. If you ask me what I think of Walter Mondale, I think he's a great man.

WOODRUFF: Can you beat Walter Mondale?

COLEMAN: I would -- again, I want to stay away from it right now, but do I want to win? Yes. Do I think I can win? I worked hard for this. But you know something, Judy, I am going to tell you right now: It's an election on November 5. It's just an election. We've got to deal with the loss of lives now. Let us do that. Let us do that.

But in the end, will there be a vigorous debate? Will I work as hard as I can? Yes, I will. I will. You know something -- and then I'll accept the outcome. I lost to Jesse Ventura, and I went back to work the very next day. I will accept whatever God, you know, whatever He gives me in this; I'm going to do my best and accept that.

WOODRUFF: Norm Coleman, thank you very much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Up next, I will ask the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada, if some Republicans in Minnesota are going on the attack even before Paul Wellstone is buried.

The party chairman will square off over the dramatic turn in the Minnesota Senate race and how it may change their calculations in the bigger battle for Senate control.

Later, we expect to have a live update from the National Transportation Safety Board on the crash that killed Paul Wellstone.

Plus, who's right in Arkansas? A vulnerable Republican tries to rally his conservative base and diffuse anger over his divorce.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Virtually the last time I saw the two of them was a late night session. And you know, these gorgeous halls we have with the chandeliers and everything else. And here is this couple walking hand in hand down there about midnight. Paul and Sheila Wellstone. I came around the corner and I said, Hey, you teenagers. And they laughed and hugged each other. And I thought, Well, down the steps into the night. Hand in hand.

Let us hope, Madame President, that they've gone hand in hand into the light.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy remembering his friend, Paul Wellstone and Sheila Wellstone.

Well as Democrats and others in the Senate think about replacing Paul Wellstone, and they know also not only have to deal with his loss, they also have to come up with another candidate to take his place on the ballot. With me now, someone that knew Wellstone very well, has been thinking about this. He is the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, the Senate majority whip from Nevada, Harry Reid.

Senator Reid, I don't know if you were able to hear the interview I just did with Norm Coleman, but he essentially deplores any negative tone. He said his druthers would be that nobody would be saying anything critical, nobody would be drawing any contrast right now. And yet, Democrats seem to be upset. What's the truth here?

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY WHIP: Judy, Mr. Coleman is campaigning and that's why he's on your program. And he may not be launching his usual missiles against we Democrats, but he had, of course, Newt Gingrich was on "Meet the Press" over the weekend, badmouthing Vice President Mondale. All the surrogates have been out recognizing that because of the death of Paul Wellstone there may be an opening there.

I'm very disappointed in what's happened since Paul's death. Not only because of the loss of a wonderful human being, but couldn't they wait until he's buried before they do their campaigning? Couldn't they have kept Newt Gingrich off television bashing Vice President Mondale until after the funeral?

WOODRUFF: Well, the Republicans say, Senator Reid, that all they're doing id that they're simply pointing out Walter Mondale's policy positions. That he chaired this commission last year that came out with a report recommending the privatization of Social Security.

REID: But my point is couldn't they wait until Paul is in the ground and his wife and his daughter? The situation is there's time to campaign. There's been a very big campaign in Minnesota, the most negative anyplace in the country, that's been going on now for more than a year.

And I think the fact is, you know, their talking about how old Vice President Mondale is. Well, you know, Coleman is no spring chicken himself. Mondale is a vibrant, young, 74-year-old man that doesn't try to hide how old he is.

I think they should just wait until they can campaign and then of course, if they want to say bad things about Mondale, let them do it. But it's going to leave campaign of a short duration if the Vice President decides to run.

WOODRUFF: Republicans are also pointing to this polling that they've done over the weekend showing Mondale and Coleman virtually even, with Mondale up just two points. I mean, they're saying Fritz Mondale is not a shoe in here.

REID: I don't think anyone says that he's a shoe in. I think the people of Minnesota will decide that and not the National Republican Party who are conducting polls while they're gathering the bodies out of the woods in Minnesota.

This is really about as much as I have seen before, Judy. I mean, couldn't they keep their polls quiet until after the man is buried? I just think this is so -- this is classless. I mean, I -- you know, I -- when I heard Pat Leahy speak, I reflected on the last time I heard Paul Wellstone speak on the Senate floor, on a Friday when we were leaving. And he stood and said, You know, you can call me a softy. I am a softy.

I mean, let's let the memory of Paul Wellstone be with us until he's buried in the ground, not have polls as to who is strong in this area and not so strong in this area.

The people of Minnesota are going to have to decide who they want to represent them in the United States Senate, whether they want someone who has the legacy of a Hubert Humphrey and a Paul Wellstone or whether they want somebody that is conducting polls while somebody is taken out of the woods, having been killed in a plane crash.

WOODRUFF: Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, we're going to leave it there. Thank you very much, senator, for joining us. We appreciate it.

When we come back, admirers see political stature. Critics see someone whose politics is from the past. Some thoughts on Walter Mondale from Jeff Greenfield a little later.

And up next, the national party chairs join me to talk about Minnesota and to preview next week's elections.

But first, let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler on the New York stock exchange for a report on this week -- on today's markets -- Rhonda.

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy. Investors kicked off a new week with a lot of sell orders, many taking profits from the three-week run up on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average falling 75 points in choppy trading, Nasdaq losing 15.

Some market watchers also say investors are shifting their focus from earnings to the economy, two big reports coming out Friday, one on the labor market, and the other on manufacturing. Meantime, one sector hit hard today, health insurers. Cigna fell again after a 30 percent plunge on Friday. The country's third largest insurer said it would take a $100 million restructuring charge this quarter. The company had warned Friday it will badly miss quarterly profit targets. And Tenet Healthcare fell nearly $7 on a brokerage downgrade. UBS Warburg questioned Tenet's sales growth from Medicare payments.

A new survey shows investor optimism plunged to an all-time low this month. For the first time, less than half of the investors surveyed think now is a good time to put money in the markets. Some -- that is actually good news. Some analysts believe all that pessimism is a sign that most of the sellers who wanted to sell have gotten into the market and done just that.

That is the very latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including the latest poll numbers on the race for Florida governor. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: More now on those fast-approaching midterm elections and the situation here in Minnesota. I'm joined now by the chairs of the two political parties. For the Republicans, Marc Racicot. For the Democrats, Terry McAuliffe.

Marc Racicot, first of all, I don't know if you just heard Senator Harry Reid, but he and other Democrats are saying it is unseemly for Republicans to be out there, not only polling, but criticizing Walter Mondale even before Paul Wellstone is laid to rest.

MARC RACICOT, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I think you heard the comments from Norm Coleman, who, as you know, has worked incredibly hard over 18 months. They were very respectful. I think they set the appropriate tone. He's the candidate. His is the campaign that is in charge of this operation. Obviously, there are many Americans who offer comments at various different times, and there will be many who review them, some with a searing scrutiny, and find them either appropriate or inappropriate. But Norm Coleman, I think, has addressed this incredibly tragic and difficult circumstance precisely the way he should have.

WOODRUFF: Terry McAuliffe?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: We have to wait until the services are over, a lot of talk about Walter Mondale. He will make a great candidate. But listen, our heart goes out to the Wellstone family and obviously the other families involved. The Democratic Party lost the vice chair of the Democratic party in Minnesota, Mary McEvoy. This is a very sad time. Paul Wellstone, a great leader of our party. The passion, the courage, the honesty of what he fought for. I mean, he was a legend in our party. I mean, it was heart breaking for all of us, not only as Democrats, but for everybody in this country, what Paul Wellstone fought for day in and day out. So it's a very sad time for us. There will be plenty of time for politics. Our state chair has called a meeting for Wednesday to replace Paul's name on the ballot, and then we will go back to politics after that, but there is no time for it right now.

WOODRUFF: But -- but just quickly, Terry McAuliffe, already Republicans, the state party chair here, are talking about how Walter Mondale is the past, referring to how much older he is -- he is 74 years old. They say Norm Coleman is the future. They're already drawing contest in this election.

MCAULIFFE: Well, as I say, and I will be out in Minnesota tomorrow, for the services tomorrow, it is not time to talk about politics. I think we all ought to wait until the services are over. Mark Erlandson has called the meeting, our state chair, for Wednesday. We will have a new name on the ballot, and there were be plenty of time for politics. As I say, Walter Mondale has served this country with distinction, but it is not done yet until our meeting is actually held on Wednesday, and we ought to get through that process, but now is the time of grieving for Paul Wellstone and everybody else, for what he fought for, and a what a great citizen he was of this country. WOODRUFF: Marc Racicot, you're entirely comfortable with the tone that has been set by some Republicans here in Minnesota?

RACICOT: Well, I think that Norm Coleman has worked exceptionally hard, and Judy, just think for a moment too, this is not a discussion that is just taking place on one side of the aisle. Obviously, if there are going to be opportunities to make announcements tomorrow, there obviously are discussions and analyses that are taking place in virtually every venue.

So, let's not be too searing in our scrutiny of just one part of this process. It is a time, however, as Terry has mentioned, for us to be respectful and to make certain that we celebrate the life and the contribution of Paul Wellstone to this country. Walter Mondale is a good man, as Norm Coleman has said, but Norm Coleman is a very good man who has worked very hard, and I think has tried to prove his mettle to the people of Minnesota every day, and will continue to do that.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, I want to ask you both about some races in other close Senate contests around the country. In Missouri, Terry McAuliffe, what are you hearing about Jean Carnahan's chances of re- election?

MCAULIFFE: Jean Carnahan's last tracking polls have her up two points. Jean Carnahan will get reelected to the Senate. I am excited today, because actually, Judy, every Democratic incumbent is now up in the polls, albeit very close. These are very tight races, but we are doing great with our incumbents. Everyone is up, and challengers -- Strickland, and Pryor, and Shaheen are up.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me -- yes. I just want to ask you about the -- Marc Racicot, what about Missouri?

RACICOT: Well, I like our side of the case, and we like where our incumbents are, and we think in Georgia and Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota, we have a very good chance of being successful in those states.

WOODRUFF: What about Colorado?

RACICOT: Colorado we feel real strong about.

WOODRUFF: Terry McAuliffe?

MCAULIFFE: I'm excited, as you know. The polls over the weekend now have Tom Strickland up one point. This is the first he has been up. We're excited about that. Republican Senator Allard has yet to be able to break 40 percent in his reelect numbers. When you are an incumbent, you worry about breaking 50 percent. Forty percent makes it a lot more difficult, so Tom Strickland is now up in the polls, and he is going to continue to grow in those polls in Colorado.

RACICOT: Bottom line is, Judy...

WOODRUFF: All right. One other quick -- go ahead. RACICOT: The bottom line is, I was going to say to you that they're all just incredibly close. And we have known that from the very beginning. And we're going to be working, I think, probably on both sides of the aisle very hard until the final moments of the campaign.

WOODRUFF: And finally, just quickly, a new CNN/"TIME" poll showing that more people are concerned about the economy. They're saying that is going to affect their vote more than terrorism or anything else. Just a quick word from each of you on whether that is going to affect the outcome of the elections next week.

RACICOT: And think that, clearly, that's an issue we're very comfortable with. We embrace that notion. We believe and have believed all along that it would be a critically important issue. We have got a great record to run on. And I think, in the end, it will impact these elections.

MCAULIFFE: Judy, I have said from day one this election was going to be about the economy. I'm encouraged right now that Democratic candidates statewide are up in 17 states that George Bush carried in the 2000 election. It's extraordinary what has happened across this country. In governorships and United States Senate seats, as well as House seats, we're doing extraordinarily well because we're focused on the economic issues.

WOODRUFF: Maybe this election will be a miracle and both sides will win every seat. OK.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: Terry McAuliffe, Marc Racicot, it's always great to talk to both of you.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you, Judy.

RACICOT: That's good.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Well, right now, we are waiting a briefing from the National Transportation Safety Board on the plane crash that took the life of Paul Wellstone and seven others. We plan to carry that live.

Also ahead:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTER MONDALE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad. Where's the beef?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The ups and downs of Walter Mondale's political career as he prepares to carry the torch for Paul Wellstone on Election Day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We're standing by now for the start of a National Transportation Safety Board news conference at the site of the crash of Paul Wellstone's plane, the plane that went down on Friday morning.

Our Susan Candiotti is there waiting for the NTSB officials to talk to reporters -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy.

That conference should be beginning relatively shortly. And they have a lot of unanswered questions. Among them: Why did Senator Wellstone's plane suddenly drift off-ward from its final approach and go down in a heavily wooded area just two miles shy of the runway?

They're looking at, among other things, at weather conditions, although visibility at the time was about two miles, not too severe. They're also checking to see whether -- and I want to show you what these look like -- deicing boots and whether those were operating, those black things on the wings of this plane that inflate -- again, investigators trying to find out whether they were operating at the time.

They also know that a radio beacon located here at this airport, the small airport, was slightly off. But they don't think, at this time, that that was severe enough to cause a problem. They're looking at other things, including human error and the like. So, again, we hope to get the latest answers to some of these questions at a briefing that is due to begin shortly -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Susan, Thanks. And, of course, we'll be coming back there just as soon as there's new information -- Susan Candiotti.

As we've been reporting, former Vice President Walter Mondale is expected to accept the Democratic Party nomination here in Minnesota to take the place of Paul Wellstone on the ballot next Tuesday. Already, both political parties are putting their spin on who Walter Mondale is, what he stands for, what he believes in.

Our own Jeff Greenfield has been doing some looking into what Walter Mondale's political history was. And he's with us now with his thoughts -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Well, Judy, in Walter Mondale, Minnesota Democrats would have a Senate nominee of extraordinary stature.

He would be the first ex-vice president to return to the Senate since fellow Minnesotan Hubert Humphrey did it back in 1970. They would also have a nominee who embodies the kind of Democrat who flourished more than a generation ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREENFIELD (voice-over): Walter Mondale's political career followed a pattern: selection followed by election. He was appointed state attorney general in 1960, then elected to that post two years later. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1964 to replace newly elected Vice President Hubert Humphrey, then elected and reelected on his own.

He was selected by Jimmy Carter as his running mate in 1976, the Northern liberal senator balancing the more conservative Southern governor. And he bested Senator Bob Dole in their vice presidential debate that year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONDALE: Senator Dole has richly earned his reputation as a hatchet man tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: But, in 1984, his glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination was nearly derailed by Senator Gary Hart, who painted Mondale as a candidate of the past. Mondale saved his nomination by rallying labor and minorities and with this memorable debate jibe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad. Where's the beef?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: He made history as his party's presidential nominee by choosing Geraldine Ferraro regard as his running mate, the first woman on a major-party ticket. And he took a big risk in his acceptance speech with this pledge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONDALE: Mr. Reagan will raise taxes. And so will I. He won't tell you. I just did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: That candor, along with President Reagan's popularity, led to a historic 49-state loss. Mondale's public service ended with a stint as ambassador to Japan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GREENFIELD: Now, that near loss to Gary Hart back in '84 suggests there may be an opening for Republican Norm Coleman to tag Mondale as the candidate of the past, an emblematic, tax-raising, Great Society liberal who last won an election on his own 30 years ago.

But given Mondale's stature in Minnesota and the circumstances of his return to the arena, that opening at this point does seem narrow, Judy. WOODRUFF: Right, Jeff. And it's a short window. It's only going to be about five days, but the Republicans are already running it out there to see if it works.

GREENFIELD: Yes. You got it.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

We're going to go now to Eveleth, Minnesota, where the National Transportation Safety Board talking to reporters about the Wellstone crash.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

FRANK HILLDRUP, NTSB INVESTIGATOR IN CHARGE: I came in late this morning. I was fortunate enough to run into a couple of the group chairmen to get a very quick brief. I did get a handoff briefing from Bob Benson this morning before they departed.

And, again, I want to go through a couple of the groups, tell you again what the activities have been. I may be repeating quite a bit of what you have learned, but bear with me, please.

The air-worthiness group is basically comprising the activities of what we call airplane structures, systems, and, in this case, maintenance records. Those will all fall into the air-worthiness group. I can tell you that, when I ran into him at the hotel, he is in a position where he believes he may be through for now at the site.

And what that means is, he has removed several components -- well, let me back up for a second. The structural aspect of the documentation is complete. From the systems standpoint, there are several items that he has removed, such as components, that -- I haven't seen them, but I know that there is some level of damage. It may be difficult to get any documentation off of them. But we're going to try that -- circuit breaker panels, circuit breakers, light bulbs, anything at all, because the airplane is very damaged.

There is no recorder information. So we're going to go for anything at all we can get to help us solve the accident. So he's in a position of being very conservative in his approach on just basically taking anything at all that may offer a glimmer of evidence to help us solve the accident. And some of those items have already been sent away.

Most of them initially will go to our laboratory in D.C. And, depending on what we see and can't see, we may go to other locations to extract further information. But, again, without knowing the details of what he's removed, I can't help you out too much more on that. But, from a general sense, that's what's going on with that group.

Maintenance records, I have read in the newspaper, just like you guys have -- and maybe it was briefed yesterday -- I know that we are starting to compile some of the maintenance information. I don't have any information really to share with you today on that. It is certainly a part of this accident investigation, as it is on most of them. We'll be taking a look at the maintenance history of the airplane for the recent history.

The power plants have been removed from the site, I believe yesterday. And I believe they're being stored temporarily here at the airport in a hangar. The propellers are associated with that. There will be a full tear-down of the engines and the propellers.

WOODRUFF: We're listening to Frank Hilldrup, who is the National Transportation Safety Board investigator in charge, describing what little they have been able to retrieve from the parts of the plane that went down on Friday carrying Senator Paul Wellstone.

You could hear him describing the damage to the extent of the plane and also reminding us that there was no data recorder, no voice recorder on this plane, making the work all that much more difficult.

We're going to take a break. More INSIDE POLITICS when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Bob Novak is with me now with some "Inside Buzz."

All right, Bob, I know you've been talking to people back there in Washington about the political situation here in Minnesota after the death of Paul Wellstone. What are you hearing?

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, of course, Judy, the Republicans were very gloomy immediately about the prospects. They thought they were going to win that seat, that it was going to be close, at any rate.

And then there's been just so much talk about former Vice President Mondale. Every single story and a lot of comment on the press about Mondale being a cinch to beat Norm Coleman. So they were really delighted when they saw these polls.

Now, what they're going to do is, they're going to take it to Mr. Mondale. They can say now, "We're not going to do anything bad until after Wellstone is buried." But it's going to very tough. He'd been challenged to a debate. They feel he's an old 74-year-old elder statesman.

And this is going to be a real campaign toward the end. I think it's pretty close. And, sure, Mr. Mondale has the advantage, but he hasn't campaigned in a very long time. And Coleman is a pretty good candidate.

WOODRUFF: OK, all right, let's move on to another possibility in the Senate. And that is maybe a Teamster finding his way to the United States Senate.

NOVAK: This is my favorite story in ages.

Republican Senator Frank Murkowski is running for governor of Alaska. If he wins -- which is not a certainty -- he will name his own successor. And there's a high possibility that he's going to name the head of the Alaska Teamsters, a title of secretary treasurer, a guy named Jerry Hood, who just turned Republican a few months ago.

He used to be a member of the Democratic National Committee. He would be the first Teamster ever to be in the United States Senate, part of the whole love affair that the Bush White House is trying to wage with the Teamsters union.

WOODRUFF: All right, we have already been talking about one former vice president running for the Senate here in Minnesota. You've been hearing about another former vice president.

NOVAK: Popping up on the lobbyist registration figures now -- they just came out this week -- Quayle & Associates. So Dan Quayle is becoming a lobbyist, registered as a lobbyist for two firms, a biotechnology genomics firm called Agerhaze (ph) and a capital management firm called Cerberus Capital Partners.

Craig Whitney (ph), who a lot of insiders remember as a Mondale aide from way back, is the contact man. So Dan Quayle has entered the ranks of lobbyists.

WOODRUFF: OK, Bob Novak, we know where to get all these hot tips. Thank you, Bob.

NOVAK: You're welcome.

WOODRUFF: We'll see you soon. Appreciate it.

Turning now to the state of Arkansas for a few minutes, conventional wisdom would have it that a conservative candidate would have an easy shot of getting reelected in Arkansas. But voter reaction to issues not at all related to politics could make it very difficult for the incumbent Republican there, Tim Hutchinson.

Our Jonathan Karl has been looking into the Arkansas Senate campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. TIM HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: Early voting has started. If you get a chance, go cast it. Get out there and good to see you.

KARL (voice-over): Neil's Cafe (ph) in Northwest Arkansas is a place with guns and 8-point bucks on the walls and red-blooded conservatives drinking coffee. These are precisely the kind of people who sent Tim Hutchinson to Washington in the first place.

HUTCHINSON: Well, you all know I have got a close Senate race this year. And I'd be very appreciative of any votes I could get around this table, because it's going to be so close, this table may decide it.

KARL: Hutchinson is the most vulnerable Republican senator in America. His biggest challenge may be motivating his base of Christian conservatives. Some are upset he divorced his wife in 1999 and married one of his staffers a year later.

JANINE PARRY, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS: He's going to have get-out-the-vote issues. And his most reliable get-out-the-vote people seem to be upset. At least some sizable component of those folks seem to be upset. And they'll come out and vote reliably for other Republicans on the ticket and for other candidates that they support. But the risk that he is facing is that they may just choose to leave his spot blank.

KARL: Case in point: self-described Christian conservative Allen Hardcastle (ph), who says no to Hutchinson and his opponent.

ALLEN HARDCASTLE, ARKANSAS VOTER: I mean, I'm not for Pryor and I'm not for Hutchinson. I'm looking for somebody else that could fill the bill. There's nobody there right now. So I choose not to vote.

HUTCHINSON: I should shake hands with people as they leave.

KARL: But there's another Christian teaching.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have all sinned. Who are we to stand in judgment of somebody else? I mean, he's not abusing his office.

KARL: Hutchinson says people care more about his politics than his personal life.

HUTCHINSON: Very good. We had a good announcement up here.

Good. Take it easy. I need your vote, by the way. I need your vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've always had it.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you. Thanks very much.

I think the people of Arkansas much prefer to have conservatives and a conservative agenda than to have liberals. And Democrats in Arkansas and Democrats in the South get elected by pretending to be conservatives. And they go to Washington and they vote for Tom Daschle and they line up with Ted Kennedy. And that's not what the people of Arkansas want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciated your dad so much. He was a great U.S. senator. And I know you are going to be right out of the same mold and do the same thing.

MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you.

KARL: Enter Mark Pryor, son of former Senator David Pryor. In his TV ads, when he's not sporting a rifle and camouflage...

PRYOR: Important lessons in life are in this book right here.

KARL: ... he's carrying a Bible. And when it comes to hot- button issues like gun control and abortion, Pryor talks like a conservative -- sort of. PRYOR: And people here in Arkansas don't want gun control. And I don't either. Again, in Washington -- well, we'll see what happens as this issue plays out, but I don't think I'll be voting for any gun control legislation.

KARL (on camera): So would you voted, for instance, for the Brady Bill or for the assault weapons ban? Those were key gun control bills.

PRYOR: I actually do support those. And I support closing the loophole at gun shows.

KARL: Arkansas is a conservative state, but it's not all that Republican. This is, after all, the place that gave America Bill Clinton. Democrats still dominate the statehouse. And Tim Hutchinson is the first Republican elected to the Senate from here in history, all of which may help explain why he's now in the fight of his political life.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Little Rock.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Coming up next: lots of fresh political news in our "Campaign News Daily."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily": A new poll shows the Tennessee Senate race has tightened over the last month or so. Republican Lamar Alexander still leads Bob Clement 50 percent to 40 percent. Last month, a Mason-Dixon poll showed Alexander with a 19-point lead.

In the Texas governor's race, Democrat Tony Sanchez blasted Republican incumbent Rick Perry. As quoted in today's "Houston Chronicle," Sanchez said -- quote -- "Rick Perry is by far the most disgusting human being I have ever known. Going into this race, I knew he was a man of no substance. I didn't realize just how bad he really is" -- end quote.

Sanchez was reacting to a new campaign ad that tries to link Sanchez to Mexican drug dealers and the death of a DEA agent. A Perry spokesman responded -- quote -- "Tony Sanchez can't handle the truth."

In Florida, incumbent Republican Jeb Bush appears to be holding his lead over Bill McBride in the race for governor. Two new polls over the weekend show Governor Bush with about 50 percent support among likely voters. McBride got 43 percent in both polls.

Back here in Minnesota, Paul Wellstone supporters are still angry about a mass mailing that was sent out just before the senator's death attacking his backing of the estate tax. The mailing featured a large tombstone and the letters "Rest in Peace," "RIP." It urged recipients to -- quote -- "tell Paul Wellstone his votes are killing you" and "Paul Wellstone's taxes can reach you even in the grave." The National Federation of Independent Businesses says it regrets the unfortunate coincidence of the timing of the direct-mail piece.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: From St. Paul, Minnesota, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us.

I'm Judy Woodruff. I'll be back in Washington tomorrow.

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Senate Race Heats Up with Coleman, Mondale>

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