CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Political Superstars Campaign For Canidates in Tight Races
Aired November 1, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Fasten your seatbelts, we're heading into the final before Election Day. Crunch time for the candidates and the big political guns out stumping for them.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bob Franken in Minneapolis. Republicans nix an attack ad on new Senate candidate Walter Mondale. But will they continue to hold their fire?
WOODRUFF: Our Jonathan Karl is a trains and buses kind of guy. He's on a roll again with some important political figures and with his cell phone in hand.
Plus, examples of the midterm election going to pot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll go and smoke a joint on the steps of city hall and they were like, You can't do that, no way. And I was like, Way.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.
Well if you needed anymore evidence that election 2002 is a political blockbuster, just follow the money.
As for all those campaign ads that have been inundating the airwaves, we have an exclusive tally of the record-setting price tag. Nearly $1 billion has been spent on political TV spots so far in this year. We'll break down the numbers a little later.
Meantime, with just four days to go until America votes, the biggest stars of both parties have been flying around the country, appearing with candidates in need of a lift.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How about put it this way? Let's win one for George W.
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if anybody tells you in this next week that one vote doesn't make a difference, send them to me. I want to talk to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Well meantime on Vice President Cheney's travel agenda today, a stop in Minnesota to campaign for GOP Senate hopeful Norm Coleman. is publicly claiming the high road in his race against 11th- hour candidate Walter Mondale. But some Republicans who are helping Coleman seem armed and ready to go negative.
Our national correspondent Bob Franken is in Minneapolis. Bob, is the Coleman campaign going negative?
FRANKEN: Well, so far they've decided not to. Part of the problem is the tactical concern about going attack ad on somebody who is an icon and, of course, in a situation that really is still in the residue of the tragedy that happened just a week ago.
The attacks, of course, would be against former Vice President Walter Mondale and, as a matter of fact, the Republican Campaign Committee -- the Senate Campaign Committee has prepared an ad, we are told, that features the negative parts about the Carter administration when Mondale was president talking about -- when Mondale was vice president -- talking about the economic tribulations that were present during that period in the 1970's.
But, according to the staff people, Norm Coleman, the Republican candidate, said that the ads should not be run. And of course, there's a calculation that right now the people of Minnesota would react negatively to any sort of attack ads, particularly since Mondale has made it a point to aggressively say that he does not want any attack ads in this campaign.
So what you have, Judy, is a couple of candidates who, at least for the moment, are tiptoeing along the high road to see where the high road takes them.
WOODRUFF: Bob, just quickly, Mondale said he would agree to one of the debates -- one debate. Do we know when that is?
FRANKEN: No, we don't know when it is or if it is. He only agreed to negotiate. But I think it's quite clear to say time is running out just a very shortly after time began in this race.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken reporting from Minneapolis. Thanks.
And now we move quickly to South Dakota and another squeaker Senate rate.
Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson is on a campaign bus tour with fellow South Dakotan, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in tow.
Our Jonathan Karl is on board too and he just called in on his cellphone -- Jon.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, this is incredible. I arrived in South Dakota this morning. And getting off the plane, there were two kinds of people on the plane. You had hunters, because of course we're in the middle of hunting season here in South Dakota, and campaign volunteers.
You can tell we're on the verge of this incredibly close race here. I'm on the bus, as you mentioned, with Senator Johnson and with Senator Daschle. Their message here is that this is a powerful tag team. Having Johnson in the Senate means having Tom Daschle as majority leader, which means deliver for South Dakota.
But let me tell you, Judy, listen to the lineup of people coming in, Republicans from around the country. Of course we know President Bush was here yesterday. He will be here again on Sunday. Mrs. Bush, Laura Bush, will be here tomorrow. Dick Cheney is here today on the other side of the state. Lynn Cheney has been here. Rudy Giuliani is going to be here. All of those Republicans, of course, on behalf of John Thune, the Republican challenger here. So this is an all-out push in the final days and really an incredible ground game.
And Judy, unless you have something else you want to ask me, I would like to pass the phone off to an interesting guest here for you.
Do you have another question for me?
Do you have another question for me?
WOODRUFF: Oh, John, sure, you know, just in terms of who else is coming in there for the Democrats. Is Tom Daschle going to be bringing in any high-profile Democrats?
KARL: Well, you know, I asked that question directly and their answer is they've got Tom Daschle and that's enough. You're not going to -- you know, keep in mind, this is obviously a very Republican state. This is a state that Bush won handedly. So bringing in high profile Democrats doesn't necessarily help Tim Johnson. But that's why the key Democrat you see here is his, you know, his Senior Senator Tom Daschle.
Speaking of which, would you like to talk to him? I can see if I can interrupt his conversation here and hand him the phone.
WOODRUFF: Absolutely. We'd love to ask him a question.
KARL: All right, here you go, Judy.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Hey, Judy.
WODDRUFF: Hello. Hello there.
Senator Daschle, first of all, are the Democrats going to be able to keep control of the Senate?
DASCHLE: Yes we are. As a matter of fact, I'm looking at the senator that is going to make that happen here in South Dakota, Senator Tim Johnson. We feel very good in the last couple of days. We think we've got a little it of wind in our back now. We're looking very strong in several of the key races. And that makes us even more optimistic.
WOODRUFF: You want to make a prediction about Minnesota and Missouri, senator?
DASCHLE: I think we're going to win the two M's. I believe that Minnesota we're going to do quite well. I think it's going to be a little tighter in Missouri, but we're right at where we were two years ago in Missouri. We won Missouri two years ago, we're going to win it this time too.
WOODRUFF: Senator Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader and he's trying to keep the job just where it is. Senator, thanks very much. Great to talk to you.
DASCHLE: My pleasure. Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Appreciate your borrowing Jon Karl's telephone.
Well, we showed you a snippet a little bit earlier of President Bush out on the trail urging Republicans to win one for G.W. He has been in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire already today. His next event is in Louisville, Kentucky.
Right now John King joins us at the White House. John, what is the president saying out at these campaign events today?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well the primary focus, Judy, is turning out the vote. There have been very low turnouts throughout the primaries, the president is focusing on the close races, get Republican constituency groups, especially core groups, to get out and vote. In New Hampshire earlier today, for example, he talked about the tax cuts, that Senate seat held by Republicans now. Obviously the Republicans need to keep it. They are worried.
John Sununu in a tight race with Governor Jean Shaheen. So, President Bush's message was, if you don't want Democrats going back to tinker with the Bush tax cut, maybe slow down some of the Bush tax cut, you need to elect a Republican senator.
The president now, as he moves on to Louisville, will be trying to help Ann Northup, a Republican who faces a tough challenge, it seems, every two years. She wins every two years, so far, the president trying to keep Denny Hastert as the speaker of the House and hoping, although the White House is getting a little less optimistic -- hoping the Republicans can completely defy history and also win the Senate.
Most here at the White House now think, Judy, that we are going to end up on Wednesday morning with what we have today: A Republican House and a Democratic Senate. But there are a few still very close races, one top aide a few moments called it, a jump ball.
WOODRUFF: Well, John, you just heard what Tom Daschle had to say about Minnesota. He's predicting the Democrats will keep Minnesota with Walter Mondale. What are they saying at the White House about that? KING: Dick Cheney called in from his stop out there, White House officials saying the Coleman campaign believes it has the momentum now. I spoke to a senior Democrat earlier today who was still furious at that memorial service turned pep rally. The Democratic poll numbers fell after that, not only for Mondale, but for other Democrats in the states as well. The Democrats think it has stabilized, the Republicans think they have a chance. President Bush will be there on Sunday. A few days ago here at the White House, they said they didn't think Coleman could win, but Bush was going because he owed it to Coleman because he personally recruited him. Now they think there is a chance to pull that race out.
Each side has a different take on Minnesota. OK, John at the White House, thanks very much.
Well, in Florida there is growing anxiety that another Election Day will be filled with problems at the polls. Long lines have already been forming at early voting sites in South Florida. At one Broward County site, people waited almost two hours to cast their ballots yesterday.
In a Miami courtroom today, a judge barred a political action committee from providing more than 450 poll watchers on Tuesday. The PAC opposes Democrat Bill McBride's bid for governor. The Democrats had sued to keep the poll watchers away, claiming that they might disrupt the election.
A very different legal question: Should penalties for smoking pot go up in smoke? Voters in San Francisco, Ohio, Arizona and Nevada will consider various marijuana measures on Tuesday.
The Nevada initiative is one of the boldest. As Frank Buckley reports, it would make the use and possession of up to three ounces of pot legal.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The place they call "Sin City" may someday have yet another vice on offer. Marijuana.
Pot is on the ballot in Nevada in the form of an initiative, Question 9, that would amendment the state constitution.
The amendment would allow buyers here in Nevada who are at least 21-years-old to purchase up to three ounces of marijuana for use in their homes. Any use in a vehicle or in a public place like the Las Vegas strip, would be prohibited.
Assembly Woman Chris Giunchigliani, who wrote the state's medical marijuana law, said patients need legal access to pot.
CHRIS GIUNCHIGLIANI, NEVADA STATE ASSEMBLY: All this simply recognizes that in the privacy of your own home, if you're an adult, you don't get busted for it. BUCKLEY: But federal drug czar John Walters sees it differently.
JOHN WALTERS, DRUG POLICY CHIEF: We'll hear from John Walters about the dangers of the evil weed.
BUCKLEY: Walter recently toured Nevada to campaign against this initiative and other efforts across the U.S. to decriminalize or legalize pot use.
WALTER: No community, no city, no state is better off with more drug use. We have had two decades of experience in this country with this problem. It's not a victimless crime. Every family's been touched.
BUCKLEY: The pro-pot people are backed by big money, from the Washington-based marijuana policy project.
And they're up on TV in Nevada with ads like this one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a former president of Nevada's largest teacher's association, I'm voting yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a retired 27-year street cop, I'm voting yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As medical marijuana patients, we're voting yes.
BUCKLEY: But federal officials are countering with ads of their own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check this out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cool. Is it loaded?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
BUCKLEY: Local law enforcement in Nevada have been among the loudest opponents.
SGT. RICK BARELA, LAS VEGAS METRO P.D.: This is a lot of dope. It's a lot of marijuana.
BUCKLEY: It's what three ounces of marijuana looks like, according to Police Sergeant Rick Barela.
But supporters say the federal government is out of touch with the millions of people who've either tried or currently use marijuana.
Frank Buckley, CNN, Las Vegas.
WOODRUFF: A long shot House candidate in New York state is taking pot politics to an even higher level, if you'll pardon the pun. Check out this TV ad by the Green Party's Paul Fallon. It's titled "Drugs."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People ask me, What's your position on the war on drugs? So I said, I'll show you what my position is. I'll go and smoke a joint on the steps of city hall. They were like, You can't do that. No way. And I was like, Way.
It's not only your right to protest unjust laws, it's your duty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Well, perhaps fittingly, Fallon bought air time for that spot on a comedy channel in addition to local television outlets.
Up next in our election countdown, all those dollars flying to create campaign ads. David Peeler tells us where the biggest bucks have been spent.
Also up next:
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The president, he once worked for one. Now they both want to be senator for North Carolina.
WOODRUFF: Our Candy Crowley on a Senate race that is closer than many expected.
And later, find out why a soccer dad turned House candidate is standing out in the political field. This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: The North Carolina contest to succeed Republican Jesse Helms started out as no contest. But polls now show the race between Elizabeth Dole and Erskine Bowles is within single digits.
Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley has more on the battle between two candidates with big time connections.
CROWLEY (voice-over): She once ran for president.
He once worked for one.
Now they both want to be senator for North Carolina.
She used to be more than 20 points up and sitting pretty, name recognition through the roof, a husband who owes her for all the time she was the spouse of a candidate and a president, vested enough in her victory to visit the state five time. And now, the race is very, very close.
ELIZABETH DOLE (R), N.C. SENATE CANDIDATE: Don't say that this campaign is somehow falling apart when it starts to tighten because we expect it, we know it'll happen.
ERSKINE BOWLES (D), N.C. SENATE CANDIDATE: I think this race is now focused on, you know, the issues. And it's no longer focused on Mrs. Dole's celebrity.
CROWLEY: Give this guy some props. Erskine Bowles doesn't exactly light up the screen. He's a wonk who would rather blend into the crowd than stand in front of it. Even his name is an uneasy fit in the bumper sticker world of campaigns. With $3 million of his money and some tough ads, Bowles has pulled himself out of obscurity.
While George Bush has been on the frequent visitor plan in North Carolina, there's been no sign of Bowles former boss. Bill Clinton is a mixed bag in this conservative state, not worth the risk.
But this Clinton fund-raiser, former head of the Small Business Administration, former Clinton chief of staff, has managed to do what Al Gore could not: separate himself from the person of Bill Clinton and embrace the policies.
BOWLES: I don't think anybody is more fiscally conservative than I am. You know, I have been given credit of being the architect of a balanced budget, of brining people together from both sides to balance the budget. But I am socially progressive.
CROWLEY: In this state, where textiles have been hit hard, Bowles talks a lot about jobs and so does she.
DOLE: Well, Erskine, let me say to you, You have had your chance. You were chief of staff for Bill Clinton and you did not enforce the trade laws all during the 90's and that's why our industry's been devastated.
CROWLEY: Bill Clinton's name comes up a lot in her speeches. Don't let that southern sugar voice fool you. Elizabeth Dole is a woman who can play northern hard ball.
She married a marquis Republican name but didn't stay home to bake cookies. Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Transportation, head of the Red Cross, 2000 presidential candidate. The first female to graduate from Harvard law, Dole was a liberated woman way before it was cool.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would now like to welcome the lady I admire most. Please welcome Elizabeth Dole.
CROWLEY: She is a huge draw but Dole's failed presidential campaign has made many Republicans nervous. In 2000, said one Republican, she couldn't translate her celebrity into political support.
I hope she's learned how to close the deal.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: Well, anyone who has watched TV lately has probably seen a blizzard of political ads for state and local candidates.
Our media consultant David Peeler is with me now from New York.
All right, David, back in the spring you predicted all these candidate and issue groups were going to spend something like $1 billion before Election Day.
DAVID PEELER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right.
WOODRUFF: All right, where do we stand?
PEELER: That's right, Judy. You know, in a year where everybody is missing forecasts, I'm I guess happy to say that we're going to hit this one pretty much on the head. With about three days to go we're at $962 million worth of campaign spending and issue spending so far. That equates to 1.3 million ads that people have seen this year.
Now, to put that in comparison, back in 2000, during the last presidential cycle, the total spending was $672 million. So you're talking about a third increase in a non-presidential year. That's an awful lot of spending.
WOODRUFF: Oh, boy. All right, that's an even bigger contrast than some of us who have been following this expected. OK, there were some Senate and governors races out there, David, that -- where they've really spent a lot of money and you've taken a look where they've spent the most.
PEELER: Yes, I think this is part of the story here. If you look at the top five governor races in California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida, you're looking at anywhere from $80 million to $30 million being spent in those states alone. That's principally because those are big states with a lot of very expensive media markets and you have some candidates in those states like Gallisano (ph) in New York, Simon in California and Sanchez in Texas, where they were able to write pretty big checks for themselves and to fund part of the campaign.
Moving on to the Senate races, the top five, New Jersey, Texas, Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota. You're also seeing the effect here of party spending. Because the Senate is so tight, there was an awful lot of party spending early on in the spring and it's holding on through Election Day. So you've got the candidate plus the parties supporting these big Senate races.
WOODRUFF: As my grandfather used to say, Enough money to choke a horse.
All right. You also talked, David, in the spring about these multiple media markets where extra money was -- you predicted was going to be spent. Talk about some of these -- the locations, geographics, specific cities and others where all this money was spent. PEELER: Well, in media terms, we're talking about media wallpaper, which means you blanketed these markets. Portland -- we had predicted Paducah, Kentucky would be the winner. I guess I missed this forecast. It's Portland, Maine. Twenty-three -- over 23, 000 ads have aired so far and we've still got three days to go and I'm sure that's all those folks are going to see between now and Tuesday.
Davenport, Iowa came in second and Paducah, although it was my leading candidate, came in third.
WOODRUFF: OK. All right. David Peeler, Only three days to go. Thanks very much.
Well, the spokeswomen for the two national political parties join me next.
Among the issues, a political ad featuring the suspect in the Washington sniper shooting. But first let's turn to Mary Snow at the New York Stock Exchange with a breaking story on the Microsoft case.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy.
Yes, the Associated Press is now reporting that a federal judge has approved most of the provisions of an antitrust settlement reached between Microsoft and the Justice Department and nine states.
Now in terms of the stock market today, we had a late session rally that helped stocks score their fourth straight winning week. Earlier in the day investors got a batch of disappointing economic news, strengthening the belief that the federal reserve will cut interest rates next Wednesday. The Dow industrials jumped 120 points, ending the week with a rise of nearly 1 percent and the Nasdaq composite nearly rallied 31 points, on the way to a more than 2 percent gain for the week.
As for the economic figures, the job market remains week. The nation's unemployment rate edged higher to 5.7 percent as the economy shed 5,000 jobs and that weakness also hurt consumer spending. It saw its biggest drop in 10 months in the month of September.
That is the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including "Inside Buzz" on the future political plans of the House minority leader, Dick Gephardt.
WOODRUFF: Who better to talk to us the Friday before the election than Mindy Tucker, communications director for the Republican National Committee and Jennifer Palmieri, press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.
Mindy, to you first. Minnesota -- and I was told we were going to have pictures of the vice president campaigning just now with Norm Coleman. National Republican Senatorial Committee evidently put together this negative ad criticizing the Mondale/Carter administration.
Now, the decision is not to air the ad. Why would the national committee do this if Mr. Coleman is saying, I don't want to go negative?
MINDY TUCKER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: He wants to run a positive campaign. And the NRSC has not decided whether or not they want to run this particular ad.
But as far as it being negative, what it does is is point out the positions that Mondale had when he was Carter's vice presidential candidate. And, frankly, if those are negative, I'm sorry. Those were his positions. If the people detect those as negative, it's probably because they include things like raising taxes and cutting defense spending.
Whether the ad goes up or not, he's going to have to defend those positions or tell us what his new positions are on those issues, which -- I don't know that he's intending to do. He canceled the debate tonight. So, I think it's definitely a debate worth having, whether or not the ad goes up or not.
WOODRUFF: What -- should the -- why shouldn't Walter Mondale answer questions about this?
JENNIFER PALMIERI, DNC PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think -- I want to credit the Minnesota GOP because it's very smart what they did. They have a zen negative attack ad, which is that it's running by not running. They have -- it's out there, it's on the Web site, we all see it, we're talking about it. So the message is getting out there but Norm Coleman doesn't have to take responsibility for having a negative ad.
So it's very nefarious and tricky and they get points for that, but I don't think it's going to be effective. I mean, Minnesota, I think, you know, I think that the statistics that Minnesota voters are more worried about are the economic statistics that, you know, we see under Bush, where you have 2 million jobs loss, where you have 7 out of 10 economic indicators going the wrong way. So, I don't think that it's going to work. And plus, Coleman promised he wouldn't run a negative ad and that's just going to turn them off.
WOODRUFF: All right, speaking of ads, let me show you an ad that is running in New Jersey's fifth Congressional district and I want to ask you about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: First he was convicted of domestic abuse. Yet Scott Garrett thinks it should be legal for domestic abusers to buy guns.
He voted to repeal the assault weapons ban, sponsored legislation to weaken concealed guns laws. Scott Garrett shouldn't be blamed for the sniper, but Garrett's positions are the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: All right, this is an ad run by Anne Summers, who is the Democratic candidate there. Is this entirely appropriate? I mean, Mindy, you were just saying sometimes it's all right to point out the candidate's record.
PALMIERI: Yes, you were just saying that, weren't you?
TUCKER: I was.
And in this particular case it would be one thing if these people had gone out and gotten guns legally and used them legally. But frankly, this is not someone -- the sniper is not somebody that you're going to stop with gun laws. He's already broken the law numerous times. And to argue that gun laws are the answer to the sniper, is just -- it just doesn't make sense. It's not part of the debate that we should be having.
Obviously this is something you can choose or not choose to play on people's fears with. This candidate chose to play on people's fears with it. I don't think it should be used in this way. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend used it in her race and it came back to haunt her because she actually had...
PALMIERI: I mean it is -- particularly in New Jersey, particularly in this race, this guy is a particularly conservative Republican who tried to primary Marge (ph) Rockama (ph), the Republican moderate and lost, particularly because of this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on guns. And this is a guy who thinks -- he wants to repeal the assault weapons ban. He thinks there should be more assault weapons on the street. So, I think it's something -- it's a legitimate issue that New Jersey voters should know about.
It's hard-hitting. I will concede it's hard-hitting, but I don't think it's not legitimate.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you both. We've got an election on Tuesday. What are your predictions? What's going to happen in the Senate and the House?
TUCKER: I think we're in striking distance in the Senate. And if we keep the House, it will be one of the most historic elections for a president since the 1960s.
PALMIERI: That is so false.
(CROSSTALK) PALMIERI: It is so false that it will be historic. When was the last time the president in power picked up seats in a midterm election? 1998, the last time we had a midterm election. Mindy is trying to say...
TUCKER: When was the last time we had a president didn't lose seats?
TUCKER: No, that's not true.
PALMIERI: No, it is true. Bill Clinton picked up five seats.
WOODRUFF: This is easy enough to certify.
PALMIERI: They're trying to set low expectations, which is what they always do. And it usually works out pretty well for them. But, look, George Bush has the highest approval rating of any president in modern history. He should be doing a lot better. He should be taking back lots of seats in the House.
TUCKER: What could be better?
PALMIERI: You guys should win the Senate by huge margins.
PALMIERI: And you shouldn't have to go down to Florida to bail out his little brother for the 13th time.
TUCKER: And when you guys lose, Terry McAuliffe is going to have to eat his words, because that's the one big win he's going to get.
WOODRUFF: We heard Jeb Bush talking about Terry McAuliffe yesterday. He was like "Terry what's his name."
WOODRUFF: All right, Jennifer, Mindy, we'll see you both next week. I know you'll be up late on Tuesday night, along with us. Thanks very much.
"Inside Buzz" on the potential shifts in the House Democratic leadership just ahead; also, a friendly audience forgives Maryland's Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for a campaign trail misstep.
WOODRUFF: If you crave more election news this weekend, be sure to join me, Aaron Brown and Paula Zahn for a special "CNN PRESENTS: America Votes." That is Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, the place for campaign news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE WEST WING")
ROB LOWE, ACTOR: Excuse me.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Hang on one second.
Can he do INSIDE POLITICS tomorrow?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I told him he could do it on the tape. Let me talk to them again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Now the "Inside Buzz" on Dick Gephardt: For years, he has been saying his goal is to be speaker of the House. But as Tuesday's election gets closer, it seems more and more likely that that goal may evade him. If so, will he quickly hit the presidential campaign trail for 2004?
Our congressional correspondent Kate Snow has the buzz from the Hill.
Kate, what are you hearing about all this?
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Judy, there is a lot of buzz about this.
I'll tell you, I've been speaking with several Democratic strategists very close to Gephardt who are talking with him. They tell me that he has not -- he tells them he has not made a decision, that he has not decided what he would do if the Democrats don't win control of the House next week.
They say at least, if he has made up his mind and if he and his wife know what his plans are, they're simply not sharing that with their closest advisers. Now, that said, almost every Democratic source that I've talked to in the last several days has reluctantly admitted that, yes, it doesn't look good for them. It doesn't look like they're going to be able to win back the House.
And Mr. Gephardt will have to make a decision rather quickly, then, about whether to run for the leadership post for the Democratic leader of the House, because the election for that internally is only about a week after the general national election.
Judy, there is speculation that Mr. Gephardt, if they lose control, if they don't control the House, would decide to get out of that leadership race. And then everyone assumes that he would then, down the road, make an announcement that he's running for president. But those close to Gephardt point out that the people that are doing most of the speculating are not the people that are closest to Gephardt.
They are not talking to him. And they will tell you that they are just not really in the know, and that they also perhaps have an interest in Mr. Gephardt not running, that these are some Democrats spreading rumors because they would very much like to see Mr. Gephardt get out of the way -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So, Kate, if he does step down from the leadership position, I'm assuming there are other Democrats who are already talking about getting in.
K. SNOW: Oh, yes. In fact, it's no secret at this point. Nancy Pelosi, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, and Martin Frost, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, are already pretty actively campaigning for the job of leader, whether or not Mr. Gephardt is the speaker above that or not.
It's going to be probably a pretty bitter race, all indications are, and a very compressed race, as I already mentioned. Pelosi is very popular, Judy. She just ran about nine months ago to be the Democratic whip. She's got a lot of support. She's given out a whole heck of a lot of money. In fact, she's given more money to fellow Democrats than any other sitting House member has given to candidates.
But, that said, some Democrats are pointing to some missteps of hers lately, namely, about a week ago, there was a PAC that was associated with her name that was giving out money that got some questions about its legality. She had to disband, shut down that PAC, and actually ask about 26 Democrats to give her back money that they had already received from her, some Democrats saying that that proves that she's not a very good leader -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Kate. Well, that's one more race we want to keep a close watch on, if it does turn out to be a race. Thank you, Kate Snow.
Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily": Georgia Democratic Senator Zell Miller is so popular back home that his image has appeared in ads for Democrats and Republicans. An for GOP Senate candidate Saxby Chambliss unfavorably compares his opponent Max Cleland's voting record with votes by Senator Miller. But the state Democratic Party has a new ad which features Miller defending Cleland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: It's disgraceful for anybody to question Max Cleland's commitment to our national security. Max Cleland is my hero. He puts Georgia's families first. Max's opponent should be ashamed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, three new polls from New Hampshire spotlight the extremely tight Senate race between Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican John Sununu. One poll give Shaheen a 4-point lead. Another shows her with a five-point edge. A third poll finds Sununu with a two-point lead.
Maryland Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend had an embarrassing moment yesterday when she was misidentified the university where she was speaking. Townsend made her comments -- and this is important to know -- at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND (D), MARYLAND GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: It is great to be at Coppin State University.
TOWNSEND: I'm so sorry. But you know what? I never could tell the difference between a touchdown and a football.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: I would imagine, at this point in the campaign, a lot of candidates can identify with that. We'll see where it goes after that. In her defense, Townsend had recently made a campaign stop in her race for governor at Coppin State College in Baltimore.
The importance of getting out the vote -- when we return, I'll talk with officials from the AFL-CIO and the NRA about why voter turnout in key states could make all the difference this Tuesday.
WOODRUFF: Checking the CNN "News Alert": The Associated Press reports that a federal judge this hour approved most of the provisions of an antitrust settlement between Microsoft and the Justice Department. The judge said the sanctions against the company will last at least five years unless they are extended by the court. The decision largely sets aside concerns which were raised by some states that the sanctions against Microsoft were too light.
Well, despite the handful of highly competitive races we've been following so closely, overall voter turnout on Tuesday is expected to be low. A little earlier, I talked about the importance of getting voters to the polls with Steve Rosenthal of the AFL-CIO and Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association.
I started by asking Steve Rosenthal why his union has decided not to run any TV ads for practically the entire last month of the campaign.
STEVE ROSENTHAL, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, AFL-CIO: Our focus has really been on mobilizing union members on the ground. We think the real key to this election is going to be turnout. And the best thing we can do to turn union members out is to talk to them one-on-one at work, talk to them one-on-one at home to try to make this election as personal as possible for as many members as we can possibly reach. WOODRUFF: Well, there was a top union official quoted in a story the other day as saying that there were concerns at the AFL that the Democratic message is not getting out there about the economy, because the president has been so successful talking about Iraq and other matters.
ROSENTHAL: We're finding that workers all across the country are very, very focused on the economy and looking to see which of the candidates will stand with them on issues like prescription drugs and health care, on issues like jobs, where it's becoming an overwhelming election about jobs and the economy. So, from that standpoint, if we're out there talking to people, we think that that will make a difference.
WOODRUFF: Wayne LaPierre, what about the NRA? What's your view of the value of television right now, television ads?
WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO & EXEC. VICE PRESIDENT, NRA: Well, actually, we're not running any television either right now. We're running some radio, Judy.
After the 2000 elections, when President Clinton and Al Gore center-staged the gun issue -- and even President Clinton admitted it probably backfired on him -- the Democrat Party has had a strategy to not bring this issue up. And, in fact, Democrats are saying they're pro Second Amendment.
So what we're doing is, we're running a lot of phone banks, a lot of radio, a lot of get-out-of-the-vote effort, letting people know that these elections really matter and you need to go to the polls and vote for the candidate that really believes in the Second Amendment. And there's a lot of key races on the line. And we're doing it with on-the-ground organization, mostly.
WOODRUFF: So, Steve Rosenthal, are you both saying the same thing, that, at this stage of the campaign, it is direct get-out-the- vote effort that you think is going to bring a bigger payoff?
ROSENTHAL: Yes, I think, by and large, that is the case. And what you're finding is that there is a lot more focus and it's en vogue these days to talk about grassroots campaigning. But I think most people don't really understand what that means.
It takes an awful lot of people on the ground to do it. It's a lot of knocking on doors, ringing up phones, talking to people one-on- one. And I think that we've got a very strong organization in place with union members across the country, who understand what's at stake in this election, what it would mean if the Republicans gain control of the United States Senate, the House of Representatives and the White House. So there's a lot at stake here.
WOODRUFF: Wayne LaPierre, experts are saying the turnout this year could be the lowest ever for a midterm election, even lower than it was in 1998, when we had a record low turnout. What is your gut telling you? What are your people telling you? LAPIERRE: My gut is telling me this election has really not been nationalized. The fact is that turnout will probably decide it. You go into the local coffee shop, people are so preoccupied with other things in their lives, with stories that have been on the national news, but they're not really bringing it home to election politics.
And we're out there telling people: "Look, your Second Amendment freedoms, your Bill of Rights freedoms are on the line. There are 90 million gun owners out there, 20 million hunters. And you need to go to the polls if you want your rights protected, because the politicians you elect are going to make that decision."
WOODRUFF: And, Steve, same question about turnout. What are you sensing?
ROSENTHAL: Well, it feels as though it's going to be a light turnout.
And I just want to underscore one point that Wayne made -- or maybe take issue with it. I actually don't think this election is about Second Amendment rights at all. It's about health care. It's about prescription drugs. It's about education. It's about jobs. And I think working families realize that.
WOODRUFF: Wayne LaPierre, I want to ask you one last thing. We know that the filmmaker Michael Moore, who just made a film about guns, wrote a letter to Charlton Heston, with whom you are on a big tour of the country right now, requesting that he not go to Arizona to campaign, because there was a shooting at the University of Arizona. Are you at any disadvantage this year because of the sniper shootings and other gun incidents?
LAPIERRE: You know, Judy, I think the American public knows the good guys from the bad guys, that we want to put the bad guys in jail. And many of those law enforcement folks out there catching the sniper were NRA members. And 80 percent of the American public, in a recent poll, said one more gun law wouldn't have stopped that sniper. You need to track down those madmen and put them in jail.
WOODRUFF: Wayne LaPierre, Steve Rosenthal, talking to me just a short time ago.
Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Kensington, Maryland.
What's it like to be a challenger running against the most vulnerable congressional incumbent in the country? Stick around and you'll get a chance to meet him.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WOODRUFF: A special message now for all Bill Schneider fans: There is no "Political Play of the Week" today, because Bill is busy compiling the top plays for the whole 2002 campaign, the entire campaign. And that will be for your viewing pleasure right here on INSIDE POLITICS on Monday.
But you can take heart, because today Bill has another in his series of profiles of fresh faces in hot races: Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): This is affluent, high-minded, progressive Bethesda, according to the census, the best-educated city in the country and the heart of Maryland 8th Congressional District, just outside Washington, D.C.
Meet Chris Van Hollen, Democratic candidate, high-minded, progressive.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Let's go. Ready? All right.
SCHNEIDER: A soccer dad with degrees from Swarthmore and Harvard.
VAN HOLLEN: The worst part about representing this district is, there was always someone in every meeting who knew a lot more about every issue than you do.
SCHNEIDER: Voters here are very issue-oriented.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a question for you.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you have voted on the Iraq issue?
VAN HOLLEN: I would have voted no. I would have voted no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. I needed to hear that.
SCHNEIDER: Van Hollen is trying to unseat Congresswoman Connie Morella, the most liberal Republican in Congress. Democrats have been trying to defeat her for 16 years.
Why does Van Hollen look like the Democrat who might do it? Redistricting is one reason. A district of affluent liberals now has more minority voters, more Democratic minority voters.
REP. CONNIE MORELLA (R), MARYLAND: The cronies in Annapolis decided to target me for someone's personal ambition.
SCHNEIDER: In this district, all politics is not local. The Democrat's line is, "You're voting for control of Congress."
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It really matters who is speaker of the House of Representatives.
SCHNEIDER: Even Van Hollen's opponent acknowledges that's his appeal.
MORELLA: His party affiliation, simple as that.
SCHNEIDER: In one of her ads, Morella called Van Hollen a rude name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: To hear him talk, you would think this guy was the Republican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: His reply, "Same to you, lady."
VAN HOLLEN: The people of this congressional district are very smart, sophisticated voters. and they can figure out who the Republican in this race is. And they know it's Connie Morella, not me.
SCHNEIDER: Voters here like Connie Morella, but she's still in trouble for reelection.
MORELLA: What am I doing wrong?
SCHNEIDER: Van Hollen's answer, "You're in the wrong party, even if you have the right views."
VAN HOLLEN: As long you have Tom DeLay and the Republican leadership as captains of the ship, we're not going to make progress on all the issues that Representative Morella herself says she cares about.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): Chris Van Hollen has been called a policy wonk, someone immersed in legislative details. But he's running in a district that probably has more policy wonks than anyplace in the country, so it may not be a bad thing.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.
WOODRUFF: Another fresh face.
INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: That's it for this Friday INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Be sure to watch CNN all weekend for complete campaign coverage and this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. for a pre-election special featuring new polls in the major Senate battlegrounds. Then, on Monday, as promised, Bill Schneider will join us with his top political plays of the 2002 campaign season.
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