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Preview of Third Presidential Debate

Aired October 10, 2004 - 10:00   ET


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: Drew Griffin here at the CNN Center In Atlanta. "INSIDE POLITICS" begins in 60 seconds, but first stories now in the news.
We're just receiving details about -- this hour about a suicide bombing at a mosque in Pakistan. Three people killed when the bomb went off at Shiite Mosque in downtown Lahore. That is according to police sources there. The explosion took place during evening prayers.

Two suicide car bombings in Baghdad claiming at least 17 lives. The first bomb went off near the Iraqi Oil Ministry about 200 yards from a police academy.

A second car bomb in southern part of Baghdad killed a U.S. soldier and wounded another.

The latest killings come as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld makes an unannounced visit to Iraq. He visited troops in the western part of the country saying some troop withdrawals might be possible next year.

Rumsfeld predicting the violence will worsen in the run up to the Iraqi elections set for January.

Another news update at the bottom of the hour.

INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY begins right now.

KELLY WALLACE, HOST: INSIDE POLITICS today it is Bush vs. Kerry round three. We have a preview of the tempest in Tempe.

Draft dodging, did Congress play fair with the controversial issue in this year's election, and did President Bush put an end to the rumors? We'll explain.

And a Washington feeding frenzy. You are what you eat, but is what you eat how you vote. We have the juicy details. That's all straight ahead.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington. This is INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY.

WALLACE: It is Sunday October 10. We hope you are enjoying your Columbus Day weekend, as the election clocks keeps ticking along. Good Sunday morning to you. I am Kelly Wallace in Washington. Thanks so much for joining us. As you know, politics doesn't take weekends off and neither do we. As usual, we've got a very busy hour ahead so let's get right to it.

We get started with the fight for the Oval Office. It is crunch time on the campaign trail and "Time" magazine's cover says it all. With just 23 days to go it is a battle for every last vote.

Both President Bush and Senator John Kerry are leaving no stone unturned in their search for support from undecided voters. After their Friday night face off both men hit the trail running.

And this weekend, as they campaign, Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry are getting set for round three, their debate Wednesday night in Tempe, Arizona. We've got live reports from our correspondents traveling with the two candidates.

And later, do you know how to speak to a liberal? Conservative columnist and author, Ann Coulter, talks about her new book. Plus she'll have to answer a tough critic, Democratic strategist Marla Romash. That is all coming up.

But first, with just three days until the final Bush/Kerry debate let's look at how the two men did Friday night.

Polls show the senator from Massachusetts edged President Bush. But those polls are within the margin of error. In our CNN "USA Today" Gallup poll, 47 percent of the respondents said Senator Kerry did a better job, 45 percent gave the president the win.

Compared to the first debate that is a big improvement for Mr. Bush. After that first face off 53 percent of the respondents said Senator Kerry did a better job, 37 percent said Mr. Bush did.

Also in our latest poll, regarding Friday night's debate, 47 percent say Senator Kerry has a better understanding of the issues, 42 percent say the president does. But the president wins on the toughness issue. Fifty three percent say he would be a tougher president, 40 percent say Senator Kerry would be.

Well, checking again the campaign trail, Senator John Kerry made a beeline for two big showdown states after Friday's debate. CNN's national correspondent, Frank Buckley is traveling with the Kerry campaign. He joins us from Miami.

And Frank, how confidant is team Kerry feeling right now?

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're feeling pretty good. They feel like they've got some momentum coming out of the first debate of course in which they got very positive reviews.

Even though the second debate the reviews were sort of mixed and it was seen as a draw by many people, they believe in looking at their own polling and their metering, they're dials that they use to do focus groups that they feel that Senator Kerry gained in a number of areas. We're in the state of Florida. As you said, this is a state that both campaigns would like to win in this election. Senator Kerry hasn't been able to campaign here as much as he has wanted to because of the hurricanes. That changed in time for the first debate.

This morning he is here for church services. Yesterday he was in the buckeye state.


BUCKLEY (voice-over): Senator John Kerry campaigned in the state that decided the 2000 election, Florida, and rallied the faithful in the state that could be key in 2004, Ohio following a presidential debate that Kerry characterized as a win for him.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two and O and we're moving on to the third, and I look forward to it.


BUCKLEY: In Ohio, a state hit hard by job losses, Kerry appealed to voters as the candidate who will be a champion of the middle class.

KERRY: I'm going to fight for your jobs. I'm going to fight for your prescription drugs. I'm going to fight for your health care. I'm going to fight for your schools. I'm going to be a president who fights harder for your jobs than I do for my own.

BUCKLEY: Kerry strategists say the final phase of the campaign is aimed at convincing voters of Kerry commitment to fight for average Americans while continuously making the argument that President Bush can't fix problems if he won't acknowledge them.

KERRY: Let me ask you a simple question. How can a president make life better for his countrymen, and women if the president can't admit the things that every other American sees and doesn't talk honestly to the American people about what's happening.


BUCKLEY: Kerry advisers say while the focus right now is on domestic issues, Iraq and Kerry's contention that President Bush mismanaged the war will remain a recurring theme.

KERRY: I believe this president, I regret to say this, but I believe this president has lost global credibility. His judgment is questioned by others in the world. He doesn't have the ability to bring those countries to the table.


KERRY: And we need a person with credibility, with a fresh start and with the strength to win and get the job done in Iraq and get our troops home.



BUCKLEY: Senator Kerry this morning attending church services at a predominantly African American church here in the Miami area. Then later today he'll be travelling to New Mexico where he will be doing his debate prep for debate number three.

Kelly they're going to change it up slightly from last week. Last week they didn't do any campaigning while Senator Kerry was out in Colorado prepping for debate number two. This time they say they're going to add an event or two during the week to try to frame the debate that's coming up on Wednesday in Tempe, Arizona.


WALLACE: Frank, a quick question. Of course we're watching these polls tighten a bit, but we still see that Senator Kerry is behind President Bush, somewhat significantly when it comes tot he war on terrorism, slightly when it comes to Iraq. How concerned are Kerry strategists about that?

BUCKLEY: Well, they've always said that it's a natural thing for people to fall behind the sitting president at a time of war, to believe that he can best handle things that a commander and chief handles.

But they believe that in the first debate they were able to answer the threshold question, can John Kerry be a commander in chief. They believe that the answer came back yes. And now they believe -- they're starting to work on making sure that people understand that, showing how he can be a leader.

They believe that their internal polling and the public polling shows that while the numbers still favor George Bush that they've closed the gap and they've closed the gap significantly. So they believe that at least the trend is moving in their direction.

Frank, reporting from Miami, thanks so much. Frank Buckley traveling with the Kerry campaign.

And we turn now to President Bush. After campaigning yesterday in the Midwest he is now back at his Texas ranch. CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is in Crawford, Texas.

And Suzanne give us a sense of how confident team Bush is feeling right now.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kelly, the Bush advisers really are very confident. They're actually quite emboldened by the president's Friday performance.

President Bush is going to be spending the day at the Crawford ranch. He's going to get his daily briefings and of course a little bit of prep time for the debate, the final debate, but not much. Aides say that he's going to have a relaxing day. But you talk to them and they get a sense -- they say the president did what he needed to do. That he stopped the bleeding and that he is now back in the game.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: He can run, but he cannot hide.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): A new campaign line with a distinctly familiar ring. Once a warning often directed at Osama bin Laden and the terrorists, now at his opponent Senator John Kerry.

BUSH: Several of the statements last night simply don't pass the credibility test. With a straight face he said " I have only had one position on Iraq."


BUSH: I could barely contain myself. He must think we've been on another planet. And he tries to tell us he has had only one position. He can run, but he can't hide.


MALVEAUX: Hide from his 20 year voting record in the Senate that is. Heading into the final weeks of the campaign the president's strategy is to use Kerry's record to portray him as someone who will say one thing, but do another.

BUSH: And then Senator Kerry was asked to look into the camera and promise he would not raise taxes for anyone who earns less than $200,000 a year. The problem is to keep that promise he would have to break almost all of his other ones.

MALVEAUX: That message delivered in three battleground states in one day. At the same time the president is playing up his own economic policies in preparation for Wednesday's final debate, which will focus on domestic issues like employment.

BUSH: To create jobs in America we must be wise about how we spend your money and keep your taxes lows. We're not going to let the senator tax you. We're going to whip him in November.



MALVEAUX: Now, Kelly, I spoke with adviser Karl Rove, who said that part of the strategy, of course, is to paint Kerry as what he calls a tax and spend liberal to show that his record backs that up. Rove saying that Kerry has a case of amnesia. That it's not based on any kind of a medical flaw, but what he says is a character flaw. It is very clear that they're going to be going back to the words and the record of Kerry to prove that they believe that he is out of step with the American people.


WALLACE: Suzanne, when you talked to Karl Rove and others, where they talk about painting John Kerry as a liberal, are they seeing traction there and do they have any fears that painting each candidate as a liberal or a conservative could turn off some undecided voters?

MALVEAUX: Well their strategy for the undecided voters is the case that they're making that look, you cannot trust Kerry, that he is not credible. Don't believe what this guy says. That is the message for the undecided voters.

But for the liberals -- for their base they believe that that title, hat label of liberal will stick. The reason why is they want to remind those people that look, Kerry is not someone who is instep with your values whether it's abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, that type of thing.

Really a code word, reminding those voters, reminding the base that this is not a man who represents your interests. Also Rove as well as, Kelly, a few saying that they believe that he is a far left in his party, that they are extreme. And that is something, as well, that you're going to see in the weeks to come. That they are going to paint him as someone who is not only out of step with the mainstream, but out of step with his own party.

WALLACE: Suzanne, interesting days ahead. Suzanne Malveaux, White House correspondent, reporting from Crawford, Texas. Thanks so much.

Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, Bush vs. Kerry round three. Friday night's debate is over and we are looking ahead to the tempest in Tempe.

Two campaign insiders preview this final match up. Plus, we've uncovered a Washington feeding frenzy. We'll wet your appetite with a menu of treats to fit any political taste.

With just 23 days until the election, hard to believe, this is INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, the place for campaign news. Don't touch that dial.


WALLACE: The presidential candidates are getting ready for their third and final slug-fest, set for Wednesday. Following up on the last debate and looking ahead to the next one we turn to Debra Deshong, senior adviser for the Kerry/Edwards campaign and Jennifer Millerwise, deputy communications director for the Bush/Cheney campaign.



WALLACE: Thanks for being here. Jennifer, let me begin with you. Because President Bush getting higher marks for debate number two than debate number one. But according to CNN's own poll Senator John Kerry is getting the win slightly. Are you guys disappointed that he wasn't way out in front after the second debate?

MILLERWISE: Well, I kind of disagree with your poll. I thought the president did a fabulous job. I thought that he really did a great job of not only talking about his record and his vision for the future, but also talking about John Kerry's record. It's something we don't hear John Kerry talk about very often.

We think it's really the best blueprint for how this man would lead.

WALLACE: How important was debate number two? You had some people saying it was do or die, the stakes were so high for President Bush, how important was it for him to regain some momentum?

MILLERWISE: Well, it was -- I think at that point there were only 25 days left and with that many -- that few days every day is important and everything is critical. So, it certainly was an opportunity. I think he took full advantage of it. And I thought he really did a great job of putting John Kerry on the ropes.

He talked about the fact that this is a man who has a record that's so far out of the mainstream. He is the most liberal member of the United States Senate.

WALLACE: Let me do something here. Let me bring in some of our polls. Again, it is just with debate watchers. So, it's not a poll of the entire American public. But when you look at the poll, talking to the debate watchers, who can better handle Iraq before the debate and after debate? Before the debate Senator Kerry is leading.

After the debate President Bush leading 53 percent to 46 percent for Senator Kerry. And then when it comes to who can better handle terrorism, before the debate President Bush had about a seven point lead. But after the debate about a 17 point lead over Senator Kerry. That has to be somewhat troubling on those two key issues Iraq and terrorism.

DESHONG: Well, when you look at other polls we are actually cutting down President Bush's lead on who can better handle the war on terror. And on the other questions I get asked on strong leader, commander in chief, John Kerry actually leads President Bush in some other polls. So we're very confidant about where we are in the polls right now.

President Bush ran from his record at the debate. You know, he uses the line you can run but you can't hide. I'm surprised he's using that line. The last time he used that was on -- about Osama bin Laden. He's reminding Americans we can't find him.

WALLACE: Why didn't Senator Kerry then use that line on Friday.

DESHONG: Because, you know, we're not about zingers. We're about laying out our case to America. John Kerry laid out his plain for fighting for the middle class and for making America safer in the debate. That's why you see us doing so well in these polls.

WALLACE: I want to do follow up on two questions that were asked at Friday night's debate. One to President Bush. A woman asking, three mistakes you might have made when it comes to decisions, what those were and what he did to remedy the situation.

The president didn't answer. Why can't the president say what mistakes he might have made and talk about them?

MILLERWISE: Well, you know, he did. He said that yes, of course I've made mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes.

WALLACE: He didn't really though, Jennifer. No, he talked about some bad (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but he didn't say -- I mean all of us know, oh my goodness why did I do blank. He didn't. And he has been criticized, you know, for not saying A,B or C were mistakes.

MILLERWISE: It seems a little bit like a political game, if you ask me. I mean when asked about what -- did you make a mistake on the big issues? Was it a mistake to go into Iraq? No, not at all. It was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to fight this war on terror. It's the right thing to go into Afghanistan and rid them of the Taliban.

Now when it comes to mistakes John Kerry was asked just the other day, was it a mistake to go into Iraq? He said Yes to Jim Lehrer. Then Jim Lehrer said well, are our troops dying in a mistake and he said no. It is stunning to me that we are only a few days out and we still do not know whether or not John Kerry thinks it was the right thing to do to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

WALLACE: Let me wrap up with you here. Does the president get hurt at all with undecided voters over the mistake issue or not at all

MILLERWISE: I really don't think so. I think the undecided voters are looking at who can lead this war on terror and President Bush clearly can. He's a decisive leader. He has the credibility and the conviction to do so.

WALLACE: Let me do something else. Senator Kerry was asked, of course, about making a pledge and he got a lot of attention for looking into the camera and said, "right here I will not raise taxes on anyone making under $200,000 a year."

But he did something else too. He said "the president is the only president in a war who will call for a tax cut. But isn't John Kerry doing the same thing saying he will propose a tax cut for the middle class during a time of war? DESHONG: We have to do something to jump start this economy. We out -- we are at 1.7 million private sector jobs down under this current administration.

WALLACE: But how does he criticize President Bush for doing one thing that he is saying he would do as well? Is that unfair?

DESHONG: George Bush put forth a tax cut that he said would create five million jobs. In fact, instead we've lost 1.7 million jobs. Something has to be done to jump start this economy.

You know, George Bush looks at America today and says this is the best we can do. John Kerry says we can do better and one of the things we can do is a tax cut for middle class Americans. We have to do that.

MILLERWISE: The fact is that unemployment right now is on 5.4 percent. We've had 1.9 million new jobs that have been created just since last August. And President Bush has a plan that recognizes we're in a changing economy. John Kerry is offering more taxation, more regulation, more litigation. None of these things has one thing to do with new jobs.

DESHONG: The unemployment rate itself hasn't changed because almost 400,000 Americans have stopped looking for jobs.

WALLACE: All right. Jumping in right here, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rule of my debate moderator, we just have about 90 second left. Looking ahead to the final debate everyone says it will be so very important. Why don't you start, Debra. What does John Kerry need to do better in that debate than compared to the last two debates.

DESHONG: Well, I wouldn't say hat we'd have to do anything better. We're doing great. We've won almost all...

WALLACE: Paint the best scenario. What do you want to see your candidate do on Wednesday night?

DESHONG: We want him to continue laying out his domestic agenda. The next debate is going to be all about domestic agenda. George bush had no excuses and he couldn't defend his domestic agenda when asked about health care. Five million Americans have lost their health care. George Bush had no plan. John Kerry needs to lay out his plan for growing jobs, getting health care more affordable and for prescription -- getting prescription drugs for seniors.

WALLACE: As Republican strategist what is President Bush going to do or needs to do?

MILLERWISE: We're thrilled to talk about our domestic policy. This is a president with a real record. Tax cuts that have this economy moving in the right direction. Health care, he's already reformed Medicare. He wants to do more, prescription drugs for our senior.

And if you want to look at the No Child Left Behind Act when it comes to education. Now he's also going to talk about the fact that John Kerry has proposed a $1.5 trillion health care plan. A, he can't pay for it and it does nothing to go to the root cause of higher health care costs. And that's medical malpractice, which is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to drive up costs.

WALLACE: And President Bush will win and Senator Kerry will win right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's my prediction.

WALLACE: OK. Those are -- you're sticking to it, right. All right. We'll check in with you after the debate and see what you see.

Jennifer Millerwise, Debra Deshong thanks so much. Great to see you and we'll see you again here on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY.

Coming up next Ann Coulter vs. Marla Romash on presidential politics and the new book quote, "How to Talk to a Liberal, If you Must." This promises to be one of the best debates of the year.

Also ahead, the military draft. President Bush says no way. So why do so many Americans think it is still a possibility? We'll get the story behind the story.

And no one is safe from the late night comedians, even first lady Laura Bush. Take a listen.


JAY LENO, LATE NIGHT COMEDY HOST: Now what's worse? The girls come home with a criminal or a Democrat?




WALLACE: Are politicians playing politics with an issue that is taboo among voters? Bill Schneider has the story behind the story on an issue that could impact the November election.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It's the issue that won't go away despite the best efforts of Republicans to kill it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, since we continue to police the world how do you intend to maintain a military presence without reinstituting a draft?

SNYDER: The president's answer sounded definitive.

BUSH: I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft. We're not going to have a draft, period. SCHNEIDER: The focus group ratings soared when the president said that. Two thirds of Americans oppose reinstating the draft, according to one poll. Another poll shows that a majority of 18 to 29 year olds believes President Bush does favor reinstating the draft.

Last month Senator Kerry was asked if he thought there could be a draft.

KERRY: If George Bush were to be reelected, given the way he has gone about this war and given his avoidance of responsibility in North Korea and Iran and in other places, it is possible. I can't tell you. I will tell you this. I would not reinstate the draft.

SCHNEIDER: With that, the Web started buzzing with warnings of the real threat of a draft and Pentagon discussions of a new draft.

REP CHARLIE RANGEL, (D) NEW YORK: People just don't believe the president, don't believe in the war, believe that he's going to start a draft and for a log of good reasons.

SCHNEIDER: Like what?

KERRY: Our military is overextended under the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) president. Our Guard and Reserves have been turned into almost active duty.

SCHNEIDER: The secretary of defense denies that the military is over extended.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We are having no trouble attracting and retaining the people we need.

SCHNEIDER: Nearly two years ago, Congressman Rangel co-sponsored a bill to reinstate the draft. It has been languishing in the House of Representatives until last week when the Republican majority in congress brought the bill up in order to kill it. Republicans are determined to shut the issue down.

SEN. BILL FRIST, (R-TN) MAJORITY LEADER: From the leadership of the United States Senate it is a non issue and it's one that's not going to be addressed.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats are just as determined to keep it alive.

RANGEL: You cannot be for this war and against a draft.


SCHNEIDER: Concern about a draft is a powerful issue. Not just with young people, but also with their parents, who faced the draft themselves during the Vietnam era.

WALLACE: Bill, you know, you go out and you talk to voters one thing you hear a lot of concerns that the military is over extended. What does President Bush, the Bush administration say about that? How do they respond to that? SCHNEIDER: Well, President Bush in the debate tried to respond when he said we don't need mass armies anymore. And he explained how he's trying to transform the military. First through technology. He cited unmanned flying aircraft that use intelligence and also the redeployment of forces from Europe and other cold war stations to the Middle East.

He said that we can meet our manpower needs with the system we have not if it's transformed mostly through redeployment.

WALLACE: Quickly, do you think that's a huge issue coming the November election?

SCHNEIDER: Yes. It's kind of a subterranean issue, but believe me it is out there.

WALLACE: OK. Bill Schneider with "The Story Behind the Story." Always great to see you. Thanks so much.

Up next on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, two of the toughest partisans in the business, conservative columnist Ann Coulter and Democratic strategist Marla Romash square off on Coulter's new book, "How to Talk to A Liberal."

And also seismic activity resumes at Mt. St. Helens. We'll have the latest in a check of the hour's top stories.

This is INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Don't go away.


GRIFFIN: I'm Drew Griffin at the CNN Center here in Atlanta. INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY continues 60 seconds from now. But first, a check of the stories making news at this hour.

The Senate is meeting in a rare Sunday session. The lawmakers will consider a number of issues, including a $136 billion corporate tax bill. The lawmakers are working overtime trying to whittle down their workload before leaving town for the upcoming elections.

A bubble on the south side of Mount St. Helens lava dome has now risen to at least 330 feet since the end of September. Earthquake activity around the active volcano is increasing. Geologists say it all suggests magma is less than a mile below the surface. However, scientists say there's no reason to raise the alert level there.

The Food and Drug Administration denies it received any early warning that part of this year's flu vaccine had been contaminated. There is a vaccine shortage. "The Washington Post" reports the U.S.- based Chyron Corporation told the FDA about problems at its British facility on September 13.

More news at the top of the hour. Now back to Kelly Wallace and INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY.

WALLACE: Thanks, Drew. Friday night's presidential debate seems to have raised the decibel level of the campaigns, and that's true of partisans on both sides. Attacks are becoming a bit more personal and contentious as election day approaches.

Joining us today from New York is columnist and author Ann Coulter. Her latest book, "How to Talk to a Liberal if You Must: The World According to Ann Coulter," it was released earlier this week.

And here with me in Washington is Democratic strategist Marla Romash.

Welcome to you both. Thanks for being here.



WALLACE: Ann, let me begin with you. Everybody says President Bush was much better in round two than round one. But was he good enough?

COULTER: Yes, I think he wiped the floor with Kerry. And the surprising thing about it is, no one expected that.

I mean, this is supposed to be the Democrats' home turf. It's a town hall meeting, it's domestic issues, and it was particularly on the domestic issues that Bush was so good. I mean, I think he clearly won the exchange on stem cell research. We're a country that supports progress and technology, but Bush said I'm balancing science with ethics. I think Kerry was a disaster on abortion.

WALLACE: All right. Let me get Marla in here. Ann Coulter says President Bush wiped the floor with John Kerry.

ROMASH: Well, if you look at almost every single poll that was taken after that debate the majority of the American people disagreed with her and believe that John Kerry did the better job. And the fact is that Americans are beginning to look up at their -- look up from their lives and look at this election and see that John Kerry really offers the kind of change the country needs right now to get our economy going again, to create jobs, to provide health care and to really keep America safe.

WALLACE: Ann, let me ask you, though, looking at polls, I know we probably look at polls too much, though. Many of the polls sort of giving it as a draw. Are you sort of a little disappointed, though, that President Bush didn't come out in the polls with sort of that clear win to give him all the momentum coming out of round two?

COULTER: Well, a few things. One is, I mean, if we're just going to cite polls, then there's no point in any of us being here and discussing the debate. You can just run the polls and let us stay home.

WALLACE: No, we wouldn't want that. We wouldn't want that. COULTER: No, you wouldn't want that. And the other thing is, I mean, I -- the problem with the polls is it doesn't look at -- for one thing, it's like 500 people. You don't know how many Democrats, Republicans. There have been some problems with that.


ROMASH: Any excuse.

COULTER: Well, OK. I don't know what you're doing if you just want to cite polls. But I think the more important point is that you have to look at which voters are going to be affected, as, for example, on the abortion vote.

I mean, in Oklahoma and South Dakota, the two Democrats running for president, Daschle and the Democrat running against Coburn are claiming they're huge pro-lifers. And Kerry was a disaster on abortion. And rather condescending, I might add.


ROMASH: Ann, Ann, Ann. I mean, it is -- it is really indicative.

I think what we saw in that debate last week was Furious George, as one of the bloggers put it. I thought that was really the best line.

The fact is, on the issues that are important to the American people, like jobs, like health care, George Bush just isn't there for them. I mean, this is the only president since Hoover who has actually lost jobs. He's seven million jobs short of his own promises.

And frankly, on the key issues that you're talking about, John Kerry did remarkably well on stem cell research, on choice. He demonstrated that he really does understand where the country is on these issues and he does understand how important it is to respect a woman's right to choose.

WALLACE: Let me jump in, Ann. Looking at the final debate, which almost everyone agrees will be oh so important as we look into the last few weeks of this campaign, what does George Bush, in your view, have to do on that Wednesday night in Tempe?

COULTER: He has to do the same thing he did in the second debate, wipe the floor with John Kerry.


ROMASH: He didn't do it. I mean, I sometimes think that I can gauge how well John Kerry is doing by how outrageous people like Ann Coulter become.

The fact is people are beginning to pay attention. They see that John Kerry offers change and hope, that George Bush is offering more of the same. And just frankly taking the country in the wrong direction. And worse, not even being honest with us about it. And that's a problem for a lot of people.

WALLACE: All right. I want to talk a little bit about Ann Coulter's book. We have it here, "How to Talk to a Liberal" -- she has in brackets here -- "If You Must."

Ann, let me ask you this. Maybe I'm being too optimistic, can't we all get along. Is there ever going to be a time where it's not liberal versus conservatives, conservatives versus liberals, but we're all coming together to discuss the issues and have sort of respectful disagreements, but not pointing at fingers as a liberal or a conservative?

COULTER: I think you could have debates about issues without chance, like Halliburton and Bush lied and kids died, but there are serious disagreements between the parties. Democrats want to raise taxes. Republicans want to lower them. Republicans believe in preemptive attacks to stop the next terrorist attack on American soil. Democrats do not.

ROMASH: Oh, George Bush's mistakes in Iraq cost over a thousand lives.

COULTER: Republicans oppose abortion. Democrats support abortion, including partial-birth abortion, opposing parental notification rights.

I mean, as long as the parties disagree on those things, we're going to be arguing. And I note that. I say again, the Democrats' trick is to pretend they are for cutting taxes, to pretend they are against partial-birth abortion, as Kerry claimed in the debate. And Bush turned around and said, then why did you vote for it?

ROMASH: Oh, Ann. I mean, clearly, god bless you, Ann. I hope you sell a lot of books because that's what this is about, it's about helping you sell your books. And if everyone started working together on a middle ground, which is where John Kerry is going, then I'm afraid your book wouldn't sell very well.

But the fact is that when you start racing through all those issue, it's John Kerry who promised the American people a tax cut, it's John Kerry who has a plan to create jobs.

COULTER: Very credibly, too.

ROMASH: It's John Kerry who is going to make health care more affordable in this country. It's George Bush who has failed on all of those fronts. And, you know, the hot rhetoric is great, and it's great to do things in great generalities, but that's not where America is.

WALLACE: But it is coming from both sides, Marla, isn't it? I mean, it is coming -- tough rhetoric is coming from the Democrat side, as well as the Republican side. I mean, it's coming from both sides in this campaign. ROMASH: You know, this is going to be a hard-fought election, no question about it. And there -- but there are big differences between the candidates. And it's important to talk about those issues.

It's important to be really clear that -- that George Bush took America into a war without planning for peace. It cost us a thousand lives. It cost us billions of dollars. John Kerry would have offered a different route.

George Bush is seven million jobs short of his own promises. John Kerry's got a plan to create jobs. We've got to -- we've got to bring the country together and move forward, but recognize the real differences between these candidates.

WALLACE: Let me bring up to our viewers a quote from your book, Ann. And you talk about arguing. Your philosophy on arguing with liberals is tough love. Accept, you say, "I don't love them. In most cases, I don't even like them. In other words, my tough love approach is much like the Democrats' middle class tax cuts, everything but the last word."

Let me ask you, any liberals out there that you like?

COULTER: Yes, sure. Pat Caddell, Zell Miller.

ROMASH: Zell Miller? Hey, wait a minute.


COULTER: The list goes on. I think after this election, Caddell and Miller should reform the Democratic Party, that could be more like the party of FDR and not like the party Marla is describing, which is, instead of fighting the war on terrorism...

ROMASH: Zell Miller reforming the Democratic Party terrifies me.

COULTER: ... a policy that is generally known as unconditional surrender.

ROMASH: I'll stick with John Kerry's Democratic Party.

WALLACE: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. Marla Romash here in Washington, D.C., Ann Coulter in New York, thanks for joining us. We hope to have you on soon and see what you think after round three.

Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, the "Morning Grind." The gloves are off for round three in Tempe, Arizona. Find out what the candidates need to do to land the knockout punch.

Plus, if you missed any of the light night talk shows, you won't want to miss our "Late Night Laughs." Here's a preview.


LENO: And tonight was the second presidential debate, which was in a town hall format. You know what that is? That's where everyday Americans and not just reporters get a chance to have their questions avoided. Yeah.




WALLACE: After that lively exchange between Ann Coulter and Marla Romash, it seems like a good time to take a sip from our Sunday cup of the "Morning Grind." Love that, love that, love that.

CNN political editor John Mercurio is here.

Good morning, John.


WALLACE: A little different introduction there.

MERCURIO: Yes, snappy. Snappy. I like it.

WALLACE: Snappy, snappy. OK, first, everyone's talking about it, who won the debate Friday night and why?

MERCURIO: Well, I hate to be one of these sort of "everybody won" sort of people, so I apologize for that. But I really do think that both campaigns are happy this weekend with how things went.

You know, first of all, I have to disagree with Ann Coulter. I think overall, in a general sense, John Kerry probably won. I think every poll that I've seen sort of reflects that he, you know, at least won by a narrow -- a narrow margin.

He was able to effectively and consistently hit back strong answers to questions both from the moderator, I think, and from the president. And he forced the president to sort of play defense from pretty much the beginning of the -- of the -- of the debate.

Now, the problem was that that strategy, which worked really well in Miami, didn't work as well in St. Louis. I think that the president was much less flustered, much less exasperated than he appeared in Miami. And that's why I think the president's campaign comes back and says, look, we come out of this with a win, we can live to fight another day, this race is certainly not over.

WALLACE: Tell us a little bit, take our viewers behind the scenes, the spin room. Because I was reading that Matthew Dowd, the Republican Party's chief pollster, was in the press room at the hour mark, 30 minutes left in the debate, saying, "My guy won." Tell us about that.

MERCURIO: Oh, yes. Oh, it was fantastic.

Yes, I mean, well, they certainly had a lot of room for improvement based on how they had -- they had performed in the spin room in Miami. I think, you know, they came out and basically conceded that their guy hadn't won. And I think that definitely had an impact on how the media characterized the debate.

Thirty minutes into the -- into the -- into the debate, just like you said, all the reporters sitting there, they're watching the debate, trying to pay attention. All of a sudden, this group of Bush's top aides come walking through, they're slapping each other on the back, they're giving each other these high fives. It was this totally over-the-top show, very obviously to most of the reporters there, designed to send the message, hey, if they think their guy is doing really well, maybe I should think the guy is doing really well. I don't think it actually worked.

WALLACE: I was going to say, what impact does that have on the working press?

MERCURIO: I think it was a little transparent. I think it was a little transparent because we've been watching very closely the Bush campaign this week to see how they were going to try to spin the victory.

WALLACE: So what about camp Kerry? Are they coming in the other side, doing their own high fives as well?

MERCURIO: They weren't as prepared, I have to say. I think they came from Miami in a position of being very confident. They thought that their guy did really well. They figured they would just play it out the same way.

Personally, this is by one measure. I got three times as many e- mails from the Bush campaign response machine than I did from the Kerry campaign.

Now, that's not always necessarily a good thing, but it definitely showed that the Republicans were much more -- they were hustling a lot more than they had been. But, of course, the Democrats did have a little bit of fun.

There was someone who had a little bit too much time on their hands. They were distributing earlier in the day this flyer -- I think we have a picture of it -- that was sort of this '50s-style cartoonish, you know, flyer.

WALLACE: They talk about W.'s rose-colored glasses.

MERCURIO: Amazing rose-colored glasses. They were handing out rose-colored sort of 3D-style glasses along with it to reporters and a lot of other people during the day. We saw them. And we actually saw in the spin room that night Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager, wearing the glasses around. So that was sort of a highlight.

WALLACE: And the point being that he's not seeing...

MERCURIO: The point being sort of a rosy scenario revisited. I think we're talking...

WALLACE: And look ahead now to showdown number three.


WALLACE: All important, because the winner, really, of that debate will have the big Mo, momentum going into the final few weeks. What does each side have to do?

MERCURIO: Absolutely. I think they have very different agendas.

Three things that Kerry needs to do. I think he needs to seal the deal. He hasn't entirely done that with some of these undecided voters.

He needs to continue to be likable. Polls have shown that he has been very well received in terms of likability factors.

He also needs to hit back on Bush. The one main attack I think we're going to see from Bush, which is going to be on taxes. He did that in St. Louis; he needs to do that again in Tempe.

For Bush, three things he needs to do. He needs to sort of shore up his appeal as a strong leader. That's taking a hit since the performance in Miami.

He needs to return to the center. I think you saw an appeal to conservative voters, his base, in St. Louis, with questions on stem cell and on abortion. And he needs to hit back on jobs, because obviously Kerry is going to be hitting very hard during this domestic debate on that issue. So...

WALLACE: Another night of must-see TV.

MERCURIO: Absolutely.

WALLACE: Can't wait. John Mercurio, thanks so much. We'll see you in Tempe.

MERCURIO: Thank you.

WALLACE: All right. CNN political editor, John Mercurio. And, of course, for the best daily briefing on politics, don't miss the "Morning Grind." Go to for all the latest political news.

Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, Ed Henry takes a tour of downtown D.C. and shakes things up with some campaign cocktails and tasty election edibles. You won't want to miss this week's "Capitol Confidential." So don't go away.


WALLACE: And we're looking at now live pictures. Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, in Miami, an African- American church there. Also on hand, Reverend Jesse Jackson, we believe, Congressman Charles Rangel of New York, and the Reverend Al Sharpton.

I'm told that the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Miami, of course, African-American voters very important voting block in campaign '04. Senator Kerry there talking to the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

John Kerry will be in Miami, Florida, and will be eventually be heading to New Mexico, where he will be preparing for the third and final debate. President Bush, as we know, in Crawford, Texas, on this day.

Moving ahead, what do burritos, ice cream, cookies and martinis have to do with the presidential campaign? A good question. In today's "Capitol Confidential," our very own Ed Henry has some food for thought.


ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the presidential race so close, businesses all over Washington are getting in on the action, giving consumers a chance to vote with their stomachs, as well as their hearts. This Democrat sunk his teeth into the John Kerry savory chicken burrito, which is full of ingredients the senator's campaign helped pick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is buying these burritos because they want to see what Kerry eats.

HENRY: The owner of California Tortilla says sales of Kerry's favorite burrito soared after the candidate's strong performance in the first debate.

(on camera): Was there a burrito bounce from the debate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ed, the numbers don't lie when it comes to the burritos.

HENRY (voice-over): This Bush voter was skeptical.

JONATHAN LEGG, BUSH VOTER, FINANCIAL ADVISER: The burrito poll to me is not the best poll out there. I thing we'll find out when the vote is taken.

HENRY: There's no avoiding flip-flops when you're rolling a burrito. The Bush burrito has chicken with Texas hickory sauce, while the Kerry one has Boston baked beans and Heinz 57 sauce.

What's an undecided voter to do?

(on camera): Let's give it a try. The Bush burrito. The Kerry burrito. I'm still undecided.

(voice-over): The hip Hotel George on Capitol Hill named after George Washington is offering two presidential room packages, complete with the candidate's favorite desserts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to have some fun and creativity with our guests. We're trying to keep both parties happen.

HENRY (on camera): Kerry's cookies. George W.'s ice cream. I just can't make up my mind.

(voice-over): The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Georgetown is also shaking things up with creative cocktails for the campaign season.

(on camera): Bartender, Can I get a W. tini?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly. Certainly.

HENRY: How about a Kerry Berry Cosmo as well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry Berry? All right.

HENRY: Now, I noticed the W. drink is blue, even though he normally wins the red states. The Kerry drink is red, even though he normally wins the blue states.


HENRY: Why the mix-up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we figure, you know, if George Bush wants to win again, he's got to switch up and go for the voters he didn't get last time.

HENRY: Still can't make up my mind. Just put me down as an undecided voter.

Covering the presidential battle and the burritos, the candidates and the cocktails, Ed Henry, CNN, Washington.



WALLACE: Of course, what would a Sunday morning be without a look back at the "Late Night Laughs?" This week's target: the presidential debate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": I think the problem here may be more of a question of getting rid of the bad Internets and keeping the good Internets. Because I think we can all agree, there are just too many Internets.



LENO: And occasionally, your husband will make a gaff, which we will exploit to the hill.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Yes. LENO: I mean, do you -- do you guys have fun with that afterwards? I mean...

L. BUSH: We do. We laugh about it sometimes.


L. BUSH: Sometimes we don't laugh.

LENO: Yes.




CONAN O'BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST: During the debate -- this is true -- John Edwards accused Dick Cheney of "not being straight with the American people." That's what he said. Yes, and apparently Cheney misunderstood, because he started yelling, who are you calling gay?



LENO: Well, tomorrow night's debate in St. Louis will be before an audience made up entirely of undecided voters, which creates a huge dilemma for Kerry. I mean, does he stand on the stage beside President Bush or sit in the audience with all the other people who can't make up their minds? You know, it's one of these...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Well, I should just sit down, confident in the fact that I just cleaned the president's clock, and not say anything else. But I'm not going to do that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": No. I'm going to keep on talking. Why? Because I can't help myself.


WALLACE: They seem to have lots of material each and every week.

Well, thanks so much for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Coming up in 30 minutes, "RELIABLE SOURCES" takes a critical look at the media coverage of the presidential debates. And at noon eastern, on "LATE EDITION," Wolf Blitzer speaks with John Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards.

For now, for all of us at INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, thanks for watching. I'm Kelly Wallace in Washington. Have a terrific day. More news as CNN LIVE SUNDAY continues right now.


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