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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Presidential Finish Line in Sight; The Military Vote, The Party Chairmen; Ballots Beyond Borders; In the Crossfire
Aired October 15, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The finish line is in sight.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: See George W. and John run. Are they speeding up or stumbling as Election Day draws near?
They're the ultimate party animals. The DNC and RNC chairmen go head to head on the presidential race and more.
Reviewing the troops: Are voters in uniform standing behind the Iraq war and the commander in chief?
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.
It is a wonder George W. Bush and John Kerry aren't bumping into each other on the campaign trail today. They're practically following in one another's footsteps through the showdown states. This hour, the president is in Iowa, where Senator Kerry was this morning, each of them battling for the state's seven electoral votes.
Our White House correspondent Dana Bash is with the president in Cedar Rapids -- hi, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, I'm not sure if you can hear me, but, certainly, the president, as you said, is here in Cedar Rapids. He just became -- just began speaking, I should say, his first event of the day.
And it's interesting, you know, in this post-debate world of trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. The president's team thinks that clearly defining the differences on domestic issues between the president and John Kerry is something that they do think is working on taxes, on education, and, in particular, on health care.
They think trying to make out John Kerry as somebody who has a big-government plan is something that they said research shows has some traction. Now, the president is going to step that up, we're told, here in Cedar Rapids and later on in Wisconsin. And internal research shows, they say, that it helps not just with swing voters, but, as you can imagine, also with the Republican base. And that is, as you know, Judy, the name of the game, to try to energize the Republican base.
And if you look at the statistics for what happened here in Iowa and in Wisconsin four years ago, it can show you why. Let's look at the stats. The difference in Iowa state, a state that the president lost last year, was three-tenths of one percent. That was 4,144 votes. And in Wisconsin, it just 0.2 percent, just 5,708 votes. So, polls show now a statistical dead heat here in Iowa.
However, in Wisconsin, some post-debate polls show that John Kerry could be gaining ground. So that sort of begs the question that people are sort of looking at, which is whether or not the Bush campaign is going to continue to compete in what have been traditionally blue states. Wisconsin, the president's next stop, is the state that the president really has spent a lot of time and money. And even though it has gone traditionally Democratic, the question now is whether or not they are going to continue to do that and they're going to probably reassess after today's stop -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, both campaigns doing some reassessing.
All right, Dana, thank you very much.
Let's listen in to President Bush. As Dana said, he's in Cedar Rapids. Let's just hear part of what the president is saying.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... in the world. That's how we create jobs here in America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: When it comes to health care, once again, the other night, with a straight face, the senator said his health care was not a government plan. I could barely contain myself.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: Twenty-two million new people would enroll on a government program under his plan, the largest expansion of government health care ever; 80 percent of the newly insured would be placed on a government program like Medicaid.
He claimed his plan would help small businesses, yet studies conducted by people who understand small businesses concluded that his plan is an overpriced albatross that would saddle small businesses with 225 new mandates. I have a different view. We will work to make sure health care is available and affordable. We'll help our small businesses. The decisions will be made by doctors and patients, not by officials in Washington, D.C.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: The senator said about Social Security, if later on after a period of time, we find that Social Security is in trouble, then he'll call a meeting of experts. It seems that he likes meetings.
BUSH: Younger workers understandably worried whether Social Security will be there when they need it. We have plans for the future. We will solve problems before they -- before it's too late.
As I said in the debate the other night, our seniors have nothing to worry about when it comes to their Social Security check. You might remember the 2000 campaign and those ads said, if George W. gets in, you're not going to get your check. You got your checks. You will continue to get your checks.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: But for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must confront the Social Security problem now. Younger workers must be able to take some of their own payroll taxes and set up a personal savings account that will earn better interest, an account they can call their own.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: The last few years, people have gotten...
WOODRUFF: President Bush speaking in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. You hear him going hammer and tong after John Kerry and his health care plan.
Well, Senator Kerry beat the president to his next campaign stop in Wisconsin. Mr. Kerry talked about jobs and taxes with voters in Milwaukee earlier, just about two hours ago. And CNN took some of his speech live. The Democratic presidential nominee is spending most of this day in the Badger State.
And that's where we find CNN's Ed Henry -- hello, Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Judy.
That's right. John Kerry's camp believes that they have some momentum. They feel like they have the wind at their backs, perhaps. They feel like they're really gaining some confidence coming out of those three presidential debates. And that's showing in a more feisty, a more aggressive stump speech, specifically on the domestic agenda.
That's what John Kerry wants to focus on in the final 2 1/2 weeks. Yesterday, we saw him in Las Vegas hitting the president hard on health care. Today, as you mentioned, he's in Milwaukee, right here behind me. He's focusing on the economy and jobs. And another sign of John Kerry really throwing some punches now is for a couple of weeks he had not really respond to President Bush's jab, where the president is saying he can run, but he can't hide, the president there borrowing a line from boxing legend Joe Louis.
Well, yesterday and again today, John Kerry responded by reminiscing a little bit about a famous confrontation between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, where Foreman kept hitting Ali and Ali finally said, is that all you have got? And John Kerry used that as a refrain against President Bush in his record today in his speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. President, with gasoline prices soaring at record levels, with people emptying their wallets every time they have to fill up their tanks, is that all you got, Mr. President? Mr. President, with rising costs and falling incomes and middle-class families squeezed like never before, is that all you've got?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Kerry hitting the jobs' issue hard here in Wisconsin. It's lost 67,000 manufacturing jobs in the last four years, 10 electoral votes at stake, a state Al Gore that carried in 2000. Clearly, it's neck and neck right now. One way Kerry wants to make sure he has it.
And one way Kerry is trying to do that is he, very soon, tonight, is heading out on a bus tour through the state of Wisconsin and he's going to be doing it, reaching out to soccer moms perhaps in a very unique way. He's going to be bringing along two gold medal Olympians, two members of U.S. women's soccer team, Julie Foudy and Abby Wambach. They are endorsing the Kerry-Edwards ticket and they will be traveling on this bus tour with John Kerry.
He then will head after that later this evening to Ohio, another state hit hard by job losses. He is going to be there tomorrow as well on a bus tour. Clearly, John Kerry trying to head through the Midwest in some of those battlegrounds, zeroing in on the economy and jobs -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Looking for a little star power there. All right, Ed, thank you very much.
WOODRUFF: Well, in contrast to the men at the top of the ticket, the vice presidential candidates are keeping a little more distance from one another on the campaign trail.
John Edwards has events today in Ohio and Maryland before returning to Washington tonight. Dick Cheney is on a bus tour of Michigan that included a coffee klatch at a local restaurant and unscheduled stops at a barber shop and a children's museum.
Checking the headlines in our Friday edition of "Campaign News Daily," a new poll in the showdown state of Michigan finds John Kerry leading President Bush. Kerry holds a five-point edge in the latest Research 2000 survey. Ralph Nader is also on that Michigan ballot. He receives 2 percent.
Down South in Florida, a new poll by Insider Advantage also gives Kerry a four-point lead over Bush, Nader picking up 2 percent. This week's debate occurred in the middle of the three-day period when this poll was taken. The ABC news tracking poll has Bush and Kerry in a dead heat for a second straight day. Among likely voters nationwide, both candidates received 48 percent. Nader receives 1 percent.
Ralph Nader's former running mate is making it clear who she is voting for this year. Winona LaDuke writes -- quote -- "I am voting my conscious on November 2. I'm voting for John Kerry." LaDuke shares her thought in a column for "Indian country Today." She writes that, while Kerry is not perfect -- quote -- "He has potential."
A new report released by the Government Accounting Office concludes that the government is not prepared to handle complaints about voting rights violations on Election Day. The report, which was requested by several House Democrats, found the Justice Department -- quote -- "lacks a clear plan to document complaints or respond to signs of abuse." In a statement, the Justice Department noted that it has made major improvements since the 2000 election and it says key recommendations -- quote -- "have been fully adopted and implemented by the department."
Well, Bush and Kerry have spent much of their time on the trail arguing about the war in Iraq. Up next, how do members of the military view the war and how do they rate the president's performance? We'll take a look at some interesting new poll numbers.
Also ahead, U.S. voters across the border, expatriates weigh in on the race for the White House.
And beware. "The Play of the Week" could leave you feeling a little flushed.
With 18 days, just 18, until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: A new poll of active-duty military personnel and their families finds that most support President Bush much more than the civilian population at large and that they also are more convinced that the country is going in the right direction. The poll surveyed service men and women from late September to early October and it included personnel who have been on active duty between February and October of this year.
Among other findings, 69 percent say they have a favorable opinion of President Bush, while 23 percent have an unfavorable opinion. Only 23 percent say they have a favorable opinion of Senator Kerry, 54 percent unfavorable. The director of the survey noted that families are slightly less supportive of the president than their active-duty relatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADAM CLYMER, DIRECTOR, ANNENBERG SURVEY: Family members are a little more concerned that the war has increased the risk of terrorism than are service members themselves. Why do I think it is? Well, I'm not -- this isn't a psychologist's coach, but these are people who have chosen a way of life and are proud of it. And the president is their commander in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Members of the military have traditionally tilted Republicans in their politics and some experts say military ballots could have a significant effect on this election.
CNN's Chris Burns spoke with some of the thousands of personnel stationed in Germany and he found some whose views have been affected by their service in Iraq.
CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Wiesbaden Army Airfield, a ceremony for the fallen in Iraq. More than 130 1st Armored Division soldiers have died in Iraq, more than 1,000 injured, including retired Staff Sergeant Dustin Tuller, a father of four from Pensacola, Florida, decorated with a Purple Heart, both legs amputated after multiple gunshot wounds, and his vote hasn't changed.
STAFF SERGEANT DUSTIN TULLER, FLORIDA NATIONAL GUARD: I stand behind President Bush. I see no -- he did no wrong in sending troops to war.
BURNS: The somber remembrance is coupled with a festive homecoming and an intensive voter registration drive in its final stretch with a voting assistance officer assigned to each unit. About 1.4 million Americans in uniform and 1.3 million voting-age dependents could swing an election. And they've traditionally voted Republican.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was a smart decision, what President Bush did a year ago. And I support him 100 percent.
BURNS (on camera): Most soldiers we talked to both on and off base here voiced strong support for President Bush, though there are also voices of dissent usually in private, off camera, concerned about jeopardizing their careers.
(voice-over): Even out of uniform, in a bar, the concern was there. One soldier who spent 15 months in Iraq and is now a month away from leaving the service faced pressure from colleagues not to talk. He said the military is overstretched and that he didn't think President Bush could handle the job anymore. He later asked that the interview not be used.
How soldiers react to their Iraqi experience is unpredictable this election year, whether the hardship of Iraq changes their minds or hardens their resolve.
Chris Burns, CNN, Wiesbaden, Germany. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WOODRUFF: More on the military vote and how it might affect the race for the White House when I talk with a writer from "The Military Times."
INSIDE POLITICS continues.
WOODRUFF: We continue our focus now on the role of the military vote in the race for the White House.
I'm joined by Gordon Trowbridge, a senior writer for "The Military Times."
Gordon, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.
We just reported on this Annenberg survey showing a overwhelming majority of the military they polled between late September, early October, have favorable opinion about President Bush. What did you find in the survey that you did a couple weeks ago?
GORDON TROWBRIDGE, "THE MILITARY TIMES": Our results are very similar to what Annenberg found.
We asked the troops who they were planning to vote for, and President Bush won in the horse-race question by more than four to one. You find a military community that is much more Republican and much more conservative than the country as a whole. Barely 15 percent of our sample identified themselves as Democrats.
We found a lot of questions about Senator Kerry, particularly about some of his activities after he came home after the Vietnam War. And they weren't willing to give him much credit for his combat service while he was in Vietnam. We did do a follow-up survey after the first presidential debate, where we saw a little pickup for Senator Kerry, but, overall, we found a military community that backs the president pretty substantially.
WOODRUFF: And is this pretty much in keeping with what we've seen historically in the military, that they tend to support a Republican, or not?
TROWBRIDGE: There's very little data on the political leanings of the military. But what there is very much backs up our findings.
Pretty much since the beginning of the all-volunteer military in the 1970s, it has traditionally been a much more Republican, much more conservative, both politically and socially, institution than the country as a whole.
WOODRUFF: We were also just reporting a few minutes ago. Chris Burns, one of our correspondent over in Europe, talked to some folks in the military in Germany and talked about they're being voting assistance officers assigned to each unit. And we've been reading the Pentagon is pushing hard to get as many of these military -- members of the military to vote and get those votes counted here in the states in this election. What potential are we talking about here, do you think?
TROWBRIDGE: Well, I think you're absolutely right. I think the Pentagon has gone to extraordinary lengths to try to encourage folks in uniform to vote, especially in a situation where tens of thousands of troops are deployed to very difficult locations.
I think the military vote is not so large that it is going to swing the national race, necessarily, but there are two important points. One, about a quarter of our sample came from two states, Texas and Florida, Texas, obviously, not much of a battleground state this time.
TROWBRIDGE: But Florida absolutely is.
And the second thing is the symbolic value. There have already been politicians on both sides who have tried to use or discredit our findings to try to make political points using the military as a symbol for the way folks ought to vote in November.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, we also heard Chris Burns say that some of the military folks he talked to felt some pressure, seemed to feel pressure not to talk if they had questions or were critical of President Bush. Do you find that in your survey -- I mean, in your attempt to survey?
One of the questions that we asked was whether or not folks supported the president's conduct of the war in Iraq. And folks were much less supportive of Iraq policy than of the president. And we also found that about 15 percent of our respondents wouldn't answer that question, which was a far higher percentage than we found in the other questions that we asked and sort of indicates a lack of willingness to question the conduct of the war by the commander in chief.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, John Kerry saying today out on the campaign trail that, if Bush is reelected, he said there is a great potential for a draft to replenish U.S. forces in Iraq. What are service members saying according to your findings about whether the military is overstretched?
TROWBRIDGE: There is a great strength of feeling that the military is overstretched. In a survey that we did last year, nearly 90 percent of military members said that the military is stretched too thin to be effective. I think the Annenberg results also indicated that there's a great deal of feeling that the military is being asked to do too much with too little.
WOODRUFF: And I should point out that Kerry said this, that there is a potential for a draft, if Bush is reelected, so just to make that clear about what he said.
WOODRUFF: All right, Gordon Trowbridge with "The Military Times," thank you very much.
TROWBRIDGE: Thanks for having me.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Good to see you.
Eighteen days and counting. So what are the campaign strategies for this final push until Election Day? Next up, I'll speak with the chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties.
Plus, some one million Americans are living in Mexico. Could their vote make a difference in the race for the White House? A report from our Mexico City bureau chief coming up.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
Coming up in about 90 minutes, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, U.S.-led forces continue their bombardment of Fallujah today. Commanders say troops are operating on the outskirts of the city, but they haven't gone inside yet. We'll have a report on the strategy.
U.S. drug makers have ordered -- have been ordered to put tough new labels on antidepressants, warning about increased suicide thoughts among children and teenagers. We'll have a full report.
And the wife of a wounded U.S. Marine has given birth to quintuplets. We'll hear her dramatic story in her own words.
All those stories, much more, later on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."
Now back to JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Americans go to the polls in just 18 days. So what are the campaigns and the political parties doing right now to get out the vote? I'll speak with two men in the know.
Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.
George W. Bush and John Kerry are expected to campaign almost nonstop from now until Election Day. And the battleground states are, of course, the center of their attention.
As we showed you earlier, the president is in Iowa this afternoon. He's been holding a rally in Cedar Rapids. He has another event scheduled later this evening in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. John Kerry is already in Wisconsin, where he kicked off a two-day bus tour at a Milwaukee technical college. The trip is designed to highlight Kerry's economic plan. He has two more Wisconsin stops later today before heading to Ohio, where he will spend the night.
Two days after the final presidential debate, both campaigns still are debating John Kerry's reference to the vice president's daughter, Mary. A short time ago White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "President Bush does not believe it is was appropriate for Kerry to bring up Mary Cheney and the fact that she is a lesbian." But many Kerry allies said it was appropriate because Mary Cheney is openly gay and the Cheneys have brought up the subject themselves. The Cheneys' other daughter, Liz, told CNN's Paula Zahn that she agrees with her parents that Kerry crossed the line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER: The issue is whether or not Senator Kerry or senator Edwards, who did the same thing, frankly, in the debate with my father, to exploit her, to bring her up in a situation in which they're trying to clearly make some kind of political point or some kind of political gain. And I think it's actually unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics that you would see that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Liz Cheney would not say whether her sister actually was offended by the Kerry comment. In radio interviews, John Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, says that she thinks the Cheneys have overreacted and she finds their response to be telling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS' WIFE: It makes me really sad that that's Lynne's response. I think that it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferences. That I'm certain makes her daughter uncomfortable, and that makes me very sad on a personal level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: And now Cheney allies are coming forward to attack Mrs. Edwards' comments, saying she's the one who was out of line.
Well, with me now to talk more about Bush, Kerry and the campaign ahead are the two national party chairmen. Democrat Terry McAuliffe is at DNC headquarters here in Washington. Republican Ed Gillespie is also here in Washington. He's at RNC headquarters.
To you first, Terry McAuliffe. Should John Kerry apologize for what he said?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: Absolutely not. But let me first say, we just had breaking news moments ago, Judy. We just learned that Karl Rove has spent two-and-a-half hours before a federal grand jury today answering questions about who in the White House committed treason by outing a CIA operative. And we are demanding that Karl Rove, who is George Bush's closest advisor, today release his testimony and tell us what he said. And I know that Ed Gillespie will join me in that we need to know what was said today before the federal grand jury.
As it relates to John Kerry, first of all, it was Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney who brought up their daughter's sexual orientation on the campaign trail. John Kerry has two daughters, as do the Cheneys, and he was trying to make a personal, affectionate remark about the Cheneys and a strong family unit.
And I've got to say this, if the Republicans are so outraged, I would ask the Republican National Committee to apologize for the letter that they sent to West Virginia attacking gays and attacking the national party. And why don't they go after their own Senate candidate in Illinois who called Mary Cheney hedonistic?
And they should start there. And we don't believe that you ought to use the United States Constitution to deny people their rights. And that's the issue. George Bush lost three debates and they're trying to now divert attention away from George Bush's disastrous performance in his debates where he couldn't defend his record.
WOODRUFF: Ed Gillespie, you want to comment on all of this?
ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: I don't want to comment on all of it, no. Let me comment on the Mary Cheney remark, which I do think was a new low in politics.
We've had a standard that both sides have abided by for a long time, which is that people's families are off limits, their private lives. Mary Cheney is a friend of mine, she's someone I work with, someone I respect immensely, someone I happen to -- to like a lot. And she's a private person.
She is working for her dad's re-election in a staff capacity at the -- at the Bush-Cheney campaign, working very hard. And it was inappropriate to invade her privacy at the debate, and it was also inappropriate for Senator Edwards to tell people who are in wheelchairs that if they're elected they'll be able to walk again.
These people will say anything if they think it will help them score political points. And I think it's unfortunate. I don't think it reflects well on them, and I think the voters will make that determination at the end of the day.
WOODRUFF: Well, Terry McAuliffe, we'll get back to the -- to the Karl Rove thing in just a moment.
WOODRUFF: But what Ed Gillespie said, I mean, basically, he's saying your candidates will say anything in order to get ahead politically. And specifically, the comment that John Edwards made about if John Kerry's elected people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of their wheelchairs and walk.
MCAULIFFE: Well, at least they will have a shot to do it if we have some stem cell research in this country. And there are big divisions between John Kerry and George Bush on this issue.
George Bush is not for stem cell research. I can tell you, Nancy Reagan, that's the reason that Ron Reagan spoke at the Democratic convention this year.
We are 100 percent for having stem cell research. People who are affected, Spina Bifida, Diabetes...
MCAULIFFE: ... so many illnesses that we could research and maybe we could find a cure for. But you're not going to find...
GILLESPIE: Judy, I have to tell you...
MCAULIFFE: ... a cure if you don't even allow the stem cell research to go on. So at least we're getting people hope, and we'll try to help them walk again. And I that's a great laudable goal.
GILLESPIE: Judy, I think it's important for your viewers, and I think CNN should make clear to your viewers, this is not a subjective question here as to well, maybe, you can see it one way or another. Terry McAuliffe just tried to have the American people believe that there is a ban on stem cell research, that the president will not allow stem cell research to take place.
He knows full well. George W. Bush is the first president in history of the United States to federally fund embryonic stem cell research in a manner that is consistent with respect for a culture of life.
Bill Clinton never spent a dime on embryonic stem cell research. Jimmy Carter never spent a dime on embryonic stem cell research. President Bush is the first president to do so.
There is no ban. There is federal funding, as well, for adult stem cell research. And stem cell research continues unabated in the private sector, as it should.
WOODRUFF: Well, just...
GILLESPIE: So this is a complete misinformation campaign, just like the notion that if the president is re-elected there is going to be a draft. And just like the false charges about -- about overtime pay not -- you know, being denied to workers, they're making things up and waging a campaign of fear and scare tactics, and it is despicable.
WOODRUFF: Well, just to clarify, it's my understanding the stem cell technology was not available until late in the 1990s after the Carter presidency.
MCAULIFFE: That's right. GILLESPIE: Well, that's fine. Then let's set that part of the record straight, too.
MCAULIFFE: Judy, you're right, the stem cell...
GILLESPIE: But let's make it clear that the president is the first to federally fund the stem cell research.
WOODRUFF: All right. Terry McAuliffe, a quick answer, because I do want to get back to something else that I want to bring up with both of you.
MCAULIFFE: Sure -- yes.
I was just saying, Judy, that the stem cells that they need today, as I say, for Spina Bifida and others, we can't do in this country. They can do them in Europe, but we can't -- the president will not allow that to be done here in this country. And there's a huge difference.
And you talk to the scientists who are involved in this...
GILLESPIE: It's not true.
WOODRUFF: All right.
MCAULIFFE: ... and the physicists who are involved in this field will tell you...
GILLESPIE: It's just flat not true.
WOODRUFF: All right.
MCAULIFFE: ... we can't do what we need to do in this country to help the people who need help. That's why Nancy Reagan, that's why Ron Reagan and so many other people have come out to support the issue of real stem cell research in this nation, which John Kerry supports, Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. I want to quickly go to some comments that we're hearing from undecided voters at the last debate.
Ed -- I'm going to bring this up to both of you. But first, Ed Gillespie, a group that was interviewed in "The Washington Post," a man saying about President Bush, an undecided voter after the debate, "I don't think the man is dishonest, I think he's honorable. But I have a hard time seeing him equal to the task." Another voter, undecided voter, said she found herself at times laughing at the president, thinking how much he's like the portrayal of him on "Saturday Night Live."
My question is, if this is some of the impression that's out there, how do you get around this? GILLESPIE: Well, Judy, you can pick those two impressions, if you like. There are many other impressions from focus groups, as well. In fact, there was a focus group that night with 15 voters, and 11 of them were supportive of President Bush at the end and four were supportive of John Kerry.
The ABC and NBC focus groups, even though a majority thought John Kerry won the debate, a majority of the participants in the focus group said they were going to vote for George W. Bush. So you're free to pick those two and pretend that that's emblematic of the population as a whole, but that's not exactly a very -- I think most pollsters and uthders would not say that is not a very scientific way to go about it, and I don't think it is reflective of...
WOODRUFF: Yes, I'm not at all saying it's scientific. I'm just -- because we have been looking for the comments...
GILLESPIE: And those are the two -- those are the two you chose to raise.
WOODRUFF: That's right.
GILLESPIE: But there are -- there are many others.
WOODRUFF: Well, and I have some other comments now about John Kerry that I want to pose to Terry McAuliffe.
Voters in this same group who were looking at John Kerry said Kerry never fully connected with them. One man said his demeanor reminds him of a recent college graduate who has all the answers. And even the voters who said they like John Kerry felt his personality, at best, was awkward, at worst, annoying. Is this a problem for John Kerry among undecided voters?
MCAULIFFE: Well, first and foremost, this is not a personality contest. This is about who they think in very challenging times can move this country forward.
There were 15 polls out after the three debates. John Kerry won every single poll. He won all three debates. And the reason, Judy, he won the debates is that he answered the questions.
You saw George Bush in the first debate was nothing short of embarrassing. I've never seen a president praying to have the lights come on because he'd run out of things to say.
In the second debate he was angry and furious. And in the third debate he couldn't answer the questions on health care, on immigration.
They asked a simple question on job creation, "What do you tell that unemployed worker?" He didn't even attempt to answer the question. He went over and started talking about education.
John Kerry systematically, precisely, concisely went through, talked about the issues, talked about what he would do. And this election is about change.
If you want more of the same, George Bush is your man. If you want John Kerry, then change. And that's what this election is coming down to.
George Bush had a horrible week. You saw today they have to raise the...
GILLESPIE: Judy, if I might.
WOODRUFF: All right. Let's let Ed Gillespie get a word in here.
GILLESPIE: I'd like to get a word on. I appreciate it.
Terry, thanks for having me on your show.
The fact is, Judy, if you look at the polls, there's a poll out today that shows the president leading by four. The American people saw the clear choice before them in this election. They saw Senator Kerry's consistent record of higher taxes in the United States Senate, 98 times voting to raise taxes.
They heard him call for a global test before we can commit our troops and our own national security interest. They heard him stand by his assertion in the Sunday "New York Times" magazine that we need to get back to when terrorism was a nuisance. A "nuisance" is what he said, akin to illegal gambling and prostitution.
President Bush is someone they saw who wants to win the war on terror and is decisive about that. So that's why I think you're seeing the polls and the head-to-heads.
I don't agree, obviously, that -- I think the president won the debates. But whatever the polls show about that is less relevant than what the polls say about who are you going to vote for on November 2.
WOODRUFF: Terry McAuliffe, John Kerry out on the -- out on the trail, quoted in a newspaper today as telling an interviewer that if George Bush is re-elected, he said there's a great potential of a draft to replenish the forces in Iraq. Is this -- is this not the kind of fear mongering that the Kerry campaign has accused the Republicans of?
MCAULIFFE: Well, you just had a person just talk about an Annenberg poll with the military, 90 percent in that poll said that we're stretched way too thin, that we don't have enough troops to do what we need to if George Bush's foreign policy continues the course it's on. I've spent the last couple weeks traveling with Tony McPeak. This is a four-star general who was in the Air Force, led Gulf War One, the Air Force.
And what he tells me is, if we have another conflict in another theater of the world today, we don't have enough troops. Our troops are all committed to Iraq. So it is a possibility, it should be discussed, that's what elections are all about, that's what a democracy is all about.
WOODRUFF: All right.
MCAULIFFE: If I'm a young person today...
GILLESPIE: Judy, it has been discussed. It has been discussed. And the president has made clear he is opposed to re-instituting the draft. The Pentagon is opposed to re-instituting the draft.
Secretary Rumsfeld has come out against re-instituting the draft. The vice president has made clear he's opposed to re-instituting the draft.
This is plain and simple scare tactics. It is desperation. They do not want to talk about John Kerry's record or his policies.
I can't blame them, but that doesn't mean that they should resort to these kinds of despicable tactics and, again, the kind of rhetoric that we began this program with. It's unfortunate and it doesn't -- it's unworthy of the presidential election process.
WOODRUFF: Ed Gillespie, Terry McAuliffe, we're going to have to leave it right there. I hope you see we often between now and Election Day.
GILLESPIE: All right, Judy.
MCAULIFFE: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, both. We appreciate your time.
MCAULIFFE: Great, thank you.
GILLESPIE: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Well, the election may still be two-and-a-half weeks away, but some Americans are already preparing to cast their ballots. Coming up, how the presidential race shapes up south of the border.
In their search for votes, the Bush and Kerry campaigns are not ignoring Americans abroad. Mexico, for example, is home to one of the largest U.S. populations living abroad. And neither side ignoring those voters.
Here's CNN's Harris Whitbeck.
HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lake Chapala in Guadalajara in central Mexico a popular retirement spot for Americans. Retirees spend their days at the local American community center, picking up a book at the library, socializing, or in the last several weeks talking politics and filling in absentee ballots.
(on camera): More than 3,000 American citizens living on Lake Chapala. That is just a fraction of the estimated one million American expatriates in Mexico. A lot of potential voters that Democrats and Republicans alike have been hoarding for months.
(voice-over): President Bush's nephew and Senator Kerry's sister both paid visits to Americans in Mexico City and Chapala. Making clear every vote counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the margin has become razor thin. Look at the last presidential election and how many votes would have tipped it one way or the other. Every vote has literally become precious.
WHITBECK: And with the heightened sense of political importance comes an intensifying of political passions. The community center in Chapala has become an ideological battleground of sorts.
JEANNE CHAUSEE, U.S. EXPATRIATE: Frankly, the Democrats have really got this rolling here. And then the republicans, I think, decided they better step up to the plate. It was really interesting because we never -- we've never been very political here. We don't usually discuss our political orientation.
WHITBECK: But not anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't purport to be Jesus Christ, that people are going to get up and walk out of their wheelchairs. He says it's going to be rough, and it was rough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He stole the last election. I'm sorry. He is a selected president, not an elected president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Important to me. This is the box.
WHITBECK: Not exactly a retiring discussion, but one that will likely go on at least until November 2.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the box -- write-in ballot.
WHITBECK: Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Lake Chapala, Mexico.
WOODRUFF: We'd like to hear some more of those stories from overseas. But we know presidential politics isn't just making speeches and shaking hands. It's is also a fertile source of satire and humor. Coming up, exploring the funny side of politics. Our "CROSSFIRE" colleagues stopped by to preview a very special guest.
WOODRUFF: Time now to check in with our colleagues from "CROSSFIRE." Joining me from George Washington University here in Washington, "CROSSFIRE" hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
Hello, gentlemen. I just talked to the party chairs about the Mary Cheney flap.
Tucker, where is this going to end up?
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, it would have died. I mean, it would have died yesterday, I think, had Mr. Kerry just said, look, I didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, and had other people in his party pipe down. Instead, his campaign manager comes out and says Mary Cheney is fair ground. His vice presidential running mate's wife comes out and attacks Mary Cheney's mom.
I mean, they have kept this story going, kept this story in play. And it seems like a pretty obvious point.
Look, maybe it's -- you can make an argument for why bringing Mary Cheney into this is a good idea, but people don't want to -- it's not a good idea to bring in the children of your opponent. It's just bad form, bad manners, it's ugly. And I don't know why they keep it going.
WOODRUFF: Paul, are they the reason this is still out there?
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": No. Look, when members of the media ask a candidate a question and he responds to the question, then members of the media say, why is he talking about this, it's a little, you know, self-referential here.
I do think that Tucker's got a point. I didn't like when John Kerry raised that it in the debate. I just don't like it. But it would have gone away then.
I think he certainly was well intentioned. And I think that the self-righteous indignation we're getting from the Bush-Cheney campaign is, frankly, a little phony. I mean, when Republican, Alan Keyes, a Republican Senate candidate in Illinois, attacked young Ms. Cheney and called her a selfish hedonist, nobody in the Bush-Cheney campaign spoke out to defend her.
And now that John Kerry says something nice about her they're outraged? It just doesn't wash. It doesn't pass the smell test.
CARLSON: Well, can I just point one thing out that's obvious but no one wants to say out loud? Alan Keyes is demented. OK?
So when Alan Keyes says something like that, the best strategy is to completely ignore him and not call attention to his attacks. It's not like the Bush administration is somehow aligned with Alan Keyes secretly.
BEGALA: Of course they are.
CARLSON: They're embarrassed by Alan Keyes, is as every other sane person in the world. OK? So that's why they didn't say anything in response to his attack. BEGALA: With respect, Tucker, he is their party's nominee. They recruited him. They went halfway across the country, the Republicans did, to recruit him to run there.
And you know what? I think -- I mean, call me crazy -- I think you defend your kid no matter what. And why is it they're defending her from praise when...
CARLSON: Oh my gosh.
BEGALA: ... when their silence -- I mean, look, the only person defending Mary Cheney in all of this apparently is John Kerry and John Edwards.
CARLSON: So by your argument -- by your argument, Kerry and Alan Keyes are sort of on the same side in all of this.
BEGALA: No. See, Kerry's praised her, and Alan Keyes condemned her. But Kerry's praise somehow is a tawdry, cheap political stunt? No.
WOODRUFF: All right. You've got to let me get a word in edgewise.
CARLSON: It's a nice try, though. I must say.
WOODRUFF: You have coming up on your program today probably the single most influential figure in the media in this election.
BEGALA: Wolf Blitzer. Wolf is coming on. Wolf Blitzer will be here, the single most influential...
No -- yes, the most trusted name in fake news, Jon Stewart, will step into the "CROSSFIRE." He's back stage right now vomiting. He's very nervous. We'll have the table here, so you won't be able to know if he...
WOODRUFF: He's not used to being on television.
BEGALA: Very nervous young man. But we'll be kind to him.
WOODRUFF: Yes. Yes.
Tucker, you're not going to ask him any hard questions, are you?
CARLSON: Not a single one. I'm going to be nice.
WOODRUFF: OK. All right. Tucker Carlson, Paul Begala, they're not letting us know what they're going to ask Jon Stewart, so we're going to have to watch. And we were going to watch anyway.
CARLSON: Thank you, Judy.
BEGALA: Thanks, Judy. WOODRUFF: ... a lively edition -- another lively edition of "CROSSFIRE." Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." Of course, we know "CROSSFIRE" starts at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, 1:30 Pacific.
Paul, Tucker, thank you both.
WOODRUFF: Well, with the curtain falling on the presidential debates this week, surely someone scored the top "Political Play. Our Bill Schneider reveals the winner coming up in a few minutes.
WOODRUFF: It's 4:00 on the East Coast. And as the markets close on Wall Street I'm joined by Lou Dobbs in New York for another installment of "The Dobbs Report." Hi, Lou.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Judy, thank you very much. Good to see you on the East Coast. The speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Allan Greenspan had a calming effect on oil prices today but only briefly. Crude oil prices rising to another record in New York trading just below $55 a share. Greenspan claims these high energy prices won't dramatically hurt our economy now or later but he said the impact will be, in his words, "less consequential than during the oil crisis of the seventies. The market seems to think that could still be very consequential.
Greenspan did acknowledge that current prices could cut about three quarters of a percent off the growth of the nation's economy. Despite higher oil prices, stocks on Wall Street today managed to hold on to solid gains as the final trades are now being counted. The Dow Jones Industrials up just about 37 points still well below the 10,000 level and the Nasdaq composite higher by eight points.
The insurance industry sharply lower again on Wall Street. Marshall McClenan (ph) tumbled another 15 percent on top of yesterday's 24 percent route. New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer accuses the company of leading a massive bid rigging scheme, hundreds of millions of dollars involved and the attorney general's lawsuit against the company also implicates many of the world's biggest insurers.
A bankruptcy court judge has now granted U.S. Airways' request to cut the pay of its union members by 21 percent. The struggling airline had asked for a 23 percent pay cut saying it would go out of business if it couldn't cut expenses dramatically.
Another pharmaceutical giant issuing a warning on one of its arthritis drugs. Pfizer warning that Bextra, a drug in the same category as Vioxx can cause a rare but sometimes fatal skin disorder especially for heart bypass surgery patients. Shares of Pfizer lost 2 percent today. Coming up tonight at 6:00 Eastern here on CNN on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," we have been looking all this week at individuals who are driven to run because of their passion for an issue. Tonight, we wrap up the series with a look at Greg Harris. He's a former teacher running for a Congressional seat in Ohio. For him, education is not just a passion but also a solution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG HARRIS, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We can either pay for education up front or we can pay for the costs of not educating our citizenry in other ways. It costs $30,000 a year to keep someone in prison. Social services cost a lot of money, unemployment costs a lot of money. We can be proactive or we can be reactive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Other stories we're following tonight, problems plaguing our voting system all over the country. I'll be joined by noted attorney David Boise. He played a very important role of course in the 2000 contested election controversy. David Boise will be here to talk as well about his new book, "Courting Justice." And I'll be joined by Chrissy Gephardt, a leader in the gay and lesbian community and the daughter of Congressman Dick Gephardt. We'll be talking about Senator Kerry's controversial comments and those of his vice presidential running mate Senator John Edwards about Vice President Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary. And in "Heroes," tonight, a remarkable story of an army medic who volunteered to serve this country in Iraq, facing new challenges at home. Back to you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Lou, I want to ask you about something John Kerry is saying out on the trail today, talking about those jobs lost under President Bush. He's talking about again what he says are tens of millions of people who are without health insurance. And what he says, millions of families facing rising costs and falling incomes. How is all this likely to play out in the next few weeks?
DOBBS: Interestingly enough despite some overstatements by both Senator Kerry and President Bush, the fact is that the country has witnessed a decline in the average wages of middle class families, roughly $1,200 a year despite tax cuts and the best efforts of policymakers in Congress and Washington and, of course, the White House. It is anybody's guess how it will play out. What is interesting is that this race is absolutely tied up with a domestic economy that has significant challenges and which has been policies of the current administration being roundly criticized, yet we're not seeing that much of a move in these numbers. It will be interesting to see what ultimately influences those all important decided voters in the final two weeks of the campaign.
WOODRUFF: You're right. All the polls we're looking at, pretty close to tied up. Thanks very much. We'll see you on Monday. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: With 2 1/2 weeks until election day, the ad wars become crucial. Where are George Bush and John Kerry's commercials airing and where are they off the air?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's incredibly serious. We have half as much vaccine as we should have.
NARRATOR: And with flu season approaching, that's very bad news. Will the shortage have any impact on the race for the White House. Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. If you find yourself on the campaign trail in these closing days of the presidential race, you may want to take cover. The pot shots are flying like never before. In Wisconsin today, John Kerry accused George W. Bush of being, quote, "out of ideas, out of touch and unwilling to change." The Democrat says Americans and the economy have suffered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: George Bush has had four years to do something about it, anything, to create -- to create an economy where hardworking Americans can live out their dreams. Instead of seizing the moment, he squandered the opportunity. The problem is this president either just doesn't understand what's happened to our economy, and to the average family of America, or he understands and he just doesn't care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: John Kerry will later today, the senator, hoping to get a lift among women voters. He is expected to receive the endorsement of Olympic gold medal soccer stars Julie Foudy and Abby Wambach. They are with him on the campaign trail in Wisconsin.
Meantime, President Bush is fighting fire with fire, accusing Kerry of being the one who's out of touch. As you saw live on CNN a little while ago, Bush held a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and once again took aim at Kerry's record in the Senate, suggesting he is too liberal for mainstream America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My opponent has his own history on the economy. In 20 years as a senator for Massachusetts he's built a record of a senator from Massachusetts. He has voted to raise taxes 98 times! That's a vote for a tax increase about five times every year he has served in the Senate. That qualifies as a pattern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Coming up next, the president follows Kerry to Wisconsin for a rally in Oshkosh this evening. In the final weeks before the election, Bush and Kerry are focusing on a narrower group of battleground states and their campaign ads reflect that. I'm joined now by Evan Tracey of TNS Intelligence the group that surveys campaign advertising in the top 100 media markets. Evan, first of all, which are the battleground states they're focusing on? What are you seeing and how much are they spending?
EVAN TRACEY, TNS INTELLIGENCE: Right now Judy, we started back in the spring with 18 states, briefly expanded to 20 and now we're seeing significant ad spending in 14 of these battleground states. A lot of ones we're going to talk about, the Floridas, Ohios, Pennsylvania, but we still have ads in places like Michigan, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, so the list is contracting some but the spending by the parties and candidates is at a breakneck pace. The last 30 days, Bush is spending right around $50 million, Kerry right behind at about $42. And then the DNC is kicking in about another $27 million. We're seeing about $40 million a week being spent on the presidential race by parties and issue groups combined.
WOODRUFF: We've never seen this kind of money at this level?
TRACEY: We've been beyond record since August.
WOODRUFF: Are you seeing the campaigns adjust their spending in these states as we get closer?
TRACEY: We're really starting to. We see the Bush spending is trending upwards in about ten of those 14 states. The Kerry spending is trended up in about eight of those 14 states. The other states, they're more or less holding pat with their spending patterns right. There's all kinds of money being poured into the places you would expect, the Pennsylvanias, the Ohios, the Floridas, these states, they're are not leaving a spot unbought.
WOODRUFF: What about -- we talked throughout the year, Evan, about these independent so-called 527 groups. What are you seeing there?
TRACEY: Right. The 527s will be a lot of fun to watch through the end. The messages are getting much sharper. For the first time we have a 30-day period where 527s that support Bush/Cheney are outspending the 527s that support Kerry. About $8 million being spent for Bush, about 5.4 being spent for Kerry. But what we're seeing right now is that the 527 groups are really trying to buy some states for their candidates. It's not these national buys that mirror the candidates like we had all summer and spring, these are buys right now that are focused on the Republican side in Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, three states that Al Gore won four years ago. Conversely the 527s that are helping Kerry have really turned up the volume in Ohio. Both 527 groups are really trying to increase their candidates' margin of error by picking off some of these states.
WOODRUFF: And these tend to be some of the harshest ads, the ones that are the most pointed. What should we look for in the next two weeks?
TRACEY: I think you're exactly right, the 527s, the elbows are going to be very sharp, the charges are going to be very sharp. Because there's not really time to vet the groups anymore. Whatever they've been holding back on expectancy, we learned this week that Progress for America, a group helping Bush is planning on launching a $15 million ad buy and it's behind one message is what we're told. So I don't think that will be a positive spot here for the last two weeks of the campaign.
WOODRUFF: Do we know what the message is yet?
TRACEY: We haven't seen the ad yet and we're under the impression it will start early next week.
WOODRUFF: We have a feeling it's going to be more than just reelect George Bush.
TRACEY: We're seeing that from both sides.
WOODRUFF: I know we'll be checking in with you again before the election. Appreciate it.
The political play of the week still ahead. After the final presidential debate our Bill Schneider decided to look beyond the obvious candidates.
WOODRUFF: As we reported a little while ago, President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, testified today before a federal grand jury that is looking into who leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer. Karl Rove, we're told, spent more than two hours testifying before the panel according to an administration official. We know he was interviewed at least once by investigators probing the leek. You heard on INSIDE POLITICS a short time ago, the chairman of the Democratic party, Terry McAuliffe called on Karl Rove to release his testimony to the public, to release what he said to the grand jury. We're not going to hear that presumably but instead, what we have is a comment from White House spokesman Scott McClellan. He told CNN, quote, "Karl went to testify to do his part in finding out who leaked this information. No one wants to gets to the bottom of this more than the president and it's unfortunate there are some who want to politicize this issue for partisan gain."
Again Karl Rove testifying today before the federal grand jury looking into who leaked the name of a CIA agent. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: Every Friday, of course you know this, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider takes the temperature, so to speak, of the political scene. This week, he practically has chills -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. This week there was an issue that hit home with voters and forced the candidates to rethink their scripts. It even walked off with the political play of the week.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They're standing in line in Florida and Michigan, in New Jersey. The line goes around the block. Eager swing state residents lining up to vote? Not exactly. They're lining up for flu shots.
DR. CHARLES GONZALEZ, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: It's incredibly serious. We have half as much vaccine as we should have.
SCHNEIDER: How did that happen?
BUSH: We relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States citizens.
SCHNEIDER: Uh-oh. Sounds like outsourcing. The president had a solution.
BUSH: We're working with Canada, hopefully they will produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary.
SCHNEIDER: But hasn't Bush expressed problems with drug imports from Canada?
BUSH: My worry is, it looks like it's from Canada, it might be from a third world. We have to make sure before somebody thinks they're buying a product, that it works.
SCHNEIDER: President Bush made a plea to the public.
BUSH: If you're healthy, if you're younger, don't get a flu shot this year.
SCHNEIDER: Sounds like rationing, something the president said would result from Kerry's health care plan.
BUSH: Government sponsored health care would lead to rationing.
SCHNEIDER: The government has the situation under control the president says.
BUSH: The CDC responsible for health in the United States is setting those priorities and allocating the flu vaccine accordingly.
SCHNEIDER: Isn't that government control?
BUSH: My opponent wants the government to run the health care.
SCHNEIDER: Maybe the answer is legal reform.
BUSH: Vaccine manufacturers are worried about getting sued, and so therefore they have backed off from providing this kind of vaccine.
SCHNEIDER: Kerry says the issue is the whole health care system.
KERRY: There still aren't enough flu vaccinations. What's the president's solution? He says, don't get one if you're healthy. That sounds just like his health care plan to me, hope and pray you don't get sick.
SCHNEIDER: The flu bug has infected the campaign. The side effect was the political play of the week.
SCHNEIDER: What President Bush warns could happen under the Kerry health care plan, shortages, rationing, that's exactly what is happening now. So the issue is whether the Kerry health care plan would solve the problem, or as Republicans charge, make it worse.
WOODRUFF: Is there any evidence yet how this issue is playing out politically? Do we see polls? Do we pick up what people are saying?
SCHNEIDER: We don't have any direct evidence that it's having a political impact yet. We know it is a very big issue on voters' minds. They're very dissatisfied with the fact that there is a shortage and frankly many are looking for somebody to blame. When the administration is the incumbent administration, they're likely to take some hits.
WOODRUFF: You know it's serious when you read that some states will fine or jail doctors and nurses who give flu shots to people who are not at high risk.
SCHNEIDER: Right, and that sounds a lot like rationing.
WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.
A quick look at a Senator showdown in the Sunshine State. A new poll shows Republican Mel Martinez and Democratic Betty Castor locked in a dead heat. The Insider Advantage poll of likely voters has Castor and Martinez tied with 42 percent each.
Ahead here, one-on-one with John Kerry, our Candy Crowley interviews a Democratic hopeful between stops in the Midwest battleground.
WOODRUFF: Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is on the road, as she has been with the Kerry campaign. Candy interviewed Senator Kerry just a few minutes ago in Wisconsin. Here is some of what he had to say.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're on the stage where you just gave an economic speech. I want to bring it down to one person. A middle-aged guy lives in Wisconsin. He doesn't have a job. John Kerry becomes president in January. His life changes February, March, April?
KERRY: Well, his life will change very quickly providing Congress responds. There are immediate things that I can do with respect to trade policy, immediate things I can do in the regulatory system that will help. But the most important thing is to lower the cost of health care and to raise incomes for middle class Americans, put in place a $4,000 tuition tax credit, get a $1,000 into the pocket of Americans by lowering their health care premiums.
CROWLEY: But can you get him a job?
KERRY: Well, I -- directly, day one? No. I'm not going to pretend that I can do that on day one. But what I can do is put in place policies that are going to expand the private sector of America. And I will do that. I'll do that by closing the tax loophole that encourages companies to go overseas. I'll do it by providing a manufacturing job credit which could have an immediate impact on helping companies to expand here in America. I can do it by creating a fair playing field in trade so that companies are more inclined to stay here.
And if you lower the cost of health care, Candy, you really make American companies more competitive. And that's what I'm going to do.
CROWLEY: A lot of talk about the programs that we've heard you talk about now for two years.
KERRY: I know.
CROWLEY: You will not end Social Security. You don't want to raise the age. You don't want to lower the benefits. And you don't want to privatize. You want to make health care available to as many people as possible. You want to add to the loans and grants for college. You want to fully fund No Child Left Behind. You want to increase veterans' benefits. You want to give another tax cut for the middle class.
CROWLEY: That's an awful lot of money. And a lot of people say you are...
CROWLEY: ... falling very short. Where are you going to -- you know, I know that you want to pay for a lot of it with those tax cuts but...
KERRY: No, you can't pay for all of it from that. And I've shown exactly where I'm going to pay for it. Principle number one -- and I want Americans to here this clearly, principle number one, with which I am approaching the budget, is we have to reinstate pay-as-you- go and we have to be fiscally responsible.
Now every program you just listed, I've shown precisely how we're going to pay for it. We pay for it partly by rolling back the tax cut for people earning over $200,000 a year. I give a tax cut, cut, to 98 percent of Americans. All of middle class America gets $1,000 tax credit for child care, a $4,000 tuition tax credit for college, and we lower the cost of health care. I also close corporate tax loopholes. We have $40 billion going to Bermuda and other countries.
WOODRUFF: That's part of Candy Crowley's interview with John Kerry. That interview ended just moments ago. You can see the entire interview with Senator Kerry later tonight on CNN's 'PAULA ZAHN NOW." Primetime politics on CNN's "PAULA ZAHN NOW," at 8:00 Eastern and 5:00 Pacific. Candy, thank you very much. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. On Monday we're in the showdown state of Colorado. We're at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Have a good weekend. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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