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Final Presidential Charge Begins; Financing the Political Ad War

Aired October 22, 2004 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome to PRIME TIME POLITICS. Glad to have you with us tonight as we close out the week here.
The final charge to finish line gets under way, as the candidates tighten their focus, sharpen their attacks and fight to gain that oh so crucial edge.

Also tonight, political ads bankrolled by some very deep pockets, the millionaire and the billionaire friends of the candidates. We'll meet some of the people pumping the cash into the campaign.

And an anti-Kerry film hands Sinclair Broadcasting much more than it bargained for, mixing news with politics and getting an explosive reaction.

Well, it is 11 days and counting, and while it isn't exactly the 11th hour yet, both candidates know that time is running short. Poll after poll shows the race very close. And if you really dig into the numbers, you'll see some important patterns starting to emerge.


ZAHN (voice-over): The presidential race may boil done to one question. When Americans step into the voting booth, are they going to be thinking about their wallets or about terrorism? The answer may determine who wins.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against terror. And in this war, there is no place for confusion and no substitute for victory.

ZAHN: A new Annenberg survey says since the presidential debates, George Bush has solidified a clear advantage on terrorism, but John Kerry has an equally clear edge on economic issues.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The women I meet, they don't expect the government to do their jobs for them. But they do want leaders who are on their side as they try to do their jobs.

ZAHN: Senator Kerry emphasized women's issues today. A Pew Research survey this month found that six in 10 undecided voters are women. A CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows Kerry leads the president by six points among women. The Bush campaign isn't forgetting domestic issues, but security leads the way.

The terrorism theme comes through even more clearly in the Bush campaign's latest ad, called "Wolf."


NARRATOR: John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence operations by $6 billion, cuts so deep they would have weakened America's defenses. And weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm.


ZAHN: The Democrats' retaliatory ad features eagles and ostriches.


NARRATOR: The eagle knows when it's time to change course. The ostrich stands in one place. Given the choice in these challenging times, shouldn't we be the eagle again?


ZAHN: Saturday, the president devotes his full attention to Florida. Senator Kerry campaigns there, too, but first he's stopping in Colorado and New Mexico.


ZAHN: Late this afternoon, Republicans accused the Democratic Party of producing the eagle and ostrich ad just to get free media attention. The Democrats say they are still buying airtime in states and the ad will start running on Tuesday.

To look ahead now to the final week of the presidential race, I'm joined by campaign senior adviser Joe Lockhart and Ken Mehlman.

Always glad to have the two of you on. Welcome.


ZAHN: Fine. Thanks.

I want to start off, gentlemen, with the ad wars tonight, and specifically the ostrich ad, which basically leaves viewers with the impression that this is a president that ignores information he doesn't like. He is the president, after all, who once referred to national intelligence estimates as guesses. In an interview with Reverend Pat Robertson this week, he told me the president in the run- up to war was convinced there weren't going to be any casualties.

Do you understand, Ken, why some voters out there have the perception that this president is not using good judgment here?

MEHLMAN: Well, Paula, I think that most voters who look at that ad are going to be pretty convinced that the president is the eagle and John Kerry is the ostrich, because the notion that we can deal with this war on terror the way we treated the nuisance back in the early 1990s is putting your head in the hand of what's a very serious threat to this country.

So I welcome the analogy. I think that when most people look and they say who has the realistic strategy to deal with the war and who is putting their head in their sand, it is going to be the one who says the war on terror is not really a war, which is Senator John Kerry.

ZAHN: But, Ken, you have to acknowledge there are folks out there that do not think this president has been realistic about what is at stake in Iraq, and further than that, they accuse him of misleading them.

MEHLMAN: Well, I think they're inaccurate.

The fact is, this president is very realistic. He understands that the war on terror's central front is in fact this battle in Iraq. He understood the night of 9/11 that we had to abandon the strategy of treating terrorism as a nuisance.

ZAHN: Joe, I don't know whether you've seen the wolves ads yet. I have. They seem to be pretty effective in terms of trying to convince potential voters out there that John Kerry is weak when it comes to national security issues.

JOE LOCKHART, KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Oh, I don't know about that, Paula. Listen, I think it's a pretty crude attempt to try to scare people and it's really at its heart a pessimistic view of the future of our country, that somehow we have created a situation that's so dire that only President Bush can deal with it, only he has the strength.

And the public's not buying that. The problem with Ken's answer there is it's expecting the public to suspend judgment. What -- the reason Iraq is the central front in the war on terror is because we invaded Iraq, and the president changed his rationale 25 different times for doing it.

But, you know, we're going to talk about what we want to talk about in this campaign, and I think it's a good contrast to look at the ads.

ZAHN: Ken, on to the issue of the gender gap now, the latest poll showing the president trailing John Kerry by six points among women. Why?

MEHLMAN: The fact is, historically, both parties have had a gender gap. The Republicans have had a gender gap with women and the Democrats have had a gender gap with men. On Election Day 2000, Al Gore won women by 11 points. There's a new Fox poll that showed the president leading with women by two points.

Even if the poll you cited, too, six points is accurate, the gender gap has been cut in half for Republicans. Why did that happen? Because I think the fact is that women, like men, understand we do need a president who's realistic about the threat we face in the war on terror, who understands that we need someone to change our government to deal with the changing economy we face, and women, like men, want a president who will do what this president is doing, which is reform government and update government to deal with the changes we see in our lives every single day.

ZAHN: It's hard to ignore the numbers, though, for both of you guys, women showing that they support John Kerry more than the president.

Joe Lockhart, John Kerry having a problem among men, the president enjoying a 14-point lead there. Why?

LOCKHART: Well, listen, I don't believe the president is enjoying a 14-point lead. If you look at the Democracy Corps poll that came out this morning, we are nearing parity among men and just about at the point where Al Gore was as far as the gender gap.

It's the reason why we enjoy a small lead nationally, but a more significant lead in the battleground states. Let's remember, that's where this is going to get decided, in those states that the president and John Kerry have been going in and out of for the last four months.

ZAHN: Ken, a lot of criticism coming your way about putting Condoleezza Rice on the road. A lot of folks said she should be in Washington worried about national security. Why are you traveling her?

MEHLMAN: Well, first of all, we're not traveling Condoleezza Rice.

The fact is that from the beginning she's one of our most effective national security advisers. She spends most of her time in Washington, advising the president. She also travels around the country. And here is why, Paula. Our nation faces a war on terror that requires all of us to be involved and it requires someone to communicate with the American people the nature of the threat we face. She's doing that.

It's consistent with what previous national security advisers, what previous members of the Cabinet have done, including the secretary of state and the secretary of defense. And it's unfortunate that, for political purposes, there are people who are going after Condoleezza Rice. I think she's doing a fabulous job. And I think America is safer and the world is more peaceful because of Condoleezza Rice's leadership.

ZAHN: Joe, do you think Democrats have been taking cheap shots at her?

LOCKHART: I worked in the Clinton administration for five years, including in a reelection, and the president's national security adviser never went out to a battleground state to give a speech. What he has left out there is, yes, she travels. But according to the White House's own information, the only states she's traveling to now are the battleground states.

ZAHN: Ken Mehlman, Joe Lockhart, we've got to leave it there this evening. Thanks so much for joining us.

Good luck in the waning days of this campaign, both of you.

LOCKHART: Thanks, Paula.

MEHLMAN: Thank you.


ZAHN: And still ahead, the explosive consequences of mixing politics and television programming.


ZAHN (voice-over): An anti-Kerry film hits the airwaves and a media giant calls it news. Caught up in a firestorm of static and a stockholder revolt, Sinclair Broadcasting on the defense.

We trust them with our cash, but as more states plug into electronic voting, can we really trust them with our votes?

And here's tonight's voting booth question. Should there be tighter regulations on campaign ads by outside political groups? Vote now at our Web site,

The results and much more to come when PRIME TIME POLITICS continues.


ZAHN: Six months ago, Republicans were furious over "Fahrenheit 9/11." Now, 11 days before the election, Democrats are livid over the anti-Kerry documentary called "Stolen Honor." Parts of that film are airing tonight on 40 TV stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. And some of those stations are in key battleground states like Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

In the film, former Vietnam War POWs attack John Kerry for his anti-war activism in the '70s. Sinclair's decision to air the film blew up in its face. Two lawsuits have been announced. Burger King pulled its ad. The company's stock took a hit some 15 percent from the point at which it was announced this documentary might air. And the chain's Washington bureau chief says he was fired for going public with his objections to the program.

Joining me from Cockeysville, Maryland, Mark Hyman, vice president of corporate relations for the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Good to you to join us tonight. Welcome, sir.


ZAHN: Are you hoping that this film tonight that is shown will help President George Bush get reelected?

HYMAN: We're hoping that this will provide some answers to a lot of people that are undecideds out there who don't know how to make up their mind. It's surprising to many of us that there will be undecideds late in this campaign.

But understand, we have just as much, if not more, of "Going Up the River," which was the documentary produced by George Butler, which is John Kerry's lifelong friend. That's also included in this documentary. So I think anyone who takes a look at this who has got an open mind and who doesn't have a political agenda, from veterans to schoolteachers to out-of-work journalists, are going to say this is a balanced and fair piece, and I think some folks may some get answers to their questions.

ZAHN: You've seen what you're going to air tonight. Who do you think it helps the most?

HYMAN: I think it's going to help the viewers, those people who don't...

HYMAN: But of the candidates that are running, because you know the shareholders in your company are very upset about this. And they actually think that your company is putting its personal political agenda ahead of the interests of shareholders.

HYMAN: Well, that sounds like a very minority opinion.

Right now, let me give you some context. At one of our CBS stations, we received 1,200 complaints about this. We received 14,000 complaints about Dan Rather and memo-gate in the same period of time. So this is really an industry squabble. This is something that the political types are getting involved in, and most of mainstream America really doesn't have a huge stake in this issue.

We know the Consumer Union came out with a poll yesterday that said 51 percent to 41 percent said the entire documentary should be shown. That's just an example. We're not showing the entire documentary. This is a very detailed scrub of the entire version, documentaries. We have also turned the camera on ourselves, became we part of the news story.

So we said absolutely fair we should examine our role in this. And I do want to take a moment and publicly thank the Kerry campaign for its participation. We have included the two people they asked to be in the program itself, and I'd like to thank Senator Kerry for taking the time to answer our questions on the campaign trail just days ago.

ZAHN: Mark, let me ask you this, though. Isn't it true that you backed off your original plan to air the whole documentary because of threatened lawsuits from shareholders, because your stock price took a hit, some 15 percent, we said, the day a reporter announced in "The L.A. Times" that you were going to air this documentary, and the fact that advertisers have pulled ads?

HYMAN: Well, I guess it's proof in the pudding. Don't believe everything you read, in this case, "The Los Angeles Times."

That story was flawed from the beginning. As you may recall, there were news stories out there that talked about a 90-minute documentary. This was a 42-minute documentary. All we knew was we wanted to explore the allegations in this documentary. That particular news report was written by a journalist who never spoke to anybody who was informed of the topic itself.

ZAHN: All right, but something, Mark, happened between the time that story came out. Are you going to acknowledge in any way this controversy has contributed to your stock taking a big hit? Those numbers have been widely reported and everybody agrees it rests around some 15 percent.

HYMAN: Well, actually, I think, if you take a look, I believe our stock is way above where it was two weeks ago. So, actually, it's immaterial.

And I'll tell you, standing on principle does not have a price tag when it comes to news and journalism. If journalists take a look and say, what will be the financial implications to me if I do this news story and they change their minds about whether it's valid news, then I think we have a real problem with journalism in this country.

ZAHN: All right, but, Mark, final thing to you. We interviewed a man you just fired for violating what you said was company policy. He says he was basically fired because he went public with his objections to this. He said that you and your group routinely gave directions to the news division to put positive stories on about conservatives and negative stories on about Democrats.

HYMAN: If he's suggesting that I'm driving some sort of news policy, then, unfortunately, he's sadly mistaken.

ZAHN: But he's not the only one, Mark.

HYMAN: Any time a journalist decides that there's only a small group of people that have the monopoly on any story ideas, then a journalist should take a look at themselves and say, gee, what have I done wrong?

In this particular case, we don't have anything more to say about this gentleman. We wish him the best of luck.

ZAHN: I know, but just one last question. Do you admit tonight that you, at least in editorial meetings, offered your opinions?

HYMAN: I've never sat in a single editorial meeting in the company newsroom ever. I make it a point of never sitting in the newsroom. I happen to sit five floors away.

ZAHN: Yes, but a lot of people thought your directions came down from five floors above. HYMAN: Well, that sounds like a great story. Unfortunately, again, it's factually correct.

The bottom line is, I'm like everybody else. I sometimes seek guidance from more experienced people in the journalism business on how to approach things that I do. I seek their guidance and expertise, including the gentleman who left. So it's -- you know, just as he has sought my guidance on issues, that's his personal opinion. I'm sorry he feels that way, but certainly he has got some free time on his hands now. I hope he uses it wisely. And I wish only the best of luck to him and his next employer, who will be touched by his level of dedication and loyalty to the job, I'm sure.

ZAHN: Mark Hyman, we appreciate your time tonight. Thanks so much for joining us.

HYMAN: Thank you very much.

ZAHN: And in at least one area of American politics, we're in for a major change, the dawn of electronic voting -- when we come back.


ZAHN: After the Florida recount four years ago, technology in the form of electronic voting machines looked like the answer. Well, now those machines are about to get their first big test.

Here's technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg with tonight's installment of our series "Making Your Vote Count."


DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before hanging chads had such an effect on the last presidential election, most Americans never gave the act of voting much thought. Crank a lever, punch a hole, come on, how hard could it be, right?

Well, in a lot of places, things had not changed in decades. These days, high-tech voting machines come with everything from touch- screens to a spinning scroll wheel. You need to insert a smart card in some or punch a number into others. The aim is to make it all simple, secure and accurate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, I think my guess is that we will find that there are going to be a number of places throughout the country that will experience substantial problems with the electoral process on November 2.

SIEBERG: Researchers from Cal Tech and MIT have been analyzing the fallout of 2000. And those we spoke to say the big problems this time around are just as likely to happen because of human error, such as improperly trained poll workers, as it is with computer malfunction. Of course, the scariest scenario involves a hack attack. Unlikely, the experts say, but not impossible. DAVID DILL, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: The worst thing that could happen I think with electronic voting is a hack that goes into the software before it's distributed to thousands of machines around the country. And then a very small number of people, possibly only one, could have made that change that affects thousands and thousands of votes.

SIEBERG (on camera): Thomas Edison actually invented an electric voting machine way back in 1869, but his idea never caught on. As threat maps illustrate, since that time, more and more counties have invested in some type of voting machine, whether it's high-tech or low-tech, right up to today.

This is what the country will look like on November 2. And the purple color represents any county that's invested in an electronic voting machine. In fact, about a third of the country will use them. And one day, the entire country could be purple, so experts say we better get it right.

(voice-over): After 2000, in Georgia and Nevada, every precinct has gone electronic. Counties in another 26 states are also using electronic voting. And almost a third of the voters in the country will use some form of high-tech machine. Many analysts say the pressure to not be Florida has caused a rush into new unproven technology. And critics say, whoa, slow down.

DILL: Because the touch-screen machines seem to be the newest, shiniest machines, I think that they were very attractive to people.

SIEBERG: MIT's Ted Selker says voting problems aren't new. But with computers, new things could go wrong. And he says some poll workers simply don't get enough training on the high-tech devices.

To make his point, Selker showed us some photos he took while observing Nevada's statewide election in September. For example, no one told this well-meaning gentleman that he didn't need a No. 2 pencil to jab the touch-screen. Selker also showed us a rather low- tech solution to handling a paper jam. This woman had scissors to cut people's ballots and then paste them together.

TED SELKER, MIT: One out of 20 printers that I saw jammed at some time during the day. We have to do good polling place operations and we have to be careful about how we treat the ballots as we're going from the voting machines to the tallies.

SIEBERG: The makers of the machine say, no matter what new concerns there are, electronic voting is still much better than anything else.

MICHELLE SHAFER, HART INTERCIVIC: I think the electronic voting industry has gotten a bum rap, because people are not comparing electronic technology with lever machines, with punch cards, with known inferior voting methods. They're comparing them with things that need utmost security, like missiles and weapons devices.

SIEBERG: Computers crash. Programs fail. No technology is perfect. But with so much on the line, people need assurances that their votes will be counted, not those of some ghost in the machine.


ZAHN: That was Daniel Sieberg reporting for us.

The trademark of this year's campaign is an explosion of nasty political ads. Various groups are behind them, but who is really paying for them? You'll find out right after this.


ZAHN: One-point-two billion, according to a nonpartisan group, the Center For Responsive Politics, that is the price tag for this year's presidential election. It is the most ever spent on a race for the White House, and part of the spending binge comes from the very deep pockets of some of America's wealthiest people.

Here's Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The candidates in the final stretch, hitting the swing states.


CARROLL: Flooding the airwaves with ads.


NARRATOR: It's time for a fresh start.



NARRATOR: Voted to slash intelligence.


CARROLL: What many don't see are the powerful people behind the scenes using vast personal fortunes to influence what voters do see and hear. Meet three of them.

SUSIE T. BUELL, CO-FOUNDER, ESPRIT CLOTHING: If you had told me I would agree to go on national television and talk about the amount of money that I've given away for politics, I would have said, this will never happen.

CARROLL: Susie Tompkins Buell, multimillionaire, co-founder of Esprit Clothing, nearly $2 million to Democratic groups.

BOONE PICKENS, CEO, BP CAPITAL: Maybe the biggest industry in America is raising money for politicians.

CARROLL: T. Boone Pickens, Texas multibillionaire, made his money in oil and corporate investments, more than $4 million to groups supporting Bush.

GEORGE SOROS, FINANCIER: I would much rather that I would be discussing ideas than money, so I feel equally uncomfortable with it.

CARROLL: Ideas in a moment. First, the money behind George Soros, multibillionaire, philanthropist and financier, more than $18 million toward defeating Bush.

SOROS: I have a very deep conviction that he has led the country in the wrong direction.

CARROLL: Their money channeled through political groups named 527s, named for a tax loophole which exempts them from campaign contribution limits; 527s accept huge sums from people like Pickens, whose money helped the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth make their anti- Kerry ads.

PICKENS: I'm a glad I'm a part of their telling that story. Whatever it costs, we'll pay it.

CARROLL: Pickens is one of just 37 people whose donations account for 40 percent of the $300 million raised by 527s. That money buys access and allows donors' political beliefs to be heard.

BUELL: I think the fact that I have the resources to give and I'm so terribly concerned about this moment in history does give me a certain amount of power.

CARROLL: Buell introduces top Democrats when they're in her town, San Francisco. She lets them do the talking, but not Soros. He's on a multi city tour, speaking against Bush's policies. In Miami, he spoke candidly about how some might perceive him.

SOROS: I think they might have heard of me as some kind of Satan, some nefarious, shady character. I would like the electorate to consider the ideas that I'm putting forth.

CARROLL: Senator John McCain says donors like Soros violate the spirit of the campaign finance law he co-wrote which limits contributions.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R) ARIZONA: They can spend all the money they want. It's their own money. Instead, they go through these organizations and that way they don't have to have their name on it.

CARROLL: McCain wants limits on how much 527s can accept, his case now in Federal court. In the meantime, big donors say 527s are the only game in town.

PICKENS: Well, if the ball thrown up in the air, tell me what kind of game it is and I'm going to play in the game, probably and that's the game. That's 527 is a big money game.


ZAHN: That was Jason Carroll. And joining me now from Washington, Harold Ickes who was President Clinton's deputy chief of staff. He has been a force behind the biggest 527s. He's now chief of staff for America Coming Together and he is the former director of the Media Fund and from Dallas tonight, one of the billionaires we just heard from, Boone Pickens, CEO of BP Capital. Good to have both of you with us.

PICKENS: Thank you.

ZAHN: I'm going to start with you tonight, Boone. We just heard you refer to 527s as the big money game. You have also stated publicly they are not good for politics. Now, though, you've got Republicans outspending Democrats 6 to 1 on these 527s. How do you defend that?

PICKENS: Paula, the way I defend that is the Democrats have raised over $300 million and we've raised $60 million. So it's 5 to 1 against us.

ZAHN: Is that right, Harold? I thought it was the other way around according to some of the statistics I was given.

HAROLD ICKES, FMR DIR., THE MEDIA FUND: Well, I think it is fair to say that the Democratic progressive side has out raised the Republican side so far, but I think you have to put this in context Paula. The fact is that the campaigns and the Republican and Democratic national committees will spend about $1.3 to $1.4 billion this year alone, the two campaigns and the two national committees. That dwarfs what the 527s will put together this year.

ZAHN: Boone, do you consider yourself as someone who's actually trying to buy the presidency?

PICKENS: No, actually I'm opposed to 527s, but I'll even contribute money next year to the cause to get rid of 527s, but if that's what we have to compete against, we're going to compete.

ZAHN: Harold, if both campaigns wanted to get rid of these 527s, wouldn't they?

ICKES: The campaigns have nothing to say about it. It's by Federal law the 527s are permitted and I think Boone has put his finger on it. Until there's legislation that changes the way the money system operates in politics, both sides are going to do it. One side is not going to sit and let itself be exposed to spending by the other side.

ZAHN: Boone, do you have any confidence you'll see that kind of political movement to get rid of these?

PICKENS: I don't know that you will, Paula, but when you say that, I don't know, it's 37 people put up 40 percent of the money and the 527s that I'm involved in, it's 80,000 people have contributed to the Swift boat ads, for instance and you're talking about people in our ads that are people. They're not actors. They're the people that know the facts and were involved. So in the Ashley ad, for instance, that I think is a very profound ad and I'm proud to say that I'm on board on both of these situations.

ZAHN: That's an ad, for the audience members who haven't seen it, who shows a young woman who lost a parent in 9/11 comforted by the president, some thought that to be a very effective commercial. But Harold, back to you for a moment. Isn't it a joke that these are called 527s, a function of independent groups? We've explained your attachment to 527s. We know what your politics have been over the years and we also know Karl Rove who advises the president and Ken Mehlman with his campaign have been actively involved in these 527s. What's so independent about that?

ICKES: I think there may be questions on the Republican side about coordination. I can tell you that for ACT and the Media Fund, which I have been involved with from the beginning, there has been absolutely no coordination whatsoever between them and the party committees or the candidates.

PICKENS: Well, I can say the same thing. I've had no contact with anybody. John O'Neill came to see me from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and I heard his story and I've got a soft spot for veterans, especially Vietnam veterans. And so I heard his story. I checked to see if he was a legitimate guy. In fact, he was in law school with one of my lawyers and he said he finished first and said he had more character than anybody in the class and you can believe anything he tells you and so I put up my money, because I thought their story should be told.

ZAHN: Harold, do you understand why the American public is becoming increasingly skeptical about this whole thing?

ICKES: Look, I think money and politics is a very serious issue. I think McCain-Feingold, people misunderstood what McCain-Feingold was intended to do. It was to cut the link between soft money and Federal officials. It has done that. But McCain Feingold was fully debated on the floor of the Congress. There's not one word said about 527s. 527s existed before McCain Feingold. It was debated on the floor of the Congress. Not one word was changed in the legislation about McCain-Feingold. We're operating perfectly legally. We don't coordinate. I think there is some question about coordination on the Republican side. I'm not saying Boone coordinates but I think those 527s, some of them with Ben Ginsberg who was the lawyer for the committee, for the Bush committee and also the lawyer for the Swift boat people it seems there was coordination.

ZAHN: Charges certainly flying on both sides. Boone


PICKENS: Harold you got exactly the same thing on the Democrats' side.

ZAHN: And I was going to say that's something we're exploring from here. Boone, when that piece of legislation comes about that you say you would give actually support which would either limit the amount that 527s can take in or get rid of them altogether, we want your first interview. PICKENS: Thank you.

ZAHN: Thank you both.

So should there be tighter regulations on campaign ads run by outside political groups? That is tonight's voting booth question at Vote now and we'll have the results at the end of the hour.

Coming up, who is ahead and where do the candidates stand in our exclusive electoral map survey next?


ZAHN: The Bush and Kerry campaigns are taking a long hard look at which states can put them over the top in the Electoral College and so are we. So tonight we released the latest CNN electoral map. If the election were held today, the president would be ahead with 277 electoral votes, seven more than he needs to win. Senator Kerry has 261 electoral votes. This is exactly the way things stood last week. But what about 11 days from now? Joining me now with some analysis is Judy Woodruff, the host of INSIDE POLITICS. Always good to see you, Judy, welcome.


ZAHN: What are you seeing under the surface of these numbers?

WOODRUFF: What we're seeing Paula as you said is the total numbers have not changed, not a single state has changed since last week. We are still seeing some extraordinarily close races. The top, the big three states that we've been watching all along remain as they were last week. Ohio, we still have in John Kerry's camp. Pennsylvania we still have in Kerry's camp. Florida we have in Bush's camp, so what we're seeing, though, are the so-called blue states, the states that Al Gore won in 2000. A number of those right now are tilting Bush and that's why George Bush gets the advantage when we add up all the electoral votes. As you just said, just 277 to 261 but it wouldn't take much to flip that, frankly.

ZAHN: Let's talk about what could flip those numbers. The Democrats have a way they think they can construct a John Kerry victory. How would that happen?

WOODRUFF: What they would look at is turning a state like Wisconsin, which Al Gore won in 2000, but if John Kerry can turn that back to -- right now it's -- we're counting it as a Bush state. But if John Kerry can turn it around and there's another poll out today Paula that shows it dead even. If John Kerry can turn it to his favor, that would be a 10-vote switch, 271 to 267 margin in favor of John Kerry, so one state changing, like Wisconsin or a state with more than 10 electoral votes, that would turn the whole thing on its head.

ZAHN: So when you look at these numbers and you try to figure out if someone wins the Electoral College, is it likely they will not win the popular vote this time around? WOODRUFF: You know, anything could happen. I hear a lot of people saying what could happen this time is we could have the mirror image of what happened in 2000. In 2000, as everybody knows, Al Gore won the popular vote. George Bush won the electoral vote when you added in Florida. It's very possible that this year, it could be George Bush who wins the popular vote and John Kerry who wins the electoral vote, you know, but nobody knows for sure. I don't know anybody who's putting a lot of money on the election with 10, 11 days to go. We're just going to have to sit and watch.

ZAHN: Sit and watch and stay awake for the next week or so. Judy Woodruff, thanks for joining us. Have a good weekend.

And with just one more week of campaigning left, there's a lot to dig into with our rival strategists. Joining me now from Los Angeles on the Democratic side, Bill Carrick and on the Republican side, Mike Murphy. Good to see both of you. Welcome back. So Mike, I'm going to start with you this evening and have you try to take off your red state tie for a moment and tell us in the most nonpartisan way that you can tonight what you are most concerned about when it comes to the president. You heard Judy Woodruff reporting that CNN is putting Ohio in the Kerry column and Pennsylvania.

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yeah, that's interesting to me and I see you guys have Wisconsin and Iowa in the president's column. I think -- what am I most worried about as a Republican? I'm most worried that the polling shows the wrong track number is bigger than the right track number and that's very bad for an incumbent. I'm also worried we got tight raises in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, which as you guys said in your report, could decide this thing. I'm worried the president, while he has the lead nationally, in some of the battleground states is tighter.

ZAHN: Man, Bill, Mike is really taking some truth serum here tonight. We want Bill, some truth serum from your side. Looking at the vulnerabilities of John Kerry, what would you be targeting right now?

BILL CARRICK, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think there's four states that Al Gore carried last time that are vulnerable for John Kerry -- -- New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. He has to carry all of those in order to win the presidency. It doesn't do any good to carry Ohio if you lose a couple of those.

ZAHN: So what about those states you're talking about? How does it look from what you're hearing in the trenches?

CARRICK: I think they're all very close. I think we'll win New Mexico. We got a popular Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, who's probably worth a point there. I think Wisconsin is scary. Minnesota I think will be all right. Iowa is very troublesome. The one outlier -- the two outliers that Bush carried last time that we might pick up are New Hampshire and Nevada.

MURPHY: I agree with that analysis and I've been saying for a while, I think the race might ultimately come down to Wisconsin, which historically is Democratic, but trending Republican. It's very tight there right now.

CARRICK: And that's why John Kerry was there today with Caroline Kennedy.

ZAHN: Yeah, that picture spoke volumes, didn't it? Let's talk more about pictures and the power of the picture. These television ads that came out today are explosive. Do you think that wolf ad is the right thing to do at this stage of the campaign Mike?

MURPHY: I think it's a fairly effective ad. I think it's better than the ostrich ad. I keep kind of getting them mixed up in my mind and I see the wolf like eating the ostrich and the eagle flying away. We've got a lot of animals going on here. Nader is coming out with his aardvark ad tomorrow. But I do think the -- I think the problem is, whenever you do an ad that's kind of an echo of an earlier ad, I think it's a little weaker by definition, but I think it's a good execution. It's a good message.

ZAHN: Let's talk about the execution for a moment. Are you guys guilty of invoking fear with this ad? Democrats are creaming you for that, Mike.

MURPHY: Fear is a staple of a lot of political ads, I think both sides do that all the time and with Kerry's record, there's plenty to be afraid of. I think it's a fair spot.

ZAHN: Bill.

CARRICK: Paula, I tell you what. I've got two schnauzers that are scarier than the wolves in that ad. I mean I don't really think it works well. I think it's obviously mimicking a brilliant ad that was done by Al Rainey (ph) for President Reagan in 1984, the bear ad. I just don't think it works. They also cheesied it up with a bunch of attack stuff (UNINTELLIGIBLE) John Kerry. If you go back to that bear ad, it was much subtler and much more powerful. This ad is just another cheesy ad with a bunch of wolf puppies in it.

ZAHN: Fifteen seconds apiece to tell us what we should be keeping our radar up for in the next week or so. Mike?

MURPHY: I'm worried about, excuse me, a media manufactured bump for Kerry. He has this shtick he's done forever about being a big closer and they've kind of been trained that that's the pattern, so I'm a little worried that you're seeing some tighter national polls from a couple points ahead. They're more like even and that will turn into a big liberal momentum machine for Kerry.

ZAHN: Kerry would love a media manufactured bump, wouldn't you Bill? It's not going to happen, though, is it?

CARRICK: Where do we get one of those? I've never seen one of those happen. I'll tell you what the most important thing that I want him to focus on is that field operation, that get out the vote stuff, particularly in these critical battleground states. You look at so many of these states are within the margin of error. Turnout can change the outcome of about eight states. It's that critical. ZAHN: Get out and vote, folks. Bill Carrick, Mike Murphy, thank you so much for your time. Have a great weekend and we will be right back.


ZAHN: And welcome back. There is a new book out about the Bush family written by a John Kerry supporter, but if you're expecting a hatchet job, you're in for quite a surprise. Two presidents, their beginnings and their journeys into history when we come back.


ZAHN: A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with a photographer and friend of John Kerry's who published a book of very personal photos of the candidate and his family taken over three decades. Well, tonight, we bring you a companion piece, author James Spada has edited a book called "The Bush Family, Four Generations of History in Photos."


ZAHN: Four generations of a political family. Public lives and private moments captured in photographs. What makes this family tick?

JAMES SPADA, AUTHOR, THE BUSH FAMILY: I think that they really feel that they have, um, a mission, a mission to make this country what they want it to be.

ZAHN: You had to look at thousands of negatives, thousands of pictures. What was revealed to you through those frames that you didn't know before?

SPADA: There were two things that really struck me. One was the affection that these people have for each other that they're very, very willing to show publicly and the other thing was how expressive they are.

ZAHN: One of the things you focus in on is this book is this close relationship between father and son and the intimacy of a bond you thought developed very early on.

SPADA: There's that wonderful picture of George when he was about a year and a half on his father's lap with a Yale sweater. They both had Yale sweaters on.

ZAHN: He was destined to go there, wasn't he?

SPADA: Absolutely. And a very interesting thing, there's a shot in the book of George just after his graduation from Yale with his father in front of the capitol when his father was a congressman and one of his classmates said that he was amazed by the amount of admiration that George Bush expressed for his father. This was 1968. This was a time when you didn't trust anyone over 30.

ZAHN: You trashed your parents. SPADA: Right and George Bush didn't do that and I think that a lot of his success has been a desire to emulate his father and I also think some of his actions have been a desire not to emulate his father.

ZAHN: The book follows George W. Bush's career outside of politics, his early campaign losses and his marriage to Laura in 1977.

The Bush family has always said that she took the rough edges off of George W.

SPADA: Well, there's a tremendous tenderness. There's a picture in the book of him holding her belly just before she had the twins and her pregnancy was a very difficult one. George said that the thought of possibly losing her and having these children was really -- really changed his life at that point.

ZAHN: But then five years later, there came another crossroads in his life and that was the point at which Laura Bush gave him the ultimatum and basically said either you quit drinking or I'm leaving with the kids.

SPADA: Well, yes, alcohol was a problem for him and he's admitted that. He said that what was happening was that alcohol was coming between him and his wife and him and his children.

ZAHN: And there is a picture in the book of George W. Bush and Laura and the twins when they were about five years old, shortly after he made that pivotal decision to quit drinking.

SPADA: Yeah and it's interesting because you can read into it the fact that they are a much happier family unit at this point.

ZAHN: From images of family life to images of the country's sorrow. Some of the most powerful images I think that are captured in this book are those taken on September 11th.

SPADA: The expression on his face is so moving, because he's obviously completely shocked. There was a situation room that they set up in the school and there's a picture and it shows the president on the phone with the towers burning in the background on television and that's something that I don't think anyone really knew. And then there are other pictures of the few days after that, after the president gave his speech at the National Cathedral. He sat down and H.W. Bush reached over Laura and grabbed his hand in a gesture of "well done."

ZAHN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) You are a Kerry supporter and yet you have done a very empathetic book.

SPADA: I wanted to step aside and try to -- to understand what it is about this family that has brought -- has appealed to people so much.

ZAHN: What instincts did you fight, though, being a lifelong Democrat as you're putting this book together? A lot of people could say this is a big wet kiss to the Bushes.

SPADA: Well, I don't agree. I think that it certainly is a positive book, but I did bring some balance to it that I think a die- hard Bush supporter for instance might not have done.

ZAHN: Spada's book includes as he puts it, the other side of the photo. Take for example, mission accomplished. This shot is accompanied by others taken during the months following, when Bush was continually blasted about the photo op. Spada writes in captions, critics lambasted the entire event as grandiose posturing. And later, critics pointed out that more US soldiers had died in Iraq since he declared mission accomplished.

SPADA: I would rather have done this book than a Bush supporter. I saw it as a broadening experience for myself.

ZAHN: A broadening experience and also you know the Bushes are very popular and you're going to make some money off this book, partly in the equation.

SPADA: Partly.

ZAHN: That was terrific. James Spada, thanks for dropping by.

SPADA: Thank you.


ZAHN: He came clean on the profit motive there. Before we go, we're going to take a look at the results of tonight's voting booth question. There you have it. We want to thank you for joining us tonight. Have a great weekend.


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