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CNN Late Edition

U.S. Politicians Intervening to Keep Elian Gonzalez in U.S.; Israeli and Syrian Negotiators Resume Peace Talks; Gore and Bradley Debate in Iowa

Aired January 9, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon here in Washington and in Havana; 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles; 6:00 p.m. in Paris; and 7:00 p.m. in Jerusalem. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90-minute LATE EDITION. We'll get to our guests shortly, but first let's check in with CNN reporters covering the hour's top stories.

We begin with the U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Israel and Syria. Negotiations have resumed today in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, after a break for Muslim and Jewish religious observances.

CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel is there. Andrea, what's happening there right now?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Wolf. Well, after days of stalling and procedural snags, some of the committee's which were established last week to negotiate the nitty-gritty, the meat of a final peace deal, have begun to meet this morning. All four committees are expected to meet before the day is out. Of most significance, the committee on borders, a key Syrian concern that they hear from the Israelis the extent of their withdrawal from the Golan Heights. That committee has begun to meet. The Syrians felt that they couldn't go back to Damascus until that had happened.

But no one really expects the actual nitty-gritty of negotiations, the real progress to begin until after a three-way meeting. President Clinton is expected to return here to Shepherdstown later today and is expected to hold a three-way meeting with the Israeli prime minister and the Syrian foreign minister. At that meeting both Israeli and Syrian sources saying that both delegations will present their reaction to potential amendments to an American draft of a working document to the president, and that they're both -- all delegations really quite optimistic, Wolf, feeling that progress -- that for the first time they have a written text of agreements and disagreements, Wolf.

BLITZER: OK, Andrea Koppel, on the scene in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Meanwhile, the political stakes are rising in the international custody battle involving Elian Gonzalez. The 6-year-old Cuban boy has been subpoenaed to testify before a congressional committee next month. Meanwhile Miami's Cuban exile community is temporarily halting street protests aimed at keeping Elian in the United States.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is following the story. She joins us now from Miami -- Susan.


Little Elian Gonzalez is getting a bit of a respite today after getting visits from various U.S. politicians last week as well as posing with that congressional subpoena, as well as various exile activists.

Now, just a little while ago, relatives took the youngster to the annual Three Kings parade in Miami's Little Havana. That's a major event here featuring marching bands and floats, including one dedicated to little Elian, including a photograph of him and featuring one of the fisherman who rescued him from an inner tube after his mother drowned back on November 25th.

Those opposed to the boy's reunion with his father, as ordered by the INS for this Friday, are hopeful that that congressional subpoena issued by Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana late Friday will put off them having to comply with returning the boy to Cuba by this Friday.

That subpoena would, of course, require the youngster to testify on February the 10th.

Now GOP presidential candidate John McCain, who wants the boy to remain in the U.S., is reacting cautiously to serving a subpoena on the youngster.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the subpoena's purpose is to keep the boy in the country, I would certainly support that and any other effort, including petitions for asylum, et cetera. If it's to make him testify before Congress, I don't think that we want to do that with a 6-year-old boy.


CANDIOTTI: As early as Monday, tomorrow, we are expecting a legal opinion from INS about all of this. However, U.S. immigration officials familiar with the case tell CNN, quote, "It would appear it would have no impact on the ability of INS to carry out its decision."

Now on Monday or Tuesday we are also expecting a ruling from a family court judge who has been asked to grant temporary custody to the great uncle with whom the boy has been living. They hope that will give them clout as they go into federal court to seek political asylum.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, reporting live in Miami.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: OK, thanks, Susan. We now turn to a Cuban exile leader in Miami, Ramon Sanchez, who's helped organize Cuban-Americans pushing for Elian Gonzalez to stay here in the United States.

Mr. Sanchez, thank you very much for joining us on LATE EDITION.

If the INS persists, sir, and insists that Elian go back to Cuba, will you obey -- will you cooperate with that INS order?

RAMON SANCHEZ, CUBAN SPOKESMAN IN MIAMI: Of course not. That will be a political concession in detriment of the civil rights of young Elian. We want Elian to have his day in family court.

BLITZER: So, in other words, if the INS says he must go back, will you engage in civil disobedience, disrupting traffic and other actions in the Miami -- the South Florida area in order to try to prevent that action from going forward?

SANCHEZ: Correct. We have asked for a truce in the civil disobedience campaign right now, pending all the developments that are taking place. However, if Immigration attempts to deport Elian, we will call people immediately to occupy the airport and continue the civil disobedience campaign.

BLITZER: Wouldn't you be fearful, though, of a backlash, the angering of a lot of people, a lot of Americans in South Florida if you were to do that?

SANCHEZ: Yes, and we feel for those people. However, we also feel for the rights of young Elian and we think that in preserving Elian's rights, we are also preserving the rights of all the children and other people who have the right to have their day in court. If a criminal has the right to have his day in court, why not this innocent young man -- young boy whose mother died to see him free?

BLITZER: You know, there are a lot of people here in the United States -- of course, many people in Cuba -- who say his mother actually kidnapped Elian, took him away from the father who had joint custody with the mother, stole him, in effect, and brought him to the United States. What do you say to those people?

SANCHEZ: That is obviously not true. Thousands of mothers throughout the years have taken to the seas for the desperate conditions, political and economic, that they live in Cuba, and many of them have drowned.

She had custody of the child. She gave her life to see him free. And I think this merits consideration of a family court.

BLITZER: And what do you say to those people who say, This little boy has already lost his mother, why are you now anxious to deprive him of having the love of his father?

SANCHEZ: We are not. What we want is justice to take course, not politics. And obviously, a decision by Immigration is inspired by the White House in order to maintain the immigration accords with the Cuban government, in total disregard to the civil rights of the boy.

We want the father and the boy to be reunited. If a family court decides so -- because the family court will take into account issues such as the death of the mother to save him and bring him to freedom, issues as to whether the father is being coerced by the Cuban dictatorship, and most importantly, issues about whether the best interests of the child will be served by living under a dictatorship or by living in freedom.

BLITZER: OK, Mr. Ramon Sanchez, who joins us from Miami, thank you so much for spending some time with us on LATE EDITION> We now get the Clinton's administration's view on the Gonzalez case as well as other international issues, including Russia, the Middle East, Africa. Joining us from New York is the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke.

Ambassador Holbrooke, welcome to LATE EDITION.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Good to be with you, Wolf. Happy new year.

BLITZER: Thank you. Happy new year to you, as well.

If this were a situation involving a little boy who was -- and it involved Saddam Hussein and Iraq, as opposed to Fidel Castro and Cuba, would you, the Clinton administration, be as anxious to see this little boy returned?

HOLBROOKE: Wolf, this is a legal issue, it's in INS and Justice. I have nothing to do with it, and it would be most inappropriate for me to make any comments on it at this point. Not only is it not my job, it's going to go into the courts. Clearly it's going to be INS and I've got nothing to say on it.

BLITZER: Well, as far as the overall U.S.-Cuba relationship is concerned, you are involved in dealing with Cuba at the United Nations. If the U.S...

HOLBROOKE: Not much, actually.

BLITZER: Well, you should be involved in dealing with Cuba, it's an important country in this hemisphere. If the U.S. were to return this little boy to Cuba, would that help in improving this long, strained relationship between Havana and Washington?

HOLBROOKE: I think the interests of the boy should be paramount here. I speak here as the father and stepfather of four children. You know, there are thousands of custody cases similar to this one in the United States and around the world. In fact, one of the most famous involves the wife of the British ambassador in Washington, Lady Catherine Meyer (ph), who's been seeking access to her children.

Senator Helms has held hearings on the question of child custody, which I commend strongly. And this is a large human tragedy, and I don't think it should be part of the foreign policy of the United States in the bilateral sense. It should be dealt with on the merits of what, as your previous speaker said, the interests of the boy.

BLITZER: OK, that's fair enough.

Let's move on to the Middle East. If -- you are now the United States ambassador, you're going to be president of the Security Council this month. The famous U.N. Security Council resolution 242, which was passed after the 1967, Six-Day War, called on Israel to withdrawal from, quote, "occupied territories." Does that mean, according to the Clinton administration, that Israel must withdraw to the pre-'67 lines as far as the Golan Heights is concerned?

HOLBROOKE: I talked to the national security advisor just before coming on your program today. He was commuting between Washington, where he had a couple hours sleep and Shepherdstown. Sandy Berger said that, he -- and I said, What's going on down there? I got a funny feeling Wolf Blitzer might just raise the issue, and I really don't know what's going down on.

Sandy said that -- that the mood is very constructive. He doesn't like to use the word progress or lack there of. That the news blackout is essential. I completely support that, having fought with some success to impose a similar one at Dayton.

242 is obviously part of the equation, Wolf, as you know better than any other journalist who's covered the Mideast, but at this point it would really be unproductive, as they discuss the issues you've just raised, to speculate on them.

BLITZER: Would it be productive, as some sort of final settlement involving Israel and Syria, for the United Nations to play a role in some sort of demilitarized area? Is that something that you think the U.N. was basically established to do?

HOLBROOKE: Well, the U.N.'s original charter, as conceived by Churchill and Roosevelt, certainly envisions that kind of thing. The U.N. has played an important role in the area on occasion, although I frankly think that the 1967 war you referred to was triggered in part by a very ill-conceived withdrawal of the U.N. forces after Nassar asked the U.N. to withdraw. I think that's an important piece of history. The multi-national force in the Sinai is not a U.N. force. There are many ways to do it.

Does the U.N. have a role in the Mideast? Of course, historically it's played a huge role.

One of the main things we're doing here in New York is fighting to get the Israelis admitted to one of the regional groups. They are the only country excluded from any regional grouping. We think they should be in the Western European and Other group, which includes all of the European Union, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Canada. We have had a roadblock, I regret to say, with our friends in the European Union. Madeleine Albright, President Clinton, Sandy and I are making this one of the major themes for this year, as soon as we move beyond the month of Africa, which is this month.

And I just want to state now, for you and your viewers around the world, that it is shocking that Israel has been treated this way in the U.N., and particularly by our closest friends in Europe, who have repeatedly rebuffed our attempts to bring Israel into our own group, and we're going to keep working on it.

It's important to the Barak government as well, and the moderate Arab states here in New York are very understanding of what we're doing.

BLITZER: And, of course, the fact that Israel is not in any regional group has prevented it all these years -- 50 years or so -- from ever serving on the U.N. Security Council.

Let's move on to the whole situation involving Iraq. As you know, after the Gulf War in 1991, the Iraqis agreed to unrestricted, unlimited weapons inspections as part of the cease-fire terms. But now, for more than a year, there have been no U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq. The Iraqis apparently are violating the terms of that cease- fire agreement, but the United Nations -- including the Clinton administration -- seems incapable of doing anything about it.

HOLBROOKE: Next week, the secretary-general will have to pick a head for the new sanctions regime. This will be a critical decision. I've been working closely with our colleagues on the Security Council and the secretary-general on this issue. Secretary Albright and he talked about it also yesterday. Let's see where we go. That's the next big step. The U.N. has now created this new sanctions regime. We want it to get a strong leader and be vigorously enforced.

BLITZER: So you're saying that there will be a priority in getting those U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq?

HOLBROOKE: In a single word: Yes.

BLITZER: All right. Let's move on and talk a little bit about Africa.

This is the month that you've dedicated, as president of the U.N. Security Council, to Africa. As you know, there have been a lot of people who have accused the United States and other Western European nations of engaging in a double standard: One standard for the whites in Bosnia, in Kosovo, elsewhere; another for non-whites in Africa, elsewhere around the world.

I want you to listen to what President Clinton on LATE EDITION in June of this past year when I asked him about intervening in various conflicts.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While there may well be a great deal of ethnic and religious conflict in the world, some of it might break out into wars that -- whether within or beyond the borders of a country, if the world community has the power to stop it, we ought to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Does the world community -- including the United Nations, of course, and the United States -- have the power to stop what is clearly enormous slaughter that is under way in Africa right now, various civil wars and other ethnic wars?

HOLBROOKE: Well, I'm very glad you've raised this question. You are right. We are devoting January -- our first -- our last presidency of this administration on the Security Council -- to Africa for two reasons. Most of the big wars in the world are in Africa, and we can't turn away from them. And what the president said could not be more right.

And secondly, because even worse than that is the spread of AIDS in Africa, which will be, I understand, the cover story in "Newsweek" this week. Ten times as many people have died from AIDS as have died from the wars. Last year, two million died of AIDS in Africa; 10 times as many as in the wars, and five times as many as all of the American deaths from AIDS in 20 years.

So tomorrow morning, Wolf, for the first time in history, in the first Security Council session of the new millennium, there will be three things happening which are unprecedented. Vice President Gore will preside -- first time in history a sitting vice president will preside. The president of the World Bank, Jim Wolfensohn, will speak. Believe it or not, the first time a World Bank president has spoken. And the vice president will make a major policy address, addressing the issues you raised.

We will, tomorrow, talk about a health issue for the first time in over 4,000 Security Council meetings, going back to 1945. Why? Because Africa matters.

And the double standard issue you raised -- and I've heard this everywhere -- is frankly just garbage. There may be people -- but not in this administration -- who think Africa doesn't matter. President Clinton cares passionately about it. He's told his colleagues, including me, that he'd like to be the first president ever to visit Africa twice in his presidency.

I've talked to him about this session tomorrow. He has asked the vice president to speak for the nation, and it will be a major address. We have these wars also Congo, Angola, that we're going to deal with later in the month.

Mandela will come next week, Senator Helms and the committee will come next week, and in the last week of January, the seven presidents of the Congo and the surrounding region will come to New York to try to move their own peace process forward, with Security Council help.

BLITZER: I want to show you, Ambassador Holbrooke and our audience around the world, that cover of "Newsweek" magazine which will be hitting the newsstands; 10 million orphans, the AIDS epidemic in Africa is leaving a generation of children without parents.

But what specifically -- what specifically can you tell our audience, the United States is prepared to do this year, the last year of the Clinton administration, to deal with this AIDS epidemic in Africa, other than have these meetings at the U.N. Security council? In other words, how much money is the Clinton administration ready to devote to eradicate AIDS in Africa?

HOLBROOKE: I will let the vice president make the announcement tomorrow. It will be a major announcement. We have consulted Congress, we have unprecedented support. I'm grateful for you for showing that "Newsweek" cover. But I want to make, quickly, a couple of points.

BLITZER: Only a few second.

HOLBROOKE: By moving the health issue into the Security Council, we are showing that it's more than a health issue. This is the post- Cold War definition of security issues in its most dramatic form.

Secondly, we have to destigmatize the AIDS issue by showing people that they must get tested, because otherwise they continue to spread it. This will help.

And third, there'll be -- if the United States, the richest country in the world at the apogee of its own wealth, does not take the lead, the rest of the world will not follow. So what's happening tomorrow in the Security Council is truly unprecedented, and I hope we'll look back on it later and say it was indeed an historic turning point.

BLITZER: And we only have a few seconds, Ambassador Holbrooke, but "The Washington Post" this week raised it, it's also been raised in the "Newsweek" article this week, that by bringing Vice President Gore, who of course is a presidential candidate, to the United Nations for this dramatic session, you are in effect getting domestic U.S. politics involved in what shouldn't be a political issue.

HOLBROOKE: You can't be serious. His domestic advisers thought he was diverting himself from the most critical part of the campaign, Iowa and New Hampshire, where these are not issues. He and Bradley have no differences on these issues. He and Senator Bradley both agree on them.

He is speaking as the vice president for the whole nation. I talked personally to many members of Congress in the last few days about this, including Chairman Helms -- Senator Helms, the chairman of the committee, who will be here next week. And that isn't political either. We are one nation when it comes to dealing with AIDS and Africa, and Senator Helms said he understood this fully and I would not pay much attention to the natterings inside the Beltway on something of such historic importance as this issue.

BLITZER: OK, Ambassador Holbrooke, in your first Sunday interview. It was good of you to join us here on LATE EDITION. Good luck with the Africa session at the U.N. Security Council this month, thank you so much for joining us.

HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Wolf, and thanks also for the CNN series on AIDS in Africa, which was one of the inspirations that led me and my colleagues to decide to move in this direction.

BLITZER: OK, thank you very much, Ambassador Holbrooke. And we hope you'll join us back here on LATE EDITION several times in this coming year.

Still to come: Hillary Clinton moves to New York; we'll have a debate on her Senate prospects when we return. With just two weeks to go before the first official presidential contest of 2000, Democrats Al Gore and Bill Bradley squared off in Iowa this weekend; we'll get reaction to yesterday's face-off from two Democratic senators, Gore supporter Tom Harkin, and Bradley supporter Paul Wellstone. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why did you vote against the disaster relief for Chris Peterson (ph) when he and thousands of other farmers here in Iowa needed it after those '93 floods?

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Al, I think that the premise of your question is wrong. This is not about the past; this is about the future.


BLITZER: Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley in yesterday's Democratic presidential debate in Iowa.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to talk about that debate and the Democratic contest are two guests: Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin -- he's a Gore supporter. He joins us from the site of yesterday's debate in Des Moines; and in Minneapolis, Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, a supporter of Bill Bradley.

Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Before we get to that presidential contest, I'd be interested in both of your thoughts on what the U.S. government should be doing with the 6-year-old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez.

Senator Wellstone, what do you think the proper decision should be?

SEN. PAUL WELLSTONE (D), MINNESOTA: Well, I sure don't want to raise the temperature on this anymore than it is, Wolf, and it's going to go to a court in any case. I think the only comment that I would make -- I'm speaking just for myself -- is that I can see the INS's framework. I mean, I think if you have a really good father, it's very difficult to take a boy away from his father and away from, you know, his family. So it's a very, very tough question. And I know why there's such an emotional reaction and powerful reaction. And we'll wait to see what the court says. But I think basically the burden of proof is to say why you wouldn't want a child to go back to his parent.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Harkin, what do you say?

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: Well, this may be the only thing that Paul and I agree upon this morning on this show. I think the law has to be upheld. The court cases in America are very clear. Time after time the courts have said that, all other things being equal, if the child has a good parent, that child should be with the parent. It's a pro-family position, and economics and standard of living really does not enter into it. And so really, the boy belongs with his father -- assuming, again, that he is a good father, and all indications are that that is the case.


WELLSTONE: Wolf, this is what always happens in the Senate. I take a position, and then Tom follows.


BLITZER: All right, let's see if you can both agree on these other questions as well. I have a feeling that you not going to necessarily agree.

Senator Harkin, the accusation against Vice President Gore this week was that he flip-flopped on a very sensitive issue: whether gays should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. Listen to what Vice President Gore said in the course of this week.


GORE: I would insist, before appointing anybody to the joint chiefs of staff, that that individual support my policy. And, yes, I would make that a requirement.



GORE: Would I inquire into the personal political opinions of an officer as a condition for promotion? Absolutely not. Never.


BLITZER: All right. It sounds -- it sounds like he was retracting at least part of he earlier said. Why not simply concede, Senator Harkin, that he made a mistake and he wanted to correct the record?

HARKIN: I spoke personally with Vice President Gore about this yesterday, and quite frankly, being a veteran myself, serving a number of years in the military, he had the correct position and he has the correct position. The president of the United States is the commander in chief, and if you're going to appoint someone to the joint chiefs of staff, you want to ensure that that individual will carry out your orders. The case has been in the past that military people do in fact carry out the commander in chief's orders. One big example of not doing so was MacArthur, and Truman fired him.

And so a president wants to make sure that if you're going to have a joint chiefs of staff, that they're not just "yes people," but that they will carry out your orders.

I think it's also correct that when you appoint someone to the joint chiefs of staff, you shouldn't inquire into their personal beliefs. That has no part of it. You just want to be sure that they're going to carry out the orders that you give.

BLITZER: Well, you know, Senator Wellstone, Senator Bradley -- former Senator Bradley was also asked about this earlier today on "Fox News Sunday." Listen to what he said about gays serving in the U.S. military.


BRADLEY: If I'm the commander in chief, I issue an order, disciplined military officers follow the order. They don't have to agree with the order. But they have to follow it, because that is what the chain of command is all about.


BLITZER: Senator Wellstone, is that good enough for you in terms of making sure that gays have an opportunity to serve equally in the U.S. military?

WELLSTONE: Well, I think Bill is right about this. I think he was right in the original debate. I don't think the personal belief of your commander is the issue. The issue is whether the commander follows through on your order as president, as commander in chief. And I think that's exactly what Bill has said.

BLITZER: All right. We have to take a quick commercial break. We have a lot more to talk about. Senators, stand by. When we come back, we'll also be taking your phone calls for Senators Harkin and Wellstone.




GORE: Those are the front lines in the fight for our future, and that's where I want to fight for you for the next four years.

BRADLEY: I am still fighting for the people who work hard and play by the rules.


BLITZER: Democratic presidential hopefuls Al Gore and Bill Bradley squaring off in Iowa yesterday. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're talking about the Democratic candidates, with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Gore supporter, and Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, a Bradley supporter.

To both of the senators, and I'll start off with Senator Harkin, both of you agree, both of you say that if Bradley or Gore is elected president, they should immediately announce that gays will be allowed to serve in the military and issue that kind of executive order; is that what you're both saying, Senator Harkin?

HARKIN: That's not exactly what I said. I said that -- and it seems to me that Vice President Gore and Senator Bradley have more or less the same position on this. I don't really see much of a difference there.

BLITZER: Do you support that position?

HARKIN: I'm sorry?

BLITZER: Do you support that position?

HARKIN: Yes, I do support that position. And that is, that if the commander in chief gives an order, his officers under him should carry out that order, and most of the time, like I say, with only one exception in history that I know about with MacArthur and Truman, that was not the case.

BLITZER: But, you know, Senator Harkin, you were in the Senate when Bill Clinton came into office, he wanted to do that. He didn't have the votes in the Senate or the House of Representatives. What makes you think that Bradley or Gore would have the votes?

HARKIN: Well, that would also be. I mean, obviously that's going to be something that would be debated in the United States Senate, and we'd have to see where the votes would lie on something like that. But I don't believe that anyone should be denied employment or any recourse to any part of our society, including the military, just because of sexual orientation.

BLITZER: OK, Senator Wellstone, let's move on and talk a little bit about agricultural policy, which was a huge issue, of course, yesterday during the Iowa debate. It's probably the number one issue in Iowa right now. Why didn't Senator Bradley support -- vote for flood relief for Iowa and other farmers in 1993 when he was in the United States Senate?

WELLSTONE: By the way, a huge issue in Minnesota and the heartland, and the South, and for our whole country, as well. I think people in Iowa would be the first to say that. I think what Bill did in the debate was say, Look, you can go over any number of different votes. I think Bill probably would have argued, you know, Nobody is ever going to say I don't care about people in any community. Bill has a tremendous commitment to people. I think the reason people like Bill is because he elevates politic, he has real integrity and sincerity, and I think what Bill was saying is, I would vote against something if I didn't think it was targeted enough, I don't know all the specifics of the vote. And then Bill moved on and said, Look at what's happened to farmers. Where is the administration been on freedom to fail (sic)? Why haven't they been more outspoken, and I'm just telling you that I am willing to fight to change this farm bill, to have antitrust action and if I say it, I'll do it.

The one thing that Bill Bradley has going for him more than anything else -- the vice president has Tom Harkin, the best ally you could have ever have in my opinion, Tom's my best friend in the Senate. But Bill connects to people in the country and to people in Iowa because he elevates politics, and he's authentic, and they know when he says something, he means it.

BLITZER: The point that Bill Bradley makes, and I guess maybe Senator Wellstone, Senator Harkin might be implying, and the rebuttal that Senator Bradley makes to Al Gore is this: Are small farmers in Iowa and elsewhere around the country better off today or seven years ago when the Clinton-Gore administration took office?

HARKIN: Well, first of all, you know, you have to look at the record. I was a little dismayed yesterday when Senator Bradley said, well, he doesn't want to go back in the past. You know, like anything else when you're voting for a president, you want to know where they're coming from, what the record is. I analogize that to buying a house. If you buy a house, you're not just going to buy it by looking at the exterior or a taking a quick run-through. You want to know if there's been any damage to that house, have the termites been in. What's the foundation like? Well, the foundation for Senator Bradley or Vice President Gore is their record, and what they've done in public life.

Quite frankly, on the issues that Iowans care about -- when I travel around Iowa when people talk to me about agricultural policy, they look at Senator Bradley's record, and from the 1980s when we tried to get better relief for farmers who were hurting in Iowa, and Senator Bradley consistently voted against that.

Senator Gore, when he was in the Senate, voted with us.

BLITZER: Let me ask you...

HARKIN: Senator -- I want to make this point. Even on things like crop insurance, Senator Bradley voted to sunset and stop crop insurance. On the flood relief, that was my amendment to provide a billion dollars to farmers who were hurt in the floods. Senator Wellstone voted for it, Senator Bob Kerrey from Nebraska voted for it, I voted for it. Senator Bradley didn't. There's been a continual record there, and that's the foundation. And I think what Iowans understand, and what I hear is they understand that Al Gore understands rural America...

BLITZER: Are small farmers...

HARKIN: .. and been with us all the time.

BLITZER: Are small farmers, Senator Harkin, better off today than they were seven years ago?

HARKIN: Let me put it this way, during the Clinton-Gore administration, the net income of farmers has been more than it was under the Bush administration.

Now, when the freedom to farm, so-called freedom to farm bill passed in 1996, and because of surplus crops around the world and the freedom to farm bill took away the counter-cyclical support that we had for farmers, farm income has plummeted.

Again, I want to point out that Senator Wellstone, my great friend -- Senator Bob Kerrey and I, we voted against the freedom to farm bill. Senator Bradley voted for it.


BLITZER: Senator Wellstone, you will be able to make a comment. I want you to, though, listen to a phone call we have from New York and get your reaction to that as well.

Go ahead, New York, with your question.

CALLER: Good afternoon. My question is to Senator Wellstone.

Senator Bradley seems very concerned that Senator Gore's unfairly attacking him with regards to Medicare, so I would like to ask Senator Wellstone, why has your candidate abandoned the concept of long-term Medicare reform which he endorsed in the platform of the Gang of Eight, which was written under leadership of himself, John Anderson, Lowell Weicker, Dick Lamb and others in 1995 and 1996?

WELLSTONE: A two-part answer, and I promise to get right to it. I want to make it clear on the freedom to farm or freedom to fail bill, we've had an economic convulsion in agriculture in the heartland of America. The president should never have signed that bill, and Tom knows it. The vice president never should have supported that bill, and Tom knows it. This summer Tom was saying, Where is the administration, where's the president? I would say, Where's the vice president?

And Bill Bradley is absolutely right to say to people in Iowa: The question is, who do you believe in? -- people in the country: Who do you believe in who's going to really fight for you?

And I think Bill was right to make that point.

On Medicare, two points. There's no -- you can't attack Bill on Medicare, especially if you're the vice president, because Bill's talking about moving toward universal coverage, and I would like to talk about Medicare for all.

I think on the issue of long-term care, what we have is the vice president says, he'll cover children now and do more later. Bill is saying: We ought to move toward universal health care coverage. We can do that as a nation now. We can make it a better America. Neither one of the them -- I have too much respect for the caller -- neither one of them have focused on the catastrophic expenses and long-term care in a piece of legislation right now, but Bill Bradley moves us much more toward universal coverage and puts an emphasis on the need to have home-based care so that we can keep people at home living as near as normal circumstances as possible with dignity.

That's the direction we should go in.

BLITZER: Senator Harkin, I know you want to respond to that question. I know you want to respond to a lot of other questions. We only have a few seconds left, though, and I want to get your opinion on one controversy that did erupt this week involving the campaign manager for Vice President Gore, Donna Brazile, suggesting, she said in an interview with, that Republicans -- that African- American Republicans, she says, "bring out Colin Powell and Representative J.C. Watts because they have no program, no policy. They play that game because they have no other game. They have no love and no joy. They'd rather take pictures with black children than feed them."

Of course, Colin Powell said he was deeply offended by those kinds of comments. And several people are saying the vice president should fire Donna Brazile. What do you say?

HARKIN: Well, as you know, Donna Brazile is an African-American, and I have the highest regard for her. She's a very bright, capable individual. I won't second-guess what she said. I did not hear that. I just now, sort of, read about it, and I don't know what the contextual framework of it was and how she said that, in what context. I think that's the way you have to look at it.

But in essence, she is correct. The Republican Party has not been in the forefront of the fight for affirmative action, and for equal rights, and for trying to lift people out of poverty, and especially addressing the race problem that we have in America. The Republican Party has always been behind in that. So in that regard, she's absolutely right.

But I just want to say one other thing...

BLITZER: You only have a few seconds, Senator.

HARKIN: Well, Paul Wellstone -- you know, I just have to say, when I travel around Iowa, on the issues that I always about -- on elderly and education and rural America -- Al Gore gets it, he understands it. He's been there for us. And quite frankly, for whatever reason, Senator Bradley has not. And I think that really makes the big difference here in Iowa.

BLITZER: Two weeks... WELLSTONE: To the contrary, I think Bill gets it. Tom, to the contrary, Bill gets it, and I think you've got two good candidates. It'll be a tough row to hoe for Bill in Iowa with your support for the vice president, but he'll do well, and then we'll move on to other states, and this is going to be a great race.

BLITZER: OK, we'll know two weeks from tomorrow what happens in Iowa. I'm sure both of you will be watching, as the rest of us will.

Thank you, Senators, for joining us on LATE EDITION.

WELLSTONE: Thank you.

HARKIN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: And when we return: First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has finally made her move to New York. We'll get some perspective on what it means for her senate campaign from two prominent New Yorkers: former-Mayor Ed Koch and former-Congresswoman Susan Molinari.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.


HILLARY CLINTON, FIRST LADY: We're not going to be totally moved in and everything in place for a while. But it's a lot of fun for us to be able to do this again for the first time in such a long time.


BLITZER: The president and the first lady speaking outside the couple's New York home -- their new New York home in the suburb of Chappaqua. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to talk about Mrs. Clinton's move are two of the best when it comes to New York politics. In our New York bureau, is Democrat and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch; and here in Washington, former New York Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari, originally from Staten Island. Good to have both of you on LATE EDITION.

Mayor Koch, now that the first lady has moved into her home in Westchester, has this issue of her being a carpetbagger gone away?

ED KOCH, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: I don't think the issue, while legitimate one, ever had resonance. People in New York are far too sophisticated for that. And the best illustrations would be the prior elections of Bob Kennedy and Jim Buckley (ph).

But obviously, it makes it easier to campaign, and I'm glad she did make the move so that people will no longer even raise the issue.

BLITZER: And so, as far as you're concerned, she is now a New Yorker, right, Mayor?

KOCH: Listen, you're a New Yorker, by way of a state of mind, if you walk fast, talk faster, think faster, you're a New Yorker.

BLITZER: All right. Susan Molinari.

SUSAN MOLINARI (R-NY), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I hate to get started agreeing with Mayor Koch.

BLITZER: Is she a New Yorker?

MOLINARI: I think it's kind of silly at this point to say whether she is or she's not. I mean, the fact that she came in with her husband to spend the first evening in their new home, I don't think immediately qualifies her. I don't think that makes or breaks her, if she can develop an ear for New York concerns and New York issues.

Thus far she has shown a political incapacity to do that. The fact that she lives there or doesn't live there, I think, is not really the issue, although I have to give full credit to Susan Page who gave me this analysis in the back room, and I think it is accurate. Clearly they're concerned about that when they do, in fact, have the president of the United States register in New York as opposed to Arkansas.

BLITZER: Is the fact that the president was up there as they moved into the home in Westchester County, Mayor Koch -- is that going to be a help or a hindrance to her to have Bill Clinton help getting involved in New York state politics?

KOCH: Bill Clinton as president is exceedingly popular in the state of New York. If he were to run for a third term, if the Constitution didn't bar it, he would win in New York. So his presence, his support, his comments are very helpful in the state of New York.

BLITZER: You know, Mayor Koch, William Weld, who's the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, he was on TV earlier this week saying, he's moving to New York and he may run for governor of New York after George Pataki's term is over with. And that led to this editorial in "The New York Times." Let me read the Friday editorial in "The New York Times."

"So, welcome Clintons, welcome Welds. New York is a state that embraces immigrants, not only the tired and poor, but also the political restless and the electorally unattached."

KOCH: New York is a state that has the sons and daughters of every state in the union and every country in the world. That's why we're so wonderful and have a place that people want to come to. It doesn't shock me that former Governor Weld is thinking about running. He's a first-rate public servant, he happens to be a Republican, I'll undoubtedly be opposing him, but he's first-rate.

BLITZER: All right, what do you say about that Susan Molinari? Governor Weld of Massachusetts now saying, well, if the first lady can run in New York state, why can't I? MOLINARI: Well, look, I think that what you see here, again, is not who lives there, who doesn't, it's who has the political acumen to be attuned to convincing voters during the course of a campaign that they can best represent the interests of the state in the United States Senate.

I think Mrs. Clinton is going to have a devastatingly difficult time against the likes of Rudy Giuliani who has lived in New York, who understands New York, who has turned New York City around, who has traveled extensively throughout New York state and understands the state-wide problems. That's what it's going to get down to. And again, we started to see already, and both are still undeclared candidates, that Mrs. Clinton has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to not only be a candidate in New York, but being a candidate period.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break. We a lot more to talk about, including your phone calls for Susan Molinari and Ed Koch. Stay with us on LATE EDITION.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've got a particular interest in the election up there next year, so I want to make sure my vote counts. I expect to vote in the election in New York.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about the New York Senate race with former-New York Mayor Ed Koch and former-New York Congresswoman Susan Molinari.

You heard it, Mayor Koch, the president predicting that he's going to be voting in New York State, voting for his wife in November.

Let's get back to this whole issue of residency. There is no residency requirement in New York state for all practical purposes. You literally could move in on the day of the election, check into a hotel in Manhattan and be a candidate. Is that good? Is it time for New York state to rethink that no-residency clause.

KOCH: Once again, I refer to Bobby Kennedy and Jim Buckley. Bobby Kennedy associated with Massachusetts, Jim Buckley with Connecticut. They established themselves as the best candidates then running, and people made the selection. Nobody requires you to vote for a particular candidate. It will be done on the basis of their positions, their issues that are important. I believe that Hillary Clinton is far better on the issues than is Mayor Giuliani.

And then there is the personality. I want to tell you that people who know both -- and I do -- without question will be supporting Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: All right. Susan Molinari, do you think it's time to change that requirement? MOLINARI: No, no, I don't. I agree with the mayor that, you know, at a certain point, people are going to evaluate them on a whole host of issues.

I do think, however, that Mrs. Clinton has stumbled in failing to tell New Yorkers thus far why New York, where the passion comes from in wanting to serve New York. It is really more, sort of, the attitude that New Yorkers should be grateful that she has deemed her run in New York than wanting to be the candidate from New York. And I think that has made all the difference.

When someone comes to our state and says, "I looked around, and out of all the states in the union, this is the place I want to be from, this is where I want to represent, you're the people I want to fight for." She has not made that overwhelming case to any reporters or any voters to say why New York versus Illinois or versus Arkansas, other than our election is up first and there's an empty seat. And I think that hurts her.

BLITZER: All right. Stanford, New York, go ahead please with your question for Susan Molinari and Ed Koch.

CALLER: Yes. I wanted to ask Ed Koch in particular how Mrs. Clinton is going to mend Jewish votes -- plus Christians, because many Christians support Israel -- with the debacle in Israel with Mrs. Arafat and also hosting a dinner for a Hamas organization here in New York state?

KOCH: Listen, there's no one who is more supportive of the state of Israel than Ed Koch. I'm someone who's highly known in that area and am Jewish. I want to tell you that she did exactly what she should as the representative not of the state of Israel but of the United States. She was not supposed to get up and become a disruptive figure and denounce Mrs. Arafat.

The fact that Mrs. Arafat said things which are vile -- you have to understand, Mrs. Arafat's not Israeli. She's an Arab. She's a Palestinian.

What Hillary Clinton has made clear is she's supportive of the state of Israel and of the unified city of Jerusalem, and her positions are my positions. And therefore, I believe the vast number of supporters of the state of Israel will support her. Some won't.

BLITZER: Let's take another caller, from Laguna Woods, California. Please go ahead with your question. Go ahead, California.

Never mind, we obviously lost him.

MOLINARI: Let me (inaudible) on that other...

BLITZER: Before you jump in, I want to ask you about a story that's in the today's "New York Daily News" about fund-raising activities by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who's the likely opponent of Hillary Clinton. In the story it says: "Rudy Giuliani's political action committee, Solutions America, set up to promote Republican candidates and causes close to the mayor's heart has spent less than 3 percent on other politicians and up to 50 percent on the mayor's own political operation."

MOLINARI: Legal, legitimate. You know, again, Mayor Giuliani is running against a woman who, a few weeks ago, when the mayor took his own campaign funds and ran ads upstate, had Judith Hope and the Democratic Party running ads saying: Tell Hillary you care about education. I mean, you know, this is obviously the way the Democrats are going to play this. They were the opening salvo in the way soft money was going to be used. And what Mayor Giuliani is doing with his leadership campaign is totally appropriate and within the bounds of the law.

BLITZER: Very quickly, Mayor Koch, appropriate?

KOCH: I don't agree. I believe that both candidates should forego, forswear, soft money. Just use the maximum of $1,000 for each person wanting to make the contribution. They should both do that.

BLITZER: OK, we have to leave it right there. Mayor Ed Koch, Susan Molinari, always great to have both of you on LATE EDITION.

MOLINARI: I have to just say...

BLITZER: Thank you so much for joining us.

MOLINARI: Mayor Koch is looking great.


BLITZER: And I'm sure he thinks...

MOLINARI: You're looking very thin and trim over there, "May," you look great.

KOCH: But you look wonderful.

MOLINARI: Thank you.

KOCH: And the best to your kids and your husband.

MOLINARI: Thank you. We're done now, Wolf.

BLITZER: All of our guests look great. Thank you again to both of you for joining us.

For our international viewers, "WORLD NEWS" is next. For our North American audience, another 30 minutes of LATE EDITION. We'll also check the hour's top stories with Gene Randall, then hash out the week's political developments in Campaign 2000 with our own LATE EDITION roundtable: Is John McCain going to upset George W. Bush?

Plus Bruce Morton's last word. It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You're looking at a live picture of the newly renovated Washington Monument. Tomorrow, the National Park Service will start removing the scaffolding which has been up for more than a year. Some people like the monument better the way that it is right now. We'll see what it looks like once that scaffolding has been removed.

Welcome back to welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll get to our roundtable in just a moment. But first, here's Gene Randall with the hour's top stories.


BLITZER: Thanks, Gene.

Time now for our LATE EDITION roundtable. Joining me: Susan Page, White House bureau chief for "U.S.A. Today"; Steve Roberts, contributing editor for "U.S. News and World Report"; and Tucker Carlson, political writer for the "Weekly Standard."

All right, Steve, Senator McCain seemed to have been moving along rather impressively without any great scandals or controversies or anything. This week he found himself in an uproar because he intervened with the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, on behalf of a big fund-raiser. Is that going to hurt him?

STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it is a misstep partly because in politics, you always set the standards by which you yourself are judged. And if you say ethics is a big issue, and getting money out of politics is a big issue, there's going to be a lot more attention paid to your own record, fair enough.

On the other hand, there's an awful lot of hypocrisy here on the part of McCain's critics. I mean, people are running town saying, my goodness, you mean there's influence pedaling going on in Washington? That people actually expect help as a result of campaign contributions? The fact is, that one person's influence pedaling is another's constituents service, and there is a lot of hand-wringing, too much hand-wringing on the other side.

BLITZER: All of the politicians, Tucker, seem to be vulnerable in this area, perhaps that explains why George W. Bush, when he was given an opportunity in that debate this week to go after McCain on this issue, he gave him a pass and he said he didn't have any problem with the senator's explanation.

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: Maybe he was just following the basic rule of politics which is, when your enemies are in trouble, let them get in trouble.

No, I mean, I don't think anybody thinks McCain was selling his vote, and I think this is evidence of a glass house problem on McCain's part. Obviously, but I think it underscores a larger problem with McCain's campaign, which is his central issue is ludicrous. I mean, McCain, for all his strengths, and he has many, he's a man of integrity, and great man in many ways, but the central point of his campaign is Washington is out of control and corrupt. I mean, this is a campaign from 1905, you know, this is McCain against Tammany Hall which doesn't exist. The fact is, Washington is not terribly corrupt, and that's a problem.

BLITZER: You know, Senator McCain was on "Face the Nation" earlier today, and he offered his explanation of why he did what he did. Susan, listen to what he said.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today we're asking the federal government to release all correspondence that I've had with every government agency. Finally let me remind you, I'm the chairman of the committee that is designated by the Congress to oversight the FCC, and it's my responsibility to try to see and make them act.


BLITZER: Is that going to fly?

SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think it's probably the truth, and I think that the interest in this may get diminished as thousands and thousands of letters that he's written over his years in the Senate are released. I do think that Senator McCain has responded in a really smart way by saying here, I haven't done anything wrong, I'm going to let you see everything. It's the same response he had when there were questions raised about his mental health, and he released thousands of pages of medical records. That seems to be the good news for McCain, that he had a misstep, he's responded in a way that may work for him.

We saw another candidate get in some trouble this week, Al Gore with his comments on applying a litmus test for the joint chiefs of staff. I think we saw him also move rather quickly to try to correct what had the potential to be a real problem.

BLITZER: I want to get to that in a minute, but, Steve, you know what McCain's Republican critics are going to say, the conservatives in the Republican Party, that McCain has this love affair going on with the news media, and that we give him a pass because we like him.

ROBERTS: Well, I do think that McCain is popular with the news media, partly because he's candid.

And you know, I think a lot of people look at the other candidates and see a lot of attempts to create differences when they're not there. I mean, Bradley and Gore trying desperately to describe themselves as different, when in fact they're the same on a lot of issues. And McCain has a virtuous candor.

But I must say, one of the things he said this week that I didn't think was particularly worthy of him, this notion that, "Well, the fact that I have done these favors for campaign contributors shows that not only is the whole city corrupt, but I'm sort of corrupted by it, too," and it's sort of "Stop me before I kill again" -- which I don't think is particularly courageous.

BLITZER: You know, Tucker, the latest CNN/"Time" magazine poll -- the national poll, registered voters' choice for president, has George W. Bush, 59 percent; John McCain, 18 percent; Steve Forbes at 5 percent. So all of the talk of this insurgency, at least on a national basis, on the part of McCain doesn't seem to be generating a whole lot of action.

CARLSON: Well, the McCain people would say -- and I think there's probably a lot of truth in this -- that the insurgency doesn't really begin until the first primary, until New Hampshire.

And McCain, really to his credit, has said, "If I don't win New Hampshire and/or" -- probably "and" -- "South Carolina, then I'm out, I lose."

So, I mean, you know, one thing about McCain, he won't be inflicting his candidacy on us for long if it doesn't turn out to be valid -- unlike, perhaps, Steve Forbes, who I expect will be campaigning well into the next century.

BLITZER: And very quickly, this whole uproar of intervening with the FCC, is that going to have any impact at all in New Hampshire?

CARLSON: I don't know. I mean, I'm really struck by -- I was just out in California this week interviewing a lot of Bush supporters, people in high-tech who don't follow politics very closely, and almost every one of them had really detailed anti-McCain talking points in hand. I mean, they could tell you about some vote he cast in 1983. This is evidence I think that the Bush people are trying to maximize on every misstep that McCain makes, and I don't think there's any question they will with this one.

BLITZER: You know, one thing the Bush campaign did get this week, Susan, is an endorsement from Elizabeth Dole. In fact, she repeated her endorsement earlier today on NBC'S "This Week." Listen to what she and her husband, Bob Dole, had to say.

We don't have that -- we don't have that ready. But basically what she just said, she was asked if she was going to be a potential vice presidential candidate with George W. Bush, if he should come to her. She said, "It's just so premature at this point to even speculate on that. We don't have a nominee yet, but when George Bush becomes the nominee, the Republican Party has a wealth of really talented, outstanding" -- to which her husband, Bob Dole, in his own humor interrupted by saying, "I would accept it if they came to me."

PAGE: Well, I think that answers sounds like Elizabeth Dole would accept it, too, and welcome the chance to be vice president.

Now there's some weaknesses with a Elizabeth Dole vice presidency, because she's not really run for office before, not a real campaign. On the other hand, it would really put a squeeze on the Democratic side if the Republicans put a woman on the ticket, because if Al Gore, at least, does not have a woman running mate -- candidate that his team is really excited about, it could create problems for Democrats who have relied on the votes of women.

ROBERTS: You know, if only men had voted in the last election, Bob Dole and Liddy Dole would be finishing their first term in the White House, because Bob Dole won the male vote. Clinton won the female vote by 16 points. There was a 17-point gender gap.

So obviously -- and it's not just in the choice of a running mate. You see it in the issues that they'll be stressing, issues like education, health care, which tend to be of concern to women as being the critical swing vote.

But the point Susan made is an important one. It's a very hard thing to debut in politics on the national stage. Remember two names: Dan Quayle, Geraldine Ferraro -- two people who had held elective office, become vice presidential nominees, within days are scorched to bits by the scrutiny of the national news media. Mrs. Dole didn't prove herself to be a particularly adept campaigner in her short-lived campaign.

CARLSON: It's a chilling prospect. Republicans should be worried. I mean, I think it's just as likely as not that she will be Bush's pick for vice president, and he's probably (inaudible) spend all this time and all this money, invested all his hope. The idea that someone who's never run before, who really didn't do a great job on the stump at all the first time out, could be picked as a vice presidential nominee, this really should be concern to Republicans who back Bush.

BLITZER: Well, why do you think it's really a serious prospect?

CARLSON: Well, because she's popular. I mean, I think the Bush campaign looks at this and says, "Well, you know, Bush has the highest poll numbers. Who has the second highest?" Mrs. Dole. I mean, in that way, it's an obvious choice, but I think that's...

ROBERTS: And also the women's vote is absolutely essential to their consideration.

PAGE: And also, it would be kind of fun, wouldn't it be kind of interesting?

CARLSON: Yes, it would be horrifying.

PAGE: It would be great.

BLITZER: If Bush were to pick Mrs. Dole, would the Democratic candidate, Bradley or Gore, automatically have to pick a woman?

PAGE: I think they would have to pick someone who fit the interesting category, a woman, put the first black on a national ticket, an Hispanic. I think it would really increase the pressure, especially since neither Bradley nor Gore is the most charismatic person themselves, to create some excitement around their ticket by doing something with that second slot. BLITZER: But Steve, wouldn't that automatically be seen as affirmative action, kind of, running mate and there would be both of these parties would be really hurt badly because if it were seen as that?

CARLSON: Well, if you're making a gesture of affirmative action toward women, who more than half the electorate, that's not a bad political gamble. And I think that Democrats would have to think very seriously, and of course the one possibility that's already mentioned a lot, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. California's a big electoral prize, popular statewide, won several times. Might have personal problems of her own that would be difficult -- Geraldine Ferraro problems, her husband's business.

But I agree with, Susan, I think put a lot of pressure on the Democrats and you cannot stress strongly enough the importance of the women's vote, the Democrats cannot win the presidency without wining a majority of the women's vote, there's no way they can do it.

BLITZER: All right, we have a lot more to talk about it. But we have to take a quick break. More of our roundtable, including the politics of gays in the military and Cuba when LATE EDITION continues. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable. We're continuing our discussion of politics.

But Susan, you know, on the Democratic side, Bradley and Gore, that's really heating up. Although a lot of people say there aren't a lot of differences on substance, they're getting personal with each other. In fact probably more so than McCain and George W. Bush on the Republican side. But listen to what "The New York Times" editorial writers has to say on Friday.

"Bill Bradley and John McCain are running around New Hampshire like over stimulated gerbils. Tortured by the knowledge that if they use there on February 1, the game is over."

Is that true, the game will be over for both Bradley and McCain if they lose in New Hampshire?

PAGE: I think it's clear that for McCain, he has no place to go after New Hampshire if he doesn't win in New Hampshire.

For Bradley, he's still got New York, he's got a good base in New York, they're running about even in New York. But I think the reality is that if he doesn't get the momentum that he'll get out of a New Hampshire win, it will be very hard to overtake the advantages that Al Gore has. And so, yes, I think the whole game is going to be played out in New Hampshire. The first big contest. It's going to tell us a lot about whether we have a long nomination contest or a short nomination contest.

BLITZER: OK, let's move on and talk about another hot issue that came up this week, gays serving in the U.S. military. The vice president got himself in trouble by suggesting first that there would be a litmus test, B, that there shouldn't be a litmus test. Listen to what the Republican National Committee, not unsurprisingly, immediately rushed with an ad and came out on this specific issue.


NARRATOR: General Colin Powell couldn't pass Al Gore's litmus test. Neither could Norman Schwarzkopf. Call Al Gore -- tell him the only litmus test ought to be patriotism.


BLITZER: That ad going to generate some opposition to Al Gore?

CARLSON: I don't even understand it. So maybe, among clever people, they'll get it.

No, I'm struck by how amazing it is that this issue, gays in the military, this tiny boutique issue, is the dominant point of debate over all things military in this election. I mean, only a country that perceived no threat from the outside, that felt itself to be perfectly secure from other countries, could spend this much time debating something so inconsequential.

BLITZER: It's not inconsequential to gays who want to serve in the military.

CARLSON: But the point of the military is not to please gays or any other group; it's to defend the country. And that should be the question. Is the military adequately prepared to do that?

ROBERTS: That's a fair question, but it's also a fair question whether individual Americans have equal rights. And I agree strongly with both Gore and Bradley that, in an ideal world, gays should be allowed to serve openly. Politically, however, it is not possible and I think politically, it was a misstep for Gore to allow himself to be pulled to the left.

This is the kind of mistake Bill Clinton very seldom made. Bill Clinton was the first Democrat in a generation to win two terms in office, in part because he did not allow the left-wing interest groups in his own party to dominate the debate.

BLITZER: In '92, he did support gays serving in the military, and then when he became president he didn't have the support in Congress, and he had to back out.

ROBERTS: And he did back out of it, but he has been very deft, I think, often, in not allowing him to be seen as a creature, as a puppet of the left-wing interest groups, whether it's labor, whether it's gays, whether it's feminists or any other Democratic group. And I think he's been -- that's one of the reasons why he's president today.

BLITZER: You know, Susan, the Reform -- the very popular Reform -- I think he's still very popular -- Reform governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, offered some support to both Gore and Bradley on this issue earlier today. Listen to what he said.


GOV. JESSE VENTURA (REF), MINNESOTA: Well, I think gay people have every right to serve in the military. I mean, this is the United States of America, and who am I to tell someone they can or cannot serve their country? Who is anyone to tell anyone they cannot serve their country? Gay haves served honorably in the military throughout its -- the military history. I think it's a silly question to begin with.


BLITZER: The former Navy SEAL, Jesse Ventura.

PAGE: Jesse Ventura's been a really interesting political figure -- you know, for a pro wrestler who's won a governorship, and I think this is another example of him, kind of, speaking his mind. He really does have that sense of being a straight talker, and this is not necessarily the position you would have predicted for him to take. I think that's interesting.

BLITZER: All right, very quickly, because we only a few seconds, Tucker, the Cuba boy, the 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez, is this going to be a political issue in all of the next few weeks?

CARLSON: I don't think it will be. It will be -- always be an issue in Miami but I don't think that it divides along clear lines, and I think people are instinctively hesitant to jump into an issue that has to do with parental custody.

BLITZER: But Tucker Carlson, unfortunately, putting in a perspective as he usually does, very concisely because we only had a few seconds. Thanks to our excellent roundtable for joining us. He'll be back next week.

And when we return, Bruce Morton's last word on picking the next president.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First test: the Iowa caucuses. The state party establishment is with Gore, and he's favored.


BLITZER: Bruce handicaps the Democratic and Republican race for the White House. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's last word on that ritual we go through every four years: electing a president. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): Well, the millennial madness is behind us. A good time was had by at least most, and we can now get on with the serious stuff: the upcoming baseball season, or electing a president -- you choose.

Electing a president, or at least nominating candidates, will happen first. So, here's a scorecard. Democrats: two players, Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley. Bradley is running on a few big ideas: health care for millions who don't now have it, trying to end poverty among children. Gore talks about more issues and in general is more of a gradualist.

First test: the Iowa caucuses. The state party establishment is with Gore, and he's favored.

Then, eight days later, the New Hampshire primary. The party establishment is with Gore there, too, but it's a more contrarian state. Bradley could win.

The Democrats don't have any other primaries until March 7th, when a dozen states -- including big ones like New York, Ohio, and California --- vote. If Bradley comes out of New Hampshire with momentum enough to win some of those big states, he stays alive. If not, he's probably finished.

The Republican schedule is different. Iowa's first, of course. Publisher Steve Forbes probably must do well there or fail. George W. Bush is favored. John McCain, Bush's main rival, isn't campaigning in Iowa. He'll wait for New Hampshire. If he wins there -- and the polls show he might -- McCain plans virtual nonstop campaigning in South Carolina, whose primary is Saturday, February 19th. It's the state that launched Bob Dole toward the nomination in 1996.

If McCain can win there, he'll try to ride that to victories Tuesday, February 22nd, in his home state of Arizona and in Michigan, whose popular governor, John Engler, is a fervent George Bush backer.

Should McCain actually win those four states, Bush's image as the man the Republicans can with with would be in shreds, and McCain would be on a huge roll in the big March 7th states coming up. But the odds are against that, of course.

So, it's an interesting year, a front-runner in each party matched against an attractive underdog who just might win. And by the time we know how that came out, we'll be into spring training. This millennium is off to an OK start.

I'm Bruce Morton.


BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.

Up next, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines here in the United States. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Time now for a look at what is on the cover of this week's major news magazines in the United States.

"TIME" asks: Where does he belong? The battle over Elian Gonzales on the cover.

"U.S. News & World Report" looks at the "Do or Die Primaries," with the presidential underdog candidates John McCain and Bill Bradley on the cover.

And on the cover of "Newsweek," as we showed you earlier on this program, "10 Million Orphans: The Aids Epidemic in Africa."

That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, January 9th. We'll be back here next Sunday, and every Sunday at noon Eastern, for the last word in Sunday talk.

For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.


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