Bush and Gore Win in Iowa; Forbes and Keyes Beat ExpectationsAired January 24, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From Des Moines, Iowa, this is CNN's coverage of the Iowa caucuses. With Bernard Shaw, Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to Des Moines and welcome to our coverage that will go on throughout this night, talking to you and telling you about the caucuses that are getting away in, what, 4,200 locations across the state of Iowa, Bernie. In homes, in churches, in schools across this state, people are gathering to express their preference for president of the United States.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Indeed, 99 counties, 2,131 precincts -- the Hawkeye State is humming tonight.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It was 28 years ago that the campaign of George McGovern, looking for a place to establish early credibility, came to Iowa used the precinct caucuses to show that their man was strong. Four years later, another insurgent longshot, Jimmy Carter, came to Iowa, placed second behind uncommitted, and was on the way to the White House, and that was the signal for the next 25 years of candidates to jump New Hampshire, the traditional primary start, come to this state, bring with them virtually every political reporter in the world to see what would happen in this first official test, which is what we're waiting for tonight.
WOODRUFF: You might say these caucuses are celebrating their 28th birthday.
GREENFIELD: As a meaningful -- or semimeaningful presence in Iowa.
WOODRUFF: As a semimeaningful event.
SHAW: Well, among the contestants here, the vice president of the United States battling Bill Bradley. John King is at Gore headquarters -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, when he first ran for president back in 1988, Al Gore skipped the Iowa caucuses, campaigning instead in the South. Of course, he didn't win in that campaign. This time around, he's told the people of Iowa he's learned a valuable lesson by campaigning here. The vice president has also learned one other lesson, that he can't take winning the Democratic nomination for granted.
KING (voice-over): On caucus day, he campaigned with confidence, but Iowa will be remembered for bringing out the fight in Al Gore.
ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to fight for you. I want to fight for your family. I want to fight for your community. I want to fight for your future.
KING: Bill Bradley's early strength in the Democratic race threw the vice president off balance. Gore moved his campaign headquarters from Washington to Tennessee, and after months of turning his back to his challenger, he mounted a direct assault.
GORE: He's a good man with a bad plan.
KING: Gore criticized Bradley's health care plan as too expensive, too risky to those on Medicare and Medicaid. And he reminded Iowans that he spent summers on the family farm, and that Senator Bradley tried to kill ethanol subsidies. And with Bradley calling himself the big thinker in the race, the vice president decided to shed the suit and suggest he's the Democrat ready to lead.
GORE: Does experience count? Do we want a president who's going to fighter?
KING: Labor and other familiar Democratic forces rallied to Gore's side, and organization was his biggest Iowa advantage.
The vice president and Air Force Two head next to New Hampshire, and the Gore's focus will shift to the economy. A state that was in distress in 1992 is booming now, and the vice president will make the case he deserves some of the credit.
KING: But first things first is the Gore campaign message here tonight at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. They're hoping this victory celebration will indeed celebrate a big victory for the vice president. The gore campaign hoping of course that if they can win big here, carry that momentum to New Hampshire, that a Democratic race that has been surprisingly tough in the view of the Gore campaign might perhaps be over, or at least almost over, a little more than a week from now -- Bernie, Judy.
SHAW: John, it's all about the Los Angeles Convention. There'll be 47 Iowa delegates up for grabs tonight, beginning the process initially. Is there any sense of relief among the Gore people that at last this thing, this battle for the nomination finally is under way?
KING: Well, more important than the delegates Iowa will send to the Democratic Convention, the Gore campaign said it learned a valuable lesson, that it could not be complacent, that Senator Bradley was doing a good job of organizing. The Gore campaign thinks it has a better candidate now because of the challenge. But the vice president has also lost millions of dollars now fighting Senator Bradley. He started off running against the Republicans. For the next few weeks, he'll be worried more about his Democratic challenger.
GREENFIELD: John, is there any sense in the Gore campaign that the intensity of the fight with Bill Bradley has forced Gore, who is after all usually considered part of a centrist administration, too far to the left? Do they think they're going to have to correct that, if and when they get this nomination?
KING: There certainly is that fear, on issues like gays in the military, on issues even like access to health care, the vice president forced more and more to move left to core traditional Democratic constituencies. His friends in the Democratic Leadership Council already grumbling, both privately and sometimes publicly, that if the vice president is to be competitive in November, that assumes he's the nominee of course, that he must get back to a more centrist message, and they say that will come next week, when the vice president focuses much more on the economy, the one success where he is willing to stand side by side with President Clinton in the New Hampshire race next week.
WOODRUFF: All right, John King, reporting from Gore headquarters. And of course, we're going to be coming back to John throughout this evening.
We know, of course, that Bill Bradley is Al Gore's main opponent. Right now joining us from Bradley headquarters our own Jeanne Meserve.
Jeanne, tell us, at this point, what is going on there?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, the room is empty. We know Bill Bradley is upstairs. But he's come down a few times to do interview with the local media, as he still tries to drum up support as these caucuses get under way.
He's portrayed himself as a different kind of candidate, but he's facing the reality that he's going to have to run a different kind of campaign in New Hampshire. He has learned some painful lessons here.
MESERVE (voice-over): He paints himself as the countercandidate, the man who rejects traditional politics. In Iowa, he had no choice. With Al Gore controlling the levers of the Democratic Party establishment, Bradley had to develop an alternative. Positioning himself to the left of Gore, he has tried to lure those outside the political process inside, exhorting the young and the disaffected to get involved, to change the process and the nation.
BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Through hard work, clarity of purpose and giving our neighbor the benefit of the doubt, there is nothing that is impossible in this country. I believe everything I've just told you.
MESERVE: Bradley's refusal to engage in what he calls "rat-a-tat politics" and answer attacks on his record by Al Gore has hurt Bradley here. Monday, a new, harder-edged campaign seemed to be emerging. Surrogates like Senator Bob Kerrey lashed out at the vice president.
SEN. ROBERT KERREY (D), NEBRASKA: Remember what happened in 1995 and 1996. Remember Dick Morris. Remember the financing of that re- election campaign. Remember how bad you felt, because if you don't remember it, I guarantee you'll hear an awful lot about it in this general election!
MESERVE: Bradley spent a lot of time here, and a lot of money, and had hoped to his campaign here off to a strong start. But indications are he won't get the payoff he hoped for. Bradley says the traditional politics he rails against have beat him here.
BRADLEY: Any time that somebody has the president of the United States, who's loyal to him, because the president has been -- he's been loyal to the president, any time you have most of the Democratic National Committee, any time you have most of the big Democratic fund- raisers, any time you have the leaders of organized labor, and you arrive on air force two, how would you characterize that? I would characterize that as entrenched power.
MESERVE: Bradley felt he could not pass over Iowa in a two-man race. But a member of the campaign staff said today, it's good to be getting out of here and getting to New Hampshire. There, the race is competitive -- Bernie, Judy, Jeff.
WOODRUFF: Jeanne, you know, we hear what Bradley is saying almost in the way of an excuse as to why he won't be doing any better. This is something that he knew when he first started campaigning in Iowa. Why did it take them some time for this to dawn on them, do you think?
MESERVE: I don't think it took time for them to dawn on them. I think they knew from the very beginning they were going to have a struggle here. I think they simply hoped that they could mobilize more people than they could. Some of the good things that came their way, like the endorsement of "The Des Moines Register," came very late, didn't quite give them the fire early enough to capitalize upon it.
GREENFIELD: Jeanne, though, when they go to New Hampshire, is there any sense that they have to, in effect, reinvent this campaign, that they have to find some message of substance to say to the voters of New Hampshire that apparently they didn't get across here, if the pre-election polls are right?
MESERVE: I think it's going far to say to reinvent the campaign. They are well aware that they have to do things differently. We're hearing that he is going to be honing his message a little bit more sharply. We know already that there are going to be surrogates out -- there are surrogates out countering the Gore message more firmly than they did in here in Iowa. So there will be a difference in tone.
As to a difference in substance, I'm not hearing that at this point. I'm hearing that they're going to talk about the same issues they have in the past, about changing the vision of America. They're going to talk about health care reform, they're going to talk about education, he's going to talk about making America a better place for all citizens -- the themes he has struck here in Iowa.
SHAW: Our analyst Bill Schneider joins us now.
Bill, you have some insight as to why Bill Bradley is having difficulty?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Bradley basically has never given Democrats a reason to reject Al Gore. I mean, Al Gore is the vice president of the United States, Democrats like Bill Clinton, and those who like Bill Clinton, like African-American voters, also like Al Gore.
What Bradley had to do was say to Democrats, look, there's a very important reason why you should not vote for Al Gore for the nominee.
SHAW: Let me interrupt you for a second, because we are preparing to make our first call out of the Iowa caucuses. CNN can now report, based on our entrance poll estimates, that Vice President Al Gore will win the Democratic caucus tonight here in Iowa by -- quote -- "a comfortable margin." Sorry to interrupt you for the news.
SCHNEIDER: Well, there it is, and that's, of course, the big disappointment, because Bradley has spent more time and more money here in Iowa.
There is an argument -- and you heard Bob Kerrey make it just a few minutes ago -- it's the argument Senator Moynihan made when he endorsed Bill Bradley back in September. The argument is "Nothing wrong with Al Gore, but he can't be elected."
Now, you heard Kerrey say they're going to bring up the scandals and they're going to bring up the whole Clinton record and hang it around Al Gore's neck. Bill Bradley has never really said that, and that's a very strong reason.
One problem is it may not work as well as it should have some time ago, because when Democrats got a look at George Bush in the debates, they weren't as impressed and they weren't as fearful as they might have been.
GREENFIELD: Bill, let's -- let's take off from the call we just made, which I think comes under the headline of "Dog Bites Man," since it comports perfectly with the pre-caucus polls. But you spent much of your life swimming in these polls.
When the polls come out a week or so early and all make a prediction, does it take the edge to some extent off a victory if it's about what people expected? Is it lime discounting the stock: Well, we knew that was going to happen?
SCHNEIDER: Sure, that's the famous phantom candidate called "expected": namely, when you win, the question is, well, did you do as well as expected or better than expected or worse than expected? You can't just win the election. You've got to win the interpretation.
GREENFIELD: But is it fair? I mean, isn't Al Gore entitled to say, wait a minute, you know, I came in here, I got outspent on television, I beat a reasonable candidate by whatever this comfortable margin turns out to be, I won?
SCHNEIDER: Yes. That's what he'd like us to say, and you just said it.
WOODRUFF: All right. Just to reiterate, as Bernie reported just a little over a minute ago, CNN is estimating that in the Democratic caucuses Al Gore, vice president of the United States, will be the winner by --quote -- a comfortable margin over former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.
Let's go right back now to Gore headquarters here in Des Moines, to our own John King.
John, is the word getting around there yet?
KING: Well, Judy, some junior Gore campaign staffers on hand here as the preparations are being made for the victory party. They very encouraged by what they see as they watch the CNN air here at the Iowa state fairgrounds.
The vice president himself, Tipper Gore and the senior Gore campaign staff back at a hotel in nearby Des Moines awaiting the official results. This is what they expected. They said throughout the day their phone banking was going very well and they thought they would have a comfortable margin here.
Of course, the vice president playing the expectations game throughout the week, saying he would be happy if he won by just one vote. The question now, if these entrance polls are correct and the vice president wins by a comfortable margin, he hopes that translates into momentum heading into the New Hampshire primary eight days from now.
But there is a tradition that New Hampshire looks at the results in Iowa and decides to go a different way, and that's the Gore campaign's worry. But they will celebrate tonight if those numbers hold up.
WOODRUFF: All right, John King. We want you to stand by. But we do also want to bring back Jeanne Meserve at the Bradley headquarters.
Jeanne, the Bradley people have been prepared for this result. How have they been bracing themselves, if you will?
MESERVE: Well, what they've tried to do is not put a number on this, a firm number. They've said they hope to meet the 31 percent that Ted Kennedy got in 1980 in his contest against Jimmy Carter. But beyond that, they didn't want to talk too much about expectations. I just wanted to chime in here and counter something that Bill Schneider said. This campaign has said over and over again that it is not true that Bill Bradley has spent much more in this state than Al Gore. They say, actually, when all is tallied up, both of them will have come close to the cap of 2.2 million. And they say, when you factor in all the outside support for Gore from labor unions, for instance, that, in fact, it will turn out that that campaign has spent a lot more money. And they say in the last money they've spent the same amount time.
So I just wanted to give you the campaign point of view on that issue of time and money.
WOODRUFF: Well, let's -- let's ask -- Jeanne, hang in there with us. John King, when the Gore folks hear how the Bradley people counter their argument, what do they say?
KING: Well, the vice president has tried to make the case he's being outspent here. And certainly Senator Bradley did outspend him on the TV airwaves in the final weeks. Any campaign, there is a fair amount of spin as you try to say, well, if he comes close, it's because he spent all that money. The Gore campaign has spent heavily here as well: the Gore campaign throughout the week saying Bill Bradley's bringing in all these people from out of state to help him in Iowa.
As we went around the state in the past few days, I recognized many veterans from out of state of the past Clinton-Gore campaigns. That is a game all campaigns play, trying to find a reason just in case the other guy does better than expected.
The Gore campaign has spent all it's allowed to spend here in Iowa, as I'm sure the Bradley campaign has as well.
SHAW: I like the smile on John's face as he reports that.
GREENFIELD: Jeanne Meserve, though, I'd like to come back to you for a moment and ask you whether or not the Bradley campaign thinks that one of its problems is us in the sense that the press' rush to judgment is almost biological, that there are people already on the air saying, well, Bradley's finished.
Do they now -- are they now telling you, we think we can still win New Hampshire, or are they telling you here's our strategy post- New Hampshire, which we now concede we're probably going to lose? Where are they?
MESERVE: They certainly aren't saying they're going to lose New Hampshire. They're saying it's competitive there. They clearly are putting up a lot of ads there. They promise there will be a couple of surprises coming down the road. And they really think it will make a big difference when Bill Bradley goes back into that state.
He's only been in New Hampshire for one full day of campaigning this month. They think when he gets back in there, gets back in the local media spotlight, when his ads are saturating the airwaves, they think that will make a difference for him.
SHAW: Can I make a right turn in this discussion? I want to make a right turn in this discussion. Bill Schneider...
SCHNEIDER: I'm on the right.
SHAW: Bill Schneider has got some insight as to how this might affect not the Democratic race but the Republican race.
SCHNEIDER: Well, there is always the possibility that if Bradley does poorly tonight and his supporters in New Hampshire lose confidence and they think, well, you know, he really is kind of floundering as a candidate, John McCain is hoping that the independents in New Hampshire, who can vote either in the Republican or the Democratic primary, and who like both Bill Bradley and John McCain because they're anti-establishment outsiders, that he can grab some of the Bradley independents and turn them into McCain independents. So it could affect the Republican race.
WOODRUFF: And I'm interested in knowing from Jeanne Meserve whether the Bradley people are concerned about this.
MESERVE: Well, I think what the Bradley people right now are looking at, at the people who say they are both for Gore and for Bradley, but who aren't strongly in either category, they want to firm up the Bradley support. And I think they're going to try and steal away some of that Gore support. And of course, they're going to be making a play for all the independents they can possibly get.
GREENFIELD: And if we can go back to John King for a minute, we've been talking about what Bradley is doing. OK, so here's the vice president. He's won comfortably in Iowa. He knows the history probably better than we do about what happens to Iowa caucus-winners and New Hampshire.
So when he goes to New Hampshire, does he carry the more aggressive style that seemed to help him in Iowa and some of these debates, or does he kind of take a higher plane now that he thinks he's ahead? Where -- how do they tell you they're going to do this?
KING: The first thing he will do, we're told, is play the loyalty card. Remember Bill Clinton won the affinity of the voters of New Hampshire. He came in second in 1992, but he fought back after the Gennifer Flowers and the draft controversy. New Hampshire, known as a Republican state, voted Clinton-Gore in '92. Voted Clinton-Gore in '96.
Unemployment was 8 percent back in 1992. It is 2 1/2 percent in New Hampshire now.
The vice president will go there, say: Times are booming, I deserve some of the credit, and I have a plan to make things even better. That's the first thing.
And on the point Jeanne Meserve just made, the Gore campaign sensing in its overnight tracking polls here in Iowa and in New Hampshire in the past two weeks, Bradley's support is softening because of the perception he is struggling all of a sudden. For weeks, the Gore campaign was only calling its own supporters: what they call one and twos on the phone bank list. They have gone back to calling the threes and fours, the undecideds and the soft Bradley voters, hoping they can persuade them now to come over into the Gore campaign, hoping they can make the case.
The vice president has the momentum, and it is in the best interests of the Democrats...
GREENFIELD: John, if I can interrupt you for a minute. We have a kind of, I guess, an uncall to make. If I understand correctly, according to CNN, on the Republican side, we can now estimate that John McCain will not finish in the top three. He didn't campaign here. He's been in New Hampshire. But you have to think that the McCain campaign had a kind of fantasy going that, gee, if we can come in third without campaigning, that would be a neat thing. According to our estimates, that's not to be.
WOODRUFF: And I think it's important for all of us, as we're sitting here talking about the estimates that CNN is making, which at this point are largely based on entrance interviews with people going into the Democratic and Republican caucuses around the state -- some 4,000 some hundred of them -- that it is early in the process, that Iowa is one of the 50 states. But it represents just -- is it 1 percent, Jeff -- of the United States electorate. And we don't want to make it sound like the whole election's over with.
SHAW: Well, whenever you are in the world, if you're just joining us, CNN is bringing you the official opening of presidential campaign 2000. A short while ago, CNN called the Democratic caucus race. We say that Al Gore will win by a comfortable margin these Democratic caucuses. You heard Jeff Greenfield just report that John McCain, according to our estimates, won't finish in the top three.
When we come back from Des Moines, Iowa, we're going to take you live to the campaign headquarters of Texas Governor George Bush, Steve Forbes, and we'll bounce into New Hampshire and check in on the John McCain headquarters. Back in a moment.
WOODRUFF: Just about 21 minutes ago, people across the state of Iowa became the first in the nation to express -- to begin to express their preferences in the presidential election of this year, 2000. We are going to show you now who the six candidates are on the Republican side: We have not made a call in this race, except to say that based on CNN early estimates, John McCain will not finish among the top three. Let's look at them: Gary Bauer -- in alphabetical order -- George Bush, Steve Forbes, Orrin Hatch, Alan Keyes and John McCain.
The senator -- now I am correcting something that we just said. CNN is prepared to estimate at this point that Alan Keyes will finish third in the Republican race here in the state of Iowa. Now we're going to be going in just a minute to Bush -- to Forbes headquarters here in the state and also to John McCain headquarters in the state of New Hampshire.
But first, let's go directly to Alan Keyes headquarters. Our own Charles Zewe is there with the candidate -- Charles.
CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, in the battle of the underdogs, Alan Keyes was hoping to finish third. And as you said, CNN projecting that he will indeed finish in the third spot. What's your reaction to that?
ALAN KEYES (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I certainly hope that it's true. I think it will indicate that there are a lot of folks in Iowa and I think around the country who believe in the message of moral priority that I carry. And I think that it's time that we address the issue of our moral foundations and our moral principles as our top priority.
I also think there are a lot folks who are looking to make sure that the Republican standard-bearer is the most effective spokesman we can find.
ZEWE: You've been drawing larger and larger crowds: Why do you think that is? Why are people gravitating toward you, because certainly Mr. Bauer, Mr. Forbes have said things similar to what you've been saying?
KEYES: Well, I think they have been attracted -- one, they watched the debates, and they were able to see who, in fact, was articulating the viewpoints that were on their heart with the most effectiveness, getting them across to people in a way that really moved the heart and mind of the American people. And I think that's important, because when we get down to the general election, we're not just going to have somebody out there taking a stand. It's going to have to be someone who can defend that stand and who can persuade the American people to support it. And I think that's what a lot of people saw during the debates.
ZEWE: What kind of percentage will you be looking at, Ambassador Keyes, in terms of the percent that will give you momentum to raise more money, get more media, and exposure.
KEYES: I don't know that it is a percentage. Our support comes from people who are committed in their mind and heart to the things that I say. The key question for most people is whether they're going to vote their principles. Folks who -- some of whom may have voted for other folks tonight actually agree with what I say and simply weren't voting for their heart and principles: They were going along with somebody they thought was going to be the winner or calculating something or other.
I think as time goes by more Americans are going to realize that the purpose of these elections is to vote our conscience and our heart, and that way the things we really believe in can win.
ZEWE: Are you crystallizing what a third-place finish means for you tonight?
KEYES: Well, I think it will be a good jumping-off point. We've got good folks working in New Hampshire and elsewhere around the country. I'm sure supporters will take heart from this, and we'll just continue doing what we have done.
I believe that we're offering the right alternative, an alternative that speaks to Americans about the need to meet our moral challenge. And if people are responding to that, I would praise God and give Him the glory.
ZEWE: Alan Keyes, who, as we say, is projected to come in third tonight. You're still planning to go over and visit a couple of caucus sites, as I understand it.
KEYES: Oh, well, I mean, I have great respect for CNN, but I think I'll wait and see the results come in.
ZEWE: You want to see the hard numbers.
OK, Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: You mean he's actually going to wait for the results to be counted? Is that what you're trying to tell us?
ZEWE: He's going to wait. He's going to wait, he said.
WOODRUFF: All right, thank you, Charles.
We just hear Alan Keyes touching on many of the themes that have been the hallmark of his campaign, certainly morality, and making the point once again that it's not enough to state your position, you've got to be able to defend it.
GREENFIELD: We also might also ought to add one more very practical matter that might explain this. Alan Keyes, who was seen as having no ads, poured ads on to the radio and TV in the last three days.
SHAW: Let me interrupt you. CNN now is prepared to make another call. CNN estimates at 7:25 Central Standard Time that Texas Governor George Bush is the winner of tonight's Iowa caucuses on the Republican side. This information is still coming in to me.
Let me ask for our producer to repeat to me the second part of this call. OK, OK. As you've just heard, we've called the Republican caucuses for Texas Governor Bush.
Winning number two, according to entrance poll estimates, Steve Forbes, the New Jersey resident, the multimillionaire, coming in second here, and Alan Keyes third. Summing up briefly, Governor Bush the winner, second, Steve Forbes, third, Alan Keyes, whom we just heard from. WOODRUFF: A sweet night from the Bush family. It's 20 years ago I guess this month that another George Bush won the Republican caucuses in the state of Iowa.
SHAW: And Candy Crowley is at Bush headquarters. Candy, I would imagine that the son of the former president will not use the phrase that his father used 20 years ago when he won these Iowa caucuses and went into New Jersey proclaiming he had "big mo" -- momentum.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In fact, I asked him about that question a couple of days ago, about "big mo" and whether he believed in it, and he said, "Well, it didn't work for my dad." So no, I don't expect that we're going to hear that.
Look, anything other than a Bush victory here would have set the political world on its ear. We did expect that Governor Bush would go out of the Iowa caucuses with a victory, and he did it the old- fashioned way: He organized.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for the good advice.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Take one appealing candidate...
BUSH: ... as many hands as I can, speak from my heart, talk about uniting our country and our party.
CROWLEY: ... Add 2,600 precinct leaders, 167 county chairman, 300 farm chairman, a host of volunteers on the horn, and pretty soon, you've got the makings of a successful Iowa campaign.
BUSH: I feel great about my chances. I love the spirit. I got a good feel for Iowa.
CROWLEY: It is a tried and true Iowa recipe: organization, organization, organization. It puts up the signs, puts out the calls, brings in the crowds.
BUSH: ... very much for your leadership. I appreciate all the hard work you're doing. Garrett, thanks for getting your fellow Cyclones to come out today. I'm honored you all are here.
CROWLEY: Bush strategists say the Iowa straw poll, which Bush won in August, forced them to put an organization together in 60 days, and afterwards, a chance to tweak it and get it ready for this evening's primetime test. Each of these community receptions -- Bush- speak for a rally -- began with a precinct captain, who found 10 friends, who found 10 friends, and so on, along the grassroots chain. Add to the mix, a little help from in-state bigwigs.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I'm convinced that he is going to return dignity and honor to the White House. CROWLEY: With the endorsement of Charles Grassley, the state's most popular politician, came entree to Grassley's political base.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome, Governor Bush!
CROWLEY: The front man for the machine has kept it oiled and moving, visiting Iowa 30 times, visiting 30 counties.
CROWLEY: The Bush campaign would love to take this Iowa victory template and superimpose it over New Hampshire. The problem is that this Iowa victory depended heavily on the Republican establishment. And if there is one thing New Hampshire voters like to do, it's stick it to the establishment -- Bernie and Judy.
SHAW: We've got another call to make here.
WOODRUFF: We sure do. CNN is now able to call in the Republican contest again, based on our entrance polls of the voters, that tied for fourth place will be Gary Bauer and Senator John McCain. Coming in sixth, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. Now just to recap, we are estimating George Bush will come in first, Steve Forbes, second, Alan Keyes, third, and once again, tied for fourth, Gary Bauer and John McCain, who didn't even campaign in the state of Iowa. What we should point out, too -- and Jeff you just reminded me of this. What we can't tell anyone yet is what is the point spread, and that's going to be a very important part of this story.
GREENFIELD: Indeed. I mean, a fourth-place finish at six percent is one thing, or a third-place finish at nine percent. The way this thing works, a second place finish really doesn't tell you what the audience needs to wait to hear. Is it a second-place finish with 20 or 30 points? That -- however real that winds up in New Hampshire, that is going to turn the whole interpretation of tonight's events. So we told you something, but haven't told you what you need to know yet, because we don't know.
SHAW: No, but one thing we do know, is that Senator Orrin Hatch is having some second, third, fourth, fight, and eighth and ninth and 10th thoughts. He said that if he did not finish at least fourth, he would take a look at withdrawing. He did not say he would withdraw, but that he would take a look at it.
SCHNEIDER: This says something interesting. A man of great stature in the United States Senate, one of the lions of the Senate, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, comes out and campaigns and comes in in last place in Iowa. It just doesn't translate what you for are in Washington to what you are out there with the voters.
Jeff's point is a good one. Two things looking to find out from the point spread: How far ahead is George Bush over Steve Forbes? Because that will tell us whether the conservatives are buying into George Bush, if he's a big distance ahead of Forbes or whether they're going to give Bush any problems. The other question is, are Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes, the second and third place finishers, very close to each other, which means the conservatives don't really have a standard-bearer very clearly. If Forbes is way ahead of Keyes, then Forbes is going to claim he's the conservative standard-bearer.
SHAW: From Des Moines, Iowa, CNN's live coverage of the Iowa caucuses will continue in just a moment. Al Gore the winner for the Democrats, George Bush winning for the Republicans. More details and information when we come back.
WOODRUFF: Our coverage of the Iowa caucuses continues to state, once again, the winner on the Democratic side, Vice President Al Gore. CNN estimates that Vice President Gore will emerge the winner from the Democratic caucuses across this state. Twenty-one hundred some odd of them taking place at this hour. They've been under way now a little more than 35 minutes. Based on our poll of people entering those caucuses, this is what we call.
SHAW: And on the Republican side, as you've been with CNN's coverage, this is how we project the batter will be, if you will, to use a baseball term, the Republicans will be finishing in the Iowa caucuses tonight. Winning, according to our entrance poll estimates, Texas Governor George Bush, followed by the man -- the wealthy man -- from New Jersey, Steve Forbes, and a surprisingly strong finish by ambassador Alan Keyes. Tied for fourth -- and I have to explain this to you -- Gary Bauer, John McCain. The senator from Arizona not campaigning here, we have to point out. They're tied for fourth right now. We cannot tell you that this is where they will finish later in the evening when we get vote totals. Finishing last in the Republican field here in the Iowa caucuses tonight, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.
We have the first vote totals from the Republican balloting tonight, albeit a small percentage, roughly five percent. This is what we show so far. With 5 percent of some 2,131 precincts reporting, but the finish tonight, it holds up, Bush, Forbes, Keyes, we'll have to find out between Bauer and McCain, and Hatch finishing last.
WOODRUFF: And, Bernie, those are the numbers on the Republican side. We do not have any so-called raw numbers from the Democrats yet, because the Democrats have a somewhat more complicated method for calculating who wins and how many delegates they get from this day.
Let's go now inside a Democratic Party caucus here in the state of Iowa. Our own Patty Davis is there. This caucus is under way, and this is about the time -- I'm going to turn it over to you, Patty, in just a moment. But as we understand it, This is about the time when voters divide into candidate preference groups. You can take it from there -- Patty.
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, this is one of some 2,100 Democratic precinct caucuses around the state. This particular caucus will select some six delegates to go on the county and to the state level. Now as you can see behind me, they're just about to break into what they call preference groups, and what happens is these groups physically walk from one side of the room -- some of them. Gore is going to be on your left side, Bradley is going to be on the right side, uncommitted voters right in the middle. And physically, they're on different sides of the room. They haggle, and they...
DAVIS: You hear laughter in back of me. They haggle, trying to get supporters to switch sides, switch allegiances. It is this basis, by the number of people that you have in your preference group, in this caucus process. That's the basis that the delegates are apportioned.
Now depending on the final numbers then, Gore or Bradley gets the number of delegates that are apportioned here. Now just getting these voters here to tonight's caucus was a big focus. Massive get-out-the- vote drive by the campaigns.
CHELSEA JACKSON, BRADLEY VOLUNTEER: My name is Chelsea Jackson. I'm with the Bill Bradley campaign.
DAVIS (voice-over): Chelsea and Brooke (ph) Jackson are Bill Bradley's foot soldiers, helping deliver voters in the final days and hours before the Iowa caucuses.
C. JACKSON: We're basically just out here because we love him, you know, and he's got a wonderful message.
DAVIS: Their father, famous NBA coach Phil Jackson, appears on Bradley's Web site. But on the ground in Iowa...
C. JACKSON: And your wife, has she made any decisions?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't speak for my wife. I'm not sure.
DAVIS: All the campaigns have launched a massive, last-minute drive to get out the vote.
HUGH WINEBRENNER, DRAKE UNIVERSITY: In politics, months and months of work has culminated in the last couple of days. And if you can't turn out the people you've identified, you don't do well.
DAVIS: Other candidates trotted out their own big names, like comedian Al Franken for Vice President Al Gore. And the candidates tried to boost their prospects with direct appeals.
BUSH: I hope people understand that the only vote that really matters is the one that takes place on caucus night.
DAVIS: Volunteers worked the phones day and night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can the governor count on your support? OK, fantastic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm calling for the Steve Forbes' campaign. DAVIS: In the end, popularity in the polls takes a backseat to the candidate who can get voters out to the caucuses. That's the reason why a good ground game -- phone calls, personal appeals -- counts for so much.
DAVIS: Now as for Phil Jackson, he is not here in person helping out his friend Bill Bradley tonight, too busy keeping the Los Angeles Lakers the winningness team in basketball, undoubtedly what he is hoping for the Bradley team here in Iowa tonight.
Bernie, Judy, Jeff and Bill, back to you.
SHAW: Thank you very much Patty.
Just before we jump to you, Jeff Greenfield, on the complexity of what Patty Davis was reporting on, CNN, based on our projections that Vice President Al Gore would defeat Bill Bradley by a comfortable margin now, wishes to add to our reporting by telling you also that we estimate that the vice president will have defeated Bill Bradley in these Iowa caucuses roughly by a 2-1 margin.
GREENFIELD: Two quick points I want to make: One, there ain't no way to spin that as anything but bad news for Bill Bradley, not 2- 1, and second, since we spent a fair amount time bashing polls, we ought to say that the last "Des Moines Register" poll had it Gore over Bradley 2-1. So, Bill, score one point for the numbers crunchers.
SCHNEIDER: And one more point -- John Sweeney. This is a very big victory for organized labor. They took a risk, and they endorsed Al Gore early on. They put their clout behind Gore. They came out in large numbers in these caucuses. John Sweeney, the chairman, the president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of organized labor in this country, really put his own leadership on the line to deliver the vote for Al Gore, and it looks like he did it.
WOODRUFF: And Bill Bradley called it "entrenched power."
SCHNEIDER: And he was right.
WOODRUFF: And he was -- some would say he was right. Al Gore said he's not right.
SHAW: Well, we are entrenched here for the night. But we're going to pause. Our live coverage of the Iowa caucuses, the Democrats and Republicans from Des Moines, Iowa, will continue in just a moment.
WOODRUFF: It is almost 7:45 Central Time. Across the great state of Iowa, voters are casting their votes. They are indicating their preferences on the Democratic and the Republican presidential contests. And CNN is prepared to call the race on both sides.
On the Democratic side, Al Gore, the vice president of United States, 2-1 estimated win over former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley.
On the Republican side, Texas Governor George W. Bush, we project, will come in first, followed by Steve Forbes, third, Alan Keyes, a tie for fourth between Gary Bauer and Arizona Sen. John McCain, and trailing in sixth place, Utah's Orrin Hatch.
Bernie, this is early in the night, but we're already able to call these races, and we haven't talked to Candy Crowley in quite some time, who is at Bush headquarters.
Candy, are they already, sort of, gloating and dusting themselves off and getting ready to head over to New Hampshire over there?
CROWLEY: They are getting to ready to go to New Hampshire, I will say that. He's leaving tonight after he gives a speech here, I'm suspecting somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00. But the gloating, if it's happening, it's behind closed doors. The governor and his wife are upstairs in this hotel watching the returns as they come in, and so far, it's gloat-free down here.
GREENFIELD: Candy, if there is one thing -- I don't know if there is. If you had to tell us that one thing as they go to New Hampshire, where it's clearly tight, they're behind a little bit in most of the polls -- what's their number one concern? What are they most worried about with this eight-day stretch until the New Hampshire primary?
CROWLEY: They're most worried about John McCain, not to be too simple about it. But you know, one of the things here I think that they've learned, that's cropping in the speeches that we're listening to now from the governor, is that when he talks about his tax cut, originally, we heard about the tax cut, and that it was going to be for everyone and that he didn't want to leave money in Washington, because they'd just spend it. And John McCain came out and said, wait a minute, what about Social Security, and what about Medicare and what about the debt? So we're now beginning to hear the governor talk about those issues, saying wait a minute, I've set aside money for Social Security, I've set aside money for these various things, and you know, the reason that most people don't want tax cuts is because they've been told by the Bill Clinton administration there's not enough money there, well, I'm telling you there is.
So I think we will hear mostly about his tax cut, but we will hear some of things that respond to John McCain.
But clearly, what they'd most like to do, Jeff, is get this over with in New Hampshire, so that they can move on with a relatively free ride between here and the nomination.
But we do hear from John McCain that he's in this into March. So they won't get their wish. They'd dearly wish to have a victory in New Hampshire just so that they can move on into South Carolina and have a pretty good record behind them.
SHAW: Well, Steve Forbes and his legions of supporters might say that that worry is misdirected. They might be saying, hey, George Bush, be worried about us.
Jonathan Karl is at Forbes headquarters. CNN projecting that Steve Forbes placed second tonight in the Republican Iowa caucuses -- Jonathan.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, it's never been about winning here in Iowa for Steve Forbes -- they've always assumed that George W. Bush was going to win -- it's been a question about how strong their second-place finish will be. So they're not worried here. They think that they've got a strong organization on the ground.
In fact, Steve Forbes has been through this before. This is his second time running in the Iowa caucuses. Add those two efforts together, and he has spent more than $10 million in this state, more than any candidate past or present. And this time around, Forbes did it a little bit differently. He didn't put all his money into paid television advertisements; he put a lot of money into organization.
Now the polls earlier today were showing Forbes with about 20 or a little more than 20 percent of the vote, so they'll spin anything more than 20 percent -- in fact, anything more than 25 percent as a major victory here, even though it's a second-place finish.
SHAW: Jonathan Karl, thank you. We'll get back to you at Forbes headquarters tonight.
WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to wing our way by the magic of satellite to Washington D.C. for our political analysts Mike McCurry and Tony Blankley, who are joining us.
Gentlemen, I want to come right to you with the Republican projections -- George Bush first, Steve Forbes second. We don't have a spread yet, but Alan Keyes third, and tied, Gary Bauer and John McCain for fourth.
Tony Blankley, you look at these numbers, what do you see?
TONY BLANKLEY, FORMER NEWT GINGRICH SPOKESMAN: Well, I don't think there's any question that Bush has had a good night, Keyes has had a good night, and the rest -- and Forbes has had a decent night. I think the interesting thing to watch will be all the losers' press secretaries trying desperately to say something related to reality, because they're all going to say we're in it to the end, this is a long march, this is a marathon, and all of that, when at any moment, the plug could get pulled on one of the campaigns, but they're going to say right up to that last second that they're in it to the end. So this is a difficult night for all the losers.
I think it's an important night for Keyes. Forbes did what he had to do, but I would think, that if I were his daughters, I would want an injunction to stop spending the inheritance, because even winning in Iowa by a big amount of money, he's not going to win the nomination.
WOODRUFF: Mike McCurry, as a former press secretary, what would you be saying, or preparing to say, we should ask, if you're working for Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes or any one of these fellows?
MIKE MCCURRY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, Judy, one cautionary note first: Remember asking what people think on the way in to one of these caucuses -- and we saw one on the Democratic side --- I can tell you, they are like making sausage. You don't want to know what goes on inside one of those. So I would be a little careful about predicting the order.
I think what you really want to know is what's the combined total of Forbes, Keyes and Bauer. What is really the organizational right on the Republican Party, what strength do they have going into New Hampshire, because that's really going to tell you what kind of race you have in New Hampshire? Can Bush really try to square up against McCain and knock him out in New Hampshire? Or is he really going to have to be conscious of what's going on to his right?
So I think asking tonight how strong are you three, the three that really represent the movement, conservative wing of the Republican Party, how strong are you now as you go in to New Hampshire and what are you going to do to try to take on Bush there?
I think over -- if we can switch maybe over to the Democratic side, I think something to watch now is really how vehement is the Bradley response: this honing of the message that we've heard about. I mean, my fear is that it might become very negative very quickly, and I think that could pose a problem for the vice president. He then has to really decide how to respond. My guess is that he's going to continue to do what he's done that's got him to this point, which is to fight real hard and demonstrate that he still wants to play the role, as he would put it, the underdog.
BLANKLEY: Well, you know, both -- both Bush and Gore have to be careful in their tone. They'd like to knock off and finish the fight against McCain and Bradley. But if they are too aggressive, they may keep the blood up of the other side and they may fight longer than they have to. So it's a very careful calibration now of how tough to be. Whether, you know, whether Gore wants to back off a little bit on his aggression, I don't know.
It has to be said, even though McCain didn't officially compete, that this is not a good night for McCain. He had a fairly vigorous noncampaign going on, and I'm sure that they're disappointed in the McCain camp tonight.
MCCURRY: So far tonight Bernie used the word "surprisingly" once, and it was in reference to Alan Keyes. Now, if that's the big surprise tonight and that's the story coming out of Iowa on the Republican side, that is bad news for McCain, because he really needs to get as much press coverage to try to dominate the tonal quality of this debate in the week ahead.
SHAW: OK, thank you very much, Mike McCurry and Tony Blankley.
Ask and you shall receive. Mike alluded to the percentages. That's what he would like to see with these candidates finishing tonight. And CNN now has estimates of where these Republicans will finish tonight in their caucuses: 44 percent is our estimate from the -- for the governor from Texas. Steve Forbes, 31 percent. Look at that, Alan Keyes 12 percent. We're showing now Gary Bauer with 7 percent; John McCain, 5 percent. Earlier we told you that Bauer and McCain were tied. And finishing last, 1 percent for Senator Orrin Hatch.
When we come back, a man who won these Iowa caucuses in 1988, Democrat Richard Gephardt, a leader in the House of Representatives from Missouri. That and more on CNN's coverage of the Iowa caucuses, continuing in a moment.
WOODRUFF: Just to recap, CNN is prepared to estimate what the percentage finishes will be among the Republicans. Let's take a look one more time: George Bush, 44 percent we are estimating followed by Steve Forbes at 31 percent. Alan Keyes, 12 percent. Moving now to the single digits, Gary Bauer at 7 percent. John McCain, who did not campaign here, 5 percent. And bringing up the rear, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.
Jeff Greenfield, you've been dying to make a point about this.
GREENFIELD: I hope I'm not dying, but I do think this is a mildly interesting notion.
WOODRUFF: it's an important point.
GREENFIELD: It is. First, once again, just as in 1988 and 1996, the social conservatives did better than the last poll numbers. Steve Forbes last polled out at 20 percent. He's going to get 31. I think more significant perhaps is that the three social conservatives -- Bauer, Keyes and Forbes -- you add up their numbers, that's 50 percent. And George Bush has been described by Steve Forbes as the one uncontested moderate at 44 percent.
I do think if there's any impact from Iowa, it may mean that it will encourage the social conservatives to keep putting the pressure on George W. Bush on issues like abortion. And that may take some of the edge off the fact that George W. Bush did win a comfortable margin here. That's better numbers than the polls indicated than the polls indicated for those people who say that Governor Bush is a squishy moderate.
SCHNEIDER: But happiness in politics is a divided opposition. And the social conservatives, while their total of 50 percent is truly impressive, Alan Keyes -- Steve Forbes at 31 percent will claim this is some sort of mandate. He will try to become the standard-bearer of the conservatives, which is what he's trying to do this entire campaign. The question is, will they rally to him? Will he be able to stop George Bush?
He predicted in the New Hampshire polls next week George Bush would be running third behind both Forbes and John McCain.
SHAW: Watching very intently the results tonight from the Iowa caucuses, especially on the Democratic side, having seen that our estimate is that Vice President Al Gore will have beat Bill Bradley by virtually a two to one margin, watching with intense interest, the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Richard Gephardt of Missouri.
What are you thinking now, especially knowing that in '88 you walked out of here winner for the Democrats?
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: Well, I'm excited for Al Gore, Bernie. I'm out here with him and for him. I hope he's our candidate. I think he's the best one for the job. He's got the experience, and I think he's got the character to be a great president of this country. And I'm delighted: If these results hold up, this will be a big momentum boost for Al Gore coming out of Iowa, going to New Hampshire.
SHAW: Dick Gephardt, I don't know if you were with our coverage about 20 minutes ago, but one of our analysts in Washington, Mike McCurry, former White House press secretary, said something that I thought was extremely interesting. He worried aloud on network television whether now Senator Bill Bradley might go negative in his campaigning.
GEPHARDT: Well, I don't know if that'll happen. I hope it doesn't happen. I think a vigorous debate on the issues, which is what they've been having, is good. I hope we don't get into personal back and forth. And I don't think they will.
This has been a good campaign, they've argued the issues. The truth is Al Gore's a better candidate today and done a great job in this campaign because of a stern challenge from Bill Bradley. And I think that when the history of this is written, Bill Bradley got Al Gore to really come out and say what he wanted to do as president, talk from his heart, from his mind about why he wants this job, and really made this into a great campaign.
WOODRUFF: Richard Gephardt, we want you to hang in there with us because we have some interesting numbers we want to put out there for the public right now. CNN is prepared to estimate that these will be the percentages on the Democratic side: Al Gore, 63 percent; Bill Bradley, 35 percent; uncommitted coming in at 2 percent. This is a solid, almost two-to-one, not quite two-to-one victory for the vice president.
Mr. Gephardt, you touched on this in your comments just now. You're saying that Bill Bradley in a way made the vice president a better campaigner. Having said that, is it even in the interest of Al Gore at this point for Bill Bradley to get out of the race anytime soon? Isn't he helped in a way by having someone there to challenge him for a while?
GEPHARDT: Well, I -- this campaign's going to go on. Bill Bradley has said that obviously they go to New Hampshire next week. And then five weeks pass, and then you go to New York and California and Missouri and a lot of other states. Bill Bradley will be in this campaign. He's run a good campaign. But again, I think he's really helped Al Gore define the issues, get out in front of people and speak from his heart.
You know, I started with Al Gore in the Congress a long time ago. He was a great campaigner for Congress. He was known as "Mr. Town Hall Meeting" to other members in the House. He'd do 10 or 15 town hall meetings on a weekend in Tennessee. This is the way he campaigned. He's going straight to the voters. He's talking to them from his heart about the issues that he cares about that he wants to deal with as president: health care, education. And that fighting spirit and taking this campaign to the people one-on-one is what's made him into a great campaigner for the presidency right now.
WOODRUFF: You're not calling on Bill Bradley to get out of the race right now?
GEPHARDT: No. These campaigns are hard to do. I have tremendous respect, having been through it, for anybody that does this. Bill Bradley has brought a lot to this campaign. Only he can make that decision, and we're early in the process. Let's get through the next events and then we'll see where we are.
GREENFIELD: Congressman, it's Jeff Greenfield. On a more personal note, 12 years ago on this night, you claimed the gold medal. You had given serious thought to running again. As you watch this, is there any sense that the Olympics are starting and you're not in shorts? Would you like to be out there?
GEPHARDT: No, not at all. I'm happy not to be having to do this right now. But I have great respect for both Bill Bradley and Al Gore. And I think Al Gore's going to make a great president of this country.
I've known him for 22 years. I've seen him in all kinds of situations. He's got a great heart. He has great character. He's honest. He's a good person. And he's the kind of person that I want to be president of the United States. And I hope that he goes on and wins the nomination and I think he'll win the general election.
SHAW: Dick Gephardt, a question directed at you personally. I'm trolling for news. Is it true that you're thinking that if the Democrats do not retake control of the House of Representatives in the fall election, you, Mr. Gephardt of Missouri, are thinking about leaving the House?
GEPHARDT: Bernie, we're going to win the House and we're going to hold the presidency, as I just said, in the year 2000. We've got great candidates out there running for the House. They're running great campaigns on the issues that people really care about: health care, education, how to keep this economy going. And I'm very, very optimistic that we're going to win the House back.
SHAW: And if your crystal ball holds true, do you expect to be the next speaker of the House?
GEPHARDT: Well, that's, of course, a decision that the members of the Congress have to make. I'll probably be a candidate for that if we are able to do that. And I hope that we can retake that majority.
But frankly, I'm unimportant in all of this. What is important is that we get a new agenda, Patient's Bill of Rights, Medicare prescription drugs, trying to do something about the Brady Bill and these gun shows, campaign reform. These are the issues that we need to bring -- along with education, trying to get smaller classroom sizes -- that really animates and motivates me.
SHAW: House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, at the Gore Headquarters. And we've got a little bit more information to share with you before LARRY KING LIVE comes up very shortly. Among his guests, the former governor of Texas, George Bush -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And Bernie, just quickly, to recap, we are projecting on the Democratic side this will be the percentage for Al Gore, 63 percent, for Bill Bradley, 35 percent, and 2 percent down there for uncommitted.
SHAW: And on the Republican side, Governor Bush the winner tonight: Bush followed by Forbes, Keyes, Bauer, McCain, Hatch. You see it: 53 percent, 30, 13, eight, five and one. Finishing last, Orrin Hatch, the distinguished senator from Utah.
That concludes our coverage at this moment. We're going to pause in our election 2000 coverage. "LARRY KING LIVE" is roughly 15 feet away from us. Larry will have many guests tonight. Among them, the winner of the Republican caucuses.
For Judy Woodruff...
WOODRUFF: That's right, the governor of Texas. We'll be back.
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