Election 2000: New York Critical for the Campaigns of Bill Bradley and John McCainAired March 6, 2000 - 2:31 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Millions of Americans are preparing to go to the polls tomorrow to help the two major parties select their presidential candidates: It's called Super Tuesday. And with contests scheduled in 16 states, a single candidate from either party could earn more than half the delegates needed to win the nomination.
For Republican John McCain, tomorrow could be decisive. McCain hopes to win the popular vote in California. And some analysts say that to stay in the race much longer McCain needs big showings in New England and New York, and perhaps even Ohio.
Like McCain, Republican front-runner George W. Bush is also in California today. Bush leads McCain in the closed Republican contest for those 162 delegates. Speaking today in San Diego, Bush praised McCain for extending the reach as the GOP but said that he, Bush, is the one to unite the Republican Party.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the two Democrats are campaigning today in New York, another big trophy to be awarded Super Tuesday.
As CNN's Frank Buckley reports from New York, it's an important state for both parties.
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MARV ALBERT, SPORTS ANNOUNCER: DeBuscher (ph) sends it over to Bradley.
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FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If any of the candidates has a home-court advantage in New York, it's Bill Bradley, who played basketball for the Knicks; who served as a U.S. senator for neighboring New Jersey for 18 years; received the endorsement of New York's senior senator.
SEN. DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D), NEW YORK: Nothing is the matter with Mr.Gore except that he can't be elected president.
BUCKLEY: But it is Vice President Al Gore who took what was a double-digit deficit in New York polls just a few months ago and turned it into a double-digit lead...
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Live from Albany, it's Saturday night.
BUCKLEY: ... visiting New York more than 20 times and appealing to core components of the Democratic Party: minorities and labor.
GORE: I am not taking a single vote for granted. I want you to support me on Tuesday.
BUCKLEY: Still, some say the home-court fans may still come into play on Tuesday.
PETER KAUFFMAN, N.Y. STATE DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE: It's unique for Bill Bradley in that he has a real opportunity with name recognition to get past the more establishment support that Gore has enjoyed in other places.
BUCKLEY (on camera): Which is one of the main reasons why New York is so important to Bradley. If he can't win here, say most political pros, Bradley will likely be out of the game.
But New York is also important on the Republican side, especially to John McCain.
(voice-over): McCain was initially kept off the primary ballot in more than half of the state under New York's complex ballot rules, which favor the party's favored candidate, in this case George W. Bush, who enjoys the support of all but a few Republican leaders in the state: from Governor George Pataki to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The machine was trying to keep us off the ballot and prevent you from having your right to vote.
BUCKLEY: McCain successfully sued to get on the ballot throughout the state. Now, McCain is engaged in a tight race here, hoping a victory in New York will keep his campaign alive.
LEE MIRINGOFF, MARIST INST. FOR PUBLIC OPINION: And if he's going to win the New York primary, it's the Catholic Republicans concerned over the controversy over the religion and politics and all we heard about in some of these earlier primary states that would carry the day for him.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I've got a good chance here. I really do.
BUCKLEY: Until McCain made it on to the ballot, Bush had a New York win in hand. Bush did not visit the state for five months until the weekend before the primary. Still, party leaders believe the strength of the state's GOP organization will help to propel Bush to victory.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: And I am confident, but you know, I don't think anyone can say with absolute certainty what's going to happen.
BUCKLEY: On Tuesday, New York's voters will decide how 93 Republican delegates and 243 Democratic delegates will be divided up.
Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.
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