Super Tuesday: California Beauty Contest the Final Question as Bush, Gore Win BigAired March 8, 2000 - 2:00 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM MORET, CNN ANCHOR: Governor George W. Bush, Vice President Al Gore are the big winners tonight. About the only question mark left concerns the so-called beauty contest here in California where all five presidential candidates were listed on the ballot. There had been a lot of speculation McCain would win the so-called beauty contest, but lose all the Republican delegates to Bush. As it turns out, Bush collects the Republican delegates, but the beauty contest is a surprising neck-and-neck horse race between Governor Bush and Vice President Al Gore -- you see there.
Here now, other Super Tuesday results: Among the Republicans here in California, Bush you see victorious over McCain, 60 percent to McCain's 36 percent, that with 34 percent of the votes counted. Among the Democrats here in California, 81 percent of the vote going to Al Gore, 18 percent to Bill Bradley.
In Ohio, the primary there among the Republicans, 58 percent of the vote going to Governor Bush, 37 percent for John McCain. And with nearly all the Ohio votes counted, 73 percent of the Democrats voting for Gore, 25 percent for Bradley.
In the New York primary, with nearly all the votes counted, 51 percent of votes going for Governor Bush, 43 percent for John McCain. And on the Democratic side, Governor -- rather, Vice President Al Gore with 65 percent of the vote, Bill Bradley 34 percent.
During Bush's victory celebration tonight, the crowd repeatedly broke into chance of "no more Gore." Even though Senator McCain has not signaled he's not dropping out of the race, Governor Bush has clearly changed focus and is targeting Vice President Gore.
CNN's Beth Fouhy, has more on the Republicans.
BETH FOUHY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the battle- scarred George W. Bush, victory had never tasted so sweet.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight we have good news, from sea to shining sea.
FOUHY: After New Hampshire's bad stumble and Michigan's big surprise, the Texas governor had finally lived up to his promise. Throughout the night, he watched as state after state fell his way, from Georgia in the South to the Midwest giants Ohio and Missouri, the Yankee stronghold of Maine, and California, the biggest prize of all.
BUSH: We promised a national campaign and tonight we have a national victory. Republicans and conservatives from all across the country have said they want me to lead the Republican Party to victory in November and I am ready and I am eager to do so.
FOUHY: That national campaign paid off big for Bush, but so did the party establishment who came out and stood by their man. And despite the crowds, the bus and a compelling message of reform, John McCain buckled under the weight of the Bush juggernaut.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My friends, we won a few and lost a few today.
FOUHY: Winning just four New England states and a share of the New York delegates, he dismissed the notion that his insurgency may have been more smoke than fire.
MCCAIN: Our crusade continues tonight, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that and for as long as it takes to restore America's confidence.
FOUHY: Weeks of bitter campaigning drove a wedge between the two, and Bush, for his part, seemed ready to put that aside. He praised McCain for his message of reform and inclusion and called for a united party to tackle the battle ahead.
BUSH: I will remind Al Gore that Americans do not want a White House were there is no controlling legal authority.
FOUHY: For Bush and his team, a night of celebrations; for John McCain, a night of thanks and hard choices yet to come.
(on camera): Despite his pledge to continue the crusade, McCain knows the numbers aren't on his side. He's expected to decide within days whether to stay in the race or to bow out before a likely drubbing in several southern contests next week.
Beth Fouhy, CNN, Atlanta.
MORET: In the Democratic race, Bill Bradley had a simple message for his supporters tonight: He won, I lost. Al Gore, meanwhile, came out with a new campaign slogan: Join us now.
With more on the Democrats, here's CNN's Dan Ronan.
DAN RONAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Al Gore's Super Tuesday march to lock up the Democratic nomination started early with multiple victories on the East Coast, taking double-digit wins in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont and Maine. Then Gore rolled to victory in delegate-rich Ohio, beating Bill Bradley by about three to one. Georgia was next, Missouri followed, as did Rhode Island and New York. The rout was on.
As the votes rolled in, Gore accepted victory.
VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While we are here to celebrate great victories, I say to you tonight -- and hear me well: You ain't seen nothing yet.
RONAN: California followed later. And with the nomination closer than ever, Gore began to focus his message on the fall campaign.
GORE: We need to build on our record of prosperity. We don't need to go back to where we were eight years ago.
RONAN: As he watched the returns, exit poll interviews with people in every region of the country showed Gore did very well among important Democratic constituencies critical in the primaries. Gore was preferred 84 percent to 14 percent over Bill Bradley among African-American voters. Among Hispanics, the figure was even higher: 87 percent to 11 percent. Union members voted for Gore by a margin of 72 percent to 26 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes Bill Bradley.
RONAN: For Bill Bradley, Gore's clean sweep means his campaign may be over.
BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He won, I lost. And on one level, I agree with Vince Lombardi when he said: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." Tomorrow, I'll consult with supporters around the country to get their thoughts and advice, and I'll make my plans known shortly.
RONAN: For his part, Gore says of Bradley: "He's a good man, I respect him."
Dan Ronan, CNN, Atlanta.
MORET: For Vice President Gore, victory came early and decisive. For Bill Bradley, those badly needed initial delegates never came. What's next for the one-time Senator and basketball great?
We're joined in New York by CNN's Pat Neal -- Pat.
PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Jim. Well, as you just heard, Bill Bradley's going to take tomorrow off to reassess everything. He's looking over those results, and we're told that sometime late morning, the campaign will give us an advisory on what we can expect next from the Bradley schedule. So we're going to see what happens with that and take it from there. But, as you know, the numbers just weren't for Bill Bradley tonight and it's a virtual all but certainty that he will be dropping out very soon. MORET: What's the mood in the Bradley Camp? We heard Bill Bradley speaking a great deal in what appeared to be the past tense, talking about the "he won, I lost." What was the mood there?
NEAL: Well, actually, the mood in the room was fairly upbeat for something like that. There was a great band playing; people were kind of energized by that. When he came into the room, there were people shouting and screaming for him. And the interesting thing was, the band was playing "Celebrate," and he seemed fired up. But the speech was a speech that he wrote personally. It was a very sensitive speech. There were no ways that they were going to give us any advanced text of the speech because of the sensitivity of it, and he really spoke from his heart. A lot of these issues that he touched on were things he had touched on in his campaign, but he kind of put them all together tonight to try to tell people what he thought about.
But a lot of these people that have been working for him are young people who have been very dedicated and they were quite saddened by the fact that it looks like he'll be dropping out of the race very soon -- Jim.
MORET: Bradley was pointing to the fact that he said he helped shape the national focus on the health care issues and campaign finance. Are they hopeful in the Bradley camp that Al Gore will adopt some of those same issues as his own?
NEAL: Well. Jim, we've already seen that the vice president's done exactly that. Bill Bradley used to talk a lot during this campaign that he would come up with an idea or push an idea and it'd take about a week later and the vice president would then talk about it. On campaign finance reform, tonight in Vice President Gore's speech that he gave, his victory speech, he talked about the need for campaign finance reform. And he's also -- and Gore's also talked a lot now about health care. Now, Gore has his own plan on health care, expanding what's called the CHIPS program, which is for uninsured youngsters. And he wanted to build on that as incremental -- in increments -- excuse me.
What Bradley wanted to do was to have universal access to health care. And what Bradley also talked about during this time was taking some of this surplus at a time when the country is prosperous and spending it in ways that he believes we should have as Americans. And he really feels like universal health care is actually a right. So we've already seen these issues come up with Vice President Gore, and they'll probably be issues that are carried on into the general election.
MORET: CNN's Pat Neal joining us live from New York.
And soon, we'll be joined by two political insiders for their assessment on Super Tuesday.
Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORET: I'm rejoined now by Gore supporter and chairman of the California Democratic Party, Art Torres, and Republican Bruce Herschensohn, who teaches at Pepperdine University and, incidentally, is a McCain supporter.
You mentioned that just a few minutes ago.
Focus on Prop. 22. We heard your lively debate just a few minutes ago on another issue. Prop. 22 is clearly a state issue, but it gained national attention.
BRUCE HERSCHENSOHN (R), FMR. SENATE CANDIDATE: Sure it did. It's because of its subject matter.
MORET: Right, and the subject matter being that the law would be written that a marriage between a man and woman will be recognized and valid in California, but no other marriage would be.
Art, first focus on this issue. It appears to have been victorious, meaning that a gay marriage would not be recognized or valid in the state.
ART TORRES, GORE SUPPORTER: I think the issue was more than just gay marriages. The issue was dealing with civil rights issues, with dealing with discrimination. We're going to have to revisit this issue again. I mean, this is not going to end with this election today.
MORET: Why do you say that?
HERSCHENSOHN: Because there's just too much emphasis not only on heterosexual couples that don't -- are not married or live together, also in terms of dealing with other partnerships that may exist out there. You're going to have to revamp the entire legal structure to make sure that gay and lesbian couples have rights and responsibilities under legal authority so that there's some definition of where the rights are and where the responsibilities are.
HERSCHENSOHN: Yes, remember when we were discussing the word choice?
HERSCHENSOHN: The word marriage in a dictionary says a union between a man and a woman. Look in any dictionary that you can find. That's what marriage is. Now, if you want something else, call it something else, but to say -- look, I don't even need to debate it. The election's over, the proposition is done and it came out the way that I wanted it to. But -- and, in fact, California Law already prohibits same-sex marriage. This was done in case another state, like we'll say Hawaii, although they've voted it down, too.
MORET: Or Vermont. HERSCHENSOHN: Yes, if another state does it and then that couple comes to California, we would say, no, that is not a legal marriage, that's all.
TORRES: It's wrong in terms of how this election turned out. It's wrong that the Mormon church got involved, it's wrong that the Catholic archdiocese got involved, it's wrong that many of these far right-wing groups got involved. This is an issue that should never have been put on the ballot.
MORET: Well, many people around the country may be surprised that the vote went this way in California given the perception of California.
TORRES: It needs to be addressed in the legislature.
HERSCHENSOHN: Yes, but, Art, even your candidates, Gore and Bradley, I think, were on the same side that I am of not wanting that measure to pass.
TORRES: Yes, but they opposed the Knight initiative because of what it represented and the symbolism that it represented in terms of discrimination against gays and lesbians. Both Vice President Gore and Senator Bradley opposed 22 in this election.
HERSCHENSOHN: They opposed 22. They did?
TORRES: Yes, they did.
HERSCHENSOHN: OK, I didn't know that. I thought they were on the other side.
MORET: Focus on the importance of California in the general election, if you will.
HERSCHENSOHN: California is the most important to the general election just by virtue of our population.
MORET: It's important?
HERSCHENSOHN: Sure, my gosh, I mean we have the electoral votes here. We represent about one-fifteenth of the entire country, so our -- and those things that start in California, for good or ill, generally generate throughout the country.
MORET: And what are the important issues, beyond what we've talked about earlier? What do you see as the important issues in the election?
TORRES: I think the -- in coming up in the election, it's going to be guns, obviously, it's going to be the environment, it's going to be a woman's right to choose, it's going to be access to education, health care services. And we haven't even talked about the congressional races that are going to make havoc if whether the control changes in Washington to the Democrats. It's going to be here in California, in the Campbell seat in Northern California, the Jane Harmon seat here, the -- Senator Adam Schiffs' seat here against Rogan, and clearly Assemblywoman Susan Davis against...
MORET: Bruce is getting ready to respond. I can see with his body language.
TORRES: We're going to have some fights here, and it's going to be on the issues.
HERSCHENSOHN: Art, all of the issues that you mentioned, with the exception of guns, are issues that are not mentioned in the Constitution because they're not the business of the federal government, certainly not the business of the president. And guns, of course, are mentioned in the Second Amendment saying exactly the opposite of what the gun-control people say: It's the right of the citizen to bare -- own and bare arms.
But the other issues that you're talking about are not the business of the federal government, they're the business of the localities, of the counties, of the state. And what we are now doing, and what I hope this election is all about, is misinterpreting the role of the federal government. And I would like to see that role of the federal government defined, even though it was defined in the making of the Constitution.
TORRES: Well, professor, as a former Kennedy Fellow at Harvard, we should have that academic debate. But the reality is that education is going to be at the forefront, that a woman's right to choose is going to be at the forefront and of the environment, etc. You're going to have issues affecting all of us as we see this debate, and it's going to come down, also, to where a president crosses a bridge to commemorate a civil rights March in Selma and a presidential candidate, who you didn't support, thank God, and may well end up supporting, crossed a stage at Bob Jones University and said to Catholics and to Latinos and two others, that, you know, you're not part of our dimension, you're not part of our Republican set. We're going to have to address that.
HERSCHENSOHN: I don't get engaged in those things as an accusation on one side or the other side because that trivializes campaigns. A lot of things happen in campaigns and the other side picks it up. I mean, we know that Ronald Reagan was there, we know the Democratic governor was there. It's one of those things that has been rather traditional, and so the other side picks it up and makes a big deal out of it.
TORRES: I don't recall any Democratic presidential candidate going to Bob Jones University.
HERSCHENSOHN: Is that right?
MORET: Was Super Tuesday, in your view, a shift from five candidates down to two? Is this now a two-man race?
HERSCHENSOHN: Super -- it probably is. It probably is. Super Tuesday used to be what's going to happen next Tuesday in the South. Now this is Super Tuesday. What's really going to happen, apparently, is that we're going to have two general elections each election year and no primary. What we've done by having an open primary system -- I don't know how you feel about that, but I just think it's awful.
TORRES: It is awful.
HERSCHENSOHN: I just think it's awful. My God, I have no right voting for who's going to be your leader, and obviously you shouldn't vote for who's going to be mine.
TORRES: We're now in appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court on this very issue.
MORET: You're talking about...
HERSCHENSOHN: The open primary.
MORET: Well, a blanket primary is actually what it's called.
TORRES: We have a blanket primary in California. There are open primaries in other states. The court has agreed to listen to our appeal on this issue. Both the Republican and the Democratic parties and the Libertarian and the Green Party are altogether on this issue saying that there ought not to be an intrusion in our ideology and our party determination of who shall lead our congressional district or etcetera. So the court's going to make this decision, and rightly so.
HERSCHENSOHN: Absolutely. What we have right now is something like the student body of UCLA voting for the football coach of S.C. I mean, why should they? Why should anyone who opposes each other, why should they have the right to select that person's representative?
MORET: Bruce Herschensohn, Art Torres, thanks again.
MORET: We'll be back with more of our coverage of super Tuesday right after this. Don't go away.
MORET: He was the GOP front-runner with a question mark. There's no mistaking George W. Bush's status anymore. Here's what he had to say tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now from Austin, Texas is the gentleman who has won five of the 10 Republican contests we've been following so far tonight, Texas Governor George W. Bush. He joins us along with his wife, Laura Bush.
Thank you both for being with us. And congratulations, Governor. GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Judy. It's good to talk to you again. Just seemed like yesterday we were in Los Angeles.
WOODRUFF: It does seem that way.
Governor, I know you're going to be thinking about it, and we have not heard yet from Senator McCain, we don't know how New York is going to turn out, we don't -- we haven't had word yet, of course, on the state of California -- they're still voting out there. But at this point in your contest with John McCain, there's still some pretty tough words hanging out there, if you will. John McCain saying over the weekend he's not sure if you're ready for primetime because of those breast cancer ads that were run in New York State. We also have Senator McCain saying your campaign is so Clintonesque, it's scary. Again, a comment just a few days ago.
Can you heal the rift in the party with language like this still coming from your opponent?
BUSH: Well, first and foremost, Judy, I'm honored that so many Republicans turned out -- and Independents turned out to vote in our primaries. I think one of the interesting stories is how excited people are about my candidacy. We've had a big step toward the nomination. I take nothing for granted. I'm looking forward to campaigning in my own state of Texas or my brother's state of Florida next week.
And, yes, there's time, and there will be plenty of time for us to come together. Campaigns are tough. But this competition I think has been good for me. I know it's made me a better candidate. I know it's made me sharpen my message. It has caused me to focus on talking about education and strengthening the military to keep the peace, and a message of reform and renewal.
WOODRUFF: But when Senator McCain says your campaign is so Clintonesque, it's scary, that it sounds more and more like the Clinton campaign, I mean, there was a point not so long ago when you said that was just unacceptable coming from him.
BUSH: Well, obviously I don't care for that kind of characterization, but the good news is that the people who make the decision, the people who are showing up to vote don't agree with that. And the reason why the turnouts are so huge is because people know I'm optimistic about the future of our country, and I've got ideas that are going to improve education and strengthen the military.
One point of contention was whether or not we ought to share some of the surpluses, or how much of the surplus, with the people who pay the bills. I feel strongly that we need to make sure people get some of the surplus back so that the economy will continue to grow.
I understand politics. This campaign to me hasn't been any rougher than any other ones I've seen. The good news is that it's now time to start focusing on the main contest, which is winning the White House. BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Governor, this is Bernie.
BUSH: Hey, Bernie.
SHAW: Hi there. Congratulations.
BUSH: Thank you, sir.
SHAW: Quite welcome.
Clearly, you've excited your Republican base, but what can you do to reel in the McCain supporters, the moderates, the Independents, the Democrats? What can you do? What will you do?
BUSH: Well, that's a big challenge, and tonight you're going to hear me talk about education. You see, I happen to think an education reform package appeals not only to Republicans and like-minded Independents, when people hear me talking about education, say, in a state like California, or any state for that matter, they're going to know I know what I'm talking about. I've got a positive record and I've got a clear vision to make sure every single child gets educated.
The other night on the debate in Los Angeles with Jeff and Judy, we had a good dialogue about education and I'm going to continue talking about it. In other words, ideas are what are going to attract people to this candidacy when it's all said and done.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Governor, it is Jeff Greenfield.
BUSH: Hey, Jeff. How are you?
GREENFIELD: I'm fine.
You know, I was thinking back to 1988 when a sitting vice president of the United States -- you may remember him, about whom there were some questions about whether he could follow a charismatic president -- faced off with a governor who had what appeared to be a good record and was able to win, in part, by presenting that governor as outside the mainstream. Now, it's pretty clear, I think, already that that's one of the things that the vice president -- this vice president is going to do to this Bush is attempt to say to you, you are a creature, whether you want to or not, of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, a fringe. Do you think that one of your obligations is going to be to try to restate the themes of 1999, move more toward the middle now that -- assuming that you have this nomination?
BUSH: Well, first, I appreciate your qualification there because the nomination is not yet secure. There are other states and I'm looking forward to campaigning in them.
My message is going to be the same today that it was in the beginning of the campaign. It'll be the same next November, and that is the message of compassionate conservatism, a message of reform in key areas, and a message of renewal of the spirit of America, Jeff. I think this country is anxious to have somebody who is not a part of this administration, somebody who can call upon the best of America. I look forward to the challenge.
I know I've got a lot of work to do, and step one is to excite the party and excite people who share our philosophy. And step two will be to reach out across our party lines and bring people into the fold. I'm confident I can do that, and I look forward to the challenge against Vice President Gore.
WOODRUFF: Governor, just on the state of your campaign right now, you are evidently well on your way to winning the lion's share of the delegates tonight. But in order to get this far, you had to run a very, very tough campaign, some say a very negative campaign. You've spent, what, some say 65 -- $60 to $65 million. Jeff mentioned the Independent vote has primarily gone to John McCain and not to you. Are you at all concerned that you, if you're the nominee, you start this effort out in a weakened position?
BUSH: No, not really, Judy. As a matter of fact, I am enthused by the results. I think when you all tabulate who's voting in what primary, if you tabulate how significant the increases are in our turnouts -- and this is a credit to John as well as my campaign -- there is a really good chance for us to take the White House. There's a lot of people who aren't happy with what's going on in Washington, D.C. People are hungry for a message of reform and a message of renewal. I keep saying that, but that's what I see and that's what I hear, and that's exactly what I'm going to bring into this campaign.
SHAW: Governor, looking ahead to the California primary, the polls close in about 52 minutes. If you were to win the delegates in California but lose the popular vote to Senator McCain, can McCain make a credible argument for staying in, hanging on and fighting you?
BUSH: Well, that's going to be up to John, Bernie. Far be it from me to put words in my competitor's mouth. He's the man who's going to have to make the decisions. I believe I'm going to win both. I believe I'm going to win the delegates, and of course that's the main task. After all, that's the crux of the nominating process. But what I hear and what our people tell us in California, the enthusiasm is large enough so that I'll be able to win the popular contest at all. But we'll have to see when the polls close.
GREENFIELD: Governor, when we look at the state of the union, to coin a phrase, you've got an economy that's, by most measurements, the best anybody can ever remember, and certainly most Americans think that. You have a crime rate that's plummeted, you have an abortion rate that's gone down, juvenile violence down. Can you ever remember a time when Americans changed parties when conditions seemed to be this favorable? Isn't that a remarkably heavy burden for any challenger, that you might be, to bear?
BUSH: Well, there's no question, Jeff, if Vice President Gore's message is, vote for me, I represent the status quo, and if people accept that, if they're happy with what they see and hear in Washington, D.C., then I'll have a tough row to hoe. I don't believe that's the case. I believe there are a lot of issues that people are concerned about. You know, as I say in a lot of my talks, the Dow Jones may be up -- and I hope it continues to stay up, by the way -- but there are failed schools in our society which diminish the hopes of many children and many parents. Education is a key issue in this campaign, Jeff, and I'm going to continue talking about it. And the good news is I've got a vision to improve our schools. You and I had a discussion about that the other night.
There's a lot of folks who are deeply concerned about the state of morale in our military. They recognize that if we don't have a strengthened military, it's going to be hard to keep the peace. There are a lot of people who are -- who understand that welfare reform is just more than moving people from welfare to work, that we must rally the faith-based organizations and charitable organizations to provide hope and care for people in need. That's the kind of campaign I'm going to run. And we'll just see what happens when the people start filing in next November.
WOODRUFF: Mrs. Bush, Laura Bush, we don't want to leave you out of this interview at all, and I'm sorry if it seems that we've done that so far. I do want to bring you in and I want to ask you about, you know, this has been a tough campaign, tougher than I think many people expected on the Republican side. I want to ask you how you're dealing with that, and in particular, a lot of criticism of your husband with regard to these breast cancer ads in New York State. How does all of that go down with you?
LAURA BUSH, GEORGE W. BUSH'S WIFE: Well, you know, I know what politics is like. I've been involved with George in politics. We've had two governor's races of our own and, of course, been involved in presidential races before. So I know what politics is like. I know that there are charges and countercharges, and that's just the fact of life in politics. That's what we knew it would be like when we got into it.
I think it doesn't really bother me. I haven't been that disturbed by any of it. We've been in very tough races before and, you know, I knew what it'd be like.
WOODRUFF: So when John McCain says your husband's campaign is so Clintonesque, it's scary, or when he says he's not ready for primetime, what goes through...
L. BUSH: Well, of course I don't like that. I mean, who would? No one would like that. I don't like that. But I also know that's a part of politics.
SHAW: Governor Bush, final question.
BUSH: Yes, sir. Thanks, Bernie.
SHAW: Please put on your politician's analytical hat and consider this question.
SHAW: We're going to go back to Connecticut. Now, your grandfather, Prescott Bush, was United States senator from Connecticut from 1952 to '63. Your father, former President Bush, won the Connecticut primary three times: 1980, '88 and '92.
What happened to you tonight? How did you allow John McCain to take Connecticut from you where you and your father went to Yale undergraduate school?
BUSH: It may have been the problem I went to Yale, I don't know. I haven't had a chance to analyze the results.
Bernie, I'm the kind of guy that tries to look at the bright side of things. I'm looking at Ohio. It sounds like in Jeff's introduction that I've won the popular contest in New York. We'll see how the delegates go. I think we've got a great chance in California.
I know I'm strong in Texas and Florida. I hope my friends in Connecticut don't abandon me, but of course I wanted to win state. I just got off the phone with Governor Johnny Rowland. I said, Johnny, I appreciate you fighting for me. I understand it was a tough row to hoe, but I'm not going to quit on Connecticut in the general election.
You know, my good grandfather, gosh, I'm sure he's rolling over in his grave wishing his grandson had won the primary. But I think he's going to be proud of the fact that I did win his native state of Ohio.
SHAW: Governor and Laura Bush, we thank you very much for all this time.
L. BUSH: Thanks a lot. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORET: And we'll hear from the democratic front-runner, Vice President Al Gore, when we come back.
MORET: ... what has affectionately been called the beauty contest here in California. Among all primary voters, CNN is declaring Al Gore the winner -- there you see with 31 percent of the vote. There was some question whether John McCain would defeat Governor George W. Bush. That has apparently not happened, with Bush claiming 30 percent of the vote, McCain with 25 percent.
With the Democratic nomination effectively wrapped up, Vice President Gore is challenging the eventual Republican nominee to debate twice a week and to stay away from negative ads. Tonight, Gore talked with our Larry King about his agenda and about his rival, Bill Bradley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")
LARRY KING, HOST: Let's go to Nashville, Tennessee and Vice President Al Gore.
I said earlier this may be your happiest night other than '92 and '96, correct?
GORE: It's a good night, Larry. I'm very grateful to all the people who helped produce these victories. I'm very excited about moving forward to the fall campaign and talking about how we can keep our prosperity going, make sure no one's left behind, how we can bring revolutionary improvements to our schools and expand health care to all children, give our seniors a prescription drug benefit and clean up the environment in ways that promote the creation of more good jobs.
KING: Do you have any bitter -- I know you were very gracious tonight about Senator Bradley. Any bitterness? He was pretty rough.
GORE: I don't hold any. And I received a very gracious phone call from him tonight. He and I have been friends and colleagues, and as I said this evening, I think that he brought a tremendous passion to this campaign for ending the racial divisions and other things as well.
KING: Do you expect -- he said he's going to check with his advisers and the like. Frankly, do you expect him to leave the race?
GORE: Oh, I'm not -- that's not for me to say something like that. I -- he will consult with his advisers, as he said that he would. And then I'm going to let him speak for himself.
KING: Anything surprise you tonight, Mr. Vice President?
GORE: Well, I think the scope of the -- of the wins was certainly gratifying. I'm very, grateful. I mean, I could go down the list of states and recall so many friends in each place, folks who are celebrating tonight who helped me in this cause.
But now I'm concentrating on reaching out to ask others to join us: Republicans; independents; those Democrats and independents who supported Senator Bradley; those who are looking for campaign finance reform; those who want to keep the prosperity going rather than going back to an old, discredited policy with a risky tax scheme that put us into recessions in the past and could threaten our prosperity in the future; those who want to lift up our public schools instead of draining money away in the form of private school vouchers; those who want to protect a woman's right to choose; those who want child safety trigger locks; those who want to protect the environment; those who want a Supreme Court majority that interprets our Constitution according to the deepest values of America.
I ask all, regardless of party, to join because our campaign is your cause.
KING: A couple of quick things: What, in your opinion, turned this around? We all knew there was some problems some months ago. You switched campaign headquarters. You challenged the challenger to debates every night. You call yourself the underdog. If that'd be true, you...
GORE: Twice a week. KING: ... were the underdog. What -- what...
What turned it around?
GORE: Well, I think the competition from Senator Bradley was a blessing in disguise in helping me dig deep and find a much better way to communicate directly with the American people from my heart. I have made a shift in my own priorities in deciding that it's more important to be a presidential candidate connecting with the American people than to be the best vice president you can possibly be to the nth degree.
I stopped speaking first and foremost for the administration and the Clinton-Gore agenda, and began to give my own spontaneous reactions from the heart to whatever question or challenge arises.
And I think that that made it possible for me to see the need to move the campaign here to Nashville and have open meetings and start focusing on listening very carefully to what the American people are saying about our country and our future. And they've taught me a great deal these last several months, and I'm grateful to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORET: We'll take a look at some of the numbers from the contest around the country on this Super Tuesday when we come back.
MORET: For George W. Bush and Al Gore, the sprint through the primary's seems almost over. Now it's a marathon to election day in November.
And to help us look down that long road, I'm joined by political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe.
Sherry, thanks for joining us tonight.
SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: My pleasure.
MORET: When you look at those numbers, first, what's your impression of the race so far?
JEFFE: Well, what an incredibly impressive win it was, both for George W. Bush and for Al Gore. And who would have thunk it a couple of weeks ago? I mean, this has been a roller coaster ride this whole election season, and it's just had a melodramatic ending to boot.
MORET: What -- you say melodramatic ending because we've been talking over the last...
JEFFE: That was a slip of the tongue. Sorry. MORET: ... few days and weeks and you were talking about how exciting this process was. But with these presumptive victories now and a very long stretch to November, what happens between now and then?
JEFFE: Oscars, Easter, summertime, and I hope they let us alone for a while.
MORET: Well, you think that it will all be on the back burner then?
JEFFE: I would suspect that the voters would like to put it on the back burner, and I expect the candidates would like to leave a little bit of a breathing space, too. George W. Bush still can raise money, and I think he's got to go out and do that. And Al Gore would like not to tap out on his federal funding.
MORET: But in that sense, it would appear that we will have, then, two elections: one now, today, and then we'll revisit the issue in November.
JEFFE: Well, the actors will change, the venue will change, but that's the way the system works. We will find our nominees if not tomorrow, fairly shortly after tomorrow, and then the nominees will position themselves on a whole new stage.
MORET: And what about the issues? How you see them shaping up?
JEFFE: Well, I don't yet. I do know that education will continue to be a very significant issue, and my hunch is that Al Gore will try very, very hard to put the spotlight on issues such as abortion rights, guns and the environment so he can draw distinctions between George W. Bush, whom he will point out as a conservative, and himself. And he will be the centrist. And, indeed, if you look at California, and if you look at the McCain voters and the Bradley voters and, to some extent, the Gore voters, the Gore position -- more pro-choice than pro-life, pro gun-control, stronger on the environment, or at least more moderate to liberal on the environment -- tends to resonate better with this state's general electorate.
MORET: You make your living looking back at what's going on and then telling people what it all means.
JEFFE: And meager that it is, yes.
MORET: Were you surprised? You said, in a sense, that you were surprised by the victories because a few days ago you might not have predicted.
JEFFE: Well, I don't know if surprised is the right word; surprised at the magnitude of the sweeps of Al Gore and George W....
MORET: So what caused that shift?
JEFFE: I think part of it was the implosion of Bill Bradley; part of it was the stumbling of John McCain in the last couple weeks. To give credit where it's due, both George W. Bush and Al Gore got the message of their early stumbles and righted their campaigns, and I think part of that had something to do with it, too.
It's interesting: I look back at the beginning of this campaign and what seemed to drive George W. Bush, Bill Bradley, John McCain, was a certain authenticity. They were comfortable in their own skin. And when they started being uncomfortable, each and every one of them, they started to stumble.
MORET: But we saw some negative campaigning between Bush and McCain.
JEFFE: Yes, we did.
MORET: Do you see that now shifting? Do you see negative campaigning on the horizon between Gore and Bush?
JEFFE: We're going to see one of the nastiest, knock-down, drag- out, bloodiest campaigns we have seen in a long time. Both these guys know that they need to do what they need to do to win. Both these guys have people around them who know how to do a scorched-earth campaign, and I think it's going to be wild and woolly.
MORET: What do -- how do you think the voters will react, in the last few minutes?
JEFFE: It's a good question, Jim, it's a good question. I think there is some indication that negative campaigning still works if you're lucky at it and if your opponent does it worse. So I'm wondering whether we're going to see a drop in interest and engagement again if this thing gets too bloody without any positive alternatives.
MORET: Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, we will see you, I'm sure, over the next coming weeks and months. Thank you very much for joining us.
Still to some, a look back at the campaigning that led up to Super Tuesday as CNN's election 2000 coverage continues.
MORET: Let's take a moment now to look back at what we've been seeing and hearing on the campaign trail heading into this big day in the presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRADLEY: Don't listen to the polls and pundits. Go to the polls and vote your convictions, vote your heart, vote for the future of this country.
MCCAIN: We need to send a message from Massachusetts and New England to America that change is coming, a new day is coming in politics in America.
GEORGE: There's something in the air here in this good city. It's called victory on March the 7th. GORE: Hello, Buckeyes. It's great to be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who you going to vote for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Bill Bradley.
UNIDENTIFIED GORE SUPPORTERS: Hey, you!
UNIDENTIFIED GORE SUPPORTERS: Hey, you!
UNIDENTIFIED GORE SUPPORTERS: You know the story!
UNIDENTIFIED GORE SUPPORTERS: You know the story!
UNIDENTIFIED GORE SUPPORTERS: Tell the whole wide word this is Gore territory!
UNIDENTIFIED BUSH SUPPORTERS: We love him, we love him, we love him...
BUSH: This party needs to have a nominee who's willing to lead our education system to make sure nobody's left behind.
MCCAIN: I want every parent in America to have the same ability that wealthy parents have, and that is to send their child to the school of their choice in their neighborhood.
BRADLEY: Double what the federal government spends on education, but hold schools accountable for results.
ALAN KEYES (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Accountability is wonderful, but it shouldn't be accountability to government.
GORE: If you want a president a the United States that will move heaven and earth to bring not just gradual, incremental changes to our schools, but truly revolutionary improvements to our schools, I ask for your vote so I can fight for you.
MCCAIN: And I think when you look at all the highly qualified and talented women who serve in America today, that it would be very logical to have a woman vice president, and perhaps in the next cycle, a woman president of the United States.
Tell his sleazy Texas buddies to stop these negative ads. Take your money back to Texas where it belongs.
GORE: We knew that Governor Bush was in the hip pocket of the special interests, now we find out what a deep pocket that is.
BUSH: It's amazing that Vice President Gore is talking about campaign funding when he's the person who went to a Buddhist temple.
BRADLEY: They do not have the right to buy our democracy.
KEYES: They've shoveled the money in their mouths hand over fist, then walk into the arena professing to be shocked at the discovery that its there, and then turn to us and say we should give up our right to give money to support the causes we believe in because they don't have the integrity to do their jobs.
BUSH: It's amazing that Vice President Gore talks about standards in campaign funding when he's the person who's friend was just indicted for a scheme for raising money. I'm -- I look forward to running against Vice President Gore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORET: Big nights for Republican Governor George W. Bush who won all but four of the 16 primary states, and Vice President Al Gore, who made a clean sweep on the Democratic side. Republican John McCain and Democrat Bill Bradley both say their going to take some time and assess their campaigns.
Stay with CNN for more coverage of election 2000. Coming up in our next hour, we'll see how the rest of the world is reacting to the primary races.
I'm Jim Moret reporting from Los Angeles. Thanks for joining us.
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