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CNN Late Edition

GOP Hopes to Mend Fences After Bitter Primary Battle; Could Price of Gasoline Become an Election Issue?

Aired March 12, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 6:00 p.m. in Rome and 8:00 p.m. in Moscow. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90-minute LATE EDITION.

Well, get to presidential politics and our guests shortly, but first, to check on the hour's top stories.


BLITZER: Later today, a new national survey is expected to confirm what motorists in the United States already know: Gasoline prices are high and moving higher. Consumers are paying more at the pump and paying higher prices for airline tickets. By this summer, a gallon of gasoline in the United States could cost $1.80. But analysts say the U.S. economy has yet to suffer any serious ripple effect from rising gas and oil prices.

The price of gasoline has also become a hot political issue during the presidential campaign in the United States. Republicans have lashed out at the Clinton administration's handling of the gas price situation.

Joining us now to discuss this issue in Sherwood, Maryland, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.

Secretary Richardson, welcome back to LATE EDITION.


BLITZER: Is there going to be a reduction in the price of a gallon of gasoline here in the United States anytime soon?

RICHARDSON: Yes, I believe there will be after OPEC meets on March 27th. I believe they will collectively make a decision as they've already indicated, to increase production of crude. That means that by four weeks later, by Spring, by Summer, there will be stability in gasoline and diesel prices and gradual declines.

It looks very good for OPEC to increase production, a goal of our diplomacy has been to get them to increase production in a sizable fashion and in a timely fashion, so that we get more oil in the market because the problem is, every day the consumption of petroleum is 73 million barrels-a-day, and the world is only producing 75 barrels-a- day.

BLITZER: So the projection, the earlier projection of $1.80 a gallon here in the United States by this summer, do you think it will be less than that?

RICHARDSON: Well, that is if OPEC does take a decision to increase production in a sizable fashion and in a timely fashion, the answer is yes, I think you will see gradual reductions.

I don't want to get into the prediction business, but the argument we are making to OPEC countries is that what the world needs, producing countries and consuming countries, because of the very low inventories out there, is stability in prices, $10-a-barrel is too low, $30-a-barrel is too high. So what we need are moderate, stable prices. This is good for the international economy, that would now would not fuel inflation with high oil prices and also the objective should be to keep economic growth going in the international economy.

BLITZER: You know, many Republicans are calling for at least the suspension of the 4.3-cent-per-gallon tax that the Clinton administration got through Congress in 1993, Vice President Gore casting the tie-breaking vote to get that increase in the price of gasoline. You buy 20 gallons, that's almost, that would almost be a $1 more every time you fill up the tank. Is at good idea at this time to at least suspend that 4.3-cent-per-gallon tax, federal tax on a gallon of gasoline?

RICHARDSON: Well, the president will have to make that ultimate decision, but I don't think it will help very much because the main problem is scarcity of supply, low inventory. So that's going to do very little.

At the same time, you've got Americans, they want their highways improved. What this would do is take, if you had the suspension as some Republicans want, is you would have about $600 million per month out of the highway trust fund that improves highways across the country. So I think what is curious here is that in Texas, you have a tax there of 20-cents-per-gallon. So maybe they should start there. But within the Republican Congress, I testified several times last week, there is -- appears to be very mixed support among Republicans to take this step of the gasoline tax.

BLITZER: The other criticism that many Republicans are leveling, specifically against you, that it's unseemly for a U.S. Energy secretary to be running around the world, going to these OPEC nations in effect begging them to increase the production of oil.

RICHARDSON: Well, first of all, I'm not begging them. I'm being very firm, I'm laying out the rationale for lower oil prices being good for everybody. I am going to countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Mexico, Venezuela, Norway.

A lot of these countries are our friends, we have mutual interests and I say to them, it's good for you and good for us to have stable oil prices. I'm not threatening or coercing them but I'm being very firm. Now, the Republican solution is to put sanctions on those countries. That hardly is going to do the trick, or open up in pristine areas, ecologically pristine areas in Alaska for more drilling.

We have boosted domestic production in this country. We have a strategy in the Congress of pushing for alternative sources of energy, of fuel-efficient vehicles. If the Republican Congress would only give us those initiatives and fund these programs, I think we would have a more diversified and stronger energy policy.

BLITZER: You know, Secretary Richardson, people around the world who are watching this program right now think that Americans must be very, very selfish people. Take a look at the price of a gallon of gasoline outside of the United States. We have a graphic: In Mexico it's $2 a gallon right now, in Japan it's $3.46 a gallon, in France, $4.50 a gallon, in Britain it's $5 a gallon, in Hong Kong it's even more.

Is the United States -- are American consumers simply too spoiled right now to be worried about what around the world would be a modest price, $1.80 or even $2 a gallon?

RICHARDSON: Well, first of all, American consumers are not spoiled. I think they're hardworking. They're obviously concerned about increased gasoline prices. But I would remind consumers around the world, the international community, low oil prices, stable oil prices, are in their interests because many of their economies are tied to us.

You know, it's not just the United States saying to others that we need stable oil prices. The European community has come out for stable oil prices and for OPEC to increase production, the international energy agency, developing countries. I was just in Egypt. Certainly India has recently made a statement.

So I think it's important that we say to the international community: moderate prices are good for producer and consuming nations. What the world needs now is stable prices that don't fluctuate so wildly as they have.

If you have that, Wolf, you will have an international economy that will not retard economic growth, that will be stable, that will not fuel inflation and will permit the export and imports in trades from the international community to move without inflation.

BLITZER: All right. We have to take a quick break.

Secretary Richardson, please stay with us.

Up next: We'll shift gears to presidential politics. With their respective parties' nominations now guaranteed, Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush are turning their full attention to each other and the general election in November.

Gore supporter Bill Richardson will return. And he'll be joined by Bush supporter, Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating.

LATE EDITION -- we'll be right back.



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't need to go back to where we were eight years ago.

If you don't want to go back to that, then join us now.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are ready, and I believe this great country of ours is ready to return exiled honor to the White House.


BLITZER: Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush setting their sites on the November elections.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

BLITZER: Here to discuss presidential politics, Gore supporter, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. He's with us from Sherwood, Maryland. And joining us from Oklahoma City, Bush supporter and Oklahoma governor, Frank Keating.

Governor Keating, welcome back to LATE EDITION.


BLITZER: And I'll begin with you, Governor, since we just spoke to Bill Richardson. If you take a look at the latest public opinion polls that have come out since Super Tuesday, since the nominations were wrapped up by Gore and Bush, look at the CNN-Time poll that just came out. Right now it has it virtually at a dead heat within the sampling error, 48 percent for Vice President Gore; 46 percent for Governor Bush, but look at this, in January, only two months ago, Governor Bush was at 56 percent and Al Gore was at 39 percent, a 17 point split that the vice president has more than made up.

How do you explain this ability of the vice president to be on an equal footing now with George W. Bush?

KEATING: Every presidential race, I know Bill Richardson knows this and certainly Wolf, you do as well, is always close. These poll numbers always tighten, Ronald Reagan looked like he was always going to lose. Jimmy Carter looked like he was going to win. I mean, at the last -- it's a toss up between the two major party candidates. This is going to be a tight race, but as far as I'm concerned, the American people will support George Bush because he is the reformer with results, is a person who does not represent the status quo and, I think, as the campaign evolves, you'll see a superb effort on the part of the governor of Texas and victory in November.

BLITZER: Well, Bill Richardson, the flip side of those poll numbers is that Governor Bush was badly bruised by John McCain in a very bitter Republican primary, despite all of that, he's neck and neck right now with the vice president who had an easier time with Bill Bradley. Does that not bode well for Governor Bush in the general campaign?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think the winner of the primaries in many ways was Al Gore. The Bradley challenge, a formidable challenge because he was a superior candidate, made Al Gore a better candidate, ready for the general election. If you look at the surge in the vice president's numbers, it is across the board and I think now what the vice president is doing is reaching out to independent voters, to reform-minded voters, he was with Governor Ventura recently. We want those McCain voters. I think that Al Gore, with his excellent record in improving the economy, his emphasis on education, on health care, on issues that effect working families, is going to be the main stream candidate in this race.

Governor Bush is going to have a little problem now because he has to move from the right to the center, and Al Gore has been in the center throughout this campaign.

BLITZER: What about, that Governor Keating? Governor Bush did move to the right, especially in South Carolina. We'll talk to Pat Robertson later in this program. How does he now move back to the center to try to win some of those McCain independents, potentially even some Democrats?

KEATING: Well Wolf, you know, Al Gore is the candidate of the left, he is the candidate of the status quo. George Bush from Texas, not a part of Washington, Al Gore from Tennessee, clearly a part of Washington. Tax policy alone from the left.

Al Gore was described by the National Taxpayers Union as the only senator twice in a row just before he became vice president, to be the biggest spender. The candidate of the left in education, someone who refuses to provide an opportunity for poor, disenfranchised children in the worst inner city schools to have vouchers to break out in order to have an education opportunity and an opportunity for the American dream. A candidate of the left, the darling of Naomi Wolf, the individual, the radical feminist who suggested he should let his strangeness out. I mean, Al Gore is far to the left of the American main stream values. George Bush is clearly mid-America and will be successful because of that.

BLITZER: Bill Richardson you're obviously hearing a line of attack that the Bush campaign is going to be leveling against Vice President Gore.

But one area that Governor Keating didn't get into that Bush strategist Karl Rove this morning on "Face the Nation" did get into: the whole Charles LaBella report, the 1996 campaign fund- raising abuses by the Clinton-Gore campaign. Listen to what Karl Rove specifically said in insisting that the vice president's transgressions during the '96 campaign were by no means minor. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KARL ROVE, BUSH CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: These aren't mistakes, these are potential violations of law. People are going to jail over this. Eighty-three people have taken the Fifth Amendment, 19 people have fled the country, 23 have failed to cooperate with federal investigators on it, and he tries to pass this off as a minor, little boo-boo. It isn't. It's potential violations of law and actual violations of law with people going to jail.


BLITZER: That's obviously going to be a main attack, line of attack, by the Bush campaign. What will the Gore campaign say in response?

RICHARDSON: Well, first of all, I'd first like to see what Governor Bush positively he's going to stand for in this race. All I've heard all morning is recycled stories being recycled again and again and them trying to get traction.

First of all, the vice president admitted a mistake. But he has said the centerpiece of his campaign is going to be campaign finance reform. And he has said to the Bush campaign: I challenge you. I am ready to ban soft money, I am ready to eliminate 30- and 60-second ads, I'm ready to have two debates a week. And we're yet to hear back.

So again the vice president is moving on this LaBella memorandum. A lot of senior Justice career officials that it was overblown. Nothing has been found that the president, the first lady, the vice president has done that is illegal. Mistakes were made.

But, you know, I would turn back and say -- even the reformer, John McCain, has made mistakes in this area.

Governor Bush right now is being challenged in an FEC complaint for some of those ads.

So again, this is something that the best person to clean up the campaign finance system is the a person of experience, of commitment, somebody who knows how to get things done, and that's Al Gore.

BLITZER: OK. Governor Keating, I'm going to give you a chance to respond, but first we have to take a quick commercial break.

Up next, more questions on campaign 2000 for Secretary Bill Richardson and Governor Frank Keating.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're continuing our conversation about the upcoming Gore versus Bush presidential battle, with U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, and Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating. Governor Keating, I said I could give you a chance to respond to Secretary Richardson. Specifically, though, on the issue that the vice president is now making, that he says ban all soft money, the unregulated sums that get into the political process and have twice a week debates after the conventions. Do you think that's a good idea for Governor Bush to accept that proposal from Vice President Gore?

KEATING: I think that it's a good idea to have debates and I think it's good idea to continue to discuss campaign finance reform. Bill Richardson is a good man and has to carry the torch for his man.

Let's be realistic, it was Al Gore, the man in the saffron robe who involved himself in the illegal Buddhist fundraising. It was Al Gore who, at the White House, made those infamous soft money and perhaps even hard money calls where there was no controlling legal authority when it's clearly illegal to make those calls from the White House. It was Al Gore's friend, Maria Hsia, who was indicted and convicted of campaign finance violations. You talk about the pot calling the kettle black, nice to get religion at the last minute.

I want to know where has he been all these years in the Senate with respect to campaign finance reform? You know, their administration has been in power eight years, their administration has had certainly a friendly Congress and open-minded Congress throughout, where is all this? Why hasn't it been done?

BLITZER: All right, what about, that Bill Richardson? When you answer the question, I want you to think about this as well: A new RNC Republican National Committee ad over here that is just coming out. I want to you take a look. I don't know if you'll see it, but let me read what this Republican ad is now saying.

There's a picture of the Vice President, and it's followed by this quote. "Why should we think you will tell the truth as president if you don't tell the truth as a candidate?" Bill Bradley to Al Gore, January 26, 2000. That's obviously going to be very useful for the Republicans, quoting Bill Bradley and attacking the honesty, the integrity of Al Gore.

RICHARDSON: Well, first, I'm going to return the compliment. Governor Keating is a terrific guy, he's a very good man.

Now that I've said that, let me disagree with his basic premise. It's been Republicans in the Congress that have killed campaign finance reform. The record is very clear. McCain-Feingold bill has been killed by Republicans in the House and in the Senate.

So again, it's been the Democrats that have been the agents of reform, recognizing that everybody has had problems in this area. Our hands are not totally clean, I'm going to get up here and say that. What I am saying now is that let's have this campaign, this national campaign for the presidency on the issues that are important to the American people: improving education, helping working families.

We've got a very strong economy and that's because of President Clinton and Al Gore and with the help of a lot of other people, including many in the Congress. Let's debate the issues, let's not get into negative campaign finance. I can bring up just as many on their side. I don't want to do it. We want to have a campaign to issues for the future.

BLITZER: Let me then, since you don't want to do it, I'll put Governor Keating on the spot as I tried to put you on the spot.

Governor Keating, some of the angry exchanges that John McCain and George W. Bush had during the course of this campaign, they're also going to be exploit bid the Democrats, by the Gore campaign as the process gets moving. By all accounts, this will be a tough, bitter, probably negative campaign. Listen to what John McCain had to say during the course of his primary against George W. Bush and I would be anxious to get your reaction. Listen to this:


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why should you fear a candidate who shares your values? My friends, I am a Reagan Republican who will defeat Al Gore. Unfortunately, Governor Bush is a Pat Robertson Republican who will lose to Al Gore.


BLITZER: Can't you already imagine Governor Keating, Democrats using those words from John McCain, that George Bush is a Pat Robertson Republican, isn't that going to be a successful or at least an effective advertising strategy by the Democrats?

KEATING: Well, remember, George Bush is a Ronald Reagan Republican, he's a compassionate open-minded, decent, wonderful person who has a great family, great parents, he's been an extraordinarily gifted governor of Texas.

The Bob Jones incident was an aberration, that is a fringe institution, but as a Catholic governor of a overwhelmingly non- catholic state, my fundamentalist community, southern Baptist, Assembly of God and the like, they know that Catholics and Christian conservatives are joined at the hip.

KEATING: It is Christian conservatives who believe and Catholics who believe that abortion should be safe but rare, something that obviously Clinton-Gore does not believe, although at one time Gore was pro-life. Now he's pro-abortion. It's Catholics, Christian conservatives who believe that there ought to be options for schools, there ought to be discipline in the classrooms, there ought to be removal of the marriage penalty and more opportunity for individual people to have a slice of the good life.

It's Clinton-Gore that represents the status quo. It represents yesterday. I mean, look at Al Gore, the senator from Lucky Strike. In his day, a tobacco farmer, today he's against tobacco. At one time pro-life, now pro-abortion. At one time for the MFN treaty, now against, now at one time against, rather, now for. I mean, it really is a flip-flop candidacy and I think George clearly is main stream. BLITZER: All right. I'm going to give Bill Richardson a chance to respond. There were a lot of accusations there. Excuse me, Bill Richardson a chance to respond to Governor Keating.

RICHARDSON: Well, all I'm saying is that the status quo is the most booming economy we've ever had with the highest unemployment and huge economic growth, all types of jobs everywhere and the American people in a relatively good economic state, then we're going to run on that banner and that's because of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. And what I am simply saying is we want to run a positive campaign. We want to talk about education, about universal health care, we want to talk about international trade issues, we want to talk about the environment. How do we improve the environment? We want to stay positive. If they want to go negative, I think the American people are going to turn off.

BLITZER: All right. Bill Richardson, Frank Keating, always good to have both of you on LATE EDITION. I hope both of you will return early and often during the course of this campaign, thanks for joining us.

When LATE EDITION returns, repairing the breach: After a bitter primary battle, can the Republican Party mend fences? We'll get three views from inside the GOP. Christian Coalition founder and president, Pat Robertson. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth.

LATE EDITION will be right back.



MCCAIN: Neither party should be defined by pandering to outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farakhan or Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

BUSH: Senator McCain is running a stealth campaign, saying one thing and doing the other. He is playing the religious card.


BLITZER: Just last week Texas Governor George W. Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain were at each other's political throats.

But with Bush now having a lock on the Republican presidential nomination, there's plenty to unite the party.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

With us now to talk about how the GOP can refocus on the general election are three guests. Joining us from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Christian Coalition president and Bush supporter Pat Robertson. He vigorously opposed McCain's nomination. In Phoenix, Arizona, Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who supported McCain. And here in Washington, former Republican vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp, who endorsed George Bush just before the New Hampshire primary.

Gentlemen, good to have all of you on LATE EDITION.

And let me begin with Pat Robertson. The general question: What must be done now to heal this very divided Republican Party? What in your opinion, Mr. Robertson, must be done?

PAT ROBERTSON, FOUNDER, CHRISTIAN COALITION: Well, Wolf, the first thing is the party's got to understand that we're not supposed to be fighting each other. Our common enemy, if I may use that term, is the Democrat. So I believe that we must emphasize the failure of the Clinton White House, the moral lapses that have gone on, the repugnance of some of the conduct of the President that Al Gore has endorsed. And we need to say look, we are united in this matter and we can heal these wounds that have appeared during the primary season.

BLITZER: Congressman Hayworth though, before those wounds can be healed, there has to be some accommodation between George W. Bush and John McCain. That has not happened. There still is obviously some bitterness. What is John McCain looking for George Bush to do in order to embrace and work closely together.

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH (R), ARIZONA: Wolf, I really can't come here and speak directly for John McCain. All I can do is offer advice from my perspective. I would hope that as Senator McCain finishes his time away and returns to the Senate on March 20 that very shortly thereafter, certainly not the 21st or 22nd, but some time soon, that Senator McCain and Governor Bush have a chance to meet. Perhaps the best facilitator for that meeting might be the former president, our senior statesman, Gerald Ford. After all he titled his memoirs A Time to Heal. It's time to heal in our party.

But let me concur with what Pat said earlier. We are united not against a common enemy but against a common opponent. And the two words President Gore will do a lot to unite all of us and bring along a lot of independents and disaffected Democrats this November.

BLITZER: Jack Kemp the independent pollster John Zogby was quoted as saying this week about the need to expand the base of the Republican party, something you've tried to do over many years. Listen to what Zagbe had to say. He said this, if they don't in some way deal with McCain, the Republican party is dead. You just can't win an election in normal times by being ideologically pure. You just have to have broader appeal.

JACK KEMP, CO-FOUNDER, EMPOWER AMERICA: Well, John Zogby is a very outstanding pollster, and I think there's no one that could disagree with that statement. I think Winston Churchill had a great piece of advice when he said after World War II, "In defeat, courage. In victory, magnanimity." John McCain is a man of courage. Everyone recognizes that. George Bush's statement upon -- if not winning de jure, at least de fact, the nomination was very magnanimous. Now they've got to bring it together.

And I would remind everybody, the purpose of a great party is not to defeat the opposition, it's to provide superior leadership and great ideas and an aspiring vision of what America and the world can be like in the twenty-first century. So in my opinion, I would hope George W. Bush picks John McCain, A. B, they are ...

BLITZER: Picks him as his running mate?

KEMP: Yes, absolutely. I don't want to go to HUD, but I certainly want to heal this divide.

BLITZER: Well, I don't think ...

KEMP: Let me just finish ...

BLITZER: Well, before we can ...

KEMP: There's a number of areas upon which they can agree: Social Security reform, tax reform, as Trent Lott pointed out on the EVANS & NOVAK show yesterday, education, and no taxes or tariffs or duties on the Internet, which is basically what John McCain and Ron Dryden of Oregon have been promoting.

BLITZER: OK. Pat Robertson, on this program a few weeks ago you said that if John McCain were the Republican nominee that would destroy in effect, devastate the Republican Party. Now you hear Jack Kemp suggesting that John McCain should be George W. Bush's running mate. Will that unite? Will that heal the breach? Will you and your Christian coalition supporters be happy if McCain is on the ticket?

ROBERTSON: Wolf, I think that would be a very bad mistake. Somebody asked me, what do you think about that? And I said well, if George Bush would like somebody either screaming at him or cursing at him about three times a week for the next four years, by all means, pick him.

I think there are many other Republicans who would have a kinder, softer image and would help further the goals that President Bush would have. I don't think that would help the party at all. I know it's being floated out there.

But McCain has said some things that were highly irresponsible. You know, Ronald Reagan put forth the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. And these are some wounds that were put out there that I think Senator McCain has got to clarify. He needs to apologize for some of the things he said about 20 to 30 percent of his party. He attacked the base of his party. And that's got to be settled. It's a wound that needs to be healed, but it won't be healed unless somebody confesses what he's done.

BLITZER: Congressman Hayworth, what do you say about that, the accusation that John McCain dissed some 25 percent of the party and now must apologize.

HAYWORTH: Well, I happened to be a Christian conservative, 100 percent voting record as scored by the Christian Coalition in terms of my votes on Capitol Hill. I think we would all do well to follow General Eisenhower's advice. When he became president he said concentrate on policies, don't engage in personalities. And I'd just reach out to Pat and say: This morning, Pat, let's resist the temptation to get back into a who-shot-John argument. Let's not engage in personalities. Let's engage in policies, and see the best way to reach out to independents, disaffected Democrats and build our majority.

And I think when we find the common ground, we take a look at the fact that Al Gore had working for him an agent of the Chinese government in Maria Hsia, now convicted, the fact that now they say those things were mistakes, they weren't mistakes; They were crimes. And it is our duty to provide positive leadership, but also to point out that sadly the Clinton-Gore gang defines a strategic partnership as a transfer of technology and basically being asleep at the switch when it comes to our military policy.


ROBERTSON: ... can I answer that?

BLITZER: You can, Pat Robertson, but unfortunately, we have to take a quick break. You and Jack Kemp will be right back as soon as we come back, including phone calls for Pat Robertson, Jack Kemp, Congressman J.D. Hayworth.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.



BUSH: I was pleased to hear him talking about that he wants to go back to the Senate and continue to battle for reform and I look forward to working with him on a reform agenda.


BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush offering an olive branch this past week to his GOP rival Arizona Senator John McCain.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're talking about healing rifts in the GOP with Christian Coalition President Pat Robertson, Arizona Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth and co-director of Empower America, former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp.

BLITZER: Jack Kemp, you were itching to get into that discussion when there's a clear difference of opinion between you and Pat Robertson on the value of John McCain to the Republican Party.

KEMP: I didn't want to make John McCain the sole way to heal the rift, I was suggesting that would be a good choice, albeit Pat disagrees with me.

Look, I made the point that the purpose of a great party is to lead a great cause to provide superior leadership and what I heard from George Bush is the type of magnanimity that Churchill was talking about in victory. He was reaching out to John and he said we need a reform agenda, and I think Trent Lott put it best last night on "EVANS & NOVAK" when he said, we need to reform the tax code. It's counter- intuitive, counter-productive, it's corrupting and we can work together to reform it.

We should reform education, reform the military. Give John McCain credit for calling for reform of the military. I really believe a progressive and conservative reform agenda can bring the party together and win the White House and the Congress in 2001.

BLITZER: Pat Robertson, in the general campaign, Bush versus Gore, will the Christian Coalition, will you be as actively involved in supporting Bush as you were in South Carolina, in Michigan, specifically those controversial phone calls, the phone banks that you organized. Will you continue to do that in a general campaign?

ROBERTSON: Well, first of all, the so-called controversial thing is made to a few people, it was blown way out of proportion by the McCain campaign, but nevertheless, the answer is yes, we will be enthusiastically within the limits of the federal election law in support of George Bush. I think he'll make a superb president and the big thing is, is that he's going to give us dignity in the White House as Jack has been saying so eloquently today. He's going to have an agenda which will be the appropriate agenda for the leader of the free world. This nation is the leader of the whole world and we must put forward a program within to reform the systems that we have and something to show leadership to the nations of the world. I think he'll do that and I will be enthusiastically in favor of him.

BLITZER: All right, let's take a caller from Georgia, please go ahead with your question for our panel of Republicans.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Robertson, in your opinion will honesty and integrity be the big, biggest issue in the 2000 presidential election?

ROBERTSON: I really believe so. I think the whole concept of restoring the dignity to the highest office of the land, is going to become the paramount issue in the minds of voters. So long as the prosperity continues. The second theme is going to have to be annunciated by George Bush as he will continue the prosperity we've enjoyed for these last years. We've had an unprecedented economic boom and the people want to hear that and I think those things are extremely important and I agree that honestly and integrity is going to become the paramount issue.

BLITZER: Let's take another caller from Germany.

Please go ahead with your question. Germany, go ahead.

QUESTION: Question to Mr. Kemp: Do you believe that the manner in which Al Gore supported Bill Clinton during the impeachment process or subsequent to the impeachment process will individually itself be a campaign issue and how will George Bush use this during the campaign? KEMP: I don't speak for Governor Bush and -- but, will it be an issue, yes. The whole ethical anarchy of the last eight years will be an issue as Pat Robertson pointed out. I mean, this administration -- excuse me, in my opinion, is going to go down in history somewhere between Warren G. Harding and Richard M. Nixon. We have achieved peace and prosperity to a certain degree, continuing it is important. Foreign policy will be a big issue, but clearly ending this ethical anarchy in an administration that said they were going to be the most ethical administration in the history of America, is going to be as Pat pointed out, a big issue in this 2000 election.

BLITZER: J.D. Hayworth, Pat Buchanan, who's trying to get the Reform Party nomination, was on "Meet the Press" earlier today saying the Republican Party is going to have deep problems this year and he's going to do his best to get as many votes as he possibly can if he's the Reform Party nominee.

Listen to what Pat Buchanan said, because I'd love to get your reaction.

Listen to this.


PAT BUCHANAN (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the Republican Party is in serious trouble because not only is it Constitution party broken away and the Perot movement broken away from the Reagan coalition, but now the Buchanan brigades have broken away from the Reagan coalition. I think what we need in national politics, Tim, is a realignment of the parties.


BLITZER: If Buchanan does run as a third-party candidate, presumably most if not all of his votes would come the Republican candidate who is going to be George W. Bush.


BUCHANAN: I think what we need in national politics, Time, is a realignment of the parties.


BLITZER: If Buchanan does run as a third-party candidate, presumably most if not all of his votes would come from the Republican candidate, who's going to be George W. Bush. He's not going to take a whole lot of votes away from Al Gore. Isn't that going to in effect help strengthen the Gore campaign?

HAYWORTH: It's very sad to see my friend Pat Buchanan leave. I guess he felt that he needed to. But what he has embraced, full-scale here, is the politics of protest. And if you want to have a pitch- fork rebellion, that's one thing. But do you really want four years of President Gore, with what is going on, the Chinese poised to attack Taiwan, with what has gone on in campaign finance, with what would go on on the Supreme Court? Is Patrick Buchanan prepared to usher the Gore era? I hope not.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take another quick break. I know Jack Kemp, Pat Robertson want to talk about this as well.

In addition, they'll be taking your phone calls.

LATE EDITION will be right back.



We're continuing our conversation with Christian Coalition president Pat Robertson, Arizona Republican congressman J.D. Hayworth, and former Republican presidential candidate Jack Kemp.

BLITZER: Jack Kemp, if it's a close election and Pat Buchanan is running as the third party, couldn't he take enough votes away from Bush, almost to the point that Ross Perot took enough votes presumably away from his father, George Bush, in 1992 that set the stage for Bill Clinton's presidency.

KEMP: Well, I think what I heard from both Pat and J.D. is that the Republican Party needs a reform agenda. That's what McCain ran on. Indeed, that's what George W. Bush has been talking about.

And if the Republican Party is the reform party in terms of making this country all it can be in the 21st century, both in foreign policy and domestic policy, I think that Pat will not harm us.

I would also say, frankly, I'm glad he left. I think, with all due respect -- he was a friend of mine as well as J.D. suggested -- but what he's talking about now is bashing everybody in the world, anti-immigrant. I mean, Pat Buchanan's reform message is, in my opinion, xenophobic, protectionist, isolationist and ill-liberal in the classical use of that word.

So let him run and have George Bush run as the reform candidate.

BLITZER: All right.

Pat Robertson, Warren Rudman, the former senator from New Hampshire, was on Face the Nation earlier today, someone you have criticized bitterly for some comments that he wrote in his book.

I'd like you to listen to what he says now about John McCain and the need for John McCain to be satisfied in order to heal this Republican Party. Listen to Warren Rudman right now.


WARREN RUDMAN (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: There was no way that John McCain is going to step down from his core belief that campaign reform must be enacted. And, you know, if they don't want to work with him on that, then I don't think he'll do anything to hurt the ticket, but I'm not sure how much enthusiasm he'll have for the ticket.


BLITZER: What do you say about those comments from Warren Rudman?

ROBERTSON: Wolf, the campaign finance reform as enunciated in McCain-Feingold and Shays-Meehan would -- if a Republican votes for that it would be like a turkey voting for Thanksgiving. It would be unilateral surrender. It would set up the labor unions with no strictures whatsoever as to how much money they can spend.

It would, of course, give unlimited power to the media, but it would cut off the sources of funds of support for the Republican Party. And it is a Democrat-pushed initiative.

I'm for reform. I mean, I really want reform. I want reform of the tax code, it's a monstrosity.

J.D., he said earlier: We want paycheck for protection for workers. We can have a legitimate campaign finance reform, but not in the form it's being presented to us.

BLITZER: J.D. Hayworth, I know you can't speak for your fellow Arizonan, John McCain, but if he's not satisfied that Bush is supporting McCain-Feingold, is he going to be an enthusiastic supporter of the Bush campaign?

HAYWORTH: Well, Wolf, this is why I think it's important for Governor Bush, as time goes on, to perhaps enlist the help of former President Ford and sit down far from the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd with Senator McCain, not to grant concessions to Senator McCain, but to achieve a comprehensive reform platform and manifesto to run on on a variety of different issues.

And I don't think there's any type of litmus test. So I'd have to disagree with my friend Warren Rudman in terms of setting that stage.

I believe John McCain will answer the call to duty, he'll understand comprehensive reform, he will be a statesman within our party and he will work actively to make sure there is not a President Gore.

BLITZER: Jack Kemp, we only have a few seconds left. You debated Al Gore four years ago. What single piece of advice do you have for George W. bush right now as he prepares presumably for some heavy-duty debates?

KEMP: Start preparing right now. Go right now. Al Gore is disciplined, he will say anything it takes. He should study the tapes of Al Gore with Quayle and Perot and myself, among others, and he should start preparing right now.

KEMP: And he should start preparing right now. But, incidentally I agree with both Pat and J.D. I think they're on the right track with regard to telling Warren Rudman, with all due respect Senator Rudman, campaign reform along the lines of Feingold and McCain would not give the government back to the people, it would turn it over to the press.

BLITZER: Jack Kemp, I know you love the press. Jack Kemp, Pat Robertson, J.D. Hayworth, great of all of you to join us on LATE EDITION. Thanks so much.

KEMP: Thanks, Wolf.

ROBERTSON: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: For our international viewers, world news is next.

For our North American audience, another 30 minutes of LATE EDITION.

We'll check the hours top stories with Gene Randall, then the roundtable weighs in on the weeks changes in the presidential race.

And of course Bruce Morton's "Last Word." It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We'll get to our roundtable in just a moment, but first let's go to Gene Randall for a check of the hour's headlines -- Gene.


BLITZER: Thanks, Gene.

Time now for our roundtable.

Joining me Susan Page, White House bureau chief for "USA Today"; Steve Roberts, contributing editor for "U.S. News & World Report"; and Tucker Carlson, political writer for "The Weekly Standard."

BLITZER: All right, Steve, the horse race is now set. Bush versus Gore, who's in better shape right now?

STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well you know, until this week, I never thought that Al Gore was going to be president of this country, frankly, and this is the first week when it least seems plausible. He's obviously pulled up in the polls as you were demonstrating earlier. I think he's done a good job of moving toward the center. He took that first speech he made on Tuesday night, talked about welfare reform, talked about crime -- Republican issues. And the center is where this is going to be won.

Fifty-two percent of Americans describe themselves as moderates. You can only win if you win the center of the road. And I think he also comes out of this with fewer scares than Bush. I think that you mentioned it earlier, there are a lot of McCain sound bites -- tax cuts for the wealthy, not ready for prime time -- that the Democrats can use against Bush. I don't think the Republicans have as much ammunition against Gore, so I think Gore has a slight advantage at least right now.

BLITZER: You know, Tucker, McCain use to say I can beat Al Gore, George W. Bush can't. Can George W. Bush beat Al Gore?

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think it was like a drum.


CARLSON: Sure he can. Of course he can. Look, whenever people start saying so and so can't win, it's like the famous Moynihan quote about Al Gore. Al Gore can't win, a month later, everyone's reassessing that. No, of course he can win. I think a lot of people have trouble imagining Gore as president. Gore's a much better campaigner than people thought he was, we've learned that over the past three months, but keep in mind that Gore has a very large and very stable set of negatives against him. There's a large chunk of people who just aren't going to vote for Al Gore period. A lot of that has to do with Clinton, but I don't think you've seen a lot of movement from that core group. I don't know, it's 35, 40 percent and it's tough to start out with that large a group of people who's just against you adamantly.

BLITZER: You know, what we did see from Al Gore this week in the aftermath of Super Tuesday, the victories, the clean sweep against Bill Bradley. All of a sudden now he's beginning to compare himself, Susan, to John McCain. In fact, listen to this sound bite of the vice president.


GORE: Like John McCain, I bring a commitment born of personal experience to the battle for campaign finance reform. I've learned from my mistakes. I know it's time to change a broken system. We need tough, uncompromising campaign finance reform. That cause is going to be pushed by our campaign.


SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Now this is interesting. It does two things. It makes a direct appeal to McCain voters. Obviously one of the big swing groups you need to go after right now. It also draws a lesson from McCain's campaign. You know, McCain had some history on campaign finance and political corruption issues called the Keating Five. Although some people thought that his role was over blown in that. But what McCain would say was, yes, I've made mistakes. We're all tainted by the system. That's why we should change it.

That's exactly what Al Gore is saying now, hoping that people will extend the same forgiveness and acceptance to him that they did to John McCain. It's a pretty bold stroke considering Al Gore's history on some of these campaign fund-raising issues.

ROBERTS: For all you know, we're going to see Al Gore doing his Luke Skywalker imitation pretty soon, but I think it's smart politics because I think that it's not just that he's identifying with McCain's issue, he's identifying with McCain's straight talking approach. Campaign finance reform was always much more powerful for McCain as a metaphor than it was for an issue itself. When he says, I've made mistakes, that's really the quality that voters are looking for. They like the candor of John McCain, and I think that's really more important than identifying with the policy of campaign finance reform.

BLITZER: And he made the same points in an interview in today's "New York Times."

But, Tucker, can't Al Gore be on the honest trek when he fact he says, I support McCain-Feingold, the campaign finance reform legislation that has failed several times. But only a handful of other Republicans do. Almost all of the Republicans in this Senate oppose it. So isn't Al Gore on this narrow issue of campaign finance reform much closer to John McCain than George Bush is?

CARLSON: Yes, I believe he is. I'm not sure I agree with Steve. I'm not sure how much this issue as an issue resonates. I think that the McCain campaign, to the extent it went off track, did so when it began to believe that the issues that it was talking about were the ones that were getting voters excited, campaign finance, et cetera, you know the "reform agenda."

I spent a lot of time with McCain. I never really got my mind around the reform agenda. I'm sure it exists...


... but I never figured out what it was. It was all about McCain. That's not a bad thing to base a campaign on.

I have a lot of trouble believing that Gore is going to -- apart from talking about, you know, his years in prison camp or something, I mean, if he really tries to assumes McCain's persona -- is going to get very far on the reform agenda.

BLITZER: Susan, can you ever imagine Al Gore have a "Straight Talk Express" like John McCain, where reporters could spend 12 hours just hanging around, listening to everything. You've covered the vice president for a long time.

PAGE: Yes -- no, I think that would be quite a switch. Al Gore has not done a lot of news conferences, for instance, since the New Hampshire primary.

But I'll tell you one thing he does, he says he will do a lot of these open town meetings in which voters, rather than reporters, get to ask questions. I think that's a fair substitute frankly. I think a lot of times voters asks better questions than reporters do, and they certainly ask questions that's harder for politicians to avoid or evade.

So as long as candidates are out there talking to voters and letting them ask questions -- and I don't think it's a big problem that reporters are not sitting next to them on a bus for 12 hours a day.

ROBERTS: You know, I was listening to your interviews earlier, and two things are very interesting. Governor Keating was attacking Gore about the candidate of the status quo -- which is something that George Bush has been doing. And Bill Richardson says, hey, the status quo is not bad for a lot of people.

I'm not sure this is a great year to be saying it's time for a change. Because if you go back to Ronald Reagan's classic question in 1980 -- are you better off than you were four or eight years ago -- a lot of Democrats in 1980 said, no, and they voted for Reagan. A lot of Republicans are going to say, yes, I am better off. And I think that is the fundamental issue of the campaign.

When Jack Kemp says, sort of in passing, well, yes, we have peace and prosperity, but we should worry about morals. I think a lot of people are going to say, hey, I care more about peace and prosperity than the morals in the White House.

BLITZER: You know, a lot of people, or at least some people, Tucker, they may be reading too much into this, but they think that the release of this Charles LaBella report on recommending an independent counsel, the alleged wrongdoings by Al Gore, that the release now with this beginning of the general campaign season actually was good for Al Gore, get it out now, let him say, yes, I made a mistake, inoculate himself, and move on. Better now than in September or October.

CARLSON: I think that's right. I mean -- and I do think that Gore admitting that he made a mistake does more than anything to inoculate him against this.

But Republicans are very frustrated and have been literally for years about this lack of traction that these issues get them -- Maria Hsia convictions, five felony convictions. Why aren't people reporting this? They're mad about it.

ROBERTS: Where's the outrage?

CARLSON: Right, that's right. And I think it's to some extent it's a valid question. And I think you'll see Republicans continue to hammer home these points. Whether they'll work or not is another question.

PAGE: So they'll keep doing it even though it hasn't worked in the past...


PAGE: We've had eight years of this, we'll have 12.

CARLSON: Susan, that's the point of fate. We keep hoping.


BLITZER: You know, the other thing is that, the whole question of whether McCain and George W. Bush can make up a lot of bad blood during the course of this primary season. In fact, this is a George W. Bush ad. Let me play it for you, and after McCain heard this, can he in fact at some point shake hands and be a strong, aggressive supporter of George W. Bush.

Listen to this.


NARRATOR: McCain says he's the only candidate who can beat Gore on campaign finance.

NARRATOR: But news investigations reveal McCain solicits money from lobbyists with interests before his committee.

NARRATOR: His conservative home town paper warns...

NARRATOR: It's time the rest of the nation learns about the McCain we know.


BLITZER: Pretty tough stuff. After that, can McCain now become an enthusiastic supporter of George W. Bush?

ROBERTS: I think McCain has two problems. One is, there was some point -- probably Wednesday or Thursday after New Hampshire -- where John McCain woke up and thought: My God, I might actually be president. And I think that's kind of an -- that's a very attractable and incurable notion. So I think he feels he could have tasted it, and now it's been taken away from it, and he feels it was taken away a little unfairly.

BLITZER: There's still a residue in the McCain camp, a feeling that is like that, that they didn't play fair. So it's going to take awhile. I think eventually McCain will come around. I don't think he has too many options there. But I think there's going to be a long period for him to simmer down because he really feels he was cheated out of something.

PAGE: Yes, but we've got five months before the conventions. That's a long time. You can get pretty cool by then. There's a long history of candidates having rabid primaries and coming together for a general election. I don't actually think this is going to be such a big problem for McCain and Bush. I think the bigger issue, what about those voters who came out for McCain. That's a harder task for Bush.

BLITZER: How much leverage, Tucker, does McCain have now with Bush in trying to move Bush towards some of his positions, specifically campaign finance reform?

CARLSON: Well, he's got some. I mean, he's got delegates from seven states. You need six to force platform change at the convention. But I think more important, he has permanent psychic leverage. I mean, the McCain voters are and what moves them apart from John McCain's persona. But certainly at this point, there's the feeling that one needs them to become president.

BLITZER: OK. Attention hot line editors, psychic leverage. That would be Tucker Carlson on LATE EDITION. We have to take a quick break. Up next with the top of the Democratic and the Republican presidential tickets all but set, speculation is growing about possible vice presidential candidates.

We'll ask the roundtable about the veep stakes when LATE EDITION continues.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our LATE EDITION roundtable.

You know, Susan in the latest CNN-Time magazine poll, the pollsters asked the question if there were a picket on the Republican side, George W. Bush with his vice presidential running mate being John McCain, and on the Democratic side Al Gore with his running mate being Bill Bradley, look at what the results would be in this hypothetical contest. Forty nine percent for Bush-McCain; 46 percent for Gore-Bradley. Again, within the three percentage point sampling margin of error. What does that say to you?

PAGE: Well, it says to me the vice presidential candidate doesn't make much difference, that's very similar to the polls that show a Bush-Gore match up. There's one vice presidential candidate who I think would be a big difference, and that's Colin Powell.

If George W. Bush could convince Colin Powell to be his running mate, I think this puts the Democratic ticket in a terrible spot and is the best shot the Republicans have of winning a White House.

BLITZER: But the chances of Colin Powell accepting are...

ROBERTS: Pretty small. I mean, George Bush would crawl over broken glass to Colin Powell's house if he thought there was any possibility that Powell would run. But assuming he doesn't, but even if he would run, it raises another question in the Republican party. Is the religious right, Pat Robertson and his friends going to try to exert a veto over a vice presidential candidate who is pro-choice on abortion, because many of the possibilities including Colin Powell, including people like Governor Whitman of New Jersey, Governor Ridge of Pennsylvania who are very well positioned to be a big asset to the ticket. Governor Pataki of New York, all of those possibilities tend to be pro-choice on abortion, and one of the key question, does the religious right try to veto?

CARLSON: I don't know, keep in mind that Bush, despite his South Carolina campaign in real life is no raging pro-lifer, I mean, it's not like he's chaining himself to abortion clinics or (inaudible) Randolf Terrier (ph) or anything. I think part of the problem with Colin Powell, A is the second he's chosen as the nominee for vice president, he's going to be asked a lot of questions, and he's going to divert attention from the candidate, from Bush. I'm not sure that's helpful. PAGE: He's exciting, he goes right at the Democratic base of African-American, and other minority voters. He just is like a fruit salad upset if Colin Powell is on the ticket, and I don't know why we think we know he won't run, he hasn't been asked this time. Running for vice president is different than running for president, which is what he said he wouldn't do four years ago.

BLITZER: All right, I don't think we should hold our breath waiting for Colin Powell to accept. Let's switch gears very briefly, last night a big political kind of dinner in New York City, the mayor Rudy Giuliani was one of the guests of honor, but look at this, Hillary Rodham Clinton was there as well. They actually shook hands before the mayor did his little thing, and the skit that he was doing with reporters watching, invited guests, this is going to be a pretty lively campaign by all accounts.

Steve, as you take a look at the fact that we're now focusing less on presidential politics, maybe we're going to be focusing more on Hillary and Rudi.

ROBERTS: Well look at that. I mean, look at that clip, Giuliani is a tough, resourceful, amusing character, he's going to be very tough for Mrs. Clinton, that meeting of the two of them, that's like before two fighters touch gloves before the gong goes off and they start belting each other and -- they were cordial then, but the gloves are going to be off.

BLITZER: Pretty quickly, right Tucker, we only have a second or two.

CARLSON: Oh, I can't wait. I hope so. We need a new story.

BLITZER: Tucker Carlson, Susan Page, Steve Roberts, our LATE EDITION roundtable, thanks.

And when we return, Bruce Morton's "Last Word" on presidential candidates who didn't win the White House.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steve Forbes went back to the family magazine and presumably will again. Elizabeth Dole went back to being well, Elizabeth Dole.


BLITZER: What's life like after an unsuccessful campaign.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's "Last Word": Is there life after running for the highest office in the United States and not winning?


MORTON (voice-over): What do they do when it's over? Gary Hart went back to Colorado to house in Troublesome Gulch, I think.

Mike Dukakis was still governor when he lost, showed up at the state house the next day, humming a little song. Later he taught at a Florida college.

Ed Muskie served briefly as secretary of state, Walter Mondale as ambassador to Japan.

Dan Quayle moved to Arizona.


DAN QUAYLE (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud of what I have accomplished.


MORTON; In hindsight, always perfect, if had stayed in Indiana and been elected governor, he probably would have been a stronger presidential candidate this time around.

Steve Forbes went back to the family magazine and presumably will again.

Elizabeth Dole went back to being, well, Elizabeth Dole.

Lamar Alexander went back to Tennessee. He has a business there.

Hubert Humphrey went back to the Senate after losing in 1968, ran unsuccessfully in '72, decided not to run in '76.

George Montgomery, the 1972 nominee, went back to the Senate, lost his seat, and lives in Washington.

Jerry Brown, who's done all sorts of things, is mayor of Oakland, California, now.

Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee in 1964 went back to his Senate seat and then retired in Arizona. That's John McCain's seat in the Senate now.


UNKNOWN: Goldwater's running mate, a former Upstate New York congressman named Bill Miller is supposed to have called Goldwater once a few years after their defeat and said: There's a company that wants to do a TV ad about me, and I could use the money. But being on the ticket with you was the greatest honor of my life and I wouldn't do anything to demean it. If you think it's doing that, I'll just say no. Goldwater is supposed to have paused thoughtfully and then said: Do you supposed they'd take both of us?

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORTON: Lot's of people run more than once. A one-time Minnesota governor named Harold Stassen was on ballots for years. Bob Dole, a three-time candidate, after his 1996 loss, endorsed Viagra on TV.


BUCHANAN: From the right, Pat Buchanan. Join us tomorrow night for another edition of Crossfire.


MORTON: Pat Buchanan twice went back to Crossfire. No word on what he'll do if he doesn't win this time.

Eugene McCarthy, the anti-war candidate whose New Hampshire showing in 1968 persuaded Lyndon Johnson not to seek reelection ran a couple more times, but never as seriously, and retired to the Virginia horse country. He continues from time to time to write poetry. "You can stop being a presidential candidate," he said once, "but you can't stop being a poet."

I'm Bruce Morton.


BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.

When we return, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. Stay with us.


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

"Time" magazine says function is out, form is in. America is bowled over by style and the rebirth of design, on the cover.

"Newsweek" has a special report called Gay Today. How the battle for acceptance has moved to schools, churches and the work place, on the cover.

And on the cover of "U.S. News & World Report:" a survivor's guide to turning 40. More Americans hit middle age this year than ever before.

That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, March 12th. Be sure to catch us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. And I'll be back tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. eastern for "THE WORLD TODAY." For now, thanks very much for watching and enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.


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