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CNN Today

Election 2000: Gore, Bush Nearing Finish Line in Delegate Race, Trying to Reach Latino Voters

Aired March 14, 2000 - 2:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore and George W. Bush are nearing the finish line in the delegate race. Bush and Gore's home states of Texas and Tennessee are among six states holding primaries today. After the votes are counted, it is likely both Bush and Gore will have their parties' nominations mathematically sewn up.

We start with the Gore campaign.

CNN's Patty Davis is in Elmwood, Tennessee, where Gore -- I guess he's about to make his vote -- Patty.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Actually, Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, have just cast their ballots here in Elmwood, Tennessee, in the state's Democratic primary. About a dozen camera crews capturing that event, many flash bulbs going out as Vice President Gore stepped out of the voting booth after he cast his ballot, hopefully for himself. I understand that he is a registered Democrat in this state.

Now, Gore owns a home down the road in Carthage, Tennessee. He grew up in this area. He stayed in Carthage last night. Tennessee is one of the six states with the Democratic and Republican contests today.

As a result of today's voting now, Vice President Al Gore is expected to seal his party's nomination, winning enough delegates to put him over the top. He needed 100 -- he needs 174 to do that. There's over 500 Democratic delegates at stake in today's contest.

Now, Gore will watch the results from Tallahassee, Florida, this evening. Florida is a Bush stronghold, but Gore is not about to cede that state to George W. Bush. George W. Bush's brother Jeb is a very strong, very popular Republican governor in that state. Gore wanted to make a major effort in that state, one reason why he's watching the results here (sic) in Florida tonight.

Now, yesterday, strong words from Vice President Al Gore on George W. Bush, saying that Bush is beholden to special interests. He also said that Bush's tax cut would return the country to the Bush- Quayle years, the early 1990s, when the economy was not in very good shape.

As you can see behind me, Gore addressing members of the school here, the Forks River School, in Elmwood; it's an elementary school. He's encouraging these people to vote when they turn 18, just like he did today.

I am Patty Davis, CNN, live, Elmwood, Tennessee.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And like Al Gore, Governor Bush is counting on a home-field advantage today. Bush is back in Austin, Texas.

So is CNN's Gary Tuchman, who joins us now with the latest on the Bush campaign.

Hello, Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, there, Lou.

The governor, who would like to be president, is here at home in Texas, as fellow Texans go to the polls to vote in their state's primary. And we will not see George W. Bush coming out of the governor's mansion to cast his ballot today, because if he did cast his ballots, he would be voting twice. He voted last week by absentee ballot because he did not know he would be in town today due to all the travel.

Now, a week or so ago, we would have expected a huge turnout here in the state of Texas. They have a favorite son running for president against the insurgent John McCain. But since McCain has dropped out, Texas elections officials are downgrading their estimates: They now expect a 19-percent voter turnout. They are disappointed, but they are not surprised.

Now, two of today's voters, people of a personal interest in the governor of Texas, the 41st president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, and his wife, Barbara, casting a vote for their son just a couple of hours ago in Houston.

Now, George W. Bush visited all six of the states voting today over the last two days. Yesterday, he had three rallies: one in Louisiana, one in Mississippi, and one in the state of Oklahoma. He promised tax cuts and high integrity if he is elected to the office that his father served in for four years.

Now mathematically, it is possible that by the time this day is all over George W. Bush will have enough delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.

This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, live in Austin, Texas.

WATERS: And we'll be closely watching it all for you. We have this reminder: Bush and Gore will appear tonight as guests on CNN. They will talk with Larry King on "LARRY KING LIVE," 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

ALLEN: Two states voting today, Texas and Florida, exemplify a trend in American politics that grows more obvious every four years.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa reports from Miami on Spanish-speaking voters and the race to win their support.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If it's not the music, it's the food. Whether they have been here two years or two generations, Miami's million-plus Latinos like the flavor of home. .

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, UNIVISION)

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION ANCHOR: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HINOJOSA: So when it comes to politics and the two Spanish- speaking candidates for el nuevo presidente, Latino voters seem to want Latino reporters asking the questions.

QUESTION: Well, for the most of these problems, as you well know of the Hispanic community, is the incredibly high dropout rate of its students.

HINOJOSA: The United States' estimated 30 million Latinos are plentiful in several important vote-getting states, like California, New York, Texas, and of course, Florida, where this weekend's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Festival drew potential voters more focused on Cuba than on campaign finance.

MARISA ARAMBURU: They normally focus more on the cultural issues. They talk a lot more about Cuba, and you know, the people that are Hispanic are looking at -- to things that have to do with their country.

HINOJOSA: That means the presidential candidates are talking often to Jorge Ramos, the anchor for Spanish language Univision, the fifth-largest network in the United States.

RAMOS: Eight years ago, we didn't have access to almost any presidential candidate. Nowadays, we have the two most important candidates speak Spanish. We have continuous access to them.

HINOJOSA: "El Nuevo Herald," which reaches more than 79,000 readers in south Florida, has tripled its number of national political reporters.

JEANETTE RIVERA, POLITICAL REPORTER, "EL NUEVO HERALD": I think, for the longest, we were ignored. Phone calls were never returned, or we would get a message on our machine three days after the fact.

HINOJOSA: This time, it's the other way around.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, I'm the one worried about getting more access now, not the -- not Univision or Telemundo or the others. I'm seeking them out.

HINOJOSA: Now, the Spanish language media say not only are they getting more attention from the candidates, but so are Latino issues. RIVERA: Readers want to see more stories about immigration issues, about health care issues, about education.

HINOJOSA (on camera): If the Spanish language media helps the candidates reach the nation's 6.5 million Latino voters, the payoff can be big.

In the last presidential election, Latinos helped Bill Clinton become the first Democrat to win the state of Florida in two decades.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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