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CNN Late Edition

Elian Gonzalez's Miami Relatives Lash out at Government, Boy's Father; Senate Race Tightening in New York

Aired April 2, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: This is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk. A new deadline for 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez as Elian's father signals he's prepared to come to the United States to wait for a decision with his son.


GREGORY CRAIG, ATTORNEY FOR JUAN MIGUEL GONZALEZ: Elian's best interests lie with his father.


BLITZER: We'll speak with the attorney representing Elian's father, Greg Craig. And with the other side, the attorney for the Gonzalez family in Miami, Spencer Eig.

Then, Congress weighs in on the Elian Gonzalez controversy and the White House under investigation again, this time over missing e- mails.


BETH NOLAN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COUNSEL (?): They did not know that there was any ongoing or larger e-mail problem as far as I understand, sir.

REP. DAN BURTON (R-IN), CHAIRMAN, GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: I seriously doubt that explanation. This issue isn't very complicated.


BLITZER: We'll speak with the chairman of the government reform committee, Republican Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana.

And the Senate race tightens in New York. We'll talk with author and former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan about her new book, the case against Hillary Clinton and with former New York governor Mario Cuomo.

Giuliani versus Clinton and Bush versus Gore. Plus our LATE EDITION round table, Steve Roberts, Susan Page and Tucker Carlson. And Bruce Morton has the last word on the Constitution from school prayer to flag burning, is Congress putting emotion over the First Amendment?

It's noon in Washington and Miami, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles; 5:00 p.m. in London, and 6:00 p.m. in Paris. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90- minute LATE EDITION.

We'll get to our guests shortly but first, let's check in with CNN reporters covering the hour's top stories.

We begin with a major development in the U.S. government's antitrust case against Microsoft. Last night, a federal judge assigned to mediate between the Justice Department and Microsoft abandoned his efforts.

CNN Financial News correspondent Steve Young has been following this case from day one. He joins us now live from New York -- Steve.

STEVE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I just talked with a source who is familiar with the final draft settlement who says that it would have allowed Microsoft to put any new feature it wanted into Windows, and at the same time, it would have said that Microsoft was barred from tying new products to the Windows operating system. This source said, I don't think that would have worked, because Microsoft's definition of product has been vague throughout the course of this long antitrust trial.

Microsoft, since word came of breakdown of the talks, has blamed the states, saying that Judge Posner, the federal mediator, pointedly left the states out in praising Microsoft and the Department of Justice. But this source says that the differences between the states and the Department of Justice pale in comparison with the differences between the Department of Justice and Microsoft, and that does a disservice to Microsoft, because, according to this source, the Department of Justice was not weak, it was strong, in facing the company down.

And finally, Wolf, the final draft of the proposed settlement contained no language about breaking up the company, but this source says that does not -- I repeat -- does not mean that there will not be discussion of breaking up Microsoft in the next remedy or verdict phase of the trial -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Does this decision by the mediator, does this now preclude the possibility that settlement talks cannot start again?

YOUNG: Settlement talks could start at any time. Indeed, one of the attorneys general I spoke with a little while ago said that he would put his money on it. But Rick Sherlund (ph), who's the most plugged-in analyst on Wall Street, says he thinks it's out of the question that Microsoft would enter settlement talks again, because there are more than 100 pending private civil suits in 28 states, and if Microsoft does not get a verdict, which will be issued by Judge Jackson this week in Washington, overturned, it would then face a sort of tobacco situation and be nibbled to death by lawyers all over the place. BLITZER: Hundreds of thousands of people are now looking at Microsoft. They own this stock. It's a widely traded stock. The impact tomorrow morning on Wall Street: What should we be looking for when the stock market opens up tomorrow?

YOUNG: Good question. The impact is going to be considerable. A Wall Street analyst, who obviously has not talked to his sales force, and therefore, did not want to be quoted by name, told me he thinks that the stock goes down at least five, maybe as many as $10 tomorrow, which will almost certainly weigh very heavily on other technology stocks and probably the broad market.

BLITZER: OK, Steve Young in New York, thanks for joining us.

Well, we now turn to the other big story this weekend, the fate of 6-year-old Elian Gonzales. In Miami, the Cuban boy's family is preparing for another deadline in their standoff with the federal government.

CNN's Mark Potter is outside the Gonzalez family home in Miami with the latest -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Wolf. It's a pretty quiet Sunday here. In fact, it's been a relatively quiet week. The only real news was made yesterday by the boy's great uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, who issued a statement reiterating the family's position that it plans to obey the law, but suggesting that before the boy is moved to anyone else's custody an independent psychological evaluation be made to see whether that is a good idea.

Lazaro has described Elian's psychological status as fragile and is suggesting that moving him might be not -- may not be good for his health.

He also invited Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, to come here to the home in Little Havana for a private family meeting without government officials, lawyers or media present to decide family to family about what to do. The father's position, of course, is that if he comes to this country, he should have his boy immediately. That is also the INS Position.

Now, meanwhile, this case continues to attract international attention. Today on the Sunday talk shows, the guests argued over the administration's position that Elian clearly belongs with his father.


SEN. CONNIE MACK (R), FLORIDA: I believe this administration caved into the pressure of Fidel Castro.

JOHN PODESTA, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president believes, as the attorney general does, that there's a very strong presumption in federal law, that the father does speak for the child, and that reunification of the boy with the father is the proper course.


POTTER: Tomorrow negotiations continue between the lawyers for the family and government officials over Elian's fate. Those are the third day of negotiations. The government wants assurance that if the father comes to this country or if the family loses its appeal in federal court, Elian will be transferred out of the family and into the father's care. If there is no agreement, the INS threatens to revoke the boy's permission to stay in this country. And the new deadline for that is Tuesday morning.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: OK, Mark Potter in Miami, thanks.

In addition to the competing legal issues, both sides in this custody case are battling for the upper hand in the court of public opinion.

Joining us now from Miami is Spencer Eig. He is the attorney for Elian Gonzalez's U.S. relatives. Mr. Eig, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Thank you for joining us.


BLITZER: You are -- you like all lawyers, are an officer of the court. If the courts decide, the federal courts decide that this 6- year-old little boy should be handed over to the father, if he comes to the United States, are you and your clients prepared to peacefully hand him over, transfer custody of Elian Gonzalez?

EIG: The Gonzalez family is absolutely willing at any time to peacefully allow INS, if they feel they must, to come and seize the boy. We just feel it will be horrible for Elian. It is extremely psychologically insensitive. Elian's in a fragile state. And we are just urging the government to take a more sensitive approach.

And by the way, the federal court never ruled that Elian should go back to Cuba. It merely ruled that the Attorney General Janet Reno has the power do that. The fact that she has the power doesn't mean she has to exercise it.

BLITZER: Is it your position, though, that the government, the bureau of immigration and naturalization service, they want a signed document from you that there will be this transfer if the federal courts, the appeals process does not come down on your side. Are you prepared to sign such a document?

EIG: The document that INS wanted Lazaro Gonzalez to sign was like a blank check saying he would do whatever INS instructed him, including if that meant flying Elian to the Cuban interest section or to Cuba, where the Cuban torturers could start working on him immediately. If INS tries to force Lazaro Gonzalez to do that, he will simply hand over the boy here at home without the slightest bit of resistance.

But he doesn't want to do anything that's not in Elian's best interest. If they send Elian here on U.S. soil into the control of the Cuban government where they can start brainwashing him, I'm afraid that will be an extremely sad thing and will be a great black mark on INS's history of treating refugees with sensitivity. If they do that, they should box up the Statue of Liberty and send it back to France.

BLITZER: Would you be prepared to hand over the boy to a neutral site, not at the home you're sitting in front of the home there. Would you be prepared to take the boy to another location so that if there is a human chain of protesters, that potential for violence, for some sort of uproar could be avoided?

EIG: As everyone is now aware, Elian has bonded tremendously with his cousin Marisleysis. She is like a surrogate mother. For the INS to order the boy to be transferred here or transferred there without any regard to that I think is going to damage the poor boy. We have suggested that psychologists be brought in to discuss what is appropriate now for Elian.

After all, we stand for family values. The family values are protection of children. Doing what adults want even if it hurts a child, that's not family values even if the adult is a parent.

BLITZER: So just to nail down this point, if the court orders you to deliver the boy to a different location, will you obey that court order?

EIG: There's no such court order, Wolf. This is not a situation where any court has ordered the boy deported.

BLITZER: But if there is such a court order?

EIG: If there is, if there's a court order ordering INS to give Elian an asylum hearing, I think that's a much more probable outcome. The reason why so many people here in Miami have been involved in perfectly lawful protests and demonstrations is because they're patriotic Americans. And they understand that this is a political issue. It is not a legal issue. It's Janet Reno's personal decision that she thinks Elian should be better off in Cuba. These are witnesses.

The people here, the Cuban-Americans here know the future of Elian Gonzalez in Cuba and they have spoken out in peaceful and constitutional demonstration as eloquent witnesses that Elian deserves his day in court. He deserves a hearing here on what's his best interests. Even Vice President Gore and Governor Bush, the two presidential candidates from different parties, agree on that. Give Elian his day in court.

Let's not talk about grabbing Elian out of this house or moving him into Cuban interests sections where Fidel Castro can send a crew of psychologists and psychiatrists and government officials to work on the poor boy's head. Let's act sensitively through his psychologists here and neutral American psychologists. Let's listen to Vice President Gore and Governor Bush. And let's give Elian a hearing. When his father comes and participates.

BLITZER: What happens if ...

EIG: When his father comes, what we have always said, we have never changed our position. What we have always said is that Elian's father should come here to Miami with his wife and child, without Cuban government officials. And as a free man come and visit his son and participate in a fair and neutral process to determine what's in the best interest of Elian Gonzalez for the future.

BLITZER: Mr. Eig, if the father does come in the next few days, will you peacefully hand over custody of the boy to his father?

EIG: If INS comes to the house and tries to take Elian away from Marisleysis and say Elian, you're going to lose your second mother in five months, the Gonzalez family here will stand back and comply with the law as cruel as that would be. But that's not the law. That's only the policy of the INS. And they can change that policy tomorrow and enter into a human policy of doing what's in the best interest of Elian in careful consultation with his psychologists.

BLITZER: So just to nail down this point, if the father shows up and the courts, the federal courts decide that the boy should be in the custody of his father, you will comply with that order, peacefully and let the boy be transferred to his father's custody?

EIG: Absolutely, although no court has that issue in front of it except the state custody courts, the state family court. And we look forward to Elian's father coming here and participating perhaps in that process or another process before a fair and neutral decision- maker to determine what's in the best interest of the boy.

It's a complicated psychological point. We don't feel that the boy should lose two mothers in four months.

BLITZER: And we only have a few seconds, Mr. Eig. Quickly, do you believe the father is a fit father, that there are no questions about his love for his little boy?

EIG: Actually, I hope that that's true. I don't know the father. But I think the ideal place to find that out is in a family court hearing. But I hope the Gonzalez family will come together as a family and make this decision.

So I personally don't wants to go on television and say bad things about anybody. I think that if the facts of the case come out in court and a judge can make a fair, neutral decision, that's the way to go.

BLITZER: OK, Spencer Eig, thank you so much for joining us once again on LATE EDITION.

EIG: You're welcome, Wolf.

BLITZER: And up next: the father's side. Juan Gonzalez says he's ready to come to the United States to reclaim his son. Will he make the trip? We'll discuss the next step with the father's attorney, Greg Craig. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.



SEN. BOB SMITH (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: This bill makes this a custody case. It allows the issue to be settled by a judge, who has the expertise in family custody matters, to resolve the status of Elian without any intimidation or any threats from Fidel Castro.


BLITZER: New Hampshire Republican Senator Bob Smith introducing a bill this past week that would grant permanent U.S. residency to Elian Gonzalez and his Cuban family. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now is attorney Greg Craig. He's representing Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez. Mr. Craig, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

You heard Spencer Eig make the case, let this boy have his day in family court, let psychologists, psychiatrists review the matter before any decision is made. What's wrong with that decision?

CRAIG: Well, there's no basis in law or in morality or in any other basis or international convention as a matter of fact, to challenge Juan Miguel Gonzalez's custody of his 6-year-old son. In fact, the international law says if there's going to be a challenge to that custody, it should be in the country of origin.

So the proposal of this new legislation would be (a) to rewrite American law in order to try to change the process that otherwise is going to operate, and (b) violate international conventions as to what is appropriate to handle a custody case. There is no dispute that this is a loving father who raised this boy for six years in his home and in his mother's home. There is a...

BLITZER: Excuse me for a second, but there a little dispute. One of the other attorneys representing the family in Miami on Friday morning suggested that there was some sort of abuse, potential verbal abuse, even physical abuse and that he was raising questions about the fitness of Juan Miguel Gonzalez.

CRAIG: This was almost inevitable. I can tell you predictions were made that at the moment the boy was going to be returned to his father and reunited with his father these kinds of allegations were likely to be made. But for four months, people understood and recognized that this is a loving father and that the boy was the product of a nurturing and loving background and atmosphere.

He spent an enormous amount of time with his father. He had a bedroom in his father's house. His father's house was nearer the school than his mother's house, so he frequently spent the nights during the school week with his father. There is no doubt that this father loves his boy very, very much, and there is -- I refute and deny any allegation that's there is abusive behavior with the father. It's outrageous that at this point in this discussion for the first time in four months they're raising these kinds of questions.

BLITZER: What about the other argument they make that in the past five months, Elian developed a mother-like relationship with his other relative down there who's been nurturing him and to tear him away from her right now would be in effect the loss of a second mother?

CRAIG: Well, we care about this transition as much as they do. Let me just say one thing first: The father has the legal and moral authority to speak for his son. Spencer Eig does not have that authority. The relatives in Miami are not this boy's family. His family is with the father. Now, no one can take second place to this father's concern, personal concern about the welfare and well-being of his son.

And he is prepared to discuss transition arrangements so to make it smooth, make it sensitive, make it humane and to make it easy on the boy as much as possible. But we will not enter into those discussions until there's a clear commitment that he will be having custody of the boy. There's not one reason for one more minute of delay.

BLITZER: You know, one of the most compelling arguments that the other side makes is that if this father was such a loving, wonderful father, he would have been here five months ago, the minute that boy was rescued, shipwrecked, lost his mother. He's waited for five months and has not come over to the United States. What do you say in response to that argument?

CRAIG: Well, I can tell you in retrospect, had we known what was going to happen, I think everybody would have said, Juan Miguel, get over to Miami as fast as you can. Not in his wildest dreams did he think that the relatives who said, we'll just pick him up and take care of him until you come pick him up and take custody again, not in his wildest dreams did he think they would decline to turn his son over to him. Not in his wildest dreams did he think the government of the United States would delay the decision to turn over his son over to him.

And so in retrospect, it's possible to say he should have been up here. But let me just say one thing in a human understanding of this situation: He did everything that he knew or thought he could do within that 24-hour period. He got the birth certificate. He got the marriage certificate. He got the educational records. He got the medical records to establish his relationship with his son. And in that 24-hour period, he wrote a formal letter to the United States government said: This is my boy; I please want him back. And that was everything that he thought he should do.

No one told him...

BLITZER: All right.

CRAIG: Wolf, let me finish this. No one told him that he had to come to the United States. No one said: You better come to the United States or you may not ever see your boy.

It was only when the relatives and the government of the United States says, "Well, this is going to take a little time, we have to interview you," did it become clear that this was a problem.

BLITZER: But you understand that the natural instinct of most fathers would be: I want to see my son who has just gone through hell, I want to make sure and touch him, kiss him, and make sure that he's OK.

CRAIG: Well, that is perhaps one of the reasons that Juan Miguel is so concerned about this. He's been separated, from no fault of his own. This is another innocent victim in this whole thing, is the father. He has been separated from his son for almost five months, and it's not like getting on the shuttle to go from Havana to Miami. You have two very hostile bureaucracies to this issue of transportation back and forth that you have to work your way through. And he's a very simple man that lives in a small town in Cardenas, Cuba.

And so, I mean, in retrospect you look back and you say, well, maybe he should have, you know, marched down to the airport and insisted that he be allowed to go there. But he didn't do that, and that doesn't waive his right to have his son back.

BLITZER: All right. So what's happening right now? When will he come? And is it contingent on the U.S. government granting visas to 31 Cubans to join him in this entourage to come to the United States?

CRAIG: No, no, it's not contingent upon that at all. We have made a complete and full and consistent commitment that if he is able, if the father is able to take custody of the boy, he will be here tomorrow.

If you had gotten the right answer from Mr. Eig, "If the father is here tomorrow, we'll give you the boy," he would be on the plane right now. I'd call him up and say, "They've decided to give you Elian and we'll be here."

They won't do it. They have declined to do it.

You know, there has been a change of their position, Wolf, over time. They started out saying: We're just going to pick up the boy from the hospital and we'll hold him until the father can pick him up. Four, five months ago they said that and they've declined to live up to that pledge.

Secondly, they said: We're not going to send him back to Cuba because Cuba is a prison. So the father says: Well, I'll come up and pick him up. They say: No, we're not going to do that either.

Well, then they say: We're going to wait until the judge rules on this and then we will abide by the ruling. Well, the judge ruled on it, ruled against them, and they're still not turning him over.

The father says: I'll come here and I'll sit through the entire proceedings if you give me custody of the boy. And they say: No.

And then on Friday they start saying: Well, he's an unfit father.

They have changed their position every time, raising new obstacles to this father taking back custody of his boy and being reunited with his son.

BLITZER: So he does not necessarily need an entire entourage? He would come over by himself if necessary to reclaim his son if you had a commitment that that would be the case, that the family in Florida would hand him over?

CRAIG: I happen to believe that if the father comes over here and spends eight or nine weeks with his son, that there should be some kind of support group. I think that is part of a natural and sensitive transition.

I think it would be good for him to have his desk mate, I think it would be good for him have a teacher that he had last year...

BLITZER: What about Ricardo Alarcon, the president of the Cuban National Assembly, who's also on that list?

CRAIG: Well, Ricardo Alarcon represents the interests of the Cuban government. They have some ability to articulate their interests here. I don't think his presence is required either. I think the key thing here is a smooth transition that allows us to keep Elian in the custody of his family during that eight- or nine-week period when the proceedings are being heard by the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.

BLITZER: And very quickly, we only have a couple seconds: Will Elian Gonzalez's father be in the United States within a matter of days?

CRAIG: We depend upon the United States government telling us that he can take custody. We count to United States government telling us that when he comes, he will have -- we need these assurances that he will have custody of his son and then he will be here.

BLITZER: All right, Greg Craig, thank you so much for joining us and presenting the other side of this very, very complex story.

CRAIG: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And just ahead: It's been argued that the furor surrounding Elian Gonzalez is not so much about family, but about the United States versus Castro. We'll discuss the bigger picture with Indiana Republican Congressman Dan Burton, who's also launched a new investigation against the Clinton White House. Stay with us.



WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that there is a legal process here. I have done my best to avoid politicizing it, and I think that the appropriate authorities, in this case the judges, will make a decision.


BLITZER: President Clinton commenting on the Elian Gonzalez case at a White House news conference this past week. Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Congress has also been weighing in on the Elian battle. Earlier this year, Indiana Republican Congressman and House Government & Reform Committee chairman Dan Burton subpoenaed Elian in an effort to keep the child in the United States pending a Florida state court's ruling on the case.

Joining us now from Indianapolis is Dan Burton.

Congressman, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

BURTON: Wolf, nice to be with you.

BLITZER: You heard the arguments from both sides of this story. What is your position? What should happen to Elian Gonzalez?

BURTON: Well, first of all let me make it very clear that the reason I issued that subpoena was because we got word from some people inside the INS that they were going to take that boy back over the weekend before there was any judicial hearing.

And I felt that that was wrong and that's why I issued the subpoena to try to make sure they didn't whisk that boy away over the weekend before anybody had a chance to hear all the facts in a court of law.

As a last resort we would have had him before the committee but we dropped our subpoena so that wasn't necessary. But the thing I think that needs to be expressed clearly is that mother died on the high seas, the last man alive whom I've talked to, there are only two people who survived besides Elian, he said that Elian's mother said to him before she died, please get my son to America and freedom. That's the last thing she said, now he was successful in getting the boy to the United States of America.

And I don't know. I don't think anybody knows what the relationship was between her and the boy's father or whether there was any abuse or anything like that. But I can tell you, I was brought up in an abusive household: My father beat my mother until she was almost dead; he beat me at least two, three times a week. And yet according to the legal arguments I've heard, they would give custody of me to my father who ended up in prison because of his actions. Now I want to say the only way to make sure that all the legal facts come out and everything comes out and what's in the best interest of this boy is for there to be a hearing before a family court that deals with these kinds of issues on a regular basis. And yes, they do take kids away from fathers and keep them away from them where there's child abuse or problems. We don't know what the situation is.

Now, if you just go ahead and say a whole entourage, including some the communist leadership is going to come to the communist intersection in Washington, D.C. and take the boy there, then of course the brain washing will start right in Washington.

BLITZER: You know, but for 4 1/2 months, almost five months the family in South Florida never made any argument that the father was unfit, anything less then a loving, devoted father, and even some of your own Republican colleagues -- for example Congressman Steve Largent, conservative from Oklahoma, is saying that the first responsibility, if it is a loving relationship, is for the boy to be with his father. Listen to what Congressman Largent had to say earlier today on "Fox News Sunday."


REP. STEVE LARGENT (R), OKLAHOMA: Frankly, I would tell you that a lot of my political brethren have been shameless in terms of dealing with this issue, and I just believe in the bottom of my heart, speaking as a father, that the best interests of this child is to have him reunited with his father as quickly as possible.


BLITZER: What do you say about that?

BURTON: Well, first of all, I have great respect for Steve Largent. He's one of the finest men we have in the Congress. But I will say this: I don't if Steve's ever been in an abusive situation in his life. I lived with one for 12 years. I watched my whole family beaten half to death by a guy who was 6 foot 8. And all I can tell you is this: All the facts should come out in a family court. That's the only way to know for sure that this boy's going to be safe going back to Cuba with his father.

Now if the court decides to do that, then that's fine. But I think all the facts need to come out.

There's some reason that mother fled Cuba with this boy and brought him to America.

BLITZER: Congressman, there's -- the bigger picture here at stake of course involving U.S.-Cuban relations, you were one of the architects of the Helms-Burton law which of course restricts what the United States can do as far as Cuba is concerned.

But there's another side of that story. Former Senator Gary Hart of Colorado, for example, has an article on the op-ed page "The New York Times" today. Let me read to you what he writes. Among other things, he says this: We had diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Under the leadership of Richard Nixon, we opened diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. We have an embassy in Hanoi. There is no valid reason for our anachronistic policy toward Cuba.

Now what do you say about the argument there should at least be some sort of civil relationship between the U.S. and Cuba even while there are disagreements?

BURTON: Well, Fidel Castro has never disavowed communism or the spread of communism. He sent Che Guevara into South America. We had the problem in the Caribbean, in Grenada, when he sent -- he was building an airport there to expand the revolution, his revolution into South America. He supported the Sandinistas and the FMLN in El Salvador. This man is still for communist expansionism, and he's an enemy of the free world and he admits that readily.

And so I think, 90 miles from our shores, we should do everything we can to bring the last communist dictatorship in this hemisphere to heel and make it a free country. And it'll be good for all the people who live down there.

BLITZER: All right, congressman. We have to take a quick break, but when we return: The Clinton White House is facing another investigation. This time over missing e-mail involving campaign fund- raising. We'll ask Chairman Burton what his committee hearings into this controversy have uncovered.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.



JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Dan Burton asking for an outside counsel or a special counsel is like the sun coming up in the morning. It happens, you know, once a week or once a month, and you all will have to remember all of the pressing issues that he called for outside counsels on and what came of them.


BLITZER: White House press secretary Joe Lockhart responding to House government reform committee chairman Dan Burton's call for the appointment of a special counsel in the matter of missing White House e-mails regarding campaign fund raising.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with Congressman Burton who joins us from Indianapolis. All right. What do you say to that argument that Joe Lockhart made that this whole e-mail controversy is no big deal. It was a technical snafu and the White House is taking steps to repair it as quickly as possible.

BURTON: First, let's clear up what Mr. Lockhart said. As usual he is incorrect. I have asked for two independent counsels, not every time the sun comes up. He also said I sent 700 subpoenas to the White House. We have sent 30. The reason we sent for those was because we weren't getting cooperation from the counsel of the president of the United States.

Now, let's talk about the e-mails. Since 1998 the White House has known about e-mails that came in from the outside that came in from September of 1996 during the campaign finance scandal up until 1998. They were not put on the server there. They were put into kind of a dead space. There's about 900 tapes, missing tapes if you will, of these e-mails. And these e-mails were subpoenaed along with other documents by the independent counsels, by myself, by other committees of Congress involving a whole host of investigations involving this White House.

And all of those should have been turned over to us. The White House has hidden them from us since 1998. And Chuck Ruff, the White House counsel knew about them at that time and didn't get them to us. So we believe they deliberately kept these documents from us as they have other documents in the past that could have been damning.

BLITZER: They argue there was a technical problem that the tapes, the data bases were not there properly stored. They now have to go back and recreate these databases in order to search for the kind of e-mails that you're looking for. Are you saying that Beth Nolan, the White House counsel when she testified before your panel the other day, she was lying when she said that was the reason these tapes were not properly delivered to you?

BURTON: No, that is accurate. There was a glitch. There was a mistake that took place in September of 1996. But the problem is, they found out about it in 1998, two years ago. There were a whole host of investigations going on, the Lewinsky investigation, campaign finance investigation, Waco. A whole host of things going on that these e-mails could have related to.

There are probably 250,000 e-mails and some of those we think would be relevant to these investigations. After they found out about them, did they give them to the Congress and the independent counsels? No. What they did was they threatened the people from the Northrop Grumman company who found out about it. And they said, some of them, they said, if you tell your wife or anybody else, there could be a jail cell with your name on it. So they just kept a lid on it.

BLITZER: So at this point, what is your recourse? Simply to wait for these tapes, these e-mails to be made available over the next six months or so, or is there anything else that you can do?

BURTON: No, there's a civil case going on. I have written to the judge in the civil case. I have written to all the independent counsels who have been investigating these other things. And I've said that what we ought to try to do is get control of those tapes with all the e-mails on them, and have a programmer come in with key words and I think within a matter of two or three weeks, we could get all of the relevant e-mails that we need for our investigations.

The White House is saying it's going to take six months. And if it takes six months it may add more time to that to do that so it goes past the election. I think that once again is a stonewalling mechanism and I think we need to get control of these e-mails and go through them as quickly as possible.

BLITZER: All right, Congressman Burton, unfortunately we are all out of time. But thank you very much for joining us once again on LATE EDITION.

BURTON: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And up next we'll shift to campaign 2000 and the New York Senate race. As the first lady gains ground in the polls, author Peggy Noonan makes the case against Hillary Rodham Clinton in a new book.

We'll talk to the former Reagan speechwriter about that book. And later with one of the first lady's supporters, former New York governor Cuomo. LATE EDITION will be right back.



CLINTON: When she says something, it's what she believes. And she's made up her mind what she wants to run on, what she wants to be for, and why she wants to do it. And I was ecstatically happy with the way her announcement came out, because I just knew it was her.


BLITZER: President Clinton discussing first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's run for the Senate after she officially entered the race in February. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to talk about Hillary Clinton and that run for the Senate run is Peggy Noonan. She's a former Reagan speechwriter and author of a new book, "The Case Against Hillary Clinton."

Welcome to LATE EDITION, good to have you on our program.

PEGGY NOONAN, AUTHOR AND FORMER REAGAN SPEECHWRITER: Thank you, thank you for having me on, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, this is a tough, tough book. Let me read one little excerpt that sets the tone for your point of view, which is obviously very opinionated, quote, this highly credentialed rue, this mere operator, this person who never ponders what is right, but only what they'll buy, this person is not towering and generous but squat and grasping. She is, and I never thought I would be able to say this, too corrupt for New York.

NOONAN: Yes, I'm afraid that is what I think. This book is a broadside, it is a political polemic, it is a wading into the debate with a very clearly stated point of view that really is captured, I think, in that paragraph. This is the case against Hillary Clinton, it is not the case for her.

It argues that Mrs. Clinton should not come up to New York, a state to which she has no connection, with which she has no history, for which she has demonstrated no particular sympathy or even interest up until the moment it has a Senate seat that was open just at the time when she needed a place to be so she could launch a political career that I think is clearly ultimately aimed at going for the presidency in 2004 if Mr. Gore loses in 2000 or in 2008, if he does not.

And I think this is bad because I think this is a continuation of what I call Clintonism in the American body politic, I don't think that's a good thing.

BLITZER: You know your book, as you understand, has been under fire from a lot of sources, now you would expect Clinton supporters to hate your book. But George Will, who's a conservative, listen to what he recently wrote about your book. He said this: Noonan's book is not balanced and does not contain fresh facts. Noonan is one angry New Yorker and although anger can be a wet stone for sharp writing, it can subvert judgment.

NOONAN: Yeah, I think he was being very supportive of the book, if you take a look at that column. George Will, who is an extremely respected columnist and person involved in Washington, D.C. and a figure on ABC, he compared this book to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), which of course was Zola's great wading into the debate over Dreyfuss. I think when Mr. Will was asking, does this book go too far, he was answering it in the next paragraph by saying frankly, no, it does not. There are many reasons to oppose Mrs. Clinton and Noonan lines them all up.

BLITZER: What do you think about the decision that Rick Lazio, the congressman from Long Island announced this morning in effect on ABC that he's ready to run against Rudy Giuliani for that Republican nomination for the Senate seat.

NOONAN: It's a bomb shell, I think. I think that is a huge announcement. Most of us who are conservatives or Republicans in New York were thinking that it was going to be Rudy Giuliani against Mrs. Clinton, period. And Mr. Lazio, who had been thinking sometime back a year ago that he might run, had I think pulled back from it and decided that wasn't the way to go. I found it electric.

BLITZER: If the Republican Party, though, is deeply divided between Giuliani and Lazio, if there's a bitter struggle for that nomination, that's got to be great news for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

NOONAN: Well, maybe. But look at it this way: Maybe the nomination of a major party to run for the Senate in a major state is a very big honor and an important office and it's something that ought to be struggled for. Rudy Giuliani and Rick Lazio, if they wind up fighting it out, I think whoever wins is going to be a better candidate.

I have been arguing that the Democratic party in New York made a terrible mistake by not having Mrs. Clinton enter as a Democrat, the Democratic primary in New York, have her go up against long-time Democratic Party officials such as Nita Lowey, a congressman up in New York, who's a highly respected person and a liberal Democrat, and who was first on line for the Democratic nomination until Mrs. Clinton came in and said, no, it's mine, I'm more famous, I bring more money, it's mine.

I think Mrs. Clinton should have had to fight for it. I think there's nothing wrong with Rudy Giuliani having to fight for it.

BLITZER: We've got to leave it there, Peggy Noon, the case against Hillary Clinton, thanks for joining us and we'll have you back I am sure.

NOONAN: Thank you Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you and up next, former New York Democratic governor Mario Cuomo weighs in on the New York senate race as well as the contest for the White House. LATE EDITION will be right back.


BLITZER: You're looking at a live picture of the White House on a spring day here in Washington. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is not there. She's spending the weekend campaigning in New York State.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We now get another perspective on the New York Senate race. Joining us from New York is former New York Democratic governor, Mario Cuomo.

Governor, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Good to have you on your program.


BLITZER: You heard some very, very tough talk from Peggy Noonan about the first lady: She has no business being in New York, running for that Senate race. You're obviously supporting her. What do you say to that kind of anger that she is expressing?

CUOMO: Well, it's inexplicable, actually. I'm a bit disappointed with Peggy. I know speechwriters are accustomed to writing words and poetry, not being too careful about facts. But this is a personal diatribe that is so profound and so angry that it's kind of chilling.

You notice, she nowhere addressed the question of Hillary's intelligence, or the issues, which should be the most important thing, none of the substance, none of the things that really matter. There's some personal problem that she and perhaps some other women, and perhaps some other men, have.

Nor did she mention that despite her profound anger and disdain, Hillary Clinton, even before the recent bad news for Rudy Giuliani, was just about tied with Mayor Giuliani. So it's obvious that the people of the state of New York don't share Peggy Noonan's attitude.

And in the long run, Hillary Clinton is going to win.

BLITZER: Governor, there's a Marist Institute poll out that just came out March 29. In the general election, it has Giuliani at 46 percent, Clinton at 43 percent.

But look at this, as an old-time politician yourself, among white women, Giuliani is at 51 percent, but Mrs. Clinton is at 36 percent. She's obviously got tremendous support in the African-American community. But why are white women in your state voting or at least suggesting they're going to vote overwhelmingly for Rudy Giuliani?

CUOMO: I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm a man. Peggy Noonan is a white woman. What explains her incredible, profound, personal enmity for this woman that would allow her to condemn her without even addressing any of the issues? Maybe it has something to do with the way she treated her husband. Maybe the women wanted her to bounce President Clinton out of the White House because he had been disloyal to her. Maybe it's jealousy. I'm not sure what it is.

Now if these white women -- and I've confronted with them and I've spoken with them and I've met some of them.

And incidentally, it's not by any means all of them.

And the number is going down. The more you see Hillary in action, the more her natural constituency is appearing.

But when you press them on the details, it remains personal.

If you say to them, for example: Rudy Giuliani and the Republicans who've run and now Lazio says that Giuliani is not good enough to do the job, he wants to do it. Whoever the Republican is are going to be saying to you they agree with the Congress that had an $800 billion tax cut vetoed by Clinton. That money's going to come out of education and health care and all the things we desperately need in New York State. If you ask them about that, they have a different attitude.

If you point out that Rudy Giuliani has now pledged himself to Reaganomics, my goodness, the reason he endorsed me in 1994 is I was against Reaganomics. Reaganomics it's the worst thing for New York State.

And Bush -- who is not going to win, everybody knows that -- is not going to win not because he's not a nice person, but because of his policies.

And the more you hear about Hillary Clinton's positions -- reasonable tax cuts, Social Security and Medicare to be repaired, more help for us in terms of Medicare, prescription drugs for elderly people. Forty-four million people without health care, she wants to get more of them, especially the children in health care.

When they hear the positions, they're changing. Look, Wolf, she kissed Arafat's wife on the cheek in New York. Very few people know better than you what that does to a candidate. Despite that, Hillary is now even, very close. One poll has her ahead of Rudy Giuliani right now. She's going to win because New Yorkers will want her despite Peggy Noonan's inexplicable anger.

BLITZER: Should Mrs. Clinton be rejoicing by word from Congressman Rick Lazio this morning that he is ready to run against Giuliani for the Republican nomination?

CUOMO: Listen, anybody who runs on the conservative line, it's like Buchanan running on the reform line. As far as I'm concerned, I'm all for Pat running on the reform line because it's going to be good for Al Gore. It will take Republicans votes.

Anybody who runs on that conservative line -- and it's apparently not going to go to Mayor Giuliani -- is going to be very good for our candidate, who is Hillary Clinton.

Yes, I'd be delighted.

And also what it says is, this myth that, you know, Mayor Giuliani -- because people are happy in the city of New York who's going to blow Hillary Clinton away, obviously there are a lot of Republicans who don't accept that and don't believe it and don't think that he can win.

So, yes, welcome to Rick Lazio, and frankly, any other Republican that would like to join the race.

BLITZER: All right, Governor, stand by, we have to take a break.

For our international viewers, world news is next. For our U.S. audience, another 30 minutes of LATE EDITION. We'll check the hour's top stories with Gene Randall, then take phone calls for Governor Mario Cuomo.

Plus our LATE EDITION roundtable and Bruce Morton's last word. It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll take your phone calls former New York Governor Mario Cuomo in just a few minutes. But first, here's Gene Randall with the hour's top stories.


BLITZER: Thanks Gene. Now, back to our conversation about the New York Senate race and presidential politics, with Governor Mario Cuomo. Governor,we have a phone call from Holtsville, New York. Please go ahead with your question for Governor Cuomo.

CALLER: Governor, you were endorsed by Mayor Giuliani in 1994 and you had once said that if you could be extremely ungrateful, you might endorse Hillary over him in the Senate campaign. Do you have some regrets about endorsing the first lady over the mayor, and does it have anything to do with the fact that your son is a member of the president's administration?

CUOMO: No, the answer is no, I don't have any regrets about the Rudy Giuliani endorsing me. But -- and I know the mayor and I know him well and I like him and this is not personal.

But when the mayor endorsed me in 1994, he didn't endorse Mario Cuomo, he didn't endorse a Democrat, he endorsed my policies for the city of New York, which he said had been very good for the city of New York and they had been. But those policies were all opposed to Reaganomics, everything that Mayor Giuliani now has to stand for because he stands with Bush, and he went to the Reagan library and he said he thought Reaganomics was good, this is an entirely different Rudy Giuliani than the one who endorsed me.

And for me to say now well, I have a personal obligation, therefore I will endorse George Bush's $800 billion or $400 billion tax cut and all those Republican programs that are so bad for New York that George Bush doesn't have a chance here, that would be hypocrisy for me. To say it's my personal obligation, if I have a personal obligation to Rudy Giuliani, I'll to take care of it personally, not by inflicting those policies on my state.

BLITZER: We have another phone call governor from Scottsdale, Arizona. Please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Yes, Governor Cuomo, how do you see the recent scandal of the president in the White House and in particular, the very recently discovered e-mails that are related to the same issue affecting Hillary's future in any political ambition?

CUOMO: Well, I know what the Republicans are trying to do, and I think we should all be alert to this. Should this be explored? It's going to be explored. And there's plenty of media and we'll know all about the e-mails just the way we've known all about all the other dozens of scandals that were raised and dismissed and we know about Monica Lewinsky and we'll learn all of that.

But here's what should occur to you, I think, and the rest of us, why aren't the Republicans attacking the president's economy, why aren't they attacking what's happened to crime in this country. Why aren't they attacking what he's trying do with gun control? Why aren't they attacking the president on the really meaningful issues? Why aren't they taking him on with respect to HMOs? Nothing that the president has done that's of real substance for this country can the Republicans even touch.

That's why George W. Bush had to add the word compassionate to his label, that's why he's not talking about any of these issues, he's trying to make an issue of education because he can't take on any of the things that first occur to you when you want to know who your president is going to be. Will he get me a job, is the economy good. Am I safe, what has he done about crime, et cetera, et cetera. BLITZER: Governor, as you know, Vice President Gore is coming under a lot of criticism from fellow Democrats for supposedly pandering to Cuban Americans in South Florida because of the Elian Gonzalez case.

Charlie Rangel of New York, the Congressman, earlier today was very outspoken on this. What do you say to that argument that Vice President Gore is simply searching for votes and shouldn't really be injecting himself in what is obviously a heart-breaking situation involving a 6-year old boy?

CUOMO: Well, I won't accuse him -- I don't accuse anybody of bad motivation because I'm not God. I don't know what the motivation is. I'll take his acts. I don't think that I would criticize him for getting involved. Of course he should be involved, he's the vice president of the United States and will be until the end of this year. So he should be involved.

Number two, there's part of what he says that I like a lot and that's the part that would provide Elian with an opportunity to come back to the United States of America after he's become an adult, after he's had an opportunity to mature sufficiently to make his own decision. And the vice president suggested that, and he's the first to suggest it.

A second part of what the vice president suggested I respectfully disagree with. I don't think you should invent a special law for Elian, make him a citizen for awhile to delay his going back to his father. And if you did it for Elian, how would you refuse to do it for children from Africa who were smuggled into this country to avoid a situation where people are being slaughtered? Or for people from China, Chinese children. Would you do that for all of them? For every kid from Haiti, for every kid from South America, for every kid from every impoverished or threatened or tyrannical jurisdiction.

Would you say let's spend millions of dollars, scores of hours to set up a session situation to save this child from tyranny? Of course not. This is all about Cuban politics. This is all about the Republicans having this ridiculous rule -- and the Democrats aren't too good on it either. That says we will treat Cuba as though they're a real threat but China we will do business with. That's ridiculous.

BLITZER: Governor Cuomo, always good to have you on your program. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

CUOMO: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And just ahead, the politics of Elian Gonzalez. We'll go round the table with Roberts, Page and Carlson when LATE EDITION continues.


BLITZER: Time now for our LATE EDITION 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."

I see Charlie Rangel, we were talking about him earlier. He was on ABC's "This Week" earlier today. Listen to what he said about Vice President Gore's decision to come out in favor of this legislation, in effect giving Elian permanent residency status in the United States.


RANGEL: It's hard to resist the politics of Florida in an election year, whether it's Vice President Gore or Governor Bush. The politics of some Cuban-Americans in Miami is volatile and so strong that it's managed to keep in place an embargo against the people and the government of Cuba for decades.


BLITZER: Maxine Waters and Tom Daschle, a lot of Democrats don't like what Al Gore did.

STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Because he clearly was pandering. I mean, let's be honest about this, it was a total appeal for the South Florida vote. Gore thinks he can steal Florida, they even talk about Senator Graham as a running mate. But just because he's aligned himself with people that Charlie Rangel doesn't like, doesn't mean he's wrong on this issue.

If you look at the welfare of this child, not the politics of it, the welfare, Gore's got a point. And the whole notion that this should be treated like a domestic custody battle, that there should be focused on the emotional well-being, not all this political rationale makes a lot of sense. Yes, he was pandering. But on the facts he might be closer to being right than Charlie Rangel.

BLITZER: Tucker, you think he was pandering?

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: To some extent. I mean, I was down there a good part of the week. And it is true that the level of hostility focused on Janet Reno and the Clinton administration is profound. On the other hand, you know, it's hard to see what is wrong with the idea that Elian and his father should be granted American citizenship. Pro- Castro Democrats are obviously incensed by it. But it doesn't make it a terrible idea.

Look, the idea that going back to Cuba is just going to be the same as staying in the United States, and simply a matter of being reunited with his father is ludicrous. Living in Cuba is very different than living in the United States. And not as good.

BLITZER: Susan, George W. Bush, the Republican presidential candidate he was also making fun of Al Gore, obviously for his own political reasons. Listen to what Governor Bush said in Wisconsin on Friday.


BUSH: I'm deeply troubled by the heavy handed approach of the Clinton-Gore administration. And I am concerned that Al Gore's sudden change of position yesterday may have had more to do with the Vice President's political interests than with the best interests of Elian Gonzalez.


BLITZER: Do you think that he's just trying to score political points here? Or is there a fundamental basis for that?

SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, it is true that while Vice President Gore may have scored some points with Cuban-Americans in Miami, there's some cost associated with doing this. It does reinforce the perception that he will do whatever it takes, that rather than aligning himself with principles, he's very politically motivated.

But I think this is really the kind of approach a politician takes when he can't attack his opponent on the position he's taking, just attack the motives for taking the position. And one thing Vice President Gore has done, he's distanced himself from whatever the administration does in this case. I think the administration is in a very tough position about what to do next on this. It means it will be hard to call Vice President Gore to account for what the administration does.

BLITZER: You know, there was a headline, Steve, in "The New York Post" on Friday. Look at this: "It's Gore versus Bill." Although Bill, the next day said he's not bad at his Vice President for distancing himself on this issue from the administration.

ROBERTS: I'm not sure the Gore people will look at that headline and say that's a bad thing. You know, we've been talking about this over and over. We continue to talk about it. Gore has to do two thing. He has to identify with the progress of the administration. The recent poll gave 75 percent of Americans said Gore had some of the credit, at least some credit, for the good economy. Clearly that's very strong. But there are ways in which it's useful for him to be his own person. I think the Gore people are very pleased about that headline.

BLITZER: You know from a narrow political perspective, Tucker, Bill Clinton did carry Florida in 1996 in his bid to win reelection, did relatively well with the Cuban-American community, but elsewhere in the state he did very well, especially with women. Why shouldn't Al Gore go to Bill Clinton's play book and sort of pander to Florida and those 25 electoral votes?

CARLSON: Well, Gore can pander on his own; he does a pretty good job of it. I don't know, the Gore people clearly think Florida is in play. I'm not sure as a political calculation what the vice president did last week will help him at all in Florida.

I'm willing to believe he thinks it's the right thing to offer the child citizenship. Again, I'd like to hear a real argument for why Elian Gonzalez shouldn't be offered American citizenship. I don't think there is one. And I don't know: Again, I'm willing to give Gore the benefit of the doubt.

PAGE: You know, I'm not sure Gore really needs to win Florida. I think this may be just a play that forces George W. Bush to pay some attention to Florida, a state he would like to take for granted, the benefit of his brother being the governor and it's general Republican leanings, because if Al Gore wins Florida, that means Al Gore has won a big electoral victory in November. That's not one of the swing states.

BLITZER: And that's obviously going to force Bush to spend some money there. But we'll get to that on another occasion. We have to take a quick break.

More of our roundtable and New York State politics when we return.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable.

There's been a new development today in New York State Senate politics. Listen to this soundbite from Congressman Rick Lazio of Long Island.


REP. RICK LAZIO (R), NEW YORK: I say I am ready to run. And here's the major obstacle for me, Sam: If I can make a fair case to the public in New York, to the Republicans in New York most particularly to get the nomination, I will be back in this race.


BLITZER: All right, Steve Roberts, you used to cover politics in New York.

You know a little bit about that subject. What is going on in the Republican's Party in New York state?

ROBERTS: Well, what's going on with Rick Lazio is pure, naked, personal ambition, I mean there's not as if there's this great ground swell of support for the guy, nor is there a feeling that Giuliani particularly a weak candidate. Mrs. Clinton's done better in the polls lately, but Giuliani been running pretty well. What's is the rational?

He doesn't really disagree on the issues, they're both basically fairly moderate Republicans. He does, however, have an big advantage over Giuliani, he's from the suburbs, New York mayors don't play well outside the city, he's from the same Long Island area that produced Al D'Amato, won two elections statewide. It's a growing area of Republican strength, he could pose some problems for Giuliani, but basically I think this is just personal.

BLITZER: Do you think he is doesn't get the nomination, the Republican nomination, Rick Lazio, he'll run as a third party conservative on the conservative line in New York state?

CARLSON: If he can figure out the ballot process in New York which will make him almost unique it's so complicated, I have trouble believing that he, I think, he's buying into this idea that Giuliani has been really hurt by Mrs. Clinton's attacks on him. The point Mrs. Clinton is making again and again is this guy doesn't have the temperament. It's a remarkable argument if you think about it, that someone is too much of an (OFF-MIKE) to be a United States senator. I mean, have you been to the Senate recently. It's a ludicrous argument, and I don't think it's going to work.

BLITZER: Is it going to work, Susan?

PAGE: I don't think so, and I think Giuliani got very good news this week with the word that he's raised significantly more money than Hillary Clinton has.

BLITZER: Nineteen million dollars.

PAGE: And, you know, this was supposed to be one of Hillary Clinton's big advantages, her ability to raise money. You know, she's able to raise money on both sides for her because people -- they are people who support her very avidly, but as saw with Peggy Noonan earlier in the show, people who are against her, are a pretty avid lot too and they're really contributing to Giuliani. I think the Lazio thing is basically a non-starter and we're in for a very tough close, hard-fought and interesting Senate race.

ROBERTS: And the other thing that Peggy Noonan raises well without buying her vituperative quality of her attack, I think she's basically right when she points out that a lot of New Yorkers do not see a rational for Mrs. Clinton's candidacy, and that includes a lot of Democrats, and particularly Democratic women.

She continues not to really attract those kinds of voters that she really needs, part of it is they say why did she stick with that creep. Part of it is they don't understand why she's in New York, why she should be representing them, whether she really cares about them, or whether she really has an articulated platform.

CARLSON: But I don't think she does either, actually it was a fascinating interview, a Q&A with her and "New York Magazine" by Mike Tomasky this week in which he asks, why are you running for Senate and her first answer is, we don't need any more Republicans in the Senate. That is literally the first thing she says. That's not a rational for a campaign. The president came out and said, don't vote for Giuliani because he's a right wing maniac of some kind. This is a guy who's for partial birth, who endorsed Mario Cuomo for governor, making the case that Giuliani's a right winger is just not possible.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, Tucker, that's the last word, but we'll do it again next week. This was practice for next week. Tucker Carlson, Susan Page, Steve Roberts, our round table.

And when we return, Bruce Morton's last word on the United States Constitution. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's last words on the U.S. Constitution and calls to amend the long-standing document.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I spent some time this past week looking at Independence Hall where a group of extraordinary Americans led by George Washington crafted a Constitution which with mostly minor changes have served us for over 200 years.

It gets tested, of course, and we've come to know some of the tests pretty well. This past week, we had flag-burning again. The issue of course is whether to amend the Constitution so as to ban desecration of the flag, whatever that might be exactly. This all started during the anti-Vietnam War protests of the last century when angry young Americans did burn flags. Then Justice William Brennan wrote the opinion in which the Supreme Court held that flag-burning was like free speech: a political gesture protected by the First Amendment. The proper response to a burning of a flag, Brennan wrote, is to salute the flag. Some disagree, hence, the proposed amendment which failed in the Senate, as it usually does. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, formerly for an amendment, was this year's headline. He now says flag-burning is protected speech.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: We love that flag. But we must love the Constitution more.

MORTON: Then a lot of state legislators are wrestling with religion. Is it OK to post the Ten Commandments in the classroom, in the school hallway?

And there's a case before the high court about prayers before Friday night football in Texas.

Some school prayer has always been allowed, of course. Silent prayer -- "Lord, help me with this math test" -- or prayers for guidance about how to deal with the babe in tenth grade history, or whatever.

(UNKNOWN): Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for this beautiful morning...

MORTON: The Ten Commandments, Old Testament, so part of the faith of Christians and Jews, but what does it mean to the Muslim kids in the room, or the agnostics? That's a harder call.

(on camera): Friday night football of course is a religion in Texas. Can you ask kids who object to the prayer not to go to the game? Cruel and unusual punishment, the court might say. And a prayer so non-specific that Muslims, Christians and atheists wouldn't mind it might be so vague as to mean nothing at all.

If you look at the big issues -- orderly transfer of power, living by and large under laws with armed forces that serve rather than oppress, presidents who try to govern and not rule -- you'd have to say Washington and his friends did well. Their document lives and thrives today.

I'm Bruce Morton.


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

"TIME" explores the visions of space and science and asks: "In the future, Will We Live on Mars?" -- on the cover.

"Newsweek" dissects the genome, "The Race to Decode the Human Body" on the cover.

And on the cover of "U.S. News & World Report" -- "The Annual Guide to America's Best Graduate Schools."

That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, April 2. Be sure to catch us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last work in Sunday talk.

I'll be back here tomorrow night on THE WORLD TODAY. That's at 8 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific.

For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.



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