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Is the Call for a Gore Investigation Just a Republican Election Tactic?

Aired June 27, 2000 - 2:05 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: Here to talk presidential politics with us, freelance political consultant Jacques Degraff. He joins us from our New York bureau.

Thank you for being with us.

JACQUES DEGRAFF, POLITICAL ANALYST: It's good to be here.

ALLEN: Well, as we put it, just a few moments ago, Republicans are breathing down Janet Reno's neck again on this one.

Do they have reason to?

DEGRAFF: Well, yes, they have reasons to. It's an election year. And they have continued to conduct these partisan witch hunts and try to use the Justice Department as another foil or vehicle to achieve that which they could not achieve at the polls. So I think that the public is going to view in that in that context.

ALLEN: So this, you're saying, could hurt the Republicans more than it could hurt Al Gore?

DEGRAFF: No, I think that the public has some questions, legitimate questions, of Al Gore that they want to hear answered. But the question is whether they want to see another partisan witch hunt conducted during an election. I think that that will backfire. The public is tired of these repeated dredging-up of old charges. The proper place for these charges to be resolved is in the court of public opinion, and to be resolved in the election in November.

ALLEN: So you think that the main thing will be -- voters will be scratching their heads, wondering: Why is this going on when this is something that happened in 1996?

DEGRAFF: I think voters are more concerned with the price of oil at the gas station and the heating oil in the fall. They're concerned about those things and those circumstances. Those are the kinds of issues, bread-and-butter issues, that voters are concerned about. The American public wants to hear what both candidates have to say. As was mentioned in the piece a littler earlier, there are real concerns about the amount of and style of fund raising for George W. Bush that has received these record numbers of dollars from the gas and oil industry, 15 times greater than the vice president. So there's a question about timing. There's a question about motivation. And I think the voters want to hear real questions answered by the candidates themselves. And that's why we have campaigns and elections.

ALLEN: What do you think the real chances are that we could see a special prosecutor between now and November on this case?

DEGRAFF: I think Janet Reno has been fairly consistent that she looks at these things in a very deliberate fashion, that she studies the issues. And based on her track record, I don't think that that is going to happen. You know, I think that there have been partisans who have been trying to get public policy through things that they could not achieve at the polls.

The Elian Gonzalez case is one example where a small partisan group tried to affect foreign policy through the Justice Department or through the Immigration Bureau. And they've been unsuccessful repeatedly. The judiciary is not the proper forum for these issues. This is partisan politics. And I think they need to be adjudicated by the people of America.

ALLEN: Jacques Degraff, freelance political consultant, thank you for talking with us.

DEGRAFF: Good to be here.

ALLEN: Thanks, from our New York bureau.

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