ad info

Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  





Bush signs order opening 'faith-based' charity office for business

Rescues continue 4 days after devastating India earthquake

DaimlerChrysler employees join rapidly swelling ranks of laid-off U.S. workers

Disney's is a goner


4:30pm ET, 4/16









CNN Websites
Networks image

CNN Late Edition

Final Preparations Under Way for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Summit; Ralph Nader Discusses His Green Party Presidential Bid

Aired July 9, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9 a.m. here in Los Angeles, 5 p.m. in London and 7 p.m. in Jerusalem.

Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90-minute LATE EDITION.

We'll get to guests shortly, but first our top story.

We begin in Washington, where top U.S. officials are making final preparations for the start of this week's Israeli-Palestinian peace summit at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland. President Clinton has invited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to try to negotiate a final peace agreement.

CNN White House correspondent Kelly Wallace is at the White House, she's joins us now live with the latest.

Kelly, what's going on in these preparations?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, for a sign of just how tough it will be to hammer out a peace agreement, all you need do is look at what is happening back in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's coalition government appears to be collapsing. His interior minister resigned Sunday, two other parties threatened to bolt from the coalition government because of concerns Mr. Barak may make concessions to the Palestinians.

Now the White House will not comment on Israel's domestic politics, but the president's senior advisers say that Mr. Barak is determined to pursue a peace agreement, that he was elected with a mandate for peace, and that he will take any decisions to the Israeli people. However, these advisers do concede a big challenge lies ahead.


SAMUEL BERGER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: This is not easy. There's no guarantee of success. But one thing I'm certain of, that if we don't make this effort to reach an agreement, there will be a slide to turmoil.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: And President Clinton echoed that point in an op-ed in "Newsweek" magazine where he talked about what he believes is at stake at this Camp David summit. He wrote, quote, "If the parties do not seize this moment to make more progress, there will be more hostility and more bitterness, perhaps, even more violence."

A big concern driving this summit is Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat's claim that he will unilaterally declare a Palestinian state, with or without a peace deal, by the September 13th deadline. U.S. officials fear if that happens, the prospects for peace could fade away.

What's happening now is Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet with U.S. officials today, Sunday. The three leaders will get down to business on Tuesday -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kelly Wallace at the White House, thanks.

And joining us now are two guests who've played key roles in these Israeli-Palestinian negotiations: In Jerusalem is Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, and in Washington is the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on LATE EDITION.

And let me begin with you, General Sneh.

Can Ehud Barak realistically come to Camp David this week and negotiate some sort of settlement if this coalition of his majority coalition government in Jerusalem seems to be on the verge of collapse?

DR. EPHRAIM SNEH, ISRAELI DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER: Yes, he can. Barak only a few months ago won the elections by a majority, an unprecedented majority of 56 percent of the vote. His main goal was to put an end to the conflict with the Palestinians. So he enjoys a very broad public support.

Though in the Knesset, in our parliament, we have today a very, very slim majority to the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace. But if we bring from Camp David a package of comprehensive peace and put it in front of the Israeli people in a referendum, as we are committed to, then we have -- we will have a very broad majority in the referendum for this package. No doubt about that.

BLITZER: Mr. Erekat, a lot of people believe that Prime Minister Barak is about as forthcoming an Israeli leader as the Palestinians are going to get in terms of making the toughest kinds of concessions needed for a settlement. Is the Palestinian side ready to make those extra concessions that would strengthen Barak's position as he faces this domestic political uproar within Israel?

SAEB EREKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR TO CAMP DAVID SUMMIT: Well, Wolf, I think President Arafat is coming here and bringing him people I never thought they will join the process actually, people from Democratic Front, from the people's party, independents who have been opposed to the peace process.

I think President Arafat is coming to make peace in full readiness, and we are ready to make peace.

And we really appreciate very much the courageous decision of President Clinton to invite for this summit, knowing exactly the gulf between the two sides.

After, as a matter of fact, what's been going on in Israel, what's been going on the past few days in Israel, the question is: Are they ready for peace? Because the question is not whether somebody will make more concessions or less concessions, you know. The terms of reference are very well defined, and they are agreed upon that peace process is supposed to lead to the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and here we are as Palestinians, coming at this historic moment to Washington, saying we have recognized Israel's right to exist.

Israel is within secured boundaries of 78 percent of mandatory (ph) Palestine and having accepted Palestinian state on 22 percent of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Palestine -- that is the West Bank and Gaza, including East Jerusalem.

I think it is the moment's truth. I think we must exert every possible effort in order to ensure the success of the summit.

BLITZER: General Sneh, there is a report in the new Newsweek magazine that is coming out today that says both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, are preparing for not only violence and intifada, terrorism, perhaps even another war if this Camp David summit fails.

Is the Israeli military -- you are the deputy defense minister -- preparing for that contingency if the summit collapses?

SNEH: We very strongly hope that such a scenario will never happen. I know that the failure of Camp David would lead to despair, and despair may lead to violence to a new eruption of hostilities. We do all our efforts that this will never happen. If we are prepared for the worst, every army in the world is prepared to worst case scenarios, but all our efforts now are directed to reach an agreement in Camp David.

This scenario is unthinkable. Because everything would collapse and there is no winners in this confrontation. And we urge the Palestinians to come with us to an agreement which will be in the favor of both communities in order to prevent a (inaudible) and horrible situation.

BLITZER: Mr. Erekat, let me ask you the same question. If there is a collapse, A, will that automatically mean that by the September 13th, the Palestinian side will unilaterally declare its independent state? And, B, is the Palestinian side getting ready for that kind of worst-case scenario, if there is no deal in coming days at Camp David?

EREKAT: Well, I tend to agree with Ephraim, and I don't think we -- at of this moment, we are trying to exert maximum effort in order to save lives. I think we must give this some of the chance it deserves. We must give the peace process the chance it deserves.

Look, this morning, a 38-year-old Palestinian mother and her four-month son, Mohammad Mommar (ph), were killed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza, in Goskoteev (ph), and her husband was critically wounded.

We don't want an escalation of violence. Nobody can benefit from violence. We have paid highly as Palestinians from violence.

So at this moment, we are determined, from now until September 13th, to exert every possible effort in order to ensure the success of our joint endeavor: Israelis and Palestinians trying to reach a win- win situation on this peace process on the basis of the terms of reference agreed in Madrid.

Now as far as...

BLITZER: Let me ask you a question about that September 13th deadline. Maybe you were going to get to that. But if there is no real progress between now and then, will Yasser Arafat declare his independent Palestinian state?

EREKAT: Wolf, you have to keep in mind that we can have an open- ended negotiations. The interim permitted in the permanent status negotiations were supposed to be over on May 4, 1999. Then the world community, including President Clinton, asked President Arafat to delay it for 16 months. He did.

Now September 13 is not a date that President Arafat came with; it is a date that him and Barak agreed upon.

Now we have eight precious weeks. And I believe, through the good offices of President Clinton, we must do whatever it takes in order to bring about an agreement on the basis of the limitation of Security Council resolutions and above all, 242 and 338.

But let me assure you, Ephraim, and let me assure everyone here: We have no intention whatsoever, we don't plan violence, we don't want violence, we don't need violence. We need to seek a win-win situation between Palestinians and Israelis.

And irrespective of how fragile this peace process is, this is the only vehicle, and we are here to make an agreement.

And I really hope in the aftermath of the resignations of the coalition in Israel, that Israel is ready to make peace.

And I agree with Ephraim, that the Israelis voted for Mr. Barak last year with a mandate to make peace, and I hope they are ready to make peace.

BLITZER: General Sneh, what does it mean though if the Palestinians were to declare a Palestinian state on September 13 -- practically speaking for the Israeli government, for the Israeli military? SNEH: Well, I don't think that unilateral measures is the way to bring about historic reconciliation. You know, and Saeb knows, unilateral measures brings about unilateral measures from the other party. And it leads to nowhere, for sure not for peace and reconciliation.

And our efforts should be carried out in a coordinated, orchestrated way. Together we have to bring this bridge between our two different opening positions. That is what is important. Not to found deadlines and not to threat, and to try to find the real common denominator. That is what is the most arduous thing to do now in the Camp David. And unilateral measures leads to nowhere.

BLITZER: As part of a comprehensive settlement, if it were possible to achieve it at Camp David, an entire agreement, including all of the issues, would Israel be prepared to see the Palestinians have their own independent state?

SNEH: No doubt, no doubt. It can be, naturally, one of the outcomes of the agreement.

We recognize all the national rights of the Palestinians and not from today. But it is just a part of it. They want sovereignty. We want security. We can -- when -- I strongly believe in the synergy of two diligent, highly educated nations, that if we work together economically, the sky is the limit.

So we know that the Palestinians aspire for sovereignty, for independence, for their place in the international community. We do not negate it, on the contrary.

BLITZER: All right.

Mr. Erekat, are the Israelis clearly ready to accept, at least this Israeli government, ready to accept a Palestinian state? The reports are that they're also ready to withdraw from 87 percent of the West Bank. That would, of course, be the basis of that Palestinian state. Is that good enough?

EREKAT: Wolf, let me say at the beginning that as far as the declaration of the Palestinian state, I think President Arafat would love nothing more than declaring the state with Mr. Barak to his side and President Clinton to his side and other leaders in the region, like President Mubarak and King Abdullah to his side.

But as I said, you know, it's not that we wish to have declaration of the state without reaching agreement, but we cannot have an open-ended negotiation.

Now, let's not open the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We enter this peace process as Palestinians in order to implement the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council 242 and 338. As a matter of fact, the Americans and Europeans insisted for 14 years that as Palestinians we accept this resolutions, and we're talking about, as I said Wolf, a Palestinian state on 22 percent of mandatory Palestine next to the state of Israel. This is a moment of truth. I hope that the Israeli people and Israeli policy-makers are ready for it.

And by the way, we are not out there to make peace with this government of Mr. Barak or the other government, we are out there as Palestinians to make peace with Israel, with all Israelis, because we are destined for the future, we're destined to live side by side, and we hope that we can accommodate ourselves in a Palestinian state on the 4th of June '69 boundaries next to Israel.

BLITZER: General Sneh, is this the last chance, realistically speaking, for a peace settlement anytime soon between the Israelis and Palestinians?

SNEH: Unfortunately, I'm afraid this is the last chance, because a collapse of this summit may lead to, as I said before, to despair in both sides, and despair leads to violence, and violence leads to terrible crisis that would put an end to the dialogue. That's why I think it's so important. The alternative is so horrible that failure of Camp David is inconceivable.

BLITZER: Mr. Erekat, do you agree with that assessment?

EREKAT: No, I think that -- I know what Ephraim is trying to say, and that efforts must be exerted to ensure the success, but I don't want Israelis and Palestinians who are waiting, for every breath out there, to realize that the question of Camp David, it will be yes or no, black and white, success or failure. This is a process.

We may reach an agreement, and we need to reach an agreement, we work to reach an agreement, but if we don't reach an agreement, it means we have to try again and again and again. As I said, the peace process must be given the chance it deserves.

We don't want people to reach a desperate situation because, you know, Ephraim, that once Israelis and Palestinians feel desperate, that would lead to desperation, and desperation leads to desperate acts, and we want to avoid this.

So let's not, you know, shape this summit in terms of a one-shot shop, either failure or success. I think this is a process, this can go on, and we have, as I said, nine weeks between now and September. If progress is made, we can continue, and I hope that the peace process will be given the chance it deserves.

BLITZER: Saeb Erekat and Ephraim Sneh, it was kind of both of you to join us on the eve of these historic negotiations at Camp David. Thank you so much for joining us on LATE EDITION.

EREKAT: Thank you.

BLITZER: And just ahead, what role will the United States have in crafting a, finally, Middle East peace deal? We'll ask the Clinton administration's special envoy to the Middle East, Dennis Ross, when LATE EDITION continues.



WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will be there with them, and I intend to do all I can to help them in this endeavor. But to delay this gathering, to remain stalled, is simply no longer an option.


BLITZER: President Clinton, speaking earlier this week on the Mideast peace summit.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now from Washington to discuss the U.S. role in this week's talks is Dennis Ross. He's President Clinton's special Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiator.

Ambassador Ross, welcome to LATE EDITION.

You just heard the Israeli and the Palestinian perspective but, as we are talking right now, Prime Minister Barak's government appears to be on the verge of collapse. Can he realistically come forward -- make the kinds of concessions that presumably would be needed for an agreement with so many coalition partners abandoning him?

DENNIS ROSS, U.S. SPECIAL MIDDLE EAST COORDINATOR: Well, he is undoubtedly determined to press ahead. I think what you heard was Ephraim Sneh talk about a prime minister who had been elected by a very large mandate, a prime minister who is committed to acting on that mandate, a prime minister who has made it clear to the Israeli public that he will take any agreement he reaches to them.

And he trusts his ability to negotiate a fair deal, he trusts his ability to be able to take that to Israeli public, and when the Israeli public sees the deal that they will support that.

BLITZER: You have been involved in these negotiations for so many years, going back to the Bush administration; you know Israeli politics. The fact that the foreign minister of Israel, David Levy, is now saying he is not going to come to Camp David because he doesn't trust the prime minister's positions, explain to our audience around the world how serious of a political headache this is for Prime Minister Barak.

ROSS: Well, it's obviously not the circumstance in which he might want to be coming here, but the fact of the matter remains, you have a prime minister who is determined to pursue peace. He has believed that there are in fact opportunities to achieve peace -- number one. He has felt there is a certain inertia that has prevented decisions in the past. You see what he did in Lebanon. Others weren't prepared to do it. He took the lead. He made the decision that this was the right thing to do, and he proceeded.

He also now feels that the Israeli public is in fact ripe for peace. And he believes there is an opportunity, there is a moment, it shouldn't be lost, and he is going to act on it. So whatever the circumstances, he is going to trust the Israeli public with any deal that he is able to negotiate.

BLITZER: You think realistically there can be a deal after several days, or perhaps weeks, of negotiations at Camp David? So many people are pessimistic right now that the chances seem so gloomy.

ROSS: It's an enormously difficult thing to do, but we always knew that was going to be the case. When you deal with the core issues of permanent status, by definition you are going to have a very difficult task. Having said that, we have had very long conversations with both sides. They have had long conversations with each other.

If we didn't see the potential for reaching an agreement, we wouldn't be doing this. The president is doing this both because there's a potential that shouldn't be lost, and also because he sees the alternative of not trying. Not to try when there's a potential would not have been responsible.

BLITZER: The president is scheduled on July 19 to leave for Okinawa in Japan for the G-8 economic summit. Is that, in effect, the end of this process? Once he leaves, do the Israelis and the Palestinians leave Camp David as well?

ROSS: Well, I think we're certainly looking at this as the logical window in which we try to work with them to produce an agreement that deals with all the core issues of permanent status.

BLITZER: So that means you're hoping within one week to be able to wrap up all of these permanent status issues?

ROSS: We are certainly looking at that as the window in which we're going to try to produce an agreement with the parties that deals with all of the permanent status issues.

BLITZER: Well, you know, given the fact that there are such sensitive issues -- the future of Jerusalem, the return of Palestinian refugees, the borders of a Palestinian state -- that would suggest -- what you're saying is that you're pretty close to resolving those issues if you think you can wrap it up within a week.

ROSS: No, I wouldn't say that we feel we are so close, but I would say, we, A, we see a potential; B, we recognize something else. The choices that are there are not going to change; the decisions that have to be made are not going to become easier over time. So what we are trying to do is, working on the basis of what has been distilled over time, see if, in fact, we can reach such an agreement.

I can't tell you if we're going to be able to reach the agreement or not, but I do know for sure, as the president said, this is not going to become easier over time. And if we don't act now, there is a very definite risk that you'll see a slide towards deterioration.

BLITZER: And you heard General Sneh say, the deputy Israelis' defense minister, that, like all defense ministries, they're working on a worst-case potential contingency. If there is a collapse, a failure, there could be a deterioration, perhaps even war.

Is the Clinton administration seriously concerned about that kind of deterioration? And if it is, are you looking ahead to make contingencies yourself?

ROSS: Well, I think what we're looking at is, first, the opportunity, recognizing there is an opportunity, a historic opportunity to try to bring this conflict to an end. So we start with the premise of the opportunity. We're very much aware that on the landscape there is a potential for deterioration, especially if frustration rises.

What we are trying to do is get both sides to focus on what is to be gained, not what is to be lost. So our focus is much more on how you move ahead and reach an agreement and much less on what are the consequences if you don't reach an agreement.

I think there is a reality -- you heard Saeb Erekat say in the last segment, that what's important is that Israelis and Palestinians find a way to work things out. Ephraim Sneh was basically saying the same thing.

History and geography have destined the two sides to be neighbors. Now they can either live in peace as neighbors or they can live in perpetual struggle. There has to be a way to find an outcome that allows them to live in peace together.

BLITZER: Ambassador Ross, you've been involved in these negotiations for so many years. Give us some historic perspective, but we don't have a whole lot of time. How much closer on these core issues -- like Jerusalem, like a final Palestinian state and its borders, return of refugees -- how much closer are they today than they were, let's say, five or 10 years ago?

ROSS: You can't even compare the two, and the reason you can't even compare the two is that the permanent status issues themselves have only seriously been discussed for the last few months. Prior to that time, each side was very reluctant to get into those kinds of discussions because of the sensitivity of the issues.

One of the things that's happened the last few months is the issues themselves have become somewhat demystified so they can be discussed. That's the good news. The bad news is there still are significant gaps that separate the two sides.

But we made a judgment, the president made a judgment, the secretary of state made a judgment, that in light of everything we had heard, we have taken this as far as we could at the negotiator level. The negotiators have done a good job of trying to distill the issues and distill differences. In some places they've made headway, but the differences were quite clear. What was also clear is that they had taken it as far as they could.

And as a result, you needed to bring the leaders together with the negotiators if you are going to be able to overcome the differences or have a shot to do so. But if you try compare where we are, from the historical perspective, we actually have a chance to reach an agreement on these kinds of issues when, in fact, there never was such a chance in the past.

BLITZER: All right, Dennis Ross, the chief U.S.-Middle East negotiator, thanks for joining us again on the eve of these historic negotiations at Camp David.

As someone who covered Camp David No. 1 in 1978, my recommendation is you bring some bug spray; there could be mosquitoes up there as well.

ROSS: That and other things, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you so much for joining us.

And up next, we will shift gears to talk about U.S. presidential politics.

He says he wants to change the debate in campaign 2000, but is he playing the role of spoiler for Al Gore? We will talk with Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader when LATE EDITION continues.



RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESDIENTIAL CANDIDATE: Feelings of powerlessness and the withdrawal of massive numbers of Americans from both civic and political arenas are deeply troubling to all of us. This situation has to be addressed by a fresh political movement.


BLITZER: Long-time consumer advocate Ralph Nader last month accepting the Green Party presidential nomination.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Joining us now from Washington is Ralph Nader.

Good to have you on LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.

And I want to begin with the Middle East. You just heard a lengthy discussion on the prospects at Camp David this week. Was this a good idea for President Clinton to convene the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and try to roll the dice and get a peace agreement?

NADER: Oh yes, a very good idea.

BLITZER: If you were the president, you would have done the same?

NADER: Yes. BLITZER: And what about the possibility that a collapse could so dash hopes that there would be intifada, there could be violence, there could be a war, another war in the Middle East?

NADER: Well, let's not prejudge the outcome of this latest negotiating process. It seems that there is a marker here. President Clinton has said this is really his last opportunity to provide a mediating role, and let's have an optimistic viewpoint on it.

BLITZER: All right, let's have an optimistic viewpoint, but let's talk a little bit about presidential politics and the role that you have carved out for yourself. And I want to begin with some new poll numbers in the state of Michigan, a key battleground state, a state that certainly is up for grabs at this point.

Look at these numbers, Mr. Nader. In a three-way contest, when George W. Bush, Al Gore and Pat Buchanan faced each other, it is not that far apart, four-point sampling error: Bush 45, Gore 40, Pat Buchanan 4 percent.

But once you are added to the mix in Michigan, look at this. All of a sudden Bush is considerably ahead of Al Gore, 46 to 34 percent, with Ralph Nader getting 8 percent; Pat Buchanan, 3 percent. What those numbers say to a lot of people obviously is that you are taking a lot of votes away from Al Gore.

NADER: It is interesting. There are other polls that show that Gore gets closer to Bush when there is a four-way poll, in part because a lot of Perot voters who might be leaning to Bush would vote for me, or for Buchanan.

And also, I'm appealing to the non-voter. Seventy-five million people didn't vote in 1996. We've got to find a way to find out why they didn't vote, and they all have different reasons, and then appeal to each of these reasons.

So they have a sense that if they do vote, it is for a candidate that is going to try to remove the corruption of money in elections, a candidate that will try to establish universal health care, a candidate that will strengthen the labor laws to allow workers to get a livable wage by organizing trade unions, and a candidate who wants to deal with these horrible income inequities and put the abolition of poverty at the top of the political agenda. Twenty percent of children in this country live in poverty, 25 percent in California. That is, by far, the highest in the western world.

BLITZER: Is the Green Party -- is your presidential nomination definitely going to be on the ballot in Michigan? There was some question, I was told, that that was still up in the air.

NADER: No, it looks very definite now. We've just got the latest petition figures and they're piling up generously.

BLITZER: You know, a lot of labor union workers support you, United Auto Workers in Michigan, clearly Teamsters, others. But the point that some of them are now beginning to make is, given Al Gore's position on issues close to workers -- to union workers in the United States, as opposed to George W. Bush, they're wondering whether that spoiler role that a lot of people say you have could result in George W. Bush's election, which would be in the end, they say, worse for union workers than if Al Gore were president.

NADER: Well, Wolf, you can't spoil a system that is spoiled to its core. And politics in this country is broken. Mr. Bradley said that, others have said that. Within the two-party framework -- John Anderson says that all the time. I think what we are looking at here is a new progressive political movement that will go beyond November in realigning political constituencies in this country.

The two major parties are increasingly look-alike. You can quibble about how many major differences there are. But in area after area, whether it is the military budget, whether it is corporate welfare, whether it is not enforcing the law on behalf of consumers, particularly low-income consumers, whether it is turning their back on labor, if you set aside the rhetoric of Bush and Gore and look at the record, or how much they are willing to fight the thousands of corporate lobbyists and political action committees in Washington, the differences are very slim, so we don't look at this as a spoiler role.

BLITZER: I was going say that there are very serious differences on a woman's right to have abortion, and the Supreme Court nominees, presumably, that they would name if they were president.

NADER: There are some differences, but you see there are nowhere near as broadly optioned for the public's choice as they were 20, 40, 60 years ago. Sixty years ago the Democratic party was viewed as the party of the working families, and the Republican party, the party of the wealthy.

Well, I mean, look at it. Ever since 1980, the Democrats have been trying to beat out the Republicans in getting more and more money from all kinds of business interests, whose monies now comprise 80 percent of money in federal elections.

BLITZER: Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat of Nevada, reflects a lot of views among Al Gore supporters, other Democrats. They're looking at you and they're deeply concerned about the votes you might take away from Al Gore and the Democratic party. I want you to hear what Harry Reid said in The New York Times this week. He said: Ralph Nader is a very selfish person and he's on an ego trip; he has no respect for the process.

That's coming from a Democrat.

NADER: It is hard to even think that is a bad joke, Wolf. The process is so corrupted.

Look at the presidential debates. They're excluding significant third-party candidates, "they" being the Democrat-Republicans who created the debate commission allowed it to be funded by beer, tobacco, auto money, and are determined never to repeat their mistake in 1992 when they let Ross Perot on the debates. All over the country, we are seeing Republican-Democrats pass laws to create huge hurdles, signature hurdles, all kinds of technical shenanigans to keep third-party candidates off the ballot.

You know, nature can't regenerate itself without giving seeds a chance to flower. And business can't regenerate itself without giving entrepreneurs and innovators a chance to have their efforts recognized.

But in politics, apparently, you can play the politics of exclusion, a two-party duopoly increasingly becoming one corporate party with two heads. And that is why so many thousands of people are logging into our web site: or, saying they want more choice, not necessarily that they are going to vote, that they want more choice on the debates and elsewhere.

BLITZER: All right. We have to take a quick break. We'll talk about those debates a lot more including your phone calls for Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader when LATE EDITION continues.



WINONA LADUKE, GREEN PARTY VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time to reconcile with people in this country. The disparity of wealth between the rich and poor is disgraceful in a country which is an industrialized country, which is such a wealthy country.


BLITZER: Ralph Nader's vice presidential running mate, Winona LaDuke, speaking recently on the campaign trail.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're talking with Ralph Nader who is running for president under the Green Party banner.

Mr. Nader, we have a caller from New York.

New York, please go ahead with your question.

QUESTION: Mr. Nader, first I want to applaud you because you're one of the few politicians of today who sticks to his convictions and his guns> But my question is: How do you expect to attract a larger majority of the United States populace when you really spend little time on your platform talking about military concerns?

NADER: Wolf, I didn't hear all but the last four words. Do you want to rephrase it?

BLITZER: Well, the question is: The caller was praising you as a man of convictions but in your platform you spend very little time talking about military concerns, and he was concerned about that. NADER: Oh no, the platform does address the military budget. Historically we've always demobilized after our enemies have been vanquished or went away, and the Soviet Union now has been no more for 10 years, and yet we're heading for a record military budget in dollar terms next year with both the Republicans and Democrats supporting it.

It's clear, talking to Pentagon analysts, that there are a lot of weapons systems that are just being pushed by corporate profit- seeking. So much of our national defense policy's not pushed by national defense considerations, but by what Lockheed Martin and General Dynamic and others want, and I speak of the F-22, the Joint Strike Fighter, the B-2 bomber and others which are being pushed onto the Pentagon by a PAC-greased, supine Congress that is not looking afresh at what our national security concerns should be.

The same is true for our troops in western Europe and East Asia. That costs about $70 billion in up-front and backup costs. What are we doing, 50 years after World War II, defending prosperous allies who are quite able to defend themselves against non-existent enemies?

BLITZER: All right...

NADER: So that diverts a lot of money from repair of public works, from national health insurance, from child poverty. It's not just a bloated military budget, it's not just wasteful defense is a weak defense. It's what it costs the civilian part of our society.

BLITZER: All right, let's take another caller from Churchville, Virginia. Please go ahead with your question.

QUESTION: Hi, Mr. Nader. Thanks for talking to me. I was wondering if you thought opening up markets to places like Cuba and China would improve human rights.

NADER: Well, that's hard to say. I think there should be trade all over the world. I think, however, we can't allow U.S. companies to go to dictatorships and allow dictatorship-repressed labor costs and abuses to be an asset for these U.S. companies in building products that they then send back to this country against workers and companies here that are playing by the rules.

That isn't free trade. That is utilizing dictatorially repressed labor costs in bad environmental conditions, basically, do anything you can or anything you want in this dictatorship, as long as you grease the wheels.

BLITZER: Let's take another caller, from Germany. Please go ahead with your question for Ralph Nader.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Nader. Mr. Blitzer has referred to you as a spoiler and accused of you taking votes away from Mr. Gore. Don't you think the question better be posed as Gore taking votes from you?

NADER: Yes, I think no political candidate is entitled to votes. They have to earn it. I have to earn it, based on 40 years of advocacy for the people in this country and consumer-environmental worker area, corporate accountability, and Gore and Bush have to earn it.

There's a tendency in this country among some political observers is to give the benefit of the doubt of being in place to the established two parties. That's just not healthy for our political system.

They can't get half of the voters even out to vote. Doesn't that tell you something about how closed-door, how smug, how look-alike these two Republican-Democratic parties are? It really is time for a change.

BLITZER: And just to nail this, very quickly, Ralph Nader, if in fact you do help, in effect, George W. Bush become the next president of the United States, as opposed to Al Gore, would you be able to sleep easily at night?

NADER: Well, of course. I wouldn't be doing this if I was worried about either Al Gore or George Bush. I'm worried about the American people being shut out of the process, and not being able to shape their future the way these politicians and their corporate allies are shaping the future.

BLITZER: All right. Ralph Nader, the Green Party presidential nominee, thanks for joining us on LATE EDITION. Good luck on the campaign trail.

NADER: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And just ahead: Gore versus Bush. With the political conventions now a few weeks away, which candidate has the momentum? New York congressman and Gore-supporter, Charlie Rangel, and California congressman and Bush supporter, David Dreier, debate that and much more, when LATE EDITION continues.



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The difference will be made in whether or not you have people who are fighting for you, people, rather than fighting for the powerful.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like to be seen in neighborhoods sometimes where Republicans aren't seen. I like to fight that stereotype that somehow we don't have the corazon necessary to hear the voices of people from all political parties and all walks of life.


BLITZER: Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush speaking on the campaign trail earlier this week.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to talk about the presidential race and campaign 2000 are two veteran members of the House of Representatives.

In New York, Congressman Charlie Rangel. He's the ranking Democrat of the House Ways and Means Committee and is in line to become chairman of that powerful panel if the Democrats win the House in November.


BLITZER: Here in Los Angeles with me, Congressman David Dreier. He is chairman of the House Rules Committee and also the California co-chairman of the Bush campaign.

Congressmen, always great to have both of you on LATE EDITION.

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Always great to be here, and welcome to Los Angeles. I'm usually sitting over there talking to you by remote, so it's nice to have you here.

BLITZER: Thank you. Nice to be in almost your home district.

I'll begin with Charlie Rangel because we just heard Ralph Nader say he is very comfortable with the role he has. He wants to be president of the United States and will sleep easily at night, even if George W. Bush is the next president, and he in effect winds up helping him get that job.

RANGEL: I think the country is big enough to absorb Ralph Nader as well as Patrick Buchanan. It bothers me that they only show this leadership once every four years and believe, without any public service, that they should start at the top.

But I think this is the year that will show the major differences between Republicans and Democrats, and I can't wait to whup them.

BLITZER: Well, let me ask you this, before we get to David Dreier: How much of a problem for Al Gore is Ralph Nader?

RANGEL: I don't think -- this is much too early to see what's going to happen in November. I have to admit that I am really surprised that George Bush, Junior, has done as well as he has after the primary with the thumping that he took from Senator McCain. But I think the momentum is with Vice President Gore.

The entire climate of where the country is with the Clinton-Gore administration, and the fact that Gore refuses to allow the governor to sucker him into resolving problems without having real legislative solutions to them -- if you notice -- if you notice that the governor has refused to associate himself with the Republican-run Congress.

DREIER: Oh, come on, Charlie.

BLITZER: Let's ask David Dreier about that.

You support George W. Bush.

DREIER: He's refused to associate himself with me, but I'm his co-chairman here in California and am working hard.

He's associated himself with our goals, Charlie, of trying to make sure that we continue to balance the budget, reform welfare, reduce the tax burden on working families.

And I think it's the first time I have actually heard you on this program, Charlie, speak out in support of Al Gore. And the fact is, it's got to be very frustrating for you, because if you look at the attack that Gore launched initially on the program that Bush came forward with for reducing the tax burden, what happened? Well, the figures came out from the administration of a dramatically improved load of revenues to the federal treasury, and we saw Gore then embraced some kind of tax reduction.

So you have got to be very careful, Charlie, because -- and it's got to be uncomfortable for you, because what's going to continue to happen is you're going to see Gore embrace these Bush views, and you are going to be stuck defending him, and in a wrong position.

RANGEL: No, it doesn't surprise me that Bush would embrace you with all of your charm. But the truth of the matter is that when it gets to the basic programs that Democrats and the vice president supports -- let's take reforming Social Security. The governor hasn't a clue what he is going to do except to try to privatize it. And when ask you him how he is going to do it, he says he'll tell you later.

DREIER: Charlie...

RANGEL: We're talking about a patient bill -- please, let me finish.

We are talking about education, and here again, the Republicans control a House that Gore hasn't argued with the fact that the governor refuses to associate himself with any educational programs that you're supporting.

BLITZER: OK, Charlie, let's just take ...


RANGEL: No, but if you take health, Social Security, the patient bill of rights...

DRIER: Charlie...

RANGEL: ... all of these things. People know that ...

DRIER: OK, Charlie, let's take...

RANGEL: ... people know that -- let me finish -- people know the difference between a Democratic solution and a Republican solution. (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right, OK, Let's let Congressman Dreier respond.


RANGEL: And Bush has not associated himself with the Republican solutions.


DREIER: Charlie, my friend, let's look at the solutions. If you start out with education, we are very proud to have passed the Education Flexibility Act...

RANGEL: Vouchers.

DREIER: ... and the Teacher Empowerment Act. George Bush -- the Education Flexibility Act and the Teacher Empowerment Act are bills that President Clinton said he was going to veto, but he ended up signing. Why? Because they empower local governments, local school boards, when it comes to the issues of decision-making in education.

If you look at the issue of Social Security, we are very proud of the fact that for the second year in the row -- in a year -- in a row, we have not gone into the Social Security surplus for expending it.

And what George Bush has said -- he knows full well, Charlie, that by 2013, if we take no action on Social Security, we're going to be in very serious trouble. And so, what is it he's said? He said ...

RANGEL: I am so surprised ...

DREIER: Charlie, he said those that are younger should have an opportunity to put some aside themselves. And we've got a good patients' bill of rights, too.

BLITZER: All right. Charlie Rangel...

RANGEL: I am so surprised that Republicans are so proud of doing nothing. You haven't done a thing on Medicare, a thing on Social Security...

DREIER: Charlie...

RANGEL: ... and you're proud of it.

DREIER: Charlie, we are proud of what we have done.

BLITZER: All right, hold on. Let's move on and talk a little bit about vice presidential running mates, potential vice presidential running mates.

BLITZER: We had two of them earlier today on TV: Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, who supports the right of a woman to have an abortion, and he says that he is convinced that it is not out of the realm of possibility that Governor Bush would call on someone who has that position to be his running mate.

I want you to listen to what Governor Ridge and Governor Gray Davis of California said earlier today.


GOV. TOM RIDGE (R), PENNSYLVANIA: He said there'd be no litmus test for his selection of vice president, and I trust George Bush. He is a man of his word.

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: But I do believe, particularly here in California, that your stand on a woman's right to choose, the environment, and gun control are important to voters, and I think that and other issues will be taken into account by the vice president and those who make this decision.


BLITZER: Congressman Dreier, do you think that Tom Ridge should be the next -- should be the running mate?

DREIER: I think Tom Ridge would be an excellent choice as a running mate.

BLITZER: Even though he supports a woman's right to have an abortion?

DREIER: Right. There are other choices out there too, Wolf, as you know.

BLITZER: But you would feel comfortable with him?

DREIER: I'd feel very comfortable with Tom Ridge as running mate, but it's George Bush's decision. Dick Cheney has been working very, very hard on this, and I know he's interviewed a number of people. I have talked to Dick Cheney about this issue of the vice presidential running mate, and I believe that they've got a few good people.

We are going to be hearing about it, and I think that if you look at the choices, we've got an excellent group. I think that Governor Keating is also another good option.

BLITZER: Frank Keating of Oklahoma.

Charlie Rangel, what about Dick Gephardt, the House minority leader as the vice presidential running mate for Al Gore?

RANGEL: Dick Gephardt is just a terrific guy. He would make a wonderful vice president and president. But don't take him away from us. He is our engine to get back the House. We need him.

I'm taking a strong look at Secretary of Defense Cohen. I think he would make an excellent vice president, and by bringing his Republican credentials and his background to our great Democratic party, I think that it could -- it will show the American people that when you take a look at Democrats and Republicans -- they've got one African-American in the House of Representatives, one Jewish member in the Republican Party, and their convention looks like any European meeting, where the Democratic convention looks like America.

DREIER: Charlie, you should run for Gephardt's job as House minority leader. Cohen's going to stay a Republican.

BLITZER: We have to leave it there. We have a lot more to talk about. Unfortunately, Congressmen, we have to take a quick break.

For our international viewers, World News is next.

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

We'll check the hour's top headlines with Gene Randall and take your phone calls for Congressmen David Dreier and Charlie Rangel. Plus our LATE EDITION roundtable and Bruce Morton's "Last Word." It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

We'll get to your phone calls for Congressmen Charlie Rangel and David Dreier in just a moment, but first let's go to Gene Randall in Washington, for a check of the hour's top stories.


BLITZER: Now back to our conversation with New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel and California Republican Congressman David Dreier.

Let's take a caller from Atlanta, Georgia. Please go ahead with your question.

QUESTION: Congressmen, hi, how are you? Congressman Rangel?

RANGEL: That's real, Congressman.

QUESTION: Yes, Congressman, as a Cuban-American, you really -- you paint the Cuban-American community in Miami as extremist a lot of times. And one of the extreme views we have is calling for free and open elections in Cuba. I want to know if you are willing to call for free and open elections in Cuba.

RANGEL: You bet your life. I'm for free, open elections in Cuba, in China, in North Vietnam and North Korea. And I don't think that Cuba should be treated any differently because they're communists and don't have free elections.

BLITZER: All right, let's take a look at these numbers talking about the House of Representatives, the next House of Representatives. The National Journal, a respected publication in Washington took a look at the various House seats. Right now, we have a chart we want to show our audience. Right now, the U.S. House of Representatives' current number of seats: The Republicans have 222, the Democrats 213.

As far as open seats, where there's a contest, not an incumbent: 18 on the GOP side, nine on the Democratic.

As far as most vulnerable: They say six on the GOP, four on the Democratic.

But if you look at the open seats and the most vulnerable: 24 on the GOP, on the Republican side, only 13 on the Democratic side.

Does that bode well for the Republicans maintaining the majority in the House of Representatives, David Dreier?

DREIER: Actually, Wolf, we're doing very well. If you look at our candidates, the campaigns that have been going on around the country, I'm convinced that we're going to keep the majority.

We've got the strength of George Bush at the top of the ticket, and for the first time in nearly half a century, we're going to be able to have a Republican president and a Republican Congress. So if you look race-by-race -- and I've spent this past week on a number of congressional districts here in California -- I'm convinced that we are going to see a very, very strong win.

BLITZER: Charlie Rangel, I want to get back to this point: If the vice president picked Dick Gephardt to be his running mate, he could not run for re-election from Missouri.

DREIER: Charlie Rangel for minority leader.

BLITZER: Would that undermine the ability of the Democrats to have a majority in the House of Representatives?

RANGEL: No, unlike the Republicans, we're not running on personalities, we're running on the issues. And you have to admit that under the Clinton administration, the Clinton-Gore administration, we have had just a phenomenal boost in our economy, and this is the time for us to start talking about paying down the national debt, taking care of affordable drugs, having a decent educational program, gun safety, securing Social Security. These are issues that the Republicans in the House, they -- every time they get a good Democratic issue they load it with tax cuts that they know the president's going to veto.

DREIER: Charlie, you are absolutely right when you talk about the success that we've enjoyed under the Clinton administration, and it's been when the president has embraced the Republican themes of balanced budgets, reducing the tax burden on working families, and reforming welfare and so...


DREIER: I think the credit can go around, and we appreciate the support that you provided us ...

RANGEL: Now, let me tell you, if you...

DREIER: ... in getting the president to those positions.

RANGEL: If you can accept the rest of the Democratic themes, then we don't need a new Republican Party at all.


DREIER: ... me to say. We're providing the leadership, and your success, Charlie, is based on your embrace of our themes, you know that.

BLITZER: I want to leave -- I want to leave our audience with this information. Charlie Rangel and David Dreier are about to embark on a new career.

BLITZER: They are about to be in a major motion picture, "The Last Debate." The Jim Lehrer novel is coming to the screen. I take it the two of you were seen on this program, and they decided that maybe you should have a future in the movies.

RANGEL: Exactly.

DREIER: The big question, Charlie, is: Why wasn't Wolf asked to be on with us? I think we ought to ask that one.

RANGEL: After the next election we are going to give you, David, a new career.

DREIER: Ah, we'll see.

BLITZER: Charlie Rangel and David Dreier: movie stars. We will talk to you about that at another point.

I thank both of for you joining us. Of course, always great to have you.

DREIER: See you tomorrow, Charlie.

RANGEL: Thank you, buddy.

BLITZER: And just ahead: Is the White House expecting too much from this week's Middle East peace summit?

We will go around the table with Roberts, Page, and Carlson when LATE EDITION continues.


BLITZER: Time now for our LATE EDITION roundtable.

Joining me from Washington: 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."

Steve, the president's rolling the dice in the Middle East, bringing the leaders to Camp David at a time when the Israeli coalition government seems to be collapsing.

Is this smart international policy?

STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he doesn't have much of a choice, as you said earlier in the show. It really is his last chance, but it's the last chance for all three of them. All three of those leaders are rolling the dice.

Barak, obviously a very weak cabinet situation as you pointed out earlier. His own foreign minister isn't even coming, but Yasser Arafat also needs these other two. He knows that the time is very short when he has Bill Clinton who's determined to try to get a peace deal. He's got Barak who's trying to -- determined to get a peace deal. He knows his time is short, too. So all three need each other, all three are rolling the dice, all three know that this is a brief window that might not come again anytime soon.

BLITZER: Tucker Carlson, a lot of Republicans think this is simply a ploy by Bill Clinton to improve his legacy. Is that what you think?

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think Steve's right in that it could be, you know, a fortuitous time, that all of them are feeling pressure. Reportedly Arafat's not in good health, but I think it is true that you get the sense that this is being propelled by Clinton's desire to leave some sort of legacy.

I mean, that's sort of like the night before the test in the course you haven't attended, desperately trying to, you know, come up with something for an impressive showing at the end. You do get that sense watching Clinton kind of running around in his last months in office trying to come up with a legacy, kind of touching.

BLITZER: Susan, is Bill Clinton going to score this kind of an agreement? And if he does, will Barak be able to deliver the goods back in Israel?

SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I think you heard Dennis Ross be pretty cautious about the possibility for success, and the White House has made it clear that this is not -- there's no guarantee of success here, but the fact is when we've had these big breakthroughs on the Middle East, they've been the result of negotiations that had every prospect of failing. This one could fail.

But it could also succeed, and I think that's why President Clinton's pursuing it. It also is one of the few areas in which he really has -- continues to have a fair amount of leverage. You know, we're at a point where it's very hard for him to get other things done in Washington. He's still an young and active guy, and this is one area in which can show some of that energy.

BLITZER: Steve Roberts, there's one area, speaking about failure, where the Defense Department this past weekend suffered a big failure, that inability to shoot down that missile, part of the defense missile shield that the Clinton administration has been testing, has been considering. It was $100 million test and it was clearly a failure.

ROBERTS: Well, yes, it was a failure, but in some ways I think the administration is almost relieved that it was a failure. Bill Clinton has never been committed to this anti-missile shield. He's done it, I think, largely for political reasons, largely to ward off the criticisms of conservatives who wanted a much more extensive -- this is classic Clintonism.

You know, you sort of try to usurp the argument of the other side with a half-measure. I don't think he's ever really been committed to it. I think he's been uneasy about the whole idea. In some ways, the fact that the missile test has failed means that gives him an excuse to say, I'm not going to deploy this, or I'm not going to make the decision and leave it over to the next administration, because I don't think he's ever been really for it anyway.

BLITZER: You know what the argument, Tucker, is on the other side of this: that $100 million for this one test, think of all the school children who could have had meals, think of all the computers that could have been bought. If this project goes forward, $60 billion they're estimating it might cost.

Is it worth it -- is it worth it to spend that kind of money given what some are arguing is the feasibility -- the lack of a feasibility and the fact that the potential threat from North Korea or Iran may not be as great as some people suspect?

CARLSON: Yes, I think there's a bumper sticker about that, about the Pentagon having to hold bake sales for its budget.

Look, I mean it's expensive to defend a country, and I don't think anybody on other side would begrudge the military spending a lot of money to come up with weapons that work.

On the other hand, I think even conservatives -- some are beginning to question whether the threats that the country will face in the next 20 years, say, will be from the sort of missiles that SDI or SDI-type systems would defend against.

I mean, really, the scenario of, you know, the briefcase bomb on the subway or the other sort of unconventional weapons, you know, aren't addressed by some sort of missile shield. So I think on a non- ideological level there are real questions about whether the country needs a missile defense.

BLITZER: Susan, you covered Bill Clinton from DAY ONE of his presidency. Knowing what you know about him, knowing this issue as well as you do, is he going to make this decision or is he going to leave it to his successor?

PAGE: I don't think, effectively, he has any option on this. I think it's not going to be his decision, what to do over the long haul on this case. This is interim stuff we have for the next six months, and the next president will face the harder choices about how aggressively to go forward, what do about Russia's objections and the other issues around this.

BLITZER: Steve, don't you feel this whole issue, this whole debate we've heard this debate once or twice before over these past few years?

ROBERTS: Oh, many times. We've heard it many times, and as I say, I don't think that -- Tucker makes an interesting point that even some conservatives don't really, in the end, believe this is worth it.

You know, the whole idea of a Star Wars system started in the Reagan administration when there was a legitimate threat from a Soviet Union which was imperialistic and was armed with a major nuclear weapons. That is not true today.

And technologically, ideologically, everybody thinks they have to, sort of, bow to this idea of a missile-defense system. But in fact, technologically it's very imprecise, and it's very arguable whether the threat is real.

And I think the cost is way out -- way outside the bounds in terms of what you get for it. I think money can be used a lot better for other things, and I think in the end, if people are allowed to be sensible about this, and not ideological, I think that's the conclusion they'll come to.

BLITZER: All right, we'll turn to presidential politics and New York states senate politics right after our break.

The roundtable will continue in just a moment.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable.

Tucker Carlson, the New York Senate campaign seems to be heating up. This past week, Rick Lazio, the Republican candidate, got into some sort of trouble in a mass mailing fund-raising letter.

He wrote this about the president and the first lady. He said: "Hillary Clinton and her husband have embarrassed our country and disgraced their powerful posts. She covets power and control and thinks she should be dictating how other people run their lives."

He later said that that was written by some professionals and it is not necessarily his words. What do you think about all of this?

CARLSON: Well, I think it is objectively true. Unlike a lot of -- you know, unlike a lot of mass mailings, direct mail, you know, I think it would be hard to quibble with any one of the points Lazio's guys make there.

But, sure, Lazio has been, you know -- he has the mainstream express. And his boss -- the whole point, the whole message of the Lazio campaign is: I'm not a scary, you know, foaming right-winger. You can vote for me. I'm not going to do anything frightening.

So sure, Lazio wants to be seen as moderate and, I think, doing a pretty good job. But direct mail is never moderate, by definition.

BLITZER: And Susan, Mrs. Clinton is coming out pretty tough on Lazio. She's having some strong words, sort of a moving away from her traditionally more reserved approach.

PAGE: Well, she has, you know -- she has a double problem. She needs to look more likable to New Yorkers. I think that's one of the problems she's had. She hasn't made the kind of connection with voters she needs to, but she also needs to do some tearing-down of her opponent who doesn't have all of the negatives built up that Rudy Giuliani did. And those two goals are at cross purposes with each other. Because the more she tears down Rick Lazio, the less likable she seems to voters. You know, in a way it's the same task Al Gore has, and it is a very difficult needle to thread.

BLITZER: Does he have the so-called "stature gap" to represent New York State, a state where they have had, obviously, senators like Bobby Kennedy, like Patrick Moynihan?

Steve Roberts, does Rick Lazio have a problem there in that whole issue of stature?

ROBERTS: Oh, I think in one sense. He -- it is easy to deride Rick Lazio, as you know, "Ricky-boy" and this sort of fresh-faced guy. To some people, this is very appealing; to others, it is a mark of immaturity. But I don't think he has some inherent stature gap. I think he is coming across as a pretty likable guy.

And Tucker makes a good point. He's trying to have it both ways. He want to appear to be moderate and reasonable to the voters, but when he's talking about his base, when he's talking about money, of course, you're going to throw red meat to your base, and say -- there is nothing that is going to raise more money for Rick Lazio than calling Hillary Clinton names. Because she is the best thing not only in New York, but around the country, the Democrats have -- the Republicans have going for them in terms of a demon to raise money for. So he wants to have it both ways, too.

BLITZER: There was a rare interview, Tucker, this past week with President George Bush in "The New York Times." And he was assessing his son's prospects for being the next president. I want to read to you an excerpt from that interview.

He said: "I think I was a victim of people wanting change, eight years of Reagan, four years of Bush, we want a change. I think the same thing is true now. I think people kind of like change, like the idea of change from time to time."

He thinks all of that is going to help get his son elected the next president of the United States. Do you think it will? .

CARLSON: Yes, I think it will. Yes, absolutely. I mean, that is one of the basic rationales for a Bush presidency is that it would be a departure from, you know, the Clinton years.

I do think that parents of candidates ought to be really careful about giving interviews to the press. However, I remember, I think it was four years ago when Al Gore's parents gave an interview to Peter Boyer (ph) of "The New Yorker" and released all of these hideously embarrassing letters that Gore had written in college. I mean, it's very, very tough to talk about your kids without making them seem like children, really.

BLITZER: And I certainly don't want my parents giving interviews about me, but that is another story.

CARLSON: I've already talked to them actually, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you. Thank our roundtable. In Washington, always good to have you, even if I'm out on the West Coast.

Then, just ahead, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines, plus Bruce Morton's "Last Word."


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 1990, it affected about 0.75 percent of the adults in South Africa. Now, 10 years later, it affects 19.9 percent: one in five.



BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's "Last Word" on the AIDS epidemic that's ravaging a continent.


MORTON (voice-over): An international AIDS conference opens this weekend in Durban, South Africa. They have come to the right continent. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is pandemic and getting worse. Some numbers: AIDS affects about six-tenths of one percent of the adults in the U.S. About seven-tenths of one percent of those in India. In 1990, it affected about .75 percent of the adults in South Africa. Now, 10 years later, it affects 19.9 percent: one in five.

And it will probably get worse. The number of mothers receiving prenatal care who test positive is growing, which means their babies will probably have it, too.

It isn't just South Africa. It is the region. Botswana: 35.8 percent of adults infected, Swaziland: 25.3, Zimbabwe: 25.1, Zambia: 20, and so on.

Why? AIDS prevention is expensive, Most Africans can't afford, their governments can't afford the complicated drug cocktails which retard the disease in the West. And AIDS prevention, AIDS education is hard when many people can't read, hard when many have never seen a condom, and some who have, make fun of them. One "Washington Post" report says a joke in Soweto when men see a youngster with a condom is, oh, you wear your raincoat in the shower, too?

Some in Africa don't believe the HIV virus causes AIDS. South African President Thabo Mbeki has questioned that, has questioned whether some of the anti-AIDS drugs for women are toxic, questioned whether western remedies work in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa spent a lot of money on a locally-developed alleged vaccine which flopped. The president of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, went further, charging that AIDS is a manmade disease. It is not natural. He linked it to chemical warfare, and said the countries which developed it should cure it.

And does anyone know how to cure it? Prevention involves education, changing old established habits. Should truck drivers not stop at places where they can have casual sex? Involves a lot more than it does in the West. It is not hopeless. Uganda's infection rate is now 8 percent of adults, down from 14 percent 10 years ago. But it is complicated, and nobody knows how much it would cost, and whose money.

"The Washington Post" quotes one World Health Organization official: "If tomorrow, there was a disease out of the blue that you could cure with $100 million a person, would we focus on it at all?" Good question. I'm Bruce Morton.

BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.

Now a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.

"TIME" magazine dissects the new science of Alzheimer's: the drugs, the genetics and the latest theories on the cover.

"Newsweek" says, "Here is Harry: Behind the Fastest Selling Book in History," with character Harry Potter on the cover.

And on the cover of "U.S. News & World Report," "America's Best Hospitals: Where to Find the Best Care Near You."

And that is your LATE EDITION for Sunday, July 9th. Be sure to catch us again next Sunday and every Sunday, at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

And please join us tomorrow night on "THE WORLD TODAY" at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up next on, find out how the world of high-tech has made heroes out of geeks.

And a reminder that you can now see "EARTH MATTERS" later today and every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

For now, thanks very much for watching, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Los Angeles.



Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.