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What Message Do Republicans Want to Send From National Convention?Aired July 30, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon here in Philadelphia, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 5:00 p.m. in London and 8:00 p.m. in Moscow. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this special two-hour LATE EDITION.
We'll get to our interview with Republican vice presidential candidate, Dick Cheney, in just a few minutes.
But first, let's check in with CNN reporters covering the hour's top stories.
We begin here in Philadelphia where Republicans are gathering to officially name Texas Governor George W. Bush as their party's presidential nominee later this week. CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley joins us now with the latest.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've had our first official speech or unofficial speech from the Republican convention site -- about four miles away from it. John McCain has been the man of the hour since he drove into town on his bus re- creating his very upbeat and very successful early primary days.
McCain this morning appeared on shadow convention, a collection of Republicans who have issues they want to talk about as you know. And as you said, they want to be very pleasant during the convention. So the shadow campaign and the shadow convention is designed to bring up some issues that many people believe will not be brought up on the floor. And so we heard from John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: As you all know, I've come to Philadelphia to address another convention, my party's convention. As I said during my campaign, the Republican Party is my home. And I believe that among the two major parties, Republicans still offer the best chance for the changes that I feel are so necessary for democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Now there has been some concern among Republicans that McCain will outshine Bush, but as you heard, McCain says he came to praise him, not to outshine him.
So they are all set, putting the final touches on the convention floor. There is another group here as well. About 20,000 protesters over the course of the next four days are expected here in Philadelphia, an eclectic group of people, everything from gun control to abortion, assorted issues that they will be on the streets and protesting -- very orderly so far.
The proceedings -- the official proceedings begin tomorrow morning. The only morning session of the four-day event. That will begin the nominating process.
The featured speakers tomorrow night -- the opening speaker, Laura Bush. The Bush campaign has been very adamant about putting its imprint on this convention and indeed they have.
As Bush officials told us the other day. We will open with Laura Bush; we will close with George Bush. We want to put our arms around this convention.
BLITZER: Candy Crowley.
And as you know, of course, John McCain will be speaking Tuesday night and some of those themes that he did speak out about today -- I take it he's going to try to avoid those themes with which he disagrees with Governor Bush like campaign finance reform Tuesday night.
Is that the word you're getting from the campaign?
CROWLEY: Yes. The word we've gotten from the campaign. We've seen the speech. They described it as very good and very gracious. We've seen excerpts of it. It's a very strong endorsement.
I think you're going to see John McCain turn the corner here on Tuesday night. Up to now, there has been some interpretation that he's been awfully up front and out there and unable to give up the limelight. Fair or not, that's been the perception by some in the Republican Party. So I think what you see Tuesday night will be the John McCain that we have seen before, which is a man who is a soldier, both a military one and a political one. He turns the corner Tuesday night. He'll be there four-square.
In addition, McCain and Bush are going to campaign together next week in California. So there will be a huge effort by McCain to get out there and be in front. Of course, with McCain, there's always that sort of feeling that some get that, you know, does he really mean it? That's going to dog him for a while because of the bitterness of the campaign.
But you'll hear a very strong statement in support of George Bush on Tuesday night.
And of course we'll be hearing a lot more from you on the floor of this convention -- four nights beginning Monday night here in Philadelphia. Thanks for joining us.
And Republican presidential George W. Bush of course made big news this past week with his selection of former defense secretary and Wyoming congressman, Dick Cheney, to be his vice presidential running mate.
Before being selected for the job himself, Cheney had been the man heading the Bush campaign's search for a running mate.
Earlier, I had the chance to talk with Dick Cheney about his newest political challenge.
BLITZER (on camera): Mr. Secretary, welcome to LATE EDITION -- welcome back to LATE EDITION. It's been a while since you've been on these Sunday programs. We're very happy to see you back in politics. You happy to be back in politics?
DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think so, Wolf, it's been quite a week.
BLITZER: It's been quite a week, and it's going to just -- beginning, the process, obviously, is going to get hectic in the weeks and months ahead. I'm sure you realize that.
BLITZER: You know, there has been some suggestion out there that perhaps Governor Bush was not fully prepared with the details of your voting record in the House of Representatives in the '80s. I want to give you a chance to respond. Didn't -- was there a thorough process that reviewed all of that, so that he knew fully well all of the votes that you had taken, or the key votes?
CHENEY: Well, I cast a couple thousand votes over 10 years, Wolf; I can't say that I know every single one -- we have to go back and look at them -- but I think we had a thorough vetting process. We went through an extensive review of what we thought were the key elements of my background. I certainly spent a lot of time with him, making sure he understood all of those facets, but he's very comfortable with the decision; so am I.
BLITZER: And the decision, in terms of the vetting of you -- you've done it, obviously, the other candidates together with a staff together with a team of experts -- who specifically vetted you in this process?
CHENEY: Well, it depends on which piece of it we're talking about, Wolf. When we're talking about the health aspect of it, which was important, we had my cardiologist from George Washington University Hospital, an internist, as well as Dr. Denton Cooley.
If you're talking about my background, I've had three full field FBI investigations over the years and was thoroughly vetted, if you will, by the Senate Armed Services Committee before I was made secretary of defense, so I probably have been looked at more thoroughly than any of the other people studied.
BLITZER: Yes, but that was before you left the government, and in the last five years you've been chairman, CEO, of Halliburton, the...
CHENEY: That's right, but I've been operating in Dallas, spent a lot of time over that five year period of time with the governor, and as strange as it may seem, Wolf, to somebody here in Washington, the fact of the matter is there's a whole world out there.
We operated in an open environment, regulated by the SEC, publicly traded company. Now, people in Washington don't focus very much on the business community, but a great deal was known about my affairs, so there weren't any surprises or secrets there.
BLITZER: All right. You know that Vice President Gore has been attacking you, if you will; he's been saying...
CHENEY: Is that surprising, Wolf?
BLITZER: ... I guess that's politics, now that you mention it.
CHENEY: Well, no, that's the way Al Gore operates.
BLITZER: Well, let me play for you a sound bite from what he said suggesting that the governor's decision -- Governor Bush's decision -- is a look backwards, instead of a look ahead. Listen to what Vice President Gore said this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a choice between the old guard that gave us deficits, divisions and social injustice in the past, and a new vision of prosperity and progress, investment, inclusion and growth, to lift up all of our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's the accusation that not only Gore is making but a lot of Democrats. What do you say to that?
CHENEY: Well, I think it's hogwash. I mean, the fact of the matter is if there's anybody focused on the past, it's the Democrats. They've had eight years, and they haven't dealt effectively with the key problems; they haven't fixed the Social Security problem; they haven't fixed the educational system. And now they're spending all of their time poring over my voting record from 20 years ago. The fact of the matter is the forward-looking team in this campaign will be the Bush-Cheney team. Governor Bush has established an admirable track record in Texas. He is dealing effectively with the important issues of the day, and I'm confident that when the American people have to make a choice, they'll understand that Al Gore represents the Clinton-Gore administration, represents the last eight years, and I think the American people have had a bellyful of that.
BLITZER: You know, the most recent set of accusations was that, at Halliburton, the company that you headed, the -- you took policy positions that in effect resulted in OPEC's decision to go ahead and reduce production, thereby raising the price of gasoline, especially in the Midwest.
Mark Fabiani, the director of communications for the Gore campaign, specifically made that charge yesterday, and I want you to have a chance to respond since it's out there already. Listen to what Fabiani said:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK FABIANI, GORE 2000 DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: Gasoline prices go up, and that's exactly what happened this year. And people across the country were gouged, and they're mad about it. And an all- oil Republican ticket is not going to play very well, especially in the Midwest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That is a serious charge.
CHENEY: No, it's not a serious charge, Wolf. It's silly, and the whole proposition is silly. The fact of the matter is that oil prices got down to $10 a barrel and that in fact led to today's shortage. The reason that prices have been so volatile is because this administration has had no energy policy.
In fact, it's allowed us to become increasingly dependent on foreign sources of energy, and the fact now is that we're caught in this situation where we're strictly at the mercy, if you will, of the international marketplace. Somehow -- the idea that somehow I had the ability to control OPEC prices -- if that was true, Wolf, I wouldn't be back in politics; I'd still be in the oil business.
BLITZER: Well, I guess what they're citing is a statement that you made that when the price was $10, you thought that was too low, and that...
CHENEY: I think that's absolutely correct, and the fact of the matter is $10 oil -- nobody's going to invest in new production; nobody's going to invest in bringing new product on-line. And what you get then is a price spike when we run into shortages, and that's exactly what happened.
BLITZER: All right. Well, that explains your position; that's what this program is about -- to give you an opportunity to explain these kinds of positions. The other issue -- there have been several that the Democrats have been making -- is that vote you made in 1986 on South Africa, the non-binding House resolution that, in effect, called for Nelson Mandela's freedom. He'd been in prison for some 20 years.
Let me read to you that non-binding resolution, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives, "that the president should urge the government South -- government of South Africa to indicate its willingness to negotiate with the black majority by, one, granting unconditional freedom to Nelson Mandela, two, recognizing the African National Congress, and, three, establishing a framework for political talks."
Why did you vote against that resolution?
CHENEY: Well, I and about 180 other members of the House voted against the resolution because it involved recognition of the ANC. Nobody wanted to keep Nelson Mandela in prison; we were all eager to get him out. But the African National Congress at the time was viewed as a terrorist organization and had a number of interests that were fundamentally inimical to the U.S.
Now, Wolf, one of the problems we've got here, and I've got to tell you having been out of Washington for the last five years, in Dallas, watching what goes on back here -- is this kind of thing is exactly why the American people have been turned off by politics.
Many -- they think people back here are basically irrelevant, that you spend all your time debating and arguing about fine points, exchanging partisan jabs, as the Democrats are now, and never dealing with an issue that has anything to do with the future of the country. I hope the Democrats spend the next three months going after my voting record; I'll be happy to defend it. But in the meantime, we're going to talk about the future of the country, and we're going to win the election.
BLITZER: All right. The other issue they've been making a big point over: There is the difference between the Republic ticket and the Democrats on the issue of gun control, an issue that the NRA is obviously going to be making -- they've made no secret of their hope that the Republican ticket wins -- was that vote in 1986, another vote, this time a vote that passed 400 to 21 -- you were part of the 21 -- which would have imposed -- let me read to you the text, "imposes an additional mandatory sentence of not less than five years for any person who uses or carries a firearm, and is in possession of armor-piercing ammunition during the commission of a crime of violence repeals the current maximum sentence of 10 years for such an offense." That's the so-called -- what the critics called the "cop-killer" ammunition. Tell us why you voted against that resolution...
CHENEY: Well, if you look at those resolutions, Wolf, a lot of them -- and I think this is true in this case as well -- were brought up under suspension of the rules: no amendments are allowed, a very limited time to debate. The Second Amendment to the Constitution is very clear, that "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged." And many of us believe that, in fact, should be the opportunity to debate and amend those provisions, and that wasn't there.
The other point to make, of course, is as long as Al Gore was in the House of Representatives, he voted the pro-gun position just as I did. He got an "A" rating from the NRA in those years. So this whole notion that there was some fundamental difference didn't occur, of course, until he changed his position.
BLITZER: Could you tell us your position, now, on gun control? Should there be any restrictions...
CHENEY: I support -- I support -- I support the Second Amendment of the Constitution; I think it's a very vital one. I'm prepared to support Governor Bush's proposals on it. He's got some good ones. We want to insist upon enforcement of the existing gun laws; this administration's allowed 46 percent decline in prosecutions of the current gun laws. We think the idea of trigger locks makes sense, putting them on new guns and make them available to people who already own handguns.
We think it's appropriate to limit ownership to age 21 with respect to handguns, so there are a number of steps there that could be taken that would improve the situation. But you need to be careful as you undertake these measures to make certain that we don't tamper with that basic, fundamental constitutional right that's in the Second Amendment.
BLITZER: Obviously, another hot-button issue out there is abortion...
BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.
CHENEY: Yes, with all due respect, we've got a serious time problem here.
BLITZER: All right. Let me just wrap up a bit here.
CHENEY: Last question.
BLITZER: All right. On the issue of abortion rights for women, could you spell out what your position is? Is there any daylight between your position and the position of Governor Bush?
CHENEY: No, I think we're both in favor of, obviously, the pro- life position. We support that position. We recognize that this is a very tough issue for people on both sides of it. We'd like to find ways to try to reduce the incidence of abortion; for example, I think we both strongly support a ban on partial-birth abortion. We think there's probably a majority support for that position around the country.
But I do believe in the pro-life position. I've consistently voted that position, and there's been no change, and the governor and I think -- are in accord with our basic approach to the life issues.
BLITZER: Dick Cheney, a man who speaks forthrightly. I covered you during the Gulf War at the Pentagon. Good, as I said before, to have you back in politics, and hopefully you'll be joining us frequently on LATE EDITION, here on CNN.
BLITZER: Thank you so much; it's been a hectic period for you, I know.
CHENEY: We'll see you at the convention, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you so much.
And up next: Now that the Bush/Cheney ticket is set, can Republicans maintain a united front. We'll talk with two men who themselves made Governor Bush's short list of vice presidential candidates. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel.
LATE EDITION from the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia continues right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORE: I'm going to be running with the people, not the privileged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For seven years, this administration has not seized the moment and it's time to get some new thinking in Washington, D.C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush on the campaign trail this past week. Welcome back to the special two-hour LATE EDITION from the Republican National Convention at Philadelphia.
We're joined now by two men who are under serious consideration for Governor Bush's vice presidential running mate. With us here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and in Washington, Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel.
Gentlemen, good to have both of you back on LATE EDITION, and let me begin with you Governor Ridge, you're the host of this convention here. Dick Cheney, you were vetted by him.
GOV. TOM RIDGE (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Yes.
BLITZER: You were carefully vetted by him, I assume you were. Did you feel sort of taken by the fact that starting July 4, he made it clear that maybe he would be considered but it wasn't until, what, July 25 the official announcement was made. Should he have told you or did he tell you that he was under consideration himself?
RIDGE: No, I think the most important communication wasn't with all the others. It might have been, it would be with the individual that ultimately would make the choice, and that's my friend Governor Bush and as I think he pointed out in the early interview there's probably no one that's going under closer scrutiny for a variety of reasons than Dick Cheney, who incidentally I think is a fabulous choice.
BLITZER: And Senator Hagel, let me ask you that same question. Do you feel that perhaps you were mislead in this entire process because Cheney did not come necessarily clear -- clean to you?
SEN. CHARLES HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Oh, not at all, Wolf. I said back in May that I thought that Dick Cheney would make a remarkably strong vice presidential running mate and said it a number of times since that May conversation I had with the press. But I don't feel at all the process was skewed or any of us were used. The process should be used as it was used and that is to find the running mate that Governor Bush, the presidential candidate is most comfortable with who he feels can do the job and I think he did and as Tom said, he has made an excellent choice.
BLITZER: Well, what do you think Governor Ridge of the way the vice presidential candidates handling himself. The Democrats have unleashed a very serious full front assault.
RIDGE: Well, I think they have to be careful going down that path. I think Senator Hagel will tell you that Vice President Gore before he ascended the vice presidency has a voting record and if you really -- hopefully they'll continue to look backwards toward Dick Cheney's voting record while Governor Bush and Dick Cheney can look forward and set an agenda for this country.
I think one of the most interesting things about the debate over the past couple of days has been Dick Cheney being a CEO of an oil company. I happen to believe if you've read "Earth and Balance," that the person that's happiest in America that oil prices are high is Vice President Al Gore.
BLITZER: He wrote that book.
RIDGE: He did, he valued higher prices, I mean so clearly the notion that someone who understands the market place made a statement suggesting that there has to be some kind of price stability at a level at which you're going to exploration so you won't have this horrible dependence on foreign oil and at the same time you've got a vice president who values higher prices and I think even my staff mentioned Bob Woodward and the agenda said, "Vice President Al Gore was thoroughly disappointed that they didn't add some more taxes onto gasoline and petroleum products." I mean, again it's the Gore campaign doing what they do best and that's kind of slam the other side. Looking very negatively at a man who's got an extraordinary record of service. Dick Cheney's a great patriot.
BLITZER: I think his position was, though, if the price went up, alternate sources of energy might be encouraged, might be found and the U.S. would no longer be as dependent on imported oil as they were -- as the U.S. is as a result of the low price of oil.
RIDGE: Well, but I think in his book he talked about the value of higher prices because it would potentially encourage exploration of either other sources of fuel or the use of alternative fuels, but there are other ways you can do that without ...
BLITZER: Raising the prices.
RIDGE: ... raising prices.
BLITZER: All right, let's take a look at this recent poll. Senator Hagel, there's a new CNN-USA Today Gallup poll, talks about Dick Cheney since he got the phone call from the governor. Ask the American people, "are you excited by the choice of Dick Cheney?" Yes, excited 23 percent; 65 percent say no, not excited." What does that poll suggest to you Senator?
HAGEL: Not very much, Wolf. Listen, we are a nation that have other priorities and interests right now. We are on vacation, we're paying attention to our families, we're doing the things that are most important to us. As we get into the process; as the people in this country start to focus in the last six weeks, I think they will come to appreciate very much what this Bush-Cheney ticket is about. We are not in this business, by the way, I have never thought to excite people.
HAGEL: I know some people will disagree, but this is not show business. This is serious business, this is governance, this is the future of our children, the future of the world and if we're looking for a frick and frack ticket or a Letterman ticket, than look elsewhere. This is a serious ticket. This is a ticket that is going to reach out to America and say we're competent, we're experienced. We will elevate this country and our government, and we will bring back a redefinition of higher standards and expectations. That's what it's about; it's not about excitement.
BLITZER: Governor Ridge is anxious to jump in.
RIDGE: I just want to tell you along with my friend Chuck, I mean, you've heard a lot of things coming from Vice President Gore's campaign, but the one thing you haven't heard anybody say, because he enjoys such extraordinary respect on both sides of the aisle, that the man isn't qualified to be president of the United States.
I mean, George Bush said there were two critical factors in the selection. Good personal chemistry, clearly they have it and the man could be president, and -- so you just scrap away all the predictable and negative discussion and talk from the Gore campaign, they haven't said the man wouldn't be a good president.
BLITZER: All right, we're not going to completely strip away all of that predictable talk. I want to let Senator Hagel have a chance to respond to the Democratic political consultant James Carville who was on "Meet The Press," earlier today. And his, I guess, his comments were pretty predictable, but listen to what he had to say about the Dick Cheney selection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And I know we as Democrats are happy with this selection. I might add that I think Mr. Cheney went along way toward any questions about his health. He was running so fast on his record this morning, he looked like Maurice Greene going the 100 meters or something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Senator Hagel, what do you say about that?
HAGEL: Well, Jim Carville is a very clever fellow and I enjoy him too and I like him very much, but this campaign is going to be about more than just slogans and about how clever and pithy your commentary is.
Again, this is going to be about competence, this is going to be about character and experience and governing this country with a high degree, a high degree of standard and values and I think that's what the American people want to see and that's what they'll focus on. And Jim Carville can talk all he wants and I hope he talks more. Because he really defines down the standards of American politics on kind of a common denominator show business basis when he talks like that.
BLITZER: Now one things for certain, Senator, James Carville is going to be speaking a lot more, we can all be confident of that. Standby, we have to take a quick break. When we return, your phone calls for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel. LATE EDITION from Philadelphia. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our special two hour LATE EDITION coming to you this week from the Republican National Convention here in Philadelphia.
We're talking with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel. Let's take a phone call, gentlemen, right outside Philadelphia, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania; please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Good afternoon. I've been spending most of the morning watching the vice presidential candidate, Dick Cheney, make the rounds on the morning talk shows, and I'm a bit amazed at the arrogance on display when Dick Cheney is confronted with his congressional voting record. This morning, he characterized it as, quote-unquote, trivia this morning with Sam and Cokie. And I agree with Sam Donaldson that Nelson Mandela is not trivia.
BLITZER: Let's Governor Ridge -- let's Governor Ridge respond. You were once a member of Congress -- your voting record, that's fair game isn't it?
RIDGE: I think clearly it's fair game, and I think if we have to get beyond individual votes and take a look at the measure of the man, and the woman described Dick Cheney as arrogant, and a lot of things that I would use to describe Dick Cheney -- but that's certainly not one of them. I would say to the viewer, you should know Dick Cheney like all us on both sides of the aisle. There's an enormous amount of respect for Dick Cheney. He was one of those folks in the House of Representatives that -- when he came to the podium or came to the well, people on both sides of aisle would be quiet. I mean, there was the Barber Conables (ph), the Mo Udalls, the Bill Frengels (ph), the Tip O'Neills, as to Dick Cheney, and he's very a thoughtful, deliberate man. Obviously, he's from a conservative district and a conservative state, but he is very much a man of the future, and he is talking about the importance of building a better America and renewing America's promise in the cradle of American democracy right here in Philadelphia. They are a great team. They will govern well.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take another caller from Albany, New York, please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Yes, gentlemen, I know that General Colin Powell declined the position for vice president; however, I think it would be a perfect ticket if he would take the head of Department of Defense as Dick Cheney has formerly held.
BLITZER: Let's ask Senator Hagel about that. What do you think about Colin Powell as secretary of defense?
HAGEL: Well, I think we have a small regulation that probably affects that -- which back in the days when General George Marshall became secretary of defense, if I recall at all,...
RIDGE: Secretary of state.
HAGEL: Secretary of state and secretary of defense, by the way. There had to be some kind of a dispensation to do that, but that aside, I think General Powell is one of the most remarkable public servants of our time, and I would support any position that a President Bush would find and General Powell would agree to.
BLITZER: Senator Hagel, let me follow up on Senator McCain. You supported Senator McCain during the primaries, he's arrived now in Philadelphia. He spoke earlier today -- we saw it live on CNN at the so-called shadow convention not far from here at this convention site. Yesterday, when he got off that bus, we had these pictures. He was warmly received; a huge press contingent joined him. Is this appropriate? Some critics are saying he's trying to upstage Governor Bush; this is really Governor's Bush's moment; he shouldn't really be doing this. What do you say? HAGEL: Oh, I don't think that's the case at all. John McCain has made it pretty clear what he's doing here. One of the things he's doing -- he's thanking the supporters that came to his agenda and helped him and projected him into a national leadership position. Let's not forget: Here is a man who attracted almost five million votes, Wolf, as you know, and you covered him.
This is a man who's loyal to his party. He's loyal to his country. He has said that. I think that's going to be very amply and very eloquently displayed Tuesday night when he makes his speech. I have the great honor of introducing him Tuesday night, but, no, John McCain is not here in any way doing anything that would detract from Governor Bush, and I think he's made that quite clear.
BLITZER: All right, let's take another caller from Ontario, Canada. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Hi, this is for Tom Ridge. I was wondering why George Bush would have selected Dick Cheney instead of a Tom Ridge who would help carry Pennsylvania, a state that George Bush is going to have a lot of trouble with.
BLITZER: That's a good question.
CALLER: Why would he go with someone who has a lot of ties with Texas?
BLITZER: Well, and Pennsylvania has a few more electoral votes than Wyoming.
RIDGE: Well, I don't think I want to get into ranking potential vice presidents. Governor Bush has made an excellent choice. Chuck and I believe that, and neither one of us would want to get into that. I think you take a look at not only the political side of things, but you take a look at the governing side. One of the advantages that I think Governor Bush had was a very, very deep bench of potential running mates.
And the fact of the matter remains is that he selected an individual with whom he has a terrific working relationship, good personal chemistry and has got one of the most impressive public service resumes in recent political history. I might add while this will be a difficult state to win, I have been convinced all along if we do our work, and Governor Bush has committed to spending time and resources here, we can still win the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It's going to be a tough fight, but I believe we can put Pennsylvania in the Republican column for the first time in quite awhile.
BLITZER: Clinton-Gore won it (UNINTELLIGIBLE) two times.
RIDGE: It's not going to be easy, I mean, clearly. But I think having the convention here, I mean, one of the challenges we have -- see, Governor Bush sees this as an opportunity to build. I mean, the other guy talks about, are you with me, or with them? And Governor Bush said that's winning by subtraction. I think Governor Bush plans on winning by addition, and a couple of the add-ons could be some of these Northeastern states. We're taking our message to the Northeast; we're expending resources here; he's going to spend some time here. That's why we're going to win some of these states, and obviously I'm optimistic and hopeful one of them would be Pennsylvania.
HAGEL: And Tom, we're going to do our best to carry Nebraska.
RIDGE: All right.
BLITZER: All right, Governor Ridge, Senator Hagel, thanks to both of you for joining us on LATE EDITION. We'll be happy of course to have both of you back in the not-too-distant future.
And just ahead, Gore versus Bush. What impact will the Cheney selection have on the vice president's choice for a running mate? Gore senior adviser Bob Shrum and GOP strategist Haley Barbour face off on that, and much more when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to this special Late Edition.
We now get two very different perspectives on the presidential race. With us here in Philadelphia is Republican strategist and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Haley Barbour. And joining us from Washington is the Democratic strategist and Gore adviser, Bob Shrum.
Gentlemen, welcome back to Late Edition.
BOB SHRUM, GORE CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Nice to be here.
BLITZER: And let me begin with Bob Shrum. You heard Dick Cheney's explanations throughout the morning. He was on all of the Sunday programs including ours. He makes his -- he makes his points very deliberately. Is he making them effectively?
Are you going to have to go back and re-think some of the criticism on some of the specific issues you've leveled in the days since he got the -- got the phone call?
SHRUM: Well, no one doubts that he's competent. And no one has ever suggested that he wasn't. I think he'd be extraordinarily competent at doing the wrong thing. I mean, this is a guy who voted not only the Mandela vote that you talked about -- which, by the way, I agree with the caller who called in, was not trivia. And at that time, about the only people who were calling the ANC communist- dominated, which it obviously was not and is not, were far-right Republicans.
This guy voted against the Clean Water Act -- not against money for it, but against having it at all. He voted twice to abolish Head Start. And you have to say to yourself, if this is who George Bush picks as vice president, imagine who he's going to pick for the Supreme Court, where a woman's right to choose hangs by a thread, hangs by one vote.
BLITZER: Let's let Haley Barbour respond.
HALEY BARBOUR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: My response is very simple. The American people see that every day in every way on every issue every time, Albert Gore's campaign is going to attack George Bush. They're going to attack Bush personally; they're going to attack Cheney personally; they're going to attack Bush's record -- Cheney's record.
BLITZER: That's not attacking him personally...
BARBOUR: Well, of course they are. Of course they are.
BLITZER: Isn't that...
BARBOUR: I was on your network last week...
BLITZER: One second...
BARBOUR: I was on your network last week with the chairman of the Democratic National Committee who called Cheney's votes "immoral."
But look, this is what they think they have to do to win. And we all know Albert Gore will do anything to win. So the American people will be used to this by the time it's over.
SHRUM: Well, you know...
BLITZER: Go ahead, Mr. Shrum.
SHRUM: You know, Haley. Let's try to get this down to a real level. You guys keep saying George Bush should get elected president because of his record. He's only been governor of Texas five and a half years. He doesn't have all that long a record.
And then you say, oh, don't examine that record.
And don't talk to me about personal kinds of campaigning. For Dick Cheney to get on the air this morning and say that it was an embarrassment -- that he wants to become vice president, and George Bush should be president, to end embarrassment for this country.
Let me tell you what's embarrassment. Embarrassment is what Dick Cheney did voting against the school lunch program, voting against feeding hungry kids. To me, that's an embarrassment.
BARBOUR: Well, I could -- you know, we're going to be on with Bob until all of November, and it will get shriller and shriller, and Gore will get louder and louder, and the Gore campaign will be the most negative campaign in American history...
SHRUM: Haley, talk about one...
BARBOUR: ... but I don't hear...
SHRUM: Haley, Haley...
BARBOUR: Bob, now I don't interrupt -- I don't interrupt you, Bob,
SHRUM: Haley, talk about one issue...
BLITZER: Mr. Shrum, Mr. Shrum, wait a minute. Mr. Shrum, Mr. Shrum, wait a second.
Let's let him respond.
BARBOUR: I'll always let you have your time to talk, Bob.
But look, people know this is going to be the most negative campaign in American history. Gore has hired a bunch of extremely capable scorched earth politicians -- Bob, Carter Eskew -- and we're going to get used to that.
Bush is going to continue to try to focus on what's positive, optimism about our future, because he knows the American people want to get rid of the bitter -- the bitter partisanship and the partisan, nasty, poisonous atmosphere that we've got in Washington. The American people deserve better, and George Bush and Dick Cheney'll give them better.
BLITZER: Mr. Shrum. Let me take you -- point out one thing that Governor Ridge just said on this program.
If you're going to start taking a look at the votes of Dick Cheney in the '80s, when he was a member of the House of Representatives, everyone's going to start looking at Al Gore's voting record in the House of Representatives. And he said he's not sure you -- the Gore campaign and the Democratic supporters of Al Gore -- want to walk down that road, given the positions that Al Gore had on abortion, on gun control and on other issues.
SHRUM: No, it's -- there are no other issues, Wolf. That's interesting. The fact of the matter is the vice president has said he has changed to some degree on gun control, and he changed to some degree on abortion, even though he always supported a woman's right to choose.
But look at what Haley did a minute ago: You're going to get shriller; you're negative. This, of course, from a guy who participated in some of the dirtiest campaigns in terms of 1988 against Michael Dukakis that have ever been conducted in America.
But why won't Haley talk about the issues?
Haley, let me ask you a question. George Bush proposes to take $1 trillion out of the Social Security trust fund. A new study just says that that would require either a 54 percent cut in benefits or would create a $1 trillion budget deficit. He won't say where he's going to get the money. Do you have any idea where he's going to get the money? BARBOUR: Well, I do know this, Bob. The American people want people who solve problems. And what George Bush has looked at and realized -- we have to do about Social Security -- we've got to give our seniors more retirement security, and we've got to give young people a better return on their money than what we've got now. And we've got to do that by harnessing the power of this economy, instead of burdening it with more taxes and more entitlements like has been done in the past.
What George Bush has done -- what George Bush has done...
SHRUM: You won't answer the question, Haley.
BARBOUR: What George Bush has done...
SHRUM: This is the technique you're always using. You will not answer a question. Where does the $1 trillion come from? Because otherwise there's a 54 percent cut in benefits.
BARBOUR: All right. All right. You know, what George Bush has done is said we're going to let people keep 2 percent -- 200 basis points -- of what they put in in personal accounts, and that will give people a hugely better return on their money. And we have plenty of money in this $4 trillion surplus to make sure that no senior citizen gets one penny less.
That's why Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the senior Democrat in your party, who is the senior Democrat on Social Security in the Democratic party, supports something that is almost exactly like what George Bush is proposing and why he and Senator Kerry and others -- Senator Breaux -- have praised Bush for doing it.
SHRUM: No. First of all, Senator Kerry has not praised Bush for doing it. Number two, the fact of the matter is that you take $1 trillion out of the fund over the next 20 years. That either means that a huge deficit or a 54 percent cut in benefits. And don't talk to me about the $4 trillion surplus, Haley, because you know that when you take Social Security and Medicare out of it -- unless you intend to steal that money -- it's $1.5 trillion. And Governor Bush's tax plan and spending plans alone convert that into a $1.5 trillion deficit.
BARBOUR: Well, you know...
SHRUM: So you're headed for either a $2.5 trillion deficit, right back to Bush-Quayle economics, or you're going to cut Social Security by 54 percent.
BARBOUR: And of course, the truth is...
SHRUM: ... about a specific issue...
BARBOUR: ... except for the attack machine at the Gore campaign, nobody believes Bob's numbers. Nobody believes Bob numbers, and so...
SHRUM: All right. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Those numbers actually are all certified in terms of the numbers. The cost of the Bush program...
BARBOUR: By the Clinton administration?
BLITZER: Gentlemen, gentlemen.
SHRUM: They're certified by people who make budget estimates.
BLITZER: All right.
Bob Shrum, Haley Barbour, stand by. We have to take another quick break.
Just ahead, your phone calls for Haley Barbour and Bob Shrum.
This special Late Edition from Philadelphia. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH: This man is a good man. He's a solid man; he's a man who understands what the definition of "is" is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush praising Dick Cheney, while taking a shot at President Clinton on the campaign trail on Friday.
BLITZER: Welcome back to this special two-hour LATE EDITION. We're talking with GOP strategist and former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour and Gore senior adviser Bob Shrum.
Let's take a quick phone call from Charleston, South Carolina; please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Hi. Thank you very much. My question is actually for both the gentlemen on your panel, and it is this: With unprecedented prosperity and a soaring Dow, and an unmoving child poverty rate, why does the Republican party oppose both raising the minimum wage and passing a bill currently before Congress to feed the nation's hungry, and my question for the Democrat ...
BLITZER: Let's just make one question. Let's take that one question for Haley Barbour. Not all Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage; there's some Republicans who support it. But go ahead and tell us about the first part of the question.
BARBOUR: Well, of course the Senate's voted to raise the minimum wage. The House has voted to raise the minimum wage. I suspect that will happen before the end of the year; it's tied primarily to some tax relief for the small businesses who mainly have to bear the burden of the minimum wage increases, so it doesn't hurt small business, which is the job creator in this country.
But look, we've got a huge surplus coming up here both that Republicans and the Democrats say at least that they want to wall off Social Security and Medicare trust funds, and that's happened in Congress. Not one penny has been spent out of those trust things -- funds for anything but Social Security and Medicare in this -- in the last two Congresses, and the question is what shall we do with the rest of the surplus. Bush thinks more of it ought to go to tax cuts; Gore thinks more of it ought to go to spending increases.
BLITZER: Bob Shrum, this latest CNN-Time magazine poll, I'm sure you've seen a national wide poll of likely voters, has George W. Bush with 52 percent; Al Gore 36 percent; Ralph Nader at five and Buchanan at four. Those numbers seem to be getting wider; there's seems to be what they're calling a pre-Republican convention bounce for George W. Bush.
SHRUM: Wolf, you and I do this on this show periodically, because like in June, you said 13 one week, four another week. Your poll jumps all over the place, and actually it's quite different from most of the other polls that have come out in the last day. But, and you may not by the way have a pre-convention or post-convention bounce for the Republicans because I think you already gave it to them. They're clearly going to get one.
By the way, I want to say I'm surprised Haley didn't accuse that woman when she asked that question of being mean and negative, because all she did was raise some of the issues we want to raise in this campaign. You know what George Bush's position on the minimum wage is? That states should be able to opt out of it.
You know what the minimum wage in Texas is? Three dollars and 35 cents an hour. Look, we just want to talk about the issues and, by the way, the film segment that you opened this section with -- I'd ask Haley: Is that an example of George Bush's high-minded campaign?
BLITZER: Haley Barbour, respond very quickly because we have to go to another break.
BARBOUR: Hey look, when you quote the president of the United States, that's usually not viewed as criticism.
SHRUM: Haley, that was a wonderful example of the kind of campaign you guys want to run.
BLITZER: All right, Bob Shrum and ...
SHRUM: Slick and a little mean on the edge, and then you want to say you're high-minded.
BLITZER: All right.
SHRUM: You're not, and you know it.
BLITZER: All right, stand by once again. We have to take yet another break. Up next, more of ;your phone calls for Haley Barbour and Bob Shrum. We'll also test their and your political IQ with a quiz that CNN Interactive viewers have been taking all day. Here's one of the questions. In what year did Theodore Roosevelt bolt the GOP to run for president on the Bull Moose Party ticket. Was it 1904, 1908, 1912 or 1916? The answer to this and other questions, when our special LATE EDITION from Philadelphia continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking presidential politics with the Republican strategist Haley Barbour and Gore senior adviser Bob Shrum.
All right. CNN Interactive has over these past few days started a new program: Test Your Political IQ. We've been running this on cnn.com/election2000. Earlier, we gave the questions.
Let's go through some of these.
And let me test, Haley, the first one, your political IQ. In what year did Theodore Roosevelt bolt the GOP to run for president on the Bull Moose Party ticket? Was it 1904, 1908, 1912 or 1916?
BARBOUR: Of course, Wolf, it was 1912. It led to the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson. The Democrats were in the White House for eight years. But, you know, Wilson, like Clinton -- they are two of the three presidents to ever be elected and re-elected without ever getting a majority.
BLITZER: That is correct.
He knows his political IQ.
The second question -- this is a very easy one. Let me read it for our audience. Who is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate? And I'm not even going to ask Bob Shrum this question, because it's too easy. A, Strom Thurmond; B, Trent Lott; C, Bob Dole; D, Tom Daschle? The correct answer of course is B, Trent Lott, although I am sure that Bob Shrum would like it soon to be Tom Daschle.
Bob Shrum, you think that's -- that's got a chance, that Tom Daschle will be the next majority leader of the Senate?
SHRUM: I think it's tough, but possible. I think the...
BLITZER: Here's the next question. And this is a serious question for Bob Shrum. We're going to put you on the spot right now, Bob. Who won the 1980 Iowa GOP caucus -- 1980 -- you remember that -- was it A...
SHRUM: George Bush. George...
BLITZER: ... Howard Baker; B, Ronald Reagan; C, George Bush...
SHRUM: George Bush...
BLITZER: Or, D, Bob Dole? And Bob Shrum is correct! SHRUM: And let me tell you, Wolf, we all just did a lot better than George Bush did when he got asked to name the leaders of other countries.
BLITZER: All right.
Bob Shrum showing his political IQ -- Haley Barbour showing his. Excellent work, both of you. You'll have some more questions later. We have to take yet another break.
For our international viewers, world news is next.
For our North American audience, there's still another full hour of LATE EDITION. We'll check the hour's top stories. We'll also continue our conversation with Haley Barbour and Bob Shrum.
Then Comedy Central's John Stewart. He'll join us. We'll have a little fun with him. Our LATE EDITION roundtable and Bruce Morton's last word. It's all ahead when this special LATE EDITION from the Republican National Convention continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to this special LATE EDITION.
Hour two of more of our conversation now with the Republican strategist Haley Barbour and Gore adviser Bob Shrum. That will be in just a moment, but first let's go to Gene Randall in Washington for a check of the hour's top stories. Gene?.
BLITZER: Thanks, Gene. We're going to take a look now at what's happening on the streets here in Philadelphia. There have been some protests. We want to go to Maria Hinojosa; she's covering that part of the story. Maria, tell us what's happening right now.
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, organizers had said that this was going to be the largest-ever political demonstration at a convention. That is clearly not the case; they're admitting to that, and they're blaming the heat, and it is a scorcher. Nonetheless, this is a large demonstration -- several thousand strong. They arrived here about noon and carrying a huge banner saying Unity 2000; next to that, another banner saying Thank God for Choice.
Behind them, a group of anti-police-brutality activists and behind them, a group of anarchists who lit a flag on fire, while they were singing the Star Spangled Banner on stage. Such are the problems that are to be confronted when you're trying to bring together such a diverse group of people in a unity demonstration like this. They represent the National Organization for Women, the Teamsters, as well as the anarchists and the socialists.
There has been a large police presence; there has been no confrontations reported up until now. The protesters say that one of their largest successes was to be able to bring together this group to have a non-violent family-style protest, that another one of their successes has been to group so many different groups together. They're also saying that because of the fact that the Republican National Convention is saying that it's going to be a more inclusive convention this time around, that that means that the demonstrators have been heard by organizers of the Republican national convention. Wolf?
BLITZER: Maria Hinojosa, on the streets of Philadelphia, will be standing by for more, if necessary. Thanks for joining us. Now back to our discussion about the presidential race with Republican strategist Haley Barbour and Gore senior adviser Bob Shrum.
Bob Shrum, there's a little item in the new issue of "U.S. News and World Report" saying this: Democrats influential in the White House are now pushing Leon Panetta to be a possible vice presidential running mate for Al Gore. You think Leon Panetta is up to that?
SHRUM: Look, as I've said before, Wolf, and I think I've said to you, the people who know about this process don't talk about it; the people who talk about it don't know about it. I think the vice president's doing this in a very different way than Governor Bush did it, and I have every confidence that at the end, the person he selects will be someone who is clearly superior in terms of their priorities, in terms of fighting for people and not the powerful in this country, to Dick Cheney.
You know, there are big differences in this selection. You've got a Republican ticket that's against a prescription drug benefit for all seniors under Medicare. It has a prescription drug benefit that lets you go beg the HMOs and insurance companies for coverage. That's a big issue. Haley may think it's a negative attack. I think it's a difference that people in this country need to know about, because it really affects their lives.
BLITZER: Well, let me give you a chance to respond to that.
BARBOUR: Well, of course the House Republicans have passed a prescription drug benefit bill, a prescription drug benefit bill that would go in effect next year, unlike President Clinton's prescription drug benefit which doesn't even go into effect until 2003. George Bush is for a prescription drug benefit, but I'll tell you, none of us should be for a bad prescription drug benefit that ends up giving seniors something worse than they have now and they have to pay more for it. But I will say this, Wolf, if the Democrats pick Leon Panetta, he is a first-rate, high-class, smart, respectable, fine civil servant -- I mean, citizen. He's -- that would be a great choice for Gore.
SHRUM: Haley, I know why you like that Republican prescription drug benefit. It lets seniors go beg HMOs and insurance companies for coverage, and it protects the big drug companies. That's why you like it. It's as phony as the attempt the Republicans made in the early '60s to say, oh, we have our own version of Medicare, and it turned out to be nothing at all, and the result was that the Republicans in 1964 -- it's one of the reasons that Lyndon Johnson so badly beat Barry Goldwater because the Republicans had a phony Medicare bill. You don't have a real prescription drug benefit. Seniors shouldn't have to beg HMOs and insurance companies for coverage; that's what your bill does.
BARBOUR: Let me make this point to you, Bob. Your administration, the Clinton-Gore administration, in the last two years has short-changed Medicare -- the current Medicare program by $37 billion. They have spent $37 billion less on Medicare than Congress budgeted. Now, I think we ought to have a prescription drug benefit, but I'll guarantee you George Bush is going to make sure that his administration doesn't short-change Medicare and spend less than Congress gives them.
SHRUM: Haley, if I were you, I wouldn't mention Medicare outside a confessional. Your party tried to cut it by $270 billion in 1995 in order to give a $270 billion tax cut to the wealthy.
BARBOUR: But Bob...
SHRUM: You're running around -- George Bush is running around with a tax cut where 60 percent of the benefit goes to the top 10 percent of people. He's against a real prescription drug benefit, and he's against a real patients' bill of rights.
BLITZER: All right, Bob. Hold on.
BARBOUR: Do you understand, Bob, and do you admit, that the administration spent $37 billion less on Medicare in the last two years than Congress budgeted? Oh no -- not cut the budget, I'm talking about, cut the spending to below the budget.
SHRUM: Haley, you have such a bad record to defend in terms of Dick Cheney. You have come up with a technical number. There's not one person in this country who knows who stood up and saved Medicare in 1995 from Republicans who wanted to destroy it -- and your guy, Newt Gingrich, who said we want to put it on the road to extinction. Remember that, Haley?
BARBOUR: In fairness, the budget that Newt Gingrich passed -- it vetoed -- was vetoed by Bill Clinton in 1995, budgeted $15 billion more for Medicare last year than the Clinton-Gore administration actually spent, Bob.
SHRUM: No, no, no, no.
BARBOUR: That's the fact; now don't say no.
SHRUM: Haley, Haley, Haley, Haley, you're wrong.
BARBOUR: The fact is that is how much spending was cut by the Clinton administration.
BLITZER: Bob Shrum, stand by. We're not going to go down this debate right now. Unfortunately, we can't resolve all of the issues. I do want to take, because I promised, a phone call from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: All right, could I make a little comment first?
BLITZER: Just get to the question.
CALLER: Keep your head up and your lip stiff because you got a dirty fight in font of you. The Republicans have been the dirtiest party; they talk attack; they've been attacking this president for seven years. Now my question is -- ask Haley Barbour how are you supposed to go through this campaign without asking Bush any question on his record or anything, when all he says that he is the best -- I am this, I am that. Anything you ask him is negative.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Haley Barbour.
BARBOUR: Do you want Bob to ask me that, or is it OK if I answer the question?
BLITZER: Everyone answer the question.
BARBOUR: George Bush is proud of his records. He's proud to see that the Clinton administration last week said that Bush's number-one priority in education which was to increase -- improve education in Texas for first and fourth grade, particularly for minority students, but the Clinton administration said last week that the Bush administration of Texas -- the state of Texas was number one in the country.
And George Bush has got a record he's going to run on, he's proud of and it's consistent with what he would do as president, and so we love to talk about that. And I promise you can ask me; you don't have to get Bob to ask me.
SHRUM: Listen, I would have been happy to ask you, Haley. I've got to point out, by the way, that Medicare was passed without a single Republican vote the first time it was before the Senate. Look, the factor of the matter is the caller is completely right.
George Bush stands with the insurance companies; he stands for the HMOs; he stands for the big drug companies. He's against a real prescription bill of rights -- a real prescription drug benefit. He's against a real patient's bill of rights. He stands up for powerful interests in this society.
That's a big issue. We're going to talk about it, and we're going to talk about his record which is entirely fair game in this election.
BLITZER: On that note -- talking about records, talking about substantive issues, I want to thank both Bob Shrum and Haley Barbour. Always great to have both of you on this program. I'm sure both of you will be back.
We'll be in Los Angeles, Bob Shrum...
SHRUM: Great to see you, Wolf. BLITZER: ... in a few weeks for the Democratic convention. You'll have a tough challenge because there...
SHRUM: Well, can we get -- can we get -- maybe we can get Haley back?
BLITZER: Maybe we can.
SHRUM: I think Haley should come to LA and get a little education.
BARBOUR: And maybe when we're in Los Angeles, Bob might even mention Gore one time during the show.
SHRUM: Oh, I'd be happy to mention Gore. He's presented a balanced budget...
BLITZER: All right. All right. All right.
SHRUM: ... pays off the national debt by 2012...
BLITZER: OK. OK.
SHRUM: ... prescription drug benefit, patients' bill of rights...
BLITZER: He's on message, ladies and gentlemen.
SHRUM: You asked for it. You got it.
BLITZER: All right, Bob Shrum and Haley Barbour. Thanks again. And just ahead: if you think politics is full of laughs, you'll be interested in hearing what our next guest has to say. We'll shift gears. We'll talk political humor with the host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, when LATE EDITION continues from Philadelphia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT DOLE, FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: They're decent, committed Americans...
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Dull. Deadly dull. The two of them are...
Do they ever, like, even at the Christmas party -- did -- would Gore...
DOLE: Yes, at one of the parties, one of them smiled -- I don't know... (LAUGHTER)
STEWART: Oh my gosh...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Comedy Central's Daily Show with host Jon Stewart and surprise political funny man, former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
The Daily Show is also covering this Republican convention here in Philadelphia; later, the Democratic convention in Los Angeles. And we're now joined by the program's host, the comedian Jon Stewart.
Good to have you with us.
STEWART: Well, it's a pleasure to be here.
Do you smell smoke?
STEWART: OK. That guy seemed to be getting very upset -- and the other guy as well. I don't know who they are, but I would seriously...
BLITZER: Yes. Well, you know, that politics...
STEWART: ... I would give them decaf coffee next time.
BLITZER: Haley Barbour, Bob Shrum.
STEWART: Yes. BLITZER: They're very passionate in their politics.
STEWART: Very passionate, but, you know, not to be wrong here, but neither one of those guys looks to be in the best shape. So I don't know if agitation is the best thing for them, you know what I'm saying?
BLITZER: I understand completely what you're saying.
But you have some people on your program that get fairly agitated as well.
STEWART: Well, that's...
BLITZER: Lewis Black, for example. He gets excited sometimes.
STEWART: He does get very excited, but we're kidding.
BLITZER: All right now. A lot of our audience -- and I have to be -- I have to be honest with you...
STEWART: First of all, to say "a lot" of your audience, I think, is really kind of an overstatement, I think... BLITZER: No, this is a huge audience out there, but I have to tell you...
STEWART: Right. So far, every call's been from Pittsburgh; that's all I'm going to say.
BLITZER: ... a lot of our audience does not necessarily know who Jon Stewart and Comedy Central...
STEWART: Well, I think a lot of them are...
BLITZER: ... the Daily Show. They don't know what you're all about.
Tell us what you're...
STEWART: Here's what I'm all about.
BLITZER: What is the show all about?
STEWART: Here's what I'm doing in Philadelphia. I am excited to see the "renewed purpose" of the Republican Party in "the big tent" to reflect the "compassionate conservatism" of "the bridge to the 21st century" that brings "a point of light" -- 'Ich bin ein Berliner'
BLITZER: So -- all right. You're here to report on what's going on. But you do it with a little satire...
STEWART: I'm here to report on the ridiculousness...
BLITZER: ... a little political fun. STEWART: Yes. We're here to -- we're here to enjoy the process. We're a fake news organization covering a fake news event. So, really, we're the only ones who should be here.
I don't know what you're doing here. You know, the Jersey shore is just an hour and 15 minutes away. We can go down there right now -- the expressway, baby.
BLITZER: We're a real news organization...
STEWART: Don't get...
BLITZER: ... covering a real news event.
STEWART: Which is the real news event?
BLITZER: You. You're the real news.
STEWART: Stop it.
BLITZER: Jon Stewart, big news story.
STEWART: Thank you.
BLITZER: But you have some very impressive people who are your political -- you have a better team of political analysts than I -- you have Bob Dole...
STEWART: We have Bob Dole.
BLITZER: He was a Republican...
STEWART: Senator Bob Dole.
BLITZER: Yes. Former presidential candidate.
STEWART: Former presidential candidate.
BLITZER: And Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor.
STEWART: We think.
BLITZER: What do you mean, you think?
STEWART: We can't find him. He's tiny.
BLITZER: You've been promoting him...
STEWART: Somebody put him in a duffel bag to bring down, and we misplaced the bag. We're missing him, two computers, a deck of cards. I just don't know what's going to happen.
BLITZER: You'll find him. He'll be starting Monday night, right?
STEWART: Starting -- Tuesday night will be our first night of broadcast. We're a day behind because we're, as I said earlier, fake.
BLITZER: All right. I want to show our audience a little bit...
STEWART: I want to show our audience, too...
BLITZER: ... some of the promotions, some of the...
STEWART: I didn't know we were supposed to dress up...
BLITZER: Yes, I see you got all dressed up for this occasion.
Let's look at this little Comedy Central ad that you've been running to try to promote Indecision 2000, which is what you call it.
STEWART: All right. Let's do that.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take a look.
STEWART: Thank you. Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Children are reading less. We're snacking more -- happier, fatter. And the reason why is a man named Jon Stewart. Before Jon Stewart, America was mired in a great depression. Do we really want to go back? Of course not. Jon Stewart for anchor -- bringing us together one TV set at a time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: I think it's clear that...
BLITZER: Well, you know you do have excellent anchor techniques down: the way you take the papers, for example. Show our audience how you would -- you would go like that -- you know, you do that very well.
STEWART: 'We'll be right back.'
BLITZER: Did you have to rehearse that? You have to practice that kind of anchor...
STEWART: Your job's cake, brother.
BLITZER: It's easy, isn't it?
STEWART: Except when they send you over to Islamabad, and you've got to hide under a desk with the bombs going off. But other than that...
BLITZER: It's easy.
STEWART: ... do you get nicer suits than I do?
Let me tell you this, though, about that...
BLITZER: No. You would love -- you have very nice suits, I've got to admit...
STEWART: ... about that advertisement.
STEWART: The tax-and-spend, news-as-usual policies of Dan Rather aren't working.
BLITZER: And you're out to turn...
STEWART: America deserves better. America deserves a new approach.
BLITZER: Who do you...
BLITZER: Who's better for your profession, a comedian? Al Gore or George W. Bush?
BLITZER: I want to show our audience a little bit about Al Gore. First, some video. Take a look at this, and give us your assessment down the road who might be better material.
STEWART: Who are we looking at first?
BLITZER: We're going to take a look at Al Gore first. Watch this.
STEWART: Where do I look?
BLITZER: Any one of these cameras.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CALLER: ... one aspect of Al Gore's public personality that you could change, what would it be?
GORE: Ah, let's see. I think that I would like to be a better dancer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right.
STEWART: What happened?
BLITZER: That was it; it was Al Gore.
STEWART: He is like the Yule log, like a Lava Lamp. That is -- that was the most serene I've been in weeks. He's tremendous; how long was he talking for?
BLITZER: A few seconds.
STEWART: That's it?
BLITZER: That was it.
STEWART: You're kidding me; I went out like a light. That is terrific. What did he say?
BLITZER: You know, he said something about wanting to be a better dancer.
STEWART: That was actually not him; that was the cutout that you take the picture with.
BLITZER: That was just, like, fake, you know, talking like that?
BLITZER: All right. Let's take ...
STEWART: I think he'd be a better dancer with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) BLITZER: We have some video of George W. Bush, to tell us if you think he could make some good -- let's look at that video of George W. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH: It's hard to get a feel for what...
BLITZER: He's at his ranch, and he's -- you know, he's a Texan. He's got those cowboy boots, and he's got the ranch.
STEWART: That's a hell of a buckle there.
BLITZER: Yes, and he's got his dog with him...
STEWART: Hey, look at that. That's safe. That's compassionate conservatism right there. There we go, look at this. We got bricks -- look, look; we got bricks...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, so give us the answer to the question. Who is better for your profession for you: Jay Leno, Dave Letterman, all the comedians ...
STEWART: I'm not familiar with those other people, but I will say this: Mr. T would be the best for us. We're not -- you know, here's the difference: we take ourselves very seriously, so it's not -- that was clearly an attempt of both those guys to provide humor. That's not really where we find our humor. It's not in their personalities, as much as it is in the facade that they portray.
I turned on your colleague Larry King last night to watch; I don't know if it was a midnight show or his 3:00 a.m. show. It was the first time in weeks that Tammy Fae Baker hasn't been there, so God bless him. But he had a parade of people on. It was Christie Whitman; it was Andy Card, the guy who's running -- By the way, if you're ever looking for somebody to throw a convention, always a secretary of transportation is the smart choice. A former secretary of treasury, they know how to throw a party.
BLITZER: All right, Jon Stewart. Stand by.
STEWART: Are you serious? I was just getting to the punch line.
BLITZER: No, we have a lot more to talk about.
STEWART: Another call from Pittsburgh?
BLITZER: We have to take a break.
STEWART: Bob Shrum's head's just exploded!
BLITZER: When we return, your phone calls for the Daily Show's Jon Stewart. LATE EDITION continues right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
BLITZER: We're talking political humor with the host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart. You know, Dick Cheney -- I don't know if you heard -- is the Republican vice presidential candidate.
STEWART: You know Dick Cheney brings "gravitas" to the ticket.
BLITZER: He's a very nice man.
STEWART: He's a very nice man, admired by people on both sides of the aisle, but his voting record must be addressed. I think that Dick Cheney's, while being a conservative, he's not considered one of the conservatives, and the interesting thing is George Bush was not afraid to make a choice.
(SCREAMS NONSENSE WORDS) I've lost it.
BLITZER: All right, we have a caller, we have a caller, Jon Stewart. New York City, please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Hi Jon.
CALLER: I just want to know what kind of reception you and your team have received so far.
STEWART: Quite frankly, I was beaten and thrown in a puddle over by the Schuylkill. I don't like it here; this is not for me.
BLITZER: You have a lot of viewers here in Philadelphia.
STEWART: Do you think that's true?
BLITZER: I know you do.
STEWART: How do you know that?
STEWART: Have you been going out at night?
BLITZER: Informal survey, I told people these last few days ...
STEWART: Is this another one of those CNN-Time Gallup polls that go flipping over? 'We give Bush 180 percent and Gore three percent.' But wait, this just in: Dick Cheney gives him 70 percent. But most Americans want guns, what? You know, when you do those polls, do they ever address how many people hang up?
BLITZER: I don't know, I've got to ask Bill Schneider -- is our political analyst. STEWART: I know Schneider; I don't trust him. They come out here and they go, 300 average Americans of a random samplings. Do you know they must go through 30,000 phone calls to get that?
BLITZER: It's very scientific.
STEWART: Because anybody who will just sit there and talk to you and your pollster isn't very busy.
BLITZER: Listen to some of your competition -- had some words to say on Dick Cheney. I want you to listen to this. I want you to listen to this.
STEWART: Are you throwing this in my face?
BLITZER: I want you to listen to this. We always do the tough questions on this show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE LETTERMAN: Some good news for Dick Cheney. He's gone 24 hours without a heart attack.
JAY LENO: Gore spoke out today; Al Gore said that he has a secret weapon in the debates against Dick Cheney. He says he's just going to go, "Boo!"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: I don't find those funny at all.
STEWART: Either one of those guys. Who are they? Are they broadcasters?
BLITZER: You wish you would have written those jokes?
STEWART: No, I don't.
BLITZER: Those were good jokes.
STEWART: Those were not good jokes.
BLITZER: They're funny, those guys.
STEWART: They're very funny, but you're talking about a guy's heart attack.
BLITZER: So that's off-limits. You would never, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart -- and the name of the show is "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." STEWART: From what I'm told.
BLITZER: You would never have -- that's off-limits.
STEWART: No, no, no, it's on limits, but you have to be cleverer than that. It's like with Monica Lewinsky at a certain point, you know, OK, she's not Miss America; move on. Get to another level of humor. You know, you're going to have to dig deep there.
What's funny to me, so far, is just the complete script that people keep walking in and hitting. That's what's killing me. That's what -- when you watch this at home, it's so dispiriting. I don't know how you feel, because you're sitting here, and you've got a little earpiece, and I'm sure whenever you want, you just click it and you can hear Lifetime or whatever channel you want to listen to, but ..
BLITZER: I'm listening to 'N Sync right now.
STEWART: I'd sit at home. Are you serious?
BLITZER: Yes. It's really good.
STEWART: You know what's sad? I believe you. You know what's weird? Your glasses are actually a TelePrompTer. I didn't realize that.
They're reflecting. It's so dispiriting to sit at home and just watch people smile and take -- and I wonder if they think we have no short-term memory where -- you know, I was watching the exchange between Haley Barbour and Mr. Shrum.
BLITZER: That was tough.
STEWART: That guy had a tie very tight around his neck; his head was swelling. But to hear a Republican saying, you know, that's just like the Democrats; there they go attacking again.
Do they think we weren't alive, two years ago, when Bob Barr and the House managers walked in and just started flinging. Here's what I remember -- I remember when Clarence Thomas might have had sexually inappropriate contact with someone, that was a crime against humanity as far as the Democrats were concerned, but when Bill Clinton had sexual contact, that was a -- 'yes, the man has faults. Well, we won't say he's perfect.'
BLITZER: On that note.
STEWART: Flip it around; it's -- they think we're nuts.
BLITZER: Jon Stewart. It's called "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." It's on Comedy Central.
STEWART: Are you kicking me out? BLITZER: I am.
STEWART: I don't have a pass, Wolf. If you kick me out, I'll have to leave.
BLITZER: Stick around; I'll escort you later. We'll have a few laughs in Philadelphia.
STEEWART: You're a nice man.
BLITZER: Jon Stewart, it's just a very, very funny show. He's got a good team of reporters, and you'll have some fun, I'm sure, here in Philadelphia this week. It's on every night, 11:00 p.m. Eastern, right?
STEWART: Is that true?
BLITZER: You tell me.
STEWART: I don't care for Flip Spiceland; he makes me nervous.
BLITZER: Just ahead: Is Bush-Cheney a winning ticket for the Republicans? We'll go round the table with Roberts, Page and Carlson here at the Republican National convention in Philadelphia. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Time now for our Late Edition roundtable.
With me here in Philadelphia: Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today; Steve Roberts, contributing editor for US News and World Report; and Tucker Carlson, political writer for the Weekly Standard.
Steve, let's talk a little bit about the political liabilities and assets of Dick Cheney to this Republican ticket.
First of all, the liabilities -- does he -- are there liabilities?
STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, yes. I think there are. You know, it's almost as if George Bush was so cocky about his ability to win the election that he picked someone who really doesn't provide very much politically, but not very confident about his ability to do the job as president. I think he picked someone primarily for his assets as a vice president, not as a vice presidential candidate. I don't think Cheney brings very much.
There is this talk, as Jon Stewart was kidding about -- gravitas. I think he is a reassuring figure. But he's hardly a dynamic figure. And I think that the Democrats will go after his voting record. I think they will go after the "big oil" connection. I think that's not the whole story about Dick Cheney because a lot of Democrats will admit that he's a reasonable, pragmatic person when they deal with him. But the record's there; he has to answer for it. And they have not answered those questions about a lot of those votes.
BLITZER: Well, Dick Cheney, Tucker, did start answering those questions substantively today on several of these programs, including ours. On the South African question, the freeing of Nelson Mandela, he pointed out that at that time, the Republican Party, the president, the White House, Ronald Reagan, considered the African National Congress a terrorist organization and that was included in that sense of the House resolution. That's why he opposed it.
TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think it's a fine explanation. I mean, I don't think anybody thinks, you know, he was somehow against Nelson Mandela getting out of prison. I think he's probably going to have to do some more explaining.
But the bottom line is, it's hard to see how attacking Dick Cheney hurts Bush ultimately. And the Bush people, if you talk to them, are very confident that a vice president really doesn't hurt a president unless he does something completely over the top and outrageous. And it doesn't seem like Cheney's a candidate for that.
BLITZER: Even, Susan, Dan Quayle -- when he was named to the ticket in '88, George Bush still won.
SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: He won, although I think anyone would say that was a political mistake. I don't think you'd call this a political mistake, but I'm not sure it will matter very much.
You know, vice presidents only matter if they're really -- if they're going to bring a state, like in 1960, or if they raise a lot of questions you have to answer, as with Dan Quayle. And as you said, in the end it didn't make a difference in the election.
So I think we get obsessed with this, so we pay a lot of attention to it right after he's named. I think he seems a little out of practice in the back and forth that you expect to have as a politician. He hasn't been a politician for a while. So you need to get back into the stream of the questions and giving answers that seem reasonable to people.
But in the end I think it matters probably not very much.
BLITZER: He's also already saying, well, I agree with George Bush's positions on a number of issues that are different from his record.
I mean, for instance, on guns -- Dick Cheney unabashed down-the- line pro-gun Second-Amendment loyalist -- has never voted for any gun control of any kind. Today, he said, I'm for trigger locks; I'm for 21-year-old limit on ability to purchase guns, which of course are some of George Bush's positions.
So what you're seeing also is an evolution, which is fair enough. You would expect that -- a vice president to say, OK, well, I'm going to adopt some of these positions. And he's trying to do that because he does not want the Democrats to have an easy target to shoot at.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think -- I just think it's impossible anyway that the Democrats are going to succeed in making the point by attacking Dick Cheney that they're seeking to make, which is George W. is right-wing and therefore threatening.
I mean, especially after this convention, when the Republicans put up, you know, a blind mountain climber, and really make this huge effort to make the point, you know, we're new Republicans, we're not threatening, we're not scary. I just don't think the American people are going to buy the idea that Dubya is a right-winger.
PAGE: I do think it gives a little bit of an opening to Al Gore to choose a vice presidential candidate who looks different, who looks young and dynamic and new generation. Because Dick Cheney is a little older, he's been in government a long time -- a seasoned figure. That's probably why he was chosen.
But if Al Gore chooses someone who looks different from Dick Cheney, maybe that gives his campaign a sort of sense of momentum that it really badly needs at the moment.
BLITZER: You know, some of the Democrats are insisting that when it comes to Dick Cheney's voting record in the House of Representatives in the '80s, it was more conservative than Newt Gingrich, who was also a member of the House of Representatives at that time.
Newt Gingrich was asked about that earlier today on "This Week." Listen to what Newt Gingrich had to say:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There were occasions when he was fiscally more conservative than I am. And I think in that sense -- there were times when I would vote -- I probably was more actively concerned about the environment than Dick was -- but overall, I mean, clearly, he is in the base of the conservative party of this country and has a very solid record as a conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: You know, the thing about Dick Cheney -- you've got to remember, he represented Wyoming. He was basically a regional politician on issues like guns and issues of the environment, a very good example. His interests there were much more the local extractive industries -- the mining, the agriculture -- not the environmentalists. He's evolving. I mean, he's now got to run on a national campaign, so it doesn't surprise me that he changes some of his positions.
I agree with Tucker. I think that while the record is fair game -- he's got a lot to answer for -- the persona of Dick Cheney is not a scary or radical persona. He comes across as a reasonably amiable person. And so for the Democrats to say scary, scary, scary -- they look at Dick Cheney, I'm not sure if voters are going to feel that way.
CARLSON: That's right. I mean it takes at least two ingredients to be a right-wing ogre. You have to have the right ideas, but you also have to have the right-wing ogre temperament. I mean, people like Bob -- I mean Tom DeLay -- have both, and I support that.
BLITZER: Pat Buchanan being a good example.
CARLSON: Exactly. But Cheney doesn't. He's got the voting record, but I mean, you can't look at him and say, gee, I want to hide under the bed when he comes into the room.
BLITZER: And of course most Americans remember Dick Cheney from the Gulf War when he was aligned with Colin Powell and of course led the coalition against Saddam Hussein.
PAGE: That's another interesting aspect of this choice -- is that George W. Bush was willing to choose someone who made his reputation as a member of his father's administration. You know, George W. Bush has gone to some considerable lengths over the past year to be his own man and to not, kind of, trade excessively on his family name.
And in that way, I think Cheney was an interesting choice. He's somebody who's associated with the greatest success of his father's administration and not at all associated with some of the less successful aspects of his administration like economic stewardship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things, though, that has to be said is there is a hypocrisy level here. And, for instance, on the question of Head Start, Dick Cheney says, well, I'm sorry about those votes, but you've got to remember it was the '80s; we didn't have money; we had a big budget deficit.
First of all, one of the reasons we had the deficit was for the -- because of the tax cuts that he voted for. And, secondly, it wasn't as if Dick Cheney was struggling to find money for Head Start and couldn't find it in the federal budget. He and other conservative Republicans were saying, let's close the Department of Education; let's reduce the federal role. And that's what they were trying to do.
Now they're trying to re-write history and say, oh, yes, I really would have voted for it if we had the money., which is not true. He would not have voted for it if the money was there.
So the landscape has changed. And Republicans like Cheney realize that the key swing voters care about education and can't be seen as anti-education.
BLITZER: Tucker, The New York Times had an editorial this morning. I want to read to you a little snippet of that editorial: "The political world will be watching to see if Mr. Bush can pull his campaign back to the moderate middle from which he governed in Texas. Clearly, Mr. Cheney's selection did more to muddle Mr. Bush's message than he ever expected, even though he insists he was not blindsided by the autopilot conservatism of Mr. Cheney's voting record in Congress."
You covered this campaign closely, the Bush campaign. Was the campaign blindsided?
CARLSON: Well, first, let me just say I don't think "autopilot conservatism" is a fair description of Cheney. I mean, I think there's every indication that he's more -- actually was more of an ideologue, someone who thought through his votes and voted for a reason.
You saw it today in your interview with him. He made instant reference to the Second Amendment when he talked about gun control. You can agree or disagree, but I think it's admirable to hear someone who votes on the basis of ideas.
Two, I don't think -- you know, the South Carolina campaign that the Bush campaign waged, I think, was anomalous. From the very beginning, Bush has made the point, I'm moderate. I mean, he says it every day, in every speech, at every single appearance. You know, you can debate whether it's true or not, but I don't think he's -- I mean, that's what they want to convey. And that's significant.
PAGE: No question that they were surprised by some of these votes, because if they had been prepared, he would have had the answer he gave today on Nelson Mandela the first time he was asked. The first time he was asked, he said he was against sanctions. That's not what that vote was about.
BLITZER: The first time he was asked about that question was on Larry King Live, that first interview he did. And he said he didn't remember the vote...
PAGE: Clearly, clearly they were surprised by some of these votes, not prepared to respond. And they're getting better at it. But, no question. And some people think this is because the vetting process was different for Dick Cheney than it was for everybody else.
BLITZER: And I guess the point is they should have -- they should have seen in advance this kind of frontal attack by the Democrats. We have to take a quick break. We're going to have a lot more to talk about including, of course, what all of this means for Al Gore.
More of the round table from the Republican National Convention here in Philadelphia when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our round table.
BLITZER: Tucker, you know the Democrats have been attacking George W. Bush -- Dick Cheney at first, but the Republicans are still attacking Al Gore, and I'm sure that's going to continue. Listen to what Bill Bennett, the conservative thinker, former secretary of education had to say earlier today on "Meet the Press."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BENNETT, EMPOWER AMERICA: On the question, who is Al Gore: Is it alpha-male Al, is it affable Al, is it Uncle Al, the kiddies' pal, is it Angry Al. You got all these serial personalities, this different packaging of Al Gore. None of them to date has come across. They need to put forward an authentic Al Gore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I guess the bottom line -- will the real Al Gore stand up? Is that a problem for Al Gore as he tries to deal with the Bush- Cheney ticket right now?
CARLSON: Let me say, first of all, I love chico -- cheap psychoanalyzing and, second, it's nice to hear Republicans be mean again. I mean, it really is, even if it's Bennett, who's obviously not a Republican official. You know, the one fear I have for this convention is that there won't be any attacks on the Democrats, and it's interesting when people attack each other. Yes, but I do think Gore, to an extent that clearly Bush doesn't face, does have -- is constantly under scrutiny having to do with his personality. There's a very long "New Yorker" piece this week that takes a look at, you know, what is Gore like, personally. And people still don't know, even after all this time.
ROBERTS: The answer to Bennett is all of the above, and then some, and I do think he has a point that the image of Gore is still pretty shaky. I don't think Gore himself is confident in who he is in the way that Bush is. You know, you look at the issue of environment. Advantage, Democrats.
Hear the Republicans scurrying this week in their platform to mimic some Democratic ideas on issues like gun control and education. If you talk about personality, which is very important to presidential politics, I think the advantage is clearly to Bush. He has a much more centered sense of himself than Al Gore.
PAGE: You know, Tucker, I don't think you're going to hear a lot of attacks here this week, even if you'd like to, but you will hear them at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles in two weeks, and that's because Al Gore does not have the luxury that George W. Bush has in avoiding attacks.
Al Gore has to do something very difficult at his convention, he's going to have to convince people he's a more personable guy than they now think he is. But he's also going to have to raise questions about his opponent, and that means attacking him. It's hard to do both those things at the same time.
BLITZER: Who does he have to pick, not necessarily the individual, but who does he have to pick to go up as a vice presidential running mate against Dick Cheney?
CARLSON: Well, I mean, for a while it seemed like maybe moving to the center or to the right of the Democratic party, someone like Joe Lieberman might be -- or Bob Kerrey even might be a sensible pick. But it does seem now that it would probably be helpful for Gore to energize the Democratic left and to convince the small margin who were thinking of voting for Nader, that, hey, Gore is actually on our team, too. So I don't know. It seems maybe John Kerry -- everyone's using that name.
PAGE: I don't think he aims to do that. There's been some talk about Tom Harkin; I don't think that's serious. I think that the Gore people understand that if they try to energize their left with their veep, they've lost the election. And you might as well go to somebody who's a more national figure to get swing and independent voters, and that's what I think they'll do.
ROBERTS: I don't think they understand that. I mean, I think that they there's still a lot of talk about how the unions are upset, that are very uneasy with Al Gore because of his pro-trade stance. Two of the major unions have not endorsed Gore, the Teamsters and the UAW. You look at the polling; there are far more Republicans eager and enthusiastic about Bush than Democrats about Gore. I still think they're considering someone to energize the base which I think would be a dreadful mistake, because I think it isolates ...
PAGE: I think that's all things to energize the convention and when we see his choice which we're going to see not too long, ...
BLITZER: August 8.
PAGE: ... August 8, a week from Tuesday, I think we're going to see that they have not gone in that direction, but I guess we'll find out.
BLITZER: Tucker, we're hoping you'll break that story and get it before August 8 for us -- that Democratic vice presidential candidate.
CARLSON: ... that Karenna Gore and I are having dinner tonight. It's on the agenda.
BLITZER: I know you're going to use all your contacts over there.
Let's talk a little bit about someone that you do know very, very well, John McCain. What is he doing here at this -- we saw him earlier today on CNN -- the shadow convention with Arianna Huffington?
CARLSON: He's having (UNINTELLIGIBLE) parties, most importantly here in Philadelphia. Well, he addressed the shadow convention; I think Republicans a lot of them were mad about that. There was this perception that this shadow convention put on by Arianna Huffington -- were in fact kind of a cover for some sort of left-wing agenda, not certain if that's true, but there was a great deal of dissatisfaction that McCain was going. I do know that the speech he's going to give here is going to be very pro-Bush, much more pro-Bush than anything he said previously, I think.
BLITZER: Will he dodge campaign finance reform? CARLSON: I don't know. He seems to have, sort of, lost interest in that, which is a good thing. It's a very boring subject, and I'm glad he stopped talking about it.
PAGE: At breakfast at USA Today this morning, he said he was uncomfortable with the level of fund-raising at this convention and it is wrong. He said he wanted to hear a better explanation from Dick Cheney about why he voted against the resolution on Nelson Mandela, so he's on board with Bush and they're going to campaign together in California in the days leading up to the Democratic convention, but he still is an independent maverick figure.
ROBERTS: I think also that he wants to stay in the spotlight but not alienate Republicans. So he's going to give a speech that's very pro-Bush, he wants to keep his credentials good with Republicans.
ROBERTS: So he's going to give a speech that's very pro-Bush. He wants to keep his credentials good with Republicans. He wants to stay in the spotlight so if Bush falters, he immediately becomes the front- runner for 2004.
BLITZER: Our excellent roundtable, Steve Roberts, Tucker Carlson, Susan Page, will be here, of course, throughout the week like me and everybody else.
Just ahead, Bruce Morton's last word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Conservatives versus moderates? No. Conservatives are firmly in control. If George W. Bush weren't proof enough, his choice for vice president, Richard Cheney, certainly is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Are the Republicans finally one big, happy family?
BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's last word.
In years past, Republican conventions have been contentious affairs, but Bruce notes that this time around, things may be a lot different.
MORTON: Some Republican conventions left scars -- 1964, when Barry Goldwater's conservatives booed moderate Republican Nelson Rockefeller, for instance. Goldwater lost that fall, of course, but his change of direction -- never mind the Eastern establishment, go south and west, go conservative, go after white voters -- led to Richard Nixon's and then Ronald Reagan's successes later on.
Nineteen-ninety-two was another angry convention. Pat Buchanan's declaration that a religious war was underway for America was theoretically aimed at the wicked Democrats...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: But the clear message was if you disagree with my social agenda, leave us. Some think the convention contributed to Bill Clinton's defeat of George Bush that year.
Well, not this time. Conservatives versus moderates? No. Conservatives are firmly in control. If George W. Bush weren't proof enough, his choice for vice president, Richard Cheney, certainly is. Cheney in the House compiled an extremely conservative voting record.
And that brings us to another point. Another sometime Republican division has been between those country club Republicans -- the establishment guys -- and the real conservatives. But that division is gone now. Cheney is a country club Republican if you like -- rich, suits and ties and all that -- but he is also -- his House voting record again -- a conservative's dream on both economic and social issues.
George W. Bush himself walks in both worlds. He's more of a good old boy, more of a Texan than his Connecticut-raised father. But he went to Yale, joined a fraternity and knows the country club life well, again while compiling conservatives thoroughly approve of.
So the quarrels that have frayed tempers at Republican conventions past shouldn't happen here. Nobody will be desperately trying to get a minority report on this issue or that to the floor. Everything should be relatively tranquil and calm, which may be a worry, of course. A convention that is tranquil, not to say boring, would just make it that much easier for protesters to dominate the news.
Many will come to rally on many issues, from the death penalty to world trade to -- well, whatever. They've been planning just as the convention leaders have, just as the police have. How that will all work out, we don't know.
This city has some history. One bunch of dissenters signed the Declaration of Independence here. Later, some successful revolutionaries wrote a Constitution. It guides us still.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.
Just ahead, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) Now a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.
BLITZER: The Republican convention does a clean sweep.
"Newsweek" presents The Avengers: Taking Aim at the Age of Clinton, with Texas Governor George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, on the cover.
"Time" magazine has The Making of a Candidate with Governor Bush and his father, former President George Bush, on the cover.
And on the cover of "U.S. News and World Report:" When Conventions Really Mattered, Philadelphia, 1948. That was the year television changed politics forever.
That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, July 30. Be sure to catch us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. I'll be back tomorrow for the World Today airing this week at a special time, 6:00 p.m. Eastern; 3:00 p.m. on the west coast. For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Philadelphia.
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