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Special Event

Lieberman and Cheney Spar in Vice Presidential Debate

Aired October 6, 2000 - 0:00 a.m. ET

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

JIM MORET, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Jim Moret reporting from Los Angeles. Tonight, it was the running mates' turn, a prime time face- off one month before the November election. For the next hour, we'll look at some of the highlights of that debate through the eyes of two respected political analysts and the widow of a well-known comedian. Also this hour, the latest on the revolt in Yugoslavia, a live report from Belgrade.

But first, to Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman.

For 90 minutes they explained where they stood and they stood firmly behind their running mates. Their debate might best be characterized as politically polite.

CNN's Sean Callebs reports from Danville, Kentucky.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They agreed to disagree without being disagreeable, meaning no personal attacks. Joe Lieberman started with words of support from his mother.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Remember, be positive and know that I will love you no matter what your opponent says about u.

CALLEBS: Early in the debate, Republican Dick Cheney said the Gore-Lieberman tax cut proposal is, in essence, like a dog whistle, incomprehensible to the human ear.

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have to be a CPA to understand what he just said. The fact of the matter is that the plan is so complex that an ordinary American is never going to be able to figure out what they even qualify for.

CALLEBS: Both said public education will be a cornerstone of their administration.

CHENEY: Our desire is to find ways to reform our educational system, to return it to its former glory.

CALLEBS: Lieberman saying the Democratic plan would hire more teachers, build new schools and wouldn't end at high school.

LIEBERMAN: We're going to go on and give the middle class the ability to deduct up to $10,000 a year in the cost of college tuition.

CALLEBS: Both have years of experience in international policy and were asked about the chaos in Yugoslavia and Slobodan Milosevic.

LIEBERMAN: I'm very proud on this night, as it appears that Milosevic is about to or has fallen, of the leadership role the United States played in the effort to stop his aggression and genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo.

CHENEY: We want to do everything we can to support Mr. Milosevic's departure. Certainly, though, that would not involve committing U.S. troops.

CALLEBS (on camera): What voters saw were two seasoned and skilled public servants, the one chance for the vice presidential candidates to grab the spotlight and spell out the differences in the two campaigns, one chance to convince voters to support a ticket in part because of the number two man on the ballot.

Sean Callebs, CNN, CNN, Danville, Kentucky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORET: Did the vice presidential candidates make the most of their only face-to-face meeting before the election? Joining us to talk about that and other issues, comedian Elayne Boosler and political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. They're joining us here in Los Angeles. And from our Washington bureau, CNN political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. He's the editor and publisher of the "Rothenberg Political Report." Thank you all for being here.

Stuart, especially thanks to you. It is 1:00 a.m. where you are and for that I will go to you first. Give us an overview, your overall impressions of this. It was a very polite and a very different setting than the last debate.

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": It was. It was much more serious. I thought it was, it lacked the bitterness and the rancor. It was as if, almost as if they didn't try to one up each other all the time. In a sense, though, it was somewhat blander, duller, unexciting. These were two serious men who went through the issues in a kind of even-handed way. Of course, they did leave out some major issues I thought were not discussed at any great length. There was not the detailed discussion of taxes. There was no discussion of guns, some issues like that. A lot of foreign policy, actually, Jim.

MORET: But Sherry, it was very detailed in what they did discuss and it felt for many observers to be more substantive.

SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it was and I think that basically it was Dick Cheney who gave the strength of substance to the Republican ticket. And Lieberman did what he had to do, which was to give a strength of character to the Democratic ticket. I thought the first half hour, I would agree with Stu, was deadly. But once Cheney got to defense he seemed to gain some confidence. He seemed to gain his sea legs and they both had an animated exchange.

You know, I think, quite frankly, that there are a lot of people out there, Jim, who are wondering why there isn't a Cheney-Lieberman ticket or a Lieberman-Cheney ticket to vote for in the fall.

MORET: And for the parallax view, Elayne Boosler, you were taking notes, I know, throughout the...

ELAYNE BOOSLER, COMEDIAN: I took notes. I'm here with these political analysts. I feel like the SAT sample q. I thought it was a fantastic debate mainly for the reason that both men knew what they were talking about. It was very exciting to actually see two qualified people talk about issues.

I have to say that Dick Cheney was the most charming, wonderful, well informed man, but being a woman I listen a little differently, so I never believe what a man is saying to me when he wants something from me. I talk to his ex-wife. And so that's what I did. I looked up Dick Cheney's voting record for tonight and Dick Cheney did not show up in that debate tonight.

MORET: Stu, what do you make of Sherry's comment? I heard from the office next to mine while I was taking notes why aren't these two the candidates for president? Didn't you get a very different sense of these two men than you did the other night?

ROTHENBERG: Yes, well I think Sherry is absolutely right and I've heard the same kinds of comments about how refreshing this debate was, straightforward it was. You know, in a sense these were two, these are two very quirky politicians given our, most of the politicians we have here -- Joe Lieberman, with a very mixed record and a style more like your rabbi or your grandfather or your uncle than a politician, and Dick Cheney, for all his political background, whether it was in Congress or the Department of Defense, has a style that is very measured and serious. And I think the image of this overall debate, and a lot of the reaction, I think, to style, was that this was a very measured, serious, thoughtful discussion.

It wasn't as much a debate, Jim. It was a discussion among two pretty smart people.

MORET: And so were the voters the winners in this case, Stu?

ROTHENBERG: Well, if they listened to the issues rather than turning over to the ball game. If they gave this some serious thought. It required some effort on the voters' part as well, you know?

I think the one problem from the Republicans' point of view, however well people thought Dick Cheney did, and apparently people thought he did quite well, is that I'm not sure he really moved the ball down the field for the Republican ticket. The bottom line is in most cases the candidate's behind, and maybe Bush is behind by only a point or two or maybe as many as six or seven nationally, is that he has to draw contrasts. He's got to give people a reason to pull off of Al Gore and vote for George W. Bush. Maybe Cheney did that. I'm not sure that I saw that in all this high level discussion.

MORET: Now, obviously the debate set the tone for this debate and you're being too polite. You can jump in any time.

BEBITCH JEFFE: Well, yes, oh thank you.

MORET: You can jump in.

BEBITCH JEFFE: No, no, I'm just wondering whether or not a vice presidential debate can really move the ball down the field. I'm just not sure that there's that much heft in a vice presidential debate. But I will tell you something, Stu is on to something. You know, this race is so close that anything may matter and everything may matter and I think that this particular debate is unlike most vice presidential debates that we have seen.

These guys, I think, really set a very high bar for the presidential nominees when they go at it again next week.

MORET: Elayne?

BOOSLER: This is an extremely important vice presidential debate and in this case it can move the ball down because on the Republican side you have a man who completely lacks depth in leadership and understanding of foreign policy, what the majority of America wants and especially women, and this is a very important vice presidential candidate because he's going to take his cues from this man, which is why he chose him.

Now, he's knowledgeable, he really presented a fabulous case tonight. But as I said, I went and looked up his voting record tonight. Now, you talk about bad morale in the armed forces, the Republican Party is so anti-choice, and let's put the elephant in the room. There's an elephant in the room and a donkey. They're not saying it -- abortion, here it is. The Democrats...

BEBITCH JEFFE: Well, they said it tonight, both of them did.

BOOSLER: They didn't say it. They went to RU-486 as a little...

BEBITCH JEFFE: Well, no, they, you know, they did talk about choice and Lieberman talked quite directly about choice.

BOOSLER: This is so important.

BEBITCH JEFFE: In fact, I expect that from both Gore and Lieberman, choice was their strongest issue.

(CROSSTALK)

BOOSLER: ... poll afterwards.

BEBITCH JEFFE: And this is the reason why I think that Cheney probably did more for Bush because as Elayne said, Cheney knew what he was talking about in the area of foreign affairs, in the area of defense. So he gave a little balance to the Bush-Cheney ticket. Can you imagine, this week of all weeks, if George W. Bush had chosen another governor with no foreign affairs experience?

MORET: We're going to break this down issue by issue, candidates on tax cuts and more reaction when CNN's special coverage of election 2000, the vice presidential debates, continues. I'll get my mouth fixed.

BOOSLER: That's easy for you to say.

MORET: Yes, thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: Focusing on tonight's vice presidential debates, let's take it issue by issue. Let's hear what they had to say on tax cuts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: Al Gore and I want to live within our means. We're not going to give it all away in one big tax cut and certainly not to the top one percent of the public that doesn't need it now. So we're focusing our tax cuts on the middle class in the areas where they tell us they need it -- tax credits for better and more expensive child care, tax cuts for middle class families that don't have health insurance from their employers, the tax deduction I talked about earlier, a very exciting deduction for up to $10,000 a year on the cost of a college tuition, a $3,000 tax credit for the cost -- well, actually for a family member who stays home with a parent or grandparent who's ill and a very exciting tax credit program that I hope I'll have a chance to talk about later, Bernie, that encourages savings by people early in life and anytime in life by having the federal government match savings for the 75 million Americans who make $100,000 or less up to $2,000 a year.

So very briefly, if a young couple making $50,000 a year saves $1,000, the government will put another $1,000 in that account. By the time they retire, they'll not only have guaranteed Social Security, but more than $200,000 in that retirement fund. Now, that's...

BERNARD SHAW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Your time is up, Senator.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, sir.

CHENEY: Bernie, you have to be a CPA to understand what he just said. The fact of the matter is that the plan is so complex that an ordinary American is never going to be able to figure out what they even qualify for. And it is a classic example of wanting to have a program, in this case a tax program, that will, in fact, direct people to live their lives in certain ways rather than empowering them to make decisions for themselves.

It is a big difference between us. They like tax credits, we like tax reform and tax cuts. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: Sherry, Elayne, we heard Lieberman describe it as a very exciting deduction but I was taking notes and...

BEBITCH JEFFE: Whatever turns him on, Jim.

BOOSLER: I'm excited by this deduction. But it was, a reduction is exciting.

MORET: Was it too complicated, do you think, for those at home?

BEBITCH JEFFE: Yes, I do.

MORET: Unless you had a pad and pencil in front of you?

BOOSLER: Let me tell you something, I wish they'd shut up about tax cuts. First of all, everyone's going to give you some money back. Stop promising people money. Why don't they just say vote for me, here's your 10 bucks? I'll give you 20 bucks, vote for me. It's 40 acres and a mule.

BEBITCH JEFFE: However...

BOOSLER: Stop carpetbagging, get to the real issues.

BEBITCH JEFFE: However, as hard as George W. Bush has tried to even begin to explain his tax program, he's not been able to do it and Cheney, rightly or wrongly, and I don't have the facts before me, did it in a very simple manner. And in that he helped George W. Bush.

But I have to tell you, I mean eyes could glaze over any time these guys start talking about taxes. The reality of it is is that the economy is doing so well there is money around those people who care about taxes and tax relief and I don't think people are paying all that much attention to the details.

MORET: Stu, weigh in on this. How do you feel?

ROTHENBERG: Well, first of all, I think Elayne needs to have some stronger opinions on these matters. She's so wishy-washy. Must have a lot of parties out there. In any case, look, let's address this head on. Cheney was, probably did a good job in terms of undercutting the Lieberman message but on the overall question of deficit reduction, debt reduction, rather, versus tax cuts, we know where the American public is. They'd rather eliminate the debt, they'd rather have some more spending and they're less concerned with big tax cuts and no matter what, how good Cheney's response was tonight, when you look at the survey data, it's pretty clear that the Democrats have an advantage on this issue.

BOOSLER: Stuart, that's what I said.

MORET: Stuart, if you are correct, why do we keep hearing tax cut, tax cut, tax cut no matter which side of the aisle you're on? ROTHENBERG: Well, I think there are two reasons, actually, Jim. First of all, there is an element of the Republican Party for which taxes is a dominant issue. Small businessmen, the Chamber of Commerce, NFIB constituency, they love this issue, and George Bush is giving it to them.

On the other hand, Bush seriously believes this. Republicans believe that you have to take the money out of Washington and give it back to people as they, as Bush always says and as Cheney says, it's their money. Let them decide what to do with it. So it's a matter of principle.

BEBITCH JEFFE: And there's also another reason why you're hearing it on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. You were talking about representatives who represent districts who represent states and it doesn't always come down to Republicans versus Democrats on the issue. They've got different constituencies to deal with and to serve.

BOOSLER: But here's what I love, it's their money, let them do what they want with it. I counted -- I stopped counting 11 times tonight when Mr. Cheney said we need less bureaucracy involved in your personal lives. You should live the way you want. And yet they're going to take choice away from women. But it's your money, you can do what you want, not your body.

MORET: We're going to hit the choice issue a little bit later. Let's go back to the debate now and listen to what the candidates had to say about military preparedness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: I want to assure the American people that the American military is the best trained, best equipped, most powerful force in the world and that Al Gore and I will do whatever it takes to keep them that way. It's not right to -- and it's not good for our military to run them down, essentially, in the midst of a partisan political debate. The fact is that you've got to judge the military by what the military leaders say and Secretary Bill Cohen, a good Republican, General Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both will tell you that the American military is ready to meet any threat we may face in the world today. And the fact is judged by its results from Desert Storm to the Balkans, Bosnia and Kosovo, to the operations that are still being conducted to keep Saddam Hussein in a box in Iraq, the American military has performed brilliantly.

CHENEY: But it's irresponsible to suggest that we should not have this debate in a presidential campaign, that we should somehow ignore what is a major, major concern. And if you have friends or relatives serving in the U.S. military, you know there's a problem. If you look at the data that's available, 40 percent of our Army helicopters that are not combat ready. Combat readiness level in the Air Force that's dropped from 85 percent to 65 percent. Significant problems of retention.

The important thing for us to remember is that we're a democracy and we're defending by volunteers. Everybody out there tonight wearing the uniform, standing on guard to protect the United States is there because they volunteered to put on the uniform and when we don't give them the spare parts they need to maintain their equipment, when we don't give our pilots the flying hours they need to maintain their proficiency, when we don't give them the kind of leadership that spells out what their mission is and lets them know why they're there and what they're doing, why they're putting their lives at risk, then we undermine that morale.

That is an extraordinarily valuable trust. There is no more important responsibility for a President of the United States than his role as commander-in-chief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: Sherry, is it somehow anti-American to run down the military in an election, as Lieberman suggests?

BEBITCH JEFFE: I think that the voters have said something very interesting in those ubiquitous focus groups and it was this. They said look, you're not going to talk about how prepared your country is in a political campaign when you're trying to decide which ticket you want to leave the country, when is it appropriate to talk about it? I think there's a little bit, it's a little condescending, it's a little patronizing and it's a little offensive not to allow the American people to participate in that debate.

Now, the good news for Lieberman is, and possibly the bad news for Cheney is that until this week, at least, defense and foreign affairs haven't been that high up on the voters' agenda and again, they're not focusing on that issue. We'll see how this week plays out, though. There are a couple things going on in the world which might change that focus.

MORET: Elayne's hitting me under the desk.

BOOSLER: No I wasn't. No I wasn't.

BEBITCH JEFFE: She's also tapping my knee...

BOOSLER: I was hitting a short.

BEBITCH JEFFE: ... and I want her to stop that.

BOOSLER: Look it, there's a dog in this room. I haven't tapped anybody.

BEBITCH JEFFE: I beg your pardon?

BOOSLER: No. No. Oh, never. I'm not a r.

MORET: Stuart, what's the perspective from the east coast on that issue?

ROTHENBERG: Well, you know, I think Sherry is absolutely right. On one hand, I'm not sure there's any reason to believe that the public really cares about international issues, national security issues, military preparedness issues. I've never seen it in a survey. I don't see candidates for Congress, the House or the Senate, talking a lot about it.

But on the other hand, she is, of course, absolutely right. This is definitely the kind of issue that people talk about. There was nothing wrong in 1960 when John Kennedy raised the question about the missile gap, when a Democrat did it, and I think Lieberman and even more so Gore have been really disingenuous in dealing with this.

The Republicans, Cheney in particular, is talking about how, whether the military is as prepared as it needs to be and could be. And instead, Lieberman and Gore are turning this around, saying oh, you're right, our guys are, they're loyal and they're patriotic and they're going to do their best job. Cheney wasn't criticizing that. I think the Republicans win this argument. I just don't know if it's an effective argument.

BOOSLER: Excuse me, if you remember Colin Powell got called -- you're laughing. I was brought here to say something. I mean, stop it, u.

MORET: And Stuart, look at this. She's taking notes.

ROTHENBERG: Go ahead. Don't apologize for it.

MORET: She's got a highlighter...

BOOSLER: I'm not. I'm not. But if you do remember, Colin Powell got into a lot of hot water after the Gulf War by saying that we would have been able to eliminate Saddam Hussein if George Bush had waited a little longer and not come out so quickly and he had to retract that statement later. So, you know, in essence bringing up Saddam Hussein now, and we're stuck because we haven't dealt with him, that's not true.

And also, the military in those days, I mean it was proven later that the smart missiles did not go where people thought they went and...

BEBITCH JEFFE: They weren't so smart, were they?

BOOSLER: They weren't so smart and I think it's gotten actually better and better.

MORET: I am smart enough to take a break when my producer tells me to.

Still to come, the candidates weigh in on the day's historic political events in Yugoslavia. Plus, a live report from Belgrade and a look at how that revolt unfolded.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: It's now about 7:30 Friday morning in Belgrade, where thousands of opposition supporters remain in the streets demanding President Slobodan Milosevic step down.

CNN Belgrade Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci is following developments in the capital and joins us now with more. Alessio?

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, good morning.

Well, at this point we understand from news agencies that the foreign minister, even off of Russia, is on his way here to Belgrade. We are awaiting his arrival here at Surchin Airport (ph) perhaps in the next two to three hours. This is a major development here, of course, significant development, of course, because Vojislav Kostunica, the opposition leader here, has been very critical of the position of Russia, which has so far refused to take a clear stance as regards to the position of Mr. Kostunica, has refused to actually recognize him as the duly elected president of Yugoslavia.

We also understand from Tanjug News Agency here, which is the state, which is now in the control of the opposition, that the (AUDIO GAP) meeting at this time. We're not sure about the level of that meeting. We don't know if Defense Minister Ojdanic and the army chief of staff, Nebojsa Pavkovic, two staunch Milosevic supporters and loyalists, are part of that meeting but we understand that when the meeting concludes, the army will issue a statement.

Also, as you said, there are still many people in the streets, perhaps not the tens of thousands that we saw last night after a night of jubilation and celebration. Still, pockets of demonstrators remain in the streets here waiting for a new day to begin. However, tonight was a very long night of mainly celebrations, people really in the streets feel that this was the beginning of a new era here. Obviously people here are galvanized by the fact, first of all, that they managed to take control of the federal parliament and the state's television building. But also by the fact that the police and the security services here did not intervene.

While the protests, especially last night, was a mainly celebratory and peaceful one, there have been some acts of sporadic revenge against those state institutions, the parliament building that was stormed yesterday was completely looted and then several rooms were set on fire, the same fate to the TV station in downtown Belgrade just behind that federal parliament building. As demonstrators entered the building, they completely emptied out from any kind of valuable television equipment and then set that building on fire.

Also this morning in the streets of Belgrade we saw several police cars overturned and burned and we understand also that the headquarters of the Socialist Party in Belgrade was also looted.

Jim, we have reported all day yesterday that the first event that took place here in downtown Belgrade as thousands of demonstrators were storming the parliament where, was the beginning of that popular revolt that then led to those dramatic events throughout the day yesterday. However, this morning state television, which is now in the hands of the opposition, broadcast some really dramatic pictures of the early hours in the areas outside of Belgrade, especially on the main roads leading to the capital. We could see thousands and thousands and thousands of demonstrators leading, coming through Belgrade and basically breaking through police barricades, meeting very little resistance. I think that those demonstrators who arrived yesterday at the parliament building already knew that the police was not going to intervene, was not going to pose a real threat to them and to their attempt to occupy that building.

Those demonstrators especially from the southern town of Chacak (ph), a major opposition stronghold here. They really, you could see how they went through those police barricades. They managed to push away their buses and their trucks without really encountering any kind of resistance from the police. So by the time those demonstrators yesterday began storming the parliament, I think that they already knew that the police was not going to intervene.

Back to you, Jim.

MORET: Alessio, any word on the whereabouts of Slobodan Milosevic?

VINCI: No. We have no official reports about where Mr. Milosevic and his family members may be. The opposition campaign manager, Zoran Djindjic (ph), yesterday told the crowd of supporters outside of city hall here that President Milosevic and his immediate family were hiding in a bunker in the eastern part of Serbia, on the border between Romania and Bulgaria, but we are not able to confirm that report.

MORET: And very briefly, is there any sense of whether a smooth transition of power can really be accomplished?

VINCI: Well, certainly here the people feel that that transition has already begun. It has been mainly peaceful. I think that the next major and significant development will be this army meeting. Once the army comes out clearly saying that Vojislav Kostunica is, indeed, the next president of this country, then I think that the transition of power will, indeed, happen in a smooth way.

But it still depends on the army very much at this point.

MORET: CNN's Alessio Vinci reporting live from Belgrade. Thank you for that report, Alessio.

Another journalist is reporting from the center of that political storm. The CBC's Don Murray looks back at how the drama unfolded.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON MURRAY, CBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a huge crowd, a festive crowd. Facing them was a line of police. They, too, were relaxed. Some chatted with demonstrators and even shook hands. Then it began with one young man and a flag. The police stopped him and wrestled him back. But the floodgates were opened. The crowd poured through, hundreds of demonstrators up the main steps to the doors of the parliament building. Among them were policemen, overwhelmed and outnumbered.

At the top they called on others to join them. It looked like victory, sudden and painless. It wasn't yet. From inside the building, police counterattacked with tear gas. The crowd retreated but soon surged back. They attacked the wing of the parliament. Demonstrators smashed windows and climbed inside. From one window, a young man waved a Yugoslav flag. Black smoke over the parliament testified to the fires now burning inside.

(on camera): What began as a peaceful demonstration has now become a pitched battle to take the symbol of this regime. Outside, you can see the crowds of people not only knocking at the doors, but smashing in the windows. But inside, the police are still there. They have tear gas and undoubtedly other weapons.

(voice-over): Five hundred meters away, demonstrators were attacking the state television building. They set it alight. The crowds in the city watched the battle from their roofs. There was the sound of gunfire.

Some police were fighting back. This man was hit. First aid workers said he'd been wounded with a nine millimeter bullet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say this man, Slobodan, animal, a monster.

MURRAY: Then it was over. Just after six this evening, the police made their choice. In their jeeps they drove away from the battle. In the streets, the crowds cheered and cried and shouted. After the parliament and the state television, the third pillar of the Milosevic regime, was now in their sight. There had been major confrontations in the past. For three months in 1997, huge crowds had demonstrated against Milosevic. But his police had remained loyal and he had remained in power.

Tonight, the police abandoned him. At the end of this momentous day, there were still tens of thousands of people in the streets around the parliament. They were celebrating an abrupt but heady liberation over a man who tonight remains silent and invisible, but whose iron grip on Yugoslavia had finally been broken.

Don Murray, CBC News, Belgrade.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORET: We'll hear what the candidates had to say about developments in Yugoslavia and we'll get reaction from our guests, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: Tonight's debate came as fallout from presidential elections in Yugoslavia sparked a dramatic uprising. You're looking at live pictures now, where it's 7:30 Friday morning from Belgrade. A questioned about those events both Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney said they were encouraged by the news. They agreed the United States should support the efforts of the people of Yugoslavia to oust President Slobodan Milosevic. But they disagreed on how that should be done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: I'm very proud on this night, as it appears that Milosevic is about to or has fallen, of the leadership role the United States played in the effort to stop his aggression and genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo. I know our opponents have said that they thought that was an over reaching. It wasn't. It was a matter of principle and America's national interests and values. And the fact is that we stopped the aggression. We stopped the genocide and therefore strengthened our relationship with our European allies in NATO and, in fact, made the United States more respected and trusted by our allies and more feared by our enemies.

I think that Vice President Gore played a critical role, passionate, purposive role in leading the administration, along with Republican supporters like Bob Dole and John McCain, to do the right thing in the Balkans and hopefully tonight we are seeing the final results of that bold and brave effort.

CHENEY: We want to do everything we can to support Mr. Milosevic's departure. Certainly, though, that would not involve committing U.S. troops. I do think it's noteworthy that there appears to be an effort underway to get the Russians involved. I noted the other night, for example, Tuesday night in the debate in Boston Governor Bush suggested exactly that, that we ought to try to get the Russians involved to exercise some leverage over the Serbians and Al Gore pooh-poohed it.

But now it's clear from the press that, in fact, that's exactly what they were doing, that it's, that Governor Bush was correct in his assessment, in his recommendation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: Let me reintroduce our guests right now. We have comedian Elayne Boosler and political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe joining us here in Los Angeles. From our Washington bureau, CNN political analyst Stuart Rothenberg is the editor and publisher of "Rothenberg Political Report." I'm noting, Stuart, it's now about 1:37, so again I'll defer to you first.

ROTHENBERG: Thanks for reminding me, Jim.

MORET: I wish I could say that I could get your daughter 'N Sync tickets. I tried. I'm not able to. But I still appreciate you being here.

ROTHENBERG: OK.

MORET: Turning to a serious note, the Yugoslavian issue, what do you make of the reaction from the candidates and do you think that -- how do you think it'll play with the voters?

ROTHENBERG: Well, I think to some extent, actually, events had overtaken Bernie's question because the question was predicated on what the U.S. would have to do to get rid of Slobodan Milosevic and that apparently we don't have to do that. And so while I thought, I thought both response were reasonable, Lieberman sketching out what the administration has, had accomplished and Cheney coming back with what the administration, what his administration would or would not do, and, in fact, having an interesting comment about the role of the Russians, the whole point of Bernie's question, I think, had to do with finding out what kind of values these two men had and two administrations would have on future crises and I'm not sure he -- we ever got to that point.

I think they basically said we're glad that he's been overthrown there. That's good. Let's move on.

MORET: And Sherry, Elayne, while we were looking at those dramatic pictures from Yugoslavia, you both commented this is why we v.

BOOSLER: This is what I'd like to say to young people out there.

BEBITCH JEFFE: This is why we should v.

BOOSLER: Yes, should v.

BEBITCH JEFFE: Should v.

BOOSLER: More people, more young people voted in the MTV video awards than voted in the last presidential election. People died for this right. They're dying all across the world for the right to vote and people in this country, women and black people, rotted in jail for the right to v. You have to v.

BEBITCH JEFFE: We are so terribly spoiled, Jim. I mean I saw those pictures and I saw what those people were going through simply to have freedom, simply to have a voice in democracy and I felt uncomfortable. I felt a little bit ashamed.

MORET: Well, do you agree with Stuart, though? Do you think that perhaps the candidates either missed Bernie's point on the question or was the question not specific enough? Stu believes that we were trying to get at the values that these candidates have and he doesn't think we got that.

BOOSLER: Oh, we didn't.

BEBITCH JEFFE: No. I mean define, I'm not sure what Stu meant by values, quite frankly.

MORET: Stu, chime in here.

BEBITCH JEFFE: What do you mean, Stu?

ROTHENBERG: Well, Sherry, I mean I think the point of the question was to elicit from the two gentlemen a, some sort of approach that they may have in dealing with foreign policy crises, the use of military...

BEBITCH JEFFE: A world view.

ROTHENBERG: The use of military force and the -- yes, a view of international politics, the role of the U.S. in world affairs.

BEBITCH JEFFE: Yes, right.

ROTHENBERG: I don't think we got that kind of response.

BEBITCH JEFFE: I would have to agree.

BOOSLER: On any of the questions. I agree totally. I mean the question about, you know, protection for gay people, now, as I said, Cheney was so impressive tonight it was stunning. It made me go look up his voting record. He voted against gathering information on hate crimes, voted against letting Mandela out of jail, against having sanctions for South Africa. This was not a consistent man.

MORET: You brought up the issue of abortion and choice earlier. We listen now to what the candidates had to say on that issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: Governor Bush and I have emphasized that while we clearly are both pro-life, that's what we believe, that we want to look for ways to try to reduce the incidence of abortion in our society. Many on the pro-choice side have said exactly the same thing. Even Bill Clinton, who's been a supporter of abortion rights, has advocated reducing abortion to make it as rare as possible.

With respect to the question of RU-486, we believe that, of course, that it's recently been approved by the FDA. That really was a question of whether or not it was safe to be used by women.

LIEBERMAN: The significant difference here on this issue is that Al Gore and I respect and will protect a woman's right to choose and our opponents will not. We know that this is a difficult personal moral medical issue, but that is exactly why it ought to be left under our law to a woman, her doctor and her god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: Elayne Boosler, I see the notes in front of you and choice is marked in yellow and you wanted to talk about this all night.

BOOSLER: Well, Dick Cheney voted 26 out of 27 possible votes against choice, and talk about morale in the military, he voted against any kind of government money for rape or incest or to save the life of a woman serviceperson who needs an abortion.

Now, this is what amazes me about RU-486. They studied it for really 30 years, but 12 here, OK? You might have extra bleeding. That's about it. Propecia, so a man can grow hair, do you ever hear the side effects on TV? Don't touch this pill if you have a child, if you're going to have a child, if you know a child, if your heart's still beating, if you want to live past Wednesday. If it breaks, sell your house, get on a plane, leave town. So if they do take away RU- 486 we're all going to take Propecia.

MORET: Stu, I think that Elayne's vying for your job of political analyst. What do you think?

ROTHENBERG: I think she's doing a good job on this one.

BOOSLER: Oh, you're safe. You're safe.

ROTHENBERG: Let me just say a couple of things on this, Jim. First of all, it's clear that Cheney and Bush the other day tried to wiggle out on this abortion issue.

BOOSLER: Yes.

ROTHENBERG: They really didn't want to talk about it. When it came up in the presidential debate, I noticed Bush's voice dropped. He started to whisper as if he was hoping nobody would hear the question and the answer.

BOOSLER: Say it loud.

ROTHENBERG: And Cheney was uncomfortable with this. But on the other hand, Bernie Shaw gave both men an opportunity to address issues of vulnerability and weakness and Cheney pointed out some questions about Lieberman flip-flopping, Hollywood. Lieberman chose not to do the same thing, not to address these issues that Elayne has addressed.

I would have liked to have seen a bit more contact. This is, should be a contact sport. I would have liked to have seen the candidates pointing up each other's vulnerabilities, weaknesses, flip- flops. They didn't want to do it, I think, in part because we jump on them every time they offer contrasts. And I think that's unfortunate. I like to see some contrasts.

MORET: Sherry?

BEBITCH JEFFE: Well, I think the setting, quite frankly, still had something to do with it. It's real uncomfortable, real difficult. I mean, we're being so nice to one another at this table. When you're sitting next to someone...

BOOSLER: I'm planning on slapping you, actually.

BEBITCH JEFFE: ... you tend not to be so rude. And now in this post-Lazio age, candidates are very careful not to, as they say, pull a Lazio, get in the face of your opponent and have that work against u.

MORET: We have to take a break. We'll be back with more of our discussion. Also, the latest on an earthquake reported in Japan, reporting as a 7.1 earthquake. Apparently there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. We'll have the latest right after this. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORET: A very strong earthquake struck southwestern Japan. Let's show you videotape from Japan. It struck sharply jolting skyscrapers and bridges. It knocked objects from shelves and setting off automatic fire extinguishers. Reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency indicate it was a 7.1 quake. You're seeing a camera now capturing the quake located approximately 315 miles southwest of Tokyo. A 7.0 magnitude quake is couple of causing heavy, widespread damage. However, there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, that according to officials in Japan.

National television showed live footage of workers at an NHK Broadcasting newsroom clutching desks as notebooks fell on the floor. One hanging lamp was shown swinging wildly back and forth. In other buildings, the white foam of ceiling fire sprinklers set off by the quake could be seen raining down from balconies onto city streets. One government spokesperson said it was so strong he was unable to stand up.

Cracks appeared in the walls of some of the buildings there, that according to NHK. The quake also knocked over display cases at stores in Yonago City and television showed shattered glass and products strewn across the floors of several shops. The trembler struck at 1:30 p.m. local time, again a magnitude 7.1 quake, that according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. And once again, no immediate reports of damage or injuries. We'll take a break and be back with more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: Turning back now to our debate on the debate, let's listen one more time to the candidates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: Dick Cheney must be one of the few people in America who does, who thinks that nothing has been accomplished in the last eight. Yes, I mean the fact is that promises were made and promises were kept. I mean has Al Gore, did Al Gore make promises in 1992? Absolutely. Did he deliver? Big time, if I may put it that way. And that's the record.

Look at the 20 -- look at the 22 million new jobs. Look at the four million new businesses. Look at the lower interest rates, low rate of inflation, high rate of growth. I think if you asked most people in America today that famous question that Ronald Reagan asked, are you better off today than you were eight years ago, most people would say yes. And I'm pleased to say, see, Dick, from the newspapers, that you're better off than you were eight years ago, too.

CHENEY: And most of it -- and I can tell you, Joe, that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.

LIEBERMAN: I'm thirsty.

SHAW: This question is to you, but...

LIEBERMAN: I can see my wife and I think she's thinking, gee, I wish he would go out into the private sector.

CHENEY: We'll, I'm going to try to help you do that, Joe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: Mr. Rothenberg, it took a long time for these two to warm up, but they got the last in there.

ROTHENBERG: Yes, that was really funny when it's impromptu and it shows you you don't have to have punch lines written for you. If you're smart and clever you can think on your feet or in this case sitting down. You can come back with some funny lines.

MORET: But how does that affect the voters, if at all? Does it simply show that these people are human? Does it show they're witty and does that really matter?

ROTHENBERG: Well, Jim, I think style is very, very important here. I think most of the people are drawing a conclusion of who they're comfortable with, who they like, who they trust and so I think this is actually the critical part of most debates. I don't think people are going in fact checking the various comments about tax plans and foreign policy. I think they're reacting to the style of the presentations.

And I think Lieberman actually has an advantage on this question that you showed because people are generally content. They do think things are better than eight years ago. And it seems to me that the whole Republican message really does have to get back to the questions of character and now specifically it's coming into focus about Al Gore, can you trust what he says? Is he exaggerating, embellishing or making stuff up? And I don't think that kind of charge came through in this debate at all tonight. So therefore, I guess I think the Republicans didn't get helped in the one area they really need to be helped.

MORET: Sherry, from a political standpoint, what do you make of the exchange like that, to get some laughs and it shows the difference of style, shows they're witty, shows they're on top of their game? Does it show you anything more?

BEBITCH JEFFE: I think that's all, I agree with Stu, that's basically what it has to show. And I keep seeing that and saying, you know, these guys really make it difficult for the presidential nominees. I'm not at all sure this was good news for either Al Gore or George W. Bush because these guys were relaxed. They were comfortable in their own skin. They were presidential. They had a command on the issues. They were everything that one way or another one or the other of the presidential nominees has failed to show.

MORET: Elayne?

BOOSLER: I don't need them doing my job. That's why I'm here doing the political spin tonight. They're doing the comedy. You've got a comedian sitting here doing it. But as a comedian, I have to say what was the joke they were so offended by? And I also must tell people it wasn't me. I wasn't there doing it.

MORET: What, Sherry, where do the candidates have to go from here? You suggest that the next presidential debates, the bar has been raised.

BEBITCH JEFFE: Yes.

MORET: And you think that is, perhaps, bad for candidates?

BEBITCH JEFFE: Well, I think people are going to be looking at both George W. Bush and Al Gore with a new sense of what it really takes to be presidential, to be likable, to have a command of the issues. I think that they're sick and tired with the programmed, scripted responses that they saw up there at the podium, liked a lot the quiet, civil, classy debate that they saw tonight.

BOOSLER: It would be fine if they were telling the truth, but everyone seemed to duck the issues they were asked and that's the problem.

BEBITCH JEFFE: And your point is, Elayne?

BOOSLER: Oh, yes. I'm sorry.

MORET: Stu, do you think the bar has been raised?

ROTHENBERG: Yes. I think I do. At least in terms of the depth of the discussion and the style and the seriousness. You wonder if Al Gore is going to come out there and be sighing and twitching and moaning and groaning.

BEBITCH JEFFE: Exactly.

ROTHENBERG: And Bush, if he's looking around like he's not sure what he's supposed to talk about, how that will compare to this debate. I think it, I think it sharpens the contrast in terms of what voters want the presidential candidates to be and how they are really acting.

MORET: We've got about 30 seconds left. Final words.

BEBITCH JEFFE: Stu said them. That is exactly right.

MORET: What did we need you here for?

BEBITCH JEFFE: I don't k. I'm leaving now.

MORET: Stu said it all. OK.

BEBITCH JEFFE: Good-bye.

MORET: Elayne?

BOOSLER: Well, no, I think there are -- everyone wants to give you some money back. Everyone wants to fix the schools and health care and seniors. They -- whoever gets elected is going to do that. That will be done. The differences here are who's in the pocket of the NRA, that is the Republicans. Three thousand children a year get shot and die in this country. If 3,000 children a year died of eating apples, apples would have been off the shelves 20 years ago. There's not even a question looking into this industry.

MORET: You're getting the last word there.

BOOSLER: OK.

MORET: Our thanks to Stu Rothenberg, Sherri Bebitch Jeffe. I want to set the record straight. Elayne Boosler, take notes, is spelled E-L-A-Y-N-E B-O-O-S-L-E-R. And I apologize. We have been spelling your name wrong.

BOOSLER: Well, you know, I'm suing.

MORET: So I want to just set the record straight.

Stay tuned to CNN for continuing coverage on the developments in Yugoslavia and the latest on this earthquake in Japan and for the latest on election 2000. Thank you for joining us. I'm Jim Moret in Los Angeles.

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