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CNN Today

Election 2000: Bush, Gore Campaigns Launch Offensives in Key States

Aired October 23, 2000 - 2:09 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, here in the U.S., the presidential candidates are making their final push. With the election now just over two weeks away, Texas Governor George W. Bush took his Barnstorm for Reform tour to Kansas City, Missouri, earlier today. Bush has enlisted the help of 29 Republican governors who are on a 25-state blitz to promote his leadership, vision and accomplishments.

On the Democratic side, Vice President Al Gore is stumping in the Pacific Northwest. The Democrats have carried Oregon and Washington for nearly a generation but both have emerged as major battleground states this year. The latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup tracking poll of likely voters shows Bush with a solid nine-point lead over Gore. The poll, conducted over a three-day period, gives a snapshot of how voters may be thinking today. The events of the next two weeks could shift voter preferences.

Both candidates have campaign events scheduled for this hour. Governor Bush in Des Moines, Vice President Gore in Washington and we expect to bring you live coverage.

Joining us from Washington for insight into this final push for the White House is CNN senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. Bill, can you imagine the stress of working for these campaigns the next two weeks?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: It's going to be very tough. It's going to be real ground warfare because their both interested not just in appealing to that very small number of undecided voters, but also making sure their supporters get out to vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty percent of Texas students do not complete high school and obtain a high school diploma. That is a figure that is astronomical, that is basically brushed under the rug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Bush's real education program was about private school vouchers. That was his primary focus, and, frankly, the state legislature wisely has rejected that not once, but over five legislative sessions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: OK, now, we accidentally rolled that video. So, let us tell you what that was. Hopefully this won't be too confusing. The Democratic National Committee -- right, Bill? -- has released this video. What you saw was just one of many Texans -- right? -- who are talking against Bush's record in Texas. And apparently the Democrats are distributing this video far beyond the Texas boundary.

SCHNEIDER: Well, this is really a phenomenal roll-out of a 10- minute video of ordinary Texans, some professionals, teachers, pediatricians, criticizing Governor Bush's record in Texas. And they're going to roll it out at 90 news conferences -- it says here -- 90 news conference in 23 states. Those include all the major battleground states around the country, plus California, which is a very big state that's been trending to Gore.

They are going to try to make sure the voters get at least some awareness of this. They hope to get coverage on news programs, to buy local cable access, volunteers are going to be carrying this 10-minute video from door to door. They're going to try to saturate Americans with this information, partisan of course, criticisms by Texans of Governor Bush's record in that state, because most Americans don't know what he has done in Texas.

ALLEN: And historically is that a good tactic to attack a governor's record in his home state?

SCHNEIDER: Well, historically, it's been tried against Governor Clinton in Arkansas. President Bush tried it against Governor Dukakis in Massachusetts. It wasn't dramatically successful. I'm not sure that it was the major factor in Dukakis' defeat and it didn't seem to hurt Bill Clinton. But, it has never, Natalie, never been tried on this scale. This is an enormous scale. Ninety news conferences involving some important Democrats: the chairman of the committee, Ed Rendell, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo, Gore's former rival for the nomination, Bill Bradley. They'll all be helping to roll out this so-called truth squad about Governor Bush's Texas record. We've just never seen anything on this scale.

ALLEN: And, well, it shows that Gore is behind in the polls. And let's talk about Bill Clinton.

Is Bill Clinton going to have to step in here and try and boost Al Gore in the next few days?

SCHNEIDER: It's up to Al Gore. But we were told, I mean, our latest information is that Gore and Clinton are not planning to campaign together. Gore, apparently, is determined to win this on his own, as he puts it. Clinton will certainly campaign, but apparently not together with Al Gore. That's too risky. Clinton is helpful in getting out the Democratic base vote. So far, all the polls have shown that Republicans are far more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats are. And that's where Clinton can be very useful: not just raising money, but getting the union voters and the minorities out to vote. But, apparently, not side by side with Al Gore. So, we can't see them together. ALLEN: All right, so, in the next few days, who is going to be heading where? Where are the key areas that they need to concentrate on?

It looks like Bush is heading to California, so he's not giving up there.

SCHNEIDER: No, he's not giving up there, and that's very important because that's not supposed to be a battleground state. Look, you've got the Democrats rolling out this video, with a lot of fanfare and you've got Republican governors. They're divided into seven teams, going from state to state, touting Governor Bush's credentials, saying that he's qualified for the job, they have confidence in him.

Well, you know, in that kind of contest, I'm not sure that ordinary voters won't hold more sway, doctors and teachers and professionals. They may have more influence over the voters around the country than say, politicians and governors will.

ALLEN: Folks will be ready for this election day when it comes. These next few weeks will be busy.

SCHNEIDER: This is called ground warfare. It's very, very tight.

ALLEN: You can watch it and the World Series in the next few days.

Thanks so much. Bill Schneider, we will be in close contact.

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