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Presidential Race Intensifies; Gore Campaign Worried Ralph Nader Could Swing Election to BushAired October 26, 2000 - 10:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: It's Thursday, October 26, 2000. This is a special edition of CNN NEWSSTAND.
For the next 11 days, they're the only places Al Gore and George W. Bush want to be.
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GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we've had a great day in Florida.
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AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I need your help so I can fight for you. And fight for Iowa and Illinois.
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BUSH: We're in combat here in the state of Pennsylvania,
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ANNOUNCER: Tonight: the battlegrounds. The crucial states where election 2000 will be decided. We'll follow the candidates.
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GORE: Good morning, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My hand's wet.
GORE: That's all right, I'm a Democrat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, OK.
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ANNOUNCER: Analyze the key voting blocks and the hottest issues.
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BUSH: I believe that seniors should have a better Medicare system with prescription drugs.
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ANNOUNCER: Home-state reporters and our Bill Schneider show us what it will take to finally persuade the undecideds.
And we want to hear from you. Call us, toll-free 1-877-551-5436 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll also get the view from the classroom.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nader is supporting what he truly believes and what he has always believed about social liberties.
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ANNOUNCER: Our students of politics tackle the Ralph Nader factor. CNN NEWSSTAND with anchor Perri Peltz in New York.
PERRI PELTZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWSSTAND and a special hour surveying the battlegrounds where the last days of election 2000 will be fought and won. Fourteen states -- highlighted in yellow on this map -- with a combined 154 electoral votes. They hold the keys to the White House. And in each of these states, the election is too close to call.
Al Gore campaigned in two of these battlegrounds today: Iowa and Wisconsin. George W. Bush visited yet another, Pennsylvania. And, to keep his lead from slipping away, neighboring Ohio.
Our Jonathan Karl and Candy Crowley are hot on the candidates' heels, their "Reporter's notebooks" in hand.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bush went to both Pittsburgh and Erie, Pennsylvania on Thursday, there because Pennsylvania is a huge powerhouse of electoral votes and because it's very close. It's one of the many battlegrounds -- one of which he would dearly love to take.
BUSH: And we're in combat here in the state of Pennsylvania. But make no mistake about it. If we do our job on November 7th, Pennsylvania will be Bush-Cheney country.
CROWLEY: Bush also moved on to Ohio, which looks to be somewhat safer territory for him than Pennsylvania does, but you cannot leave too many things to chance. No secret strategy behind bringing along John McCain or bringing along Colin Powell. John McCain has huge appeal among independents and swing voters. They do believe that by having McCain there perhaps swing voters and independents will take a second look. With Colin Powell it's much the same way. Colin Powell is hugely popular.
BUSH: We're in stretch run. And I can't think of a better way to boost my spirits and keep this drive alive than to be introduced by a fabulous American named Colin Powell.
CROWLEY: He is a Gulf War hero. He used to be the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. By having him on the stage there is a message there and the message there is, look, a leader surrounds himself with good people and this is one of my guys.
The major hesitation about Bush has always been does he have the experience? So the more he brings up people like Colin Powell, points someone like -- or brings somebody on board like Dick Cheney, with his broad and vast experience, the more he sort of eases that hesitation among the voters.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The vice president coming here to Madison, Wisconsin which is really one of the most progressive cities in the United States. A place where support for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader is especially strong. So one of the most important messages he's talking about here is going out to those voters who would be tempted to vote for Ralph Nader and saying, hey, there is too much at stake in this election to waste your vote on a symbolic vote for Nader.
GORE: If the big oil companies and the chemical manufacturers and the other big polluters were able to communicate a message to this state, they would say, vote for George Bush, or in any case, vote for Ralph Nader. They would say whatever you do, don't vote for Al Gore.
KARL: That's the way Gore people see a vote for Nader, as a wasted vote, essentially a vote for George W. Bush. One of the things that the vice president's doing in terms of wooing those people who would be tempted to vote for Ralph Nader is talking a lot about the environment, really emphasizing his commitment to the environment, saying that he would match his record against Ralph Nader's record or against anybody's record when it comes to environment, and his record would compare favorably.
PELTZ: Earlier in the battleground state of Iowa, Vice President Gore used a draft of a United Nations' report on global warming against his opponent. Citing the report's warning that pollution is to blame for increasing temperatures, Gore told a rally that Bush would put big polluters in charge of U.S. environmental policies. A rebuttal from the Bush campaign says the governor offers a more reasonable approach to protecting the environment than Al Gore.
The nationwide tracking polls remain a lesson in statistical dead-heats. Governor Bush has the edge in our CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup survey: that's 49 percent to 42 percent. There is a plus or minus four-point sampling error. The race is even tighter in other tracking polls. Governor Bush has a three-point lead in a "Washington Post"/ABC News survey. Vice President Gore is ahead by three points in the Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby tracking poll.
ANNOUNCER: Up next: so many battlegrounds, so little time.
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BUSH: We're coming down to the wire.
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ANNOUNCER: Bill Schneider has a state-by-state breakdown of what each candidate must do to win.
And you get a say as well. Help us take the pulse of the nation by calling, toll-free 1-877-551-5436 or e-mail email@example.com.
PELTZ: Just as a last-minute play may determine the outcome in sports, voters in just 14 states may have the final say on who scores highest in the presidential contest.
Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider now on who needs to win where in the battleground states.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The target number? 270. That's the number of electoral votes you need to win the White House. How close is George W. Bush right now? He's at 209, 61 shy of a majority.
The states where Bush is ahead right now are almost all in the South and West -- the conservative heartland of the country. Bush is reclaiming some territory the GOP lost to Bill Clinton in '96. Arizona, for instance, which voted for Harry Truman in 1948. That must have been a terrible experience, because Arizona didn't vote for another Democrat for nearly 50 years. Republicans can't let that one get away.
Looks like they're not.
Louisiana was one of the few southern states Clinton carried twice. Looks like the good times have stopped rolling for Louisiana Democrats. Clinton carried Kentucky both times -- in '96 by the narrowest margin of any state -- less than 1 percent of the vote. If the Republicans expect to win, they'd better start by taking Kentucky. And they are. Clinton won Ohio twice. No Republican has ever been elected president without carrying the Buckeye State. Good news for Bush. He's carrying Ohio.
Gore's getting 175 electoral votes right now, 95 short of a majority. The Northeast is Gore country. All but three of Gore's states are there. The exceptions? Hawaii, with its heavily minority population. California, a socially liberal state with a big minority vote. And Illinois. Illinois? Yes -- right smack in the Heartland. How'd Illinois get in there? One word: Chicago. OK, another word: Daley -- Gore's campaign chairman.
That leaves 154 electoral votes in 14 states that are too close to call right now. That's the 2000 battleground. The biggest battleground state? Florida and it's 25 electoral votes. How embarrassing for Bush. His brother is governor. Imagine Jeb Bush having to explain to the family at the next Fourth of July picnic in Kennebunkport how he failed to hold Florida for brother George.
If Bush is embarrassed by having to defend Florida, Gore's got to be mortified by having to fight for the 11 electoral votes of his home state of Tennessee. But sure enough, Tennessee's a toss-up state. That's why Gore was there this week.
Bush showed up in Clinton's home state of Arkansas. Clinton might have been able to count on Arkansas, but not Gore. You may be surprised to see Oregon and Washington in the toss-up category. Like California, the whole Left Coast is supposed to be tilting Democratic. But Oregon and Washington are environmentally-minded states where Ralph Nader is doing well enough to tilt the outcome to Bush. No wonder Gore was in the Northwest this week, touting his commitment to the environment.
Minnesota's not supposed to be in the toss-up category either. It's voted Democratic in every election but one since 1960. Why is Minnesota in doubt? Nader again. Nader also endangers Gore in Michigan, but for slightly different reasons. A lot of union voters don't trust Gore on trade. Also, Nader is Arab-American, and Michigan has a lot of Arab-American voters. Another reason Michigan's close: Pat Buchanan's not on the ballot there, so Bush has all the conservatives to himself.
Missouri's very much in doubt, since the death of Governor Mel Carnahan, who was expected to lead the Democratic ticket while he ran for Senate. And what's the deal with West Virginia, one of the most Democratic states in the country? A toss-up? West Virginia's a coal state, where environmentalism is not a big cause. It's also a culturally conservative state, where Clintonism is not a big cause.
SCHNEIDER: This campaign is a ground war, with Bush and Gore fighting over every scrap of territory, including a lot of places they never thought they'd have to fight for -- Perri.
PELTZ: Bill, help me put this in perspective. How did this race get to be so close?
SCHNEIDER: Well, it's an unusual race because, look, there are two themes that often work in American politics in elections, but they rarely work at the same time. Americans usually believe either they've never had it so good or it's time for a change. What's unusual about this year is they believe both. Overwhelmingly they believe the economy is the best they've ever seen in their lifetimes, but they also believe time for a change. They're looking for a change of leadership, not a change of direction. That's why it's close.
PELTZ: And it's interesting because speaking of change, Al Gore has not had Bill Clinton doing any campaigning for him and yet, he's headed to California will he do some campaigning. What do make of that? How significant is it?
SCHNEIDER: California is critical. Gore is likely to win in California but look, California has 52 House seats. President Clinton's going to campaign for Gore there because number one, Clinton is very popular in California. Number two, Hollywood and also it's a state that has a socially liberal tradition.
Number two, it has lot of House seats and Clinton is determined to win back the House of Representatives for the Democrats. Because I'd say the second biggest blemish on the Clinton is the loss of the House of Representatives in 1994 and he wants to put that right and get his party back in control as part of his last legacy.
PELTZ: So a couple of things going on there. Let's talk, Bill, about voter turn-out. I keep hearing that this is going to be - that the voter turn-out is going to be incredibly low and yet in such a tight race you would think that that would be a motivating factor for people to get out and vote.
SCHNEIDER: You'd think it would, and it may well be. I wouldn't predict a low turn-out. I think we may see a higher turn-out. Americans love a horse race. You know, the highest turn-out we've had in the last 50 years was the 1960 race between Kennedy and Nixon. That wasn't a race with any big crisis, any dramatic issues, a lot people said there was no difference between Kennedy and Nixon, just like people are saying now that this race is between Prince George and Prince Albert. But it's a tight race. It's an exciting race. It's a real horse race and when that happens a lot Americans say they want to be part of the action.
PELTZ: Bill, talk to us about the state of Florida for a moment, if you will. Why isn't Jeb Bush having more of an impact in pushing George W. Bush over the line in that state?
SCHNEIDER: Well, because Florida's changed. There are a lot of new Floridians in that state who aren't really deeply rooted in Florida. There's a corridor called the Interstate Forcarter right through the middle of the state, from Tampa to Orlando to Daytona, that's got three million residents.
Many of them come from other place. They're not retirees. They're not Jewish. They're not black. They're not Latino. They're just new people and no one knows where their loyalties lie. A lot of them have moved in the past five or six years and they don't know much about anybody in Florida and their loyalties are very much up in the air.
PELTZ: On that very complicated note, Bill Schneider, thanks so much. We appreciate it.
SCHNEIDER: My pleasure.
PELTZ: NEWSSTAND is going to take a break. We'll be back in just a moment.
ANNOUNCER: How can George W. Bush and Al Gore lock up the key states? This is your chance to tell us. Call, toll-free 1-877-551-5436 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANNOUNCER: And later,
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much more powerful would it be for Nader to drop out of the election or whatever and say to Gore, I delivered you these votes.
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ANNOUNCER: Election 2000 as seen from the classroom as NEWSSTAND continues.
PELTZ: Welcome back to NEWSSTAND and our discussion on Election 2000. Just a little later we will welcome your comments about Election 2000 and the final push in the battleground states. So please call us toll-free at 1-877-551-5436 or e-mail us email@example.com.
First, though, let's check in with some journalists for what's happening in four of the pivotal states. Tom Fiedler, editorial page editor of "The Miami Herald," he joins us now from Florida, of course, home of Governor Jeb Bush, that's the brother of George W. Bush; Alan Borsuk of the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" is in Wisconsin; and in Pennsylvania, Mackenzie Carpenter is covering the election for the "Pittsburgh Post Gazette"; and from the battleground state of Michigan, we welcome Bill Ballenger, editor of the "Inside Michigan Politics" newsletter.
Welcome to all of you, thank you so much for being with us.
MACKENZIE CARPENTER, "PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE": Thank you.
ALAN BORSUK, "MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL": Glad to be here.
BILL BALLENGER, "INSIDE MICHIGAN POLITICS": Glad to be here.
PELTZ: Tom, let me begin with you, how did Florida wind up up for grabs? It's a Republican state, and if that's not good enough, one of the candidates happens to have a brother who's the governor there. What's going on?
TOM FIEDLER, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, "THE MIAMI HERALD": Well, part of what you're saying is true, Perri, that certainly we do have a governor whose brother is Jeb Bush, brother of George W. But this is not really a Republican state, I think that's a misconception that a lot of people have and certainly it was a misconception that the Republicans had until the latest poll started coming out.
But this state has always been toss-up, it's -- it has always been a bellwether for the country. And we have had, for instance, Bill Clinton won here in '96, he could have won here in '92 if he pushed a little harder. We have always had a Democratic senator in this state really since the Civil War. The same ballot where Jeb Bush won election in 1998, the same voters turned around and gave a landslide victory to a Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Bob Graham. So this should be no surprise to anyone that there is a Democratic base here that was available for Al Gore to pick up and use.
PELTZ: Tom, what does a candidate have to do to win in the state of Florida?
FIEDLER: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that.
PELTZ: What does a candidate have to do to win the state of Florida?
FIEDLER: Well, if he -- for George W. Bush, I think what he has to do in -- is he's got to impress the voters that Bill earlier talked about, the newcomers, they're interested in the economic opportunities, I think that they hear George W. Bush offering the chance to invest Social Security on their own and those kinds of things. For Al Gore, he has to energize this Democratic base, which the African-American vote, the retiree vote, he's doing that with Medicare prescription drugs, and with Joe Lieberman, he has certainly energized the Jewish Democratic vote, which is critical to the electorate here.
PELTZ: All right, let's move on, if we can, to Wisconsin. Alan Borsuk, every time I take a look at the numbers in Wisconsin, they seem to be all over the place. First of all, what's the latest data that you have about who's pulling ahead in this race?
BORSUK: Well, they're all over the place. We had one poll -- not done by my newspaper -- but a poll that was released Monday that had Bush up by 7, another one was released yesterday had Gore up -- excuse me -- Bush up by 9, the one yesterday had Gore up by 7, another one had Bush up by 4. If I had to guess, it's slightly toward Bush at the moment, but that's just a guess.
PELTZ: If in fact it is slightly toward Bush, how much is the Nader factor a problem for Al Gore?
BORSUK: Well, certainly, Gore thinks it's a factor. I just got in a few minutes ago from a Gore rally in Madison, a huge crowd that he had, and it was pitched very strongly toward appealing to Nader voters, hitting, I think, the two issues that would be most persuasive to them: one is the Supreme Court, the other would be the environment. Madison itself, not too surprisingly, is a liberal bastion, and if Nader is going to get a lot of votes in Wisconsin, a lot of it's going to come out of the Madison area.
PELTZ: Alan, are you surprised that Wisconsin has become such a battleground state?
BORSUK: Well, sure. We're not used to this. I don't think it's ever happened in Wisconsin history.
PELTZ: Not used to all of this attention, huh?
BORSUK: Yes, in the final election. This was Gore's seventh visit to the state this year, he'll be making his eighth on Monday. Bush and Cheney both have a rally in Appleton, Wisconsin, on Saturday. That'll be Bush's ninth visit to Wisconsin. It's been very crazy, and I think people like it, they like all the attention, but we're not used to this. We only have 11 electoral votes.
PELTZ: Let's talk to another state then, that has -- that's not used to getting this kind of attention that's been getting a lot of attention: Pennsylvania.
Mackenzie Carpenter, the candidates have been spending a lot of time in your state, it's a very, very tight race. What do you think has to be done for one of these candidates to pull ahead in any kind of decisive way?
CARPENTER: Well, first of all, you're right, we have been getting more attention than I can ever remember in my 25 years of being a reporter. We had...
PELTZ: This is a good thing.
CARPENTER: Yes. We had Bush here today, Tipper was here, Gore is coming tomorrow. But what I think the candidates have to do is get two key groups of voters: the suburban Philadelphia Republican women who tend to be socially liberal, and the Democrats in western Pennsylvania who tend to be socially conservative. And both Gore and Bush have been spending a lot of time in Montgomery County, outside of Philadelphia, and as I said earlier, in the Pittsburgh area and in the region around it.
The problem is, is that neither of them have really brought up social issues in Pennsylvania, because they don't want to alienate that other group that they're also trying to keep. If Bush decides to flaunt his pro-life credentials, he might turn off some of the Republican women in Philadelphia while getting more support from socially conservative Democrats in Pittsburgh. The reverse is true for Gore. So they're both kind of in a pickle here. I will say that it's as tight here as everywhere else.
Yesterday, there was a statewide poll that showed them neck and neck, a second statewide poll that showed Gore ahead by, I think, 39- 46 -- I don't have the exact number -- but with 13 percent of the voters undecided. And Pennsylvania traditionally, it's undecided voters have waited until the last week before the election. Last time around, a voter survey, a national voter survey found that 16 percent of the voters didn't make up their minds until the week before or even in some cases the weekend before the election.
PELTZ: And why should this one be any different.
Let's go to Michigan. Bill Ballenger from "Inside Michigan Politics," help us get inside Michigan politics. Michigan has always -- was big-time Bill Clinton territory. Why is Gore having such a hard time locking this state up?
BALLENGER: Well, Perri, out of the four states you're covering tonight, Michigan is the one that's most used to getting a lot of attention just about every four years. We are always a state on the bubble, and we've got 18 electoral votes and we're very decisive in terms of a close race. We could spell the difference between victory and defeat. Al Gore is not Bill Clinton. I think everybody knows that by now. And yes, Bill Clinton won twice in Michigan, the first time in '92 by about 5 percent. But George Bush the father carried Michigan by 7 points over Mike Dukakis, Reagan won it twice in a landslide in '84 and '80.
So this state could go either way. It's almost kind of like Tom described in Florida, it's a very closely contested state, very competitive, and everything is up for grabs. There is a new poll coming out tomorrow in the Detroit news that's going to show a -- literally a dead heat, about 1/10 of 1 percent separating the two candidates, and that's typical of all the polls during the last two weeks. We haven't seen the fluctuation up and down that I've heard described here tonight, such as Wisconsin. I mean, these candidates are within the margin of error in every single poll.
PELTZ: I'm interested, Bill, to get your take on the new ad, the Lee Iacocca ad in the new Republican ad against Gore that says that Al Gore could cost people in Michigan jobs. How is that? Is that having any influence? I would imagine it would be.
BALLENGER: Well, if that argument ever is going to have any influence here in Michigan, the Lee Iacocca ad may finally do it. John Engler and the Republican Party have been hammering Al Gore on this issue since 1992, when he was first elected as Bill Clinton's running mate, and it never really has resonated here, it's never gotten traction.
But the Republicans haven't given up, they're hammering away with it, and now they've brought in the big enchilada, cigar chomping Lee Iacocca, the last of the great auto moguls, and he's making one last sales pitch here, this time on behalf of George W. Bush that, by gosh, Al Gore is an enemy of the internal combustion engine and he could ruin the auto industry here in this state. So if it doesn't work this time, it ain't going to work ever.
PELTZ: All right, I want to ask all of our guests to hold their thoughts for a moment. When we come back, we are going to be taking the "Pulse of the Nation" about election 2000 and the battleground states. So call us toll-free 1-877-551-5436, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PELTZ: Welcome back to NEWSSTAND. Tonight, we are surveying the political landscape in the nation's battleground states. And we have an e-mail right from Antonio in Arizona. Antonio writes: "Assertions that a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for George Bush are philosophically odious. A vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for Ralph Nader."
Let's go to Alan Borsuk in Wisconsin and ask him, Alan, a vote for Nader, is it a vote for Nader or is it a vote for George W. Bush?
BORSUK: Well, let's put it this way: The polls, as much as they've been widely varying on whether Bush or Gore are ahead, have been pretty consistent that there's about 5 percent support for Nader statewide. And if the race is decided by 1 or 2 percent, if Bush -- excuse me -- if Gore can win over 2 or 3 percent, percentage points of potentially Nader voters, that would be very powerful.
And in one of the polls yesterday that came out, the Nader voters were very soft on Nader. Only half of them said that they were firm that they were going to vote for Nader. The other half said they weren't sure. So Gore certainly thinks, though. He's working very hard. He wants those one or two points.
PELTZ: Bill Ballenger, in Michigan, the Nader factor is certainly playing in your state as well. What do you think? Is a vote for Nader a vote for Nader, or is it really a vote for George W. Bush?
BALLENGER: By and large, I think the Nader vote is really not going to come from people who would otherwise vote for Gore. It's probably going to come from new voters, particularly younger college- age voters, and maybe a lot of voters who just wouldn't vote for either of the major party nominees and are looking for an alternative.
But I think as Alan indicated, if a portion of these Nader voters, let's say 1 1/2 out of 4 or 5 percent that Nader might get total in Michigan, comes out of Al Gore's hide that could be a real problem for Al Gore in a race that is very close.
In 1990, John Engler, our incumbent Republican governor now, beat the then governor, Jim Blanchard, by only 17,000, less than 1 percent. If it's that kind of an election, yes, Nader could be a big factor.
PELTZ: All right. We're going to take a call now from Pennsylvania. Caller, go ahead.
CALLER: Yes. I am responding to all the comments that the voters are not excited about the candidates. I am extremely excited about George Bush. I'm as excited about him as a presidential candidate and hopefully as the next president of the United States as any election that has happened up to date. So I'm not sure exactly where all these comments are coming from.
You see the constant campaigns going on. You keep seeing the population being excited...
PELTZ: Caller, let me interrupt for a moment, because there's a big undecided vote in your state of Pennsylvania. Let's talk to Mackenzie Carpenter about that from "The Pittsburgh Post Gazette."
I think, Mackenzie, the last number I heard was 13 percent, and yet we had a very ardent voter right there on the phone for George W. Bush.
CARPENTER: I'd like to know where that ardent voter is from. If you look at the state of Pennsylvania, it's in a rectangle shape. And we always used to refer to it as the T: The top tier and the middle was always very conservative Republican, and indeed is Bush country. But as I said before, there is definitely a battleground in southeastern Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, and over in the west, and all the polls that I've seen say pretty much that it's too close to call.
I will say this, that I've been covering a very hot congressional race outside of Pittsburgh. It's one of the key races that the Republicans consider key to keeping the majority in the House, and it's a 58 percent Democratic majority. But the Republican candidate is leading in that race, although things could change.
PELTZ: OK. Mackenzie, I'm going to ask you to hold your thought, though, because we do need to take a break right now. We will be right back. You still have time, though, to join our discussion on the election 2000 battlegrounds. Call in and e-mail us now. We will be right back.
PELTZ: Welcome back to this special edition of NEWSSTAND. Tonight we are taking the pulse of the nation about Election 2000 and the battleground states. And before the break we were talking about the undecided voters from an e-mail that we had received.
Tom Fiedler, let me ask you a question. At the end of the day, does it just come down to which guy gets the most voters out?
FIEDLER: It really does. I think at this point the candidates would be wise or the campaigns would be wise just to forget the whole notion of undecided voters. They're either going to split evenly or go away and not be there November 7th. I think at this point that the victory is going to go to the person -- it's a cliche but it's true -- the person who gets his votes out, gets them to show up. And that's really where the push needs to be.
We've seen this week Joe Lieberman was down here in Southeast Florida, going around, hitting in the hard-core Democratic areas, the Jewish Democratic areas and in the African-American community and of course just yesterday George W. Bush with his bus ride across Central Florida. That is a very volatile and a swing area but the stops that George W. Bush made I think were deliberately in suburban, Republican areas. So he's looking to get his vote out.
There's one more, I think, key vote here that nobody really talks too much about. It's really under the radar and that's the absentee ballot vote. That's critical in Florida. We have a lot of people who are military -- active duty military people who use Florida as a residence because we have no state income tax and in a close race they can swing a vote by a full percent. And the Republicans are quietly working on that and that could be decisive on Election Day.
PELTZ: Tom, thank you for bringing that up. That's a good point. Tom, we're going to go now, though, to a caller from Nevada.
Caller, go ahead. What's your comment?
CALLER: Hi. My name is Cheryl.
PELTZ: Hi, Cheryl.
CALLER: I'm perspiring in my own home, but the thing I don't understand is why haven't either one of them come up with women? Why aren't they talking about there's going to be Supreme Justice guys.
PELTZ: You're concerned about the Supreme Court and women's issues. I understand.
Mackenzie Carpenter, do you want to respond? I'm sorry to pick on the only women on our panel.
CARPENTER: Well, that's all right. I think I made the point before that social issues, which at the risk of sounding sexist, tend to be also considered women's issues. Abortion, gun control, the environment, and so far in Pennsylvania there hasn't been a lot of heated discussion about abortion or guns at least between the two candidates. I mean, we had Charlton Heston here last week certainly excoriating Gore -- I mean there was some talk of him having the guts of a guppy. But...
PELTZ: Nice term.
CARPENTER: So he's doing Bush's work for him very well. But really this has not been an issue in Pennsylvania. Social issues have not been talked about to any really great degree. Now that could change. I don't know. Tomorrow Gore is going to be at CMU which is a college campus. Anything could happen.
PELTZ: All right, let's take an e-mail before we run out of time from Eric. And here's what Eric has to say: "I think Bush should press harder in New Mexico, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Iowa. Grabbing the smaller states will be what will take him over the edge."
Bill, what do you have to say about that? Does that make any sense to you?
BALLENGER: Taking the smaller states? Well, yes. I mean Washington...
PELTZ: why not?
BALLENGER: Washington and Oregon together have an equal number of votes to Michigan in the electoral college. So, you know, you pick off a West Virginia, five electoral votes, as Bill Schneider was pointing out, Kentucky, a few of these other states that traditionally have been Democratic -- if George W. Bush, say, could win those that's hugely important.
So, people cannot look off these small states. If the electoral college vote is as close as people think it may be you're absolutely right. One of those small states may be actually what determines the outcome more than Michigan or Pennsylvania or Florida.
PELTZ: Alan Borsuk, what do you say? Do you think it's as close as everyone is calling it?
BORSUK: Well, I can only go by the way the campaigns themselves are acting and I think they've got a lot of expertise on this and they're both acting both on principle and in reality like it's 269 to 269. It's a numbers game so a smaller state is always going to have a harder time attracting attention from a campaign than a big state. But yes, if it's that close it isn't going take much to win the election. That's why Wisconsin is getting the attention it is.
PELTZ: All right, on that note I'd like to thank all of our guests tonight for joining us. Bill Ballenger from Michigan, "Inside Michigan Politics." Mackenzie Carpenter from "The Pittsburgh Post- Gazette." In Wisconsin, Alan Borsuk from "The Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel" and Tom Fiedler from "The Miami Herald." We thank all of you for being with us.
And our special edition of NEWSSTAND will continue in just a moment so stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: Next we go back to school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nader's not the spoiler. Al Gore spoiled it for himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Our college student's suggestions for the presidential candidates when our NEWSSTAND special returns.
PELTZ: National polls show Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader claiming roughly 5 percent of the vote, just enough to cause problems for Al Gore in key states. Some who want to see Gore in the White House are even suggesting Nader should withdraw from the race. But what do voters think? Well, for a different, we returned to Professor Lenny Steinhorn's class at American University in Washington to get the take from the college campus.
LENNY STEINHORN, PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Two weeks left before the nation votes. "The Washington Post" ran a story just the other day about is Ralph Nader the spoiler. So the question is (a) is Ralph Nader a spoiler, and (b) what motivates Ralph Nader on this campaign? OK.
CARLY: I don't think that I know any of his issues except that he doesn't like corporations. So I went onto his Web site and I realized that a lot of his issues are very resonant with what Al Gore is saying. He's not for school vouchers. He disagrees with Bush's Social Security plan. He thinks it's very risky. He's pro-choice with emphasis on minimizing abortions like, you know, I mean, minimizing a need for them.
They've very similar except for maybe Nader, you know, he's more focused on the campaign finance.
I think if you take that away, they've very, very similar.
STEINHORN: I want to sort of swing down this way.
ROBIN: It's true that if you look at their platforms, you'll see that they agree on things like they're both pro-choice and they're both pro-gun control. But the thing is Nader, I -- this is a feeling that I get -- that Nader is supporting what he truly believes and what he has always believed about social liberties whereas Gore has sort of flip-flopped in the past. He used to pro-life, he used to be anti-gun control.
I agree that people change, but I think that you probably changed because you felt differently, and I think that Gore changed because his constituency changed.
STEINHORN: Ann (ph).
ANN: I don't want to see Bush in office for very good reasons, and you know, Gore, while he may not be Ralph Nader's candidate, how much more powerful would it be for Nader to drop out of the election now or whatever and say to Gore, I delivered you these votes and I could have taken them from you and I could have swung this election the other way, that's how important the people that I represent are to this election and our to this country, and you better start paying attention to it.
STEINHORN: Lydia. LYDIA: Who decided that the American public owes their vote to the Democratic or Republican Party? I'm an individual and I'm going vote for who got my vote, for who talked about the issues that are important to me, and for who really spoke to me as a youth voter. And Nader is not the spoiler. Al Gore spoiled it for himself.
STEINHORN: Let me go through a couple bits of information here. Let's look at Patrick Buchanan. Buchanan with his $12-plus million in federal money for the election has pretty much focused his efforts in states that he believes will not hurt George W. Bush. His goal is trying to win enough votes in those states to gain 5 percent to keep the Reform Party viable and to keep it getting federal funding.
But Nader has actually gone into states that should go to Gore or could go to Gore. In fact, there are estimates that there are about 10 to 15 states that are now too close to call largely because of the Ralph Nader factor.
GEORGE: Well, I think the most important thing he's doing from, I guess from an ideological perspective, is trying to shift the Democratic Party back to the left a little bit, because, honestly, I cannot see where he's going because he's not pushing anyone up to follow him.
CHRIS: I think Nader has a significant problem in terms of making sure that the Green Party is not synonymous with Ralph Nader, and historically, third-party candidates primarily have been just one person breaking off from a party. And I think in a TV age, in particular, it's very difficult for you to separate the two, because there is no underlying set of principles or beliefs that the general public identifies and says, oh yes, that's the Green Party.
LYDIA: Quite possibly the most important issue for me during this campaign is restoring the democracy that we have lost through the monopoly of two parties that are run by corporations. Al Gore and George Bush are corporations running for president.
ANN: We're here skewering, you know, Gore and Bush, but again, this is the political system that, you know, we've created to a certain extent.
LYDIA: And that's what Nader's fighting against.
ANN: And -- well, why is he fighting it if he's only getting 5 percent of the vote? Maybe America's trying to say to him, well, we don't go with that. I mean, we...
LYDIA: But a lot of Americans do go with that. ANN: But not enough to elect a president.
LYDIA: That's fine. Then if Nader doesn't win, then he's not going to be the president. But...
ANN: But then Nader's policies, if he really cares about these policies and if he really feels strongly that certain policies should be embodied in the office of the president, and he's out there campaigning on the votes that Al Gore would have had in the general election and that's going to put George Bush in office, then does he really care about the policies or does he care about his party and his image?
COLLIN: I don't think it's fair to attack Nader, saying he's -- you're going after Gore's votes. But if Ralph Nader really wants to make an impact on like the future of American politics, you have to wait. You have to, you know, bide your time in this election. Maybe he can run again in four years. Maybe he needs to get some more candidates to have a political successor, and I think to do that he needs -- he needs to pull back, get his 5 percent, and wait for the next election.
PELTZ: We hope to check in with Professor Steinhorn's class once again this campaign season.
For an even more unconventional look at election 2000, tune in tomorrow night at 10:00 for "Race for the Presidency." Here's CNN's Jeff Greenfield with a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Perri, tomorrow night at 10 o'clock Eastern Time, we will try to demonstrate some unconventional wisdom about politics. We'll be talking to Frank Rich of "The New York Times" with essayist and author Shelby Steele. We'll be looking at whether or not this race really is going to be as close as people think. And we will reveal a shocking incite into the past of Senator Joseph Lieberman.
Please join me 10 o'clock Eastern Time right here on the NEWSSTAND for some unconventional wisdom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PELTZ: All right. Jeff, thank you very much. And for the latest from the campaign trail, conventional or unconventional, log onto cnn.com/election2000.
And "SPORTS TONIGHT" is coming up next. Here's Andre Aldridge with a preview.
Hi, Andre. ANDRE ALDRIDGE, CNN "SPORTS TONIGHT": Hi, Perri. You know, it would take the exploits of an incredible athletes to steal the thunder from the World Series, and we found him. Tiger Woods takes a big step forward in hopes of winning his fourth consecutive tourney.
And Commissioner David Stern talks about his monumental ruling in punishing the Minnesota Timberwolves because of Joe Smith's illegal contract. That and much, much more coming up on "SPORTS TONIGHT."
PELTZ: All right, Andre, thanks very much. We look forward to it.
And that's all from us tonight. I'm Perri Peltz in New York. Good night from the NEWSSTAND.
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