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CNN Late Edition
Bush and Gore Prepare for Final Push Before Election Day; Tennessee and Florida Remain up for GrabsAired October 29, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon here in Atlanta, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles, 5 p.m. in London, and 7 p.m. in Jerusalem. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90- minute LATE EDITION. We'll get to our guests shortly, but first a quick look at the hour's top stories.
We begin in the Middle East where clashes continue between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators. Two Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in the northern West Bank town of Nablus today, and a third was killed at a border crossing in Gaza. The violence has left at least 140 people dead over the past month, and thousands more injured, mostly Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met again with Likud party chief Ariel Sharon attempting to form an emergency coalition government to deal with the Palestinian uprising. No agreement yet.
The USS Cole has begun it's long journey back to the United States. Today the crippled destroyer was towed out of the port of Aden in Yemen, where 17 of its crew were killed in an explosion earlier this month. The warship is expected back in the United States in about five weeks.
A memorial service was held today at home port of the downed Russian nuclear submarine Kursk. Deep below the Barents Sea, divers have been working to recover bodies from the sub. All 118 crew members were killed following the explosion in August.
And in Washington, President Clinton is continuing talks with Congressional leaders on settling their bitter budget stalemate. Mr. Clinton has forced congressional Republicans to stay in Washington over the weekend and pass day-by-day stop gap spending measures to keep the government running.
Turning now to the U.S. presidential race where it's nine days and counting. At this hour, we're releasing a new CNN-"USA Today"- Gallup tracking poll. Texas Governor George W. Bush continues to lead Vice President Al Gore 49 to 42 percent. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader has 3 percent; Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, 1 percent.
In a sampling of other polls being conducted, the ABC News- "Washington Post" poll shows Bush leading Gore 47 to 46 percent, and the MSNBC-Reuters-Zogby poll has Bush leading Gore 44 to 43 percent. Joining us now from Washington to put all these numbers into some sort of perspective, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
All right Bill, give us some perspective on these latest numbers.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, all the polls show Bush with a small lead. That's been true ever since the final debate. My guess is, what they mean is, if the election were being held today, Bush would probably win by a narrow margin. But you know what, Wolf? The elections not being held today. And what we've discovered over the course of this campaign is, no candidates who's been in the lead has been able to sustain it for more than a few days.
BLITZER: Normally, Bill, and you've been looking at these kind of poll numbers for many, many years, the candidate who's ahead Labor Day, which is in early September, of course, that candidate usually goes on to win the election in November. But this time around, we've seen something unusual, sort of back and forth. Gore ahead for some period, then Bush ahead, then Gore, now Bush once again.
SCHNEIDER: Well, it's an unusual election in that respect. You know, I don't think the voters are really deeply divided over this choice. I think they really are of two minds. They believe they've never had it so good, but it's time for a change. What kind of change? They want a change in leadership, but they don't want a change of direction. When they look at the two candidates, they believe one candidate, they doubt his sincerity -- that's Gore. The other candidate, they doubt his knowledgeability -- that's Bush. So the result is, a lot of people are moving back and forth.
BLITZER: But even as important as these poll numbers are in terms of the national vote, the much more important number is, of course, is the Electoral College, needed to win: 270 Electoral College votes. Let's take a look at our latest CNN projection of where that stands right now.
First, the Bush total. We're projecting right now, looking at various state polls, 209 electoral votes for George W. Bush. Keep in mind, of course, 270 the necessary number.
Look at those states, Bill, what do you see?
SCHNEIDER: I see Ohio, and that's crucial because no Republican has ever gotten elected to the White House without carrying Ohio, and it looks like Bush is ahead now in that critical swing state.
BLITZER: And Gore, as far as Gore's numbers are concerned, right now, if we took a look at the states, we're predicting, or at least assessing right now, would be going for Al Gore if the election were today: 171 electoral votes, 99 shy of the total needed in order to become the president.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. Gore states are concentrated in the Northeast and California. There's only one state in the heartland that's for Gore and that's Illinois. Why? A great big city there, Chicago, and also Gore's campaign chairman is a fellow named Bill Daley.
BLITZER: Look at the toss-up states, though Bill: a 158 electoral votes still up for grabs out there, only nine days before the election.
SCHNEIDER: Florida, that's the key. That's going to report early on election night. That's a critical toss-up state. It's hard to see how Bush can win without carrying Florida, and that one is up for grabs because we're showing that seniors are the one group that's really split down the middle. The other voters are narrowly for Bush; seniors are split down the middle.
We also saw Tennessee, Gore's home state is up for grabs.
And there are a number of interesting states that really are in the toss-up column and we wonder why. Minnesota usually votes Democratic. Oregon, Washington -- they voted for Dukakis and then they voted twice for Clinton. Well, that's the Nader factor. Ralph Nader is getting some crucial votes on the left among liberals, who otherwise, we believe, would be voting for Al Gore, and Ralph Nader is keeping a number of those states like Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, and now Maine and Michigan, in the toss-up category.
BLITZER: And we'll be watching those toss-up states obviously very closely.
Bill Schneider, always good to have you on LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.
And what are the strategies of Governor Bush and Vice President Gore for this final full week of campaigning? Joining us now from Austin, Texas, the Bush chief campaign strategist, Karl Rove; and in Nashville, Tennessee, the Gore deputy campaign manager, Mark Fabiani.
Gentlemen, thanks for joining us once again on LATE EDITION.
MARK FABIANI, GORE DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Thanks for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's take a look at these polls and begin with you Mark Fabiani.
It looks like, as Bill Schneider said, all of the polls clearly have Governor Bush slightly ahead of Al Gore going into this final full week of campaigning.
FABIANI: Well, Wolf, as you know, this has been a topsy-turvy race all the way along, one candidate's been up, one candidate's been down. I think most knowledgeable observers would say this is a dead heat now with the candidates fighting in key states like Florida, where Gore has an edge.
And all around the country, this is a dead-heat race. It's the closest, most exciting election since at least 1960, and we're all very excited for this last week to get under way. Al Gore's going to make the argument during the last week that prosperity is on the ballot, and Al Gore is the candidate with the experience and what it takes to keep that prosperity going.
BLITZER: Do you agree with that assessment, Karl Rove, that it's a dead heat right now, even though almost all of the polls show your candidate slightly ahead of Al Gore?
KARL ROVE, BUSH CHIEF CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Well, obviously I don't. On Friday, the Gore campaign was spinning that the polls showed them up two up and today they it's a dead heat, so they must have slipped in the last 48 hours.
But, look, you average all the polls on Friday together and Bush had a lead of about four and a half points. We think that's about where the race is.
It's going to be close right to the end. I've said it before, I'll say it again now, it will be decided in the last precinct with the last ballot on the last hour of the last day. It's going to be a close, exciting election.
We're looking great in Florida, we're looking great in Tennessee, the home state of our opponent. We'll conduct the campaign in the last eight days basically by campaigning in states that have gone for Clinton-Gore twice, that were Clinton-Gore, Dukakis, the last three elections.
In one instance, we're going to be making an appearance in a state that last voted for Republican presidential candidate in 1972.
I mean, we're going to be fighting hard in these states, and it's the opponents' states.
And we are going to be articulating the message that Governor Bush has a positive and optimistic agenda to confront America's big problems, and that he's a strong leader who is able to work across partisan lines in order to achieve those goals.
BLITZER: All right, Mark Fabiani, if in fact it is as close as both of you say it is, it's going to require both parties energizing the base, getting out the vote.
Earlier today, Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, was on ABC saying that Bill Clinton is going to be called upon but specifically for a role that he may not necessarily want. He of course wants to be out there full speed ahead. Listen to what Joe Lieberman had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the president will help, and I appreciate that he is out there. But I think the fact is that Bill Clinton's name is not on the ballot. The people are going to be voting for Al Gore and me or George Bush and Dick Cheney. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Mark Fabiani, do you want President Clinton in Michigan and in Florida, two critical states at this point, to be campaigning at any stage whatsoever?
FABIANI: Well, let's start with a fundamental proposition. Al Gore has said from the beginning he is his own man, he is running this election as his own man, focusing on the issues and his vision for the future. And that's how he wants to be elected, as his own man with his own vision. He's not looking for anyone's help.
At the same time, President Clinton is going to be helping with get-out-the-vote efforts. He is going to be doing some radio advertising. He's going to be doing some get-out-the-vote travel.
But we're not looking for any help here. Al Gore is his own man, that is how he has run the entire race, and that's how he's going to run right through election day.
BLITZER: Well, you know that a lot of Democrats are saying you are making a huge mistake, that Bill Clinton is such a great campaigner, he could really help Al Gore a great deal if you'd just let him.
FABIANI: Well, I think the president can be helpful getting out the vote among the party base, and that is certainly something that he is planning on doing. But we think strongly, based on what Al Gore wants -- this is Al Gore's decision, to run as his own man, to have his vision of the future be evaluated by the people and for people to endorse him. He has run that way all the way along, and that's how it is going to be right to the end, Wolf.
BLITZER: What do you think about that decision your opponents have made, Karl Rove, to basically limit what President Clinton can do in these final days?
ROVE: Well, I think they want to have it all ways. Early on in this campaign, Al Gore was boasting that he was most powerful vice president in modern history because he had been part and parcel of every major decision that this administration made. He proclaimed Bill Clinton was the greatest president of our time.
And, sure, the president's been out there campaigning hard for him. But in all three presidential debates, Al Gore couldn't bring himself to utter the name Bill Clinton. He could bring himself to say Ronald Reagan but not Bill Clinton.
And here in the final week, they want to have it both ways. If they really don't want him out there, then why don't they tell him not to go out there? They want him out there, sure they do. We think it diminishes Al Gore. It's his problem, not ours. We're going to focus on running our campaign, not theirs. But it is interesting to see how are simultaneously latching on to Bill Clinton and then simultaneously trying to distance themselves from him. BLITZER: All right. You know, by all accounts, these final days are going to get a little bit nasty, if not downright ugly. In fact, some of the commercials, the political ads, that are already running are getting pretty ugly. Of course, that daisy -- the little girl with the daisy commercial, the Bush campaign itself asked that it not be run, even though some Republicans want it to be run.
But the NAACP, Mark Fabiani, is running an ad now that some are suggesting, including Nebraska Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, should be pulled, that goes, they say, too far in attacking George W. Bush's record in Texas. Let's look at a snippet of that ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCIS RENEE MULLINS, DAUGHTER OF JAMES BYRD: On June 7, 1998, in Texas, my father was killed. He was beaten, chained, and then dragged three miles to his death all because he was black. So when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you think the NAACP should be running that ad, Mark Fabiani, across the country?
FABIANI: You know, that's a decision that the NAACP has to make. That's not any of our business, and we haven't weighed in one way or the other on it.
It's a legitimate issue, certainly. Governor Bush in the debates claimed that he had supported hate crimes legislation in Texas, when in fact he hadn't. It goes with a long list of things Governor Bush has said he did in Texas, turns out he didn't.
People are now starting to question -- based on his Texas record, based on some of the things he said about draining the Social Security trust fund, about pulling out of NATO peacekeeping forces -- whether Governor Bush is really ready to be president of the United States.
BLITZER: Well, those are tough words coming from Mark Fabiani.
Karl Rove, you pulled that ad. You asked that some Republicans in Texas pull that ad suggesting that Al Gore was going to create another nuclear war, if you will, because of the exchanges with China and the nuclear secrets that may or may not have been stolen.
ROVE: Yes, it was an ad funded by anonymous donors and we asked that it be pulled.
I just thought -- we just saw an extraordinary moment here, Mark Fabiani and the Gore campaign saying that Governor Bush is guilty of being an accessory to murder. I mean, this is a reprehensible and sick ad.
It is also, though, reflective of the telephone script that's going on in Michigan where the Gore campaign and the Democrats have a woman saying that Governor Bush is responsible for the death of have her husband in a nursing home.
Governor Bush signed a law strengthening our Texas hate crimes law. We have a hate crimes law here in Texas that allows additional penalties to be enforced for anybody who commits an act out of hatred. We also have tough regulations signed in '95, '97, and '99 by the governor in each one of the legislative sessions strengthening our laws on nursing homes with tougher penalties, stiffer fines, easier revocation of licenses of nursing homes that are negligent. And yet Al Gore and the Democrats are running a telephone script that alleges that Governor Bush is guilty of being an accessory to manslaughter.
Should Al Gore be held responsible for the 2,500 deaths last year in nursing homes regulated under federal law, deaths by negligent or mishandling? No, of course not. And to run this telephone script and run this television ad are an example of how absolutely negative and divisive and nasty the Democrats have become.
Al Gore, when he said -- said you are going to run for president, you are going to, quote, "rip the other guy's lungs out." That is exactly why Americans want a change in Washington, a change in leadership.
BLITZER: All right, let's Mark Fabiani respond to that.
Go ahead, Mr. Fabiani.
FABIANI: Well, Wolf, first of all the ad that you played was not a Gore ad, as you pointed out, so it's unfair to say that the Gore campaign is running that ad.
ROVE: You could ask for it to be pulled down.
FABIANI: As for the DNC ad that is being used in Michigan over the telephone, that is a woman from Texas who has a story to tell about what happened to her husband. She doesn't accuse Governor Bush of being responsible for her husband's death.
ROVE: Yes, she does. She uses the word "responsible."
FABIANI: But she does accuse Governor Bush of not enforcing the Texas nursing home regulations, and that's a legitimate issue. And when it came up, the Democrats flew the woman to Michigan to talk to reporters. We were more than happy to have people talk to her and evaluate her story on the facts, because it is a factual story that she is telling.
BLITZER: All right, gentlemen...
ROVE: You ought to -- may I make one point?
BLITZER: Go ahead.
ROVE: You ought to fly her lawyer up. Her lawyer said, in the newspapers yesterday, that he couldn't imagine that Governor Bush was responsible for this and was shocked...
FABIANI: And she didn't say that he was; and she didn't say that he was.
BLITZER: All right, gentlemen...
ROVE: Yes, she did, sir.
BLITZER: ... stand by, both of you, for just a minute. We have to take a quick break.
Just ahead: the Nader factor. Could the Green Party candidate turn out to be a spoiler?
We will ask Karl Rove and Mark Fabiani when LATE EDITION returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For I'm telling you today, you ain't seen nothing yet!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The vice president says you ain't seen nothing yet. Well, he's right. We haven't seen anything yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Al Gore and George W. Bush campaigning hard this past week in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking presidential politics with top insiders from both campaigns: Bush chief campaign strategist Karl Rove and Gore deputy campaign manager Mark Fabiani.
Mr. Rove, the governor keeps saying he wants a new era of bipartisanship, he wants to take the high road. But in some of his speeches over the past several days, he's gotten fairly tough with Al Gore. I want to run this excerpt from a speech he gave in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: In my administration, we will ask not only what is legal, but what is right.
Not just what the lawyers allow. We'll make it clear there is the controlling legal authority of conscience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What is he suggesting? That Al Gore is not a good man, that he has no conscience?
ROVE: Well, what it suggests and rather forcefully is that Vice President Gore saw nothing wrong with making phone calls from the West Wing of the White House soliciting campaign contributions, he misled FBI and the American people about his participation in the White House coffees, and he tried to excuse the use of his West Wing office for solicitation of political monies by saying that there was, quote, "no controlling legal authority."
The president of the United States and the vice president of the United States should not be the solicitors in chief. They should not be using the West Wing of the White House or the Old Executive Office building as their phone booth from which they make fund-raising calls.
BLITZER: Mr. Fabiani, your response.
FABIANI: Well, this is just typical Republican campaigning in the last couple of weeks: they go negative, they go nasty, they dredge up matters that were talked about for years and years.
People want to put that stuff behind them and want to focus on the future. That's why Al Gore in the last week, is going to be focusing on the future. He's going to tell people about his experience and his belief that prosperity is on the ballot and you need an experienced leader to keep the prosperity going.
And I think at the same time, the fact that Bush is going negative will not hide the questions many people now have about whether Governor Bush is really ready to be the president of the United States of America.
BLITZER: Mr. Rove, in endorsing Al Gore for the presidency today, "The New York Times" in an editorial wrote this. It said: "Bush's resume is too thin for the nation to bet on his growing into the kind of leader he claims already to be. His three debates with Mr. Gore exposed an uneasiness with foreign policy that cannot be erased by his promise to have heavy weight advisers.""
Tough words from "The New York Times" today, as far as George W. Bush is concerned.
ROVE: Yes, not surprising. "The New York Times" wears its bias on it's sleeve and we knew that was coming.
What's unusual is the series of editorial endorsements this weekend, for example, from the three Chicago newspapers -- "The Tribune," "The Sun-Times," "The Herald" -- all of which endorsed Clinton-Gore in '92 and '96, and the "Orlando Sentinel," the "Portland Herald," and a number of other newspapers today, the Green Bay, Wisconsin, newspaper.
A large number of papers that endorsed Clinton-Gore in '92 and '96 endorsed Governor Bush, and they did so because they said he was a man who is a strong leader with a positive agenda, would be able to change the tone of Washington and would be able to work with Democrats and Republicans alike to achieve these five big goals which he laid out: reforming education; strengthening Social Security; preserving and strengthening, modernizing Medicare; rebuilding America's military; and cutting taxes. What's unusual is how many newspapers had endorsed Clinton-Gore in '92 and '96 have now broken ranks and have endorsed Governor Bush.
BLITZER: Mark Fabiani, Al Gore may wind up -- "may" is the key word -- may wind up losing this election if Ralph Nader has his way, and he's going full speed ahead with his own campaigning, especially in some of those battleground states. Listen to what Ralph Nader had to say about Al Gore earlier today on ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you think Gore is entitled to any votes? Do you think Bush is -- am I entitled to any votes? We have to earn them. If Gore cannot beat the bumbling Texas governor with that horrific record, what good is he? What good is he? Good heavens, I mean this should be a slam-dunk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's no slam-dunk, is it Mark Fabiani?
FABIANI: Not at all, it's a dead-heat race.
I don't necessarily disagree with Mr. Nader's assessment of Governor Bush, but what I do disagree with is the idea that Nader voters are going to stay committed to Mr. Nader right to the end in the closest election in a generation.
You know, the people who are attracted to Ralph Nader want to protect a women's right to choose, they want to protect the environment.
And those voters are smart. They know that if George Bush is elected, a woman's right to choose could disappear, environmental protections would be gutted. And in the end, that's why Nader voters are going to move toward Al Gore. And we have a lot of potential to get a lot of those Nader voters, especially in a dead heat race where people are excited about the outcome and where every vote is going to matter.
BLITZER: Karl Rove, you are hoping for a big turnout for Ralph Nader, aren't you?
ROVE: Well, I actually have a few friends who are Ralph Nader supporters, and I think there is a misread of their intentions. Their intention is to take back the Democratic Party. They believe that a vote for Ralph Nader helps them move the Democratic Party back to a principled stance on the left. And they are upset with the administration caving in to Republicans on welfare reform, and the administration caving into Republicans on reducing spending, and caving into the Republicans on strengthening military in some respects.
So my friends who are Nader supporters tell me that there is no chance at all that they are going to support Al Gore. They want to take back the Democratic party. Now, whether they succeed or not, it doesn't matter. What matters is Bush's positive agenda and his message, and we are going to work hard to get that out these next eight days.
BLITZER: All right, Karl Rove of the Bush campaign, Mark Fabiani of the Gore campaign, always good to have both of you on LATE EDITION.
FABIANI: Thanks for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks for joining us.
ROVE: Happy to be here.
BLITZER: Thank you.
And coming up next: family ties. George W. Bush's brother is the governor of Florida, while the Gore family has been representing voters in Tennessee for generations. So why haven't the candidates locked up these two states? We'll ask Tennessee Republican senator and Bush supporter, Fred Thompson, and Florida Democratic senator and Gore supporter Bob Graham.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORE: You know, from your own experience, that I want to fight for you and your family and your future and your communities. I have kept the faith with Tennessee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: People there tell me when all goes well in November, Tennessee's going to be in Bush column.
Do you know what else? Do you know what else is going to happen on November 7? Florida's going to be in Bush column, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Al Gore and George W. Bush trying to rally voters in states that should have been safely in their column by now.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We turn now to members of the U.S. Senate who represent Tennessee and Florida. In Nashville: Tennessee Republican senator and Bush supporter, Fred Thompson; and in Washington, Florida Democratic senator and Gore supporter, Bob Graham.
Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
I want to get to presidential politics in a second, but both of you still have some work in the Senate to do. The Senate has by no means ended its session yet. In fact, President Clinton is railing against the Republican leadership in this weekend, because the final spending bills have not yet been passed. He's threatening vetoes. Listen to what the president had to say yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congress voted for a stop-gap spending bill for today and quickly left town for the weekend. That's like going to work in the morning, punching the clock, and going back home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The Republican majority whip in the Senate, Don Nickles, was quick to respond earlier today on "Fox News Sunday." Listen to what Senator Nickles said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DON NICKLES (R), OKLAHOMA: I think the president's reaching too far. I think he is trying to have a confrontation with Congress. If he wants one, he can have it. We're not going to capitulate. We're not going to give in to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What about that, Senator Thompson? It looks like the work is not going to be done for a while, and a lot of these senators and members of the House want to go back and start campaigning.
SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), TENNESSEE: Well, I think most Republicans realize this was going to happen. The president wants to rewrite several of the appropriations bills. We tried to reach a compromise. We've already given more than most of us really feel like we should have to give. But yet, the president apparently wants a confrontation.
I think that the Democratic Party thinks that that will benefit them in their congressional races. Ironically, I think it will probably hurt Vice President Gore.
The more confusion we have, the longer it takes, the more hostilities and all that, I think the more Bush's message is going to resonate with regard to doing things a little bit differently than we've been doing them in Washington.
BLITZER: Senator Graham, your turn. Do you think that that assessment is correct?
SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: Wolf, this Congress has been here since January of 1999. This current session has been in session since the first week in January. The fact that we are now almost in November and haven't gotten our work done, a month passed the beginning of the new fiscal year, is a statement as to how dysfunctional this Congress is.
And what the president is insisting upon are not new ideas. He has been talking about the fact that education needs to be a national priority, particularly getting class sizes down and hiring more teachers and helping with school construction.
He has been emphasizing the importance of a patients' bill of rights for those people who get their health care through an HMO, and a prescription medication benefit. These are not ideas that just were sprung on the last few days.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to move on because this is obviously a debate that could go on for hours and hours. We don't have time for that today.
Today I want to get into your states, your respective states, Tennessee and Florida, why it's so close in both of those states, supposedly. Look at these latest poll numbers. There is new poll, an MSNBC-Reuters poll in Tennessee. Look at this: George W. Bush, in Gore's home state, 53 percent; Al Gore, 42 percent; Ralph Nader down at 2 percent.
And look at this poll in Florida that's just come up, another MSNBC-Reuters poll: Gore with 48 percent in Florida; Bush with 43 percent; Nader, 3 percent -- even though Jeb Bush is the governor, Republican governor, of Florida, the brother of George W. Bush.
Senator Thompson, why are these two states in play so late in the game when both of them should have been locked up by Gore in Tennessee, his home state, and Bush in Florida, where his brother is the governor?
THOMPSON: Well, it is rather remarkable. Nobody really knows the reason for it. We'll be talking about that for many years to come.
I will point out, though, that Tennessee is Gore's home state; Florida is not George Bush's home state. He was reelected overwhelmingly there and apparently is up about 70 percent in Texas.
But I think it as far as the vice president is concerned, even when you consider the national pride that one has from someone running for president from your home state, is that he has changed somewhat substantially since he represented Tennessee. He has changed his mind on several issues. And he has really changed in terms of his direction toward a bigger government, more spending, begrudging tax cuts, and, some of the things that have gone on in the international arena, dealing with the Russians and things of that nature, and has really caused a lot of uneasy feeling, I think.
And that is why you have seen that even though they have put a tremendous effort in here the last several days -- the Gores, the Liebermans, the DNC have all been in here and campaigned across the state, and you still see Bush's numbers rising.
And now, today, we have the leading newspaper in Memphis -- the "Memphis Commercial Appeal," and the leading newspaper in Knoxville, the "Knoxville News-Sentinel," to go along with the leading Chattanooga newspaper -- all endorsing George W. Bush. So the margin seems to be widening.
BLITZER: You didn't mention "The Tennessean," which has endorsed Al Gore, but I want to get to Florida.
THOMPSON: Where he used to work.
BLITZER: Right. I want to get to Florida and talk about a state that's close to the heart of Senator Graham.
There is a poll, a CBS-"New York Times" poll, which asked the question: the effect of Governor Jeb Bush on Governor Bush's brother, "more likely to vote for George W. Bush," 4 percent; because the governor is the governor of Florida, "less likely," 11 percent.
But 83 percent of Floridians say the fact that Jeb Bush is the governor of Florida will make no difference as far as their consideration of who to vote for, for the presidency.
GRAHAM: Wolf, the surprise is that I'm on this show on the last Sunday in October. Six months ago people would have thought Florida was off the boards, was clearly going to be Bush country. The Bush family is popular in Florida. The father twice won our state for the presidency. The son, one son is now the governor. There are three generations of Bushes campaigning in Florida this week on behalf of Governor George W. Bush.
Why has this happened? I think it happened because Floridians, first, are sophisticated voters. They are interested in ideas and interested in what the direction of the country will be under the choices that are before them. And I believe as they better understand those ideas, they like what Al Gore is saying. They like the fact that he is taking the more secure, conservative approach with the budget surplus by saying, let's pay down the national debt first. They like what he is doing to strengthen Social Security, not privatize it. They like the fact that there is going to be a prescription drug benefit through a program they know and have confidence in, Medicare.
And now, a major Florida paper today has a story about the fact that there is increasing concern about an issue very central to Florida, and that is, will there be federal approval for oil and gas drilling off the coast of Florida, and the concern that the statements that have been made by the Bush-Cheney campaign and the fact that Dick Cheney when given a chance to specifically say Florida will be off limits to oil and gas production, refused to do so.
Those are raising new concerns in our state.
BLITZER: Senator Graham and Senator Thompson we have to take a quick break.
Up next: your phone calls about this presidential race for both of these senators.
LATE EDITION will continue, right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We're continuing our conversation about this close race for the White House with Republican Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee and Democratic Senator Bob Graham of Florida.
Let's take a quick caller, senators, from Long Island, New York. Please go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Yes, I would like to know, how much would a heavy African-American vote in certain states impact the election?
BLITZER: What about that in Tennessee, Senator Thompson? If there's a huge turnout by African-Americans, I assume that's going to help Al Gore a great deal.
THOMPSON: Sure, it will, there's no question about it. I think that there will be a sizable vote. I think that really in Tennessee, both sides and all sides are energized.
And Al has always done very well in that community. I think that we'll get a respectable vote there, but there's no question that he spent a lot of time and a lot of effort with regard to that vote in Tennessee, and I think he'll do well with it.
BLITZER: And in Florida, Senator Graham, I assume that if there's a minority turnout, that will help Al Gore as well. Why not bring President Clinton into Florida big time? He can energize a lot of that base-Democratic support. Do you agree with the Gore campaign and this hands off, this distancing itself from President Clinton?
GRAHAM: First, that minority voter in Florida is already energized. Some of the things that have happened in our state in recent months have brought it to a new appreciation of how decisions by government affect their lives. They now understand that the decisions that are going to be made by the next president will particularly affect whether we continue to have this strong economic growth and distribute its benefits to all Americans.
BLITZER: Well, do you want President Clinton to come to Florida?
GRAHAM: I think what Al Gore is saying is that his campaign is about the future, what his vision for America is. What President Clinton has done in the strong economy that we've had gives credibility to Al Gore's statements of his future intentions and potential. But this is Al Gore's campaign and this is a campaign about the future.
THOMPSON: Wolf, I ...
BLITZER: All right, yes, go ahead, Senator. THOMPSON: I think what the answer the question is, that the Gore campaign will be using Clinton while trying not to appear to be using him.
BLITZER: And in Tennessee what would that -- what would be the impact of that?
THOMPSON: I really don't know. People are not in lock step as much anymore, Wolf, as some people would like for them to be. And perhaps they used to be. People think for themselves more than ever before. People are independent. They certainly are independent thinking in Tennessee. And I think that's true there. And whether you're a part of some group or not or whether or not someone comes in as a surrogate, even the president, I don't think it's going to sway too many votes one way or the other.
BLITZER: Well, we'll be watching.
GRAHAM: And I might say, Wolf, that some of the things that we're going to be debating in Congress over the next few days draw that distinction as to whether you're going to have policies that benefit all Americans or whether you're going to have policies that particularly benefit only a small group of the wealthiest of Americans.
THOMPSON: So now you see the real reason for the hold up in Congress. They think that they -- it will benefit them, but I think they're going to be in for a rude awakening.
BLITZER: All right, Senators. Unfortunately, we have to leave it right there. But we got -- get a little flavor of what's going on in these final days of election 2000.
Thanks again for joining us.
GRAHAM: Thank you, Wolf.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
BLITZER: And coming up next, with just over a week to go before the election: What pressures and political land mines should this year's presidential contenders expect? Two men who've been there before share some words of wisdom. We'll talk with former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and former Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp when LATE EDITION returns.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We are now joined by two men who've had firsthand experience with final days of a presidential campaign. In Boston, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, the former Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis; and in Washington, the 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee, the former Congressman Jack Kemp.
Gentlemen, good to have you back on LATE EDITION.
And I wanted to begin with you, Governor Dukakis. They call these states "the Dukakis Six," six states that you carried in 1988, that Bill Clinton carried in '92 and '96, states including Oregon, Washington State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and West Virginia, yet states with a total 51 electoral votes that are still very much up in the air right now. Why is that the case?
MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think mostly because of this Nader factor, Wolf, which you've already touched on during the program today. I didn't have to deal with that, as you know, in 1988, and I guess all or most of those people voted for me, and, frankly, I'm very concerned about it. There are fundamental differences between Al Gore and George Bush. I hope they understand that.
In a number of those cases, it will be the Supreme Court of the United States that will play critical role in deciding where we go on campaign finance reform, a woman's right to choose. And I just hope that a lot of those good people in those states who voted for me and worked hard for me don't wander off the reservation. This one is too important.
BLITZER: Jack Kemp, is it because of the Nader factor that the Democratic candidate this time around has not locked up those six states?
JACK KEMP (R), FMR. VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In part, albeit I think from the start, our friends in the press have been saying that the issues were with Al Gore, and if he could just come across as the real Al Gore, he would do well. Well, unfortunately, that's not the case, either with the real Al Gore or with the issues.
The issues, really, in my opinion -- reform of Social Security, reform of education, reform of the tax code, which is a burden on everyone -- I think the issues clearly are with George Bush, and Nader and Gore aren't that far apart. So I think that is a factor, but not quite the one that Mike Dukakis thinks it is.
BLITZER: Give us some advice, Governor Dukakis, and tell us what you think the vice president, Al Gore, should be doing with nine days to go right now to try to win this presidency.
DUKAKIS: Well, I'm not the guy to give anybody advice on how to win the presidency, needless to say, Wolf. But I think -- and Jack, I think, will confirm this -- in the last nine days you are just driving as hard as you possibly can.
But I do think these Nader voters are a factor here. And I think one of the things he and all of us who want very much for him to win have got to do is try to persuade these folks that the consequences of their voting off are serious.
If you look at the kinds of percentages that Nader seems to be attracting in the polls, in those so-called Dukakis states, to a very great extent it's my margin of victory. So I just hope they will come back home and listen very carefully to the candidates.
There are fundamental differences between them. I think we know what they are, and I think, as I say, the consequences of their voting off this time are going to be very serious.
And, by the way, not just for the next four or eight years, because the next president of the United States is going to have, what, three or four Supreme Court appointments, and once you appoint those judges, they are there for life.
BLITZER: So in effect, what Governor Dukakis, Jack Kemp, is saying is that what Ralph Nader might do to help Governor Bush get elected this time is what Ross Perot did in 1992 in helping Bill Clinton defeat President Bush in '92, that Perot factor siphoning votes away from Republicans for the Democrat.
KEMP: I'm not sure of that. I'm willing to, you know, watch the results, as everybody is going to have to do to find the final answer to that. But basically, Al Gore and Ralph Nader are almost out of the same wing of the liberal left. They both are extreme environmentalists, they both are anti-business.
BLITZER: But they disagree...
KEMP: They both talk about class warfare.
BLITZER: But they disagree sharply on trade, though.
KEMP: Well, maybe so, but I think Al Gore, in talking about even whether it's the Kyoto Treaty or trade with China, or trade with Mexico, he always introduces the idea of environment and labor relations. And I think those things in the end are going to come down to reduce the impact that Nader will have, albeit, I know we all have to wait and see. But they're both anti-business, they're both redistribute-the-wealth, anti-business candidates, and I just don't think that is going to work in this economy, circa 2000.
BLITZER: Take us behind the scenes, Governor Dukakis.
DUKAKIS: Wolf, can I...
BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.
DUKAKIS: Can I just say a quick word? How can you say that Al Gore is anti-business when we're experiencing the best economy we've had in my lifetime? I mean, this an administration that has been good for business...
KEMP: Well, I'll tell you how.
DUKAKIS: ... and it's been good for business and good for trade, Jack, and this is the first time we've had a full-employment economy in decades.
KEMP: Let me make a point, though.
DUKAKIS: I think this administration's had something to do with it.
KEMP: Well, I will grant you that Bill Clinton reappointed Ronald Reagan's Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, he puts Bob Rubin, a pro- business bondsman into secretary of Treasury, he signed a capital gains...
DUKAKIS: Who's strongly for -- who's strongly for Al Gore, right?
KEMP: ... tax reduction which was pushed on him by the Republican Congress, and he signed the welfare reform.
So the things that he has done, lowering tariffs, have all been Ronald Reagan and Republican initiatives, and now I think the American people want a Republican president with a Republican Congress. But we'll see.
BLITZER: Are you suggesting though, Jack Kemp, that Al Gore doesn't support Bill Clinton and all those initiatives that he did over the past eight years, that as Governor Dukakis says helped big business in this country?
KEMP: Why he's running away from Bill Clinton? Why is he worried that Bill Clinton's going to go out to California, thanks to Governor Gray Davis, asking Clinton to come out and recharge the base?
BLITZER: Good question.
KEMP: The based on the Republican Party and the conservative movement is much more excited about Governor Bush than is the Democratic Party labor and minority people and teachers unions.
So clearly, they ought to use Clinton where he is to be his best, Florida and California, but Al Gore doesn't want him.
BLITZER: Is that a big mistake, Governor Dukakis, that the Gore campaign is making, not using Bill Clinton?
DUKAKIS: No, anymore than George Bush, when he ran against me really didn't use Ronald Reagan. And I think both -- when you have a vice president who's running for the presidency, it's important that he be his own man, and I think Al Gore understands that as frankly, George Bush understood in 1988. I don't think that's going to make a difference here.
But I am concerned about 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 percent of the voters who, at least in some of those battleground states, are flirting with the idea of voting for Nader.
Look, I like Ralph Nader, I'm an admirer of what he's done, but this one's too important to toss a vote that way and conceivably elect George Bush.
BLITZER: Correct me if I'm wrong, though, Governor Dukakis, in the final three or so weeks of the 1988 campaign, didn't the then-Vice President George Bush, who was the Republican nominee, go out on the campaign trail with President Ronald Reagan and try to energize that Republican base that way, which is a marked difference from what's going on right now?
DUKAKIS: He was out there somewhat, but for the most part, he separated himself. Remember, Reagan had been a disaster on the environment and Bush wanted to change that.
KEMP: Oh, come on, Mike.
BLITZER: Jack Kemp, go ahead.
DUKAKIS: Jack, Jack, you would...
KEMP: No, that's just disappointing.
DUKAKIS: You were there -- you were there when the EPA..
KEMP: I was there.
DUKAKIS: ... was virtually destroyed by the Reagan administration.
KEMP: Oh, governor with all due respect...
DUKAKIS: ... and the EPA administrator -- the EPA administrator had to be fired, remember that?
KEMP: With all due respect...
DUKAKIS: It was a pretty disastrous time for the environment.
KEMP: You're going back to something that -- I don't think the American people are going to buy the idea that Ronald Reagan ruined the environment anymore than they're going to suggest that Bill Clinton ruined the environment.
KEMP: Every American right, left and center wants a better environment. They want to do it in a business-friendly way. They want to protect the economy. They think taxes are too high, not too low, as Al Gore says they are.
This country is being smothered by regulation, taxes and high interest rates. And in my opinion, they ought to start talking, both candidates, about why the Fed in the next meeting ought to be lowering interest rates right now, because we're going to have a hard landing, not a soft landing, if interest rates, taxes and regulations stay as high as they are right now.
BLITZER: Governor Dukakis, is this campaign in these final days going to get a lot more ugly than it has been over these past few months? DUKAKIS: I think it's certainly going to get very combative, Wolf. I mean, the stakes are high here, this is essentially a tie race. I wouldn't be surprised at all, in fact it's beginning to happen. I just hope it won't get personal.
There are fundamental differences in the issues. I think both candidates have a perfect right to describe them, articulate them, make those differences clear, and I assume they'll do so.
BLITZER: Do you think that will be the case, Jack Kemp?
KEMP: No, I think people who support the candidates and are loosely associated around the edges of their campaign do say things in the last two weeks that are probably disgusting to most of us, whether we're center-left or center-right.
But I think, clearly, Bush has called for a Republican group to pull its ads that unfairly made accusations against Al Gore.
I would hope that both candidates would urge their supporters to run this with civility and respect, and as Mike Dukakis said, run on the issues, because there are vast differences between what a Bush administration would do, particularly by removing some of the partisanship in Washington, D.C.
BLITZER: All right, gentlemen. We have to take another quick break.
For our international viewers, world news is next.
For our North American audience there is still another 30 minutes of LATE EDITION. We'll get the hour's top stories with Gene Randall, then take your phone calls for Michael Dukakis and Jack Kemp.
Plus our LATE EDITION round table and Bruce Morton's "Last Word." It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll get to your phone calls for former Democratic presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis, and former Republican vice presidential candidate, Jack Kemp, in just a moment.
But first, here's Gene Randall in Washington, with the hour's top stories.
BLITZER: We continue our conversation now about the final days of this presidential race with former Democratic presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis, and former Republican vice presidential candidate, Jack Kemp.
Let's take a quick caller from Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. Please go ahead with your question. QUESTION: Mr. Kemp, a question for you: Over the last few months, Karl Rove and top Bush campaign officials have used the analogy that Mr. Bush's lack of experience could be compensated by top staff in times of crisis. They use the analogy, he is the captain of the ship. My question is: In times of a crisis, or if the captain of a ship announced that he really didn't have the ability to sail that ship, how many people would sail on the ship?
KEMP: Well, I don't buy your metaphor. And I don't really agree with Karl Rove on that issue. I think George Bush is not only his own man, he has been a terrific governor, two terms. He has instituted education reform, tax reform, health care reform, albeit not as much as needs to be done, and I think he has done a lot to bring the Hispanic and African American community into his coalition.
So it seems to me that he is not only his own man and captain of the team, but he has a great team: Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, among others. And I think it's going to be a tremendous new wave of fresh air in Washington, D.C., particularly restoring respect, dignity, and integrity to the oval office.
BLITZER: One cautionary note, the caller attributed that to Karl Rove. I'm not so sure that necessarily is accurate, but we'll leave that for another day.
I want to bring Governor Dukakis back into this discussion. Take us behind the scenes, Governor. Tell us what it is like during these final days of a campaign, behind the scenes. What is going on in the Bush and Gore campaigns right now?
DUKAKIS: Well, I'm not sure, Wolf, that a candidate can tell you that. I mean, by the time the last week rolls around, you are so focused on doing what you have to do, being out there, hitting as many states as you possibly can, delivering your messages forcefully as possible, that you are not spending an awful lot of time thinking about what's going on behind you. I mean, obviously you have got to rely heavily on folks who work for you to try to provide a certain amount of guidance.
But, by this time, I would guess -- Jack, you've been there -- I would guess that the schedules of these candidates are pretty well set, they've got a pretty good sense of what they are they going to be saying, and they've just got to get out there and say it.
BLITZER: What about that, Jack Kemp?
KEMP: I agree with Governor Dukakis.
I think in '96 clearly Bob Dole made the personal decision to literally campaign 24 hours a day with very little sleep, in order to maybe not in order to win the presidency, because I don't think it was necessarily in the cards, but I do think he helped save the Congress in the hands of the Republican Party. And I hope the Republican Party remembers that, because it really was a courageous act of Bob Dole to spend the last week and a half campaigning around the clock to save the Congress. But I agree with Mike Dukakis. I think the schedules are set, they are going to battleground states, they are sending Cheney where Bush can't be and Bush to where they need him.
So it is going to be a frantic last week and two days. And I'm glad I'm sitting right here and going home to watch the Bills play the Jets and not have to participate in it, frankly.
BLITZER: I will second that motion. I'm glad I'm sitting right here. And I'm going to be watching the Bills and the Jets as well.
Governor Dukakis ...
DUKAKIS: Wolf, I wish I could go home and feel just as good about the Patriots, but not this year.
BLITZER: The Patriots will have their day, I am sure,
DUKAKIS: We hope so.
BLITZER: All of us old AFL fans, when Jack Kemp was a quarterback, will remember the Patriots fondly.
KEMP: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you so much for joining us. Always great to have both of you on our program.
KEMP: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next: The roundtable is back in Washington waiting to weigh in on the presidential race. We'll go around the table with Roberts, Page and Carlson when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Time now for our LATE EDITION round table. Joining me from Washington, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," Steve Roberts, contributing editor for "U.S. News & World Report" and Tucker Carlson, political writer for "The Weekly Standard."
All right, Steve, the Nader factor, we've been talking about it almost the entire show. A huge factor according to Michael Dukakis that could cost this election for Al Gore. But some of Gore's supporters are going on the offensive now, directly attacking this one specific issue. Listen, for example, to this ad that's now being run by NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This year a five to four Supreme Court decision narrowly protected Roe versus Wade. A single vote saved a woman's right to choose. Bush's goal, ending legal abortion. Voting for Ralph Nader helps elect George W. Bush. Before voting Nader, consider the risk. It's your choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Are those kinds of ads going to have an impact on Nader supporters at this late point?
STEVE ROBERTS, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Well, I think it could, because the polls show that close to 50 percent of the Nader supporters are not firm. The essence of Nader's argument is, in the old George Wallace phrase, "There's not a dimes worth of difference between these two candidates.'
Now, if you believe that, then a vote for Nader makes more sense. But what the Gore people are trying to do is say, "There's more than a dime's worth, there's at least a quarter, maybe a buck and a half worth of difference." And the Supreme Court is obviously the one that is most visible.
And you know, this notion that Nader is arguing that somehow voting for an imperfect alternative is kind of a betrayal, a corruption, that's ridiculous. The fact is, America -- governing is about choosing. And I think that even choosing among imperfect alternatives is the American way; that's the way it works. And I think that's a reasonable argument to be making against the Gore people.
BLITZER: Tucker, there's a full page ...
ROBERTS: I mean, against the Nader people.
BLITZER: There's a full page ad by Ralph Nader in "The New York Times" today suggesting that a vote for him is not a wasted vote. "Why voting for a candidate who can't win is the smartest thing you'll ever do," he says in that ad. He wants five percent of the electorate, so he can qualify for matching funds next time around. Is that argument going to win among the hardcore, let's say, left of the Democratic Party, which may be inclined to vote for Ralph Nader?
TUCKER CARLSON, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think it will, actually, because whatever else it is, a vote for Nader is, in some way, a vote on principle. I mean, Nader is making moral arguments that other candidates, certainly Gore, are not making. And that appeals, obviously, to a -- I mean, there are still liberals left, and they have nowhere to go. So it makes sense they will go to Nader.
There are also people who believe strongly in the legalization of marijuana, which is one of the Green Party's big issues. Nader is for legalizing hemp. And I think in California and Oregon it's hard to overestimate the appeal of that single issue to Nader voters.
But it puts Gore in a tough position because, you know, on some of it he's been moving back to the center, even to the right, accusing George W. Bush, for instance, of being for big government. And then Nader pops up and forces him, as you saw in this kind of Stalinist type ad that ran, forces him to appeal to the left. So it does, ideologically anyway, it stretches Gore pretty thin.
BLITZER: Stalinist type ads. Susan, we'll get to that at another point. But let's talk a little about the Gore strategy, the Gore-Lieberman strategy, in dealing with this Nader factor. What can they do?
SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Well, they can try to make the argument that you're electing George Bush if you vote for Nader. And in fact, one of the fun things to do at this point of this very close race is to figure out whether the person who wins the popular vote could lose the Electoral College. And one way in which that could happen is if Ralph Nader tips a couple of states that are Democratic leading to George Bush, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Maine.
If he manages to tip some of those states to George Bush by draining away votes that otherwise would go to Al Gore, it's one of the two main scenarios in which you could have Gore win the popular vote, Bush win the electoral college.
You could also have the alternative thing happen if George Bush does very well, wins by big margins in safe Republican states, but Al Gore manages to just narrowly win enough battleground states. In that case, you could have George Bush win the popular vote, Al Gore win the Electoral College vote.
ROBERTS: You know, Wolf, there's a real irony here in terms of the -- particularly organized labor. Now John Sweeney, the head of the AFL is going around the Pacific Northwest and arguing that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. But in fact, it was organized labor who helped create this problem because they attacked Gore and Clinton on the trade issue.
They stirred up all their people, and now they're turning around and saying, never mind, we should be voting for Gore anyway. And I think, in some ways, the chickens are coming home to roost on this. I always thought that the position labor took on the trade bill was backward-looking, it was reactionary, and now they're paying a price for their own rhetoric.
BLITZER: Tucker, isn't there, though, some silver lining for the Democrats with all this excitement about Ralph Nader? He brings out a bigger vote that may, in fact, help Democratic congressional House and Senate candidates in various districts and states around the country, and may, in fact, help Dick Gephardt wind up becoming speaker of the House of Representatives.
CARLSON: Well, sure, I mean, that is one scenario. The other scenario is that Nader voters are so excitable that they'll start riots or, you know, start -- voting will turn into some sort of street demonstration. Sure, that could be the silver lining, I agree.
I have to say, though, with organized labor, there is something very Machiavellian -- and that's, I think, a generous way to put it -- about labor all of a sudden attacking Nader, because the fact is, on paper and even in their rhetoric on the stump, Nader is far closer to labor's position on globalization, on lots of other things than Al Gore is, and other centrist Democrats are, who really have sort of sold labor down the river. So it is not a principled stand they are taking when they attack Nader.
PAGE: Well, you know, Wolf, maybe those Stalinist ads are making the Nader people riot, kind of a wonderful scenario to think about.
You know, one thing we ought to think about just at the moment is that there is a third party candidate we thought would be a big factor, who's not. That's Pat Buchanan. You know, there was a time at this roundtable we talked about the $12 million that Buchanan would get as the Reform Party candidate, how he'd be a factor at this point. He's not a factor anywhere, which is -- should make us humble about our predictions on a variety of fronts.
BLITZER: You know, Steve, Ralph Nader is clearly having some impact in the battleground state of Michigan, which is a critical state. In fact, Al Gore is campaigning there right now. I believe we have some pictures. That's actually Joe Lieberman, who is in Michigan right now, in Warren, Michigan, where we had a CNN-Time town meeting only a couple weeks ago. But, Steve, if you take a look at where this race stands right now, with this Nader factor, plus the decision by the Gore-Lieberman campaign not to include Bill Clinton big time, if you will, in these final few days, what does it suggest to you?
ROBERTS: Well, a couple things. One is that the battleground really has shifted. You know, apart from Michigan, which clearly is still very close, we thought all along that the key states were going to be Ohio and Illinois and Pennsylvania. In many ways, it looks like they are going to be divided pretty much between the two candidates.
And states that we never thought were going to be the key states -- Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington -- are turning out to be the center of attention, in part, because these were states not only that Clinton won, but Dukakis won many of these states. And you cannot -- it is very hard to see how Gore wins the presidency without winning those states. The Nader factor is particularly high in those four states, and in Michigan.
I do think the Clinton factor -- we talked about this last week. I think Gore has made a mistake about not using Clinton more. I do think he can help bring out the base. I do think he can remind people about the good economic times.
The best argument -- it's still the simplest, it's still the best that Al Gore has -- is you're better off than you were eight years ago. And even though, as Susan said last week, Clinton does have some drawbacks with swing voters, I do think that he still can be a great asset. And I think it's Gore's craziness, this business of, you know, I can't be on same stage with him because he overshadows me. Get over it, Al. You know, he should be using every asset he has, and Clinton is a major asset.
BLITZER: And as far as that Nader factor is concerned, just imagine what the situation would be like today if he had in fact been included in those three presidential debates. But we are not going to talk about that right now. It's just a thought. Some you can think about it during this next commercial break, which we have to take right now. More of our roundtable with LATE EDITION returns.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable.
Susan, there's a new poll in the "New York Post," the Zogby poll, that shows Rick Lazio with 47 percent of the vote right now; Hillary Rodham Clinton, 45 percent. A lot of people thought Mrs. Clinton was going to go ahead and win this relatively easily, but it looks like they maybe in for a little bit of a surprise. What do you think?
PAGE: Really tough debate we saw there this week, their final debate. Very harsh words on both sides, a harsher closing than we've seen to this race so far. I think Hillary Clinton is still favored if only because Al Gore's going to win New York by a million or more votes. It's hard to imagine that many people splitting their ticket.
BLITZER: Tucker, are they going to split their ticket or is Mrs. Clinton in trouble?
CARLSON: Well, I mean, at some point this ceases to be a political discussion and becomes, really a theological one. I mean, can Hillary Clinton become a United States senator? And I, along with a lot of other people think it's -- you know, it's just so hard to imagine. I think even more than Al Gore, there's this factor, people get in the voting booth and they just say, no, you know, somebody needs to put an end to this, I'll be the one to do it.
BLITZER: All right, you heard that Steve. Mrs. Clinton, is she in trouble?
ROBERTS: Well, I think she's never been a particularly good candidate. I think she's had the exact same problem as Al Gore has in two ways. One is, she's struggled to be her own person not just an appendage of her husband. And also, she's not just a very appealing person.
Actually, I think she's marginally more appealing than Al Gore, who turns voters off in droves. I think she has learned a lot as a candidate, she's a better candidate than she was. But she's still not a particularly experienced, particularly deft, or a particularly appealing person. She's going to have the same problem Gore is, people go into the voting booth and say, I don't really like her very much. Same problem Al Gore's going to have.
BLITZER: Well, someone who is a very appealing person, and we have evidence of that, in the new issue of People magazine. Guess who that person is. Meet Mr. Right, Tucker Carlson. He loves -- he's the yuppie Bill Buckley, they say, the pundit. Tucker Carlson lives to zing liberals. Is that true, Tucker Carlson -- in 10 seconds?
CARLSON: I'm blushing, Wolf, you're making my palms sweat.
BLITZER: All right, Tucker Carlson.
I want to point out to our audience out there, our very articulate and concerned audience: Tucker will be, every night this week, starting tomorrow night 10 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Pacific, "THE SPIN ROOM" with Bill Press for an hour of Tucker Carlson.
You remember, Tucker, where you got your start.
CARLSON: I will, thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Tucker Carlson, Steve Roberts, Susan Page, always great to have you in our roundtable.
Just ahead: We'll reveal what's on the cover of this weeks major news magazines. Plus Bruce Morton's "Last Word."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Washington, presidents sometimes even have trouble with their own party, never mind the opposition. John Kennedy's domestic programs ran into heavy flack from conservative, southern Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Can bipartisanship work in Washington?
BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's "Last Word." One of George W. Bush's key campaign promises is to bring a new era of bipartisanship to Washington. But as Bruce notes, that's easier said than done.
MORTON (voice-over): George W. Bush, who may be the next president, talks a lot about how, as governor of Texas, he could work in Austin to bring Republicans and Democrats together and get things done. Sounds good, but of course, D.C. ain't Austin.
Bush talks about how he worked with the late Bob Bullock, the lieutenant governor and a Democrat. But in Texas, most of the Democrats and most of the Republicans are conservatives. Conservative Democrats like Lloyd Bentsen got elected to the Senate, for example, pretty easily. Liberals like the late Ralph Yarborough always had tough races.
In Washington, presidents sometimes even have trouble with their own party, never mind the opposition. John Kennedy's domestic programs ran into heavy flak from conservative, Southern Democrats. House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill a few years later made fun of Hamilton Jordan, one of President Carter's chief aides, calling him Hannibal Jerkin. Not a lot of love lost there.
Bush may have trouble as a Republican who sees some use for the federal government with House GOP leaders like Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, who mostly think it should be sold off as scrap.
The two parties did get along better years ago. Mike Mansfield, Democratic Senate leader in the 1960s, had breakfast most days with Republican George Aiken of Vermont. No special reason, they just did.
But it's a much more partisan place now. Republicans blame Democrats. Democrats, in the House anyway, blame former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Things got so bad, one Democrat who retired a few years ago said that if you struck up an innocent conversation with a Republican on the House floor, a second Republican would come sidling over to listen to make sure the first Republican wasn't being led astray somehow. Tough to be friendly, even polite, in a work place like that.
And there's the old alliance John McCain railed against, the Iron Triangle. One side, the industries supporting a particular program, the Free Beer Program, say, and the lobbyists those industries hire. Second side, the assistant secretary of whatever department is in charge of free beer; his empire depends on keeping the program going. Third, the subcommittee chairmen in the House and Senate with jurisdiction over free beer; their empires are at stake, too.
All in all, this is a much more poisonous and partisan place than Austin, or than it used to be. If you win, Governor, you may find yourself feeling homesick.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.
And now a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. "Time" magazine has a special report on the choice, with Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore on the cover. "Newsweek" calls it a cliffhanger, with Gore and Bush hanging onto the cover. And on the cover of "U.S. News & World Report," a career guide on how to master the new work place, with hot jobs and even hotter salaries.
And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, October 29. Be sure to join us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
And these programming notes: Beginning tomorrow night, CNN has a special week of primetime programs. Join me at 8 p.m. Eastern every night for a special "COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION 2000." Tomorrow night, our guests will include Democratic strategist James Carville. Following our program, join Jeff Greenfield's "UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM" at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. That will be followed, of course, by "LARRY KING LIVE" at 9. And then at 10 p.m. Eastern, "THE SPIN ROOM" with Bill Press and our own Tucker Carlson.
And just ahead on CNN.com, the lighter side of the campaign trail. Political parody on the Net. As the candidates get serious, these Web sites are anything but.
For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
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