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CNN Today

Election 2000, Eight Days to Go: Gore Facing Tough Opposition in Washington State

Aired October 30, 2000 - 1:04 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: As the campaigns enter this final round, we'll be spending extra time in the states being fought over the hardest. One of those battlegrounds Washington State, where Al Gore once seemed to be a shoo-in. Now, though, Gore faces two tough opponents.

Here's CNN's Chris Black.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Washington State, home of spectacular scenery, Starbucks Coffee, salmon, and very independent-minded voters like Betty and Jim Jennings (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We vote for the person we think would do a better job whether he is Republican or Democrat.

BLACK: Politically, Washington is a swing state. Since 1960, it has sided five times with the Republican presidential candidate, and five times with the Democrat. Since the end of the primary season, Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have been here nine times; Democrats Al Gore and Joe Lieberman six times. Gore once counted on this state's 11 electoral votes as an easy win, yet...

STUART ELWAY, INDEPENDENT POLLSTER: There's still about a third of the electorate here that's not locked down one way or the other, so it's still pretty volatile.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Sarah (ph) and I'm calling from the Nader campaign office.

BLACK: Volatile in large part because of Ralph Nader, who's pulling support from many of the same activists who swarmed the streets of Seattle last year protesting the World Trade Organization.

JASMINE MINBASHIAN, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: This is about a movement. This is more than just this election cycle.

BLACK: But some activists are more pragmatic. Seattle Councilwoman Judy Nicastro resigned from the Green Party last week to endorse Al Gore, fearing a strong vote for Nader would help elect Bush. JUDY NICASTRO, SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL: Ralph Nader's numbers are increasing. He has a phenomenal, frightening momentum; and the fact that he's going to take enough votes away from Gore.

BLACK: To beat back the Nader vote, the Gore campaign is calling up reinforcements, like a former rival.

BILL BRADLEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn't agree with Al Gore on everything, but I made my choice.

BLACK: And a TV president.

MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR: As the acting president of the United States, I am very honored to declare Tuesday, November the 7th Al Gore Day in the state of Washington.

BLACK: Nearly 70 percent of Washington's registered voters describe themselves as environmentalists, making the state a seemingly good fit for Gore. But the vice president has not taken a position on the key question of whether to breech dams along the Snake River to save the wild salmon, something Bush says would hurt the state's economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're door-belling for the Republican candidates in the state of Washington.

BLACK: Both sides say getting out the vote is the key to the election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I give you some...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK: This year, Washington State could be one of the battlegrounds that decides the whole election. And the state's independent-minded voters say they like the attention. Well, tomorrow they get a little bit more. George W. Bush is coming back here to make one final in-person appeal for their votes -- Lou.

WATERS: Chris, is Washington one of the states where the Democratic soft money is being used to run commercials against Ralph Nader?

BLACK: Actually, here what we're seeing is that the Republican Leadership Council has bought some time to promote Nader's candidacy in a weird way. They're running an ad that features Ralph Nader attacking Al Gore.

WATERS: All right, Chris Black keeping watch in Washington State today.

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