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CNN Today

Political Ads Take on Harsh Tone as Election Draws Near

Aired November 1, 2000 - 2:43 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: Six days ago in the race for the White House, but the candidates have dozens of speeches to give before next Tuesday. Vice President Gore hunts for votes in Florida today. The state, once thought to be a sure bet for Bush, is up in the air now.

Bush's brother Jeb is governor of Florida, as you know. The Republican candidate is getting ready to address a crowd in Minneapolis. We're going to be bringing you live coverage of that when that Bush rally gets under way.

Minnesota usually leans Democratic, but Ralph Nader's candidacy has apparently siphoned off enough Gore voters to give George Bush a shot there. Nader, the Green Party candidate, is next door in Madison, Wisconsin today. He's polling about 4 percent nationwide, but he's doubled those numbers in some of the traditional Democratic strongholds.

Nader is brushing aside calls from Democrats to get out of the race to help Gore's chances.

We're joined now by CNN senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, who's watching the candidates dash from place to place, and also the political ads.

Bill, let's play a little portion, for those who may have missed it, of the latest Bush ad on Gore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BUSH CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: Al Gore said his mother-in-law's prescription cost more than his dogs. His own aides said the story was made up. Now Al Gore is bending the truth again. The press calls Gore's Social Security attacks nonsense.

Governor Bush sets aside 2.4 trillion to strengthen Social Security and pay all benefits.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There has never been a time in this campaign when I have said something that I know to be untrue. There's never been a time when I've said something untrue.

NARRATOR: Really?

(END VIDEO CLIP) WATERS: Well, we've gotten to the point where both campaigns said they would never get.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, those are -- that's a very tough ad. And what's surprising is supposedly the Bush campaign is sitting on a small lead, they're beginning to feel confident. That's not the kind of ad you run if you really feel confident. Usually at the end, when you think things are falling into place, you start running positive ads to try to shore your support up. So it's a bit surprising they're running that this close to the election.

WATERS: And we, on the other side, have the Gore campaign running questions of George W. Bush's competence. So both sides aren't feeling very confident?

SCHNEIDER: That's right, Bush believes -- I'm sorry, Gore. I get their names mixed up all the time. Gore...

WATERS: So does Ralph Nader.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHNEIDER: ... names. But Gore believes that the final issue that he can use is to raise serious doubts among voters, which the polls show are there, about whether George W. Bush has the right knowledge and experience for the job.

Those doubts are there. A lot of voters put them aside during the debates and they thought Bush was smart enough, though he clearly wasn't as experienced or as knowledgeable as Al Gore. But Gore is trying to bring back those doubts, because that's his last -- that and the economy are his last trump cards.

WATERS: I was talking with John King. The Gore campaign is down there in Kissimmee, Florida at the moment. And John was saying that Social Security seems to be a winning issue with Gore in that state and in other places. Is that the strategy now in the final hours?

SCHNEIDER: Well, yes, he's depending on seniors, because those have been a pretty good constituency for Gore, particularly in Florida. There are a lot of Jewish voters who are seniors and they're very friendly to Gore with Lieberman on the ticket. And he's hoping that he can take Florida away from Bush. That would be an embarrassment -- his brother is the governor -- and it would make it a lot more difficult for Bush to win if he doesn't carry Florida.

The seniors are a key constituency, not just in Florida, but also in Pennsylvania, another state with a heavy population of seniors. It's a little tougher for Gore there, because it's less Jewish than Florida. But still, seniors are, I think he sees, the critical constituency that could put him over.

WATERS: And does that have the net effect of forcing George W. Bush in these final hours of winging his way back to Florida and defending himself? SCHNEIDER: I think that it does, because Florida is a crucial state for Bush. A lot of people wondered what he was doing in California, because no poll has ever shown Bush pulling ahead in California or even the race being very close there.

I think he was there to show the Republican flag and try to protect a number of House seats, and also to make -- to spook Gore a little bit, hoping that he could get Gore to spend some money in Florida. Gore hasn't spent any money in Florida because he feels that's safe. But I think in the next few days you're going to find both candidates in Florida.

Bush is in -- Gore is in Florida now. Bush is likely to show up again, because, really, if he doesn't carry Florida, it could get very tough for George Bush.

WATERS: Also from out crew on the road with George W. Bush in California, they were mentioning that he was walking the walk and talking the talk, acting very confident. How -- to what degree does that kind of mental attitude help in deciding for voters?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think voters pick up cues, and particularly the Republican voters may feel like things are breaking their way. I think it's a little premature to say that, and we do often find that when one candidate is seen as the incumbent -- we don't have an incumbent president, of course, in this race, but Gore represents the incumbent administration. And in the past, like 1968 with Hubert Humphrey and 1976 with Gerald Ford, things tend to break a little bit in favor of the incumbent quite close to the end. So I don't know how comfortable George Bush ought to be.

He's sitting on a small lead. It's not safe. It's not insurmountable, and you've got to wait -- you've got to watch out for that late-breaking vote in favor of the incumbent party.

WATERS: CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

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