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Sunday Morning News

Bush Campaigns in Florida While Gore Stumps in Pennsylvania; DNC and RNC Chairmen Talk Presidential Politics

Aired November 5, 2000 - 9:01 a.m. ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Bush today is campaigning across Florida, considered one of the must-win states. He'll be in West Palm Beach, then Miami, Tampa, and ending up tonight in Orlando.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve is traveling with the Bush campaign. She joins us now from West Palm Beach.

Going to be a long day, isn't it, Jeanne?


Once upon a time, George W. Bush thought he'd score an easy win here in Florida. After all, his brother Jeb is the popular governor here. However, Al Gore has put in a lot of time and effort, and now Gore and Bush are locked in a do-or-die struggle for the state's 25 electoral votes.

Bush started the day in Jacksonville, where he attended services at historic St. Andrew's Church. He spoke to reporters as he went in and said, "This is a great way to start off the stretch run, no politics, a little prayer, just prayer and reflection."

Bush made a three-state tour yesterday. He went to the battlegrounds of Michigan and Pennsylvania before winding up in New Jersey. The stump speech is largely the same wherever he goes. He hits his top issues, Social Security, education, military readiness, and he also takes a few slaps at his opponent, Al Gore.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The role of a leader is to set clear agendas. The role of a leader is to make it clear what the tension -- what the nation must do. The role of a leader is to take the issues as clear as possible to the people. The role of a leader is to not to try to reinvent himself during the course of campaigns but to be steady and firm.


MESERVE: As he zips around Florida today, expect Bush to talk a lot about Social Security as he tries to woo the state's so-important senior voters. But he is also making stops in the cities of Tampa and Orlando. These bracket what is called the Interstate 4 corridor. There are a lot of young, moderate swing voters there. Many analysts say they are the key to winning this state -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: CNN's Jeanne Meserve in West Palm Beach, thanks very much -- Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: OK, over on the Democratic side, Al Gore's in Philadelphia today. Pennsylvania, as you know, is almost a must-win state. Later he'll travel to Michigan and then Wisconsin.

CNN's Jonathan Karl joins us from the Gore campaign in Philadelphia. Good morning, Jonathan.


You know, you talked about some polls at the top of the show. Most of the national polls show a slight lead for George W. Bush, but Vice President Gore in these final days doing everything to project a sense of confidence. Talking to reporters late last night aboard Air Force Two, the vice president said, and I quote, "We are going to win. You can write it down, you can check it off."

The vice president's campaign team pointing to polls in some of those key battleground states, like right here in Pennsylvania, in Florida where Jeanne is, in Michigan, that show some of them with Vice President Gore having a slight lead, pointing to those state polls to say Vice President Gore's got the momentum going into these last days.

The vice president arrived last night here in Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, had a rally there before coming here to the Philadelphia area. He'll be attending two church services this morning, two African-American churches, before doing his rally here in the Philadelphia area.

But as you mentioned, going on to more of those critical battleground states, Michigan, Wisconsin, actually ending the day up in Waterloo, Iowa, today.

The race pretty much has a dynamic all of its own now, all the last decisions, major strategic decisions, have been made by the campaign. The last advertising spots have been bought, the last time on your -- on the airwaves in the battleground states, all paid for, last decisions about where the candidates will campaign.

Basically, right now it comes down to the vice president hitting as many battleground states as possible, not necessarily to try to convince new voters, undecided voters, but to go out there and to rally his supporters, his core supporters, to do everything they possibly can to get voters to the polls on Tuesday -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Jonathan Karl, live from Philadelphia, thanks --Miles.

O'BRIEN: The closeness of the polls presents strategists on both sides with a terrific challenge over the next two days. For more on what we can expect between now and Tuesday, we are joined from Seattle by Jim Nicholson, chairman of the Republican National Committee...


O'BRIEN: ... and from Orlando, Democratic National Chairman Joe Andrew. Welcome to you both. Good morning, gentlemen.

NICHOLSON: Good morning.


O'BRIEN: I assume there's not much rest for the weary at this point. Joe, give me a sense of what is in store, obviously getting the voter turnout to jibe with the expectations is key.

ANDREW: Well, Al Gore's going to win, really for three reasons. First, he clearly has momentum, as we've seen in all these polls have gotten closer and closer. Democrats have a better get-out-the-vote effort in all 50 states, but particularly in those targeted states. They're going to make the real decisions on Election Day.

And third, because there's a lot of people out there who still have so many questions about George W. Bush, questions about whether or not he's going to bankrupt the Social Security program, and whether or not this economic plan that he's got will bankrupt our country. Those nagging questions are clearly adding to the momentum for Al Gore.

O'BRIEN: Joe, Joe, I could have sworn I asked you a question about voter turnout. Tell me about voter turnout, what do you think?

ANDREW: And I think I -- and I -- let me answer your question (UNINTELLIGIBLE) again the same way. We're going to win. Voter turnout is, one, about momentum, two, it's about your get-out-the-vote effort, whether or not you've got dynamics, and third, it's about, what are people thinking about the other candidate? And they've got questions about George W. Bush that represses the voter turnout on the Republican side. Clearly, that's exactly why we're going to have big voter turnout for Democrats on Election Day.

O'BRIEN: Jim -- Jim...


O'BRIEN: Jim, let me ask you a question. I'll allow you to respond, of course, because you probably will anyway. But Jim, let me ask you a question about voter turnout these days. Many more absentee ballots, some states tinkering around with the Internet. Ultimately the whole concept of turning out the vote late in the game is changing, isn't it?

NICHOLSON: Well, the dynamics have changed. People are voting a lot earlier in many states. There's more absentee voting. We've been tracking some of the absentee voting so far, and it's coming in overwhelmingly from Republican voters, which is very encouraging.

We have the momentum, Joe. I'd point out a couple of things that happened this morning that were great surprises to even me. The "Arkansas Democrat Gazette," the biggest newspaper in Arkansas, which has never, ever before endorsed a presidential candidate, this morning endorsed Governor George W. Bush. The "Albuquerque Journal," no Republican paper by any means, endorsed Governor George W. Bush.

This morning, the "Nashville Tennessean," Gore's home state, biggest newspaper, the paper that he used to work for, has a banner headline that says, "Bush Leads Gore 49-45."

O'BRIEN: Well, Jim, Jim, let me ask you, these newspaper endorsements, those who are, you know, political wonks watch them very closely. Typically, though, at this juncture, do they really make that much difference?

NICHOLSON: Well, they're out there at, you know, in the grassroots where the elections are really, really going to happen. So I think they add a reinforcement to what's going on out there.

You know, Governor Bush is going to win this election, and he's going to win, he is ahead, it's close, and we need every vote. There's nothing about it we can take for granted. But he's going to win because he's going to end his campaign the way he started it, on a very positive, optimistic note for America. He wants to bring all Americans together.

Did you note what...

ANDREW: Oh, Jim.

NICHOLSON: ... Joe Andrews just said in...

ANDREW: Jim, Jim, Jim.

NICHOLSON: ... talking about good people and evil people in the -- At the convention, the vice president said, I want to help the right people...

ANDREW: I think you're...

NICHOLSON: ... Governor Bush wants...

ANDREW: ... I think you're hearing voices, Jim.

NICHOLSON: ... to help all people.

ANDREW: I didn't say anything about good people or evil people.

O'BRIEN: Joe, go ahead, Joe, you can respond to that...

ANDREW: Well, Jim, obviously...

O'BRIEN: ... and while you're responding, while you're responding, I'd like you to address too, give us a sense of what states you're going to be watching too.

ANDREW: Oh, well, there's no question that places like Florida and Pennsylvania and Michigan and Washington State are going to be crucial in this election, and probably about a half-dozen others as well. The reality of it is that everybody's important. It's all about get out the vote. It's all about making sure that people are out there exercising their constitutional right...

NICHOLSON: They're not only important, Joe, they're the right people. Everybody is the right people in this country. They're not wrong people, they're right people.

ANDREW: Jim, I appreciate you like to interrupt me, and I appreciate you apparently are hearing voices, because you're trying to claim that I said something that I just didn't say. Everybody in America is truly important on Election Day. And there's no question that Al Gore's going to win, because of the fact that he really has this optimistic vision for the future of the country.

And I think people are feeling that. And that's why so many of these targeted states right now, the states that are really up for grabs, show Al Gore ahead.

It's a close election. We've always known it was going to be a close election. And I think that adds just extra level of excitement, and it clearly is going to be very important for people to get out to vote.

O'BRIEN: Gentlemen, if -- we are running out of time, and I want to give you an opportunity here to critique each other's campaigns. Jim, what would you think is the biggest mistake the Democrats made in this election season?

NICHOLSON: I think the vice president was far too negative. He -- you know, he started out by saying the way to win a national election is you tear the lungs out of your opponent, and Donna Brazile said we have a -- our campaign office is a slaughterhouse, and in it we have killers.

And they're ending their campaign this way. Yesterday the vice president was talking about good people and evil people in America. That's not what we need in our country. What -- Governor Bush wants to bring all people together to work for a better America, better future.

And, you know, I'm in Seattle right...

O'BRIEN: All right...

NICHOLSON: ... and yesterday there -- I met with 70 Democrats from Texas who were part of 2,000 (AUDIO GAP) over the country campaigning for Governor Bush, the Republican, but their governor, the guy they know the best and they know the job that he's done for them in Texas.

O'BRIEN: All right, Joe, your opportunity to critique the Republicans. What's the biggest mistake you think they've made in this campaign season?

ANDREW: The fact is, is that George W. Bush has issued one of the most negative presidential campaigns really in the history of American politics. Not since his dad did Willie Horton have we seen so many just out-and-out lies that have come from this presidential campaign. I think the American people are tired of that kind of politics.

George W. Bush talks about wanting to bring a new kind of politics to Washington, at the same time that he is issuing television advertisements that are just gross personal attacks, just like you just heard Jim Nicholson did, where he continued, on behalf of the Republican Party, to make misstatements and to try to deceive the American public.

People want better than that. And they're going to get better for that when Al Gore is elected president of the United States of America.

NICHOLSON: Joe, I'm surprised you bring up Willie Horton. You know, Al Gore invented Willie Horton.

ANDREW: You know, Jim, I'm never surprised by anything you bring up.

O'BRIEN: All right, gentlemen, I think we're going to have to leave it at that point, unfortunately. Jim Nicholson, Joe Andrew...

ANDREW: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: ... obviously a couple of busy guys at this juncture of the campaign season. And we wish you well over the next couple of days...

NICHOLSON: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: ... try to get a little bit of rest, OK?

ANDREW: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: All right.



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