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CNN Late Edition

Recapping the Year in Politics

Aired December 31, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this two hour LATE EDITION. We'll get back on the year's ups and downs, including the most unusual U.S. presidential election in years. But first, let's get a check of the hour's top stories.

GENE RANDALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... in many places across the Northeastern United States. Some of the heaviest accumulation is in New Jersey. Some parts got more than two feet of snow. Overall, plows and salt trucks have managed to keep the roads passable. The major airports are open today, but with some flight delays.

In New York City, Times Square has just about been cleared of its foot of snow for tonight's New Year's Eve celebration. Street crews have been dumping the snow into large melters and then into the sewer system.

Our special live coverage of tonight's celebrations begins at 11:50 p.m. Eastern Time, 8:50 p.m. Pacific.

The New Year already has arrived in some parts of the world. In Sydney, Australia, celebrations there will roll into festivities marking the city's 100th birthday on New Year's Day.

The Chinese officially marked the arrival of the New Year about an hour ago.

In the Middle East, two killings today have, in the West Bank, put Palestinians and Israelis on high alert for revenge attacks. First, a U.S. born Jewish activist, Binyamin Kahane, son of the late Meir Kahane, and his wife, Talia, were killed in a roadside ambush. Five of their six children were injured. Hours later, a top Palestinian official from Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction was gunned down outside his West Bank home.

The year is ending with little hope for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on a final peace accord any time soon. Palestinian leaders say they will never compromise on the right of refugees to return to homes in what is now Israel.

In Jerusalem, Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, met with his Cabinet today. Afterwards, word that the Palestinians did not accept President Clinton's framework for peace, Israel would once again take a time out in the peace process. Barak insists that Israel will never give up control of Jerusalem's Temple Mount.


EHUD BARAK, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): We should make an agreement without harming Israel's vital interests. The government, under my authority, will not accept any agreement, in any form, that would recognize the right of return. I do not intend to sign any document that will transfer sovereignty over the Temple Mount to Palestinians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prospectives don't look good for a possible agreement now. And the main reason for that is the Israeli position, because even Mr. Barak has just reannounced that he does not agree with many things that were put in the American proposal itself, including allowing sovereignty of Palestinians over al-Haram Sharif or al-Aqsa mosque.

And in my opinion, it's true, you cannot have the cake and eat it at the same time. You cannot keep it and eat it at the same time. And that means Israel cannot have occupation or part of occupation and have peace at the same time.


RANDALL: President Clinton has been pressing both sides to reach a peace agreement before he leaves office on January 20.

I'm Gene Randall in Washington. More news next hour. Now back to LATE EDITION with Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Thanks.

We begin with presidential politics. The first year of the 21st century will be remembered, particularly in the United States, for a presidential campaign and an election that produced twists and turns that no one could have anticipated.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must seize this moment and deliver.


BLITZER: And the seesaw battle of election 2000 ended five weeks after Election Day. But it was a long, hard-fought campaign with bitter primary battles for both parties.


BILL BRADLEY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why should we believe that you will tell the truth as president if you don't tell the truth as a candidate? GORE: You're sounding a little desperate.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you run ads saying you're going to take care of Social Security, my friend, that's all hat and no cattle.

BUSH: That's cute, but...


MCCAIN: You know, they're always cutest when they're true.


BLITZER: After Gore and Bush emerged from the pack, their running mates became the hot summer topic. Bush chose the old guard, former defense secretary Dick Cheney, while Gore made history with the first Jewish vice presidential candidate Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman.




BLITZER: Party conventions brought plenty of pomp but little substance.


GORE: I will work for you every day, and I will never let you down.

BUSH: They had their chance; they have not lead, we will.


BLITZER: Bush and Gore faced off in October debates without third party candidates Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan.


GORE: For every dollar that I propose to spend on education, he's spends $5 on a tax cut for the wealthiest one percent.

BUSH: The man's practicing fuzzy math.


BLITZER: The home stretch of campaign 2000 say a neck and neck race, and Election Day did not end the suspense. Then came the unforgettable legal drama surrounding the Florida recount. Finally, 36 days after Americans cast their ballots, the 43rd president of the United States claimed his office. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Thank you very much and God bless America.


BLITZER: And joining us now to talk about how and why the year's presidential politics unfolded as it did are two men who kept a very close eye on the campaign from the beginning till the end.

In Philadelphia, the Democratic National Committee general chairman Ed Rendell, and here in Washington, Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson. Gentlemen, good to have both of you on LATE EDITION. You've been frequent guests in the past.

I want to begin with you, Mr. Nicholson. How close, looking back -- put your analytical cap on if you will -- how close was John McCain to derailing George W. Bush as your party's presidential nominee?

JIM NICHOLSON, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: It got pretty close. He came out of New Hampshire with real momentum, and I think that, you know, the battlefield really shifted out of New Hampshire and Governor Bush had to mobilize and go down into the South and those states that were still out there, and doubled down and did that.

But John McCain brought a lot of vigor into that primary, brought a lot of new people into the system, and he made George Bush a better candidate.

BLITZER: What about that, Ed Rendell. Would John McCain, had he become the Republican presidential nominee, been a stronger candidate against Al Gore than George W. Bush was?

ED RENDELL, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: Well, I think so. The conventional wisdom is obviously, Wolf, absolutely. He wouldn't have had the inexperience factor that Governor Bush had to overcome, and he was a stronger candidate.

The question was would John McCain been able to hang in there during the rigors of a very intense presidential fall campaign without losing his temper, without making mistakes. I think he probably would have hung in there and he would have been a very formable candidate.

BLITZER: You know, one of the major differences of course between McCain and Bush involved campaign finance reform. When I interviewed George W. Bush in Iowa just before the Iowa caucuses, I want you to listen to what he said about that subject specifically John McCain's position. Listen to this.


BUSH: My only point there's a fundamental disagreement with Senator McCain and me. He trusts money left in Washington, D.C. will be properly spent. I know it's going to be spent; I happen to think it's going to be spent on bigger government and more programs.


BLITZER: That was also a significant difference on the issue of tax cuts. Tax cuts, George W. Bush wanting a much wider, bigger across the board tax cut than John McCain wanted. There was some substantive differences between these two, not only on tax cuts, but as I said, on campaign finance reform as well.

NICHOLSON: Yes,Governor Bush said he was for campaign finance reform, he wanted to see that people's first amendment rights were protected and that we had a result in a level playing field when the reform is all over and he wants more frequent disclosure, and I think those are all good ideas. I think we do need some reform.

BLITZER: But you don't believe that President Bush, once he becomes president, is going to sign into law McCain-Feingold as envisaged?

NICHOLSON: I doubt it will be in that format, and I don't know that it'll be first and foremost.

NICHOLSON: I think education is a probably bigger problem we have in our country, to help kids get better schooling. We do need to address a tax cut, I think, right away. But campaign finance reform is certainly going to be dealt with.

BLITZER: The whole issue of campaign finance reform, Mr. Rendell, you're giving up -- you're leaving the chairmanship right now of the Democratic Party. You saw that you had to spend so much time raising money. Is that going to get anywhere any time soon, the McCain-Feingold legislation, or anything approximating that?

RENDELL: Well, first of all, Wolf, I'm not giving up. I told the president and the vice president that I would serve until after the election and then go on to other things.

But, I think, No. 1, the only real campaign finance reform is if we do pass McCain-Feingold. And as you know, during the campaign, the vice president, the DNC, and almost the entire Democratic Senate and House delegations said they would be for McCain- Feingold.

Senator McCain said that next year there was going to be blood on the floor if we don't pass it. I think it is going to pass the Senate and I think it has a decent chance to pass the House. And then President Bush is going to have awfully difficult decision to make. I think if he vetoes McCain-Feingold if it passes, that is going to be a very political hot potato.

I think, having been through this, that there is no question -- and Jim's right; there has to be equal-handedness on this, and I think McCain-Feingold does give us that equal-handedness -- but there is no question we've got to get rid of the unbelievably large sums of money that are raised and spent on federal elections. It just doesn't make any sense.

BLITZER: On this point, Mr. Nicholson, there was no love lost, during the course of the primaries, between McCain and Bush. I want you to listen to what McCain said on our program at one point about his then-Republican rival. Listen to this.


MCCAIN: I tell you what, I'm going to work a lot harder at pointing out that Governor Bush is -- if he's a reformer, I'm an astronaut.


BLITZER: He said that on LATE EDITION, but he said it a lot of other places, as well. If he's a reformer, I'm an astronaut. He never believed that George W. Bush was interested in reform, campaign finance reform.

NICHOLSON: Well, you know, primaries are primaries. We also heard your lead-in, where, you know, Bill Bradley said if we can't believe Gore, you know, in the campaign, how could we ever believe him. These things are said.

We're seeing right now Governor Bush -- President-elect Bush is a reformer. He's going to push for the tax cut that we need. He's going to lead on changing the public education system in America. He's going to give more money to the schools and make them more accountable, see if they perform, and in those that don't, he's going to give choices to those kids and those parents. That's real reform, and it's really needed.

BLITZER: You know, Mr. Rendell, I interviewed Barbara Bush on LATE EDITION earlier in the year. There was a lot of speculation that George W. Bush would not be able to get out of his father's shadow and that this was something that was probably going to hinder him. Listen to what Barbara Bush said on LATE EDITION, I guess it was February 13. Listen to this.


BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: ... think I'd be awestruck, but not -- it has nothing to do with me. It just has to do with the fact that that would be a very exciting thing, but I'd feel great as a mother.


BLITZER: You know, I had asked her how she would feel being the only woman in history who not only was the wife of an American president but the mother of an American president, as well. Was that ever a serious problem, do you think, looking back, the whole notion of George W. Bush inheriting this Republican presidential nomination?

RENDELL: Oh, I think it was; I think that combined with the experience problem. I think that almost, in fact, did give us the popular-vote victory.

If you noticed -- of course you did, Wolf -- in the last week or so, all of the polls showed that Governor Bush was going to win the popular vote from six or seven points to one or two points. And I think the reason we won the popular vote is the whole experience, getting out of father's shadow, does George W. Bush have the experience to be president, is he smart enough.

I think when he made the comment about Social Security not being a federal program we were able to pound that in the last week or 10 days, and I think voters' doubts about whether he had the capacity on his own -- apart from the President Bush and the President Bush's advisers -- on his own to be president, was what caused us, in that last week, to pick up. And I think we won the popular vote now by over a half a million votes.

BLITZER: Mr. Rendell, did you ever think that Bill Bradley would defeat Al Gore for the Democratic nomination during that bitter primary?

RENDELL: Well, Bill Bradley in November and December was really resonating all across the country, was on the cover of Time and Newsweek. He had a lot of momentum going. And what Bill Bradley did that I think astounded most Democratic observers was the ability as a challenger to an incumbent vice president raise the maximum amount of money for federal matching funds. That automatically made him a serious contender.

And as we entered the new year, I thought there was a distinct possibility that Bill Bradley could win. But then I think you saw Al Gore at his best: the fighter who identified issues that people cared about, and was strong and passionate about those issues. And that's what enabled him to win.

And he is a good fighter. And again, we didn't see quite as clearly that same Al Gore in the debates in the general election, and if we had I think the vice president would be planning his transition right now.

BLITZER: You know, Mr. Nicholson we didn't really see the Republicans score a lot of points against Al Gore on the whole issue of the Buddhist Temple, the fund-raising issue. I interviewed Al Gore in April of this year. Listen to what he said at that time, when I pressed him on that whole issue. Listen to this.


GORE: Well, I talked about that. But I'll tell you what I have learned from it, which is that we need campaign finance reform. I have said that if I'm entrusted with the presidency, Wolf, the very first bill that I will send to the Congress will be the McCain- Feingold reform bill.


BLITZER: Why wasn't that more of an issue during the campaign, the whole Buddhist Temple issue and Al Gore? I didn't get the sense that it really was. NICHOLSON: Well, it was there. It was sometimes subliminal, but we campaigned on the issues. We campaigned looking forward in America, but in talking about education and tax cuts, reforming Social Security and making our military stronger.

But Governor Bush, President-elect Bush continually talked about bringing honor and dignity back to the White House, which he will do. And you know that implied the things that had gone on, like the Buddhist Temple, for which the principal coordinator was convicted of five felonies and so forth. So it was there.

BLITZER: We have to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about when we return: Bush versus Gore. We'll get Democrat Chairman Ed Rendell's and Republican Chairman Jim Nicholson's reflections on a hard-fought down-to-the-wire fall campaign.

Our LATE EDITION year-end review continues right after this.



BUSH: I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and the dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.



GORE: And I stand here tonight as my own man, and I want you to know me for who I truly am.


BLITZER: Presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore speaking at their parties' respective political conventions back in the summer.

Welcome back to our LATE EDITION year in review. We are continuing our conversation with Democratic Party Chairman Ed Rendell and Republican Party Chairman Jim Nicholson.

And I want to begin with you once again, Mr. Nicholson. The whole selection of the vice presidents: Dick Cheney was picked by George W. Bush, and the argument at the time was he would add some so- called gravitas, the Washington experience, the former Congressman, the Defense secretary, the White House chief of staff. But he didn't prove to be such a great campaigner.

NICHOLSON: He did a good job. And, the real climax was the debate that he had with Senator Lieberman, and people there really saw Dick Cheney at his best, the kind of competent, experienced, decent the guy he is with a sense of humor.

BLITZER: When I interviewed him in July, Ed Rendell, on LATE EDITION, we discussed that voting record he had for 10 years as a Wyoming Congressman, which to a lot of our surprise, turned out to be a lot more conservative than people had thought. Listen to what he said about that when he was on LATE EDITION.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope the Democrats spend the next three months going after my voting record. I will be happy to defend it. But in the meantime we are going to talk about the future of the country, and we are going to win the election.


BLITZER: The Democrats didn't really have an opportunity to score too many points on that, although they tried early on, didn't they?

RENDELL: I think early on we were able to cast doubts about Congressman Cheney's record, particularly some of the extreme votes on guns and education, and things like that. But in the end, it is a presidential election.

And I agree with Jim: I thought Dick Cheney did marvelous job, as did Joe Lieberman, in the vice presidential debate, and that cured a little bit of the country's worries about him being an extreme right winger.

Wolf, I also want to say on the campaign finance question: It was very interesting -- the reason I don't think that ever resonated was because, as you heard the vice president say, we were so strongly for McCain-Feingold and they weren't. It made that a very difficult issue for them to use against us.

BLITZER: Was that the case during the course of the year?

NICHOLSON: I think another reason it didn't resonate was and the campaign's over, but I have got to use the word, the hypocrisy of the Democrats. They raised more soft money than we did, and they continually preached against it during the day and raised it at night.

BLITZER: Let's move on. We want to get on to Joe Lieberman. Ed Rendell, it was a historic decision by Al Gore to name the first American Jew to become a vice presidential candidate. Joe Lieberman spoke often about that, spoke proudly about that. Listen to what he said to me on LATE EDITION in August. Listen to this.


LIEBERMAN: But at that moment in Nashville, frankly, I had such a sense of miracle that I was there, that that prayer just came out of me. But it seems to me that if people in public life feel moved to talk about the role that their faith plays in their lives, then they have a First Amendment right to do so, as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Did you have a problem Ed Rendell with Joe Lieberman, who is an observant Orthodox Jew, talking about his religious convictions as openly and as bluntly as he did?

RENDELL: No, I didn't, and in fact, Wolf, I think that was one of the things that led to the tremendous national acceptance of Joe Lieberman as a candidate and as a person.

And you know, obviously, since we lost, we are frustrated and disappointed. But one of the great things that came out of this campaign is that the first American Jew to ever be on a national ticket received such wide acceptance, was so popular, and I think was a tremendous help to the ticket.

And there was never any negativism shown. I think the Republican Party all across the country responded properly and appropriately to that. It just wasn't an issue in the campaign. And of course, in key states like the Floridas and Pennsylvanias, helped us dramatically. I think Joe Lieberman's candidacy in New York was a significant help to Senator, now Senator-elect Clinton. And I think it was one of the best results of the campaign.

BLITZER: Mr. Nicholson as far as the Republican convention in Philadelphia, which you of course remember very, very vividly, the criticism at the time was that George W. Bush in his effort to be inclusive brought a lot of minorities up on the stage, but they really weren't in the audience. And that was reflected in the 90 percent plus of the African-American vote that eventually went to Al Gore.

NICHOLSON: We had a great convention. Our party really came together, united in that convention, stayed that way through the election. The other thing the election showed was the fighting spirit of the Republican party is really back.

But no question, we were disappointed by the African-American turnout in the election, and I think, frankly, that one of the reasons for that was those egregious ads that the NAACP ran likening Governor Bush to the murderers of the people, you know, in Texas who dragged that unfortunate gentleman to death.

That was just -- it was egregious, I think the Democrats should have condemned those ads, and I think demeaned the civil rights value of the NAACP to have done something so partisan.

BLITZER: Mr. Rendell, as far as the debates were concerned, there were three presidential debates. By all accounts, Al Gore went into those debates with very high expectations, a great debater, but the polls showed that George W. Bush not only held his own, but did better in those debates than Al Gore did. What happened?

RENDELL: Well, I think Al Gore probably summarized it right with his analogy to Goldilocks. He was too hot, too aggressive in the first debate; too cold, too passive in the second. In the third debate, he got it right and scored a triumph not only in the instapolls (ph), but in the eventual polls as well. But the first debate, it's interesting Wolf: I think that was a turning point in the campaign. If you remember at the end of the first debate, the instapolls showed that people believed that Al Gore won by as much as 12 or 13 points.

And then Jim and his crew, and I give them credit, they did a terrific job spinning the so-called embellishments that the vice president made, without mentioning the incorrect statements that Governor Bush made, and the media brought into it hook, line and sinker. So we went from the instapolls, where people thought Al Gore won, to the eventual polls where the first...

BLITZER: And I think everybody will remember, of course, those smirks and the off-camera reactions from Al Gore.

RENDELL: Right, but the instapolls, the instapolls had him winning.

BLITZER: All right, let's take another quick break. We have a lot more to talk about. Up next, a scenario that no one expected. We'll get Chairman Rendell's and Nicholson's thoughts on the recount. LATE EDITION'S year in review will be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION'S year in review. We're talking about presidential politics in the year 2000 with Democratic Party chairman Ed Rendell and Republican Party chairman Jim Nicholson.

Ed Rendell, was there anything that Al Gore and that Democrats could have done differently in the 36 days after the presidential election, November 7, that would have changed the result? Legal strategy, political strategy?

RENDELL: Well, it's hard to think of anything, except possibly one exception. David Boies, who I thought performed brilliantly throughout this entire process, was asked in the first Florida Supreme Court debate, Wolf, he was asked by the court, "Mr. Boies, if we extend the deadline for certification, to what date should we extend it to?" And you recall David's response was, that's up to a court, which is absolutely true.

The court was focusing on December 12 and the 10 days for the contest provision. If somehow we could have persuaded the court to have extended that deadline not to the Sunday they did, a short four- or five-day window, but extended it all the way up to December 1, which would have still left 10 days for the contest provision, I think we would have had the full recount in Miami-Dade.

BLITZER: What do you think about that, Jim Nicholson?

NICHOLSON: Well, I think that you could argue the reverse of that. By extending it the way they did, they shortened the period to then have a time to cure it, and the Supreme Court said that it probably could be cured, but there wasn't time to cure it.

RENDELL: And Jim's right.

NICHOLSON: The U.S. Supreme Court.

RENDELL: And Jim's right in the sense that one way or the other, either we should have had a shorter certification period and a longer contest period, or vice versa, but I thought at that point, Wolf, we had the momentum. The court was clearly going our way, and had they given us a December 1 deadline, I think those votes would have all been counted.

Now, I don't think that would have been the best result. The best result would have been counting all the counties, which was what the Florida Supreme Court eventually decided.

NICHOLSON: There's a Yale study out now, and another prominent Democrat is saying, that based on their statistical sampling they've done so far in the recount, if all the votes in Florida would have been recounted, Governor Bush still would have won the election.

RENDELL: It depends on the standard used, and we could debate that forever.

BLITZER: That debate...academics, I'm sure, will continue to debate that for many years to come, but if you're looking now, if you're looking back at that 36-day period, was there ever a moment -- be honest with us -- when you thought that Bush was going to be defeated and Gore would be the next president?

NICHOLSON: Well, when the Florida Supreme Court reached out on their own motion and grabbed that case and brought it up there and then ruled, unanimous as they did, against us, that worried me a great deal, because I didn't know that we were going to be able to get that case to the U.S. Supreme Court for them, you know, to adjudicate the equal protection problems that there were in there.

BLITZER: It was a touch and go period for a lot of those days. I want to thank both of the party chairmen for joining us on this New Year's Eve. Happy New Year to both of you, Jim Nicholson, Ed Rendell, and good luck and good luck as you go forward with the next chapters of your political careers.

NICHOLSON: Happy New Year to you, Happy New Year to you, Ed.

BLITZER: Thank you. Thanks to both of you. Just ahead, from Elian Gonzalez to rising gas prices, the presidential race colored virtually every story in the year 2000. We'll look back at the year's politics in review with California Republican Congressman David Dreier and New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel. LATE EDITION'S year in review continues right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Amid the backdrop of a hotly contested presidential race, there were other stories that unfolded in the United States in the year 2000 that had serious political implications.


BLITZER (voice-over): We welcomed the new millennium with worldwide celebrations, as Y2K fears fizzled and terrorist threats failed to materialize. But the New Year's harmony would not last.

(UNKNOWN): Elian's best interests lie with his father.

(UNKNOWN): It is very sad that we live in a country of liberty and justice for all, except Elian.

BLITZER: Following months of demonstrations, court battles and endless TV coverage, Elian Gonzales was forcibly taken from his Miami relatives' home, delivered to his father and returned home to Cuba.

The chaos in Florida eventually calmed, at least until year-end when the nation was introduced to the hanging chad.

Meanwhile, travel in 2000 arrived loaded with baggage. Gas prices surged. Firestone tires underwent a massive recall. Airline delays snarled the nation's skies. And forest fires plagued much of the western United States.

Meanwhile, the dot-com bubble burst and interest rate hikes slowed the markets as the Nasdaq gave back over 25 percent of its 1999 gains and the Dow ended nearly where it began.

The year 2000 brought some closure to the six-year-long independent counsel investigations, clearing Hillary Rodham Clinton, but leaving perjury charges as a possibility for President Clinton after he leaves the White House January 20.

(UNKNOWN): On many issues -- on most issues, there's been nothing done in this do-nothing Congress.

BLITZER: And on Capitol Hill, gridlock topped the legislative agenda. The budget fight stretched throughout the fall, leading to a lame duck end of year congressional session. Despite record budget surpluses, bipartisan compromise was rare. Election Day yielded a Senate split 50-50 and a House with an almost unworkable Republican majority. Gridlock's days may not be numbered after all.


BLITZER: Joining us now with their perspective on some of the other political stories that made news in the year 2000 are two veteran congressman who have been squaring off on LATE EDITION for years. In Kansas City, Missouri, Republican Congressman David Dreier of California. He was just elected to his 11th term in office and is chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee.

And in New York, Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel: He'll be serving his 16th term starting in January, and is the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Congressmen, always great to have you back.

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Happy New Year to Wolf and Charlie both.

BLITZER: This will be the third year -- the third year in a row for both of you to do our LATE EDITION year in review.

And Charlie Rangel, I'd like you to listen to something that David Dreier said in his predictions last year, one year ago. It was December 26, 1999, when we were getting ready for this year in review. Listen to what he said then.


DREIER: We might be able to find him a spot in the incoming President George W. Bush administration. But if not, I guarantee you, Charlie will be in his very important key position as ranking minority member of the Ways and Means Committee.


BLITZER: A little good humor. But he -- obviously, you had a good prediction that Bush would be president and you would still be the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.

What happened? You got so close in the House of Representatives, why didn't the Democrats become the majority?

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, I've had the opportunity to oversight elections in developing countries, and in some of these countries, they just count the areas and the counties in which they know they have the vote, and then when they reach that point, they just stop counting.

As a matter of fact, sometimes, when they have court systems, like Supreme Courts, they call in the courts and ask, did we do the right thing. And they bring them over to the palace and the judges says, yes, you did the right thing, stop the counting.

Never in American history have we felt so embarrassed by saying that a president of the United States was selected by five people in the United States Supreme Court. If you control those counting the votes, control the referee and control the judges -- heck, if I had known that, David, I would have agreed with you then.

BLITZER: David Dreier, nobody could have predicted how close this presidential contest would be, and the 36 days that everyone seemed to be in limbo.

DREIER: Well, the most interesting thing, Wolf, is to look at the fact that about six months ago, George W. Bush was going to be elected by 15 percentage points, the Republicans were going to increase their numbers in the United States Senate, and Dick Gephardt was going to be Speaker of the House and Charlie Rangel chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. So actually I'm particularly gratified at the fact that in the House of Representatives, we were able to prove most all of the pundits wrong by bringing about, for the first time in since really the 1920s, the extension of Republican leadership in the Congress.

I would argue with the opening piece that you had setting this segment up, and that had to do with this issue of bipartisanship. In the 106th Congress, if you look at the fact that on the priority issues that we set forth, education, national security, tax reduction for working Americans, and saving Social Security and Medicare, we clearly had bipartisan victories. We were able...

BLITZER: Well, let me ask Charlie Rangel. Was this a bipartisan, cooperative Congress, the 106th Congress that just completed, or was it a do-nothing Congress as a lot of people allege?

RANGEL: It was a do-nothing Congress; a very exciting administration led by President Clinton as we saw the greatest economic expansion in recent history. But I do hope that the next president, President Bush, does not follow the description of bipartisanship that has been stated by my long and dear friend David Dreier. Having a Republican steamroller and picking up handful of conservative Democrats is not bipartisanship.

What is bipartisanship is bringing in the leadership of the Democrats and Republicans, and trying to find an agenda that both parties can agree to, so that we have equal number Republicans and Democrats supporting it.

Coming in saying that you've got to have the same $1.6 trillion tax cut for the rich because you got to pick up a half dozen Democratic conservatives is not bipartisan.

DREIER: And I agree with Charlie. I mean, I don't know that we are going to have equal number of Democrats joining with Republicans, but I agree that we need to sit down with leadership.

And we have just seen in the last couple of weeks, the first meeting that George W. Bush had, following the completion of the 36 days following the election, was his unprecedented meeting with Senator Tom Daschle and Minority Leader Dick Gephardt.

And so there is an attempt being made to work with leadership. And I'm not advocating that we just try to get a few, but if you look at a couple of issues: We had 63 Democrats who joined us with repeal of the marriage tax penalty; sixty-five Democrats joined with repeal of the death tax. And so it is not just going to be a few conservative Democrats.

And you know, Charlie, that I very much want as we begin this new year to work with you on things like reducing the top rate on capital gains, because you know that we have worked on that in the past and I think we can do it now.

On free trade, I want to work with you on getting fast track negotiating authority, so we find new markets for goods and services. RANGEL: You can have these meetings. You have these meetings, and it looks good on television. And then President-elect Bush comes out and says he is going to twist arm and knock heads for his $1.6 trillion tax cut, and that is wrong. He didn't have that kind of mandate.

BLITZER: I want to move on by looking back. I want to look back to something that Congressman Charlie Rangel was very, very accurate in predicting, namely that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be the next United States Senator from New York state. David Dreier on May 14, Charlie Rangel was very blunt on LATE EDITION, when he offered this advice to Rudy Giuliani basically: It is time move on and get on with this election. Listen to what Charlie Rangel said then.


RANGEL: It is best that he takes a deep breath and straighten out his personal and physical problems, and try to get some candidate that would give Hillary a run for the money. She is going to be the next Senator.


BLITZER: He was absolutely right. She is going to be the next Senator, David Dreier. Rick Lazio never seemed to really get off the ground.

He started late, in his defense, he didn't really have the opportunity, but it looked like Hillary Rodham Clinton had it going almost the entire year.

DREIER: Well, as you know Wolf, there are two million more Democrats in New York state than there are Republicans, and when Charlie Rangel says something's going to happen in New York, it's going to happen. I mean, that's sort of the way New York works.

And the other thing I think Ed Rendell pointed out very well, Wolf, is the fact that our colleague Joe Lieberman's candidacy was very, very beneficial to Mrs. Clinton in New York. I mean, I think the world of Joe Lieberman, and I'm looking forward to having him come back into the fold and in the Congress working with us on a wide range of issues in a bipartisan way.

But, we look forward to serving Mrs. Clinton...

RANGEL: But tell me, how did Joe Lieberman help, that was a hidden asset that I didn't see. How did Joe Lieberman help Hillary Clinton in New York?

DREIER: Ed, all I'm saying is that the chairman of your party, Ed Rendell, in the earlier segment, Charlie, said that the candidacy of Joe Lieberman on the ticket was very beneficial in New York. He comes from Connecticut, and obviously from the region, and there were a lot of voters in New York who were drawn to his candidacy and also ended up supporting Hillary Clinton.

RANGEL: Hillary Clinton worked hard. She worked every county, she visited every county and...

DREIER: I'm not saying Mrs. Clinton didn't work hard, Charlie. You know what, if she weren't going to be a hard worker, you wouldn't have selected her as the person to be your senator.

BLITZER: I think what he was suggesting, Congressman Rangel, was that Joe Lieberman being the first Jewish vice presidential candidate brought in a lot of Jewish support in New York state, which is an important block of voters. I guess that's what he was referring to.

RANGEL: Well, she caught a hard time from certain of the Jewish segments. I do hope that finally they realize that she was always and has been a friend of Israel, but a lot of the hard knocks that she took was from the Jewish community. DREIER: We should say that under difficult circumstances, our friend Rick Lazio did very well, starting extremely late and with so many more Democrats in the state than Republicans.

BLITZER: Were you surprised -- were you surprised, David Dreier, when Rudy Giuliani, given the health problems, the prostate cancer that he came up with, the marital problems, were you surprised that he was even, you know, that he dropped out when he did?

DREIER: Well, I thought that he was going to proceed and be the candidate, and I know that there had been a struggle earlier on about this, and we all wish him well and hope that his recovery is going well. I -- no, I was surprised when he did, in fact, withdraw.

BLITZER: Are you looking ahead to 2002 already, Charlie Rangel? Do you want to stay on as the ranking Democrat of the House Ways and Means Committee, or do you think there's a chance you could become chairman?

RANGEL: Claude Tibble (ph), who was one of our aged (ph) and most exciting...

DREIER: One of my predecessors as chairman of the Rules Committee.

RANGEL: ... right -- once said when a young man tried to sell him some investments, he said, "Young man, at my age, I don't buy green bananas," and so talking to 70-year-old Charlie Rangel, let's talk about the agenda for this year, and we'll let 2002 take care of itself.

DREIER: I'll make another prediction for you, Wolf, and that is Charlie Rangel in the 108th Congress will be in his very important position as ranking minority member of the Ways and Means Committee.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to take another quick break. Charlie Rangel, you look great for 70; you don't look a day older than 60. Let's take another break.

When we come back, the Elian ordeal. We'll ask Congressman David Dreier and Charlie Rangel to reflect on the custody case that reignited debate about America's policy toward Cuba. LATE EDITION, the year in review, will be right back.


JUAN GONZALEZ: We are happy to go home. Thank you.


BLITZER: Juan Miguel Gonzalez speaking just before taking his son back home to Cuba following an eight-month ordeal that involved the boy's Miami relatives. Welcome back to our LATE EDITION year in review. We're talking with Republican Congressman David Dreier of California and Democratic Congressman of New York.

And I want both of you to listen to what the Attorney General said on LATE EDITION in the midst of all the Elian Gonzalez uproar on April 9th of 2000. Listen to Janet Reno.


JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: My hope is that this will be resolved in a thoughtful way, that the people of Miami will accept it, that the Miami relatives will do as they have done, which is have respect for the law and think of what they would like to see happen if he has to be transferred.


BLITZER: David Dreier, looking back on the Elian case, why did that custody battle create such an uproar in the United States?

DREIER: Well, we do know that there are very strong feelings about the fact that the lone communist dictatorship in this hemisphere is Cuba, and there has been a lot of tension going back to Kennedy administration in the early 1960s.

Let me just say, without trying to be patronizing, Wolf, that I remember the LATE EDITION program; I think Charlie and I were scheduled to come on and talk about China policy. That was last spring, and you did an extraordinary job. I think you had something like 20 guests on that one program, and so it showed your real professionalism there.

It was a tough time for all of us in this country, and there was a lot of attention focused on that little boy. And we know that when children come into the mix it pulls at the, you know, heartstrings of a lot of people. And so I think that if you look at where we are today, I'm still troubled with the fact that Cuba is listed on the index of economic freedoms and is in the dumpster with North Korea and Somalia and Libya and Iraq. It's a terrible place.

BLITZER: Well, let me bring in Charlie Rangel. Did the Elian saga end the right way, looking back now as you can?

RANGEL: Did do it what?

BLITZER: Did it end the right way?

RANGEL: The right away?


RANGEL: Oh, of course it did. It should never have started. It had very little to do with Elian Gonzales. Most every American and every human being would believe that when you've lost your mother, regardless of the circumstances, you should be with your father.

What it had to do with is insane policy against Cuba. We recognize Red China, and Dave Dreier was a leader in permanent trade relationship with China. We are working with North Korea, with North Vietnam, every communist country. And, yet, because of what had happened some 40 years ago, we allowed a handful of Cuban-Americans to make this a national and, indeed, an international issue.

BLITZER: You know, David Dreier, on that point, at least it seems that Castro has not, at least from what we could tell from the outside, overly exploited Elian's return to Cuba. He's out of the headlines, he's in school, he's doing his thing with his father, his family there. And some of the worst fears that were expected, at least on the surface, don't seem to have materialized.

DREIER: Well, I think your last term there is really the operative one, and that's "on the surface." We don't know exactly what's going on, and that's the difference between Cuba and the United States.

I agree with Charlie that when we look at the fact that Vietnam, North Korea, and the People's Republic of China are nations with which we are beginning to open the door, I would very much like to see us do that with Cuba. And Charlie and I have privately discussed this on many occasions.

But before that happens, I would like to see just a modicum of the reforms that came from -- like those of the Shanghai Communique with Deng Xiaoping in 1972 by Fidel Castro, because I think it's important for us to note that as we look at opening things up in Cuba, we don't want Fidel and the apparatchik in Cuba to be the sole beneficiary. We want to benefit the people of Cuba.

BLITZER: Charlie Rangel, did the Elian case, in your opinion, cost Al Gore Florida by alienating Cuban-Americans, who had earlier voted in relatively pretty good numbers for Bill Clinton, but didn't vote for Al Gore this time around?

RANGEL: There's no question about it. The Democrats lost first because President Clinton had encouraged and Congress supported expansion of allowing medicine and food to be shipped to Cuba in support of our farmers export policy. And Al Gore tried to straddle the fence on this issue, and Al Gore paid for it at the polls as did the Democratic Party.

BLITZER: All right. Unfortunately, Congressmen, we have to leave it right there. We hope both of you'll be back one year from now and several times in between on LATE EDITION. We always love having both of you on your program.

DREIER: Happy New Year to both of you.

BLITZER: Happy New Year.

DREIER: Thanks for launching our film career, too.

BLITZER: That's right. At least this year something positive emerged from your appearances on LATE EDITION. You'll be in a major motion picture, the two of you. We'll leave that discussion for another time. Congressmen Dreier and Rangel, thank you very much.

RANGEL: Happy New Year.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And when we return, the second hour of LATE EDITION. We'll check the hour's news, then look back on the major stories that occurred around the world in 2000 with former secretary of State Larry Eagleburger and former U.S. Congressman Lee Hamilton.

Our special LATE EDITION year in review continues right after this.


BLITZER: This is the second hour of LATE EDITION, the year in review.

We'll continue our look at the year 2000, including the international flash points with former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. Plus our LATE EDITION roundtable: Steve Roberts, Susan Page and Tucker Carlson give us their take on the year that was. And Bruce Morton has the last word on some of the people we lost in the year 2000.

Welcome back to the second hour of LATE EDITION. We'll take a look at some of the key international stories that occurred in the year 2000 in just a moment. But first, let's get a check on the hour's top stories.

RANDALL: Hello, I'm Gene Randall in Washington.

Most of the Northeast appears to be coping well with yesterday's record snow storm. One to two feet of snow blankets the ground in places. Despite near blizzard conditions, plows and salt trucks were able to keep most primary roads open, And major airports in the region have resumed operations.

At least one death has been linked to the weather. A Massachusetts teenager was killed in a snowmobile accident.


RANDALL: The heavy snowfall in New York City doesn't figure to interfere with tonight's Times Square welcome for the year 2001. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, MC Dick Clark and thousands of others will be on hand when former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali pushes a button to start that famous ball on its one minute slide to the new year.

2001 has already arrived in parts of the world. About two hours ago, China began celebrating the arrival of the third millennium with fireworks, a laser show and dancers. Five hundred couples marked the occasion with a mass wedding on China's Great Wall.

In Japan, the year of the Snake has begun. Buddhist temples in Tokyo rang in the new year while ships in harbors blasted their horns.

Our special live coverage of New Year's celebrations begins at 10 minutes before midnight Eastern Time.

And that's a brief look at the news. I'm Gene Randall in Washington. Now back to LATE EDITION.

BLITZER: Thanks.

From Russia to the Balkans to the Middle East, the year 2000 saw some major power shifts, as well as growing fears about global terrorism.


BLITZER: The first year of this new millennium was marked by leadership shakeups and violence around the globe.

In Yugoslavia, the year 2000 brought revolution, a new president and the end of Slobodan Milosevic's grip on power.

In the Middle East, President Clinton's hopes for brokering a peace deal faded, despite a marathon summit at Camp David.


EHUD BARAK, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Unfortunately, Arafat somehow hesitated to take the historic decisions that were needed.

YASSER ARAFAT, PRESIDENT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: They are trying to put big lies of what had happened in Camp David.


BLITZER: As some of the worst violence in years exploded in the region, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak resigned after calling for new elections in February. He says he'll run again.

And violence elsewhere in the region hit the United States when terrorists attacked the USS Cole in Yemen, killing 17 crew members.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To those who attacked them we say, you will not find a safe harbor; we will find you, and justice will prevail. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: In Russia, President Boris Yeltsin abruptly resigned, making the way for former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin.

And North and South Korea took an historic step toward normalization after their two leaders met in Pyongyang, setting the stage for a new year of reconciliation.


BLITZER: We're joined now by two guests well-versed in international affairs. Lawrence Eagleburger served as Secretary State under President George Bush, and Lee Hamilton was a former Congressman from Indiana who served as chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

Gentlemen, good to have you on our LATE EDITION year in review. And I want to begin with you, Secretary Eagleburger. The Israeli- Palestinian was going along, at least it seemed so well, making dramatic progress. And all of a sudden it collapsed, and we've seen this terrible violence over these past few months. What happened?

LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, first of all, I shared the view earlier on, about six months ago, that things were really moving along and I was saying in one of the areas where I could be a little bit optimistic was the Middle East. And you are right, it fell apart.

I think it tells us several things. First of all, it may never have been as close to being good as we thought it was. I have serious questions about whether Arafat can produce. I have equally serious questions as to whether he wants to produce. So you start there, I think, with that problem resting in front of us: Do the Palestinians really mean it?

I think Barak and the Israelis played very silly ball here at the point where they let Sharon go to the castle by the -- whatever it's called.

BLITZER: The Temple Mount.

EAGLEBURGER: The Temple Mount. It simply incited the Palestinians, and we've had this mess ever since.

I guess the quick answer to your question, I suspect that what we are seeing now has been there all along. It has been covered over by this apparent progress, but I think fundamentally we have been far away from a real agreement.

BLITZER: You know, Congressman Hamilton, almost a year ago in January of 2000 I interviewed then candidate George W. Bush, before the Iowa caucuses. And I asked him about the entire Middle East peace process. He seemed to take a little bit of a swipe at the Clinton administration. Listen to what he had to say.


BUSH: It is incredibly important for the Palestinians and the Israelis to come to an agreement, or the Syrians and the Israelis to come to an agreement, that is in a their interest, that they all can live with. And the United States can serve as a mediator and should, but should not impose our standards of peace.


BLITZER: Looking back on the Clinton administration, and President Clinton specifically, did he overreach, was he going for too much and as a result this setback that has occurred?

LEE HAMILTON, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I don't think we should fault President Clinton for going for too much or for overreaching.

BLITZER: But by allowing the issue for example of Jerusalem at the second Camp David to come up without necessarily preparing the Israeli public or the Palestinian public, or the Arab public as whole or the Muslim communities around the world, for the possibility of compromise on these sensitive issues involving Jerusalem, was that an overreach?

HAMILTON: I don't think either one of the leaders, Barak or Arafat, prepared their publics very well for the kinds of compromises that were talked about at Camp David.

Look, the mood around the world, and certainly in this town early in this year, the year 2000, was that a final settlement was possible. What happened at Camp David after agonizing negotiations was just they came up against these very intractable problems, Jerusalem at the top of the list, and they couldn't close the gap.

And you had this year, then, great progress, and then a very significant setback. And the real question in front of us, now, is whether this can be restarted in some way ...

BLITZER: You know...

HAMILTON: ... with all of the resentments that have been created.

BLITZER: When I interviewed Prime Minister Barak on October 15 on LATE EDITION, he was still hoping it could be. Listen to what he said at that time.


BARAK: We will ultimately have peace with the Palestinian people. They are our neighbors. They are going to be here forever. We will at the end live side by side as neighbors in peace.


BLITZER: But did he -- and you know the situation in the Middle East quite well, Secretary Eagleburger -- did he get carried away, Ehud Barak?

EAGLEBURGER: Yes, I think he did. I think that the enthusiasm for, the desire for a peace settlement, probably he misjudged a bit. I also think, as Congressman Hamilton said, he didn't prepare the Israeli public very well. So that when this mess began, I think the peace process and those who wanted peace in Israel, and there are a lot of them, I think they were really put back by that mess that they saw. But I think...

BLITZER: You seemed to suggest in your earlier answer that you're not really convinced that Yasser Arafat wants peace.

EAGLEBURGER: No. I'm still not convinced. That's why when Barak says we live together, we're going to ultimately have peace, that's true, I suppose. But it may be 100 years from now at the rate we're going.

The fact of the matter is that I think -- and I think it was demonstrated in the fighting that's gone on in the last month or so. I think the fact is that either Arafat can't control his people, and I think there's something to that, but I think it is also probably true that in the end, he's prepared to trade words for reality. He gives the words, the Israelis give the reality. But I don't think it's going -- I don't think it's going to happen for a long time.

BLITZER: Lee Hamilton, you were chairman of that Near Eastern Subcommittee for so many years. I used to cover all those hearings that you held. Do you agree with Secretary Eagleburger on whether or not Yasser Arafat is committed to this peace process?

HAMILTON: Well, I think that's the big question. I think Secretary Eagleburger is exactly right.

Prime Minister Barak's a lot -- under a lot of political pressure to achieve a settlement. If he doesn't achieve a settlement here fairly quickly, he's probably not going to be able to stay in office.

BLITZER: And the deadline is moving, you know. What about...

HAMILTON: The real question is Arafat. And I think that remains to be answered.

BLITZER: And this year, Syrian president, Hafez al-Assad, pass away. His son replace him as the president of Syria. Is that going to help or hurt the prospects of a deal between the Israelis and the Syrians.

EAGLEBURGER: That's a very nice question because I must tell you, while I thought Assad was -- President Assad was a miserable human being, at the same time, he was one of the smartest players in the Middle East. And he was able, practically on the basis simply of his personality, to drive a great many things.

He was clearly a negative -- a major negative. But at that -- having said that, when he did make an agreement, he would stick with it. What I can't tell with the son is whether he has anywhere near, one, the acumen, and secondly, whether he's got the authority within Syria to do anything.

So, I guess what I am saying to you is, I was not sorry to see the father to depart the scene. And I don't mean to point up, I think he went the other way. But having said that, we now have a son who is unknown. And I think that's going to be a big problem too.

BLITZER: Congressman Hamilton, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen caused a major source of concern, the spread of international terrorism. When I interviewed Defense Secretary William Cohen about this subject in October, he was understandably alarmed. I want you to listen to what he said at that time.


WILLIAM COHEN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: All of the area of the Middle East is considered to be high risk for the most part. And so there are a number of different groups, Osama bin Laden is one of them, and we will certainly try to examine all of the threads that go to this particular incident.


BLITZER: Was the attack on the USS Cole an isolated incident, or part of a bigger anti-American effort?

HAMILTON: I think what we can say for sure is that the United States is the No. 1 target for terrorism. And our national security concepts have to be expanded now to include it.

Secretary Cohen, of course, is right on the mark. This is a very dangerous area of the world. And it's in some ways become more dangerous for us, because of the resentment that is now evident against the United States because of its perceived tilt towards Israel in the peace process, and for other reasons.

BLITZER: Is that the -- is that the major factor why the U.S. is a target, because of its support for Israel? Or are there other factors?

EAGLEBURGER: Well, I think it's the major reason in the Middle East. I don't think it's -- globally, I don't think it's by any means the only reason. I think there is great and increasing resentment that we are the only superpower left, that we can control things, at least supposedly, if we want.

I think there are a lot of different reasons for the terrorism on a global scale. In the Middle East, clearly the support for Israel is the principal reason.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break; a lot more to talk to. When we come back, we'll ask Larry Eagleburger and Lee Hamilton about some other flashpoints that occurred around the world in the year 2000.

LATE EDITION's year in review will be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about the big international stories of the year 2000 with former Secretary of State Larry Eagleburger and former Indiana Congressman and House International Relations Committee Chairman Lee Hamilton.

Yugoslavia, you were a former ambassador to Yugoslavia.

EAGLEBURGER: Yes, don't -- I am not responsible for the mess. But anyway, go ahead.


BLITZER: In addition to being Secretary of State, you were a career diplomat; you studied Yugoslavia for a long time.


BLITZER: I believe you even spoke a little Serbo-Croatian in your heyday. What happened? Slobodan Milosevic was in power, and all of a sudden it ended.

EAGLEBURGER: Yes, but again this is something with roots that are 500 years old, and you have to start there I think. Tito understood what a mess it was going be when he left, and he tried create a structure that might work, and it clearly did not.

Now, one of the reasons it didn't work is because Milosevic, from the beginning, didn't want it to work. And I think he intended a greater Serbia. I think he didn't care at all that Yugoslavia fell apart.

But what you have here is 500 years of hatred, different religions, different cultures, and it was an artificial state to begin with. And what you found in the end was that it became a murderous mess, and isn't going to go away for a long time either.

BLITZER: Well, is it any better now, do you think, with Milosevic out of power in Belgrade?

HAMILTON: I look upon this as one of the victories for the year 2000.


HAMILTON: Milosevic is out. He'd been there for 13 years. He had -- look at the chaos and the pain and suffering he had caused the people of Yugoslavia. He's out. We have a new president, duly elected. This is a bright spot in the year 2000. Tough challenges ahead. We -- but we can look back on this and say this is a bright spot

BLITZER: And Secretary Eagleburger, there was another major change of power in Russia, from Yeltsin to Putin. I was in Moscow covering that election that day, and I remember interviewing Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She was, at the time, in Geneva, Switzerland. Listen to what she said on the election of Vladimir Putin to become the president of Russia.


MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's historic that the Russians are having such an election, that there is a transfer of power in a democratic and constitutional way. It is very important for the United States to be realistic about Putin and about Russia, but I don't think we should prejudge him.


BLITZER: Well, let's give you a chance to judge him right now. What's happened in Russia since Putin assumed power?

EAGLEBURGER: You know, you keep asking me these questions, which, if I were to be honest, I would say I don't know. But...


EAGLEBURGER: ... I'll try. I must tell you, obviously it is important that they had a free election. I don't argue that at all.

I am not at all sure about this particular man, Putin. I think there is an anti-democratic streak in him somewhere. Having said that, it is also true that he's had a mess to try to put some order into, and some toughness, some arrogance and authoritarianism, I think, is going to be necessary.

But I really, in the end, do worry. I worry about anti-Semitism, and it's coming back again in Russia. He's played around a little bit with that himself. So I would have to say to you, Wolf, while I think he has shown that he is an effective leader in a country that is now at 6's and 7's, I'm not as yet convinced that he is a real democrat.

BLITZER: Congressman Hamilton, arguably perhaps the most dramatic development in world affairs this year was in North Korea, and the rapprochement between North Korea and South Korea, the visit by Secretary Albright to Pyongyang. It's a remarkable development. You've studied this area for many years.

HAMILTON: Well, it is an amazing development and, I think, a positive one, but much too early to make any judgments about North Korea. But the fact that these two Korean leaders came together after decades, really, of isolation -- the fact that North Korea came out of its shell is a very significant development.

Now, the next administration, President Bush, is going to have to proceed with very great caution here because of deep suspicions on our part about their intentions and, I suspect, suspicions on their part about us. This will be one of the great stories of the next year to watch, what happens in the Korean peninsula.

BLITZER: And we'll be watching together with you, Lee Hamilton. Larry Eagleburger, you were here last year. You're here this year. We hope you'll join us again next year as we look back on the year 2001.

EAGLEBURGER: If we can do it, we'll be here, won't we?

HAMILTON: We'll be here. Pleasure always...

BLITZER: Happy New Year to both of you.

EAGLEBURGER: And to you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And when we return, the roundtable scorecard. This time last year, we asked them to look into their crystal balls and make some predictions for 2000. We'll see how they did. The good, the bad, the ugly when LATE EDITION, the year in review, continues.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Time now for our roundtable. Joining me: Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today; Steve Roberts, contributing editor for U.S. News and World Report; and making his final appearance with us, because he is now co- hosting CNN's new hit weeknight show "THE SPIN ROOM," Tucker Carlson, political writer for the Weekly Standard.

Tucker, you are moving on to bigger and better, but we'll talk about that...


BLITZER: ... another time. I want to talk a little bit about what happened in this year. We are doing the year in review, after all. The last time we did it, a year ago, December 26, everybody was making some predictions, or almost everybody. Listen to this.


STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: I would say, sitting here today, that George Bush will be the new president of the United States.


CARLSON: I think it is clearly, clearly going to be John McCain will be president of the United States.

BLITZER: Really?

SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: I'm dumb, but not dumb enough to answer that question.


BLITZER: Very intelligent. PAGE: For a long time, that looked pretty smart, too, after this voting day.

BLITZER: It might still could have been going on right now with, you know, one change in the U.S. Supreme Court.

John McCain, you really thought he was going to be the president.

CARLSON: Clearly, John McCain was exerting a kind of mind control over me, and a lot of other reporters. It's probably something he learned in prison. That's my excuse. I can't think of any other explanation for that prediction.

BLITZER: Well, a round of applause for Steve Roberts. He did predict George W. Bush would be the next president. How did you know that a year ago?

ROBERTS: Well, there were two reasons, actually. One was dumb luck. The other is that I had been out with Bush just before that in South Carolina, and I had a real sense that he had a dynamism. He had an ability to deal with crowds. I felt that he was generating a lot of warmth. I think that was sort of the afterglow of that.

And I always believed that Al Gore simply did not have the personality to be president of this country. Now, obviously, he came awfully close. But I just never believed he had the Clintonian magic. He never had that ability.

BLITZER: Well, speaking about that, on January 30, you spoke about the Clinton shadow and Al Gore. Listen to what you said at that time.


ROBERTS: There's a sense of, why change horses, why jump ship. And I think that's the strongest thing Gore has going for him. Clearly, he's been reading that in the polls because he's identifying himself much more closely with Bill Clinton in the last couple of weeks than he was in the past.


BLITZER: You remember we were in New Hampshire just before the New Hampshire primary. Did he make a mistake, though, looking back over this past year, Al Gore, in not using Bill Clinton more, arguably maybe one of the most popular politicians in a long time?

ROBERTS: I think he made a huge mistake. I know a lot of people, including people I am married to, don't agree with me. But I think that remained the case, that if he was going to win was going to win because people felt good about themselves, they felt good about the country, they felt good about the economy.

Yes, there was a moral deficit. You know, there was a strange duality in the polls. Eighty percent of the people said they were satisfied with the economy. Thirty percent said they were satisfied with the morality in the country. So, clearly, he had a problem on the moral side. But I think he made a big mistake not using Clinton more.

BLITZER: You know, I have spoken to a lot of Gore advisers and looking back, and I'm sure you have as well, Susan. They don't seem to think they made such a big mistake, that they probably would have been worse off in some of those states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, which they carried, if they had used Clinton more.

PAGE: It is hard to rerun history, and of course if he had used Clinton he would perhaps done a little better in some places. But they worry he would have done a lot worse with swing voters. And the fact is Gore did really well with the Democratic base, the people that you most likely would have used Clinton to turn out.

You know, I think if they had this to do over again, they would have had Gore spend a little more time in Tennessee. They might have had Clinton spend a little more time in Arkansas, because if Gore had carried either one of those states he would be president.

BLITZER: You know, there was another Clinton in the news, Tucker. You probably remember, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Listen to what you said on February 6.


CARLSON: The problem is what's the rationale for the campaign, exactly? Rudy as a bad personality? That's not a bad rationale, but I'm not sure that's enough to become a senator. And anybody who has to reinvent himself or reintroduce himself to the voters, I mean, that's a clear sign of desperation.


BLITZER: You want to say anything?

CARLSON: More foolishness from me. I mean, I didn't know Madonna was going to get married either. There are a lot of things I didn't know that were going to happen this year. It seemed remarkable that she could win. That is all I can say. Again, smarter people than I made the mistake. You know, that is one of many bad calls I made.

BLITZER: Looking back, though, a lot of people, as they were looking at Mrs. Clinton's run for the Senate, thought that if Giuliani had been able to continue -- and he had to drop out -- he might have given her a much better run for the money than Rick Lazio did.

ROBERTS: Well, you know, I actually thought, and I said this a number of times on this show, that I thought Lazio would be a stronger candidate. First of all, he wanted the job. Rudy never wanted the job. Lazio -- Rudy's idea of campaigning up state was to go to Yankee Stadium. He never really had a sense of New York state. He had a tremendous burden of being the New York City mayor in many ways.

But in the end -- and I never thought Mrs. Clinton was a particularly good candidate. I don't think she grew that much as a candidate. But in the end, it was such a Democratic state that that was the single biggest reason she won.

BLITZER: All right. We have to take a quick break for our international viewers, thanks for joining us. For our North American audience, the roundtable continues its look back at the year 2000 when LATE EDITION returns.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable.

You know, Susan, there was a lot of stuff going on this past year. I want to remind you and our audience out there what you said on April 2 of 2000, in speculating about the importance of Florida in this presidential race. Listen to this.


PAGE: I'm not sure Gore really needs to win Florida. I think this may be just a play that forces George W. Bush to pay some attention to Florida, a state he would like to take for granted, the benefit his brother being the governor and its general Republican leanings. Because if Al Gore wins Florida, that means Al Gore has won a big electoral victory in November. That's not one of the swing states.


BLITZER: All of a sudden, Florida became a swing state.

PAGE: You know what, you know, Lee Atwater had a saying, don't get in the way of your enemies when they're in the process of self- destructing, and that comes to mind as we look at that clip.

BLITZER: Florida -- but a lot of us, in fairness to Susan, a lot of us early on -- Tucker, I'm sure you did as well. Didn't you think, that with the governor's brother being the governor of Florida, that Florida was a lock for George W. Bush?

CARLSON: I don't know. Do you have a clip of me saying that?


CARLSON: This is like the root canal show.


BLITZER: We're not setting you up. If we have another time, we'll going to set you up.

CARLSON: Well, it's amazing how all the conventions people had -- you know, the conventional wisdom that Florida was a Republican state, and Arizona was, you know, strongly Republican. Of course, Bush only won that by a very narrow margin. All of that was turned on its head in the end. I just can't wait to find out what's going to happen two years from now. We'll probably...

BLITZER: Well, you know, on June 25 of this past year, we were discussing the so-called Ralph-Nader factor.

Steve, you had some very, very wise words about Ralph Nader at that time. I want you to listen to what you said on LATE EDITION that day.


ROBERTS: I think Ralph Nader is the flavor of the month of June, but not necessarily of October and November. Third parties need discontent in the country to flourish. I just don't see what Nader really stands for in a clear, coherent way that is going to draw a lot of votes.


BLITZER: Arguably, he did cost Al Gore the election.

ROBERTS: Not in the way we expected, though. You know, it's interesting, we expected he would cost him in states like Wisconsin and Oregon where there was a significant environmental movement. And in many ways, he did not make much of an impact, except of course in Florida where everything mattered.

BLITZER: He got more than 90,000 votes.

ROBERTS: The astounding statistic out of Florida is if one percent of the people who had voted for Ralph Nader in Florida voted for Al Gore, only one percent, he would be president. Now, given that narrow margin, of course, you can make this claim about many other things. So he did hurt him in Florida, but that wasn't what we were expecting. That was a surprise.

BLITZER: You know, if you look back, though, at the Nader. Who at this table thought that Nader would be a more formidable presidential candidate than Pat Buchanan? Did you?

PAGE: No, I don't think so. I think I thought Pat Buchanan, with his $12 million in federal funding for the Reform Party, was going to be -- get more than .4 percent of the vote, which is what he got.

BLITZER: With the exception of Palm Beach County, Pat Buchanan did not do well any place in the United States.


CARLSON: See, I always had a soft spot for Nader. I always thought there was a reason people were voting for Nader, that he filled the need that there were still honest lefties out there. Turns out I was right. I hope you have a clip of that.


CARLSON: And so I always thought, you know, there was a chance he would have some effect. Of course, I had no clue that he would have (OFF-MIKE). BLITZER: All right. Let's more on, of course in July there were vice presidential candidates who were selected by the two presidential candidates. We talked a little bit about Dick Cheney as vice presidential candidate on July 23. Listen to this.


ROBERTS: If you look at the single biggest political hole that George Bush has, Dick Cheney helps fill it.

PAGE: I think Cheney creates a vulnerability for George Bush and that is this whole idea that he's surrounding himself with the people who served in his father's administration.

CARLSON: It's not hard to imagine someone like Dick Cheney being popular with Midwestern voters. So to the extent a vice president helps, I think Cheney helps there, and that's what matters.


BLITZER: So, looking back, did Dick Cheney, in the election, help or hurt George W. Bush?

ROBERTS: I think he helped and, frankly, for the reason we both said, because -- and you can see it even in the post-election factor. George Bush's biggest hole was that he was perceived as not experienced enough, not ready for the job. By surrounding himself with Cheney, Colin Powell, other people from his father's administration, he did reassure voters that he would have a good team around him. And in that sense, I think, in the end, Cheney did help.

BLITZER: And that's certainly been the case since the election as a source of reassurance.

PAGE: Well, I think that it's clear that George W. Bush is not concerned that people may think he has too many people from his father's administration. Just look at the appointments he's made so far after choosing Cheney. But I wonder if, down the road, this does in fact -- will create some problems for him if he doesn't establish himself as his own president with his own team. I guess I'm not quite ready to concede that was a stupid comment.

BLITZER: Was it a good pick, Dick Cheney, looking back?

CARLSON: Well, it was a lot better than the Gore people thought it was. I was struck for the whole, say, last two months of the election. Every time you talked to a Gore consultant, he would tell you this was the turning point, this was the moment when Bush lost the election, is when he picked Dick Cheney. They're really convinced that that was just a disastrous choice. I mean, it may not been a brilliant choice, but clearly it wasn't a disaster. BLITZER: Well, Lieberman was also the choice of Al Gore. Historic choices we've been pointing out, the first American Jew to serve on a major presidential ticket. On August 6, the three of you had some thoughts about Joe Lieberman.


ROBERTS: I think Lieberman is a better choice. I think he brings some weight and heft to the ticket.

PAGE: Lieberman would be an interesting choice, and we would all be in favor of that to have -- to see what would happen with the first Jewish person on a major party ticket.

CARLSON: I think Joe Lieberman is the clever choice, which means that Gore won't pick him, but he should.


BLITZER: But he should, and he did. I believe that Al Gore listened to you, Tucker Carlson.

CARLSON: I think as he often did during the course of the election. Especially at the end, I was sort of running the Boies legal team.


BLITZER: Were you, you know, sending him messages on this LATE EDITION roundtable?

CARLSON: Well, I was. I know he's a LATE EDITION viewer.

BLITZER: And he was getting his advice from you through here.

CARLSON: As I said, I'm going to call him after the show, actually, and make sure he tunes in.

No. I think it was a huge surprise for all of us that he would make a choice that, you know, wasn't obvious on the face of it. Turned out to be, as I said, a clever choice. But of course, not in the end.

PAGE: More than clever, really, a brilliant choice. I mean, it really elevated and fueled his candidacy at a time that he really needed it. And it's fueled Joe Lieberman as being one of the big contenders for the Democratic nomination in four years.

BLITZER: Yes. I've heard a few people, not many people, suggest that maybe there was a hidden anti-Semitic vote out there that hurt Gore. West Virginia and Tennessee, some states. I've seen no evidence to back that up. Do you see any evidence to back that up?

ROBERTS: No. I do see evidence on the other side that Lieberman was a help with other minority groups. I remember going to New Jersey during the campaign and interviewing voters and really being struck how many people said Lieberman on the ticket as a Jew encourages us as Hispanics or as blacks, that he broke down a lot of barriers for other groups. And so I think he was a big plus.

And I think the fact that, by the end, people were not talking about the fact that he was Jewish validated the fact that America was ready for a Jewish vice president. And in the end, even if there might have been some hidden anti-Semitic votes, I think it was a big plus.

BLITZER: You know, Steve, on October 29, we got back to the subject of Gore-Clinton. We just couldn't get away from it. We talked about that all the time. But listen to what you said then, because there was a nuance of difference than what you had said earlier, at the beginning part of the year. Listen to this.


ROBERTS: 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.


BLITZER: That argument should have resonated. And a lot of Democrats think that there was such a great opportunity for Al Gore and he squandered it, that he should have been elected president simply with that one argument, are you better off today than you were eight years ago.

ROBERTS: Well, it gave one an enormous advantage. The question is, could he take advantage of it? And clearly, he did not for a couple of reasons. One we've already talked about, which is that, while people were enthusiastic about the economic legacy of the Clinton years, they were not enthusiastic about the moral legacy of the Clinton years. And that turned out to be a more significant drag on Gore than I think I anticipated.

PAGE: You know, we trash Gore for not winning election. Maybe we should credit Bush, who should not have won this election. All the election models had Gore winning. You know, vice president, time of prosperity and peace. Maybe George W. Bush deserves a lot of credit for sensing the national mood and having it, running a consistent and clear, coherent campaign.

CARLSON: Also, just one quick word of defense of my pal, Al Gore. You know, the Gore campaign decided not to use Clinton based upon a huge amount of polling data. I mean, this is not just some instinct they had. They focus-grouped this. They did a ton of polls on it. They kind of came to this by the scientific method. So it was not a random choice.

ROBERTS: But I also know that President Clinton, to this day, is furious and very resentful that he was not used more.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by. We have to take another quick break.

When we come back, the LATE EDITION roundtable will get the predictions for the year 2001. You don't want to miss this. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. Tucker, welcome back, because we're going to do a little bit of predictions right now, and I want you to look ahead. A year from now when we look back on the first year of the Bush administration, what will people say about it?

CARLSON: People will say this is a very, very boring administration, and George W. Bush will take that as a high compliment.

BLITZER: Boring in the sense of...

CARLSON: In the sense that there's no Jocelyn Elders figure, there's not going to be -- I mean, I think Bush will get through the -- I mean, as he has been so far, get through the transition period without appointing or attempting to appoint somebody who's wacko or fails in the Senate.

BLITZER: All right. Well, let me bring in Steve and ask him this poignant question. Will he fire the White House travel office?


ROBERTS: I think that George Bush does not bring that same sense of grandiosity to the job that the Clintons did that led to those arrogant misuse of power. He doesn't strike me as that kind of person, partly because there's more of a sense of entitlement to him. You know, his father was in this House. This is not new to him. And I think that there's a calmness that comes with being part of this dynasty that the Clintons never had. There was always an edge that I don't think he'll bring to the job.

BLITZER: Susan, like me, you've spent a lot of time covering Bill Clinton. A year from now, what is Bill Clinton going to be doing?

PAGE: Bill Clinton will be writing his book, he'll be building his library, he'll be managing his wife's presidential campaign.

BLITZER: Tucker, what do you think he's going to be doing?

CARLSON: I think Clinton will have his own cable show, I think his wife's book will bomb, and I think we'll be seeing more of Bill Clinton a year from now than we see him presently. He'll be blanketing... BLITZER: Bill Clinton: radio talk show host or TV talk show host?

CARLSON: Oh, both. Multimedia.


ROBERTS: I would not at all rule out Bill Clinton preparing to run for the Senate from Arkansas in 2002. Asa Hutchinson, the incumbent, is not a sure thing. And I think this guy at this age -- all he's ever done is run for office. It's what he loves best in the world, and I think it's a real possibility he'll run for Senate.

CARLSON: Save that tape.


BLITZER: We're going to be saving all of these tapes.

Tucker, you know, this is your last official performance. Hopefully, you'll come back to visit us from time to time...

CARLSON: Oh my gosh, I hope so.

BLITZER: ... on LATE EDITION. And on behalf of our entire staff, we've got -- not this one. We're going to get you another one. But we got you a LATE EDITION mug that we're going to give you.

CARLSON: Is there a moth floating in the bottom of it?


BLITZER: We've got a LATE EDITION mug because we want to wish you good luck on "The Spin Room."

CARLSON: Well, thank you.

BLITZER: Now, "The Spin Room" is on Monday through Friday...


BLITZER: ... 10:30 Eastern.

CARLSON: But we have, at this point, no mugs, so we look to LATE EDITION.

BLITZER: Will you use this LATE EDITION mug on "The Spin Room?"

CARLSON: Yes, we have to put black tape over it, but I will.


BLITZER: And you'll always remember where you got your start on CNN.

CARLSON: The moth-in-the-mug show, LATE EDITION.

BLITZER: And Bill Press is your partner on that show.

CARLSON: Yes, he is.

BLITZER: Wish him good luck.

ROBERTS: Well, we are really going to miss you.

CARLSON: Thank you. I'm going to miss you.

ROBERTS: And it's been great fun having you... CARLSON: Thank you.

ROBERTS: ... meeting on Sunday mornings like this.

PAGE: If Bill Press is mean to you, you come talk to me.


CARLSON: I'll be back to complain about it.

ROBERTS: Tell him, Susan and Steve were nicer to me.

BLITZER: All right. Tucker, good luck.

CARLSON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Happy New Year to all of our LATE EDITION roundtablers.

When we return, Bruce Morton's last word. Bruce remembers those who left us in 2000.


BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's last word on the extraordinary figures we lost in 2000.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We lost Charles Schulz. We knew his kids, Charlie Brown and Lucy and Linus and their friends, about as well as we knew our own, and they are so popular that their comic strip still runs. Just reruns now that Schulz is gone, but when did that ever happen before?

We lost Jeff MacNelly, who drew editorial cartoons and a strip called "Shoe" about some birds who worked on a newspaper. Others draw it now.

Lost Paul Coverdell, a senator from Georgia so esteemed that colleagues cried when eulogizing him on the Senate floor.

Lost Gus Hall, for 41 years, head of the American Communist Party, a true believer even when the Soviet Union collapsed and Eastern Europe chose to breathe free.

Lost Henry B. Gonzalez, Henry B. for short, a battler for his Hispanic-American voters...


GONZALEZ: The fight hasn't even really begun.


MORTON: ... during 37 years in the House. Hosea Williams died, a company commander in the civil rights crusade, beaten by police; sometimes loud, but a good voice to hear when marching feet grew weary.

Lost Charles Ruff, Watergate prosecutor who a generation later defended Bill Clinton...


RUFF: He didn't commit perjury. He didn't obstruct justice. He must not be removed from office.


MORTON: ... during an impeachment that actually came to trial.

And Frank Wills, the security guard who first discovered the Watergate break-in and was dogged by bad luck ever afterward.

We lost Gwendolyn Brooks, poet and the first black to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Lost Barbara Cartland, queen of the romance novel. She wrote 723 of them -- top that -- and said, my heroines are always virgins.

Lost Edward Gorry (ph), whose sketches and verses might seem gloomy -- "E is for Ernest who choked on a peach. F is for Fanny, sucked dry by a leech." -- but which always made children and grownups laugh.

We lost Cardinal John O'Connor, uncompromising on issues like abortion and homosexuality, compassionate in caring for the poor.

Lost Jimmie Davis, country singer, "You Are My Sunshine" and twice governor of Louisiana. He rode his horse into the office on inauguration day. And a reporter wrote, "That was the first time all of a horse had ever been in a governor's office."


GIELGUD: You have such stuff as dreams are made on.


The theater lost Sir John Gielgud, who played everything from Hamlet to the butler in the movie "Arthur."

And Sir Alec Guinness, who played everything else, from a Saudi prince in "Lawrence," to Obi-Wan Kenobi. "May the force be with you."

Lost Hedy Lamarr, a beauty whose nude scene in the 1932 movie, "Ecstasy," fascinated a generation less used to movie nakedness, but who also invented a radio signalling device still in use.

Lost Jason Robards, a gifted actor who convinced a new generation that Eugene O'Neill really was a great playwright. And who was equally gifted as Ben Bradley, the editor who led the Washington Post through the excitement of Watergate.


ROBARDS: Just be sure you're right.


Tito Puente died. He didn't invent Latin jazz, but he owned it for a generation or two.

And Robert Trout, effortless voice of CBS Radio News. Franklin Roosevelt liked him so much, the story goes, that he once delayed an arrival just to make Trout, who was on live reporting the arrival, keep talking and talking and talking. Effortlessly, of course.

And we lost -- well, they've announced its death, anyway, the Oldsmobile. It used to be the family car, done in now, the marketers say, by consumer dislike of the first syllable of its name, old.

Lots of memories as the old year ends.

I'm Bruce Morton.


BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.

LATE EDITION will be right back.


BLITZER: And that's your LATE EDITION 2000 review. Be sure to join us next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. I'll be back tomorrow night, 8:00 Eastern for "Wolf Blitzer Reports."

For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and have a safe and very happy New Year. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.



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