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Inside Politics

Democratic and Republican New Hampshire Primary Races Tighten; Bradley Rebuts Gore, Launches Attacks at Gore's Record

Aired January 30, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm sure a lot of people are going to be paying attention to the Super Bowl, but there's going to be a lot of attention paid to these primaries on Tuesday. And I'm looking forward to it.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The warm-up for the big game in New Hampshire.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: It's Bradley trying to blitz Gore on campaign finance. The VP, on defense, is pushing for a penalty, while McCain and Bush try to shut down each another.

WOODRUFF: This is the place to get the political play by play.

ANNOUNCER: "The New Hampshire Primary": a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff analysts Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider.

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

Block for block and tackle for tackle, what may be happening on a certain football field in Atlanta tonight may not be able to compare with the action in the Democratic presidential race here in New Hampshire.

Two days before the primary here, Bill Bradley keeps trying to hammer Al Gore by going after his record and his integrity.

But today, Gore hit back harder than ever. We begin with the Gore campaign and CNN's John King.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new punch lines in Al Gore's fight song reflect a Democratic campaign turned increasingly bitter and personal.

ALBERT A. GORE JR., VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the closing days of the New Hampshire primary, Senator Bradley has suddenly changed. Instead of the promised character, courage and commitment, we have manipulative attack after manipulative attack.

KING: The vice president rallied his supporters for the final New Hampshire push by taking issue with Bradley's new lines of attack.

First, abortion rights.

GORE: I am proudly pro-choice, and Senator Bradley knows it.

KING: Next, scorn at Bradley's criticism of Gore's role in controversial 1996 Democratic fund-raising.

GORE: This coming from a man whose own fund-raising has been strongly criticized.

KING: Gore suggested the former New Jersey senator was leaving the high ground because he's losing the race.

GORE: I believe the people of New Hampshire are not going to be fooled by Senator Bradley's last-minute manipulative, negative, politics-as usual-campaign.

KING: Senator Edward Kennedy took issue with Bradley's assault on the vice president's integrity.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The standard for public service in the Democratic Party has been established by the Gores of Tennessee.

KING: And the Gore campaign released a statement from House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt and Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle saying, quote, "We urge Senator Bradley not to end his New Hampshire campaign with personal, negative attacks on a fellow Democrat."

Gore's campaign has nearly 2,000 volunteers in the state and is increasingly confident of a New Hampshire victory. The candidate himself led a door-to-door canvassing effort designed to reach 100,000 households in the final weekend.

But there is mounting concern among some Democrats that Bradley's refrain that Gore can't be trusted to tell the truth will do lasting damage to the vice president if he's the party's nominee.

The bitterness spilled into the open Sunday, when Senator Bob Kerrey, a Bradley backer, crashed a Gore event and was confronted by Senator Tom Harkin and other angry Gore supporters who say the mudslinging threatens Democratic unity.


KING: Now Bradley and Gore didn't like each other much to begin with, and their campaigns are barely on speaking terms now. But CNN has learned that labor operatives helping Gore have reached out to friends in the Bradley campaign in the past 48 hours, urging an end to the sharp attacks if the vice president wins New Hampshire by a comfortable margin -- Judy. WOODRUFF: John, are the people around the vice president any more concerned about Bradley because of the, really, the success that Bradley has had raising money?

KING: Quietly, Gore aides raising comparisons to Steve Forbes back in the 1996 Republican campaign. Mr. Forbes continued on in the race attacking Bob Dole, using his financial resources. Senator Bradley has twice as much money as the vice president right now. The Gore camp feels it will win New Hampshire and believes it will ultimately win the nomination. What it worries about is two to three more months of Bradley spending up to $10, $20 million, criticizing the vice president on the trust issue. That would leave Al Gore broke and weakened, they say, going into the general election. If Gore wins New Hampshire, look for senior Democrats go to Bill Bradley and press him if he won't get out of the race to at least tone down the attacks -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, traveling with the Gore campaign -- Bernie.

SHAW: Now to that Bradley campaign and the attacks that prompted Gore's counter punches.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has lurked around the edges of this campaign, but Sunday Bill Bradley plunked it down right in the center: Vice President Al Gore's questionable fund- raising activities during the 1996 presidential campaign.

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What happened in 1996 was a disgrace, on both the Democratic and Republican side. But particularly was it embarrassing for Democrats, because we are the party, we are the party of reform. Unless we clean up our own house, the Republicans are going to clean that house up in the fall. I think it's as simple as that.

MESERVE: But Bradley left it to a former member of the Clinton- Gore administration, Robert Reich, to lower the boom.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: I am very proud to have served the administration, but I am not proud of its record on campaign finance.

MESERVE: Reich read from an opinion piece written by Fred Wertheimer, a leading advocate of campaign finance reform. It contradicts Gore's claim that Bradley is a Johnnie-come-lately to the issue and the Gore is its champion.

REICH: "For the past seven years, the Clinton administration in which he serves has barely paid lip service to campaign finance reform, while the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election effort engaged in massive campaign finance abuses resulting in the worst national campaign finance scandals in a generation." MESERVE: As with abortion, Bradley frames the issue as one involving Gore's integrity and trustworthiness. But this is slippery ice for Bradley, who promised a high-minded campaign. And his efforts to keep his balance became apparent during an exchange about Gore's claim to have always been a supporter of abortion rights.


BRADLEY: I don't think he's leveling with the American people by denying that because the facts are there.

GEORGE WILL, ABC COMMENTATOR: Again, that's a very soft characterization -- not leveling with. Did he lie in the debate the other night?

BRADLEY: I don't think that he -- that he said the truth. No, I don't think that he said the truth. The record says something else.


MESERVE: The Bradley campaign believes it is on the upswing. The crowds are large and lively, and the campaign thinks it's because Bradley is pushing, though it's now apparent that Al Gore is going to shove right back -- Bernie.

SHAW: Jeanne, how was Bradley's heart condition handled today?

MESERVE: Well, he did confirm in a press interview what was reported in "The New York Times," which is that if he had to undergo a cardioversion he would hand over power, possibly, under the 25th Amendment to his vice president. Cardioversion is an electric shock therapy administered to the heart to bring an irregular heartbeat back into rhythm and it requires anesthesia. Many people are asking, in light of this, why Bradley consented to do the interview. The simple an answer is he didn't anticipate the question.

And there was another question the Bradley campaign had a little trouble with today, and that was how can the candidate, Bradley, describe this as merely a nuisance, when he has had cardioversion and anesthesia three different times? But I have to tell you, Bernie, voters do not seem to be caught up in this. In the 10 days or so I have been with the candidate, I have only heard one voter ask a question about his heart -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Jeanne Meserve -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And we have updated poll numbers tonight in the Democratic race here in the Granite State.

Our new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup survey of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire shows Al Gore leading Bill Bradley by six points, 51 percent to 45 percent.

Let's turn now to CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield, who spent some time with the Bradley folks today, in fact with the senator himself. Jeff, what did you see? What did hear?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, to go to what Senator Bradley said first, I asked him what a lot of operatives asked. Did you wait too long to start this attack on the vice president? No, he said, it was all a matter of timing. It had to be done face to face in a debate or joint appearance. The Black-Brown Debate in Des Moines was a race forum. It had to wait until this Wednesday. There are those in the campaign, Judy, who do not share that view. They think it might have been more effective to start earlier.

What about Gore's huge poll leads among core Democrats, blacks, women, working class, whites? He said it's soft. It's a matter of familiarity. If we make the case that Gore is vulnerable in November on trust, that will help get these Democrats back to us. He is absolutely committed through the national primaries, but when I asked him what message he would take when the campaign goes national on television, he said it hadn't been decided. And he also used a line which I think we're going to be hearing a lot of: Gore's more interested in the science of politics, I'm more interested in the arts of leadership.

And one quick other point: If you want to know how hostilities are emerging, today the Bradley campaign handed out critical "Fortune" magazine article about the vice president and fund-raising. It used, as we saw, Robert Reich to assail Gore on misrepresenting. It resurrected a Dick Gephardt comment about Gore in 1988 about misrepresentation -- that was all before lunch.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield. You stay with us because we're now going to bring in Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times." He is also here in New Hampshire, and he's been on the road with a number of campaigns.

Ron, let's just stay quickly with the Democrats. Just how close is this race on the Democratic side?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, clearly, Bradley has regained some ground this week that he lost through the stumbles in Iowa and through the bad result in Iowa. But he's still facing, I think, an uphill climb in the final hours. Bradley has moved up somewhat, but if you look at the variety of polls that are out there, including your own, Gore is stabilizing right around 50 percent. And I think, as Jeff alluded to, Gore has a strong hold still on core Democrats.

The risk, I think -- Bradley is, Judy, I think undertaking kind of a high-risk strategy here, because, on the one hand, by escalating these attacks on Gore's trustworthiness, on the Clinton-Gore administration fund-raising I think he energizes and regains some of his core supporters, independent, less-partisan, more upscale voters. On the other hand, he risks alienating and polarizing the electorate in a way that drives away some of those core Democrats that he'll needs not only here but certainly down the road in even larger numbers.

WOODRUFF: Do you see it the same way, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: Yes, and I think Ron raises what may be the most -- a really critical point for Democrats. If Bradley were to come back and win or even come very close after what seemed to be a swan song, a swoon, it would be very hard for the campaign not to say it was when we went on the offensive that we began to comeback. That argues for a trust issue campaign nationally.

Remember, Gore has succeeded in blurring distinctions between himself and Bradley on policy. Very hard to blur distinctions on trust. What Democrats are really going to worry about, as John King told us, is, first, makes it much harder to bring the campaigns together -- that's really ill feeling. Second, it hands the Republicans an issue. And just one quick point, if Democrats do go to Bradley and say, stop this. Don't go nuclear. Bradley may say, A, it worked, and, B, what do I owe you guys anyway, considering how hard you're campaigning for Gore?

WOODRUFF: Given that, Ron, just how much more can Bill Bradley continue to press with this negative business?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think that if he doesn't win New Hampshire, you will see a continuation of what you saw today, which is prominent Democrats urging him either to leave the race or certainly to tone this down.

After Iowa, when he lost Iowa badly, you didn't see that. You know, I was struck that I talked to David Bonior, for instance, and I saw some comments from Dick Gephardt who basically said, look, Bill Bradley has raised a lot of money. He's put a lot of effort in this. He's earned the right to go on to March 7th, no matter what happens.

I think that if he pursues this line of argument on the trust issue after and in fact does lose New Hampshire anyway, there will be Democrats who will view him as a spoiler or a sore loser and there will be more pressure on him to either tone it down or get out. But, as Jeff said, there really has been no indication that Bill Bradley would listen to those kind of entreaties, and the Democrats could be in for a very unpleasant month leading up to those primaries in California, New York and Ohio.

WOODRUFF: That's tight. And on that point, Jeff, we heard in John King's report intermediaries from the labor movement, organized labor, evidently have already been going to the Bradley people.


WOODRUFF: Others are poised to take that role.

GREENFIELD: You mind a little history? A lot of people in 1976, a lot of Republicans, did not want Ronald Reagan to take that fight to the convention. But in that case, he had enough delegates to make a fight of it. A lot of Democrats didn't want Ted Kennedy to go after Jimmy Carter all the way to the convention, and he never really fully reached rapprochement with Jimmy Carter. Something happens in a campaign. We forget sometimes these are human beings. And when they feel personally aggrieved, the poll numbers and the calculations don't always matter.

WOODRUFF: And it is the very nature of a campaign and the very nature of a candidate, Ron Brownstein -- is it not? -- that once you're in there and you're fighting 24 hours a day, who is somebody from the outside to come and tell what do you.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. And, you know, there is something -- I mean, despite some of the similarities on issues -- and there are some and there remain some differences -- there does seem to be a sense in which these two guys sort of look at each other and have almost sort of a tribal disdain for one another. I mean, Bradley, I think, views Gore as the embodiment of a compromising compromise pol who sort of does whatever it takes to win and goes along to get along. And I think Gore very much views Bradley as sort of the, you know, the professor who looks at all of this from a kind of lofty disdain and doesn't really understand what it takes to accomplish things in the real world. And there's sort of a -- I wouldn't even say a personal disdain so much as each of them represent a style of politics that doesn't view the other with very much respect.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein, Jeff Greenfield, thank you both.

And coming up on this special INSIDE POLITICS, George W. Bush trying to fan an air of inevitability.

And John McCain, talking like a winner and looking down the road.

The Republican race in New Hampshire, when we return.


SHAW: Heading into Tuesday's primary here in New Hampshire, no candidate wants to appear to be taking anything for granted. But Republican John McCain seemed to come close to doing just that today.

CNN's Jonathan Karl begins our coverage of the GOP race for the White House.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 1,000 people turned out for the last town hall meeting of John McCain's New Hampshire campaign. McCain has waged a campaign here in part on the belief that even in tax-averse New Hampshire, there is something Republicans want more than a tax cut.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We pay almost as much in interest on that debt as we do on national security in America. My dear friends, for the sake of these young folks, don't you think we ought to pay down that debt? Don't you think we ought to do that? KARL: That's been one of McCain's most reliable applause lines, even as George W. Bush has attacked him for not using more of the surplus for a tax cut.

McCain is so encouraged by the crowds and the polls, for a moment on his bus he forgot he hasn't won yet.

MCCAIN: We won for two -- we are doing very well -- easy, big fella, down.

KARL: McCain is already talking about what happens after a New Hampshire victory.

MCCAIN: If I win, everybody in America and in some places the world will be watching what I have to say because we won.

KARL: And McCain's advisers are talking like they've already won here.

MIKE MURPHY, MCCAIN ADVISER: The political establishment in about 72 hours will pick up a poll nationally, all national polls, are going to for the first time show Bush losing to Gore nationally. And then all of a sudden we've got a race. And the party's going to start looking at a new guy as the nominee.

KARL: At a VFW rally in the town of Franklin, McCain asked some of his most reliable allies for help turning out the vote on Tuesday.

MCCAIN: Now here we are. Forty-eight hours from about now, the people of New Hampshire will be making a crucial decision that will affect the future of this country. And I need you, again, to go on one more mission.

KARL (on camera): There's a flip side to the McCain campaign's optimism about their prospects here. McCain is counting so much on a New Hampshire victory that if he loses it could be crisis time for the McCain campaign.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.


WOODRUFF: Of course, George W. Bush is hoping the New Hampshire primary will leave the McCain campaign in crisis mode. And today, he kept working toward that end.

CNN's Candy Crowley was with Bush as he split his time between the Sunday talk shows and the trail.


BUSH: Walter and Betty, this is George W. Bush. I'm at my headquarters. I'm asking for your vote.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Criticized for not giving enough attention to this attention-demanding state, George Bush is looking to make up the difference.

BUSH: And I think Tuesday night we're going to leave New Hampshire with a great smile on our face. Thank you all very much.

CROWLEY: The day included a double header on the morning talk shows, where the candidate's preferred talk was his tax cut plan versus the other guy's.

BUSH: One member of the delegation, and that's my worthwhile opponent John McCain, believes we ought to leave money in Washington. I don't.

CROWLEY: It is the same message on the stump, where the Bush push is the Clinton connection.

BUSH: I think it's important for our party to nominate someone who's running for president who will have a tax cut plan that stands in stark contrast to the Clinton and Gore people, not somebody who sounds exactly like them.

CROWLEY: Bush strategists believe likening the McCain tax plan to Bill Clinton's has played well among core Republicans.

BUSH: People who are just spending endless hours in this great state of New Hampshire are -- can see in the voters a shift toward our campaign.

CROWLEY: They also hope Friday's endorsement by former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu and the presence of party favorite Elizabeth Dole send out a whiff of inevitability -- not enough to seem arrogant, but enough to shake loose some of the softer votes, particularly those around Steve Forbes, who's running a distant third here.

Bush is playing to capacity-plus crowds in the final hours, bolstered by newfound friends and long-time family.

BUSH: I want to thank my baby sister who's here. She's forgiven me for all those years of being a mean older brother.

CROWLEY: Bush is supported in New Hampshire by the considerable political apparatus of Judd Gregg. Born of a political family, a four-term congressman, two-term governor, now in his second term as U.S. Senator.

SEN. JUDD GREGG (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, we've still got a few hours to go so we want to work hard.

CROWLEY: Gregg has put the bells and whistles in place. Bush's job is to create the enthusiasm and get out the vote, the right vote.

BUSH: Actually went from McCain to undecided to Bush, you know?


CROWLEY: One cautionary note about the ability of Judd Gregg to deliver, he was also behind Bob Dole four years ago, and Dole left here second to Pat Buchanan -- Bernie, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Candy, those poll numbers are so close. At this point, what do you sense when you talk to the Bush people? What are they thinking in terms of what the prospect is?

CROWLEY: I -- Bush has this line in his speech. He's actually talking about foreign policy when he says, I'm a cold-eyed realist. I think that sort of goes to this particular state as well. I think they think it's doable. There's been a sort of change in attitude from when they first got here to now, when they've seen some movement in the polls, although it's been back and forth. Yes, they think it's doable, but they, probably more importantly, they think a loss is survivable. So that's kind of kept them going. They know that if McCain should win here, he comes out of here with a bounce. They will have to work doubly hard in South Carolina and beyond. So as far as a win, they think it's doable. As far as a loss, they think it's survivable.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley with the Bush campaign -- Bernie.

SHAW: Checking our new poll numbers tonight, in the Republican race John McCain is leading George W. Bush by 10 points, 42 percent to 32 percent among likely GOP primary voters here in New Hampshire. Steve Forbes, Forbes is a distant third with 14 percent.

Let's talk about that and more with Stu Rothenberg of "The Rothenberg Political Report." He has seen all the top candidates on the stump this weekend, and he has been talking to some of their advisers.

We have seen the numbers. Can Governor Bush come back? How likely is it?

STU ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Well certainly it's very possible, Bernie. Look, I've been around, as you pointed out, to a number of events. Both McCain and Bush are getting very good crowds. The candidates seem relaxed, enthusiastic. I don't think we can be certain as to what's going happen in the next couple days, but I do have a hypothesis I'm willing to toss out for you here, and it comes from my experience with congressional elections.

In House and Senate races, consultants and campaign managers have a rule of thumb. And that is that as you get to the end of the campaign, the undecideds break for the challenger. The undecideds don't go to the incumbent. If they wanted to go to the incumbent, they would have gone to the incumbent earlier. This may hold in the presidential race. And in this case, George Bush looks, sounds, acts like the incumbent. He has institutional support, he has money, he -- there's inevitability to his nomination, or at least allegedly so. And I think the people who have not yet decided to support him are showing some resistance. And as they get to this final vote decision, the voters may choose somebody else, anybody else, and that could benefit John McCain.

SHAW: Let's bring in our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, into this discussion.

Jeff, you've been looking at Steve Forbes. What's happening with him?

GREENFIELD: Well, what's happened may be the classic mistake of interpreting Iowa as meaning more than it does. We saw this with Pat Robertson in 1988 when he came in second and came to New Hampshire and virtually disappeared. Now Steve Forbes has so much money that he is not disappearing, but to mistake what happens in a caucus state -- which is very atypical. It's not how we choose our candidates -- with a primary state, when intensity matters much less than the breadth of support, may be exactly what's going on here.

The other thing that has to be said is Steve Forbes, while he is a better campaigner than he was four years ago, is not a very good campaigner. And in the state where retail politics still matters, where people like McCain and Bush and Gore and Bradley, very skilled and accomplished candidates go out, Steve Forbes tends to drop down in that score. He also tends to almost disappear during the debates.

BROWNSTEIN: Bernie, let me just jump in here. I was at a Forbes event. I talked to some Forbes people. There's no doubt that Forbes has a good campaign here, but this is one of those cases where the candidate simply lacks some personal skills. You know, he's a shy man. Everybody says he's a wonderful man, a very nice man, but as a candidate he seems stiff and he doesn't connect well with voters. And I think that's his problem.

GREENFIELD: There's one other point I want to make to amplify what Stu said earlier about McCain. And, you know, sometimes we make the mistake of finding one explanation for a poll number. Then the numbers change and we scramble to find a different one. But I do think that Wednesday night in the debate John McCain made a very strong point to Republicans. We know he's strong among independents, but he said, if I'm on the stage with Al Gore, I will beat him like a drum because I can make the case on finance reform. If you're up there, Governor Bush, you can't because you're part of the problem. The fact that he was talking more to Republicans may, and I underscore "may," have made some difference. Forty-eight hours from now I'll tell you more.

SHAW: Jeff, I want to ask you, what kind of campaign -- we heard what Stu just said -- what kind of campaign is Governor Bush running right now?

GREENFIELD: Most interesting to me is that he continues to strike general election themes. The standard rule in Republicans is you run to the right in the primary and move to the center. George Bush has been talking to the center from the time he announced -- compassionate conservatism, can't leave anybody behind, talking a lot about black and Hispanic kids doomed to failure -- and he has not abandoned that theme in New Hampshire. It's almost as if he's saying, I don't have to run hard to what's considered the Republican right. I want to keep that general election theme going. I'll win this nomination down the line somewhere anyway, I've got to think about November. BROWNSTEIN: Bernie, and he closes with two particular general election themes. First, that he's a unifier and not a divider, and second he refers to his putting his hand on the Bible and making you proud. Character, integrity, another general election theme.

SHAW: OK, Stu Rothenberg, Jeff Greenberg -- Greenfield, thanks very much.

When we return, polls, polls and more polls. Our Bill Schneider crunches the numbers on candidate support.


SHAW: As this New Hampshire primary approaches, there is a virtual barrage of polls measuring voter support of the candidates.

Here to make sense of it all, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Bernie, one state, two primaries, six tracking polls. If there's a New Hampshire voter out there, we're going to track him down through the snow.

Now let's see what the latest New Hampshire tracking polls show for the Democratic race. On the outside, the Fox news and WMUR TV poll shows Gore with a double-digit lead over Bill Bradley, 11 points. Now that's the only poll showing a double-digit lead. Three more polls all with Al Gore seven points ahead. Gore's narrowest margin over Bradley, six points in the American Research Group poll and in our own CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll reported earlier.

Put them all together and what have you got? Gore ahead by an average of seven points. I think we can pretty safely conclude that Gore is leading Bradley right now but by a margin that is only in single digits.

SHAW: Who do these polls say about what the voters think of Bradley and Gore?

SCHNEIDER: Well, New Hampshire Democrats tell us they think Bradley more than Gore is trustworthy and in touch with the average American. Keep in touch, Al. Those are personal qualities. But Gore has about a two to one lead over Bradley as a candidates more likely to get things done in Washington and keep the economy strong. Those are practical qualities. And how's this for a practical quality: By better than four to one -- four to one -- Democrats say Gore has the better chance of beating the Republican candidate in November.

SHAW: Let's go to the Republican side. What do these polls say about the GOP race?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the polls are a little more divergent in the GOP race, which is a fancy way of saying we're not quite as sure what's going on here.

On the outside, it's the University of Massachusetts poll showing John McCain 15 points ahead of George W. Bush. McCain's only other double-digit lead is in our CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll, 10 points. Three polls show McCain with a narrow lead over Bush, just two or three points. One poll by the American Research Group has Bush ahead by five points -- hey, it could happen.

This all averages out to a five-point lead for McCain but an average over a wide spread. The tracking polls are consistent in other respects. They all show Steve Forbes coming in third in the GOP race, always in the low to mid teens. They all show Alan Keyes fourth in single digits, and they all show Gary Bauer in last place, struggling to get one percent of the vote.

SHAW: Well, take us behind the numbers. What's behind these numbers?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it is eerie, I tell you. The Republican contest looks a lot like the Democratic contest. McCain, like Bradley, has an advantage on personal qualities -- more in touch with the average American, someone you can trust, also would do the best job improving moral standards in this country. And you know, that's important to Republican voters, and it could be the key to McCain's lead.

Bush, like Gore, is ahead on practical qualities -- most likely to keep the economy strong and get things done in Washington. And by a whopping margin of better than three to one over McCain, Republicans see George W. Bush as having the best chance to beat the Democratic candidate in November. Electabilty, thy name is Bush. But clearly at this point Republicans here in New Hampshire are not going for electability. They are voting for the guy they like.

SHAW: Bill Schneider, we will have a very interesting and possibly surprising night here, primary night, in our coverage.

SCHNEIDER: Looking forward to that.

SHAW: Same here -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: We can't wait.

And much more ahead on this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Coming up:


CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After mass in the basement of a Catholic church in Manchester, hugs and autographs. Alan Keyes is getting the hero's treatment from social conservatives in New Hampshire.


WOODRUFF: Charles Zewe on Alan Keyes and his voter appeal.


BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This year, it's the high-tech office as a backdrop for political camping that's become as popular as the classic church basement or soda fountain at the diner.


WOODRUFF: Bill Delaney on how technology is changing politics in the Granite State.

And later, our Bruce Morton looks back at primaries past to answer the question: Does New Hampshire matter?


WOODRUFF: While George W. Bush and John McCain have dominated the GOP primary spotlight here in New Hampshire, Alan Keyes has been steadfastly campaigning, undeterred by his lower ranking in the polls.

CNN's Charles Zewe spent the day with Keyes to find out how Granite State voters are reacting to his campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God bless you. We're so glad you're here again.


ZEWE: At a crowded gun shop, a big welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep up the wonderful work.

ZEWE: After mass in the basement of a Catholic church in Manchester, hugs and autographs. Alan Keyes is getting the hero's treatment from social conservatives in New Hampshire.

KEYES: This country wasn't based on self-evident lies.

ZEWE: A former U.N. official who has never held public office, Keyes is known for fiery diatribes against income taxes, abortion rights and gays in the military. He strongly favors the death penalty and gun owners' rights.

KEYES: Our founders were right. We need to protect that God- given right to defend ourselves.

ZEWE: On the campaign trail, his abrasiveness spares no one. Not fellow candidates...

KEYES: I think that that displayed a profound lack of understanding of the basic issue of principle involved in abortion.

ZEWE: ... not reporters... KEYES: When you ask a question like that, you display a lack of comprehension that suggests you're not fit for your job.

ZEWE: ... and not voters, like Ellen Hayward (ph), who challenged his support of capital punishment.

KEYES: There's a very simple answer to what Jesus would do.

ELLEN HAYWARD, VOTER: What would he do?

KEYES: Accept it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a fine speaker, but I think he comes across as self-righteous.

ZEWE: Despite little money or institutional support, Keyes won a surprising third place behind George Bush and Steve Forbes in Iowa. But polls here show him in fourth place, trailing John McCain, Bush and Forbes.

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And it is the candidates, both in Iowa and New Hampshire, who put on the better shows, to put it bluntly, who do better.

ZEWE: And Keyes certainly does know how to put on a show.

(on camera): Keyes' support is small, but polls show he's drawing strength from fellow conservatives Gary Bauer and Steve Forbes and even Texas Governor George Bush. There are those, in fact, who believe that Alan Keyes' showing this Tuesday could well determine who wins the GOP primary.

Charles Zewe, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.


SHAW: Another candidate vying for Republican support here in New Hampshire, Steve Forbes. A few hours ago, I talked with Forbes, and I asked him how hopeful he plans -- or how he plans to win -- win over the crucial independent voters in this eleventh hour of this campaign.


STEVE FORBES (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think through the strength of my message, Bernie. A lot of people like the idea of scrapping the tax code. A lot of people love the idea of being able to choose their own doctors. And I have got the bold proposals on the table to do it. A lot of people, particularly in New Hampshire, like the idea of being able to choose their own school -- schools for their children. There is a real education crisis here.

And certainly among younger people, everyone likes the idea of having control of their own Social Security money and their own individual accounts.

SHAW: There's a lot of feasting on the conservative voters in this state. You've got company. You've got Bush; you've got Bauer; you've got Keyes.

How are you getting your slice of the conservative pie and how are you convincing New Hampshireites that you are the true conservative and not the others?

FORBES: Well, I am an independent outsider. I don't practice politics as usual, and I do it through the boldness of the message, such as scrapping the tax code. Just this morning, George Bush has put, I think, a very timid tax cut proposal on the table, keeping the IRS, keeping the current code.

He said on a TV show this morning that he hopes in his first term he might be able to do something on taxes. In that business, you can't hope. You've got to be willing to fight. And I'm coming across as somebody who's fighting for true principles and not just making vague pledges to get through a primary and get to the general election.

That's a fundamental difference between George Bush and myself.

SHAW: Here Sunday night in New Hamsphire, what is your polling telling you about this race?

FORBES: We're gaining strength, just as we did in previous contests: the strength of the message. And that's how you win these things. People are committed to this cause. They know that I will make a real change in Washington, that I'm doing things to make real things happen. And that's why people are rallying and that's why we've got good momentum, just as we did in Iowa.

SHAW: Very candidly, how much -- how much are Keyes and Bauer taking votes away from you?

FORBES: Again, I don't worry what other campaigns are doing. I focus on making sure we get our message out, such as scrapping that tax code and giving people choice on choosing their own doctors, being firm on the life issue instead of waffling, as George Bush has done.

That's how you do it: Get your message out and then the rest will take care of itself.

SHAW: To be viable, to be a credible candidate in this race, where have you decided you must finish Tuesday night?

FORBES: I think we're going to do very well on Tuesday night. You're going to know it when you see it, just as we did in Iowa.

We've got the momentum. We've got the message. We're going the distance. We're going to win this nomination.

SHAW: And after New Hampshire?

FORBES: After New Hampshire, we go on to Delaware, which has a primary on February 8th. I won that primary in '96 in a crowded field. I think we're going to do very well there. And then from Delaware, we go to South Carolina, and soon followed by Arizona and Michigan, and after that, Washington State, North Dakota and Virginia.

SHAW: Steve Forbes, thanks for joining us on this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

FORBES: Thank you, Bernie.


SHAW: And up next, the changing New Hampshire economy: a look at how the new industries are shaping presidential politics.


WOODRUFF: CNN is working here in New Hampshire.

At his recent campaign stops, Al Gore has focused on the New Hampshire economy -- and with good reason. Economically, things are looking up for many residents of the Granite State, thanks to an influx of high-tech industry.

Our Bill Delaney reports.


DELANEY (voice-over): The 21st century moved into the old Johnson Show Factory in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire back in 1979 when a company called Electropac started making computer circuit boards there.

People with this image in their heads of what the factory used to look like used to say, What's Electropac doing in an mill? -- until the company's founder, Ray Boissoneau, explained the math.

RAY BOISSONEAU, FOUNDER, ELECTROPAC: We shot back and said, OK, our rent here is 50 cents a square foot. If I go to an industrial, my rent is $4 a square foot. I've got 100,000 square feet at 50 cents. If I go to another factory, I've got to downsize and pay higher rent.

DELANEY: Flowing up the Merrimack River, up river from the way more expensive state of Massachusetts, new companies in old mills and other buildings too have had a lot to do with lowering unemployment in New Hampshire from near 8 percent in the early '90s to less than 3 percent now.

The state has the highest percentage of high-tech workers in the country, 8.4 percent of the work force.

DELANEY (on camera): What's often emphasized about New Hampshire's booming economy is how many highly educated new New Hampshireites there are. Yuppies. But the real story may be blue collar workers, now with good steady jobs because of places like Electropac...

DELANEY (voice-over): ... where as many as 90 percent of the workers making high-tech circuit boards didn't go to college, voters now with the political priorities of the economically stable. New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen says the issue this year isn't the angry voter but the relatively contented voter.

GOV. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE; People will make up their minds based on what matters to families in the state. I think they care about health care. It's been a big issue here. They care about education, again another big issue here.

DELANEY: They care about keeping the good times rolling, whichever party can deliver the goods. The largest single voting block in New Hampshire is now independents.

BOISSONEAU: But I would venture a guess that 80 to 90 percent of our employees in this company vote. And on Tuesday they will all vote. And I would venture to say that of the 80 or 90 percent, you would probably find a balance across the bored on who they're going to vote for.

DELANEY: This year, it's the high-tech office as a backdrop for political campaigning that's become as popular as the classic church basement or soda fountain at the diner: because politicians need to woo that segment of New Hampshire voters who often say they've never had it so good and want to keep it that way.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.


SHAW: Still ahead...


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Does New Hampshire deserve a book? Does the primary matter?

Only sometimes.


SHAW: Bruce Morton thumbs through the pages of Granite State history, for some primary perspective.


SHAW: The beautiful St. Marie Roman Catholic Church on Notre Dame Avenue here in West Manchester.

You know, when you spend time in New Hampshire, as we have in recent days and as we do every four years, you're reminded of the state's prominence during the primary season.

But is New Hampshire really that important to the process. Our Bruce Morton is a veteran of covering these presidential contests. Here's his report.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MORTON (voice-over): "First in the Nation" is the title of a book about this primary. Does New Hampshire deserve a book? Does the primary matter?

Only sometimes.

Not in 1952, when Democratic Senator Estes Kefauver won it. Adlai Stevenson, the Democrats' eventual nominee, wasn't even a candidate.

Yes, in 1968, when sitting President Lyndon Johnson beat anti- Vietnam war Democrat Eugene McCarthy by about 4,000 votes. It was close enough that Johnson decided not to seek re-election.

Yes in 1972 when Democratic front-runner Edmund Muskie of next- door Maine won only narrowly over George McGovern, the eventual nominee. Muskie broke down, choked, maybe cried -- it was snowing and hard to tell -- while denouncing a local newspaper publisher.


SEN. EDMUND MUSKIE (D-ME), 1972 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By attacking me, by attacking my wife, he's proved himself to be a gutless coward.


MORTON: That didn't help. Mattered in '76, when Georgian Jimmy Carter beat Arizona Congressman Morris Udall and went on to win. Mattered in 1992, when Bill Clinton, despite stories about draft- dodging and dope and Gennifer Flowers, finished second to Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas and christened himself "the Comeback Kid."


GOV. BILL CLINTON (D-AR), 1992 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... that New Hampshire tonight has made Bill Clinton the Comeback Kid.


MORTON: Republicans -- mattered in 1952, when war hero Dwight Eisenhower beat Ohio conservative Robert Taft. Ike won, though the fight went all the way to the convention floor.

Didn't matter in 1964 when Henry Cabot Lodge, who'd been ambassador to South Vietnam, beat Barry Goldwater. Goldwater won the nomination and changed the whole course of the Republican Party. Go South. Go West.

Mattered in 1976 when unelected President Gerald Ford beat Ronald Reagan and kept winning until he was the nominee. Mattered in 1980, when Reagan, who lost Iowa, beat George Bush and the rest of a crowded field and became the nominee.

Mattered in 1988 when Bush, third in Iowa, won here and went on to win the nomination.

Didn't matter in 1996 when Pat Buchanan won here.


PAT BUCHANAN (R), 1996 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do not wait for orders from headquarters! Mount up, everybody, and ride to the sound of the guns!


MORTON: He lost the nomination to Bob Dole. South Carolina was Dole's New Hampshire.

(on camera): This time? Well, if Al Gore beats Bill Bradley here, Bradley says he'll continue, but what will he say in New York or California? "Vote for me. I'm 0 and 2"? If George W. Bush beats John McCain here, the Republican nomination is probably his. McCain would need wins in New Hampshire and in South Carolina. And it's hard to imagine Steve Forbes or Alan Keyes coming out of the pack to challenge Bush.

So New Hampshire matters some years, doesn't matter others. The question is, what kind of a year is this?

I'm Bruce Morton.


WOODRUFF: No matter what, it'll matter to us.

Now let's turn again to our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Well, you know, you don't need a tracking poll or a focus group to know who the one big winner is going to be here. It's the New Hampshire primary itself. Long criticized for being too small, too rural, too white, this state has produced, this time at least, two intense races where the clash of ideas has played out in hundreds of town meetings face to face.

And at the campaign headquarters I visited yesterday, the energy was palpable. In the Gore and Bradley headquarters, young people packed to the rafters, wolfing down junk food, waiting for their assignments to drop leaflets or hold up a sign.

At McCain headquarters, a group of women manning the phones, each of whom said they'd never worked in a campaign before.

And at Bush headquarters, a 29-year-old volunteer, in for the weekend with his wife and two children back home in Maine, with one of the best lines of the campaign.

Why do this, I asked him, when so many of his contemporaries were so cynical about politics? "Cynicism," he said, "is a self-fulfilling prophecy." For the volunteers here, cynicism is in retreat, at least for the next two days.

WOODRUFF: And that is a hopeful report.

GREENFIELD: Yes, I think so. I got a little -- it was very uplifting to go.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield.

SHAW: Well, that's all for this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Please stay with CNN for complete coverage of this New Hampshire primary.

WOODRUFF: Bernie and I will be here along with Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern when the votes start coming in, and you can also get complete coverage at CNN's

I'm Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: I'm Bernard Shaw. "CNN & TIME" is coming up next.

We leave you with pictures of you know what: Candidates going to Super Bowl parties tonight. There is no campaigning tonight. They resume in the morning.


GORE: They are a lot of Tennesseans up here who have volunteered to come up and help in the primary, and so we decided to take a few hours off to watch the Super Bowl.



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