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Inside Politics

Bush Condemns McCain Campaign Tactics; McCain Stresses Electability to Californians; Democrats Stump in Golden State on Eve of Debate

Aired February 29, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the kind of politics that John F. Kennedy rejected in the 1960s. It's the kind of politics that we thought we put behind us in America. It's the kind of politics that continues to persist today because of Senator McCain.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: On another hard-fought primary day, George W. Bush keeps lashing back at John McCain and condemning his campaign tactics.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time to put California back in the winning column and I now firmly believe that I only can make that happen this year.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: McCain tries to boost his prospects in California next week by emphasizing electability and rethinking his debate plans.

SHAW: The Democrats also are stumping in this Golden State. We're going to look at the expectations for their debate tomorrow night.

ANNOUNCER: This is INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff in Los Angeles.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie and I are in Los Angeles for the Democratic and Republican presidential debates over the next two days.

The candidates in both parties are looking ahead to the California primary and other big contests next week, even as they await results of today's voting in Virginia, Washington State, and North Dakota.

We begin our coverage with the Republicans and an increasingly tense, bitter, and often unpredictable state of the campaign.

CNN's John King has been traveling with John McCain here in California.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another decision day in the rollercoaster Republican race.

MCCAIN: No one has been able to predict a single one of these yet, so why in the world should I be able to predict it now.

KING: So as voters in Virginia, North Dakota, and Washington made their choice, John McCain was already looking ahead to next Tuesday's contests in California and a dozen other states, a defining day for the McCain campaign.

MCCAIN: Yes, yes, I need to win California. Yes, it's a critical state. California, as much as we who live in Arizona hate to admit it, California has enormous impact on the West and on the nation, and I need to win.

KING: But polls show George W. Bush with a big lead here. so after protests by major California supporters, McCain abruptly changed course and agreed to participate in the CNN/"Los Angeles Times" debate Thursday night, but McCain will take part by satellite. He says he can't be in California that night because of commitments to campaign in the East. The Arizona senator tried to cut into Bush's lead by reminding restless Republicans, Bill Clinton carried their state twice.

MCCAIN: It's time to put California back in the winning column, and I now firmly believe that I only can make that happen this year. While polls are polls, they have consistently recorded that by large margins I can defeat Al Gore while George Bush cannot.

KING: McCain repeated his criticism of Christian right leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and said he isn't worried that he's only driving more social conservatives to vote for Bush.

MCCAIN: Look, these people have led our party out of the mainstream of America. They are exclusive, and not inclusive. They are -- they practice politics of division, not addition.

KING: All registered voters can participate in California's open primary, and McCain continues to aggressively court Democrats and independents. But the Republican Party will count only votes from registered Republicans in allocating the state's 162 GOP convention delegates. So McCain could win the popular vote and bragging rights in California, but get no delegate to show for it.


KING: And Senator McCain is well aware he needs more than symbolic victories when California and a dozen other states vote next Tuesday. There are some 600 delegates at stake, 60 percent of what it takes to win the Republican nomination -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, what are the people around McCain telling you about why they decided to go ahead and participate in this debate after all?

KING: There was a great outcry among Senator McCain supporters here in California. He is well behind Governor Bush here. But they believe he must contest this state, particularly if he wants to make the case that he is the strongest Republican candidate to go up against Al Gore or whoever the Democratic nominee will be in the fall. They told him if he pulled out of the debate it would be seen as abandoning California, it would hurt him here in his campaign, certainly hurt him if he were the Republican nominee.

Already in the press here today, very critical headlines of Senator McCain's initial decision not to debate, so an abrupt about face. The senator now says he will debate, of course, by satellite. He will not be in California in person -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King reporting from Fresno, thanks -- Bernie?

SHAW: Now to Governor Bush, who is hoping to emerge from today's primaries looking like a winner again. He is especially counting on a victory in Virginia, but as our Candy Crowley reports, Bush chose to focus, this day, on the Super Tuesday battleground of Ohio, McCain's campaign tactics, and the Catholic vote.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Still struggling to shake the political albatross of Bob Jones University, George Bush spent the morning seated beside a priest at a community center funded by Catholic Charities.

BUSH: I want to thank you, father, for your hospitality.

CROWLEY: At a news conference later, Bush invoked the name of the first Catholic president as he scorned John McCain for suggesting that Bush is an anti-Catholic bigot.

BUSH: That kind of politics needs to be set aside. This is the kind of politics that John F. Kennedy rejected in the 1960s. It's the kind of politics that we thought we had put behind us in America. It's the kind of politics that continues to persist today because of Senator McCain.

CROWLEY: The McCain campaign is using tape-recorded phone calls in primary states to tell voters about the anti-Catholic views of some Bob Jones officials.

MCCAIN: I stand by those calls, whether they're made in Virginia or not made in Virginia or here, I will stand by them, whether they're run there or not. And I am proud to run them because they happen to be factual and they happen to be to a large degree what this campaign is all about. CROWLEY: The message does not flatly say that Bush is anti- Catholic, but it leaves that impression.

BUSH: The Straight Talk Express should not be the parse talk express.

CROWLEY: None of this is Bush's topic of choice.

BUSH: Government should never fund a church, but government should fund programs and/or individuals who seek help at church-run programs.

CROWLEY: Tuesday he wanted to talk about his tax initiatives designed to increase support of faith-based programs and other charities.

BUSH: I know oftentimes, politics, they love to have this, you know, he-said/she-said type of politics. I want people to look at the policies of those of us running for office. People need to hear loud and clear what each of us are proposing. My proposals, from the tax perspective, encourage giving. And the man I'm running against discourages charitable gifts and this is bad for America.

CROWLEY: Exit polls from South Carolina and Michigan show people voting on issues, voted mostly for Bush. But when an event is over and the news conference begins, issues sometimes fade into questions like what it is about McCain's assault on some leaders of the religious right that Bush said was reminiscent of the current administration.

BUSH: ... by demonizing people, holding people for scorn. A leader is somebody who unites.

CROWLEY (on camera): In all the back and forth, it was easy to forget that this is primary day. Bush will await the results in Washington State, North Dakota and Virginia, in Georgia. Like Ohio, Georgia is a March 7th state.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Westerville, Ohio.


SHAW: Now let's talk more now about Bush versus McCain. Bush campaign chief strategist Karl Rove joins us from Austin, Texas, and McCain campaign manager Rick Davis is with us from Washington, D.C.

Rick Davis, is the -- hi, there. Is the senator playing the religion card, as the governor charges?

RICK DAVIS, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, he's not playing the religion card. What he's trying to do is clean up the misrepresentations from Bush surrogates about his religion.

You know, John McCain has got a 17-year conservative record in Congress. And what he did yesterday is he tried to defend that against the attacks by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell on behalf of George Bush, and he tried to set the record straight with other faith- based organizations and with Christian conservatives all around the country. For that he gets criticized. It's an interesting juxtaposition.

SHAW: Karl Rove, was there any setting straight of the record?

KARL ROVE, BUSH CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: No, what Senator McCain has yet to do is set the record straight about these smear phone calls made in Michigan, now in Washington State and in Virginia, that first in Michigan implied Governor Bush was an anti-Catholic bigot, and in Virginia explicitly said -- there were taped messages in Washington and Michigan. But in Virginia there are live operators calling up people and if they say they're for Bush, McCain campaign says, do you know Governor Bush harbors anti-Catholic views? And that's just beyond the pale.

This is the injection of religion into a campaign in a very ugly way, a shameful way. And Senator McCain denied making those phone calls in Michigan for three days, and then finally last Sunday admitted to the "New York Times" that he not only knew about those calls, but had approved the script in advance. They are designed to imply Governor Bush is an anti-Catholic bigot. They are not factual, they're not accurate, and that impression is one that is carefully and deliberately laid and it is a shameful call.

SHAW: Rick Davis, your reaction to the characterization?

DAVIS: Well, it's fascinating, because first of all we're not making any of these calls in Virginia. We'd say so if we were. We said we were making them in Washington State as we speak, and we're proud of the fact that we're able to point out the kind of transgressions that George Bush has taken on this issue.


DAVIS: John McCain is not the one who has gone to Bob Jones University that sanctioned this kind of behavior.

SHAW: Karl Rove...

DAVIS: John McCain is not the one who avoided repudiating Bob Jones University, so it's a lot of smoke that the Bush campaign is starting to spread out around the country.

ROVE: You know what Senator McCain did? He had as co-chairman of the South Carolina campaign a graduate of Bob Jones University who represents him in the legislature. He had as another co-chairman of his campaign Congressman Lindsey Graham who accepted and honorary degree from Bob Jones last spring...

DAVIS: That's right, neither of which of these people are running for president of the United States.


SHAW: Sorry, gentlemen, let me get in. ROVE: Rick, let me finish.

DAVIS: Well, let me just mention it.

ROVE: Rick, let me finish. He also hired in South Carolina...


DAVIS: On a platform of leadership George Bush is running.

ROVE: ... and paid $20,000 a month...

DAVIS: ... at Bob Jones university.

ROVE: To a man named Rick Quinn who edits a magazine that endorsed David Duke.


ROVE: Rick, may I finish? May I finish.

SHAW: Gentlemen, let me get in with a very contemporary question. Karl Rove, what effect will the senator's criticism have on Christian conservatives, especially those voting in Virginia today?

ROVE: Well, I don't think it will have much of an impact in Virginia. I wouldn't read much into the results there. I think the results tonight are going to reflect who is winning the debate for the hearts and minds of Republican voters around the country.

Republicans want to know who has an optimistic positive agenda to reform schools; change welfare; keep our economy growing; to cut taxes; strengthen our military; to save Social Security. The results in Virginia -- watch them tonight -- they're going to be an outcome not of yesterday's speech in Virginia Beach, but it will be an outcome that will show where -- who is winning the Republican debate, who is winning the debate for a positive agenda.

SHAW: Rick Davis, does Senator McCain think he can win the party's nomination without the support of Christian conservatives?

DAVIS: Bernie, we're looking to -- trying to attract all Republican support. And we're trying not to segment it, unlike the Bush campaign who've tried to use these divisive forces in our party. John McCain has reached out not only to Republicans, but to others that will make up the McCain majority that'll allow us to win in the general election. Which, after all, is the function of trying to nominate someone who is best able to win against Al Gore.

SHAW: All right...

ROVE: And Senator McCain has failed to do that.

DAVIS: Now, look who's interrupting?

ROVE: And Senator McCain has failed in doing that.

DAVIS: This is fascinating.

ROVE: He has support among Republicans...


DAVIS: Now, Karl, if you wouldn't mind me finishing, I wouldn't mind being able to talk about the...

SHAW: OK, gentlemen, our time is finite, and I have two questions. I really want to get them in.

DAVIS: Sure.

SHAW: To both of you: Which way is the Catholic vote cutting now? Karl Rove first.

ROVE: Well, in New York, we were losing the Catholic vote according to the Zogby Poll. And now we've pulled ahead among Catholics. I think it is a reaction to these ugly, anonymous smear phone calls that the McCain campaign...


ROVE: ... you know, made in the name of an anonymous nonexistent group in Michigan.

SHAW: A quick response from Rick Davis to the question. Which way is the...

DAVIS: Fascinating. We're doing great amongst the Catholic vote. And it's not because of any of the things Karl's talking about. It's John's vision for the future of America that they endorse. And that's what's going to make a difference in that vote.

SHAW: OK and Rick Davis, my last question to you: How much are the senator supporters in California disappointed that he will not be at the CNN and "L.A. Times" debate in person, on the stage Thursday night?

DAVIS: Oh, I think they're going to be very excited to see how he performs. We've done these satellite debates before. Look, this is the modern age. We're able to communicate with voters not in person, but through the satellite.

George Bush changed the terms of the debate and caught us on the other side of the country. We're sticking to our game plan. And I appreciate the fact that CNN's made this kind of option available to us.

SHAW: Karl Rove, your response to that before we go?

ROVE: Look, Senator McCain accepted the debate in Los Angeles. He's going to be there Thursday morning. He then changed his mind and dropped out of the debate. Public outcry... DAVIS: Oh, he didn't have a debate to drop out of...

ROVE: Rick, let me finish.

DAVIS: ... you guys pulled out of the L.A. debate. I mean, it's fascinating this kind of spin that's going on without...

ROVE: And then -- Rick, are you discourteous all the time or only when I'm making a point you don't want people to hear?

DAVIS: I learned everything I know from you, Karl.

ROVE: You accepted the debate, you put it up on your Web page. You had a press spokesman announce your acceptance with great glee. And then...

DAVIS: Yes, back in September, we were ready to go.

ROVE: And then when Governor Bush accepted...

DAVIS: Couldn't get you guys into this...

ROVE: ... you pulled out of the debate and ran running to the East coast. You insulted the people of California.

SHAW: Well, as moderator of this debate on INSIDE POLITICS, I have to tell you our time has run out, thanks very much.

DAVIS: Thanks, Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you for joining us. We'll see you again on the trail.

DAVIS: Please.

SHAW: And still ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS, a look at George W. Bush's support going into the March 7 primaries. And does John McCain have a chance at winning the fight for delegates?

Our Bill Schneider does the math.


WOODRUFF: The Republican candidates each spent several days in Washington and Virginia this week, but the G.O.P. hopefuls have also included California, New York, and other March 7 states on their recent campaign swings.

Joining us now, our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

Bill, what is the outlook for Republicans on next week's big primary day?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, 13 states are going to vote -- 605 GOP delegates, more than half the total needed to win the nomination -- all in one day. Let's take a look.

Three huge states will vote next week. The biggest of all? California: 162 delegates, winner-take-all. The latest California standings among registered Republicans will determine the delegate winner. Bush: 20 points ahead of McCain. Now, that would mean 162 delegates all for Bush.

New York? Bush leading McCain by 10. Ninety-three delegates decided by congressional districts. Now, Ohio: Bush ahead there too by 17 points: 69 delegates. Some winner-take-all statewide, some by congressional district.

Now, That's 324 delegates at stake, nearly one-third of a majority in three big states where Bush is ahead. Plus Maryland, where Bush leads by seven points: 31 delegates, some by district, some statewide.

WOODRUFF: So, is McCain ahead anywhere?

SCHNEIDER: Well, remember New Hampshire? If Senator McCain were running for president of New England, he would stand a good chance of becoming the G.O.P. nominee. Look at Massachusetts: a better than two-to-one McCain lead over George W. Bush. Thirty-seven delegates chosen statewide. Pretty big win there for McCain.

Connecticut, land of steady habits: McCain ahead by 13. Twenty- five delegates -- again, winner-take-all, statewide. Now, let's take a flying leap here and guess that the rest of New England, where we do not have any recent polls, also goes for McCain.

Vermont: 12 delegates, possibly including Ben and Jerry; Rhode Island: 14; Maine 14. Now to be fair, let's guess that Georgia goes for Bush next Tuesday, just like neighboring South Carolina. That's 54 delegates in Georgia. And let's guess that Missouri votes like Ohio. That's Bush: 35 delegates.

WOODRUFF: So, add it all up. Where are we?

SCHNEIDER: Well, if we assign all the delegates in each state to the winner -- which doesn't always happen, but let's say it does -- here's where we are. Bush would win 444 delegates next Tuesday, McCain: 102. Not counting the two states, Minnesota and Washington, with GOP caucuses, which are likely to be good for Bush. You know, McCain is facing formidable obstacles -- more closed primaries where Democrats and independents cannot cross over to vote for McCain, plus in states with open primaries, Democratic contests that should hold down the number of crossovers for McCain.

And after March 7th, the outlook gets more troubled for McCain. Texas? In his dreams. Florida? Well, maybe, but the governor is a guy named Bush. Louisiana and Oklahoma? They're likely to be in the Texas sphere of influence. For McCain to survive, he's going to have to turn those polls around in California, at a minimum. And if he wants to make it a race, he's going to need either New York or Ohio as well. Starting next week, this story changes. It's no longer about momentum, it's about delegates.

WOODRUFF: That's why we're glad you're here with your calculator.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, working all day on that.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thanks.

And when we return, warm welcomes on the campaign trail. A look at the candidates and the voters in today's primary states.


SHAW: While the presidential candidates are looking ahead top Super Tuesday, they are by no means brushing aside the primary votes being cast at this hour. The polls will remain open in Virginia for another hour and 20 minutes or so and for almost six more hours in Washington state.

In recent days, the candidates had made personal pitches in Virginia and especially in Washington, where John McCain and Bill Bradley both hope to score with independent voters.

Here now, some highlights from the trail.


BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Washington state, you're always down to the end of the campaign season until this year.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want your vote and your support so that I can fight for you.

GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Feels like victory here in the great state of Washington.

MCCAIN: In the state of New Hampshire, we had the great Greg machine that was against us. We beat them. In Michigan last week, we had the Engler machine. We beat them. Now we have the Gilmore-Warner machine. Let's beat them as well.

ALAN KEYES (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For a fellow who is not even here, I am getting an awfully enthusiastic response.

CHILDREN (singing): We are the people of the 21st century. We are the future. We are the light.

MCCAIN: We are the party of Ronald Reagan, not Pat Robertson. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, not Bob Jones.

MCCAIN: You can't lead America to a better tomorrow by calling names and pointing fingers. He is a person who obviously wants to divide people into camps. He's playing the religious card. That's not Reaganesque.

BRADLEY: There is another event that the party establishment is at eating chilly on the other side of town. I decided I was coming come to Pioneer Square and serve the people's chili to all of you.

GORE: Why don't we get rid of these policies that have been the best we have ever had and go back to the policies that have been about the worst we ever had?

BUSH: That we, the Republicans, and like-minded independents are going to determine the outcome of this election.

GORE: If you entrust me with the presidency, you ain't seen nothing yet.

BRADLEY: So stick around.


WOODRUFF: Well, there's still much more ahead on this edition of "INSIDE POLITICS." It's always great to see what's going on with the trail.

SHAW: Indeed. Coming up, the vice president reaches out to Latino voters and takes aim at the NRA.


WOODRUFF: ... Bill Bradley on the road in California. But will March 7th be his final stop?



JENNIFER AUTHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Al Gore and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley come to California repeat their slug fest at the Apollo Theater in New York?


SHAW: Jennifer Auther on tomorrow night's Los Angeles debate. Will the Democratic hopefuls give a repeat performance?


SONIA RUSELER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Sonia Ruseler on Washington.

We'll have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.

Police say a 6-year-old girl is dead after being shot by a fellow first grader. The shooting happened this morning at an elementary school in Mount Morris Township, Michigan. A first-grade boy is in custody. President Clinton says the shooting renews concern over gun safety.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do think just generally that we should be really pushing for the child safety locks and for the -- even more for the investment in safe gun technology, so we can complete this research and see if we can't develop guns that can only be fired by their adult owners.


RUSELER: Prosecutors believe the two may have been involved in a playground scuffle yesterday. They say the boy is too young to be prosecuted.

President Clinton is welcoming an overture by Phillip Morris as a step in the right direction. The tobacco company says it's willing to talk about regulating how cigarettes are researched and marketed to minors. However, Phillip Morris is still adamantly against government efforts to regulate nicotine as a drug.

The United States is sending two planes loaded with relief supplies to Southeast Africa to assist in flood recovery efforts.

As Terry Lloyd explains, the help cannot come soon enough.


TERRY LLOYD, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scramble for life goes on as around 100,000 stranded people wait for the few helicopters in use to reach them. Meanwhile, the devastating flood waters continue to rise, making it an impossible task for rescue workers who must turn away more than they can carry aboard already overburdened aircraft.

Britain is now on standby to offer further help, but the problem is getting helicopters and boats to the region in time. Without more helicopters and boats, tons of supplies cannot be ferried to the people who have made it to safe ground.

As illness and disease set in, medicines, food and clean water are desparately needed. But existing transport is being used mainly for rescue missions. Five days ago, Mozambique's president appealed to the outside world for help. As yet, there has been a slow response to work side-by-side with relief agencies and South African air crews.

Southern and central areas of the country are suffering their worst floods for more than 50 years. Whole towns and villages have been submerged, and the latest warning is that more swollen rivers will burst their banks.

Terry Lloyd, ITN.


RUSELER: An expelled Cuban diplomat remains in Canada, even though his visa has expired. Jose Imperatori was escorted out of the United States on Saturday. Officials have linked him to a U.S. immigration official charged with spying for Cuba. Imperatori reportedly is still on a hunger strike he began Saturday, to protest the accusations against him. One year and 3,200 miles later, the 90-year-old grandmother says she hopes her cross-country walk will wake up voters to the need for campaign finance reform. Doris Haddock, known as "Granny D," ended her trek in Washington today. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was impressed, but suggested Haddock might do more for future generations if she'd deal with issues that really affect people's lives.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, that school shooting in Michigan becomes part of the dialogue, as the Democratic presidential candidates campaign in California.


SHAW: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS, coming to you from Los Angeles, where Al Gore and Bill Bradley are due to debate tomorrow night.

In the lead-up to the California primary, Gore spent this day stressing a top Democratic issue and reaching out to a key constituency.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is covering Gore here in the Golden State.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vice president got a chance to use some of his Spanish before a Latino audience southeast of Los Angeles.

GORE: I feel your warm welcome to me. Gracias, muchas gracias (ph).

TUCHMAN: This rally in the predominantly Latino city of Cudahy comes a day before Al Gore's Los Angeles debate with Bill Bradley and a week before California's primary. But reflecting Gore's confidence, Bradley was barely mentioned.

GORE: We have a strong economy, but too many people are being left behind, so we have to reach out to bring everyone into the prosperity.

TUCHMAN: Much of this campaign event was a pep rally, but a portion of it was devoted to firing verbal ammunition at the National Rifle Association.

GORE: You've had your day, your day has passed. We're going to have child-safety trigger locks and we're going to have better protection for children and families in this country.

TUCHMAN: The fatal shooting of a first-grade girl in Michigan, allegedly by another first-grader, is what inspired Gore's relatively lengthy discussion of his gun control views.

GORE: How long will it take before we say to the opponents of such measures that are common sense gun control measures, enough is enough. TUCHMAN: And Al Gore said that's what he will say as president of the United States.

GORE: We've just begun to fight.


TUCHMAN: Fight with me, said the candidate. And this particular crowd gave every indication it would.


TUCHMAN: Al Gore appears to be a very relaxed politician right now. That's what an undefeated record in the primaries will do for you. Tonight, the vice president plans to watch Washington state primary returns, and also prep for tomorrow's debate.

Now he told the people at today's rally that he believes California will decide who will be the Democratic presidential nominee, an indication that Al Gore thinks this could all be over by a week from today. And at this point, Al Gore is saying he is not overconfident, he just says he's optimistic.

Bernie, back to you.

SHAW: Gary, before you leave us, Wednesday night, on a stage at the "Los Angeles Times" building, what will Gore be after in that debate tomorrow night?

TUCHMAN: Al Gore hopes just to speak very positively about what he would do as president of the United States. What he doesn't want to do, Bernie, is engage in many verbal fisticuffs with Bill Bradley. He doesn't think that will do him any good at this point.

SHAW: Gary Tuchman, thank you -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, now to Bill Bradley, who may have a lot riding on tomorrow's debate here in California, not to mention the outcome of a primary playing out in another Western state today.

CNN's Bob Franken is traveling with the Bradley camp.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bill Bradley has now moved on to California, even before he finds out whether his six days in Washington state were worth it. Win or lose in Washington, Bradley vows to stay in the race at least through March 7th, so a strong showing in Wednesday night's Los Angeles debate with Al Gore is critical.

Besides the debate, Bradley is buying five minutes of air time to be broadcast nationally on Thursday night. According to the Bradley campaign, the ad will, quote, "make a compelling case for his candidacy." ERIC HAUSER, BRADLEY CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: We'll be up on the air more in this state than we have been, and we just started being up. So, I think the final push is what really counts, and we're just beginning that final push now.

FRANKEN: Part of Bradley's case is that he is the candidate with the strongest position on gun control, and he used the school shooting in Michigan to highlight his point.

BRADLEY: It reminds us of a sense of urgency to do something about this. And that's why I think it's just another important story that confirms that what I'm saying is the direction we have to go.


FRANKEN: Privately, aides admit that things are looking bleak. But in public, the campaign is not waning. It's going full tilt, still never say die -- at least for now, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bob, in that vein, are you getting any sense from being with the Bradley campaign of how long the senator intends to stick with this effort?

FRANKEN: As a matter of fact, the official line is when you ask that question is, at the end of the second term. But I think we should point this out, that we have press credentials, as every candidate does. These press credentials are good through March 14th.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken, thanks very much.

Up next, the Democratic debate in the City of Angels -- a look at strategy and expectations when we return.


SHAW: With the all-important California primary just a week away, Bill Bradley and Al Gore are spending two days in the state, looking for votes and preparing for that important debate tomorrow night.

Jennifer Auther takes a look at what we might expect when the Democrats face off here in Los Angeles.


AUTHER (voice-over): Will Vice President Al Gore and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley come to California to repeat their slugfest at the Apollo Theater in New York?

BILL CARRACK, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Bradley's under a lot of pressure, and he may be swinging from the fences, and the vice president may feel compelled to defend himself, so we may end up with another New York, but I'm hoping the temperature will come down a little bit from the way it was in the Apollo Theater.

Few would argue this is do-or-die for Bradley, who has watched John McCain's insurgency suck away the oxygen. The CNN/"L.A. Times" debate in Los Angeles Wednesday is Bradley's final chance, before a national audience, to breathe life back into his campaign.

AUTHER: Few would argue this is do or die for Bradley, who has watched John McCain's insurgency suck away the oxygen. The CNN/"L.A. Times" debate in Los Angeles Wednesday may be Bradley's final chance before a national audience to breathe life back into his campaign.

SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, POLITICAL ANALYST: He's the guy who's got to make the case for change. He's the guy who's got to be on the attack, and because he hasn't for most of the campaign, it's hurt him.

AUTHER: According to the latest CNN and "Time" survey, Gore has the support of 56 percent of likely voters in the Golden State to Bradley's 12.

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": At this point, Gore is trying to close this out with as little muss and fuss as possible. I mean, his goal is to get out of the primaries without making any more concessions or taking any more hits that will cost him in the general election. And Bradley, of course, is looking for the bolt from the blue, something that will change what seems to be the inevitable results at this point.

AUTHER: Looking beyond the primary, debating Democrats must appeal to independent voters, swing voters and moderate Republican women. Then, analysts say, Gore and Bradley must find time in this debate to reach out to minorities.

For the first time in many years, Republicans such as George W. Bush are challenging for those traditional Democratic votes.

CARRACK: I think we'll probably see, on Gore's part, an effort to try to turn the corner and start talking about general election issues.

AUTHER (on camera): Al Gore has an image in California of being attentive to this state, with more than 70 visits since his vice presidency. Bill Bradley has a strong record of working on California issues while in the Senate. Still, many pundits say Al Gore is just one week away from concentrating all of his efforts on the general election.

Jennifer Auther, CNN, Los Angeles.


SHAW: CNN and "The Los Angeles Times" will present both Democratic and Republican presidential debates this week. I will be the moderator for the Democratic debate, which will air tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Judy will moderate the Republican debate on Thursday, also starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

WOODRUFF: When we return, Jeff Greenfield and David Broder take a look at the Republican hopefuls and the road ahead.


WOODRUFF: Joining us now here in Los Angeles, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield and David Broder of "The Washington Post."

Gentleman, first question. We have John McCain lashing out at Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell and really lashing out at George W. Bush. Is this going to change the course of this contest, David?

DAVID BRODER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well actually, we'll know more tonight when we see the results. I think what Senator McCain did yesterday in Virginia was to try to broaden this election and make it as close to a general election in Virginia as he can. There's been a lot of polling over the years, Judy, as you know, that has shown that Pat Robertson's endorsement in a general election campaign, where everybody votes, in Virginia, cost a candidate more votes than it gains him. But I'm not sure that that's true among Republicans. And that's the gamble that Senator McCain has decided to take.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, smart gamble?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: You know, you've got to ask us this only tonight, but in another a week, because part of this I think was an attempt to talk to Republicans not in Virginia, but in New York, in California, in New England, maybe even Ohio, where the nature of the Republican Party is a lot different than it is in a place like Virginia. I think one of the points about this is to say to Republicans, particularly those who have felt that the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells don't speak for them, fiscal conservatives, but social moderates, you've got to get out and help me fight these guys, and it's always much easier to figure out whether a strategy is successful when you see who's voting. So I'm going to wait on that.

WOODRUFF: David Broder, we hear George Bush now coming back and saying, well, John McCain sounds like Bill Clinton or somebody in the Clinton administration; he's demonizing people; he's holding people up for scorn. Is this an effective response on Bush's part?

BRODER: Well, it's a sincere response. I had a chance to talk with Governor Bush earlier, two days ago, and what's clear from the conversation is that while he's bothered politically by this attack and decided with the letter to Cardinal O'Connor that he had to try to deal with it in political terms, I think it's also really offended him personally to have this suggestion that some way, somehow, somewhere, he has given encouragement to religious bias. He feels, generally, I think, that he is not a biased person, he's not a prejudiced, and he thinks that this is really kind of a personal cheap shot.

WOODRUFF: Jeff, if it is as sincere as David says, is it effective?

BRODER: Well again, I think you're asking us try to figure out how this will play voters before they voted. But I think one part about this that echoes David is that from the very beginning of his campaign, one of the major premises of Governor Bush's campaign is that he can reach out. All of that rhetoric about compassionate conservatism, prosperity with a purpose, remaining people that he'd opposed the anti-immigration policies of some of the California Republicans a couple of years ago -- at the heart of the campaign, and I think also at the heart of the governor is the sense that he is this figure who can bridge differences.

So the idea that he's now being called, you know, somebody appealing to the worst elements in people's feelings, it is a mixture of political and personal peak.

WOODRUFF: David, do you get the sense, at least for now, that John McCain has stolen the agenda in this competition?

BRODER: I don't know that there's much of a policy agenda, at least as far as voters are concerned, Judy, but what he has stolen is the idea that he is the candidate who can enlarge the scope of the Republican Party. As Jeff just said, the whole Bush appeal at the beginning was, I can bring in people who have not been willing in the past to vote for Republican candidates. That was a powerful message, particularly in a state like California, where Republicans have been losing elections as the constituency in the state has changed. Now McCain has, sort of, trumped that appeal, at least for now, by showing that he's the one who can attract independents and Democrats.

WOODRUFF: Given that, Jeff, how difficult then is it for Bush to turn this to a subject that he wants to be talking about?

GREENFIELD: I think it's tough, because at least for now, this campaign has been enveloped by this charge and countercharge of -- we had Karl Rove and Rick Davis on a few minutes ago, and sort of echoed the kinds of conversations -- and I'm using the term generously -- that the McCain and Bush strategists have had. It almost sounds like -- well, it doesn't sound like a "Jerry Springer" show, because nobody is throwing punches, but it's gotten very testy and very, very ungrand, to coin a terrible phrase. That is, they're not being able to talk about broader issues. They're not being able to strike many general election themes, because they're busy accusing each other of appealing to the worst elements in their party. Now that doesn't mean -- please don't mishear me -- that doesn't mean that three or four months from now there isn't going to be a unified Republican Party, but for now, the message that both these people, I think, want to get out is getting a little muddled.

WOODRUFF: Given all of that, and, David, given what we heard from Bill Schneider earlier on this program about Bush's -- the number of delegates that he is likely at this point to rack up in the next two Tuesdays, how does McCain counter that?

BRODER: What McCain is trying to do in California is deliver two messages, one, I am a real Reagan conservative, and two, I am a fellow who can help this party win. It's going to be difficult in a state this large with so many competing messages. We've got initiatives -- 20 initiatives on the ballot here, Judy, all of which are spending far more money than the candidates for president are spending. It's going to be hard, I think, for McCain to get that message through to Republican voters in the week that he's got left.


GREENFIELD: Well, I keep coming back to something that one of McCain's senior strategists said to me way back in November, and he said, if Governor Bush is still standing by March 7, we've, effectively, lost the fight. Now I don't think he would say that now, but what he was reflecting was precisely the way that the calendar begins to shift in Bush's favor, with winner-take-all primaries in states where he's strong -- California, Texas , Florida. They are either all or almost all winner-take-all states, and you begin to see what the dilemma is for McCain if on March 7 he can't win almost everything else, sweep New England, and New York, and try to pick up Ohio, and one other major state, like Missouri or Georgia. If he can't offset the likely Bush victory among delegates in California, the calendar really begins to look very ominous for him. He's now got to hope that his strategist is wrong.

WOODRUFF: Thirty seconds left, gentlemen. Just quickly, if Bill Bradley wins Washington state today, tonight, does that an effect on the Democratic contest, David, quickly?

BRODER: Yes, it would. If he can pull it off, because then, he's got a little talking point to carry here to California and the other states on March 7.

GREENFIELD: Yes, but maybe not as much as the Bradley campaign would like.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield, David Broder, always a treat to have you both, especially out here in California. Thanks

And that is all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Stay with CNN throughout the evening for updates on today's voting in Virginia, North Dakota and Washington State. That's all starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

SHAW: And Wolf Blitzer will have an election 2000 special at midnight eastern with all the latest returns. Of course, you can go online for election coverage at

From Los Angeles, I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff.

"WORLDVIEW" is next.


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