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Inside Politics

McCain Bullish About New York Prospects; Bush Campaign Benefits From Ad Buy; High Tech and Blue Collar Could Influence Super Tuesday Outcome

Aired March 3, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't be fooled by them, my friends, don't let the special interests decide who's going to win this election.


FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: At a Wall Street rally, John McCain is bearish about George W. Bush and other forces trying to knock him out of New York.

We'll have the latest on Bush's campaign tactics in the Empire State, as next week's primary there looms large.

Plus, high tech and blue collar -- how are they influencing the Super Tuesday battlegrounds of California and Ohio?

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.

SESNO: Thanks for joining us. I'm Frank Sesno. Bernie and Judy are on assignment.

We begin with the Republican battle for New York. Four days before the primary there, the Empire State has become even more of a showdown state for George W. Bush and John McCain. Both presidential contenders campaigned there today.

As CNN's John King reports, McCain pursued his latest beef with Bush while savoring the fact that he has a chance in New York at all.


UNIDENTIFIED GROUP (singing): John McCain! John McCain!

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just being here was a victory of sorts for John McCain.

MCCAIN: We were able to tear down the last vestige of Communism that I know of and get us on the ballot and beat that machine. KING: McCain won a federal court challenge to New York's arcane ballot access rules. But now just being on the ballot won't be enough. McCain advisers acknowledge he needs a New York victory Tuesday to have any realistic chance of winning the Republican nomination, and George W. Bush has the backing of Governor George Pataki and the state's powerful Republican Party apparatus, so there was little time to savor a wonderful Wall Street moment.

The Arizona senator's environmental record is under attack in this $2 million ad campaign financed by a prominent Bush backer.

MCCAIN: Don't be fooled by them, my friends. Don't let the special interests decide who's going to win this election.

KING: McCain is also angry at a Bush campaign ad the senator says falsely accuses him of opposing funding for breast cancer research. Prominent McCain supporters called on Governor Bush to pull the ad and apologize.

GUY MOLINARI, MCCAIN SUPPORTER: John McCain's own sister has breast cancer. Why would we want to get into issues like that? Do you want to win that badly you would stoop to any low whatsoever?

KING: The urgent tone reflects the high stakes. Thirteen states have Republican contests on Super Tuesday and McCain could be driven from the race if Bush has a big day.

MCCAIN: There is going to be a lot of people watching next Tuesday and there is going to be a decision to be made: which direction goes the Republican Party and the United States of America.

KING: Catholics make up nearly half of New York's Republican primary electorate, and McCain took note of the support Bush is receiving from Christian right leaders who have been critical of the Catholic Church.

MCCAIN: Do we want the ideas of Abraham Lincoln, of Theodore Roosevelt, of Ronald Reagan, or do we want the ideas of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Bob Jones?

KING: The polls show a dead heat here heading into the final weekend.


KING: Now that ad critical of McCain's environmental record is being run by a new group called Republicans For Clean Air. Today, a Texas businessman named Sam Wiley stepped forward and acknowledged he was behind it. Mr. Wiley has helped raise $100,000 for the Bush presidential campaign, but he said the governor knows nothing of his effort and, asked about it here in New York today, Governor Bush, too, said he knew nothing about it -- Frank.

SESNO: John, what's the connection between Wiley and Bush and the Bush family? KING: Wiley is a Texas entrepreneur. He and his brother have helped raise money for the governor's gubernatorial campaigns and, as I said, he is now also a Bush Pioneer, the Pioneer designation goes to anyone who helps Governor Bush raise $100,000 for the presidential effort. He has supported Bush in the past. He says Bush has a relatively good environmental record in Texas, although some environmental groups would dispute that. He says he is running this ad, though, without any cooperation, any consultation with the Bush campaign, such consultation would be illegal.

SESNO: John, I was talking with a New York politician today who was saying -- Republican -- he backs Bush -- that he hopes that Bush gets away from religion and anything dealing with religion, despite the nearly half Catholics that you were talking about a moment ago, and back to such things as taxes and education, tax cuts, education, which unites Republicans there. Is that going to happen?

KING: Well, we hear that concern in both campaigns. The Bush campaign, there is some concern that all this fight over tactics, this sparring with John McCain over the Christian right, over campaign tactics, has taken Governor Bush away from the core message his advisers want him to deliver, that would be speak about education, speak about tax cuts, speak about new leadership in Washington.

We hear very much the same complaint, though, from Senator McCain's advisers, who believe all this talk about tactics has taken away his image as the reformer in the race and tarnished him as just another politician. Both candidates and both campaign senior staffs stressing they would like to get back to the issues. But with those big Super Tuesday contests just a few days away, everyday they seem to get mired into another squabble over the tone and the tactics.

SESNO: OK, John King, thanks very much.

And as John mentioned, the latest poll from New York State suggests the Republican race there has tightened. The Marist College Poll of likely GOP primary voters in New York shows Bush and McCain neck and neck, Bush holding a 1-point lead, that's statistically insignificant. A Marist Poll on Wednesday showed McCain leading Bush by 7 points.

Now we turn to Governor Bush's day in New York state.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve joins us from Syracuse.

Hello, Jeanne.


George W. Bush is on a three-city swing through the state. He will be here in Syracuse shortly. But his first stop today was on Long Island at a breast cancer research facility. There is an unusually high incidence of the disease there. While there, he stood staunchly by the ads he has launched which criticize John McCain for not funding certain breast cancer research. When asked if it was appropriate to run those ads given the fact that McCain's sister was a breast cancer survivor, Bush said it is all the more reason to remind him of what he said about the research that goes on here, and he said the content of this ad was pulled directly from McCain's Web site.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a man who's going around campaigning saying he's going to cut pork, and that's fine. Except in this race, we've documented some of the things that he say he's going to cut that happen to relate to cancer and relate to this part of the state of New York.


MESERVE: Breast cancer is just one of the issues that Bush is hammering on here in New York. He and some of his powerful friends, including the governor, are also talking about McCain's positions on things like mass transit and heating oil subsidies, they are trying to portray him as anti-New York.

Bush in recent days also has been apologizing profusely and repeatedly for his visit to Bob Jones University, apparently an attempt to make amends with Catholics which make up one half of the Republican voting bloc here in the state of New York.

New York is very important to the Bush campaign. However, they do not believe they're going to clinch the nomination here, because delegates are awarded proportionately. What they're hoping for is a very strong showing here which will make it evident, as one aide told me, that the Straight Talk Express is in the garage -- Frank.

SESNO: Jeanne Meserve, thanks very much.

Well, now for a look at how much the GOP hopefuls are spending in New York and other Super Tuesday states, we turn to David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

David, how is the ad spending for next Tuesday's primary shaping up?

DAVID PEELER, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Well, Frank, let's first take a look at New York, where we're talking about tonight. In New York, the interesting stat here is that both Bush and McCain, while they are spending, you know, $266,000, close to $200,000 for McCain, a little bit for Keyes, the interesting story behind here is that the candidates are in New York City themselves, but all of the media dollars are being spent upstate. There are no Republican ads running in the city of New York right now. They are all running in the outer markets.

As we move across the country into California, the ad spending is very intense there, $2.2 million for Bush, little over $2 million for John McCain. Another interesting statistic that we found in the last several days, John McCain has focused most of his ad spending in the lower part of the state, that's the southern California, Orange County, San Diego area. He's pretty much pulled out of northern California. So it's a different tactic there.

The other state that's becoming a battleground on Tuesday is Ohio, $400 -- almost $500,000 for Bush, $370,000 for McCain, that's all since March 1st. That's more money than they are spending in the state of New York. So, Ohio is a very, very important state for the Republicans right now and they're fighting it out.

SESNO: David, John McCain, as we were talking about with John King earlier, McCain has taken issue with an ad criticizing his environmental record. The ad is paid for by a group called Republicans for Clean Air. What do we know about how much is being spent overall on this ad?

PEELER: Well, we've seen that the Sam Wiley group is spending a pretty fair number of dollars there -- they've shown up in three states: New York, Ohio and California, $245,000 in New York, almost $25,000 in Ohio, and $12,000 in California.

The other thing that is interesting to note here is that all of that spending was done in one single day. So that's an awful lot of money going into the state of New York and maybe that's part of the reason why you see some lower spending levels in the state of New York. That's a tremendous amount for a one-day media buy.

SESNO: It sure is. David Peeler, thanks very much, appreciate it.

Well, joining me now here in Washington, Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard," and in Los Angeles, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Hello, Jeff. Hello, Bill.

Bill, let me come to you first and start about these ads. I know you know something of Mr. Wiley and these ads that have been placed. What's your take?

BILL KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, it's pretty extraordinary. The amount of money that's being spent is comparable to the amount of money the Bush and McCain campaigns are spending. It may be the largest independent expenditure in a primary in modern presidential history. The Wiley brothers have been huge backers of Governor Bush. The political consultant to Mr. Wiley, Jeb Henserling (ph) was a partner to one of Governor Bush's closest allies, Jim Francis, who's been appointed by Governor Bush to a senior position in Texas. The firm that placed the ads, the Fabrizio firm, is very close to Governor Pataki, who's running Bush's campaign in New York.

I mean, I guess technically I'm sure there's no controlling legal authority here that would make these ads illegal, and I'm sure Governor Bush personally doesn't know about them, but this is really shredding the campaign finance laws. If one individual -- I don't think Sam Wiley woke up one morning and said, you know, I'm really outraged by John McCain's environmental record. You know, I think I'll spend 2 million bucks in New York, California and Ohio to attack him. I mean, it's very hard to believe that there isn't coordination in the larger sense among the Republican establishment and Bush backers to do some damage to McCain. And they probably have done some damage to McCain over the last few days.

SESNO: Shredding the campaign finance laws, Bill?

KRISTOL: Well, they're certainly -- as I say, there may be no controlling legal authority here, but how, after you run this kind of primary campaign, do you run against Al Gore? That's the question Republicans have to ask? That's certainly the question John McCain wants Republicans to ask. The strongest Republican issue against Gore, I believe, could well be the Clinton-Gore '96 campaign, campaign finance, what they did to the campaign laws and what that tells us about Al Gore. Maria Hsia was convicted yesterday, a close associate of Al Gore, of shredding the campaign finance laws. And now you have the Bush campaign doing something that will make it very hard for Governor Bush to draw that contrast with Al Gore in the fall.

SESNO: Jeff, what is what your take on what we're seeing here and what it suggests?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, actually, one of the things it suggests is what might happen down the road if John McCain can survive Tuesday and March 14th. You know, he is going to be, by then, pretty much out of money. And I was talking, in fact, to John King, and he was mentioning this point. And I said, you know, what would prevent a wealthy McCain supporter without any coordination from buying up a whole bunch of ad time in, say, Illinois and Pennsylvania, if we get that far, and doing his own ads?

I mean, as long as you have this series of legal fictions that take the whole campaign finance issue and throw it into an "Alice In Wonderland" world, you're going to have things like this. I mean, Bill may remember a wealthy Illinois person who put in tons of ads against Senator Chuck Percy, may have helped defeat him, because he just didn't like Chuck Percy's position. That was uncoordinated. This one is, I think, more of a coordination in the universal sense. That is, the Republican Party as a group really doesn't want John McCain to get this nomination, and they'll fire at him, as he says, from all sides.

SESNO: And it certainly shows that the clock is ticking in New York, California, Ohio, these other states on Tuesday, right where the action is or where it stops -- Bill.

KRISTOL: Well, the question -- look, it's going to stop for McCain unless, in my view, he can win New York, probably win Ohio, and I think win the popular vote in California. He needs at least two of those three and maybe three of those three. He's being beat up. The question is, can he turn this over this weekend against the Bush campaign? Can he say, they're all out to stop me, why are they out to stop me? And incidentally, my fellow Republicans, don't we want to win in November? He's got to make the reform argument and the electability argument over the next few days.

SESNO: Jeff.

GREENFIELD: You know, Frank, if I may say that for me, I keep coming back -- and I know I've said it before on the air and probably will say it again -- to a comment that one of McCain's top strategists made to me back in November, when he said, you know, if Bush is still standing by March 7th, we lose, because of the calendar, because of the money, because of the winner take all problem in California, and then Florida and Texas. They thought from the very beginning that they had to run the table in those early primaries to the point where everybody was looking at Bush as a loser. A split decision, they said, wouldn't be enough. And it may turn out that those words are the most prophetic words spoken by the McCain campaign.

SESNO: We have a little bit of time here left. I do want to flip over to the Democratic side, because there still is a contest there, although it's a contest with a very different pace and dynamic -- Bill.

KRISTOL: Well, Gore is going to win everything, it looks like, on March 7th, and I assume Senator Bradley will get out immediately afterwards. And that will give Gore a bounce. And I expect Gore -- Gore looks increasingly formidable. I'd be curious to know what Jeff thinks about this. He was in California. If you watched -- I'm a Republican -- if you watched those debates Wednesday and Thursday night, you were not heartened by the prospect of a Bush-Gore debate in October. Gore is formidable.

GREENFIELD: Yes, I think -- you know, people -- someone called into Larry King the other night and said, why are you people prematurely burying Bradley? And I understand the impulse, but this is not a matter of predicting from a year ago. Whether you talk to people within the Bradley campaign or look at the numbers or listen to that debate, where Bradley, in effect I think, was saying, I'm going out with my head held high, hitting the themes I want to hit. That was not a candidate who thought he had much of a chance.

You know, in some ways, the best thing that could happen to all of us is if Bradley won seven primaries on Tuesday. And while we were eating crow, we would give out mighty cheers because we had another interesting race. But if there's any sign of life in that campaign, I haven't been able to detect it.

SESNO: Jeff Greenfield, Bill Kristol, interest weekend ahead before Super Tuesday. Thank you, both.

KRISTOL: Thanks, Frank.

SESNO: And coming up next, snapshots from two Super Tuesday battlegrounds.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Silicon Valley: a place, it's movers and shakers say, unlike any other.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SESNO: Bruce Morton on California's high-tech haven and how its movers and shakers view the presidential hopefuls.

And are blue-collar workers in Ohio satisfied with what they are hearing from the candidates?



SESNO: Now we focus on specific groups of voters in states that are among the top prizes in the flurry of primaries and caucuses this coming Tuesday. First, we travel to a factory in Ohio to get a sense of what blue-collar workers are hearing about the candidates and which way they're leaning.

Here's CNN's Bill Delaney.


BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Somewhere down around the grassroots of where presidents get elected in the USA is the plant floor of Meyer Products in Cleveland, Ohio. At the world's largest manufacturer of snowplows, working people, blue collar, the sort the men running for president always seem to be rhapsodizing about.

A few days before the Ohio primary, though, those warm sentiments weren't much reciprocated.

TED ROGERS, WORKER: What I notice mostly is they're talking about each other, what the other one's not going to do, and what he's going to do.

ED JAKAB, WORKER: I hear a lot of arguing back and forth, finger-pointing here, he did this, he did that. You know what? That does not matter.

DELANEY: What does matter, what these workers say they're not hearing nearly enough about: crime, schools, health care. And this time around, it's not the economy, stupid.

(on camera): In steel plants like these outside Cleveland, as throughout the manufacturing sector in Ohio, bad economic times are just a dim memory to older workers, no memory at all to younger workers. In the early 1980s, in just three years, nearly half a million manufacturing jobs disappeared here. They haven't come back. But neither have bad economic times...

(voice-over): ... leaving political allegiances frayed among millions in the working class, who once based their loyalty primarily on what political parties seemed to offer economically.

A union shop at Meyer, worker after worker said they could vote for either party, amid unpredictable generational change, too. JOEL LIESKE, CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY: These are upwardly mobile groups whose sons and daughters are going to college now and getting degrees in engineering and computer science and other areas, and are going into the middle class and upper middle class.

DELANEY: As gleaming new high-tech offices rise in once classically blue-collar strongholds like Cleveland, Thomas Long shares his coworkers' frustration with politicians' bickering and said he'll probably go for a Democrat, but he's open.

THOMAS LONG, WORKER: I think it's going to be up for grabs, you know, who's going to be number one.

DELANEY: Change in the air on the plant floor and a step above it. Ron Silvernail's got a white collar.

RON SILVERNAIL, MARKETING DIRECTOR: It all becomes one kind of gray area and you almost vote for the smile. And I don't think we want to do that, but that seems to happen.

DELANEY: As for turnout, everyone at Meyer swore they'd vote in the primary; they're just not sure for whom.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Cleveland.


SESNO: Next, we head west to California and California's Silicon Valley.

CNN's Bruce Morton talked to some big wheels in that high-tech hub about the presidential candidates and their campaigns.


MORTON (voice-over): Silicon Valley, a place, a state of mind; a place its movers and shakers say unlike any other.

REGIS MCKENNA, VENTURE CAPITALIST: The rate at which new businesses start, the demand for employment, the amount of innovation that goes on here. There's a new product invented about every half minute.

MORTON: He's a Democrat, likes Al Gore, who's been visiting the Valley for years, but that's a minority view.

Leslie Westine (ph) is with Technet, which lobbies and contributes to campaigns on behalf of Valley CEOs, leaders in what they call "the new economy."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is tremendous support among the new economy leaders for Governor George W. Bush. He's has been out here several times. We -- many of our executives have been to Austin.

MORTON: In fact, when real estate prices soared here, one of the places where Silicon Valley companies opened branches was Bush's Austin.

FLOYD KVAMME, VENTURE CAPITALIST: Many of our companies have divisions in Texas and have been very impressed with the leave-no-one- behind record there. We think it's more than rhetoric. It is a record.

MORTON: Democrat McKenna sees another reason.

MCKENNA: You're talking to the various executives in industry and they tend to be Republican, and I think they smell a winner. And this is a very highly competitive environment, and you back winners.

MORTON: John McCain? He chairs the Senate Commerce Committee which has legislative oversight on a lot of their issues. But he's wrong, the CEOs say, on many of them: tort reform, tax deductions for advertising, stock options.

TOM RILEY, CO-CHAIRMAN, SILICON VALLEY BUSH CAMPAIGN: It's largely -- within Republicans choosing between Bush and McCain, it has been driven by specific issues.

MORTON: Even McCain's backers concede Bush is ahead here.

DAVIS POTTRUCK, CHARLES E. SCHWAB CO.: I think Governor Bush did a great job of getting out here very early in the process, and he got some very influential Silicon Valley people to get behind him who have worked very hard on his behalf, and he ran a good campaign here in Northern California.

MORTON: So, Bush and Gore?

KVAMME: I think the governor's support is actually larger than the vice president's.

MORTON: Maybe. But a lot of the movers and shakers here, the under-30 millionaires with companies under 15-years-old, a lot of them work 16-hour days.

MCKENNA: There's really a small group of activists on both sides of the aisle that tend to participate. There are a lot of people with interests, but the Valley -- and particularly now, is everyone is up to their eyeballs in work.

MORTON: Still, if only CEOs and venture capitalists could vote in this different kind of place, the governor would be in strong shape.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Silicon Valley, California.


SESNO: When we return, a look at George W. Bush and his appeal to veterans. We'll find out where the Texas governor stands on military issues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SESNO: Republican hopefuls McCain and Bush have made a point of courting veterans in this campaign. Yesterday, we examined Senator John McCain's military record and his positions on defense matters. Today, our military affairs correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, takes a look at Governor George W. Bush and the issue of defense.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Texas Governor George W. Bush claims the U.S. military, the finest in the world, has serious problems that need fixing.

BUSH: We must restore the morale of our military, squandered by shrinking resources and multiplying missions, with better training, better treatment and better pay.

MCINTYRE: Bush wants to spend more on defense, including an extra billion dollars to further boost military pay. And Bush would set aside 20 percent of the Pentagon's procurement budget to develop new concept weapons.

BUSH: On the seas, we need to pursue promising ideas like the arsenal ship, a stealthy ship packed with long-range missiles to destroy targets from great distances.

MCINTYRE: But Bush also wants the U.S. military to do less, saying he will take a hard look at U.S. troop deployments overseas with an eye toward cutting back.

BUSH: Sending our military on vague, aimless and endless deployments is the swift solvent of morale.

SEN. TIM HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: We've averaged, under the Clinton-Gore administration, about one every nine weeks, a new deployment, and Governor Bush says, let's look at all those.

MCINTYRE: Bush says he will build and deploy a national missile defense no matter what the Russians think, even if that means abrogating the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty.

BUSH: If Russia refuses the changes we propose, we will give prompt notice under the provisions of the treaty.

MCINTYRE: Bush, who was a pilot in the Texas National Guard during Vietnam, doesn't have the war hero status enjoyed by GOP rival John McCain, but political analysts say that's not likely to hurt him.

CHARLES COOK, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": Arguably, people don't grade candidates on national security, foreign policy, but it's sort of a pass-fail, that you have to break a threshold.

MCINTYRE (on camera): Many of Governor Bush's proposals, such as creating a lighter, more mobile Army, are things the Pentagon is already hard at work on. But Bush insists his leadership would be more in line with the uniformed commanders who think today's military is doing too much with too little. Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


SESNO: And there's much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come:


BOB FRANKEN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: His campaign is in deep jeopardy. But here at the Portland High School gym, home of the Bulldogs, Bill Bradley was showing bulldog-like tenacity.


SESNO: Bob Franken on Bill Bradley's uphill battle, and his appeal to New England voters.



MICKEY KANTOR, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHMN.: It's been a love affair -- a political love affair between California and this president.


SESNO: The California advantage. President Clinton tries to turn his West Coast popularity into a plus for Al Gore.

And later:


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Hooray, many voters said. Finally, a Republican who isn't intimidated by the religious right. Then something went wrong.


SESNO: Our Bill Schneider explains what happened on the way to the political "Play of the Week."


SESNO: We'll have more of the day's political news in just a moment, but now a look at some top stories this day.

Texas death row inmate Calvin Burdine will stay in prison for now. Burdine's 1983 murder conviction was thrown out last year when it was shown his lawyer slept through long segments of the trial. A federal judge earlier this week ordered Burdine freed because state lawyers missed a deadline to retry him. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, today stepped in and refused to release Burdine. Burdine's lawyers may now ask for a rehearing or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Flint, Michigan, mourners are paying their respects to the family of 6-year-old Kayla Rolland. The little girl was shot to death Tuesday at her elementary school. The school remains closed for classes today. A memorial service for Kayla is planned tonight.

President Clinton is pressing Congress to send him, what he calls "common sense gun laws." During a speech today in Silicon Valley, Mr. Clinton said he wants legislation that would require child-safety locks for all new guns and smart-gun technology that would allow only the gun owner to fire the weapon.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are a big, complex society, and we can save more of our children. We've got a 30-year low in the murder rate, a 30-year low in the gun-death rate. But we can make this the safest country in the world and we can do it without undermining the personal liberties of other people.


SESNO: Two people were kill when a news helicopter crashed today in Miami. The aircraft, which carried a news crew for WTVJ channel six crashed into a cul-de-sac in a residential area and burst into flames. No one on the ground was injured. Only debris is left from the helicopter. The victims' names have not been released.

SESNO; The Mozambique flood waters unexpectedly dropped today, freeing thousands of people trapped on rooftops and in trees. Relief agencies say they are stepping up efforts to help victims.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really been a good mobilization of the international community to respond to this, and currently there's helicopter operations, boat operations. And we're looking for those pockets currently to see if there's any further people stranded on roofs, treetops, wherever else.

Most of these people actually being transported from these, sort of, precarious situations on to higher ground.


SESNO: UNICEF is working to reunite children and parents. The organization plans to fly in 60,000 syringes for an emergency vaccination campaign. The United Nations says as many as 1 million people in Mozambique have lost their homes and are in urgent need of help.

Former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet is back in Chile. He returned to his homeland today after 16 months of house arrest in Britain. Pinochet was freed Thursday, after a British Home Secretary ruled he was mentally and physically unfit to stand trial. With the help of a cane, he rose to greet a crowd of cheering supporters after exiting his plane. He has spent much of the day undergoing medical examinations.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, have the Democratic presidential candidates used a source of outrage in New York to their advantage?


SESNO: In the Democratic presidential race, Bill Bradley stumped today in the Northeast, the region where he may have his best shot in next week's Super Tuesday contests.

As CNN's Bob Franken reports, the former senator's performance belied the state of his campaign.


FRANKEN (voice-over): His campaign is in deep jeopardy, but here at the Portland High School gym, home of the Bulldogs, Bill Bradley was showing bulldog-like tenacity.

SEN. BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that people of Maine aren't going to listen to pollsters and pundits. They're going to vote their hearts, their convictions.

FRANKEN: Still, there was one noticeable difference in the Bradley style on his swing through Maine and Rhode Island. When Bradley speaks now, he refrains from attacking Al Gore.

BRADLEY: It's a choice between, you know, the politics of division, of exaggerated and unfulfilled promises, and a politics based upon belief and conviction and straight talk.

ERIC HAUSER, BRADLEY CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Again, I think that what we want to accomplish here towards March 7th and beyond is to ensure that people know what Bradley stands for, where his convictions come from.

FRANKEN: At Brown University, the subject was international policy. Bradley spoke of a new connectedness.

BRADLEY: This inter-connectedness benefits America, but also challenges us. It makes us both more essential and sometimes more peripheral. Our challenge is to keep lowering barriers between countries so that goods, capital, people and ideas can move even more freely and help people of different nationalities and races and religions to coexist and cooperate.


FRANKEN: When asked why the campaign had waited so long for this major policy address, his spokesman said it had always been planned for late February or early March. So in spite of the possibility that his campaign may be waning, Bradley is still sticking, Frank, to his long-term plan.

SESNO: And, Bob, when you talk to the senator, when you talk to his aides, what do they say?

FRANKEN: Well, what they're saying is is that they're going to at least give it their best shot. They always say we're going to go until March 7th or even March 14th. I suspect what that means is it depends on how well or how poorly they do on Super Tuesday, March 7th.

SESNO: All right, Bob Franken. Thanks very much, with Senator Bradley.

Al Gore also focused on gun control today, and he too refrained from attacking his Democratic rival. In Jacksonville, Florida, the vice president won the endorsement of Senator Bob Graham. And then he set his sights on the two leading Republican presidential contenders.

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Both of the Republican candidates are against requiring child safety trigger locks. Well, one of them said last night that he had no problem allowing them to be sold on a voluntary basis. Well, does that -- is that what passes for courage in this debate on the Republican side of this contest? I certainly hope not.

SESNO: Gore is campaigning this evening in Georgia, which holds its -- holds its primary on Tuesday, a week before the contest in Florida.

When New Yorkers cast primary ballots next week, they may still be talking about an issue that has stirred outrage among minority voter: the acquittal of the police officers who shot and killed African immigrant Amadou Diallo. It's a topic that might have been central to the Democratic presidential race, but, as CNN's Maria Hinojosa reports, that's not the way things turned out.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the offices of America's oldest Spanish language newspaper, it's time to make an endorsement for the New York primary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first question that I have for you has to do with police brutality.

HINOJOSA: The editors of "ElDiario-La Prensa" are pressing Bradley on the latest development in the Amadou Diallo case: last week's acquittal of the four white police officers who shot at Diallo 41 times as he pulled a wallet from his pocket.

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A president has to immediately end racial profiling.

HINOJOSA: His Democratic opponent, Al Gore, has made the same pledge.

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you entrust me with the presidency, the first civil rights act of the 21st century will be a national law outlying racial profiling. HINOJOSA: Meanwhile, Gore supporter and one-time New York Mayor David Dinkins is using his radio show to turn out black voters. But just days before the primary, he's also talking about the Diallo case and how disconnected the candidates seem to be from it.

DAVID DINKINS, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: They are in denial, and you can't cure a problem if you don't acknowledge that it exists in the first place.

HINOJOSA: The problem, say the city's black and Latino leaders, is that, despite their talk, candidates have failed to tap into the community's outrage over the Diallo case and its anger over racial profiling.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... is committed in his or her heart to fight for all Americans.


HINOJOSA: In Gore's newly-released TV ads aimed at voters of color, the issues are barely mentioned, in English or in Spanish.




HINOJOSA: In New York City, African-American and Latino registered voters outnumber their white counterparts by a slim majority, and they're overwhelmingly Democratic. But some activists say that the candidates' lack of forcefulness on the issues that matter to minority voters may affect turnout.

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: The presidential candidate that says, I'm not anti-police but I am anti-police brutality, is the presidential candidate that will inspire an urban vote on their behalf.

HINOJOSA: Bronx Democratic leader Roberto Ramirez is the chairman of Latinos for Gore.

ROBERTO RAMIREZ (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: The issue of police brutality, racial profiling and the procedures of the police department in New York City are central to the Hispanic community. How that gets channeled into a voter participation on the part of Hispanics in the city and the state is the challenge before us.

HINOJOSA: But the day before the primary, instead of getting out the vote, Ramirez will be attending a Diallo protest with other black and Latino legislators.

RAMIREZ: You're either going to have to start paying attention to this constituency or you're going to pay the price now or later. HINOJOSA (on camera): Statewide, African Americans and Latinos make up 15 percent of the voters, but their turnout has been consistently low. Until candidates deal with urban issues, like police misconduct, head-on, analysts say those numbers could continue to sag.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.


SESNO: And, up next, Al Gore gets some help with his West Coast campaign: A look at the president's efforts on his behalf when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


SESNO: President Clinton is in California today as part of a two-day trip that combines policy and fund-raising. Mr. Clinton started with a speech in Silicon Valley in which he challenged industry leaders to strengthen online consumer protections.

But as Kelly Wallace reports, the president's trip is also intended to benefit Vice President Al Gore.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On his 51st trip to California, President Clinton came to Silicon Valley to talk about cybersecurity and the new economy, and perhaps to give a boost to his vice president, candidate Al Gore.

CLINTON: The new unemployment figures came out today with 4.1 percent, and we're almost bumping 21 million new jobs now in the last seven years.

WALLACE: The trip, just days before the California primary, is not completely unrelated to Mr. Gore's political future.

JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Nothing's ever entirely disconnected.

WALLACE: Mr. Clinton is enormously popular here, thanks in part to the state's booming economy. Crowds mobbed him at a Southern California mall shortly after he won the state and the election in 1992. He won California again in 1996. He's been here 80 days as president, often mixing with Hollywood celebrities and rising Democratic stars in the state.

A California political veteran and former aide says, even as governor of Arkansas, he built a base in California, accumulating political capital which he can now spend helping his vice president.

KANTOR: His bank account is so full in California, I don't know if he could ever spend it. Certainly not in his presidency. It's been a love affair, a political love affair, between California and this president. WALLACE: California's open primary means voters can select any candidate regardless of party. While delegates will be awarded based on votes by party members, Gore and his Democratic and Republican rivals are vying for the largest share of the popular vote.

MARK DICAMILLO, DIRECTOR, FIELD POLL: I think it is a mini- general election. And because the state is so large -- there are 15 million registered voters here -- it really does give you a little microcosm of what might happen in the fall nationwide.

WALLACE: Mr. Clinton's helping Gore in another way: raising millions in California, much of which can be used for issue ads, helping the nominee during the months between the primaries and the summer convention.

(on camera): And beginning next month, the White House says the president and Mr. Gore will appear together at several fund-raisers to provide money and momentum for the general election.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, San Jose.


SESNO: When INSIDE POLITICS returns, some Democratic losers of the past get revenge in the political "Play of the Week."


SESNO: This week, the momentum of the McCain campaign seemed to stall, as George W. Bush swept three Republican contests. But that wasn't the only change in fortune John McCain suffered over the last five days.

Joining us now to explain, our own Bill Schneider -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Frank, John McCain was well on his way to earning this week's "Play of the Week." On Monday, he denounced religious right leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Hooray, many voters said, finally a Republican who isn't intimidated by the religious right. Then something went wrong, and the political "Play of the Week" went elsewhere.


(voice-over): John McCain accused Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell of turning Christian conservatives into another special interest led by unscrupulous and self-interested leaders.

MCCAIN: The union bosses who have subordinated the interests of working families to their own ambitions, to their desire to preserve their own political power at all costs, are mirror images of Pat Robertson.

SCHNEIDER: That's tough, even sensational, but it's not outrageous.

This charge was outrageous.

MCCAIN: Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

SCHNEIDER: What went wrong is that McCain went too far, especially on Tuesday, when he described Robertson and Falwell as "forces of evil" in the Republican Party.

McCain paid a price in the Virginia primary on Tuesday. His one key religious right supporter, Gary Bauer, issued a statement calling on McCain to apologize to Robertson and Falwell for what Bauer described as "unwarranted, ill-advised and divsive attacks."

Remember how last week George W. Bush was on the defensive day after day about his appearance at Bob Jones University?

BUSH: I didn't talk about something that I regret. I should have, which is to stand up and say, I don't appropriate the anti- Catholic bias here at Bob Jones. And that's what my letter to Cardinal O'Connor was all about.

SCHNEIDER: Now the tables have turned, and McCain is the one explaining and apologizing.

MCCAIN: I'm not calling them evil, what I'm talking about that there are forces out there that we're fighting against, and it's part of the light-hearted and frankly optimistic way we try to conduct this campaign. And if it was taken in any other way, I'd like to correct that right now.

SCHNEIDER: Bush suddenly had the advantage, and he knew exactly what to do with it. He claimed the high road.

BUSH: That kind of politics needs to be set aside. It's 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.

SCHNEIDER: McCain stepped on his own story, the Bob Jones story that had kept Bush on the defensive. Bush and his supporters moved in quickly to redefine McCain as a wedge-issue candidate and a divider.

McCain fumbles, Bush recovers. What does it add up to? The political "Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: Republicans used to use wedge issues against Democrats. Now wedge issues are tearing the GOP apart. What a delicious irony this is for Democrats. George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis -- you're finally getting your revenge -- Frank. SESNO: Bill, it also shows the danger of playing with an issue, religion, in this country. Sixty -- nearly two-thirds of Americans say they're very religious. Handle with care.

SCHNEIDER: Well, that's true. That's true. What McCain was trying to do was to say, I endorse the positions, the values of the religious right, but I think they're being led by leaders who are self-interested and who are only in it for themselves. He accused Robertson and Falwell of turning a good cause into a business. Well, that was a -- I think a tough but good criticism. On the other hand, many religious right voters, clearly in Virginia, took that as an insult to themselves.

SESNO: Bill Schneider, thanks very much. Have a great weekend.

SCHNEIDER: Pleasure.

SESNO: That is it for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But you can go online all the time at CNN's

And this programming note: Bob Jones III, the president of Bob Jones University, very much in the news these days, he'll be discussing the controversy over Governor Bush's recent visit to his school tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE." That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.

I'm Frank Sesno. "WORLDVIEW" is next.


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