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Capital Gang

Rudy Giuliani Discusses Campaign 2000 in the Wake of the Super Tuesday Primaries

Aired March 11, 2000 - 7:00 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to our annual CAPITAL GANG from New York.

I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Margaret Carlson, and from Charlotte, North Carolina, Robert Novak.

Our guest here in New York City, for the fifth straight year is Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Thanks for being with us again, Rudy.


SHIELDS: Good to have you here.

Texas Governor George W. Bush, swept Super Tuesday primaries outside New England to clinch the Republican presidential nominee. But he did not win an outright endorsement from Senator McCain.


SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I congratulate Governor Bush and wish him and his family well. He may very well will become he next president of the United States.

I love my party, it is my home. But I am also dedicated to the necessary cause of reform. So I will take our crusade back to the United States Senate, and I will keep fighting to save the government, to give the government back to the people.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was pleased with the warm tone and his best wish for me and my family. I was pleased to hear him talking about willing to -- he wants to go back to the Senate and continue to battle for reform. And I look forward to working with him on a reform agenda.


SHIELDS: Republican admirers and critics of Senator McCain call for reconciliation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would expect that this will progress over time, that the McCain camp and the Bush camp will try to unite, not just in a political sense but try to create the momentum that John brought and the leadership that Governor Bush brought.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: We left the light on for John McCain. John McCain will be welcomed back and will go to work and hopefully will do an excellent job as chairman of the Commerce Committee and as our senator.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, can this marriage be saved?

AL HUNT, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Mark, if it's a forced marriage, John McCain has the shotgun. There are two realities. There's no clamor or constituency in America for a third-party effort, there is a clamor for a McCain effort. Now that's not going to happen. But I'll tell you, this fall, any Republican in any close race, the one person they're going to want in is John McCain. That's the kind of leverage he has.

SHIELDS: You mean candidates -- a Republican candidate.

HUNT: In the general election, a Republican in a close state will want to have John McCain there.

The Bush people have been saying this week that they don't want to look weak. That may be, but they desperately need McCain. They can't win without McCain in fall. What will it take? I'll give Bob Novak some good news. There's no way that Bush is going to cave in on something like his tax cut -- he can't. But I also will tell him that John McCain is not going to come cheap. There's a sham proposal by good guy Chuck Hagel about campaign finance reform, Republicans are pushing. John McCain's not going to buy off that cheaply. If Bush wants is, he's going to have to do something like see the light that his father has seen and come out for a ban on soft money. That may do it. It would displease Trent Lott and Mitch McConnell -- they don't have votes, John McCain does.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, I don't care about Trent Lott and Mitch McConnell, what about Bob Novak? Can this marriage be saved?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Let me tell you -- inject a little reality after what Al said. The fact of the matter is that why did -- the question of that matter is, why did John McCain not quietly endorse George W. Bush? It's because to John McCain the most important thing is this campaign finance reform. Most Republicans don't think it's most important, most people don't think it's most important. But they had to do something to appease McCain to get him off of his snit so he will support the candidate.

And I have always said a long time, the intractable opposition by Mitch McConnell is stupid. So I think what you're going to find is a slow process, helped along by realists like Lindsey Graham, where they reach an agreement on campaign finance reform, which is all important to John McCain but not to George W. Bush.

SHIELDS: Rudy Giuliani, you're one of those Republican candidates who may want John McCain -- would you like to have John McCain campaigning for you in New York in the fall?

GIULIANI: I want both of them campaigning for me,

SHIELDS: Both of them?

GIULIANI: George Bush won New York, and he won actually by a larger margin than people realize. So there are parts of the state in which he's enormously popular and very, very helpful.

SHIELDS: Sure you don't want John McCain?

GIULIANI: And I want John McCain.


GIULIANI: He's a good friend. And I think you're both right. I think the place around which they form the marriage is campaign finance reform. I support George W. Bush. I worked for him in the primary here in New York. I'm glad that he won. But I agree with John McCain on campaign finance reform and would find that to be something that would be a helpful marriage for them and one that would be very helpful for all of us, I think.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Mayor, maybe you're the one can get both of them.

You know, what Bob calls a "snit," we call principle. John McCain campaigned on this principle. He doesn't have to give it up. What does he get out of it? Why -- you know, Bush needs him, he doesn't need Bush. I mean, Bush could now come out and say, I'm going to trim that tax cut, I'm going to back McCain-Feingold, I'm going to forswear soft money. But he could also cut off his right arm.

SHIELDS: That's right.

CARLSON: He is not going to do it.


CARLSON: But, you know, time will pass by. It heals all wounds. McCain will be a reluctant bride. He'll play hard to get. And it will be the only drama on the Republican side -- now that he's gone, we'll add a little drama to it -- and eventually he'll come around, but in a very lukewarm way. I don't think Bush is going to get those voters.

GIULIANI: I don't think John McCain wants to see an America with Al Gore as the president.


GIULIANI: And I think that will ultimately...

CARLSON: But he's not going to want to give up his principles.

GIULIANI: ... bring him close to George W. Bush.

HUNT: Well, it's interesting you say that, Rudy, because I think the closest parallel I may see is Ronald Reagan in 1976...

SHIELDS: That's right.

HUNT: ... And Ronald Reagan came around, but he came around to endorse the Republican platform, rarely mentioned Jerry Ford, because Ronald Reagan saw that four years later he would have his turn again.

GIULIANI: That primary ended much, much later. That primary ended just at about the convention. That almost went to the convention.

SHIELDS: No, I agree with you...

GIULIANI: It's a long time here.

SHIELDS: ... but I do find it fascinating that just two weeks ago, Bob, we were being told by distinguished Republicans like Governor Engler that the McCain voters were trying to hijack the Republican nomination. Now, they're the most coveted, cherished, courted people in the history of the world.

NOVAK: I don't...

SHIELDS: Now they're new independents or a new constituency. Which are they, Bob?

NOVAK: I don't think those things are inconsistent with each other, I don't think a bit inconsistent in the real world of politics, and you know that very well. Let me say this. There are people, in Washington and in the political community -- in fact three of them are sitting at that -- three journalists are sitting at that table in New York -- who don't have the best interests of the Republican Party at heart. And they would like a campaign finance reform proposal which is tailored to the labor unions and the Democrats. That is what Bush is not going to do. That is why he can't endorse McCain-Feingold. But there's such a thing called compromise. I'm trying to -- I'll make a deal. And the question is, will McCain be enough of a realist to do that?


HUNT: Unfortunately, Bob doesn't understand campaign finance reform, because if he would look at what the Republicans are floating, the Hagel proposal -- and I like Chuck Hagel, but it's a terrible proposal -- among other things, it would give labor unions even more clout in soft money. That's exactly what it would do, and that's a bad kind of compromise, Mark.

CARLSON: And you can't move McCain voters around...

HUNT: Right.

CARLSON: ... if you compromise and you give up. What McCain brought out was passion in people. Look at all the people who voted. He can't just say, oh, I have this bloc of voters and I'm going to go in a back room and deal.

SHIELDS: It was significant, Rudy, that in the primaries the Republican vote was up in all the primaries where John McCain competed and down in the ones where he didn't compete. He did bring in people...

NOVAK: Well, naturally.

SHIELDS: ... into the process.

GIULIANI: But of course that would be the case. It gets a great deal of attention. But the Republican vote that was up was overwhelmingly for George W. Bush. On the Republican side, George W. Bush virtually won a landslide. It's in the independent and Democratic voter that John McCain had a big advantage. And George W. Bush has plenty time to reach out.

SHIELDS: Can George W. Bush win with Republican votes in November?

GIULIANI: No, he has to be able to get crossover, independent and Democratic votes. But there's a lot of time to do that. And if you try to do it incorrectly...

CARLSON: He's got to hijack...

GIULIANI: ... you could actually you lose a lot of votes.

CARLSON: Mark, he's got to hijack the hijacked voter, because he can't just win with 38 percent.

SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret Carlson.

Rudy Giuliani and THE GANG will be back with Gore versus Bush.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Vice President Al Gore clinched the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, leading him and Governor Bush can begin the general election campaign early.


ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the main issue is how to keep the prosperity going and protect Social Security, protect a woman's right to choose and get child-safety trigger locks. I don't know how Governor Bush can oppose mandatory child-safety trigger locks.

BUSH: We are a party of principle. We also must be a party of inclusion, a party with a generous heart and an open door.

After eight years of Clinton-Gore, we have the highest tax burden since World War II. And yet we are told taxes are not an issue.


SHIELDS: Both candidates claim the campaign finance reform mantle.


GORE: I will challenge the Republican nominee to join with me right now in banning so-called "soft money."

BUSH: He wants to all of a sudden abolish soft money and yet his president, the president, is now raising soft money and touting it as a great accomplishment last week.


SHIELDS: A CNN poll shows the vice president ahead for the first time by a slim 2 percentage points.

Bob Novak, having seen Vice President Gore with his new Ronald Reagan comb in his haircut, who got off to a better start this week, Bush or Gore?

NOVAK: Well, there's no question that the vice president had less wounds suffered during the primary fight because it was easier for him. I think they're about even, though. The question is, what are the issues they're going to be hitting on this long campaign besides pounding on each other? And I really don't think trigger locks on guns is a presidential issue. Give me a break. People who care about that are not going to vote for George Bush anyway.

The thing that -- I'm very happy Governor Bush is still pushing tax cuts, but he has to go further than that. On EVANS NOVAK HUNT & SHIELDS earlier today, the Senate majority leader, Trent Lott, said that he was going to call on the governor for tax reform. Nobody is really saying they have to have radical tax reform. Get rid of the internal revenue code, and that would be a terrific issue to get all kinds of voters on the Republican side.

SHIELDS: Rudy Giuliani, he emerged, George W. Bush did, as an enormously strong primary candidate, overwhelming choice of his party, by distancing himself from the Republican Congress when they wanted to cut the earned income tax credit payments. Is it a good idea for him to get really close to the...

GIULIANI: I think that George W. Bush has followed the way that most presidents get elected. He's first solidified the base of his party, and now from that solid base he can reach out to independents, some Democrats that might be interested in working for Republicans. So I agree with Bob. I think he's probably suffered a little more during the primary season because the Bradley-Gore debate ended earlier.

But they are probably both in an equal position. And I think the whole gasoline situation is a situation that the Republican Party should illustrate very, very strongly...

SHIELDS: The price of gasoline.

GIULIANI: Yes, because it shows, really, the unfocused nature of the Clinton-Gore foreign policy. Ultimately it's a much deeper than just the price of gasoline. It's a president whose secretary of energy four weeks ago in Boston said that the president and he were napping while OPEC was gouging America for 10 months. How can a president be napping for 10 months when OPEC is holding back oil production on purpose to drive up the price of oil? So I think that's a -- it gives us a chance as Republicans to illustrate a lot of problems in the Clinton-Gore foreign policy. And I think that's something that George W. Bush could do very effectively.

SHIELDS: Never thought of George W. Bush as a towering figure on foreign policy, but you've opened up my eyes.

GIULIANI: Well, nobody thought of Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California and he probably had the biggest impact on foreign policy of any president in the last 50 years.


CARLSON: If gas is a deeper issue, I would argue that guns is a deeper issue as well. And Bush can't take up that issue. He can't take up the issue of soft money. It's not going to work for him. He's threatening to raise $175 million in soft money, so how's he going to take that issue...

GIULIANI: How can Al Gore take up the issue of money at all?

CARLSON: ... how's he going to take that issue...

GIULIANI: I mean, there's...

CARLSON: ... how's he going to take that -- he apologized for what he did. He did one thing. He apologized for it.

GIULIANI: He didn't do "one" thing. The Clinton-Gore record on campaign finance reform is probably the most disgraceful of any group of candidates in the history of America. So when Al Gore raises campaign finance reform, I think right across the screen you see the word "hypocrisy." And that's devastating for Al Gore

CARLSON: Well, he's ready to shut it down any time his competitor is ready to shut it down.

The thing is that... GIULIANI: That's after having raised money from the Chinese, money at the Buddhist temple. He didn't know he was really going there. I think this is a devastating issue for Al Gore, because it gets into this whole question of honesty, character, integrity.

CARLSON: But embedded in people's minds is the idea that Bush has raised more money than anyone ever, so much that he doesn't even have to abide by the weak laws that are already on the books. So it is a dead issue as far as Bush is concerned.

GIULIANI: But he did it openly, he did it honestly, and he did it without being a hypocrite. He was honest about it.

SHIELDS: Yes, except the $4.5 million in the Wyly commercial here in New York, which was not an independent expenditure under the definition of that.

GIULIANI: Well, actually...

SHIELDS: And I think you have to say...

GIULIANI: Actually, I think he was open and honest about that also. It's all been disclosed.

SHIELDS: I think you've got two candidates who are impaired. The two candidates who could raise the issue believably are out of the race...

CARLSON: Are gone, yes.

SHIELDS: ... Bill Bradley and John McCain.

HUNT: The first point to make is that -- all you have to do is look at the numbers, that six months ago Bush was 20 points ahead. Today, he -- Gore is now two points up, as small as that is. But to me, the most remarkable thing is the flip-flop that Bob Novak has done in 72 hours. Primary night, he told us that issues don't matter. Now that Bush has fallen behind, he says the whole thing for Bush is to stress tax reform. I'm sorry, it's a pipe dream.

I agree, Rudy, that the Clinton-Gore record is disgraceful, the most since Richard Nixon. But George Bush can't take advantage of it. Not only because of what he did with things like the Wyly brothers, but we're going to start to find out about some of these contributors in Texas and the payoffs that went to them, and it's going to be a terrible issue for them.

NOVAK: Can I...

HUNT: The final point I make, Mark, is two things. In our poll, which preceded the CNN poll that showed Gore ahead, two things came out. Number one, Bob says it's going to be on persona and character. Bush has lost that advantage now, according to the polls. And the second point I was making is when you look at the undecided, the profile, the McCain voters, they clearly tilt more to Gore than Bush.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak in Charlotte.

NOVAK: Let me make one comment. The idea of having this independent expenditure by this eccentric pro-gay rights, pro-choice, pro-abortion choice businessman...

HUNT: Pro-Bush.

NOVAK: ... who is a from Texas called Sam Wyly, who had a legal, independent expenditure -- disgraceful but legal -- to compare that to the conspiracy of 1996 campaign funding indicates you're not very objective, Al. But believe me, campaign finance reform, the politicians like to talk about it...

SHIELDS: Just say it, Bob.

NOVAK: ... but it's not as important as getting rid of the internal revenue code.

SHIELDS: Fine, Bob, but let's just say one thing. George W. Bush and Al Gore talking about campaign finance reform is as credible as Henry VIII talking about monogamy.

That's the final word.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, we look back on the great campaign of 2000.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

The 2000 presidential primary season, which ended before primaries used to begin, produced this comment from one losing candidate.


BILL BRADLEY (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't have any complaint. I think that clearly the Republican schedule of primaries made it easier to cover.


SHIELDS: A winner reacted enthusiastically.


BUSH: One of the interesting facts of the primaries is that we've had large turnouts. Our party is enthused and excited about what they're seeing. John deserves credit for bringing people into the party. I deserve a lot of credit, too, for exciting the party and for bringing people together.


SHIELDS: Governor Bush said today.

Margaret, how do you look back at the 2000 primary season?

CARLSON: The large turnout, I think, came from John McCain being in the race. I don't think he can take credit for that. You know, it's over now. Yesterday in the primaries that no one even noticed, hardly anyone voted. In part because, you know, you know the end of the movie, so people aren't enthused to do it and in part because the exciting candidate is gone. I think the proposal for regional primaries is probably a good idea, where you stagger the -- all the states clump together and you stagger it...

SHIELDS: (OFF-MIKE) into regions, yes.

CARLSON: ... because the only people that like the way it is now are the candidates who win and the parties, because they get all this time to get ready for the general election.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, what's your take on the primaries?

NOVAK: I think what we've learned was that all the political scientists have been talking about the need for a national primary are crazy. Even huge regional primaries are bad, because Super Tuesday was terrible. You couldn't campaign in these places. There was not a focus. I think the Republican method was much better, in having a separate South Carolina campaign than a Michigan campaign and Virginia campaign. It was much more orderly. The Democratic, big everything, lumped into Super Tuesday after New Hampshire, was just a big plus for the labor bosses and the minority groups.

SHIELDS: I have to say this, though, Al Hunt, that after New Hampshire, the last time candidates really see real voters. After that it's tarmacs, it's studios, it's TV time.

HUNT: That's why I'm not for regional primaries, and I happen to agree with Bob Novak here, but my most vivid memories weren't on a high note. It was those New Hampshire town meetings, where thousands of ordinary Americans flocked to see John McCain saying more than ideology or partisanship, they wanted to be proud of their president again. I think that was remarkable.

On another note, my most vivid memory is taking my 13-year-old son to New Hampshire the weekend before primary to see Democracy in action, and his favorite candidate was Alan Keyes.


SHIELDS: Rudy Giuliani, your take on the primaries?

GIULIANI: I think the system needs more individual primaries, rather than one big regional primary. I think the campaigning in New Hampshire and South Carolina was good for George Bush and John McCain, and probably for Gore and Bradley also. I think more individual exposure to the voters gets them ready for running for president a lot better, and I think the system is a relatively a good one, and I think the new voters that came into the Republican primary are people that are going to be more interested in process. Even if John McCain is gone, they're going to be paying a lot more attention to the presidential race than they would have, if it weren't for that he fact that they came into the process.

SHIELDS: Let me just say one thing. There is something truly wonderful -- I say this as an old cynic, and I've been around this process now for close to 40 years, to see real voters, to see hardware store managers, and nurses, and teachers and small business people, ask presidential candidates questions they to answer that are on their mind, with no intervening consultants, media adviser, anything of the sort. It is terrific.

HUNT: Long live the New Hampshire primary.

SHIELDS: Long live the New Hampshire -- and it's almost as good as having Rudy Giuliani here with us.

Thanks for being with us, Mr. Mayor.

GIULIANI: Thank you very much.

SHIELDS: THE GANG will be back with the "Outrage of the Week."

ANNOUNCER: Our viewer "Outrage of the Week" is from Steve Ciccarelli, who writes:

"George W. Bush made a beeline to Bob Jones University, igniting a firestorm of controversy over racial and religious issues. Fearing loss of Catholic votes, Governor Bush sent an apology letter to Cardinal O'Connor, yet never wrote to any black leader. Might George W. Bush have been better off writing to black leaders and spare a gravely ill Cardinal O'Connor from this raucous political battle? That might have convinced that the letter was a sincere contrition rather than a political ploy to harvest Catholic votes."

If you have an outrage for next week, our e-mail is address is, or call the toll-free number at 1-888-847-8660. We'll choose one outrage to air at this same time next week on THE CAPITAL GANG.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

And now, for the "Outrage of the Week."

Thanks to "The Los Angeles Times," we now know that both FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno's chosen campaign finance prosecutor, Charles G. LaBella, urged the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the 1996 fund-raising abuses of the Clinton-Gore campaign and the White House. It remains an outrage that Reno failed to listen to Charles LaBella and to investigate and to expose the fund-raising abuses by the Democrats and by the Republicans.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Newsrooms throughout the nation's capital have been mailed 90 pages of material attacking Pennsylvania's Republican Governor Tom Ridge. An enclosed statement by Democratic leaders of the state House of Representatives says of Ridge, quote, "His abysmal lack of leadership should be thoroughly investigated before any pundit decides that our governor should be a heartbeat away from running this great country," end quote. The outrage: This comes from the state House Democratic caucus, financed by taxpayer funds. Public money wasn't intended to oppose somebody for vice president.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Thanks, Mark.

Remember how upset Republicans were when the Clinton administration recklessly let China get highly sophisticated missile technology from Loral Space Corporation? Now Senate Republicans, if they don't listen to Senators John Warner and Fred Thompson, are about to further loosen export controls, making it easier for American corporations to sell high-tech equipment to potential enemies like China. We'll be basically helping them design nuclear warheads that could be aimed at, say, the Big Apple. Throw the merchants and the Department of Commerce out of foreign affairs or someday we may all be blown to smithereens by our own technology.


HUNT: House Republicans showed their true colors by perverting a minimum wage bill this week with huge tax cuts for the very wealthy. The GOP leadership blocked consideration of an amendment to target tax relief for small businesses that might be effected by a minimum wage hike, then OKed $80 billion in lower estate taxes which are paid for by fewer than 2 percent of Americans. In short, 73 percent of the Republican tax cuts go to the wealthiest 1 percent, all under the ruse of boosting the minimum wage.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG.

Next on CNN, "SPORTS TONIGHT" reports on the first act of college basketball's March Madness.


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