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Gore Breaks With President on Elian Gonzalez Legislation; Bush Accuses Gore of Playing Politics for Cuban-American VotesAired March 31, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore's new stance on the Elian Gonzalez case draws intense fire, and not only from George W. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hang out at the coffee shop in Miami's Little Havana and before long you know two things, they want Elian Gonzalez to stay and Al Gore to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Candy Crowley on Cuban-American politics in Florida and the Elian factor.
And the dance to attract new voters, are young people getting with the program?
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.
SHAW: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today.
The Gore campaign denies the vice president is playing politics with the Elian Gonzalez case. But no matter what Gore's motives, his sudden embrace yesterday of essentially the same position taken by George W. Bush gave Bush an issue to run with, and as CNN's Jonathan Karl reports, that is exactly what the Texas governor did during campaign stops in Wisconsin today.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today a 6- year-old boy and his family face another weekend of fear and deadline and doubt.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a pointed attack on his rival, George W. Bush accused Al Gore of playing politics with Elian Gonzalez.
BUSH: And I am concerned that Al Gore's sudden change of position yesterday may have had more to do with the vice president's political interests than with the best interests of Elian Gonzalez.
KARL: The Gonzalez case has become the hottest of hot-button issues with Florida's Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in a critical battleground state for the presidential campaign. Bush called inadequate Gore's new-found support for a bill that would grant Elian and his family permanent legal residency in the United States.
BUSH: Rather than waiting for legislation which may be too late, rather than going along with this tug-of-war of deadlines and threats, Al Gore can insist that his administration act today.
KARL: Bush also supports legislation to grant permanent residency, but says the attorney general already has the power to allow Elian to stay in the U.S. Speaking earlier to students at Pioneer Elementary School in Green Bay, Bush called the situation a test of Gore's claims of being an influential vice president.
BUSH: I hope the vice president's got enough influence in the administration to sway the attorney general and to sway the president. It will be an interesting test.
KARL: A spokesman for the vice president would not specifically respond to Bush's charges, but said Gore's position on Elian Gonzalez was motivated by principle not politics. The controversy has brought the national spotlight to the presidential campaign at a time Bush acknowledges people aren't paying much attention.
BUSH: But I readily concede it's going to be hard to keep the national -- keep the people's attention nationally for a long period of time, and so I am under no allusions.
KARL: Bush's aides believes that heightens the importance of the Elian Gonzalez controversy, injecting an emotional issue into a campaign generally devoid of emotional issues.
(on camera): Bush's aides say that Gore's reversal is all about Florida politics, but they insist the vice president will pay a price beyond Florida for what one aide called blatantly playing politics with the first major foreign policy issue of the campaign.
Jonathan Karl, CNN, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
SHAW: The vice president also is getting heat on the Hill from members of his party as well as from Republicans.
CNN's Chris Black continues our focus on Gore's new Elian problem.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers are echoing their presidential candidate and raising the political stakes for Vice President Al Gore. SEN. ROBERT SMITH (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: He has to pressure those people within the Justice Department that he knows, that he can work with, to say, look, let's be reasonable here, let's back off.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Governor Bush had it right. Why can't you convince the president and the attorney general to do what you're doing?
BLACK: The vice president's change of heart in supporting congressional efforts to give Elian Gonzalez and his family permanent resident status startled some of his staunchest Democratic allies...
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I was surprised. We were notified in advance, but I was surprised.
BLACK: ... and infuriated others. In a letter to Gore, Congressman Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat wrote: "How can you, the vice president of the United States, advocate bypassing decisions made by the Department of Justice and the federal courts."
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: In my opinion, it's purely political in order to appease the voters in Miami, the Cuban-American voters.
BLACK: And in a letter to Senate leaders, Elian Gonzalez's father and other family members said no thanks.
"We are frankly surprised," they wrote, "that anybody could be able to assume that kind of initiative without our consent."
The legislation is now on hold because of opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.
SMITH: The bottom line is we don't have the votes today to pass this.
BLACK: But one sponsor, Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat, says Gore's public backing could change the numbers.
SEN. ROBERT GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: The vice president's support for this legislation and the support for the principles that he stood for throughout this tragic situation of Elian Gonzalez will help advance the cause of this bill.
BLACK: Republicans relish the dissension in Democratic ranks and what they see as the opportunity to show Gore will do whatever it takes to win this election.
MCCONNELL: He's a man of, shall we say, flexible principles.
BLACK: And CNN has learned Republicans are drafting a Senate resolution that could be presented as soon as next week that is aimed at continuing to keep the focus on what Republicans view as the incompetent way the Clinton administration has handled the case of Elian Gonzalez -- Bernie.
SHAW: Thank you, Chris Black on the Hill.
Well, publicly the White House is trying to put the best face possible on Gore's break with the administration's position on Gonzalez.
Our John King has been talking to people in the White House and in the Gore campaign -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, we have heard nothing from either the president of the United States or the vice president on this issue today. The president enjoying this beautiful day. He's out golfing. Today is the vice president's 52nd birthday, so he's taking the day off to be with his family. But behind the scenes both here at the White House and in the vice president's office and campaign, some damage control going on.
Here at the White House many aides were startled by the vice president's decision. Many rolled their eyes at the timing of it. It came the day after the president in his news conference urged everyone to respect the law, urged all the politicians to stay out of this, but they are concerned here at the White House that aides are being so critical of the vice president.
And the public line today from the White House spokesman, Jake Siewert, he said the president certainly disagrees with the break the vice president has gone off on in this case, but also Jake Siewert said the president understands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SIEWERT, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: I don't think the president is angry at all. The vice president's office let us know that they were going to make this decision. We have said for some time now that the president and the vice president would occasionally differ on issues, particularly as the vice president makes his views known as he begins to run for the presidency himself and that's to be expected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, even some Democrats here suggesting politics had a lot to do with the vice president's break, but his campaign is accusing the Republicans on Capitol Hill and Governor Bush of playing politics and saying the vice president does not think this issue should be politicized.
The major concern in the Gore camp right now on the damage control front, many Democrats, as we have just seen in Chris Black's package, caught off guard by this, some threatening to withdraw their support for the vice president. Aides to the vice president reaching out to them today, apologizing not for the vice president's position. They are defending that, but they are saying that the vice president certainly could have done a better job of informing his supporters about this, of consulting key Democrats on Capitol Hill, some privately drawing the comparison to what we saw a few months ago when Hillary Rodham Clinton in her Senate campaign waded into the very volatile ethnic politics in New York. You'll remember when she disagreed with her husband on the issue of granting clemency for those Puerto Rican nationalists -- Bernie.
SHAW: John King with the latest from the White House, thank you.
Now, we're going to Florida's Cuban-American community where the Elian Gonzalez case may be even more politically charged than here in Washington.
Our Candy Crowley reports on reaction to Gore's new stance and what it may mean for the presidential race.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Hang out at the coffee shop in Miami's Little Havana and before long you know two things, they want Elian Gonzalez to stay and Al Gore to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: will vote for Mr. Bush, that's definite. Never for Mr. Gore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First of all, I am a Republican, so no matter what, I would have never voted for them.
CROWLEY: Republicans say Elian's case is just the exclamation point on seven years of what the Cuban-American community sees as a softening U.S. policy toward Cuba, including the 1994 policy which returns to Cuba refugees picked up by the Coast Guard; the failure of the administration to take retaliatory action against Castro in 1996 when Cuba shot down two U.S. planes piloted by a Cuban-American activist group; the Clinton administration's refusal to allow Cuban- Americans to sue Cuba for property confiscated during the Cuban Revolution. Democrats admit it's a tough go.
MAYOR ALEX PENELAS, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Well, there's no doubt that I think Democratic candidates among Cuban American voters in Miami-Dade County don't stand in a very good position in these November elections.
CROWLEY: Still, even in this part of town, Al Gore's decision to support residency status for Elian Gonzales and his family draws praise.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think that it is a very positive thing if what Gore has proposed -- I think that's a very intelligent, you know, way of handling things. And that will give him like a lot of credibility and he will gain a lot of votes for that.
CROWLEY: Almost 800,000 Cuban-Americans live in Florida: 40 percent of them voted Democratic in '96. It did not make the Clinton- Gore Florida victory, but it helped.
Since then, a Republican named Jeb Bush was elected governor of Florida and a little Cuban boy was found floating in an innertube in the Atlantic. Now, Jeb Bush's brother is running for president and the Clinton administration wants the little boy sent back to Havana to be with his father.
AL CARDENAS, FLORIDA GOP CHAIRMAN: If you ask me, will Al Gore, based on what he said, be able to cleanse himself from the -- from the outpouring of -- of anger if this boy goes back to Cuba, the answer is clearly no.
CROWLEY: Many politicos see Gore's decision to back permanent residency status for Elian is a clear bid for Florida's Cuban-American vote. Others see it as merely a bid for time.
STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What it does is it allows him to talk to Cubans in Florida. It allows him to participate in the state. It allows him to maybe at a future time decide he's going to compete for the state with George W. Bush.
Basically, it gives him some playing time by breaking with the president.
CROWLEY: Gore's repeated statements that he will make Florida a battleground draws skepticism from some Republicans and independent pundits.
(on camera): More likely, they say, the vice president is just trying to keep his Florida donors happy and force Bush to spend money in Florida when Bush would rather be spending it elsewhere -- Bernie.
SHAW: Candy Crowley in Miami. And up next on INSIDE POLITICS, he's young, he's little, but he may have a big impact on the political aspirations of Al Gore and George W. Bush. Bill Kristol and E.J. Dionne join us for a discussion on that and other political developments.
SHAW: Joining us now for their takes on the Cuban boy case and other political news of this day, here in Washington, Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard," and in Boston, E.J. Dionne of "The Washington Post."
E.J., what stands out in your mind about this?
E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, that this isn't about immigration rules; it's about electoral college rules. And I think there's no question that this case is totally political not only on Al Gore's part but I think on everyone else's part.
If you asked the question, would this same thing happening with a Jamaican boy or a Bahamian boy or a Haitian boy, the answer is almost certainly no. I mean, the problem is that Castro does run a dictatorship. We don't know really what Elian's father feels about all of this.
If I were Castro -- and he doesn't listen to my advice -- I think he should call everybody's bluff, let the father come here alone, tell him he's free to stay here, and then see what happens. That's about the only way I can see settling this matter.
SHAW: Bill Kristol.
WILLIAM KRISTOL, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, I admire what Vice President Gore did, and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was an anti-communist when he was in Congress and perhaps he does think this boy should not be sent back to Castro, which is what Janet Reno is trying to do by railroading this through as an immigration case rather than treating it as a custody case.
I think Gore made a very effective political move, whatever his motives. And I think the ball is now in a sense in George W. Bush's court and in the court of the Republican congressional leadership. And I think what they now have to do is move the legislation that Vice President Gore has endorsed to give the boy and the father permanent resident status, if they wish it. That would move the case into a custody -- into family court, as a custody case. The father can come here, make his case for custody. If he wins custody, he can take the boy back. But that is the appropriate resolution of the case, I strongly believe.
But in any case, I think the Republican congressional leadership has to move this legislation -- Al Gore supports it -- and put it on Bill Clinton's desk. Will Bill Clinton veto such legislation or not?
I mean, politically speaking Gore has seized the initiative with what he did yesterday, and I think Republicans need to now intensify the pressure in a sense and try to see which way Clinton comes down, with his attorney general or with his vice president.
SHAW: I'm curious, do the two of you think that Al Gore might have been itching to publicly break with President Clinton on such a high-profile issue, E.J.?
DIONNE: Well, I think that Gore has made clear all along that he's going to play for the Florida vote, and there is a real opening there. Tom Fiedler of "The Miami Herald," a good political writer there, pointed out that there's a real difference between Cubans over the age of 55, who are very solidly Republican and vote mostly because of their strong feelings about Castro, and younger Cuban-Americans who, yes, they're not pro-Castro either, but they gave Clinton and Gore a pretty good share of the vote, so that I think independent of any desire to break with Clinton this -- Gore would see this in his interests.
It's true, as Bill said, that Gore does have a history of anti- communism. I think his difficulty is he didn't speak up earlier. He's speaking up now.
SHAW: Bill, does this say that once and for all Al Gore is telling the American people he indeed is his own man?
KRISTOL: I'm sure that occurred to him as he thought about whether to say something publicly or not. No, I think it helps him.
Look, what are Republicans counting on this fall, that we have had enough, eight years of Clinton-Gore. Governor Bush says that all the time. Al Gore obviously needs to convince the American people that they can elect him, put Clinton behind them, and that Gore is different from Clinton-Gore. And by splitting -- by separating himself from Bill Clinton in this instance, he helps begin that process.
SHAW: You just mentioned the governor from Texas. Let's turn for a moment to George W. Bush, taking aim not at Al Gore but at Gore's boss. Today, Bush shot back at President Clinton, who told Democrats in New York yesterday that Bush falls short when it comes to ethics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, this is about the fifth or sixth time that the president of the United States during the course of this campaign has taken time out of his busy schedule to serve as campaign manager for Al Gore. And I am -- I am honored that he would take my campaign so seriously that he would spend time talking about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: E.J., is Bush drawing blood?
DIONNE: I'm not sure on that one, because the people who are anti-Clinton -- 35, maybe 40 percent of the electorate -- were already going to vote for Bush. And then I think that since Gore is stuck with the downside of Clinton, he might as well get some of the upside, which is Clinton's ability to rally Democrats and some independents who still basically like Clinton's policies, whatever doubts they have about him.
I think to the extent that Clinton is Gore's campaign manager, as Bush says, I think he's going to calibrate this, that if he thinks tying himself to Gore too closely is going to hurt Gore he's going to recede some. I think at the moment he figures he's got some good issues where he, Clinton, has the popular positions, and on those he'll go after Bush.
SHAW: Bill, what effect is this battle having?
KRISTOL: Well, it's below the radar screen for now. But I think what you saw is a hint of how the Gore campaign will proceed. Gore will take the high road, as it were, articulating his vision for his country. Clinton will attack Bush on issues where Clinton has won in the past and has some credibility. I talked to a couple of Republicans today in Washington. They were very worried that the Governor Bush, with his tax cut plan, is vulnerable to a Clinton attack on Social Security and Medicare. That attack did a lot of damage to the Republican congress in 1995 and '96. Clinton mentioned that yesterday.
I think they will -- the Gore campaign will be happy to use President Clinton to go after Bush, not on personal ethics issues, but on substantive issues, where the American people, rightly or wrongly, have tended to agree with Clinton over the last few years.
SHAW: Moving quickly to one last subject -- between the Republicans and Democrats and this whole argument about the United States census and the dispute over privacy and alleged invasions thereof, E.J., who's getting the better of this argument?
DIONNE: Well, I think there is a problem when a presidential candidate who wants to be the president of the United States -- execute the office, comes out and says, gee, maybe I wouldn't fill out that long census form, as Mr. Bush did. It's an odd thing to say right when lots of Americans, I guess a sixth of the people who have to fill out the census, are sort of stuck having, by law, to fill out that census. I think the other problem with the Republican argument now is that we've known this census was coming for 10 years. There was a big argument in Congress. If people aren't happy with the way the census forms look, Congress could have changed them a long time ago. So to the extent this has an affect -- and I'm not sure it's a big issue for most people -- I think it will I think slightly help the Democrats more than the Republicans.
KRISTOL: Not a big issue, but look, if you're Governor Bush, you gave education speeches this week, they got drowned by the Elian Gonzalez matter, and he pops off informally on the census, picking up on an issue that some Republicans have raised that has no traction. The issue of the week was Elian Gonzalez. I think Governor Bush had a huge opportunity to take the lead on that issue, and instead he let Gore do a pretty effective job of stepping out front.
SHAW: Well, we're going to have more coming up here on INSIDE POLITICS on the census debate.
Bill Kristol, of "The Weekly Standard," E.J. Dionne of "The Washington Post," thanks very much.
KRISTOL: Thanks, Bernie.
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
SHAW: Always good to have you.
John McCain -- he is one step closer to being able to force floor debates on issue he considers important at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Under a deal reached with the Bush campaign, McCain will give bush six of his 52 delegates he won in the Michigan primary, but McCain retains majority rule. Under party rules, McCain needs the support of at least six state delegations to force debates or roll call votes at that convention. Similar deals are reported in the works in several New England states which McCain won during the primaries.
There is much more ahead here on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: Republicans have been trying to frustrate this census from the beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: More on the partisan bickering over that census and whether some questions are too personal.
Also ahead: McCain mania may have infected some young people, but did that translate to turnout at the polls? And later, a portrait of isolation on the political scene, and the stroke that earns the "Play of the Week."
SHAW: We will more of this day's political news coming up, but now this look at some other top stories. The father of Elian Gonzalez says he does not want to live in the United States. The Gonzalez family has written a letter to the Senate leadership rejecting its efforts to grant residency to the boy's Cuban relatives. Meanwhile, Elian's Miami relatives say they won't give the boy up, even if the father comes to the United States.
The United Nations' Security Council is taking steps to get more food and medicine into Iraq. Today, the council unanimously agreed to double the amount of money that Iraq can spend on equipment and spare parts for its oil industry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... will bring significant new revenue into the oil-for-food program in Iraq, and we hope that the Iraqi government will bring it straight to meet the needs of the Iraqi people. The food, medicine, other materials, agricultural supplies are badly needed, are not getting through quickly enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Iraq's oil industry is so dilapidated, production could suffer if repairs are not made soon.
Federal inspectors say they've found widespread defects along the east coast CSX railroad track system. A series of derailments prompted an audit of the railway. The findings, published in today's "Washington Post," show an increase in track-caused accidents on the CSX system. The audit also found deteriorating tracks had spread enough to risk derailment. The president of CSX says the problem will be fixed.
In Japan, billowing crowds of black smoke, and rocks and ash are spewing from Mound Uzu. Thousands of people have fled the area, which is on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido. They are being warned the danger is far from over. This volcano erupted today for the first time in more than 20 years. So far, there are no reports of damage or injuries.
Computer geeks and couch potatoes beware -- a new Massachusetts law may make it harder to get rid of your outdated electronics. A statewide ban on dumping video monitors begins tomorrow. Environmental officials say toxic materials, such as lead, could leak from computer screens and televisions.
The big dance begins tomorrow, as the top four college basketball teams square off in the NCAA championship. Head basketball coaches from several major universities are supporting a congressional plan to outlaw gambling on college sports. The coaches say such a ban would protect the integrity of college games.
And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, a matter of politics or privacy. We're going to discuss the lack of partisan consensus on the census.
SHAW: As the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee, George W. Bush's words carry a certain weight, so when he seemed to encourage people not to answer census questions they found intrusive, he took on a controversy which was taken to a new level.
CNN's Carl Rochelle has the latest on the flap and its political angles.
CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People are angry about the long form of the census, 53 questions some complain invade their privacy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it intrusive, I really did, and I don't think all of it is necessary that they are asking.
ROCHELLE: Objections over questions like number 17, asking about physical, mental or emotional condition, or number 39: do you have complete plumbing facilities, hot and cold water? A flush toilet? A bathtub or shower?
Even a presidential contender weighed in.
BUSH: But I can understand why people don't want to give all that information to government, and if I had the long form I'm not so sure I'd want to either.
ROCHELLE: Some Democrats say they're hearing complaints too, but telling people to skip questions is not OK.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: You know, the Republicans have been trying to frustrate this census from the beginning. They don't want more people counted because they think it serves their political purposes. That's a pretty shoddy reason to do what they're doing.
ROCHELLE (on camera): Forms are due April 1. Those who don't return their forms or who skip questions may find a census worker on their doorstep asking the questions face to face.
Carl Rochelle, CNN, Washington.
SHAW: Let's talk about the census and the political wrangling over it. Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney joins us now from her home base in New York, and with us from Atlanta, Matthew Glavin, executive director of the Southeastern Legal Foundation and a prominent census critic.
Mr. Glavin, do you agree with governor's -- the governor's advice to some people?
MATTHEW GLAVIN, SOUTHEASTERN LEGAL FOUNDATION: Oh, absolutely. Look, what's happening here is the government is extorting very private information out of private citizens under the threat of prosecution. Bernie, if a law enforcement officer came to your door and asked you how much money you made or how many bathrooms you had or how much you paid on your mortgage last month, he could not ask those questions of you under the threat of prosecution. Yet, a $10-an-hour census worker can? I don't think so.
SHAW: Congresswoman Maloney, is the federal government extorting information from citizens as Mr. Glavin charges?
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Absolutely -- he's absolutely wrong. Every resident in America should fill out their form and get it in as soon as possible. Tomorrow is Census Day, and if these leaders cared about the problems that they're raising now, they would have raised them two years ago, three years ago. By law, every single Congress person and senator, including Senator Lott, received from the Census Bureau the questions in the long form with explanations of what law requires it and why it's needed.
The form that we have this year is the same as the one we had in 1990 only it's four questions less than the 1990 form, and all the information on the form is used to provide data for planning, for localities, for schools, for the federal government, for the distribution of federal funds and for businesses to plan where to expand their businesses. Each year, the federal government will spend over $180 billion and it is divided based on census numbers. It's very important. It's a civic responsibility. Everyone should fill out their form.
SHAW: Matthew Glavin, how about that point? People over at the Labor Department, Bureau of Labor Statistics say that they cannot do -- compile the data they need without census information. You sympathetic?
GLAVIN: Well, no. No, let's be careful how we describe this. We only conduct the census for one constitutionally mandated purpose: to apportion Congress. And the only information that's required for that is how many people live at a certain address. Now, while this other information is important, it needs to be separated from the Congress.
And Bernie, at a news conference in Washington on Monday, I'm going to recommend that we dismantle the census. We separate all of the statistical functions, all of these intrusive personal questions -- let that be part of a bureau of statistics.
Let them ask those questions without the threat of prosecution and let the census or enumeration function simply be Americans filling out one question on a postcard, that is how many people live here. If we separate those functions we'll increase participation in the constitutionally mandated reason we're doing this, to apportion Congress, and let the statisticians do all of the statistical sampling with all of the questions they want in a different bureau. There are different functions and they shouldn't be combined.
SHAW: Did I hear you...
SHAW: I was just going to say...
SHAW: ... did I hear you groaning when Mr. Glavin was calling for the dismantlement of the Census Bureau?
MALONEY: The Constitution, Bernie, requires that we have a census every 10 years as directed by Congress. These questions that are sent around by the Census Bureau are required by Congress. Congress decides what the questions are. The only new question added to the census form was in response to the welfare reform, and we asked how many grandparents are taking care of children. Does the governor think we shouldn't ask that question? We sent this around...
GLAVIN: Congresswoman Maloney, that's the hypocrisy of what you have been talking about. For the last three years you have been urging everyone to fill out a census form, you have been concerned about being able to count people in difficult to count communities, illegal aliens, individuals in the inner city.
They're going to be much more apt to fill out a census form and to participate in this process if they don't have to give all of this personal information under the threat of prosecution, if they simply had to fill out a postcard, and then you can collect that other information which I agree is important for the function of government, but do it under a separate program, not as part of the census that we do to distribute political power that goes to the very core of what we are as a nation, a representative democracy with that political representation distributed based on real people.
We need to count everybody in America because everybody counts, and we don't need to undermine that process with all of these personal intrusive questions that have to be answered under the threat of prosecution.
SHAW: ... will you fight any effort to dismember the United States Census Bureau?
MALONEY: Absolutely. The census is about people. It shouldn't be about politics. If the Republicans cared about counting people, they wouldn't be raising these objections two days before Census Day. They would have responded a year ago, two years ago when they were asked to respond. But they have taken every single opportunity to try to sabotage an accurate count.
SHAW: We are...
MALONEY: If you don't know where people are, if you don't know what the problems are, then you don't have to address them, and believe me there are many areas in America where they don't have plumbing and we need to know where those areas are for the environment, for sanitation and to help people.
MALONEY: The census is a...
SHAW: I was just going to...
MALONEY: Fill it out. Every American counts. Fill out your form.
SHAW: Regrettably, we have run out of time. Matthew Glavin, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, thanks so much for joining us.
GLAVIN: Thank you, Bernie.
SHAW: You're quite welcome.
And ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS, young voters again turning off an election year? Do the presidential candidates care?
SHAW: You know, for some people, John McCain's bid for the White House was just what the American political system needed. The Arizona senator shook up his own Republican Party and sent warning signals to the Democrats. But for one group of voters, even a war hero was not enough to get them excited.
SHAW (voice-over): The 2000 primaries offered some good reasons for young people to get juiced up about politics: the first truly wide-open election since most hit voting age; an exciting, iconoclastic candidate; and an explosion of politics on the Internet, the preferred medium of young America. But rather than turn out, young people tuned out, again. RUSS FREYMAN, NEGLECTION 2000.ORG: The young just had this general sense of -- the candidates aren't paying really attention to our concerns, why should we turn out, this is the preseason of American politics, it's not all that important anyway.
SHAW: According to the nonpartisan and nonprofit Neglection 2000 project, 18- to 29-year-olds have the lowest turnout rates of any age group in each of the dozen states the group studied.
In New York, one of the most competitive states in both primaries, the turnout of young people was an abysmal 5 percent.
In California, where nearly a quarter of all adults are under 29, their turnout rate was just 13 percent.
The one bright spot, New Hampshire, where John McCain first caught fire, 25 percent of young people turned out for that primary. Impressive, until you consider that the turnout rate for 45- to 59- year-olds was 60 percent. Apart from New Hampshire, however, there's no empirical evidence of a wave of young voters flocking to the polls to back McCain.
FREYMAN: In a lot of the surveys, when you survey who is the most compelling candidate to the young, older people tend to think that McCain is the person, whereas young Republicans look at themselves more as Republicans than young voters. And so it becomes the question of who is the best Republican? And the answer to a lot of 18- to 29-year-olds was George Bush, not John McCain.
SHAW: By historical standards, there's nothing surprising about the results. Young people have always been underrepresented in the general elections, let alone primaries. One problem is that unlike, say, Hispanics or women, it's hard to find cases where young people as a bloc have had a decisive impact. They don't swing elections, so the politicians ignore them, further depressing youth turnout.
It's a pattern, and if the primaries are a guide, one that is unlikely to change in 2000.
SHAW: If young people are tuning out of this election year, what about men and women in general? Well, according to 26 polls conducted since mid-November by the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, women are less interested in campaign 2000 than men. The polls found men to be more knowledgeable about what the candidates are saying about the issues, and that men, by a small margin, are more involved in the campaign.
But the poll found more women than men feel that the election will make a great deal of difference in their lives and the country's future.
Earlier this afternoon I spoke with Tom Patterson of the Shorenstein Center about these polls. I started by asking him what questions were put to women to deduce that they are more concerned about the outcome of the election.
TOM PATTERSON, SHORENSTEIN CENTER, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, we really were asking them about the importance of the outcome of the election to people like themselves and to the country as a whole. And these were questions that we presented to both men and women in our surveys. And women were more likely to think that the outcome of the election would make a difference in their lives and also in the lives -- the collective life of the country.
SHAW (on camera): And please profile men in the hurley-burley following of day-to-day events on the campaign trail.
PATTERSON: Well, men are substantially more attentive to politics. They're more likely to follow it in the news. They're more likely to talk about the campaign with others. And this was pretty consistent across the surveys. And we've been out there every week since early November talking with a cross-section of Americans about their interests in the presidential campaign. And it was not until Super Tuesday that sort of women caught up with men in terms of the level of involvement that they had in the campaign.
Since then, the gap has re-emerged, and of course, attention to the campaign is way down from what it was a couple of weeks ago. But you know, the dropoff has been much higher among women than men.
SHAW: In your judgment, what's behind this gap?
PATTERSON: Well, we had expected a gap of some kind because they -- this goes back, you know, decades that men take a greater interest in politics. I think what surprised us, we had expected the gap to narrow as you came across generations. In other words, among young women, we'd expected the gap not to be as great among older women. But in fact, it was greater among young women than older women. And there I think we have to ask, you know, what it is about the way that, you know, girls are raised in the United States that makes them less interested in politics. I mean, what's going on in the family? What's going on in the schools?
You know, obviously, there aren't as many role models for young women in politics. Only 10 percent of the members of Congress are women. You know, we have a culture, I think, in which men get more interested in politics, get more interested earlier, and interestingly that gap closes as people age. But you know, it's there and it's pretty persistent across campaigns and other areas of public life.
SHAW: Do your findings also lead you to conclude that men tend to find politics more a blood sport than women?
PATTERSON: Well, I think we do have some indicators of that. I think, you know, the politics as a game may be one of the reasons men are more interested in politics.
When we ask Americans -- we had an interesting question a couple of weeks ago, and the question was, do you agree or disagree that politics in America is, you know, pretty disgusting? And 70 percent of Americans say that they find politics pretty disgusting, which I think is itself remarkable. But looking at women it goes almost to 80 percent, and among men, it drops down to 60 percent.
I think there's more tolerance among men for the negative campaigning, for the manipulation, the game-like aspects of presidential politics than there is among women.
SHAW: And lastly, if 70 percent of both sexes find American politics pretty disgusting, can we expect politicians to change, alter their behavior?
PATTERSON: Well, I think we saw some of the possibility in what happened earlier in the presidential campaign. You know, people's disgust with politics, I mean, Americans, I think, feel the country is on the right track, but politics is not. And usually what that amounts to is that people don't participate very much in politics.
When John McCain came along, he tapped into that sentiment and was able to mobilize people around the idea that we've got to change our politics in a substantial way. Now, I think it will be up to Gore and Bush to see whether they can capture that same enthusiasm. Given where they have come from, I think it's going to be difficult for them to do it.
But I think the opportunity is out there. And somewhere in one of these campaigns there's going to become -- a candidate is going to come along, tap into that, succeed with that and maybe change the tone of our politics.
SHAW: Well, we'll be watching. Let's hope.
PATTERSON: Let's hope.
SHAW: Our thanks again to Tom Patterson of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University.
And coming up here on INSIDE POLITICS, we're going to go south again to Miami and Calle Ocho, or Eighth Street, for Bill Schneider's "political play of the week."
SHAW: Another look now at the controversy that's captured the attention of all the major players in this presidential election year.
Our Bill Schneider joins us now from Little Havana, a section of Miami -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Bernie, you want to see political clout? It is here in Little Havana right behind me. This house is where Elian Gonzalez is staying with his great- uncle. Cuban-Americans have taken a position in this case that most of the American people do not support, yet they have gotten the governor of Florida, both U.S. senators, the mayor and most local officials here in Miami, and now both presidential candidates to support. They've also got the Clinton administration politically isolated.
That's called clout: It's also called "the political play of the week."
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Most Americans find the Clinton administration's position sympathetic.
JANET RENO, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The father must speak for the little boy because the sacred bond between parent and child must be recognized and honored.
SCHNEIDER: To heck with that, say Cuban-Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the Cuban power. He's got to stay. He ain't going to go nowhere.
SCHNEIDER: What gives Cuban-Americans so much clout? They're a well-organized, intensely committed minority willing to put themselves on the line for a cause.
RAMON PAUL SANCHEZ, DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT: We have been calling for the demonstrations to be nonviolent. We're doing our best effort to maintain it in that fashion. Unfortunately we cannot control everyone.
SCHNEIDER: Their anti-Castro cause finds deep resonance among many Americans, especially conservatives. They make up 12 percent of the vote in the nation's fourth-largest state, and they can swing that vote.
Florida switched from Bush in 1992 to Clinton in 1996 mostly because of a shift among Cuban-American voters. The president sounded a bit hapless when he defended the administration's position on Wednesday.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that there is a legal process here. I have done my best to avoid politicizing it.
SCHNEIDER: But as events came to a head this week, the administration found itself isolated. Yesterday, Vice President Gore broke with the president, joining Governor Bush in opposition to the Clinton Justice Department. It's no small thing to get the vice president, any vice president, to split with the president on any issue. The Cuban-American community has done it. That kind of clout deserves respect and "the political play of the week."
(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: But Cuban-Americans still have to contend with another force that's equally adept at playing politics in the U.S., and that force is Fidel Castro. Castro is allowing the boy's father to come to the U.S. knowing full well that once he gets here Cuban- Americans may be powerless to prevent a father from being united with his motherless son or from taking his son back home to him. That is family, and it's beyond the reach of political clout.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Miami -- Bernie.
SHAW: Thank you, Bill, with the play of the week.
And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, and of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's Allpolitics.com. And this weekend, a programming note: House Speaker Dennis Hastert will be the guest of "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS." That airs tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.
I'm Bernard Shaw. "WORLDVIEW" is next.
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