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Capital Gang

Juan Miguel Gonzalez Arrives in Washington; Bill Gates Arrives in Washington; John McCain Spends Quality Time in New York

Aired April 8, 2000 - 7:00 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.


I'm Mark Shields, with Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

Our guest is Republican Congressman David Dreier of California, the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee.

Good to have you back. David.

REP. DAVID DREIER (R-CA), RULES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It's usually nice to be here, Mark, and finally with a clear-thinking panelist, Kate O'Beirne.

SHIELDS: Thank you very much, David. You can go back to the car now,

John -- Juan Miguel Gonzalez arrived in Washington to stay with the top Cuban diplomat. He met with Attorney General Janet Reno, who declared that Gonzalez would return to Cuba with his son Elian.


JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I wholeheartedly reject Cuba's system of government. Mr. Gonzalez and I do not share the same political beliefs. But it is not our place to punish a father for his political beliefs or where he wants to raise his child.

Early next week, we will give the relatives instructions on when and where Elian is to be turned over to his father. And at that time, the INS will formally transfer parole and care to the father.


SHIELDS: Will the boy's Florida relatives peacefully turn him over?


LINDA OSBERG-BRAUN, GONZALEZ FAMILY ATTORNEY: I'm sure Lazaro will comply with all conditions imposed upon him. He'll do so with a heavy heart, but he will do as required.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, what is the political fallout of Elian going back to Cuba?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": This is a great victory for Fidel Castro. And when you get a majority of the American people saying this little boy should go back to the Union of Communist Pioneers and brain-washing and not be able to live in a free country, it shows that the media has done a wonderful job in saying, this is a reunion with the father. It's not sending him back to a communist dictatorship.

I don't think that there's any doubt that the president is at the heart of this. His lawyer, Greg Craig, is handling -- is the lawyer for this penniless security guard, Juan Miguel Gonzalez. Who is paying for him is somebody we don't know. But this is part of a pattern, I think, to try to discredit the Cuban-American community and to glorify Fidel Castro and to normalize relations with him.

SHIELDS: Two points: First of all, Bob, the American people want him repatriated, reunited with his father. It is not a question of his going back to Cuba again.

NOVAK: That's what I just said. That's what I said.

SHIELDS: But he wants -- they want...

NOVAK: That's the baloney that's put out.

SHIELDS: Bob, their preference would be to have this father here, but their preference is that he be with his father. And I don't think Greg Craig, who's a very gifted lawyer, is some sort of Svengali of public opinion.

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Right, I mean, the "penniless security guard" -- Bob would support family values for rich fathers in political regimes he approves of. That's not a standard that -- the people -- the reason people are two-to-one if favor of him going back is that they recognize the father-son bond. And it's just too bad that Elian washed up on the shores of a swing state, and politicians can't see that. Because they want what's best for Elian, as long as it doesn't lose them any votes.

SHIELDS: David Dreier.

DREIER: Well, the fact of the matter is we want Elian to be with his father. But if you look at the index of economic freedom, Cuba is in the gutter with North Korea, Libya and Iraq. And I'm concerned about what might happen to Elian upon his return to Cuba. So I think that right now that is a very tough one.

We have people who are very sincere on both sides of the issue. I think my colleague Charlie Rangel on one side, Rules Committee member Lincoln Diaz-Balart on the other side. But then I think about -- Margaret called it a swing state -- Florida is not a swing state, and yet Al Gore id trying to have it both was on this. And I think that's very unfortunate to see the politicization of it.

SHIELDS: Swing state, Bill Clinton lost it in '92, carried it in 96.


DREIER: It's not a swing state. Governor Bush...

O'BEIRNE: David...

DREIER: Let me just tell you. Bush...

O'BEIRNE: David's right to be worried about what happens to this child when he goes back. He used to have just the same kind of crummy childhood in Cuba every other child in Cuba has. He's now a celebrity child. He now has to, when he goes back, be the most enthusiastic little communist on the island. He has to prop up the revolution. The only thing worse than being a child in Cuba is now being Elian in Cuba.

And Janet Reno keeps hiding behind the rule of law. She's misleading the American public. It's not the rule of law that is deciding Elian's fate, it is the rule of Reno. She has single- handedly decided the father is not being coerced. That's her decision. She'd decided when the child goes back he's in no particular danger. That's her unilateral decision. She's decided that the child's best interest is served. It's not up to her to make those decision. There's been no judge making those decisions. Custody hearings, with both sides being fairly held -- heard, are the ones who make those decisions.

This is unilateral action on the part of Janet Reno. Her own friend, Sister O'Laughlin, who saw firsthand the grandmothers, had a different reaction than Janet Reno's having.

SHIELDS: She did.

O'BEIRNE: She said those grandmothers seem frightened, it all seemed coerced, and now I don't think he should go back. Why can't that story be held -- be heard in a court on behalf of Elian and not permit Janet Reno to make these unilateral decisions?

SHIELDS: Well, Kate...

DREIER: Why can't Juan Miguel stay here?

SHIELDS: Kate, the point is that 1,500 American children are kidnaped every single year, and they're usually by a relative, taken to another country, and the rule of law does obtain here. And there are hundreds of thousands of people waiting to get into this country, and for some reason this has become a great political issue for a lot of people. I'd say adults...

DREIER: Mark... SHIELDS: ... have performed so badly in this, the charges of abuse being charged back and forth, hurled unsubstantiated, sexual abuse...

DREIER: Mark, last November -- last November 22nd, Juan Miguel called his relatives in Miami and said, Elian and his mother are coming.

NOVAK: Let me just say this. The argument that's been going on all my life in this country is whether there's really a huge difference in kind between the communist world and the free world. Janet Reno obviously thinks -- doesn't think so. That clip we had, she talked about a political difference, like it's the difference between supply-siders and Keynesians. It isn't. It's a difference in kind.


NOVAK: It's a difference in kind. And I don't care whether his father is there or not, how you can condemn this little boy to a communist police state, where he has to go to this brain-washing summer camp, where his life is going to be controlled by this brutal dictator, the only reason is because this is a part of a plan, in my opinion, to humanize Castro and to try to normalize relations.

SHIELDS: Humanize Castro?


CARLSON: This is just an -- should we have a baby lift from Cuba? You know, there's no doubt now that this father loves his son. We saw pictures of him...


CARLSON: ... with his ex-wife at the boy's birthday party, home movies. He was an active participant...

DREIER: We don't (OFF-MIKE) that the father loves his son. The question is what is he going to face if he returns to Cuba.

NOVAK: That's right.

O'BEIRNE: And does his father genuinely want him back? We don't know that.

CARLSON: Yes, we do know that. We do know he wants his..

NOVAK: Oh, he's under Castro's control. How can you be that naive?

CARLSON: Wait a minute. You think Castro is telling the father (OFF-MIKE) he wants.

SHIELDS: Now wait a minute. He was supposed to come with 28 guests. He was supposed to come with a huge entourage. He didn't. That disappointed. "Wall Street Journal" said he;s going to come with 32 people.

NOVAK: They asked to, they asked to.

SHIELDS: They did not.

NOVAK: They did ask, right? For 28 people?

DREIER: They tried to do that.

SHIELDS: But they didn't -- Go ahead.

NOVAK: Because we denied them.

DREIER: Because Greg Craig got Fidel Castro...

CARLSON: He's come with his wife...

DREIER: ... to just bring the wife and son.

CARLSON: And he's come with his wife and child so that if he wanted to defect even, he could in that he has his family here with him. Castro let him go. The man wants his son. They tried to slam him as a father...

DREIER: Let him stay here. Let him stay here.

CARLSON: That shouldn't be the cost to him of having his son.

DREIER: It's a cost to stay here...

NOVAK: A cost?

DREIER: ... versus living in Cuba under Fidel Castro?

SHIELDS: It is a question -- it is a question, I thought, of family values, as Steve Largent put it very well. And let's get one thing straight...

DREIER: It is. I want the father to be with his son.

SHIELDS: If this had been a father who had drowned and the mother was there, do you think there'd be any question about the mother being reunited? But somehow...

NOVAK: Yes, absolutely.

DREIER: If a mother made that call...

SHIELDS: ... because it would be -- because it would be a father's bond.

DREIER: If a mother made that call saying his father is bringing him, which is what happened?

O'BEIRNE: The original decision of the Justice Department, on December 1st INS said it would be left up to the state courts. The father can claim or the relatives here, it's a state court issue. Castro kicked up a fit and the State Department got involved. Janet Reno flip-flopped on this in the beginning.

NOVAK: This all has to do with Castro. That's what it has to do with.

SHIELDS: Oh, yes, that's right. Castro's really...

DREIER: Communism does...

SHIELDS: ... come out of he well.

DREIER: Communism does still live in Havana, and we should recognize that, Mark.

SHIELDS: Last word, Kate O'Beirne.

David Dreier and THE GANG will be back with a guilty verdict against Microsoft.

And later, the further adventures of John McCain.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Federal Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Microsoft had violated antitrust laws with predatary -- predatory conduct. That set off a huge stock market decline, followed by a partial recovery. Two days later, Microsoft chief Bill Gates sat beside President Clinton at a White House economic conference.


JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We've been working with Bill Gates on a variety of subjects, including the digital divide, his efforts through his private foundation on vaccines around the world, and we will continue to do so.


SHIELDS: Gates also met with members of Congress.


REP. HENRY BONILLA (R), TEXAS: It was an uplifting experience for all of us who feel that the Justice Department is absolutely wrong in this case. And hopefully Bill Gates is now motivated to fight on harder than ever.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Bill Gates being in this town is a form of marketing, saying that we've been abused, that the court is wrong, even though the facts seem to speak otherwise.


SHIELDS: And Microsoft opened an advertising campaign.


BILL GATES, MICROSOFT CHAIRMAN: It's no accident of history that America created the PC revolution. It takes freedom to innovate. And with that freedom, Microsoft will keep innovating and improving what our software can do for you.


SHIELDS: Kate, why does the president of the United States sit down with a lawbreaker like Bill Gates?

O'BEIRNE: Maybe he feels there's some common ground there, Mark. Maybe -- or, if he's...

SHIELDS: Mutual confession?

O'BEIRNE: If he's friendly enough, Bill Gates could certainly make a very generous contribution to his defense fund? Don't you suppose? Bill Clinton's defense fund?

You can understand why tech investors are as nervous as they are, given Microsoft case. The top prosecutor has said that the Microsoft case will set the rules of engagement for the information age. Well, the technology community looks at that, the idea that the -- Washington is now going to try to dictate how this technology develops. And I think they're nervous when they see both Orrin Hatch and John McCain talking about having hearings.

Bill Gates now in Washington, many recognize he came here a little too late by thinking he could be out on the West Coast and ignore Washington involvement. But I think investors are equally afraid that he's going to have to be spending time in Washington owing to meddlesome politicians who might get in there and try to regulate this phenomenal part of the economy to its detriment.

SHIELDS: David Dreier, is Orrin Hatch in the tank?

DREIER: Well, the fact of the matter is we've got this ultra- competitive, very dynamic industry in information technology responsible for 45 percent of the GDP growth in the last few years, not only in my state but throughout the country. It seems to me that as we look at this, the antitrust laws that are in place, Mark, are not quite geared for this fast-paced, moving area. So I think that the one thing that I would believe is that we should continue to pursue the legal route, and we should not see politicization from the White House, which we obviously has -- we have so far. And I don't believing that we should see legislative action at this juncture.

SHIELDS: Well, all I can say is that Microsoft has shown itself to have a certain capacity for arrogance and ruthlessness, threatening to cut off Compaq's license to sell because -- to sell Windows. But furthermore, I thought the act that really sealed their fate politically in this town was when they lobbied Capitol Hill to cut the antitrust budget of the Justice Department while they're investigating, Bob. Have you ever seen that done before?

NOVAK: No, but I thought it was a very good idea. I'd like to eliminate the antitrust provision. These are antique laws, the Sherman Antitrust Act was a different world.

You see, right now, the arrogance, Mark, is on the part of the federal government to attack this very profitable company. And the stock of its competitors went down in the Nasdaq crash as well. It doesn't help consumers. What it helps is the egos of the bureaucrats who are filing suit. And I say that when you have this coalition of the Justice Department lawyers, the state attorneys general and the plaintiff lawyers -- the same people who go after the gun manufacturers and the...

SHIELDS: Tobacco.

NOVAK: ... cigarette makers -- now they're going after high- tech. No wonder Nasdaq crashed.

CARLSON: High-tech...

SHIELDS: Margaret.

CARLSON: ... who breaks -- who break the laws, you know, not just any high-tech. Joel Klein is a friend of mine. And despite that, he's brilliant. But this is a conservative judge appointed by your favorite president who found that Bill Gates used thuggish, illegal, unlawful behavior to crush anybody who got in his way. The irony is, you know, Windows might have succeeded without doing that. But, you know, whatever better mousetrap might be out there, we don't know about it.

And to see politicians falling all over him this week...

NOVAK: Including Clinton.

CARLSON: ... was appalling -- especially Clinton. I mean, the two baby Bills -- the baby Bills they talk about are the two of them together, yukking it up. It was worth millions of dollars in...

O'BEIRNE: Every...

DREIER: By the way, Warren Harding did not appoint Judge Jackson.

CARLSON: ... in -- in -- in PR fees for Gates.

NOVAK: Mark, one thing I would like to say is that I think that the real question is why did Bill Gates sit down with Bill Clinton?


NOVAK: And the climate and the culture of Microsoft is still to the left. They don't know who their friends are. Maybe they deserve what they're getting SHIELDS: OK, let me just say, when the stock market does head south, as it did this week, you hear very few Republicans and conservatives talk about privatizing Social Security.

That's the last word.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, what's up for John McCain?


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Senator John McCain campaigned for Rudy Giuliani in New York while still not endorsing George W. Bush for president.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I do need some understandings about his commitment to reform, a lot of which he displayed in the primaries, in order to campaign as enthusiastically as I can for him.


SHIELDS: Three days later, he was no more encouraging.


MCCAIN: I think we have to have some understandings, and I'm sure we'll have some more conversations.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had a good conversation with John last week. I look forward to good conversations. He and I agree on a lot of things, and we got a lot of common when it comes to reform. He and I agree we ought to who campaign funding reform.


SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, what is John McCain up to?

CARLSON: Well, he wants to keep the music playing. He wants to stay out there. Now he's picked a tough case in Rudy as, you know, trying to help somebody. The pope and Nelson Mandela could show up and not change Rudy's image. That's a very hard one. But he could help Bush, and, you know, he's -- he eventually will. I mean, Bush needs to show that he's not in a snit still and that he, you know, can embrace his vanquished foe and that he's, you know, for reform a little bit. And McCain can help him with that and eventually will. And he actually needs McCain. I mean, think if Kennedy had warmly shaken Carter's hand in 1980. It would have helped Carter. And Bush is going to need McCain in that way.

SHIELDS: David Dreier, what about John McCain?

DREIER: John McCain...

SHIELDS: Is he important to George Bush?

DREIER: He is. And John McCain is going to enthusiastically endorse George W. Bush. He's a great man...


DREIER: I don't know exactly when...


DREIER: ... it's going to take place, but he's a very, very good man, and the message of reform, individual initiative and responsibility, reducing the tax burden on working families, that is exactly -- rebuilding defense capability, that's what George Bush is pushing. Republicans in Congress and John McCain are strongly for that.

SHIELDS: Kate, you are a New Yorker. And let's just be very frank about this. Rudy Giuliani has been hemorrhaging. He's been dropping like a rock in the polls in New York. He turned in a moment of crisis not to George Bush to come in to rescue him, to stop that hemorrhaging, he turned to John McCain,

O'BEIRNE: Well, that makes sense. Hillary's a New Yorker now, too, you know, Mark. We have that in common now.

SHIELDS: Yes. But, I mean -- but it's interesting. He wanted McCain badly.

O'BEIRNE: Well, of course not. Of course not. In New York -- Republicans have a real problem in New York. I mean, he's got an uphill fight. Democrats have a huge advantage in New York, and he looks at John McCain and the kind of appeal he has in Democrats and independents, and who doesn't want some of that sort of magic? He had a good day of press hanging out with John McCain, which he's been looking for.


CARLSON: One day.

O'BEIRNE: The difference this year on the Republican side with the Democrats in 1980 is Teddy Kennedy had a constituency, an important constituency within the Democratic Party. John McCain doesn't have that in the Republican Party. But he does have an appeal to reformers. And if he would pledge to beat Al Gore like a drum, it would be very helpful to George Bush.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, just one question as I turn. And that is, the differences, of course, where -- one place I disagree with Margaret is Rudy Giuliani has pledged publicly to back, when he's elected to the Senate, the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. So he's backing somebody who agrees with him.

NOVAK: I want to talk about the -- not the New York Senate race now but the presidential race... SHIELDS: OK.

NOVAK: ... And when Margaret says that the vanquished -- that the victor should turn to -- should embrace the vanquished foe, Bush is obviously willing to do that. It's just the opposite. Is the vanquished foe willing to embrace the victor? And I think...

DREIER: He is.

NOVAK: No, hasn't yet, David.

DREIER: He will.

NOVAK: All right, you can say that as the Republican line, but the truth of the matter is even his own supporters are disconsolate. Every time he goes on the air, he lays -- he says -- he hasn't made the commitments yet. And he puts Bush in a terrible position. He has a choice of either abandoning his previous position on campaign reform or saying, no, I'm not going to abandon it. And then McCain says, well, I can't embrace you enthusiastically. It's a terrible dilemma.

And I had one of his close advisers, McCain's, said that he doesn't believe that in his heart McCain wants Bush to win -- not because he's going to run in 2004, but because he's still very bitter about the primary.

DREIER: I don't believe that.

CARLSON: Bob, let me remind you that Bush said, I won, he didn't. He should come to me.


NOVAK: That was yesterday. That was yesterday.

SHIELDS: But one does expect -- and David's been around politics long enough to know this -- you expect to be humble in victory and proud in defeat...

DREIER: In victory, not (OFF-MIKE) was Churchill's line.

SHIELDS: And that certainly has not been Bush.

NOVAK: Well, I think...

DREIER: That was a mistake, but he is trying very hard to reach out. I know he is. And he wants to see this team come together.

SHIELDS: Last word, David Dreier.

David Dreier, thanks for being with us. THE GANG will be back with "The Outrage of the Week."

ANNOUNCER: Our viewer "Outrage of the Week" is from Ralph Verno from Westchester, Pennsylvania. He writes: "I am outraged at a stupid primary 'system,' which is built on the bandwagon principal. Small or unrepresentative states have a distorted influence and the majority of voters do not get an opportunity to cast a meaningful vote for viable candidates who have been eliminated. One national primary day would be far better than the current mess, which is controlled by the part establishments which pre-ordain the nominee."

If you have an "Outrage" for next week, our e-mail 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: And now for the "Outrage of the Week."

Judge John J. Sirica, the American hero whose search for truth about Watergate led to President Nixon's resignation has been defamed in a book by New York writer Renata Adler. Minus any supporting evidence, she accuses Judge Sirica of having, quote, "clear ties to organized crime," end quote. Sirica, the son of an Italian immigrant who paid his way through night law school as a boxer was scrupulously honest. Watergate reporter Bob Woodward said, quote, "I never heard, smelled, saw or found any connection with organized crime," end quote. Renata Adler owes the family John Sirica loved and the nation he served so well an immediate and public apology.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: A double outrage tonight.

Outrage No. 1: Long-haired, would-be hippies plan to shut down next weekend's meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund here Seattle style, because the protesters want to transfer the wealth of the West to corrupt third world dictatorships.

Outrage No. 2: The bone-headed global bureaucrats at World Bank and IMF throw away U.S. taxpayer funds in ways that deepen the economic plight of poor countries. On second thought, I may march with the hippies next weekend.

SHIELDS: You old, long-haired -- formerly long-haired hippy, you.

CARLSON: They won't let you, Bob.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Cherie Blair hardly needs help with the nappies from her husband Tony Blair, who she's publicly urged to take paternity leave. What she wants to show is that an alpha-male like the prime minister takes domestic life seriously. Here in Washington, anything that doesn't take place in a marble hall or in front of a camera is insignificant. Manly men fight budget battles and each other. Raising children isn't drudgery and is not in conflict with running the country. It's the most important thing any of us do. Mr. Blair, stay home.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Oh, please.

The Justice Department has decided not to prosecute top Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon for releasing information from Linda Tripp's personnel file to a media pal to discredit Monica's old friend. A Pentagon investigation found the file documents were covered by the privacy act, so clearly the law had been violated. There is no surprise that Clinton's Justice Department will ignore the law's violation, but will Defense Secretary Bill Cohen, with his reputation for integrity, allow the offense to go unpunished?

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

Next on CNN, "SPORTS TONIGHT" reports on the Masters from Augusta.



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