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Inside Politics

Bush Seizes Moment to Tout Tax-Cutting Plan; Praise of Clinton Trips Up Gore; Politics of Protest Moves to the Web

Aired April 17, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: As many Americans anxiously count down to the IRS deadline, George W. Bush tries to seize the moment to tout his tax-cutting plan.

Also ahead:


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The many, many times -- when I have seen him -- especially in the early years -- nearly buckle under the pressure of this office, but never do so.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore's attempt at praising the president leaves some people thinking, say what?

WOODRUFF: Plus, the politics of protest. The latest from the streets of Washington and from the World Wide Web.

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

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

If there is any day when voters might take a second look at George W. Bush's tax cut plan, this could be it. Bush used this IRS deadline day to try to rebut Al Gore's claims that his tax plan is risky. And in a double dose of symbolism, Bush chose President Clinton's home state as a backdrop.

Our Candy Crowley is with Bush in Arkansas.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No Republican worth his salt would let this day go unnoticed.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I can't think of a better day than tax day to say that if I become the president -- if I become the president, I look forward to sharing some of that surplus with the people who pay the bills. CROWLEY: Campaigning through the only district in Arkansas to vote twice against Bill Clinton for president, George Bush used tax day to push his $483 billion, tax cut plan. It is a tough sell in good times, but Bush promotes his tax plan as an insurance policy against bad times.

BUSH: A chief executive officer is somebody who tries to help strategize for America, is asked the question, what is it going to look like down the road? And I worry about an economic downturn. An insurance policy against an economic downturn is to share some of the surplus

CROWLEY: Though his Democratic critics say Bush's plan is for the rich, the governor shared the stage with three single mothers and stressed the relief portion of his package that helps low income Americans.

BUSH: Under my plan, she will pay no money to the federal government under taxes. Nor will six million other families who live on the outskirts of poverty, people who are working hard to get ahead. You see, I believe the harder people work, the more money they ought to be able to keep.

CROWLEY: Complaining about the unfairness of the tax code, Bush zeroed in on the tax provision Republicans love to hate: the marriage penalty. He called on his Democratic rival to step up to the plate.

BUSH: It's time for Vice President Al Gore to stand up and show some leadership. It is time for the vice president, if in fact he wants to make the tax code more fair, to defend the marriage penalty reform and to tell the Senate Democrats to let that bill come up for a vote.

CROWLEY: Bush took 30 minutes of questions from his audience, running the gamut from students who disrupt classes to the START treaty. But one needed to look no further than the ever-changing banners which regularly appears behind the governor. Flagging the message of the day, this one read, prosperity, single moms and tax relief.

(on camera): On a more personal note, the campaign has released a bit of information on the Bush's taxes. The governor and Mrs. Bush paid $514,000 in taxes on an estimated taxable income of $1.3 million. The pair gave $210,000 to charities and churches.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Bentonville, Arkansas.


WOODRUFF: For his part, Al Gore is taking a break from the trail today after a weekend of campaigning and fund raising in California. The main event was a star-studded Beverly Hills gala, where Gore shared the stage with his boss. In the process, the vice president inadvertently prompted a new assessment of his ability to ad lib.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (voice-over): In a rare joint campaign appearance, Al Gore had plenty of praise for his boss, crediting the president with helping to fuel the Gore candidacy.

GORE: As I'm out there running now, the wind at my back is the fact that people believe we're headed in the right direction.

WOODRUFF: But at times, Gore's compliments seemed almost back- handed. He rebutted criticisms of the president by repeating them.

GORE: And of all the criticisms of Bill Clinton that I've heard, the ones that rings the most hollow is that he has pushed small ideas, little proposals.

WOODRUFF: When talking about the difficulty of the president's job, Gore first suggested that it was almost too much for Clinton, then seemed to think better of it.

GORE: And I could tell you about the many, many times when I have seen him -- especially in the early years -- nearly buckle under the pressure of this office, but never do so. You -- as I say this, I don't want to pretend that I know how heavy his burdens have been, because there is no other position like the one that he has held on our behalf. But I've been close enough to it to see firsthand that those burdens are very heavy.

WOODRUFF: In financial terms, the evening was a roaring success. The two raised $2.8 million for the Democratic National Committee from an audience packed with Hollywood movers and shakers.

In criticizing Republican tax cut plans as risky, Gore used a movie analogy.

GORE: It would be like a bunch of investors in your industry saying, well let's get rid of the team that made "American Beauty" and get the ones that made "Howard the Duck."

WOODRUFF: The reaction was because one of the evening's main organizer's, Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks, was on the team that made "Howard the Duck." President Clinton, who is very close to Hollywood's top executives, was more diplomatic.



WOODRUFF: We are joined now by To Ferraro, who is a political writer for the Reuters news agency.

Tom Ferraro, you were out there when the vice president was campaigning with the president. What was the reaction like in the audience?

TOM FERRARO, REUTERS NEWS AGENCY: Well, you were hearing Gore -- you know, initially the vice president was trying to sound like he was praising the president using the wind behind my back metaphor to say that the reason he has -- his campaign is going as well as it is is because the economy is going as well as it is, people think the United States is going in the right direction is because of Clinton-Gore policies. So for a while the vice president was praising the president. Then he was kind of shifting gears. A lot of people were kind of scratching their heads, did he really mean to say that?

WOODRUFF: So in other words, it came off a little awkwardly in person, as it does when we play these sound bites?

FERRARO: Yes, correct. But when you -- there were also other sound bites where the -- I think three or four times the vice president kept referring to the president as my good friend, my good friend, my good friend. So there was no sense, at least in my mind, that the vice president was trying to separate himself from the president. I think the vice president had a bad night.

WOODRUFF: This was their first appearance together in, what, about two months?

FERRARO: Four months.

WOODRUFF: Four months?

FERRARO: Yes, I believe it's closer to four months.

WOODRUFF: Is this by design on the part of the Gore campaign?

FERRARO: Well, the past three months he was trying to wrap up the Democratic nomination. He wanted to be his own man, so he was without -- he wasn't showing up with Clinton. But next week they're going to be back together again, and I think -- I think he's going to work on his lines between now and then and be a little smoother next time around. And they're going to have a fund raiser together in New York next week, so I think he'll be working on some of his lines between now and then.

WOODRUFF: Why does it -- why has it been not the smart thing to do for Al Gore to appear more often with the president?

FERRARO: Well, again, I think in the last couple of months, when he was trying to win the Democratic Party nomination, he wanted to be seen as his own man. He wanted to be seen in that sense separate from the president and be able to show he could win on his own. I think when Al Gore did win on his own and win the nomination big on his own, that raised his stature. Now he's got the nomination, he's got the stature, and the Democratic Party at this point wants to raise money. And the best way to raise money, Bill Clinton is still the top fund- raiser. He's still the best draw the Democratic Party has.

WOODRUFF: Tom Ferraro, you've been keeping an eye on the Gore campaign for some time. How is it doing right now?

FERRARO: Well, you know, just energywise, just, you know, perceptionwise, after -- when Gore wrapped up the nomination he seemed to be on a roll last month. He was -- he seemed strong, he seemed confident, he seemed sure where he was headed.

In recent weeks, he's had a couple of -- at least perceived missteps, such as with his comments on Elian Gonzalez that drew a lot of backlash from even fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill who accused him of seeming political. Then he created problems for himself by refusing to hold news conferences for a week, then two weeks, then three weeks, then four weeks. Now it's closer to two months. So he's raised the bar, raised questions, subjected himself to plenty of ridicule from Republicans and from George Bush. who points out that he's had something like 38 news conferences while Al Gore has had zero news conferences in the last two months.

WOODRUFF: Tom Ferraro, we are also joined by Ceci Connolly, who's a political reporter for "The Washington Post."

Ceci, I don't know how much of our conversation you've been able to hear, but we've been talking about the last few weeks of the Gore campaign. What is your sense of how the campaign is doing right now, the Gore campaign?

CECI CONNOLLY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Actually, Judy, I think you'd have to say it's been a little bit unfocused these past few weeks, starting specifically with the candidate. All of that discipline that we saw in the primaries where Al Gore and every single member of his team were targeted in on Bill Bradley, defeating him and securing the nomination, that focus is gone. I think they were feeling a little bit overconfident after coming out of that primary victory, and now they're trying to figure out exactly what their message is for this time period.

WOODRUFF: Are you saying they really are not in agreement or they don't have any idea or what?

CONNOLLY: Well, I don't want to be overly harsh, Judy, but I think what you are seeing is they're bouncing around day to day and week to week. We hear a statement on Elian Gonzalez, then it's off to do a school day and talk about education, then out in California, it was a little bit about being with the janitors and a little bit on empowerment zone.

Some days he's critiquing Governor George W. Bush. Other days he doesn't want to get into that mode this early in the game. So it's just simply I think a certain uncertainty, or maybe lack of unanimity, and also the vice president doesn't have that enemy sitting right in front of him that helps him really sharpen.

WOODRUFF: Well, Ceci, is it your sense from talking to people in the Gore campaign that they recognize they're having some problems right now?

CONNOLLY: Well, I think what they'll tell you, Judy, is that this is sort of a transition period. They've come off of a great nomination win, they have some time until people really focus in on the general election, it's only a few people like Tom and I who are probably paying attention these days, so they do have the luxury of a little bit of time. They're dealing with a lot of staff issues right now. They need to move some people over to the Democratic National Committee, but they also really need to assess the electoral landscape.

And things got a little more complicated for Al Gore over the weekend when we saw the stock market plumage -- plunge, excuse me. If that economy starts slipping, then the vice president really needs to do some thinking about how he runs this campaign.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ceci Connolly with "The Washington Post," Tom Ferraro with Reuters, we thank you both. You are not the only ones watching, we are, too, here at INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you both, and we'll see you again soon.

FERRARO: Thank you.


SHAW: And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS...


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): To consultants, politics is marketing, and the first rule is understand the market.


SHAW: Our Bill Schneider with the consultants' advice for the presidential hopefuls.


SHAW: As George W. Bush and Al Gore battle for undecided and independent voters, they will likely consider a number of political strategies between now and November.

Joining us now to talk more about that, our own senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: Bernie, you know, George W. Bush has some problems -- right-wing baggage, lightweight image. Well, Al Gore has some problems too -- Clinton baggage, Buddhist temples. What are you going to do? Call a pro like the ones I spoke to at the American Association of Political Consultants meeting last month. Now let's see what the pros advise.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): How bad is Bush's lightweight problem? Listen to the Democrats.

RAY STROTHER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: It's a huge issue. This campaign is about whether or not George Bush is capable of being president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think by most people's estimation he has yet to prove that he is up to the job.

SCHNEIDER: How can Bush gain stature? Republican pros have an answer: tout his record.

MATT KLINK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Things he's done in Texas, his executive experience, the fact that he's improved Texas' schools, the tough-on-crime approach, and the consensus building that he's done in Texas.

SCHNEIDER: What about the right-wing baggage Bush picked up in the primaries? The pros say he has to promote his own agenda.

LESLIE GOODMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's the obligation of any candidate to push their own agenda and make sure that that's what the dialogue is about.

SCHNEIDER: And insist that the party follow him.

KLINK: He needs to be the guy behind the wheel driving the Republican Party.

SCHNEIDER: Wait a minute. Bush beat John McCain by turning himself into the conservative standard bearer. Can he move away from them now? One GOP consultant's answer: yes.

KLINK: And they're not going to abandon him, so that -- once he's got that group behind him, he can now go after the vast swathe of voters in the middle.

SCHNEIDER: How about Gore's effort to be his own man? Advice: don't try too hard.

STROTHER: Part of what Gore is, is a lieutenant for Bill Clinton, you know, and he's going to have to live with that.

SCHNEIDER: Instead, focus on defining the other guy.

STROTHER: Part of who Bush is, is a person who has to have an enormous amount of money to prove that he's a legitimate candidate.

GEORGE BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This boy, this son of ours, is not going to let you down, he's going to go all the way and serve with great honor all the way.

SCHNEIDER: What about Bush's father? Republicans think he's a plus.

GOODMAN: President George Bush is looking like a very dignified, thoughtful president who brought honor to the office that we all hope will be restored in the next president.

SCHNEIDER: But Democrats have some ideas of their own.

PHIL NOBLE, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: If I were Al Gore, I would ask George Bush this question: When Clinton-Gore became the ticket, inflation was way up here, unemployment was here, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, which of your father's economic policies did you disagree with?

SCHNEIDER: To consultants, politics is marketing, and the first rule is understand the market.

NOBLE: People sort of buy politicians like they buy tires. You don't pay attention to tire ads until it's time to buy them. And people are beginning to pay attention to the presidential race because they've got to buy a president.


SCHNEIDER: But people don't have to vote. That's why political marketing is very different from commercial marketing. Commercial marketers don't like to trash each other's products because people might lose confidence and stop buying. But political marketers regularly trash the other candidate, because they don't care how many people actually vote. All they care about is getting more votes than the other guy -- Bernie.

SHAW: That's how winners are determined.

SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right.

SHAW: Bill Schneider, thank you -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, well, much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Still to come: unrest in the streets of Washington -- a look at the protests over global finance and the meeting of the world's financial leaders.



MARSHA WALTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For generations, grassroots groups used posters, pamphlets and one on one contact to spread their message.


WOODRUFF: Marsha Walton looks at how social protest is going high-tech.

And later: politics in the Windy City. A look at the political scandal and legal ruling that were the talk of City Hall today.


SHAW: We will have more of this day's political news coming up. But now, this look at some other top stories.

Good news from Wall Street this afternoon on the heels of Friday's record losses. A late afternoon rally puts the Dow and the Nasdaq in positive territory. Wall Street bargain hunters came out. And at the end of a tentative and nervous trading day, the Dow was up 262.46 at 10568.24, and the Nasdaq rose a dramatic 209.32 at just over 3531.

WOODRUFF: A U.S. court of appeals in Atlanta could decide the next move in the Elian Gonzalez case any time.

CNN's Mark Potter is watching the story from Miami, and he joins us live for the latest -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we await the court ruling, everything in Miami seems to be on hold right now. Elian is still in the house of his great uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez. Lazaro has refused to honor a government order that he turn Elian over to his father.

Protesters meanwhile are standing by rather quietly, a relatively small crowd, awaiting to see what happens next in the appeals court. The court, the judges there have several options.

The family is asking for a ruling that would keep Elian in the United States for the length of the appeals process. It is also arguing that any transfer of the boy should be done in a deliberate and slow process that would involve psychologists and perhaps even mediation on the part of the court.

The government, on the other hand, wants a quick transfer and is asking be the court to consider ordering the family to turn the boy over to his father, who is now in Washington. As you can imagine, that is a proposal opposed by the protesters here, who now await the government's next move.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the time comes, then we'll see what happens. At this point, we don't know how we're going to react.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crowd will react the way we should. We are law-abiding citizens of this country. We have a process of appeals, and if we have to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, because that's the law.


POTTER: Sources say as long as the appeals court does not prohibit the government from transferring the boy to his father, the Justice Department is prepared, if necessary, to come get the boy shortly after the ruling.

Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mark Potter in Miami, thanks.

President Clinton heads to Moscow in June for his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is part of a four-country tour that includes Portugal, Germany and Ukraine. It appears the Russian leader wants to do business with the West. He met in London today with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Putin says he wants to build economic ties to the West and is ready to make needed changes in Russia to do it. It was Putin's first appearance in his new role.

SHAW: An investigation into a missing laptop computer is under way at the State Department. The computer is loaded with highly classified information. It was last seen in February in a supposedly secure conference room at the State Department. Investigators are not sure whether it was stolen or misplaced.

WOODRUFF: When INSIDE POLITICS returns, Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan talks with Bernie about those World Bank protests, his own standing in the polls, and more.


WOODRUFF: Here in Washington today, some clashes in the streets and scores of new arrests of people protesting meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Our Bob Franken has been following the demonstrations and the way police have been dealing with them -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, by the end of the day, the police said they were quite happy with the way things have worked out. "It looks like it's over," says the police chief. The protesters were unable to shut down the IMF or World Bank buildings, but they certainly were successful in causing confrontations with the police.

Perhaps the most intense one came at the location we're at right here. This morning, when the protesters tried to stop a police convoy from coming through, they were greeted with tear gas by the police -- perhaps the only time police used tear gas in the entire confrontation with the protesters over the last several days. In fact, the police say they accidentally fired the tear gas pellets instead of smoke bombs. In any case, it resulted in some arrests and the police convoy ultimately got through, and we had our first taste of tear gas.

It was finally a happy evening at the middle of the day when a thousand protesters or so gathered near by George Washington University, just a few blocks from the World Bank. The police would not let them past the barricades. The protesters finally said they wanted to be arrested. Police would not go along. They finally agreed after negotiation that the protesters could be arrested in groups of 10. It was all very cordial. In fact, as the groups of 10 were being taken to the buses, they gave a bouquet of roses to police officials. It had been that kind of day.

They were not successful in shutting down the World Bank. The police chief said he was just relieved it was over.


CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: We can have protests in cities and cities don't have to burn. And I think that's the -- that's the message. Most of the protesters who do this whole thing were peaceful, but unfortunately we had some incidents that didn't necessarily need to happen but they did happen. But everybody kind of stayed calm.


FRANKEN: The protesters did not turn -- shut down the IMF or World Bank meetings, but they were able to publicize their criticisms of the two institutions, saying that the loans that they make to developing nations oftentimes benefit the wealthy and powerful and harm the poor and harm the environment was a message you heard over and over again, even from those celebrity spokespeople.


SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: It's just a miracle that people are even asking now what the WTO is and what all of these international world banks and global organizations are doing. And I think it's about time that they be held accountable and that there be some way of knowing what's going on. And I think it's a fabulous display today and the past few days of democracy at it's best.


FRANKEN: So the protests have been held in Washington, D.C.. What's next? There was some talk here that the next time they'll appear will be at the political conventions -- Bernie.

SHAW: OK, Bob Franken with the latest from the streets.

Now we're joined by a prominent critic of global trade and finance, Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.

Are these protests a sleeper issue in this presidential campaign?

PAT BUCHANAN (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think the protests are, Bernie, but the whole idea of globalization and trade deals that have left us with a $400 billion merchandise trade deficit and the loss of American manufacturing jobs. I think they're going to be a terrific issue, especially if the market should go back down.

House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Missouri, reportedly will come out next week publicly against a law granting China most favored nation trading status. What is that going to do to the debate?

BUCHANAN: First, it's the right thing to do, Bernie, and secondly it's a very positive thing politically for him. What he's doing is leading the Democratic Party and saying, in effect, because of Chinese persecution of Christians, because the Chinese are threatening Taiwan, because they're pointing missiles at us, they don't deserve right now permanent MFN. Let's put it over until next year and let's vote for one year.

He is doing exactly what the Republican Party should have done. This is a golden opportunity to defeat Clinton and lose nothing because they can give China one year MFN and put the permanent vote over until next year. I don't know why the Republicans don't do it.

SHAW: You're pointing your finger at Trent Lott in the Senate and Speaker Hastert in the House.

BUCHANAN: I think those two gentlemen are nice men, but I'll tell you this, they are too much in the hip pocket, the Republican Party is, of the chamber of commerce and the business roundtable. This is not enough the party of Reagan and it is too much the party of the roundtable. Bernie, it is -- they really ought to stand up for their traditional values and beliefs and convictions and just say no to big business just once.

SHAW: you have been flailing away at Governor Bush and the discussion about his running mate. Profile your running mate if you get the Reform Party nomination.

BUCHANAN: The running mate will be pro-life, he will agree with me by and large...


BUCHANAN: He or she will agree with me by and large on almost all issues -- they don't have to be identicality of view. Not only he or she, but we will be looking at folks who are from minority groups and elsewhere, someone to compliment us and to give us a fighting populist tickets.

SHAW: Are you sure that Ross Perot won't jump an 11th hour jump in...

BUCHANAN: I'm not sure...

SHAW: ... and disrupt your life.

BUCHANAN: I'm not sure of anything disrupting my life, Bernie, but my guess is that Ross Perot is not going to run in. It's a very late date. He'll have to start moving right away to get on that ballot in Texas if he wants to get in.

SHAW: A Zogby shoal...


SHAW: Poll, rather, recently show you at 3.6 percent, Ralph Nader 5.7 percent. What's happening with you?

BUCHANAN: well, you know, we just got back into this thing, and I think most people don't even know I'm in the race right now. Ralph Nader's sort of a popular figure in his own right. But the truth is, Ralph's ticket, the Green Party, I don't know how many ballots they're on, but we intend to be on 50 ballots, Bernie, and I don't think Ralph will be there.

SHAW: Can you be viable and not be in the fall presidential debates? BUCHANAN: I don't think you can win the election without being in the fall presidential debates. We intend to get in there through a lawsuit, through a court of public opinion, where I think the journalists are going to say we ought to be in it. And I think we can reach 15 percent by the fall in some of these polls. If we do, I think that's when Americans focus on this race. We will turn this into a three-way race, where we can identify I think pretty much Bush and Gore as Xerox copies of each other, and we are the ones that have an entirely different agenda on trade, foreign policy, right to life, Supreme Court, you name it. It's the way we can win.

SHAW: Pat Buchanan, we'll be watching.

BUCHANAN: Thank you.

SHAW: And reporting, thanks -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, political figures and protesters often turn to television cameras and newspaper reporters in hopes of spreading their messages.

But as CNN's Marsha Walton reports, some activists now are relying more heavily on the Internet to share their views with the public and with one another.


WALTON (voice-over): Those who don't like the way mainstream media cover civil disobedience are now simply covering it themselves.

CRAIG HYMSON, AUDIO PRODUCER: All you really need is a computer, a tape recorder and an Internet connection, and you can make radio.

WALTON: Add digital cameras and make TV.

PROF. DEE DEE HALLECK, UNIV. OF CALIF. SAN DIEGO: We're taking video that people have made out on the street and then digitizing it and putting it up on the Web.

WALTON: After the attention World Trade Organization protesters got in Seattle, reporter/activists stepped up plans to put their spin on the World Bank and IMF activity in Washington. About 500 people are working out of an art gallery-turned newsroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:, and that's the backbone of our distributions, that is where all our content is getting posted to.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: This is what democracy sounds like.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: This is what democracy sounds like.

ABHISEK LAL, AUDIO PRODUCER: We just checked to see who was listening and we had people from -- what was that, England, France...


LAL: ... all over the world. So it's connecting our ideas with people all over the world.

WALTON: Technology hasn't just changed reporting on the confrontations, but planning for them, as well. For generations, grassroots groups used posters, pamphlets and one-on-one contact to spread their message.



WALTON: But the Internet has emerged as a very efficient meeting place.

MELINDA ST. LOUIS, CAMPAIGN FOR LABOR RIGHTS: From the very beginning, the most important thing for us to do was to get a functioning Web site up that was available for activists all over the country.

WALTON: Antisweatshop activist Melinda St. Louis and dozens of others used Web sites for logistics and to provide hints on how to deal with tear gas and pepper spray, and how to hang yourself from a billboard.

DAVID COURTENAY-QUIRK, INTL. SOCIALIST ORGANIZATION: Most people probably found out all the logistics on the Web.

WALTON: The Internet also streamlined transportation to the Washington protests.

COURTENAY-QUIRK: People have been crawling out of the woodwork. People who found my name on the Web, and just called me up, or e- mailed me.

WALTON: Alternative journalists say they're planning to open independent media centers at the Republican and Democratic conventions for a different view of those events.

Marsha Walton, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: And still ahead, an in-depth look at the race for a New Jersey Senate seat.

Plus, the battle for New York, a look at the first lady versus the New York City mayor.


SHAW: In the New Jersey Senate race today, two-dozen black ministers gave their endorsement to Democratic candidate Jon Corzine. The inner-city ministers say Corzine understands the issues of their communities better than his Democratic primary opponent, former Governor Jim Florio.

Our Frank Buckley has more now on this key race in New Jersey. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman was the early favorite on the Republican side in the race until she suddenly announced...

GOV. CHRISTIE TODD-WHITMAN (R), NEW JERSEY: My intention to end my consideration of a run for the United States Senate.

BUCKLEY: The withdrawal of Governor Whitman leaving Republicans without a star candidate, and providing former Democratic governor Jim Florio with better odds of making a political comeback.

JIM FLORIO (D), NEW JERSEY SEN. CANDIDATE: Well, I suspect technically since I am coming back it probably is a comeback.

BUCKLEY: Coming back from the civilian life he has led since 1993 when he was voted out of office and replaced by Whitman, a close election coming after Florio supported a $2.8 billion tax increase, something voters have not forgotten. But Florio says those voters will choose him over his Democratic opponent, Jon Corzine, because Corzine has no experience in government.

JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY SEN. CANDIDATE: It will give me a chance to convince you that I'd make a great U.S. senator.

BUCKLEY: He is a political first timer with deep pockets. The former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs & Company that drove the company to go public, then left it after a management make over. He is worth an estimated $350 million, which he is tapping. Florio concedes his opponent will outspend him, but he still believes he'll win the June primary.

FLORIO: What I am suggesting is that I have experience that money can't buy.

CORZINE: Our number one priority as it has been for President Clinton and Vice President Gore is to secure Social Security and Medicare first.

BUCKLEY: Corzine is still introducing himself to New Jersey voters in person...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The special interests can't buy him, the old politics won't hold him back.


BUCKLEY: ... and in political adds. A recent poll showing three quarters of voters didn't know enough about him to register an opinion. But Corzine enjoys the implicit support of current New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli, who as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is publicly neutral. SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: I said I was neutral in all Senate races around the country. As chairman of the DSCC I am somewhat less neutral in some races than others.

BUCKLEY: Torricelli came forward to vouch for Corzine's character after the political neophyte made remarks about Italian- Americans considered insensitive by some, including a joke to an Italian-American contractor that he made cement shoes.

CORZINE: I don't exactly remember the wording and I don't -- if they are as reported, I am apologetic for those words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you can see, we are all very friendly.

BUCKLEY: With Whitman out of the race, four Republicans are vying for the seat.

REP. BOB FRANKS (R), NEW JERSEY SEN. CANDIDATE: I actually helped to write the first balanced budget in a generation.

BUCKLEY: Four-term Congressman Bob Franks, state Senator William Gormley, and Essex County executive James Treffinger are among the favorites to get the Republican nod.

JAMES TREFFINGER (R), NEW JERSEY SEN. CANDIDATE: The good news is that there seems to be a bit of a statistical dead heat. The bad news for all of us is that not one of us is very well-known.

BUCKLEY (on camera): Republicans had hoped their candidate would be rising party star Governor Christie Whitman. Now, whoever wins the Republican primary will be a relative unknown facing either a former governor with name recognition throughout the state, or a multi- millionaire candidate with virtually unlimited campaign resources.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.


WOODRUFF: And now to the Senate race in the neighboring state of New York. With the very latest on the campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, we turn to Michael Tomasky of "New York" magazine and Marc Humbert of the Associated Press.

Marc Humbert, is this still a close race?

MARC HUMBERT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Judy, you have a real race up here in New York. The polls for months showed Mayor Giuliani with a five to 10 point lead. In the last month those have switched around. It's pretty much a dead heat in most of the polls. Now, one poll, "The New York Times" -- actually, CBS poll had Hillary Clinton up by 8 points.

WOODRUFF: Michael Tomasky, are those the numbers -- are those numbers that you believe? MICHAEL TOMASKY, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: More or less I do in so far as they reflect a drop in Giuliani's support after the shooting of Patrick Dorismond by the New York City Police Department and Giuliani's handling of the wake of that one, he approved the release of Dorismond's sealed juvenile records. I think that certainly cost him some support. Whether that it is permanent or temporary, obviously it is too early to say, but he did drop off a little bit because of that.

It should still be said, though, that the most polls -- the "Times" poll which had 8 points was different from many of the others which still have her ahead but like 46-44. They're all basically within the margin of error, still, as Marc says, a very close race.

WOODRUFF: Marc Humbert, other than the mayor's comments on the Dorismond case, police handing of it, what is determining the shape of this race?

HUMBERT: Well, it is interesting, Judy, one thing we have seen in recent weeks is Hillary Clinton has stepped up her campaign activity. It used to be that she was maybe having one event a day, maybe one every couple days. It's rare now when she goes a day or two without maybe three events a day.

She is stepping it up. She obviously thinks that Giuliani may be a little bit on the ropes now and she wants to take advantage of that. She is also campaigning a lot in upstate New York, which is traditionally a more conservative region of this state. It has become a key battleground in this race and she is spending a great deal of time up here.

WOODRUFF: Mike Tomasky, is that a wise use of her time?

TOMASKY: I think it is right now, because I actually think that she can do better in upstate New York than most Democrats do in statewide elections in New York state. Most Democratic nominees for statewide office, be it governor or comptroller or senator or attorney general, what have you, most of them come from New York City or from the downstate region generally speaking, and so most of them -- you know, they go upstate and they're met with a little bit of skepticism, they don't connect necessarily ideologically or culturally.

She's not from downstate New York, and as a matter of fact, culturally, she's, you could argue, somewhat more like New Yorkers, particularly along the western tier, Buffalo and Rochester, and her being of course from Illinois. So culturally there is some resonance there, and the general betting is -- and I see no reason to dispute it -- that she will probably do a little bit better in upstate New York than many Democratic candidates do.

WOODRUFF: Marc Humbert, in the last few days some stories about how much money the mayor is getting from out of state. How much of an advantage is that giving him in this campaign or is it?

HUMBERT: Well, it's interesting, Judy, in fact, he is getting a lot of money from out of state, but a lot of it's coming from direct mail fund raising. As you know, direct-mail fund raising is very, very expensive. Overall, he has raised $19 million since he began going after the campaign dollars. However, he is only got $9 million left in the bank now. It has been very expensive for him to raise this money. She has raised about $12 million overall and has a little more than $6 million in the bank.

WOODRUFF: Mike Tomasky, is that the kind of advantage in money that we're going to continue to see through this campaign?

TOMASKY: Yes, you know, that is hard to say. A considerable amount of the mayor's money -- nobody can say for sure -- but probably about a third of it has come from people who don't really care that much one way or the other about him, but care very strongly about her, which is to say that they want to stop her, and that has been a good source of income for him. Whether he can go back to those donors repeatedly and get $250 or $500 from them, I am not so sure. So his may slow down a little bit, but I think he will have the advantage -- the financial advantage overall in this race.

WOODRUFF: Mike Tomasky, will issues -- will there be any issues in the old-fashioned sense that matter in the campaign?

TOMASKY: Yes, you know, neither candidate's really defined them yet. She has done a somewhat better job, for the simple fact that she's campaigned more. But the issues that have come up in this race so far that we talked about and that you've talked about in this program are largely events that have thrust themselves upon the candidates: you know, her embrace of Suha Arafat in Israel last year or her trouble with her husband's decision about the Puerto Rican nationalists. In Giuliani's case, the Dorismond shooting and other police matters.

These are what have constituted issues so far. Neither candidate has really framed issues and the debate around the question of this is what I'm going to do. That hasn't happened yet.

WOODRUFF: And just to wrap up quickly, Marc Humbert, do you see that changing?

HUMBERT: As a matter of fact, Judy, Mrs. Clinton has been talking about issues a lot, particularly in upstate New York. She's been focusing on the upstate New York economy, which has not been very good lately, and she's been actually offering some ideas about it: how to improve transportation, how to improve job training. She's been laying out some strategies for dealing with that. We are still waiting to see what Mayor Giuliani has to say about that other than overall general tax cuts.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mike Humbert of the Associated Press, Michael Tomasky of "New York Magazine," we thank you both and we hope we'll see you again soon.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns: from prison to city hall -- a court decision puts Chicago's city treasurer back at her post.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SHAW: Chicago's city treasurer was back on the job today for the first time in nearly a year.

Jeff Flock takes a look now at this unusual day, even for Chicago politics.


JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's not the first politician tripped up and convicted of public corruption in Chicago's long history.


FLOCK: But she is the first to have her conviction thrown out, be released from prison...

SANTOS: Is everybody wired and plugged-in?

FLOCK: ... and today seize her old job back.

SANTOS: Unfortunately, this is not how I would want fame.

FLOCK: But past and now present Chicago City Treasurer Miriam Santos is famous, or infamous. A rising political star, highest- ranking Hispanic official in the state, mentioned as a contender for mayor of Chicago...


SANTOS: But this is not a choice. You know, I'm tired of this.


FLOCK: Then she was caught on tape, apparently demanding campaign money from a firm that got city business.


SANTOS: When they sat in here and asked for my time and asked for my help and asked for my business, I was there. Now it's time for people to belly up.


FLOCK (on camera): The appeals court that overturned her conviction did not find fault with the evidence, but instead found errors by the trial judge. Federal prosecutors say they'll try her again, but she may offer a new tactic.

SANTOS: I am human and probably the first woman to go to jail for PMS-ing.

FLOCK (voice-over): Though that comment drew snickers, Santos told us at the new trial she will argue that she wasn't herself for several health reasons when she made the fund-raising call. (on camera): Did prison change you?

SANTOS: Prison is -- was -- it's a horrible experience. It's -- it's awful.

FLOCK: And she only served four months of a 40-month sentence. With another trial looming, some are surprised to see her come back to work, and some aren't.

BOB CRAWFORD, POLITICAL EDITOR: No, not at all. I think for one thing she needs the money.

FLOCK: As for workplace dynamics, veteran City Hall reporter Bob Crawford points out that at least one of the treasurer's office employees who testified against Santos is still there.

CRAWFORD: It's such an awkward situation.

SANTOS: It's going to be an interesting tenure.

FLOCK: And another interesting chapter in Chicago's long and storied political history.

I'm Jeff Flock, CNN, at City Hall in Chicago.


WOODRUFF: Chicago. That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: I'm Bernard Shaw. "WORLDVIEW" is next.



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