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Inside Politics

Gore Offers Limited Support to Reno; Bush Campaign Taps Veteran GOP Strategists; Earth Day Has VP Again Cultivating Environmentalist Image

Aired April 21, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This recent court decision gives the discretion to the attorney general, and whatever she decides will have the weight of the law.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: As Janet Reno considers the use of force to reunite Elian Gonzalez with his father, the case could get even more complicated for the Clinton-Gore administration.

On the eve of Earth Day, the vice president is working once again to cultivate his image as an environmentalist.

Plus, self-proclaimed Washington outsider George W. Bush taps some veteran GOP strategists who are plugged-in inside the Beltway.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is on assignment.

We begin with the Elian Gonzalez case as it may be nearing a critical stage. Attorney General Janet Reno met with the boy's father today and assured him that she would work toward reuniting him with his son. But Reno says she did not commit to a timetable for any action. Justice Department officials are said to be reviewing scenarios for forcibly removing Elian from the home of his Miami relatives.

Against that backdrop, Al Gore today offered some limited words of support for Reno, despite his break with administration policy in the case.

More now from CNN's Kelly Wallace.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an interview with CNN, Vice President Gore today said Attorney General Reno has the authority to forcibly remove Elian from his Miami relatives' home. GORE: The law, as adjudicated in the recent court decision, gives the discretion to the attorney general. And whatever she decides will have the weight of law.

WALLACE: Gore spoke just a day after President Clinton's strongest comment to date: that the boy belongs with his father.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The immigration law is clear, and the determination of the INS and a federal court are clear, so I think he should be united in as prompt and orderly way as possible.

WALLACE: Senior officials tell CNN the president and White House aides are trying to shape public opinion in advance of any possible Justice Department action. But Mr. Clinton's press secretary said the law is the driving force, not public opinion.

Ever since the 6-year-old Cuban boy became the center of an international custody case, Mr. Clinton tried to say little.

CLINTON: I don't think that politics or threats should have anything to do with it. And if I have my way, it won't.

WALLACE: In January, when the INS decided to return Elian to his father in Cuba, Mr. Clinton said the rule of law must be followed.

CLINTON: The INS followed the law and the procedures and made the decision that they made after an exhaustive review of the facts.

I would just hope the law would be followed by everyone.

I do believe that it is our responsibility to uphold the law, and we're doing our best to do that.

WALLACE: Two days later, the president had a stronger message for the Miami relatives and his supporters as he posed with tourists in California.

CLINTON: I hope that all the people there who say they came to the United States because we have freedom and the rule of law will observe the rule of law.

WALLACE: And Thursday, Mr. Clinton said there is no conceivable argument against reuniting the boy with his father.

CLINTON: The argument that he might go back to Cuba before this thing can be finally resolved in the courts is no longer there. That's not an argument anymore.


WALLACE: One senior officials tell CNN the president wants this resolved, but that he is not telling the attorney general what to do. And as for Al Gore, although he supports the attorney general's authority to act under the law, he still believes the best way to resolve this case is through the family courts, not through the INS -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kelly Wallace, at the White House, thanks.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush is urging the Clinton administration to attempt mediation before forcibly removing Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives. Bush and his state attorney general made the request in a letter to President Clinton and Attorney General Reno, in which they called the forcible separation of Elian and his current caregivers -- quote -- "unwise and unwarranted."

WOODRUFF: Now to another matter coloring the political environment: the vice president's efforts to outflank George W. Bush on environmental issues.

CNN's Frank Buckley reports on Gore's pitch in Michigan today, a scene setter for Earth Day tomorrow.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the eve of Earth Day, Vice President Al Gore was just outside of Motor City to announce an initiative to develop more fuel-efficient trucks, vans and buses that would create less pollution. The vice president saying the 21st century truck initiative was an example of combining environmental and business concerns.

GORE: We do not have to choose between the economy and the environment. That's a false choice. We're leaving it behind in the dust.

BUCKLEY: Gore has been the point man on the environment in the Clinton administration. He has also been a frequent target of critics who've called Gore "an environmental extremist."

GORE: It is not extreme, but mainstream to champion cleaner fuels and energy efficiency. It's the right thing to do.

BUCKLEY: The re-release of Gore's 1992 book, "Earth in the Balance," is being timed to coincide with Earth Day. In it, Gore said the internal combustion engine should be replaced within 25 years. It was ridiculed by critics and comics. But eight years later, Gore asserts, it was the skeptics who were wrong.

GORE: And I have an admission to make: I was wrong, too, when I thought we could end our reliance on the internal combustion engine in 25 years. Because after talking to the manufacturers and the workers and because of our work together, I now see we can do it in less than 25 years.

BUCKLEY: But even the president of the company hosting the Gore event said elimination of combustion engines in 25 years was unlikely.

JIM VAN ZOERAN, ALVAN MOTOR FREIGHT: How far can we go completely eliminating fossil fuel engines? That's going to be a little bit tough. BUCKLEY: Gore says the environment will be an issue in the 2000 race. And in an interview with CNN, he criticized George W. Bush's record on the environment as governor of Texas.

GORE: The state has a whole has the distinction of being number one out of all 50 in air, water and land pollution, and I think that's not a good approach.

BUCKLEY: The Bush administration says the federal government, under the Clinton-Gore administration, has been the nation's worst polluter, and that Texas has made great strides against pollution under Bush's leadership -- Bush supporting voluntary cleanup programs and opposing what he calls "a command and control" approach to cutting pollution imposed by the federal government.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The federal government ought to set high standards, and the federal government ought to work with stakeholders to achieve those standards, and that's what I intend to do.


BUCKLEY: And while Vice President Gore would like to make environment an issue in the 2000 election, it remains to see whether or not that will resonate with voters. A recent Gallup showed that out of 12 issues, when voters were asked what will be the issues that will be a factor in deciding who you decide to vote for president, it came in eighth or ninth, behind issues such as health care, crime, Social Security and even family values -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Frank Buckley thanks very much.

And now, let's talk to a presidential hopeful trying to give Al Gore stiff competition on environmental and other issues. Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader joins us on INSIDE POLITICS. And we thank you for being here.


WOODRUFF: Ralph Nader, are you running to win or to change the debate?

NADER: Both. We're running to get every possible vote, and after November, to build a major progressive political party, the Green Party, and we want to move the agenda to the areas of the concentration of power and wealth in too few hands. Corporate power is too dominant over government, marketplace, workplace and environment.

WOODRUFF: You ran for president in 1996. You didn't do a great deal of campaign or fund-raising. You were only on the ballots in a minority of states. Is it going to be that way this year?

NADER: No, we're going to campaign into 50 states. We've already done it in 22 states. We're going to raise $5 million, go for matching funds, have many volunteers, full-time organizers, all over the country. We're going to run with existing citizen groups, who are fighting for a better country. We even have a Web site,

WOODRUFF: So Pat Buchanan is wrong when he says you're not going to be on the ballots in all 50 states? It's going to be -- in fact, he said you'll be lucky to be on 15 state ballots.

NADER: I don't think Pat's up to date. Our petitioner's are bumping into his in many states.

WOODRUFF: Are you going to try to get into any debates that take place?

NADER: Yes, we're going to try to get the two-party debate commission to open up, if the press would help editorially, because otherwise, people are going to be bored to tears, and you're not going to have that much excitement.

But more importantly, we're going to try to get other mass media -- like CNN could propose a debate on its own or 12 conservative, liberal groups with millions of members around the country could join together and propose a debate. Al Gore says he wants to debate Bush twice a week. Bush only wants to debate him three times in the fall. So that leaves a lot of open space for Al Gore.

WOODRUFF: You, Ralph Nader, you've often said, used the term, that Bush and Gore are like Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum. Do you really mean that there's very little difference between these two men on the issues?

NADER: Yes, very little difference. On some social issues, there are differences. But on issues like corporate power, whether it's the Treasury Department, State, Defense, Department of Commerce, the regulatory agency even, they've been about as bad under Clinton- Gore as they were under Reagan-Bush.

The two parties are converging, Judy, and the permanent corporate government transcends them.

WOODRUFF: What about on the environment? Are you saying they're identical on environmental issues as well?

NADER: Not rhetorically, but Al Gore has broken more promises made in his 1992 book than almost any politician could. Remember, Clinton-Gore had given the auto companies an eight-year holiday. They haven't proposed increased fuel efficiency standards for eight years.

Who would have been believed that in 1992?

WOODRUFF: So to those who say, well, if Ralph Nader is on the ballot in some of these states where the race could be very close, some of these battle -- so-called "battleground" states, and that your being there could tip the scales away from Al Gore and for George W. Bush, that doesn't bother you?

NADER: That's certainly up to Al Gore, huh? He could take away our issues and become authentic instead of rhetorical. But in 1996 when I got 230,000-some votes in California, even though I didn't run actively, Dick Morris told me the polls showed I pulled four Republican votes for every six Democrat. We have a pro-democracy agenda for workers, taxpayers, consumers, and voters. Conservatives feel they're losing control over things that matter just the way liberals and progressives are.

WOODRUFF: Some people still find it remarkable, though, Green Party -- that even highly well-known environmental groups, like the Sierra Club, say they're more likely to endorse Gore than they are someone like you.

NADER: Well, the Friends of the Earth didn't endorse Gore. They endorsed Bradley. Now, they're thinking of who they're going to endorse. I mean, I have a long record of promoting environmental action: air and water pollution laws, EPA, OSHA, and toxics in the workplace. It isn't just rhetoric. And I think those large groups are going to begin to recognize that they're not getting anything when they endorse Gore.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ralph Nader, thank you very much for being here, and we'll be watching your candidacy through this year.

NADER: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks again. And up next on INSIDE POLITICS, the Bush campaign brings some veteran strategists into the fold. We'll here from one of them, Mary Matalin. Plus...


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Behind the scenes of the Gore campaign, he is unquestionably the man in charge, the CEO, Gore's General Patton.


WOODRUFF: Jonathan Karl on Tony Coelho's role in the Gore campaign and the baggage that still is giving him some problems.


WOODRUFF: CNN confirms today that George W. Bush has tapped six well-known GOP strategists to add their expertise and Washington connections to his Texas-based campaign. They are former RNC chairman Haley Barbour; Mary Matalin, a former campaign operative for Bush's father; Charles Black, a senior adviser to Bob Dole in 1996; former Congressman Bill Paxon; Ed Gillespie, a former top aide to House Majority Leader Dick Armey; and former McCain presidential campaign adviser Vin Weber.

In their unpaid roles for the campaign, the six will head up working groups that address specific areas of the campaign. Former McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and former McCain adviser Ken Duberstein have agreed to work on two of those working groups. Just less than an hour ago, I spoke with one of those six operatives tapped by George W. Bush, Mary Matalin, who also serves as co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."

I began by asking her if she and the others were appointed in reaction to criticism that the Bush campaign is too Austin-centered.


MARY MATALIN, BUSH ADVISER: No, it really isn't. It is a formalization of the informal relationships that existed since the beginning of this candidacy. Except for the obvious McCain supporters, the bulk of us have been friends of the family, have worked on many campaigns, are friends with Governor Bush and are formalizing the structure of our relationship with the campaign.

WOODRUFF: Now, Newt Gingrich went out this past weekend and said something to the effect that the campaign was not ready for primetime. He said it's not up-to-speed yet, was the language that he used.

Is this a response to that kind of criticism?

MATALIN: Well, Newt -- Newt has said he was taken out of context, but the reality is you cannot argue with success. They have won the primaries after a bruising primary. They are back on top in the polls. You know, you understand what the strategy of this campaign is. And our own dear Bob Novak said it's the best-run campaign since Dwight Eisenhower. So let's go with Novak on this one.

WOODRUFF: Mary, why is the campaign announcing this? Why not just have it go into effect and have these -- as you say, there was an informal relationship there anyway.

MATALIN: I'm not sure they did announce it. I think somebody got on to the story, and Frank Brunei (ph) wrote it and wrote it in a pretty straight way. I think in responding to questions they answered, but there was no announcement. We've been meeting for some time without any formal announcement.

WOODRUFF: Now some of these folks, Ken Duberstein, Vin Weber, as you point out, have been advising John McCain. Does the fact that they're coming on board the Bush operation now signal that there's going to be some change in Governor Bush's policy positions?

MATALIN: No. Anybody who wants to join the Bush team is joining on knowing what Governor Bush's positions are, record has been and policies will be. And that's the condition of being on, not that there's conditions, but this is a normal part of the reach-out after any primary process. We would have done this in any case, and we particularly welcome McCain supporters, not because they supported McCain but because people like Vin Weber and Ken Duberstein are some of the brightest minds and have been in Republican politics for a long, long time.

WOODRUFF: Now I read that your assignment, among other things, is to analyze the vulnerabilities of Al Gore. How do you see those vulnerabilities?

MATALIN: Well, this is an unofficial, informal, unpaid job, but as a full-time job to look at Gore's vulnerabilities. I think they are in the category of personal attributes. He's disingenuous about his own life, inventing the Internet. He was saying he fought against tobacco since his sister died when in fact he took contributions and grew tobacco. They're those sorts of issues.

And then there's his really dishonesty and distortion of his opponents. We saw what he did to Bill Bradley, distorting his record and his policies in the primaries, already starting to do that with Bush. And just today, the nature of these distortions, it's malicious. And they are negative. He is a negative partisan.

Just today, there was a piece about new people being brought on to his campaign, and they said their motivation is to win at any cost. Their goal is to skewer Bush.

That is not the goal or the motivation of the Bush campaign.


WOODRUFF: Mary Matalin announced today she's one of the new strategists brought on board by the Bush campaign.

There are also some changes to report in the Gore campaign. Former White House spokesman Mark Fabiani is coming on board as the new deputy campaign manager for communications. And Lisa Berg is leaving the administration to become the Gore camp's chief scheduler. This is an example of the fine tuning still under way since Tony Coelho took the helm of the Gore campaign.

CNN's Jonathan Karl has an inside view of Coelho's job performance and his past.


KARL (voice-over): Tony Coelho rarely appears in public these days, but behind the scenes at the Gore campaign he is unquestionably the man in charge, the CEO, Gore's General Patton.

LEON PANETTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He can take the hill. He can win the battle. And, yes, he might make some mistakes, and he makes you do some things you wish you wouldn't do, but in the end he's going to can win the battle.

KARL: Coelho brought political expertise and management skills to the Gore campaign, but he also brought potential problems.

CHARLES LEWIS, CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: He has been in essence a walking ethical cloud for the last decade, ever since he resigned in disgrace from the House of Representatives.


TONY COELHO: Good evening, my name is Tony Coelho, and it's a wonderful night to be a Democrat.


KARL: In the late 1980s, Coelho was his party's top fund-raiser, the No. 3 Democrat in the House and about to become majority leader. But his career was derailed after he failed to disclose a $100,000 loan he used to buy junk bonds. Coelho denied wrongdoing, but chose to resign in the face of a lengthy investigation.


COELHO: I think power is important to get things done, but I think it's important to do what's in the best interest of the party and what's in the best interests of the causes that are important to you, and what's in the best interest of my family.


BOB SHRUM, GORE ADVISER: No one ever proved that Tony Coelho did anything wrong. It was at the height of Newt Gingrich's guerrilla warfare tactics in the House. The charges were thrown out against Tony.

KARL: Coelho left the House broke, but was soon making millions on Wall Street. A 1998 disclosure form shows his web of business relationships with more than 30 enterprises, including board positions on companies in the funeral home, casino, lending and thoroughbred racing businesses. At least three of those companies have been the subject of government probes, although Coelho himself has never been implicated and his lawyer says investigators have not targeted Coelho.

Coelho took over the Gore campaign nearly a year ago, when the vice president was struggling, raising money slowly, spending it quickly, and facing a strong challenge from Bill Bradley. He demanded total control and got it, overseeing a transformation of Gore's image symbolized by the campaign's move to Nashville. Shortly after Coelho's arrival, Gore's campaign manager, his chief of staff and his pollster were gone, his top media adviser pushed aside.

One of the people he brought in was Bob Shrum.

SHRUM: And Coelho did, in my view, a brilliant job of taking the campaign through a budget transition, so we're spending a lot less money, taking the campaign through a transition of personnel and leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brothers and sisters, the next president of the United States, Al Gore.

KARL: Gore's allies credit Coelho with orchestrating the AFL-CIO endorsement, which came at a low point for Gore. His campaign seemed in disarray. He was trailing Bradley in New Hampshire. A senior Gore adviser says Coelho won the endorsement with old-style, hardball politics, telling union leaders that Gore was certain to beat Bradley. If you want Gore to owe you, he insisted, you better endorse him now. Coelho also helps Gore with his golden rolodex, especially on Capitol Hill. He speaks with Democratic House Leader Dick Gephardt at least once a week. And when Gore upset congressional Democrats by changing his stand on Elian Gonzalez, Coelho was immediately on the phone doing damage control.

But Coelho's critics wonder why the vice president would tap somebody with such a controversial past.

LEWIS: If I was the vice president and I was worried about my image, particularly after the Buddhist monastery and other incidents from the '96 campaign, there are two or three people that would be the last people on the planet Earth that I would pick, and one of them would be Tony Coelho.

PANETTA: I think Al Gore knew Tony pretty well. He knew what, you know, some of the stories might be. But he also knew the trade- off was for the kind of skills that very few people have other than Tony.

KARL: After less than five months at the helm, Coelho faced another ethical allegation. A State Department audit raised questions about Coelho's actions as the head of the U.S. mission to the Expo '98 World's Fair in Portugal. The audit has led to a current criminal investigation into whether Coelho illegally used his position for personal gain. Through his lawyer, Coelho adamantly denied wrongdoing.

When news of the investigation broke, Gore stood by his chairman.

GORE: Tony Coelho is doing a terrific job. He's my close friend, and he's going to continue doing a great job.

KARL: And even Coelho's critics doubt the investigation will result in charges.

LEWIS: Those kinds of things do sound kind of minor, and I don't know what will come of them. I'm not suggesting that they're going to take him away in cuffs over this issue.

KARL (on camera): Coelho's friends say he has one clear path to political redemption: A victory for Al Gore in November, they say, will make the cloud of ethical allegations a distant memory.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come:


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): This week more than any other week we're reminded that events shape leaders, that there are limits to what even the most skillful political player can do to influence them.


WOODRUFF: Our Bill Schneider on how politics, history and the calendar upstaged the political "Play of the Week."

Plus, will candidates soon court the "wired" vote? A new poll with a new way to look at the politics of tech-savvy Americans.

And later, Barbie 2000, take two. We'll take another look at the latest candidate to throw her hat in the ring.


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

Russia's Duma approves the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on nuclear weapons. It is the second major arms-control agreement pushed through the Russian parliament by President-elect Vladimir Putin. Russia says it is now up to the United States to ratify the treaty. However, economics might have played a role in the vote. Russia's defense ministry admits that it doesn't have the money to replace aging missiles.

A new online child privacy law goes into effect today. From now on, Web site operators will have to get a parent's permission before collecting personal information from children. Approval can be mailed, faxed or given through toll-free calls, credit card numbers or e-mail. Government agents will peruse thousands of Web sites to enforce the law. Sites that don't comply could be fined up to $11,000.

Christians around the world are observing Good Friday. In Jerusalem, pilgrims are retracing the path they believe Jesus took to the crucifixion. They sang hymns and prayed as they made their way. Pope John Paul II commemorated Christ's crucifixion at St. Peter's Basilica. He heard confessions from 10 people of various nationalities. Then he walked a short way in a procession at Rome's coliseum.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, Bill Schneider joins us with the political "Play of the Week."


WOODRUFF: This week, there has been much attention centered on the fate of Elian Gonzalez and the situation in Little Havana. And that attention is likely to continue as we await the next move by the Justice Department. But at times, the Gonzalez custody case was overshadowed by the anniversaries of other pivotal events in our recent history.

Joining us now with more, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill. SCHNEIDER: Well, Judy, a play of the week is where leaders try to influence events. But this week, more than any other week, we're reminded that events shape leaders, that there are limits to what even the most skillful political player can do to influence them. We commemorate events that have acquired immense symbolic power beyond human control. Easter celebrates the resurrection, and Passover, the exodus. Even profane political events in our own time have acquired symbolic power, beyond any political "Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): This week, the nation commemorated two events that exposed America's dark side. The nation is booming, but something is wrong. Oklahoma City, April, 1995: For an extremist element, distrust of government turned into deadly rage.


CLINTON: One thing we owe those who have sacrificed is the duty to purge ourselves of the dark forces which gave rise to this evil.


SCHNEIDER: Oklahoma city came to symbolize the extremes of political hatred in America, and President Clinton used it to resurrect himself as a healing figure.


CLINTON: Wounds take a long time to heal, but we must begin.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then he came into the library and shot everybody around me.


SCHNEIDER: Columbine, April, 1999: The nation asked, what's happening to us as a people? Why are we losing our children?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened here at Columbine a month ago has had an impact unlike any that I have ever seen or felt. It has pierced the heart of America.


SCHNEIDER: President Clinton tried, and failed, to turn Columbine into a crusade for gun control. That's because the event came to symbolize something much deeper than an argument about guns, something wrong with the nation's culture.


GORE: In a culture rife with violence, where too many young people place too little value on a human life, we can rise up and we can say, no more.


SCHNEIDER: This week marked the anniversary of two other events that became potent symbols to particular subcultures.

Waco, April, 1993: Most Americans gave Attorney General Reno credit for making a tough call.


JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made the decision. I'm accountable. The buck stops with me.


SCHNEIDER: But for the subculture of gun rights activists, its worst nightmare came true: The federal government could go in and kill people for amassing weapons.

The Bay of Pigs, April, 1961: President Kennedy's ratings went up when he took responsibility and told the country "Victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan." But for Cuban Americans, the Bay of Pigs became a symbol of the federal government's's betrayal. Today, a 6-year-old Cuban boy has become a symbol of family values for most Americans.

RENO: The sacred bond between parent and child must be recognized, and Elian should be reunited with his father.

SCHNEIDER: But once again, a symbol of government betrayal for Cuban Americans.

REP. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART (R), FLORIDA: The psychological and emotional destruction of that child. That is what President Clinton and Attorney General Reno are seeking, to send that child to a dictatorship that today has been condemned once again by the United Nations.

SCHNEIDER: Incredibly, all those dramatic memories came flooding back this week. Oklahoma City and Columbine have come to symbolize the undercurrent of discontent in America: a sense of moral drift amidst prosperity. That issue is setting the agenda for this election, and no "Play of the Week" can compete with it.


SCHNEIDER: The nation craves moral authority. President Clinton's has been compromised. Al Gore and George W. Bush are competing desperately to claim it. Some voters saw John McCain as a figure of moral authority. But this week, even he admitted his failings. Could it be that Americans have stopped looking to political leaders for moral authority? If that is true, the country is in real trouble -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Who was it who said April is the cruelest month?

SCHNEIDER: T.S. Elliott.

WOODRUFF: That's right.

Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

And joining us now to talk more about this unusual week in politics and more, E.J. Dionne of "The Washington Post."

E.J., let me ask you to pick up on the point Bill was making about whether Americans are looking, or not, for a leader with some kind of moral authority. That is part of what -- of how voters are making up their minds as these months go by, is it not?

E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think Bill's point is right about our not seeming to look to politics to moral authority in the way we used to. And I think that goes back a long way, not just the Clinton scandal; it probably goes all the way back to Watergate. And I think that Americans ideally would like a president to embody certain values.

The irony of Clinton is that while he has had these problems we all know about, there are moments when he managed to capture, in words at least, what people were feeling and create some moral sense for people out of an event. I say that because many people, even who dislike President Clinton, talk about that moment after the Oklahoma City bombing as a moment when he managed to capture that. So when Americans can get, they like it, but I don't think their expectations are very high right now.

WOODRUFF: Either candidate come out with anything memorable this week in terms of all these anniversaries we were observing?

DIONNE: You know, I think this campaign, the campaign between George Bush and Al Gore looks so terribly political, that everything -- and maybe some of that is our fault in the press, but I think so many of these things are put into a political contest, and what you saw after Columbine, for example, is a war between the two of them over ownership of the issue of school violence rather than a profound sense of, boy, this guy hit it out of the park. I don't think there was a sense of that this week.

WOODRUFF: Do you think it's been that way in every presidential campaign year.

DIONNE: I think there are politicians capable of seizing moments. And there are -- you know, when they manage to crystallize what a country feels about a subject in a moral sense as well as a political sense. And so I think I haven't seen a moment like that yet in the political campaign. It was interesting, though, to see John McCain apologize for what he had said about the Confederate flag in South Carolina. I think that's different from capturing a moral moment, but it captured something. WOODRUFF: Let me turn to the story that seems to be dominating all of our news coverage of the last several months and certainly this week: Elian Gonzalez. We're now at some sort of a crossroads here. The Justice Department says it's going to move. Is Janet Reno left with any options that are palatable at this point?

DIONNE: You know, I -- maybe I'm one of the only people in the country who feels that she hasn't had many choices but to do what she's done. It seems to me that she has tried to do everything in her power to prevent any sort of violence or even any sort of conflict in taking this boy away from that family. And, of course, the court has stepped in and said that the boy now can't be let out of the country.

I think she's been criticized for delaying too long. Obviously the side that wants Elian to stay criticizes her whole operation. But I'm not sure she had much choice. I think now the issue may have turned a little bit in favor of the father for two reasons. One is, now that that court has ruled, we know that if the boy is reunited with father he still can't be taken back to Cuba unless there is due process of law. So that reduces the argument -- the number of arguments for keeping him away from his father.

I think, secondly, the moment that that video was released, I think a lot of people, even people who understand...

WOODRUFF: Of the little boy.

DIONNE: Of the little boy saying I don't want to go back to Cuba. I mean, even people who understands the position of a lot of people, the Miami Cuban community and others, the position that says he shouldn't go back to a communist country, to have a little boy made the product of a video like that, almost like a hostage video -- I'm sure that wasn't the intention of the family, but I think that pushed some people back who were at least at some level sympathetic to what they were trying to say.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying the sympathies are moving?

DIONNE: I think the sympathies have moved to the father. I think the other thing that's happened is the father is speaking for himself. I think the biggest mistake the father made -- and who knows whether he had any choice in the matter -- is that Castro spoke for him for months and months. He stayed in Cuba, he didn't come here. And now you see the father expressing what appears to be genuine emotion about wanting the boy back. It's not the Cuban dictator saying send him back to Cuba, it's the father saying I want my son back. I think that sends a very different message to people.

WOODRUFF: Very quick, final question, different subject, E.J. Dionne, these staff additions, Bush campaign, going to help Governor Bush?

DIONNE: Like chicken soup, it can't hurt. I think that what you're seeing is a lot of the professional Republicans who had supported McCain, people like Vin Weber, people like Ken Duberstein, who want to eat lunch in the town again and who know where their political interests lie and, in fairness to them. who are loyal Republicans, they've signed up. What we don't know is how that is going to affect John McCain. Of course, McCain will endorse Bush at some point. They're supposed to meet on May 9th in Pittsburgh. The question is, what will the warmth of that endorsement be? And to what extent is McCain really playing to run in four years? If in any way that's really on his mind, then he really doesn't want George Bush to win this election. And I think McCain will manage to send signals one way or the other.

WOODRUFF: All right, E.J. Dionne, thanks very much. Great to see you.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

WOODRUFF: Thanks a lot.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: In this election year, the preferences of the American voter have been divided and examined from nearly every angle. Results can be sorted by party affiliation, by gender and by age or race. And now, pollsters are looking at a new factor -- how much voters use new technology.


(voice-over): A new poll commissioned by "Wired" magazine attempts to divide Americans up by how often they use new technologies -- computers, e-mail, the Internet, cell phones, faxes, and so on.

According to the poll, 31 percent of Americans fall into the "very wired" category, that they use four or more high technologies.

Another 46 percent are "somewhat wired," using at least one technology, most often cell phones.

The remaining 23 percent said none of the technologies played an important part in their lives. They fit the "not wired" category.

GEOFF GARIN, GARIN HART RESEARCH: The people who are most wired tend to be better educated, and they tend to be younger, and they tend to be a little bit more affluent. But what's really fascinating about what we've learned in the "Wired" magazine survey is that when it comes specifically to technology, being connected, being wired, being involved technologically, becomes much more important than your party affiliations.

WOODRUFF: For example, when Americans are asked generally about the role of government in their lives, the party divide is clear. In a recent CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll, 71 percent of Republicans said government is doing too much. By contrast, a minority of Democrats, 38 percent, felt the same way. But when asked whether the government should play a bigger role in technology, such as regulating the Internet, the gap narrows dramatically. In the "Wired" survey, strong majorities of both Republicans and Democrats said that government should let the Internet develop on its own. And the more wired the person is who was polled, the more they distrust government.

GARIN: People who are most connected are very cynical and skeptical about an excessive government role. They'd like to see the Internet develop pretty much on its own and technology develop on its own, and government's role really being limited to more of a referee.


WOODRUFF: Well the question, as technology spreads through every aspect of political life, will the small-government philosophy of the wired class spread as well? For that, we turn to Silicon Valley and to writer Paulina Borsook, whose upcoming book, "Cyberselfish," examines the political philosophy of the high tech.

Miss Borsook, thank you for being with us.


WOODRUFF: What is the political philosophy of this group?

BORSOOK: It's libertarianism, but there's a whole bunch of flavors of libertarianism from the sort of most wacko anarchist capitalists to what might be called sort of a moderate Republican philosophy.

WOODRUFF: And how is that? Has it always been that way for the last few years? Has it evolved or what?

BORSOOK: I would say pretty much from the late '80s, early '90s that libertarianism has been the default political philosophy of high- tech. The earlier aerospace culture didn't have this attitude at all.

WOODRUFF: Well there, out in California, how have the political leaders, have the politicians in general, dealt with this?

BORSOOK: Well, I would say in the last year they've all come a'courting because there's so much money being kicked out of Silicon Valley. But Silicon Valley is pretty evenly Republican and Democrat, and it doesn't really matter if you're registered Republican, Democrat, Green, whatever, the anti-regulation, pro-free market, leave-us-alone attitude is very much a Western attitude characterized in Silicon Valley.

WOODRUFF: Any evidence, Miss Borsook, that this attitude in Silicon Valley may spread around the rest of the country as the rest of the country gets more high-tech savvy?

BORSOOK: Absolutely, but again, I think it's a besottedness with the financial success of high tech, which is, wow, we want some of that here, too, and the technology is not neutral. It brings ideology and baggage and rhetoric with it.

And like I was in Canada recently, which is a very different political culture than our own, and they're fascinated by the news they hear of Silicon Valley. But they have a much more mixed economy there and sort of a health care system and an educational system that we might envy here, and it's not remotely a libertarian country.

WOODRUFF: Why the title "Cyberselfish"?

BORSOOK: Because the culture very much celebrates the cult of the heroic entrepreneurial engineer, sort of like an Ayn Rand heroine, and it's saying, you know, I am me, all on my own, and I've done this all by myself, when actually most start-ups are collectivist enterprises. And no one has benefited more from the government and suffered less than high-tech. So it's about how people in high-tech see themselves rather than the reality of what their work lives are.

WOODRUFF: Writer Paulina Borsook, author of the new book "Cyberselfish." We thank you very much for joining us.

BORSOOK: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate your insights.

Up next, the female candidate with crossgenerational appeal. Does Barbie have what it takes to handle the White House press corps?


WOODRUFF: Now, we pick up where we left off yesterday when breaking news prompted us to break into a report on a new presidential candidate who is trying to overcome the fact that she is lacking in stature and is downright plastic.

Here in its entirety, we hope, is Jeanne Meserve's piece on the Barbie campaign.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Elizabeth Dole out of the race, you might have thought the chance of electing a woman president this year was nil -- not so. There may not be a Dole in the race, but there is a doll, Barbie.

M.G. LORD, AUTHOR, "FOREVER BARBIE": I've heard her accused of being kind of stiff and lifeless. But actually, I mean, that hasn't hurt Al Gore.

MESERVE: Barbie's presidential Web site went up on Thursday. Her box, appearing in toy stores May 1st, lays out her platform: equal opportunity, environment, fitness.

One of Barbie's big backers in the race promises she will run like an all-American girl.

MARIE C. WILSON, PRESIDENT, WHITE HOUSE PROJECT: No attack ads. Barbie is running a clean campaign. She's winning fair and square.

MESERVE: But in some quarters there is skepticism about her chances. PATRICIA IRELAND, NOW: Barbie would have an uphill battle to assure people that she had a real serious brain and a depth of knowledge on foreign policy, that she new what a throw weight was.

MESERVE: She brings a depth and breadth of experience to her candidacy that few can match. She has been a working woman, a pilot and NASCAR driver, not to mention an Olympic athlete. And as for governing experience, remember, Barbie has been a princess and even a queen.

There is no doubt she would bring a certain va-voom to the White House. She already has the perfect inaugural gown. And just think how she could jazz up those state dinners.

But some wonder if her extensive wardrobe could trigger an independent counsel investigation. Who exactly has been paying for all those clothes? Questions are also being asked about her party girl past and that song that has already prompted legal action.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Come on, Barbie, let's go party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): I'm a Barbie girl in a Barbie world...


MESERVE: How will Barbie's entry affect the dynamics of the presidential race? White House spokesman Joe Lockhart offered this assessment.

JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Barbie, I can't think she is going to have much of an impact on the race unless they run Malibu Barbie, and then maybe California would be impacted. Beyond that...

MESERVE: But pundits say there is one significant factor working against Barbie's candidacy. Her natural constituency is too young to vote.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: But they'll be voting one day.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, and of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's

This programming note: The New York Senate race -- a CNN special "LATE EDITION" town meeting on Wednesday with Wolf Blitzer. The town meeting starts at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Judy Woodruff. "WORLDVIEW" is next.



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