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CNN Late Edition
Million Mom March Under Way in WashingtonAired May 14, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington; 10:00 a.m. in Los Alamos, New Mexico; 4:00 p.m. in Freetown, Sierra Leone; and 8:00 p.m. in Moscow. Wherever you are watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90-minute LATE EDITION.
We'll get to guests shortly. But first, let's check with CNN reporters covering the hour's top stories.
We begin here in Washington, where the Million Mom March is now officially under way. Thousands are gathered on the National Mall at this hour, demanding that the U.S. Congress pass tougher gun control legislation. CNN national correspondent Bob Franken covering the rally. He joins us now live -- Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, they are hoping for several hundred thousand people from around the nation. It's called the Million Moms March, but it includes the children, of course, on this Mother's Day and also quite a healthy contingent of men in this crowd. All, as you said, supporting stronger gun control legislation.
The proposals that they want include proposals to license and register all handguns in the United States. They also want to extricate from Congress some of the gun control legislation that is languishing there. I should point out that representatives of the other side, groups like the Second Amendment Sisters, are holding counterdemonstrations here. They also say that they are for gun safety but believe that it can be achieved if current laws are being enforced and if there is more gun safety training in the schools.
Right now, as I said, languishing in Congress legislation that would require child safety locks on handguns, it would also -- and this is the most controversial part of it -- require three-day background checks, three business day background checks at gun shows. That legislation has been sitting there for over a year, and there are many people who believe that this march might be the mechanism to try and dislodge that legislation so it can be debated and either accepted or registered.
Now, this demonstration was just an idea about nine months ago, about the time of the Granada Hills shootings of Jewish community center, Mary Leigh Blek and then a few others in the country decided to see what they could do. It has now grown into this Mother's Day event which has filled the Mall. And we're joined right now by Mary Leigh Blek. I want to ask you, we all know the story about how this started. Now you've gotten to this point that you are dealing with issue that has been stuck politically. What do you hope to achieve here?
MARY LEIGH BLEK: I hope that when the legislators see this 500,000 women and their families on the Mall that that will give them the courage to do right thing. I think that many of the legislators want to do the right, but they have been afraid of the NRA.
I think that if we show that we are here, we support this -- they already know that this is what we want -- this is going to demonstrate that we are going to walk with them. And more importantly, if they don't walk with us, we are going to hold them accountable.
We have a survey, and we are going to ask each elected official their position on certain policies, and we are going to know what those policies are. We are going to share it with our neighbors and we're going to be voting accordingly.
FRANKEN: But, of course, this an issue where everybody has an opinion already. This an issue where there are very strong opinions. It's an issue that has been stuck for a long time. Why would this make a difference?
BLEK: I find that that is not true. In the grassroots, there is a lot of misinformation. When people hear the word "gun control," they sort of back up a little bit. But when you talk about licensing and registration, they say, "Oh, you mean, of course, we should license our gun owners, and we should register their handguns."
When you talk about specifics, the majority of Americans is with us, and I think that is the educational component that the Million Mom March is going to continue.
FRANKEN: It remains to be seen, of course, whether this will make any difference in a political debate that has just been stuck almost in concrete. What we have seen, however, is that an idea that grew from almost just a single person's idea has now spread to a march that is filling Washington's Mall with thousands of people -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bob Franken, reporting live. Thanks to you, and thanks to Mary Leigh Blek as well.
In other news -- in New Mexico, wildfires still burning out of control and are expected to continue burning for weeks. Officials say that cities and the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab are not out of complete danger yet. CNN's Charles Zewe is there, and he joins us with the latest -- Charles.
CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, things look better here in Los Alamos at this hour. You can see the nuclear weapons lab back there in distance behind me. There is a small fire burning near it. But it is nothing like the situation that officials here have confronted for last several days. in fact, conditions in and around Los Alamos and nuclear weapons lab are in pretty good shape right now. That could change because the fire, that big wildfire that has been burning for a week now, is still raging in mountains and canyons north of Los Alamos, not very far away at all, threatening an Indian tribal reservation right now and some sacred sites on that reservation.
ZEWE: Officials trying their best to prevent those sites from being consumed by the fire, which has now destroyed more than 43,000 acres of land, destroying 5,000 acres alone last night.
U.S. Forest Service's Jim Paxon saying today that the fight out there in trenches is touch-and-go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM PAXON, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: They have about got a handle on Los Alamos, and we are cautiously optimistic. There still is some fire in some of these canyons, and the problem is that the houses are built up on the rim of the canyon.
So we've got about 300 structure firefighters and state folks that are working with Los Alamos and then some of our wild land firefighters working side-by-side. All of the helicopters drops yesterday were to assist them. And we are working on the fire in those canyons to try to get that out, so that if we get a big wind event, it doesn't threaten more homes.
It is looking a lot better than it has.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZEWE: Problem is the weather forecast calls for increasing winds later today into tomorrow, all the way through Wednesday, and that could mean the fire could double back on Los Alamos, fire officials say, and that could put this town in jeopardy again.
Meanwhile, fire victims -- the people who own those 261 homes, condominiums and apartments destroyed by the fire -- are touring those homes right now. One note, in addition, on the investigation of this fire, the Albuquerque Tribune newspaper is quoting the park superintendent Roy Weaver, who was placed on administrative leave, the man who authorized controlled burn that started this big blaze last week, despite weather warnings that it was a dangerous situation. The paper is quoting Weaver today as saying, "We knew this one would push the limits" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Charles Zewe reporting from Los Alamos. Thanks for joining us.
The wildfires have prompted the U.S. Forest Service to announce a moratorium on so-called controlled burns for 30 days while department policies are being reevaluated. Joining us now, the man who oversees the National Park Service that started this fire. He is the Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.
Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us on LATE EDITION.
BRUCE BABBITT, SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR: Wolf, good morning.
BLITZER: And you just heard that report. Let's get right to what Roy Weaver is quoted today as saying, "We knew that -- we were aware we were pushing this to limit," the so-called controlled burn with the Park Service, the Forest Service deliberately began.
BABBITT: Wolf, the important thing to get the facts out. We have an investigation team. I ordered them out, two or three days ago from the fire center up in Idaho. They are on ground right now taking statements, examining documents. They will have the investigation report back to me by the end of this week.
I anticipate being out in New Mexico on Thursday or Friday to say to public here are facts. Here is what happened. And we will explain in detail what happened, who, if anyone, should be held accountable and what it is we should do in the future.
BLITZER: Well, explain to our viewers out there -- a lot of people did not know that the Park Service, the Forest Service, they deliberately start these kinds of fires, and this one obviously got out of control. Why would the Park Service do this?
BABBITT: Well, it does seem paradoxical. These forests out West evolved with fire. And the only way you can keep them safe is to periodically have fires to get the brush down, reduce the fuel load, and we have had this program on a long time now. Every year, we burn about a millionaire acres out West. That is about the size of Rhode Island. And we do it to make the forest safer, to get fuel load down and to protect communities so that when there is a fire, it doesn't turn into one of these big, explosive monsters that chews everything up.
BLITZER: This one, obviously, got out of control. Let's look at some of the facts that have been reported so far. On May 4, the day that this fire began, deliberately, the Park Service officials, they notified the National Weather Service about their plans for a controlled burn at 11:35 a.m. that morning.
At 12:20, the weather service responded, saying there were highly unfavorable conditions for such a controlled burn, and in fact, it was the worst kind of conditions, the atmospheric conditions for such a controlled burn. Yet at 7:20 p.m., seven hours later that evening, the Park Service sent ahead with the controlled burn of about 300 acres.
How is that possible that after the weather service comes back and says the conditions are not good for this, that the Park Service goes ahead and does it?
BABBITT: That's the reason for the investigation. We've got to get the facts out on the table. There is a very strict procedure for these. There's a matrix of weather and scientific and moisture and relative humidity conditions. And what we want to do, and what I've instructed the investigators to do, is get out there, give us four or five days. That's all we need.
You know, this isn't, you know, a great huge lengthy investigation. But what I've said is interview everybody, get the documents out. We'll be back here end of the week, and I guarantee you, we will lay it all out right in front of all of you. Here's the sequence. Here's what happened -- who decided what.
And then, we're going to do this right up front in public and say, OK, here's our judgment as to what happened. Was it because somebody screwed up? Was it because the guidelines were inadequate? Was it an act of God that could not have been foreseen?
We're going to have those answers. We'll lay them out, and then we'll take the appropriate action.
BLITZER: The fact that you have imposed this 30-day moratorium suggests that there could be some built-in structural problems with this entire concept that may have to be rethought.
BABBITT: Well, I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. I think a moratorium is common sense. You know, I'm out there on the land, watching this week, evacuated 25,000 people, we got 2,000 firefighters risking their lives in these canyons. We're deploying air assets, bucket drops, slurry (ph) runs, and I think any rational person would say we've got to pause for 30 days so we can see what it's all about and what the lessons learned are. I don't know what those are. But that seems to be logical to say we can slow this down for 30 days.
BLITZER: At least at this point, it doesn't look like there was any serious damage to the Los Alamos nuclear lab, where there's weapons grade nuclear material. How endangered, how risky, how much of a problem was there? How close did this fire get that there could have been, God forbid, a real tragedy?
BABBITT: Well, Wolf, I think there are a couple of lessons -- well, there are a lot of lessons coming out of this. But one is that we face these problems in every community in the West where you have this kind of urban-wild land interface, people building into the forest, cities kind of creeping out into these forests that have grown dense and dangerous precisely because of past fire suppression.
We talked a lot with the Department of Energy people, and what I'm hearing them say, and I think it's accurate, is that those facilities are secure, that they have been built to withstand direct impacts. And I take them at their word.
It looks to me like if a mistake has been made historically, at Los Alamos, it wasn't -- didn't have anything to do with respect to the facilities themselves. They probably should have been paying a little more attention to fire proofing that forest across the years, as it grew up and as they kind of expanded out into the woods.
BLITZER: One final question -- the owners of those 260 homes or so that were totally destroyed, can we assume the federal government will reimburse all those people of their property, rebuild their homes, make their lives at least as normal as possible? BABBITT: Well, there are two parts to that question. You know, federal statutes that are in existence now say if we were negligent, we pay, and that will depend on the outcome of the investigation. I have been out on the land talking with the New Mexico delegation and the congressmen, and I think what I'm hearing is that the Congress is going to come to the aid of these victims in any set of circumstances. That there's a general feeling out there, which I share, that we got to do something to make these folks whole.
BLITZER: OK, Bruce Babbitt, the secretary of interior, it was kind of you to join us. I know you'll be heading back to New Mexico in the coming days. We'll be in touch with you during that trip as well. Thank you so much.
And up next -- new twists in the New York Senate saga. Is it Hillary Rodham Clinton versus Giuliani, or will Rudy Giuliani drop out? We'll discuss the always-intriguing Senate race with two veteran New York politicians, Charlie Rangel and Susan Molinari. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: I haven't made up my mind whether I have the energy and the capacity and the -- to run. I may. I may not. And that is where it stands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani weighing his options at a news conference on Thursday.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining me now to discuss the New York Senate race, two politicians who understand the ups and downs of the Empire State.
From our New York bureau, Democratic Representative Charlie Rangel, ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee. He is supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton. And here in Washington, former congresswoman Susan Molinari. She currently supports Mayor Giuliani.
To both of you, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
SUSAN MOLINARI (R), FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: Thank you, Wolf.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Thank you.
BLITZER: And Susan Molinari, I will start with you.
BLITZER: You know Rudy Giuliani well. You're a former Republican congresswoman from Staten Island, not far from Manhattan. Will Rudy Giuliani be able to withstand these enormous pressures on him and run for the Senate?
MOLINARI: If anybody in this country can withstand the pressures, it is Rudy Giuliani. He has shown as mayor that he can always perform and do the things that everybody else, his predecessors included, thought were impossible. He has taken on the Mob. He has taken on Wall Street, inside traders. He has taken on the bad guys in New York and turned that city around.
And so, can he confront what he has going on right now on a personal level? Surely he can. The question that only he can answer right now is does he want to. And I expect we will know that in the next few days.
BLITZER: Congressman Rangel, what do you think, knowing New York politics as well as you do?
RANGEL: We have an expression in Harlem. We say, "It's all over but the shouting." It is very, very sad that our mayor has been struck with this disease, and we should all pray for his full and speedy recovery. Thank God, it is the type of disease that the chances of recovery are very good. I'm very sensitive to it because black males are very, very vulnerable to prostate cancer.
And as relates to his marriage, or what's left of it, those of us in politics know that this business puts a heavy strain on marriages, and we hope that he works that out.
But as far as becoming the next United States Senator, forget it. He never really wanted the job. He never announced for the job. And it's best that he takes a deep breath and straighten out his personal and physical problems and try to get some candidate that would give Hillary a run for the money.
She is going to be the next senator. But God knows, I think she should fight it for and not just be given it to her because there is no candidate.
MOLINARI: There's no doubt she's going to fight for it, Charlie, and at this point in time, nobody can say whether Mayor Giuliani is going to be the candidate or not. And if he is, he will win.
Here is a man who clearly wanted this race, although he has got his bugaboo about announcing for races. But he's traveled around the country. He has raised $19 million. He has spoken out on behalf of the issues that he feels are important -- not only to New York City, but to New York state. He has visited all parts of New York state and spoken to county leaders and elected officials and the men and women in the streets from western New York to western Staten Island.
BLITZER: Let me interrupt you for a second. You know the New York newspapers. They can be unrelentless. They can go after these politicians. Look at today's front pages of the New York Daily News, for example. "What's it all about, Rudy?" That actually is the New York Daily News. The New York Post has a headline, "Thank You, New York," referring to Donna Hanover, the mayor's wife.
MOLINARI: One of those things I miss about running for elective office in New York.
BLITZER: It's a tough, tough race. Donna Hanover saying "my children and I are grateful for all of your love" to the people of New York. The fact that this wife came out this week, said what she said, alleging that Rudy Giuliani had an affair, if you will, with a former press secretary of his. How does the mayor not only deal with the prostate cancer but deal with this kind of turmoil and still manage go on with a race?
MOLINARI: On the issues. The mayor, if he has it within himself, can clearly -- and polls are something that -- go before people of New York state, talk about the miraculous job he has done in turning around New York city, lowering taxes, fighting crime, creating welfare reform at a time when nobody thought it could be done, and his ideas for New York state versus Mrs. Clinton's.
This is clearly, if it is a campaign, between Mrs. Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, as it is today, a campaign on ideas, not on family background. And I think that is good for this state.
BLITZER: Congressman Rangel, one of your colleagues, Vito Fossella, who I believe took your seat...
MOLINARI: Yes, he did.
BLITZER: ... from Staten Island, a member of the House -- he was on FOX NEWS SUNDAY earlier today. Listen to what he said in trying to assess whether Rudy Giuliani could continue to run for the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VITO FOSSELLA (R), NEW YORK: It's my observation that he needs to weather the storm, and he needs to take the bullets if he can, and I think there will be a lot of people in New York who are still very much behind him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well, you know Rudy Giuliani well. You've worked with him. You have crossed swords, if you will, with him on numerous occasions. Some people are saying that he will -- because he is such a fighter, because so many people like you and others are predicting he won't run, just to spite all of you, he is going to run.
RANGEL: No, the days of Mr. Tough Guy are really over. His biggest asset was, you know, reduction of crime. Take no prisoners. If you're poor and you're hungry and you commit a crime, you go to jail, not to a shelter. And so a lot of people who would like to close their eyes to it and say, "Listen, I don't want to see how he does it, just give me a clean city."
But the truth of the matter is that's it awkward to take on a guy that is sick and has these personal problems, and that's why he ought to give us all a break and just get out of this darn thing. Because we know that he's not going to be a candidate, and that's the bottom line. He wasn't even -- he wasn't a candidate before these tragic events. And he doesn't have the conservative party endorsement. He's got lukewarm support from the governor. He doesn't know where he's going -- he's not going to get the liberal party endorsement. They don't -- they don't like carpetbaggers in upstate New York, but they don't like New York City people either. And so he is running against the tide.
MOLINARI: You know what, you know why Rudy is still the strongest candidate when Democrats like Charlie Rangel protest so much that for the good of all of us he should get out of the race. That tells you something right there.
BLITZER: It's not only Charlie Rangel.
RANGEL: Oh, no. I just don't like beating up on a sick guy, that's all.
BLITZER: All right, Congressman Rangel, listen to this, though. Peggy Noonan a Republican speech writer, worked in the Reagan -- the Bush administrations, well-known, just wrote a scathing book about Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In "The Wall Street Journal" on Friday, listen to what she writes. Peggy Noonan, not a Democrat. "This candidacy isn't going to work. And one senses Mr. Giuliani knows it, and those around him do, too. One hopes the mayor will step up like a gent and step down. He should get out now while others can still get in."
MOLINARI: You know what? Can I say other than I vigorously disagree with Peggy Noonan, as a writer today and as a political prognosticator and certainly as a Republican, I'm surprised to hear her say that. But I guess she considers herself less a Republican and more a writer at this point in time.
Only the mayor can make that decision. And I think, frankly, for people like that to pile on at a point in time when he's trying to deal with his own mortality and how best to frame that out for the rest of his life, I think shame on all of us who would push him in one way or other. He's asked for a few days. He asked to consult with doctors. He's asked to spend sometime with his family. And I think based on what he has given to this city and what he is willing to give to the state, that's not asking too much.
BLITZER: Congressman Rangel.
RANGEL: Let me agree with Susan. He's entitled to it, and if you're talking about a couple of days, that's OK. But I don't want Hillary just to win this darn thing by default. She's a great woman, a great campaigner. She's going to be a great senator, and I think she ought to fight for it.
BLITZER: All right, Congressman Rangel, Susan Molinari, we have to take a quick break.
Up next, we will talk more about the New York Senate race with our guests, and also they'll be taking your phone calls.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: No, I'm not dead. Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Thursday reminding reporters he is still a contender in the New York Senate race, at least for now.
We are continuing our discussion about New York politics with Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York and former New York Congresswoman Susan Molinari.
Congressman Rangel, there is a Zogby poll that's just out after all the prostate cancer reportage, after the marital problems reportage, this new poll shows it's still a very, very close race. Hillary Rodham Clinton at 42 percent approximately, Rudy Giuliani 40 percent, well within the 4.5 percentage point margin of error.
How do explain the fact that it is this close, despite all the publicity -- bad publicity -- Rudy Giuliani has been getting?
RANGEL: Very easy. It is very difficult for me, as an opponent of the mayor, to be critical of him during this very stressful period that he is going through. And certainly, if somebody had supported him before the crisis, I don't see how they could tell a reporter or a pollster that they are running away from him.
So I agree with Susan, give him this space. Give him whatever time needs to pull his self together. But at end of the week, we are going to have a candidate. We never did have one with Rudolph Giuliani.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take a caller from Long Beach, California. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: My question is to Ms. Molinari. There seems to be a double standard here. You are supporting Rudolph Giuliani, who hasn't even announced that he is a Senate candidate and he has had an affair, and yet you opposed the president and supported his impeachment. Please explain to me -- and by the way I am a Republican who does believe he should step out of the race, so explain to me the double standard here.
MOLINARI: Well, first of all, how I felt on impeachment, I don't know how anybody could know because I wasn't a member of Congress at the time, and I have never spoken on it. So I think you must have me confused with somebody else. But clearly, you should not have Mayor Giuliani confused with anybody because during that whole time, while he might have spoke to some of the legal difficulties the president of the United States was having, he was very clear and very adamant in saying personal lives should be personal lives and that he thought the United States Congress was actually wrong in getting involved in the details and the level of details and condemnation that they did with regard to the president's personal life.
So with regard to the mayor, who is the person that is important right now, he has been very consistent. And I think that is probably why you also see that his poll numbers have not changed -- one of the things. He also has a tremendous record that is keeping him going through this difficult time. But also that there is not this level of hypocrisy where the mayor is concerned because he has been fairly consistent.
BLITZER: All right. We have a question, another caller from Israel. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Hi, I married an American eight years ago, and I travel very frequently to New York City. And I and thousands of tourists no longer feel afraid to walk about, go by bus, go to the theater. So my question to you is what kind of a senator would Mrs. Clinton be for New York City when real -- what real experience does she have with New York City problems?
BLITZER: It sounds, Congressman Rangel, as if this woman is supporting Mayor Giuliani. What do you say to those who say he has done fabulous job improving life in your city, in New York City?
RANGEL: Well, the trains do run on time, and I doubt whether Hillary Clinton can be as effective in keeping the streets clean. But being a United States Senator is being knowledgeable about national and international issues.
Some of the mayor's strongest supporters would have to admit he hasn't a clue as to what's going on with Social Security, with Medicare, with affordable prescription drugs, with gun safety. These issues are the ones that Hillary Clinton has dedicated her life to. And so, therefore, when it comes to national, international issues, whether or not we should give permanent trade relations to China, whether we should have the North American Free Trade Agreement. Hey, the mayor may be good at locking up people, but he is not very good at getting along with people.
MOLINARI: Well, I don't know where you get that initial assertion from, Charlie. The mayor is a very smart man. I go as far as to say that he is brilliant. And there are very few people, even his adversaries, that would disagree with him on that. And he is very opinionated. So he not only has ideas, he's had those opinions that he just shared with us. So clearly he...
RANGEL: Name one.
MOLINARI: ... knows what he wants to take New York state. RANGEL: Name one national issue that the mayor has been involved in. He has never...
MOLINARI: That the mayor has been involved in?
RANGEL: He has never visited the New York delegation since he has been mayor. He could care less about the Congress.
MOLINARI: That is absolutely not true, Charlie.
BLITZER: All right. Unfortunately, we have to take another quick break. We will continue this conversation.
Much more when we return, including more phone calls, on the New York Senate race.
Plus, as moms march for gun control here in Washington, I will ask our guests about the politics of guns and other issues. LATE EDITION will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSIE O'DONNELL, ACTRESS: Thirty thousand people are shot dead every year in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Welcome back.
We're continuing our conversation about New York politics with Congressman Charlie Rangel in New York and former congresswoman Susan Molinari. She's joining us here in Washington.
We have another caller from Long Island. Please go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Hi, my question is for Charlie Rangel. I'm just curious why somebody with all his experience in New York politics is willing to give Hillary a pass, and she really has no qualifications. I want to know, in his mind without the spin, what does he think qualifies her to run for that spot when there are so many other Democrats who paid their dues to earn that shot, and she just walks in and takes it? And I'm just curious about that.
RANGEL: Well, I hope she doesn't walk in take it. I hope we do have a fight, and I hope we do get a candidate. But selecting a senator, to me, is like selecting a lawyer, selecting a representative, selecting someone that could go to Washington that could go to the Senate and best represent the state. Just coming from New York doesn't mean that you're the best, even though I have to admit, I think that's a strong qualification.
But the first lady is an expert in national issues. She's expressed herself in these issues over the years. She's an expert in international affairs, and she...
MOLINARI: But Charlie...
RANGEL: ... and she understands the politics of Washington. I don't know whether the mayor has ever left the city of New York. I don't think he has gone any further than Long Island.
MOLINARI: But the politics of Washington often pits one state against another. There's no doubt about that. We spend a significant portion of time fighting for our share of the pie.
MOLINARI: One of the thing that Mrs. Clinton has not proven is that she understands the needs, the concerns, and can respond as a New Yorker to New Yorkers' priorities.
BLITZER: All right. Hold on one second.
RANGEL: She's taken on all of the Republicans in the House and Senate, and she wins and wins big time.
BLITZER: All right. Let's move on.
MOLINARI: We're not talking about a politician. We're talking about someone who understands geographic interests.
BLITZER: Let's move on to one of the most, if not the most, sensitive issues facing Rudy Giuliani right now.
MOLINARI: I was hoping if I continued to talk, we wouldn't.
BLITZER: The fact that his wife, Donna Hanover, came out this week and spoke openly about his indiscretions, infidelity. I want you to listen, Susan Molinari, to a little bit to what Donna Hanover had to say, and then I want to get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONNA HANOVER: I had hoped to keep this marriage together. For several years, it was difficult to participate in Rudy's public life because of his relationship with one staff member. Beginning last May, I made a major effort to bring us back together, and Rudy and I re-established some of our personal intimacy through the fall. At that point, he chose another path.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What a lot of women and men in New York state, for that matter, can't understand is why would he not inform his wife in advance that he's about to announce to the world that they're going to get separated? Why would he humiliate, in effect, his wife like that? And to you, if, God forbid, that were to happen to you, your husband tells you on national television we're going to get separated, how would you react to that? MOLINARI: You know, I can't comment on that because, obviously, you know, that's a very painful situation for any of us to sit through, whether you know Donna or not. And I know her and I like her a lot. But I don't know the situation as it exists between the Giulianis and what has gone on and what conversations they had. They obviously have been leading very private, very separate lives for many years now. Anybody in New York has not seen them together for several years. So what has transpired, whether it was a surprise, whether they had conversations, I don't know, and it's not any of my business.
BLITZER: OK, Susan Molinari on that note. Congressman Rangel, unfortunately, we are all out of time. I want to thank both of you for joining us -- especially to Susan Molinari, happy Mother's Day to you.
MOLINARI: Thank you.
BLITZER: Your beautiful little daughter, we saw her in the green room before.
MOLINARI: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks for joining us.
Mothers have traveled from all over the country and around the world to attend today's Million Mom March here in Washington. Opposing groups are staging counterprotests supporting parental responsibility and the right to self-defense.
We'll have a debate on the future of gun control laws with Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York and the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, when LATE EDITION continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You will have proved that the American Constitution works because decent people can stand against mountains of power and move those mountains for the betterment of their children. That's what you're doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Clinton speaking earlier today. You're looking live now at a picture of the Million Mom March on the National Mall here in Washington.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now to discuss gun legislation is Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York, a supporter of the Million Mom March, and National Riffle Association CEO and executive vice president Wayne LaPierre. Welcome to both of you.
Thanks for joining us on this Mother's Day on LATE EDITION. And Congresswoman Lowey, let me begin with you. Will -- in your opinion, will there be any additional, any new gun legislation enacted by Congress signed into law by President Clinton this year before the elections in November?
REP. NITA LOWEY (D), NEW YORK: I sure hope so. I just came back from walking with the half million, they're estimating, moms, grandparents, kids. And what they're saying is we don't get it. Why can't you pass common sense gun safety legislation?
We're talking about the legislation that passed the Senate. We're talking about gun safety locks. We're talking about closing that gun loophole so that if a felon or a potential felon has to be wait an extra day, it could be stopped. He could be stopped or she from purchasing a gun. Ninety-five percent of people get through this procedure in the first couple of hours. We're talking about licensing guns, registering guns.
BLITZER: Well, you're not talking about licensing and registering in any legislation this year.
LOWEY: I am hoping that the juvenile justice bill will pass, and that has some simple common sense gun legislation. I do hope that the NRA would understand that the people want it. That's what theme these mothers are all about, and I would hope, Wayne, that we pass that legislation this year.
BLITZER: What do you think about that, Mr. LaPierre?
WAYNE LAPIERRE, VICE PRESIDENT, NRA: Well, I think it's politics right now. I mean, the fact is at the end of last year the Republicans and many Democrats like Congressman Dingell offered a bill that the NRA supported that included safety locks with the sale of every new gun, included checks at gun shows with a 24-hour wait, included violent juveniles would be prohibited from owning firearms forever. It even included Dianne Feinstein's import ban on magazines.
What happened is the White House and their supporters on Capitol Hill killed that because it didn't have the more extreme measures they want, which is unlimited ability of the federal government to impose fees on the transactions, unlimited ability to issue new regulations on the law-abiding people, a definition of gun shows so broad it could be the living room of your house and the basis of a national registration system on all gun owners.
So there's a letter out right now, signed by Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Bonior, saying that if they don't get the Senate bill, the Lautenberg bill, they'll kill everything.
BLITZER: So basically, you're suggesting there isn't going to be any possibility of new legislation this year based on that. But let me get to this recent CNN-USA Today Gallup poll, which we asked, what would you rather see? Would you rather see enforcing existing gun laws or passing new gun laws?
Listen to this, Congresswoman Lowey, 51 percent said they would rather see enforcing existing gun laws; 44 percent said they'd rather pass new gun laws. That seems to undermine your position that what is necessary is to enforce the laws that are already on the books, not pass new legislation.
LOWEY: Wolf, I wish right here and now Wayne would say he'd endorse the president's bill called Enforce (ph), which would provide for more enforcement, additional ATF agents, additional money to get people on the street enforcing the law. I don't think one is exclusive of the other. And in fact, I just want to say to Wayne what he didn't mention, and Carolyn McCarthy was walking with me in the march today...
BLITZER: Another congresswoman from New York.
LOWEY: ... that the -- another congresswoman who, unfortunately, lost her husband to a violent gun act, and all she is saying, close the gun loophole.
LOWEY: Ninety-five percent of the people who buy a gun at some of these shows on the corners of Texas or anyplace else, on lots, and there can be several hundred a day, 95 percent of them get through the clearance in the first couple of hours.
BLITZER: Let me move on, and as we look at some of these pictures that are currently under way, the Million Mom March on the National Mall here in Washington. The same poll, the same USA -- CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll, Mr. LaPierre, asked this question. Do you support requiring trigger locks on all guns sold in the United States? Seventy-nine percent said, yes, they favor it. Nineteen percent said, no, they oppose it.
Do you support a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases? Same poll -- 93 percent say, yes, we favor that. Seven percent said, no, we oppose it.
And on this question, which isn't even on the books right now, proposed legislation, do you support licensing all handgun owners? So they needed a license just like they'd need a car license, 69 percent say, yes, they favor that. Twenty-nine percent say they oppose it.
Is the NRA, which opposes all of these steps -- is the NRA out of step with mainstream America on these issues?
LAPIERRE: No. In fact, we have grown by 200,000 members in the last six weeks. We're going to be four million by election day. The public says every survey more enforcement, not more laws. The public overwhelmingly says it is their right to own a firearm. It's their freedom, not some politician. The public says one more gun law is not going to stop these criminals. We support safety locks. We were doing safety locks long...
BLITZER: Mandatory, requiring safety locks, not just voluntary?
LAPIERRE: With the sale of new guns.
What we don't support is what some of the folks and politicians want, which is if you are living alone, in your house, you have no children in your house at all, someone breaks down your door and steals your firearm, and it is later used in a crime, they want to hold the homeowner responsible for a federal felony. I think a locked door ought to be enough, and so does American public.
BLITZER: And what is wrong with that argument, Congresswoman Lowey?
LOWEY: Look, why don't you support the president's Enforce bill. We're not talking about not getting more enforcement. We want enforcement. We want safety locks. Tell me something. Why do you oppose extending that instant check so that for the handful of potential criminals -- I'm not saying they are. You might have to wait a business day to check. Carolyn McCarthy's husband would be alive today if, in fact, that person was made to wait a day so you can do a real background check. What's wrong with that?
LAPIERRE: You know, when people start talking about the Clinton administration enforcement, I have to smile. They have had seven and a half years to enforce the existing laws against violent felons with guns.
LOWEY: And the enforcement has gone up about 30 percent.
LAPIERRE: No, it hasn't. In fact, Syracuse University just came out with a big study. You go city by city on what Clinton/Gore have done with the enforcement levels, it is shameful. Two prosecutions in Washington, D.C. under all the federal gun laws last year. Fourteen in the entire state of New Jersey. Little Richmond, Virginia, where we cut crime with the NRA program by 65 percent with guns through 100 percent enforcement, has more prosecutions under federal gun laws than the entire states of California, New York and New Jersey combined.
LOWEY: But what's wrong with President Clinton's enforce initiative that would provide for more ATF agents, that would provide for more enforcements. What's wrong with that?
LAPIERRE: Very briefly, we have said if we earmark the money with the statutes going toward violent felons with guns, drug dealers with guns, gangs with guns, we'll support it. But it was the NRA lobbying for $100 million for additional enforcement and prosecutors, not the president.
BLITZER: All right. We have to take another quick break. Up next, we will continue our discussion. And we'll be taking your phone calls for Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Wayne LaPierre.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We are continuing our conversation on gun legislation with Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York and NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre. Let's take a caller from Paris, France. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Hi, Wolf, here is my question. Despite the fact that we have a full prohibition on handguns in France, the rate of crimes committed with guns has increased dramatically. What's your opinion on this?
BLITZER: Let me ask Nita Lowey. The caller suggests that there is full prohibition of guns in France, but the rate of crime in France has increased significantly recently.
LOWEY: Well, Wolf, all I know is that 86 percent of the death, gun death of children under the age of 14 internationally, around the world, is right here in the United States of America.
It is madness. And all we are talking about is common sense gun legislation, and that is what these million moms are talking about when they are coming here to Washington. Let's do something about it.
BLITZER: All right, Wayne LaPierre, let me refer to something President Clinton said Friday morning when he was on GOOD MORNING AMERICA. He pointed out that the NRA, the National Rifle Association, opposed the Brady handgun law a few years ago. Is that correct?
LAPIERRE: What we opposed is not what's on the...
BLITZER: Before you get any deeper, you opposed it, right? Right? The action legislation that was voted...
LAPIERRE: We opposed the wait and the voluntary check part. We supported the national instant check system, which is what's on the books today is actually our proposal. The Brady bill sunsetted into our proposal the national instant check system.
BLITZER: Well, what he says -- the president, he says that if the Brady law had not been in effect these past few years -- I'm reading from the transcript -- 500,000 felons, fugitives, stalkers would have been able to go into a store and buy a handgun.
LAPIERRE: Well, again, the national instant check system is our system. We support the check. The tragic...
BLITZER: So in hindsight, the Brady law was good?
LAPIERRE: Well, the check was good. We supported the check. We always have. The problem is the way the Clinton/Gore administration is implementing it. Right now, if you are a felon, you walk into a gun store you try to buy a gun. You commit a brand-new federal crime right under the government's nose. The policy of the Clinton/Gore administration is to do nothing to you except let you walk out the door.
All these people are on the streets tonight. If they want to commit a crime, they are not stopped. They buy a gun illegally on the black market, and they go about committing a crime. BLITZER: Or they could go buy a gun at a gun show.
LAPIERRE: And at the gun show, 60 percent of the checks are already being made at gun shows, and we have no prosecutions there either.
LOWEY: But Wayne, I don't understand. The numbers I have is that 95 percent of the people who buy a gun at a gun show are cleared within a couple of hours. What's wrong with waiting an extra day for those handful of potential felons -- we are not saying they are -- to be thoroughly checked. What's wrong with that? Why do you oppose that?
You just want one-day instant check and the person should go home with a gun. We are saying a little inconvenience will save lives.
LAPIERRE: Well, but it won't. Congress gave the administration $600 million for the national instant check system. They ought to be able to get it right. They've had five years. Gun shows take place over a one- or a two-day period. If we can do the check instantaneously -- and we're supporting up to a 24-hour wait -- but again, those additional people you are talking about, you make it sound like something is happening to them even if you flag them. It is not. They are going about their business. They're on the street, and they're not being prosecuted.
LOWEY: But I support that.
BLITZER: The difference is between one day and three days, and that was what held up the last piece of legislation.
LOWEY: So you have a business day.
LAPIERRE: But see, that is not what held it up. What held it up is they want the more extreme stuff in the Lautenberg bill. Now that's one minor piece there, but real stuff is...
LOWER: Which extreme stuff?
LAPIERRE: The provisions of Lautenberg to require the basis of a national registration system, unlimited fees on transactions, open- ended regulatory authority.
BLITZER: All right. Hold that thought. We have to take another quick break. A lot more to talk about.
For our international viewers, WORLD NEWS is next. For our North American audience, there is still another 30 minutes of LATE EDITION. We'll check the top stories with Gene Randall and take more of your phone calls for Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Wayne LaPierre.
Plus, our LATE EDITION roundtable and Bruce Morton's "Last Word." It is all ahead, when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: You're looking at a live picture of the Million Mom March in Washington. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We'll get to phone calls for Congresswoman Nita Lowey and the NRA's Wayne LaPierre in just a moment. But first, let's go to Gene Randall for a check of the hour's top stories.
BLITZER: Now back to our conversation with Democratic congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York and NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.
Congresswoman Lowey, there's a poll that just came out a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll, who would handle the gun issue better -- George W. Bush, the governor of Texas, the Republican candidate, 43 percent. Al Gore, 37 percent. A significant difference on the issues between these two candidates. The public, according to this poll, thinks that Governor Bush would do a better job.
LOWEY: Look, I don't know about that poll. I don't know the questions asked, but I know Al Gore. And I know that he's had a very consistent position on common sense gun safety legislation. He cast the tie vote in the Senate, and he has said over and over again, "Let's pass common sense gun safety legislation now."
And, in fact, based upon my information, in Texas I believe that George Bush had something to do with the legislation that allows you to carry a concealed weapon.
BLITZER: He signed that into law. But on that specific issue, Wayne LaPierre, you know about this famous Handgun Control, Inc. advertisement that's out that has a high official of the NRA saying that if George W. Bush is elected, the NRA in effect is going to be in charge.
Listen to this ad because I want to get reaction to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)
ANNOUNCER: George Bush says if you want to know what he'll do as president, take a look at his record.
ANNOUNCER: No wonder the NRA says...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we win, we'll have a president where we work out of their office.
ANNOUNCER: Tell Governor Bush the White House is our house.
ANNOUNCER: And it shouldn't belong to the NRA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: "If Bush wins, we will work out of their office"?
LAPIERRE: You know, Wolf, I have to smile when I hear the handgun control people and the Gore administration trying to make an issue of access to the White House. I'd like to see the White House logs the last sighs years, how often the gun banners have passed through White House security with their briefcases in hand, and they sure weren't going down there to play cards, along with Chinese arms dealers, along with Communist party members.
My gosh, they even rented out the Lincoln bedroom. I mean, what's wrong with 3.5 million gun owners having a little access where we can get our opinion put forward? I'm sure George Bush, sometimes he'll take it. I'm sure sometimes he'll reject it. That's the way all presidents work.
BLITZER: All right, let's take a caller from Meriden, Connecticut. Please go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. We have -- we have problems in this country where we solve them through our high schools. We have sex education classes. Why not propose the same thing for gun safety classes for our children?
BLITZER: What's wrong with that, Nita Lowey?
LOWEY: Well, in fact, I have heard Wayne talk about gun safety classes. I'm a mother of three and a grandmother of five. And to help children understand what the guns are all about isn't my idea of good education. There are too many guns in this country.
In fact, I looked at a poll that said you are four times more likely, four times more likely to get killed with a gun if the gun is in the house. So I think there's a lot of other education we can give our kids. We don't invest enough in education. But giving them a gun and feeling confident that they're not going to go near of it and they're going to be afraid of a gun, I think this is a way for the NRA to make sure that they have additional people who are purchasing guns. They're are afraid of what's happening with the Million Mom March.
BLITZER: Very briefly. We only have a few seconds left.
LAPIERRE: I think that's crazy. I mean, every mom knows that you save your kids' life by teaching them to look both ways before they cross a street, not to touch a hot stove. The NRA program is a gun avoidance program for young children. It tells them it's not a toy. If you see a gun, don't touch it. Leave the area. Call an adult.
I'm real sad the organizers of the Million Mom March couldn't get behind that program. They instead said their program is about registering all gun owners, license all gun owners. That's not going to make kids safe.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, we are all out of time. Wayne LaPierre, Nita Lowey, happy Mother's Day to you as well.
LOWEY: Thank you so much.
BLITZER: Thank you to both of you for joining us on LATE EDITION. And just ahead, what happens if Mayor Rudy Giuliani does decide to drop out of the New York Senate race? We'll talk about that and much more, when we go 'round the table with Roberts, Page and Carlson.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
Time now for our LATE EDITION roundtable. Joining me -- Susan Page, White House bureau chief for USA Today; Steve Roberts, contributing editor for U.S. News & World Report; and Tucker Carlson, political writer for the Weekly Standard.
All right, Steve. Rudy Giuliani, is he going to run, or is he going to drop out?
STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Increasingly, I think he's not going to run. When he says, "I'm not even sure whether I have the heart for it," I think obviously illness is part of it. Obviously his personal problems are part of it. But I also believe, as Charlie Rangel said, that his heart was never in this in the first place. I think he likes being the king of New York, you know? And I'm not sure he would be very happy being one of a 100 senators.
BLITZER: And, Tucker, if he doesn't run, he's still going to be mayor at least for another year.
TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: He will be, and he'll prevent Mark Green (ph) from taking over right away. It would actually probably be better for the city.
If you talk to the people who work for him, they say there's this battle going on between those who are, you know, leaking that he's going to drop out and those who are saying he's going to stay in. Supposedly it's all about, you know, people losing their jobs or whatever.
I think it's pretty clear he's going to drop out. What he did last week was so reckless, not telling his wife he was going to make this announcement. What she said was damaging. It could have been infinitely worse, and that tells me that he's just not in his right mind.
BLITZER: Is he not thinking normally right now?
SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, you know there's that chart where you can add up change in life and if you get to a certain point, you're going to have a heart attack? Well, Rudy Giuliani is pretty up high on that scale. You know, he's thinking about running. His marriage is in serious trouble. He's got a serious new health problem.
And when you look at the news conference that he had this week, I think you're left with the perception that this guy who has some priorities other than running for office to think through in his life, and I think all of us can understand that that can be the case. In fact, too often politicians are perhaps unwilling, or maybe people other than politicians as well, to acknowledge there are things in your life that maybe take precedence over your career.
BLITZER: Two of the biggest potential changes any individual could have -- cancer as well as a marital separation -- all of a sudden within a matter of a couple of weeks both surface. For the purpose of this discussion, let's assume he doesn't run. Is that necessarily good news for Hillary Rodham Clinton?
ROBERTS: No. Rudy Giuliani has a lot of big assets. He's very well-known. He's raised a great deal of money, and he attracts a lot of free media attention. But the very fact that he's very well-known -- he's a polarizing figure.
A lot of people don't like Rudy. Rick Lazio, the young congressman from Long Island who would be certainly one of the likely substitutes, is not very well-known. That's a drawback. That's also an advantage.
He is a -- he's not as nearly as polarizing a figure. He's from the suburbs, which is very important. Giuliani has a lot of trouble, as Charlie Rangel pointed out to you. Hillary Rodham Clinton's a carpetbagger upstate, but so is the mayor of New York.
Being from suburbs is an asset, and he doesn't have the same polarizing qualities. You can make the argument Rick Lazio would be harder for Hillary to beat than Rudy Giuliani.
BLITZER: George Pataki, the governor, says he has no interest whatsoever in running. And so, by all accounts, Rick Lazio would emerge as the front-runner. But he's barely known in his own district in Long Island, let alone in the rest of the state. Why should anyone assume he could mount a formidable campaign against one of the best- known people in the world today, Mrs. Clinton?
CARLSON: Because he's a great guy. No, I don't think so. No, I totally agree with you. I think it would be definitely tough. I wouldn't count Pataki out. I mean, you're George Pataki. You can't stand Rudy Giuliani. All of a sudden, you know, he leaves to spend more time with his mistress or whatever. He gets out of the race.
Is it resistible? I don't know. It would be pretty hard. I would say there's probably pretty good odds that if he gets out that Pataki will get in.
BLITZER: And the point that Paul Gigot made in the Wall Street Journal on Friday is that if he does run, he can still hold on to governor's seat. And if he loses, he's still governor. So he really has not much to lose except pride if he loses to Mrs. Clinton.
PAGE: It's also possible this is good news for Hillary Clinton. I don't think we know quite yet. Peter King also said, another congressman -- Republican congressman from New York said this morning, he would like to run for the nomination. So there may be a little bit of a battle on the Republican side. But it is possible that this is very helpful for Mrs. Clinton. I think it's hard for us to know for a couple months.
BLITZER: All right, let's move on to talk a little bit about guns -- the Million Mom March. This march that's here, the tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of moms and others who have gathered on the National Mall, is this going to make much of a difference in this life-and-death struggle over gun legislation this year in Washington?
ROBERTS: I don't think it will make much of a difference on legislation because, frankly, I think the Democrats don't want a bill. Democrats want the issue. They want to be able to go to the voters in the fall and say, "You want gun control, you've got to vote for us."
Al Gore is increasingly weak among women. The only way he can win the presidency is with a significant gender gap that's almost been erased. He wants this issue very badly, and he certainly does not want and Democrats don't want a big Rose Garden ceremony in August with Republicans saying, "See, we're for gun control, too." So I don't think it's going to have much of an effect on legislation in part because the Democrats don't want it.
BLITZER: Is this a big issue for Al Gore? Is it a winning issue for Al Gore, his tough position in favor of gun legislation?
CARLSON: Well, it makes a certain kind of sense. But as it turns out, it really hasn't been a very good issue for him. I mean, he's, in most polls, even with Bush when you ask who will do a better job on guns. In some polls Bush beats him. Hard to understand exactly how that works. Maybe people don't care that much.
I have to say I don't think the march is going to help. This is a really complicated issue. There's not a lot of evidence that gun control reduces gun violence. If it were the million criminologists march, maybe it would mean something. But I have to say just because one has been the victim of gun violence doesn't mean one knows anything about its causes, and so I think this is sort of a meaningless event.
BLITZER: Susan, I guess the impact would be if these women who are marching today -- and men -- if they can translate their presence here into pressure on members of Congress. And usually that comes from money -- in other words, who gives them the most money to influence their opinion, not always, but very often. You have a sense this is going to be translated into that kind of political pressures on members of Congress?
PAGE: I don't think so. I don't think we're looking at significant legislation this year for the reasons Steve stated and also because the public is divided on this issue.
PAGE: There is not a national consensus on what to do about gun violence or the right approach to take. And there is a need for Al Gore to get back some of the women's votes he lost. But I think sees another issue as more promising. That's Social Security, Medicare, prescription drugs. That's what he is going to give big speech about tomorrow. I think he thinks that's a more productive way politically than national gun control.
BLITZER: All right. We'll talk a little bit about that. We have to take a quick break.
Just ahead, the long-awaited meeting between Senator John McCain and Governor George W. Bush. Did McCain's so-called tepid endorsement of Governor Bush do more harm than good? We'll ask the roundtable, when LATE EDITION continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (r-tx), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, I enthusiastically accept.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Senator John McCain on Tuesday, assuring the media of his confidence in Governor George W. Bush after their meeting in Pittsburgh.
Welcome back to our roundtable.
Tucker, you know, the headlines that followed that meeting -- and you were in Pittsburgh. So we want your first-person account. The Baltimore Sun had a headline saying "Chilly Civility Marks Bush- McCain Union." The Washington Post headline, "McCain Endorses Bush, Softly." The Los Angeles Times, "Bush Wrests Endorsement from McCain."
Was it that painful what was going on over there?
CARLSON: Well, on some deep level, it was painful. But I don't know. I mean, for a straight-talker, McCain is pretty good at pretending to like someone. He doesn't like Bush, of course. But I was sitting in, like, the fourth row, and I could see the gold in his molars, he was grinning so wide. I mean, I thought he did a pretty good job.
And in a way, it was good for McCain. McCain needs to convince Republicans that he can get along with them. He's starting this PAC, the Straight Talk America PAC. All his donors are Republicans. And I think he wants to show them he can get along.
ROBERTS: This is a very important point because even though you could argue, as we have in the past, that McCain is better off in terms of his own personnel agenda with Bush losing and opening the way for him in 2004, you have to remember why he lost the Republican nomination. Because he didn't convince orthodox loyal Republicans he was one of them, and he cannot appear too tepid.
And so, I think he will campaign. It's in his own political self-interest. But something else he is going to do. You mentioned the Straight Talk PAC he's going to have. He's going to be campaigning very vigorously for members of Congress because he is going to follow the model of Richard Nixon in the '60s and Ronald Reagan in the late '70s. You get a lot of due bills. You get a lot of good will. A couple of years from now, he can call in a lot of chits, if he campaigns very heavily.
BLITZER: The 2004, assuming Gore, of course, wins -- is that very much on McCain's mind right now?
PAGE: You've really jumped forward here. You know, I assume...
BLITZER: It's not that far away.
PAGE: You know, I think McCain had a very good -- for a guy who didn't win the nomination, he had a really good set of primaries. And maybe that's -- maybe that is on his mind. One of the things that this embrace looks positively glowing compared to Bill Bradley's non- endorsement of Al Gore after the Democratic primaries, where he refused to say the word "endorse" and would only say the word "support." I think it's focused a little attention on the other side of the aisle because there's are still some divisions to heal there.
BLITZER: Can we assume, Tucker, and you know John McCain very well, a lot better than we do -- can we assume that when he says he has no interest in the vice presidential nomination that that is absolutely bottom line. There is no question about it? He is not going to be George Bush's running mate.
CARLSON: If he accepted the vice presidential nomination, I would move to Canada, so my world would just collapse. I believe that as strongly as a believe anything. I watched him for hours respond to that question. And he says again and again, no way. I think it is right (ph).
ROBERTS: Well, what has John McCain -- what made him the figure he is? The candor, independence? What is the job description of vice presidents? It is exactly the opposite. You never say what you think. You always have to operate on somebody else's agenda. It's the worst possible fit in terms of who McCain is.
TUCKER: Oh, he would be horrible. He'd be horrible.
BLITZER: A horrible vice president. Can you imagine? All right. We have to leave it right there -- Tucker Carlson, Susan Page. Steve Roberts, thanks once again.
And up next, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. Plus, Bruce Morton's "Last Word."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United Nations is in a mess in Sierra Leone because it has forgotten what peacekeeping, or at least the kind of peacekeeping the UN can do, really means.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The United Nations and its struggle to keep the peace around the world.
BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's "Last Word" on keeping the peace in the world's trouble spots.
MORTON (voice-over): Sierra Leone is a mess for all sorts of reasons. The United Nations is in a mess in Sierra Leone because it has forgotten what peacekeeping, or at least the kind of peacekeeping the UN can do, really means.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.N. peacekeepers have been taken hostage. That is an unacceptable situation, and it obviously would threaten U.N. peacekeepers all over the world.
MORTON: I remember talking about this in Israel some years ago with Israeli and U.N. officials. Peacekeeping, they agreed, works when both sides want it to. It worked really well on Golan Heights because neither Syria nor Israel wanted another war. And the two governments could say to respective hotheads, no, no, no, we can't start trouble in the Golan, the UN peacekeepers are there. They were there -- not in great numbers. Just enough to give both governments an excuse for keeping the peace.
By the same token, peacekeeping worked really badly in south Lebanon. There were some UN troops there then, but there were also all kinds of guerrilla organizations -- groups like Hezbollah, whatever -- which wanted to make war, and so did. The thin blue UN line couldn't stop them if they wanted to fight.
Same thing in Somalia. The U.S. had some success at famine relief, but none at nation-building, as it was called, because all those different factions wanted to fight and did, killing Americans in the process.
Same thing in Kosovo. If ethnic Albanians want to kill their ethnic Serbian neighbors, they probably will.
We need another word. Peacekeeping a la Golan Heights is what works when both sides want it to. When somebody wants to fight, you need what you might call peace-enforcing troops. It's a very different mission. They would be on the ground in large numbers. They would be heavily armed, and they'd be prepared to take casualties.
Go ahead and fight, they would say to would-be belligerent. We will wipe you out in the first five minutes because we have more troops and better equipment than you do. Tanks, planes, whatever it takes, we'll use.
That might work in a Sierra Leone, a Kosovo. Trouble is, governments don't want to commit their troops to that kind of a force because they know there would be casualties, and then they would have to explain to the parents back home why getting young Americans or Germans or Frenchmen or whomever killed to impose peace in those places was really in America's or Germany's or France's national interest.
Maybe it wasn't. I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.
Time now for a look at what's on cover of this week's major news magazines. "Time" magazine has the hottest jobs of future -- which careers will flourish and vanish in 21st century -- on the cover.
"Newsweek" has Michael J. Fox on the cover -- new hope in the war against Parkinson's Disease.
And on cover of "U.S. News & World Report," prostate cancer, what the choices are and how they can affect your life.
And that is your LATE EDITION for Sunday, May 14. Be sure to catch us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. I'll also be back tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on the WORLD TODAY.
For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. And happy Mother's Day to moms everywhere, including my wife Lynn and my mom in Florida. Where would we be without you?
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We leave you now with live pictures of the Million Mom March.
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