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CNN Late Edition
Rick Lazio Discusses His Run for Senate; China Trade Debate Heats Up as Congressional Vote Draws NearAired May 21, 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, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 5:00 p.m. in London and midnight in Beijing. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90- minute LATE EDITION.
We begin today with the big political story this weekend here in the United States: the New York Senate race.
New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, facing a wrenching decision over how to treat his prostate cancer, has dropped out of the contest against first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. And Rick Lazio quickly has jumped in.
Earlier today, I spoke with the Republican congressman.
BLITZER: Congressman Lazio, thank you so much for joining us once again on LATE EDITION. Congratulations on your decision to run for the Senate.
You have an uphill struggle. As I'm sure you realize, the Quinnipiac poll that came out in the past few days showed that as far as the opinion in New York state of Rick Lazio's concerned, "favorable" had you at 11 percent, "unfavorable" at 5 percent. But 72 percent of those who responded said they didn't know enough about you, hadn't heard enough about you to have any opinion of you at all.
You're going against Mrs. Clinton. How are you going to deal with that problem?
REP. RICK LAZIO (R), NEW YORK: There's no doubt that we're going into this race as the underdog. I am not uncomfortable with that position. I think we're going to be probably behind most of this race until we get to the very end.
The challenge is for people to get to know me. In the areas that people know me, they know about my record, we have a wide lead over Hillary Clinton. They know about my record on the environment. They know about my record on crime and drugs, on housing, on empowerment, on bringing people together and uniting people.
My challenge is to make sure that people know the real Rick Lazio before the other side gets out and tries to fool the New York people about who I am. I don't have to fool anybody about who I am. I'm the real thing.
I was born and raised in this state, clammed in its waters, went to school here, married a native New Yorker. My two little girls are going to New York public schools. I don't have to pretend to be something that I'm not, and I know what I am. I'm an experienced legislator, and I know I can bring those great skills to the Senate.
BLITZER: Congressman Lazio, the supporters of Mrs. Clinton -- some of her advisers and aides -- are already trying to paint you, as you well know, as a foot soldier for Newt Gingrich during the so- called Contract With America.
Are there any votes that you cast during that period that you now look back on and say, you know, maybe I made a mistake?
LAZIO: No, you know, I find that laughable. I think they are petrified of the idea of my candidacy, frankly, because I am exactly in the middle. I'm reflective of New York. I am a native New Yorker, and I vote that way.
I mean, that's why the people back on Long Island have sent me to Congress and sent me back three times because they know I reflect their values. And I don't know which one of the things on the Contract With America that they are against. Is it the balanced budget?
LAZIO: Is it lowering taxes? Is it a strong national defense? If that's what they're against and I'm for, I'm comfortable fighting on those grounds.
BLITZER: One of the things they point to is your vote to eliminate the Department of Education. Was that the right vote?
LAZIO: That's -- first of all, that's completely inaccurate. There was never a vote like that. As a matter of fact, just the opposite. I think we ought to be focusing on high standards.
They -- the other side represents a philosophy of a blank check. No results. Don't worry about results. Just keep writing checks, more and more federal money going to different entities. Have a press conference and try and get political credit.
What I'm about is to say to good teachers, we're going to try and help you get even better. Let's get some more mentoring programs in. Let's make sure that people with great professional backgrounds get into schools. Let's make sure that students have and teachers have access to technology, to new books. Let's give them the tools that they need, and let's make sure that our federal dollars get to the classroom.
I think that 95 cents out of every federal dollar should end up in the classroom. They shouldn't be ripped off by some bureaucrat diverting that money for a purpose that's not consistent with education.
I think most New Yorkers believe in that, and I believe in that, and I believe in increasing our commitment to education. I just think that when we increase our commitment to education, when we're spending more on education that we also ought to be focusing on results. We ought to expect higher standards.
BLITZER: One of the things that -- a huge debate between the Bush and Gore campaigns is involving already Social Security and tax cuts. Do you feel comfortable with Governor Bush's proposal to use some of the Social Security money for private investments and for that -- what they, some are projecting a $1.5 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years?
LAZIO: Look, Wolf, I think we need to see what life looks like next year, when President Bush, hopefully, will be in office. Right now, I have supported significant tax relief to help working families send their children to school, help people plan for their retirement effectively, help people purchase their own health insurance.
I think the federal government should be helping people who want to get health coverage, who want to send their children to school. I think we ought to help people have the peace of mind to know that they can retire with financial security.
Those are good things. I also think that we need to be developing a Social Security plan that preserves Social Security that also gives our seniors the peace of mind to know that that program will be there for them. And I will strongly support that.
We're not going to do anything risky. What we are going to say, though, is that, as far as many of the experts have been saying, we know that we need to do better in terms of yield. We know that people need to have more opportunities to have even a more secure retirement.
And so, that means looking at some new fresh ideas, ways in which we can preserve, strengthen Social Security. At the same time, give people a little bit of control over their own money -- their own money here now, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right.
LAZIO: And I think that's a responsible plan as long as we can do that consistent with revenues coming in, and we can't do anything to jeopardize, to increase -- sustain surpluses. I'm one of those fellows who helped write that balanced budget. I'm not going to do anything to undermine that. I'm a strong supporter of that.
BLITZER: Congressman, we only have a few seconds left. So if you had to define, describe one key difference -- the biggest difference between you and Mrs. Clinton in this campaign, what would it be?
LAZIO: I think just that I am a native lifelong New Yorker. There's no question about the difference in ambition. My only ambition is to serve the people of New York, to worry about, you know, the bridges in Buffalo, the roads and train stations on Long Island, the housing in New York City.
These are the things that I have been working on over the last eight years in the House -- helping the disabled, helping the homeless, helping people who are not empowered now become empowered. That's what I want this campaign to be about -- a positive campaign. I hope we can inspire people. I hope we can bring people together and unify people. I think that's what I've done as a consensus builder in a bipartisan fashion in my eight years in the House.
I look forward to continued service like that for the people of New York as a senator.
BLITZER: OK, Congressman Rick Lazio, thank you so much for joining us. We hope one of these times, in the next few weeks perhaps, you'll be returning on LATE EDITION. Maybe even in a debate against Mrs. Clinton at some point -- we'd be honored to host that kind of a debate.
LAZIO: There will be plenty of debates, no doubt.
BLITZER: All right, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck. I know you have a very busy day today.
LAZIO: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And up next -- he's the man who could have replaced Mayor Giuliani in the Senate race but turned down the chance. I'll ask New York governor George Pataki why he opted to stay out of the running and why he thinks Rick Lazio could win.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK CITY: Governor Pataki told me once a long time ago that your real friends are the friends that will love and care about you after you're the mayor, the governor, the senator, the president. And I have some friends like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: New York mayor Rudy Giuliani announcing on Friday his decision not to run for the U.S. Senate, focusing instead on battling prostate cancer.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now is the man some New York Republicans were encouraging to enter the race, Governor George Pataki.
Governor, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Nice being with you again, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Let's go through three poll numbers very quickly. I'm anxious to get your response. There's a new Zogby poll that just came out today.
As far as the choice for New York Senate, Hillary Clinton, 46 percent, Rick Lazio, 32 percent. Then there's a Quinnipiac poll that just came out a few days ago. Similarly but a little bit wider spread, Hillary Clinton 50 percent, Rick Lazio 31 percent.
But look at this, in that same Quinnipiac College poll, if you had been the Republican candidate for the Senate, you would beat Mrs. Clinton right now, 46 percent to 41 percent.
You were under a lot of pressure to join this race after Mayor Giuliani decided to drop out. Why did you decide not to do it?
PATAKI: Well, Wolf, there are a number of reasons. First of all, I knew that we had an excellent candidate in Rick Lazio. If I didn't think that, I may have taken another look. But I knew that Rick has the experience and he has the vision and the record in the House to win this race and represent New York well in the Senate.
Also, governor is a great job. And I have just been very, very grateful to the people of this state who have given me the opportunity now in a second term to try to make this a better state. And the policies we've enacted have dramatically changed this state, leading the country in cutting taxes, leading the country in reducing violent crime and reducing our welfare roles.
But there's still so much more to do. And I love this job. I love this state. And I think as governor, working with Senator Rick Lazio, we would have a great partnership.
BLITZER: Governor, the Washington Post had an item in the paper on Saturday. It said this, "The most obvious loser in all of this is the Republican Party in New York. It has lost it's most viable Senate candidate, plus it's going to lose another House incumbent in Long Island, where the GOP establishment has been drowning in ridiculous scandals."
Is that going to happen?
PATAKI: No, that's just nonsense. And you know, I'm amazed at how these pundits know what's going to happen in November, here in May. Their wisdom is not quite what one might think by reading.
I think we're bowing to come out of this stronger, not just as a party -- that's important as a Republican -- but more important, as a state. And that's what I'm concerned about is having the strongest possible state. Having Rick Lazio down in the Senate, I think would be an enormous help to us.
Right now, as Senator Moynihan has told us time and again, New York sends $16 billion a year more down to Washington than we get back. We need someone who is a New Yorker, who's one of us, who understands the needs of New York and is going to fight in Washington. And I believe Rick Lazio is going to be that senator.
Right now, you know, Wolf, you show the polls, but what the polls also show is that the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers don't know Rick Lazio yet. I do know Rick Lazio. As they get to know him, they're going to like him. They're going to find out he shares their values, and I think he has an excellent chance of being our next senator.
BLITZER: You've already begun hearing a drum beat from the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign about Rick Lazio being a foot soldier for Newt Gingrich. In fact, listen to what Bill De Blasio, who is the campaign manager for Mrs. Clinton, said earlier today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Lazio was a key lieutenant of Gingrich, and someone who was very proud of having helped build the Gingrich revolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is that a problem for Rick Lazio right now?
PATAKI: Wolf, I think it shows it's a problem for Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton doesn't have the ideas. She doesn't have a record. She doesn't have any ties or commitment to New York state. So they're reverting back to the old Clinton tactic of smearing your opponent. Not about his ideas, not about his vision, not about his background but linking him to someone who they take a poll of whose numbers don't look very good.
I think it's very sad, and it's a disservice to the people of New York. And more importantly, I know New Yorkers are intelligent, sophisticated people, who are going to look at this and say it's the same old Clinton effort to try to avoid having to discuss their record and their ideas on the issues.
Mrs. Clinton is way to the left of the people of this state. Rick Lazio reflects the values of this state, and that's why they're going to try to do this. And I just think really it's sad. You want to have an intelligent level of political discourse -- not Mrs. Clinton hiding behind hired spokespeople who go out there and try to slander the opponent. But unfortunately, that's been consistent practice of the Clintons for sometime.
BLITZER: As you well know, politics in New York state is expensive. It's a rough and tumble world. Listen to what Rick Lazio only in January said on "LARRY KING LIVE" when he was asked about the prospects of his getting into the race.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE," JANUARY 2000) LAZIO: For a state as large as New York is, if he was to decide not to get into this race sometime after, say, the middle of February, it would be virtually impossible for any other Republican to get in this race and win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well, it's now already almost the end of May, and he's just beginning to get into this race. Is it going to be possible, knowing the politics of New York, to raise the money and to get the job done?
PATAKI: Oh, sure. Not only is it possible, I think we have an excellent chance. Clearly, it would have been better if Rick Lazio could have been the candidate six, eight months ago. But Mayor Giuliani has been a great leader in this city. He's changed it dramatically by using Republican principles that have made the city and the state stronger. And we owed it to him to give him the opportunity, if he chose, to seek the Senate nomination.
Unfortunately, he's come across this major health concern, and he has to make determinations based on his need for medical treatment, and I think everyone understands that. But in no way does this mean anything other than we're going to have to work real hard for Rick Lazio. We're going to work hard for Rick Lazio. He's going to have that grassroots support, and sure, he's starting as the underdog and he's starting late, but I have no doubt that with his record and his ideas and his knowledge of New York, he's going to win this race.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton says she will not serve -- she will not allow her name to be on the independence party ticket, the so-called Reform Party in New York state if they ask her. Would it be good for Rick Lazio to be on that ticket if Pat Buchanan were atop that ticket as the presidential candidate? Mrs. Clinton says she doesn't want to have anything to do with Pat Buchanan.
PATAKI: Well, Wolf, let me say that as a Republican, to win in New York state, you have to appeal to a broad cross-section of the electorate. You have to get Republican votes, conservative votes, independent votes, a lot of Democratic votes.
And how the party lineup ultimately turns out, I can't predict or no one else can as well. All I can say is that this is going to ultimately not be a campaign about party labels. It's going to be a campaign about issues and ideas and who understands New York and will fight for New York, and I'm confident that at the end of the day, as the people get to know him, they're going to say that that should be Rick Lazio.
BLITZER: So you have no problem with Rick Lazio being on the same ticket with Pat Buchanan?
PATAKI: I have very real problems with Pat Buchanan's philosophy. But I believe that Rick Lazio, as any successful Republican in New York, has to appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats, independents, conservatives, moderates, Republicans, and I'm confident he can do that.
BLITZER: OK, Governor, always good to have you on LATE EDITION. Thanks for taking some time today as well.
PATAKI: Nice being on with you again, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
And just ahead, we'll get reaction from the first lady's camp. How will a change in opponents affect First Lady Mrs. Clinton's game plan? We'll ask her top campaign political strategist, Harold Ickes.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: This campaign is not about me or about any opponent. It is about the future of our children, our families, our state and our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: First lady and New York Democratic Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, reacting to word that Mayor Rudy Giuliani would not be challenging her for a Senate seat.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now to talk about what's ahead for the first lady's campaign is her senior adviser, Harold Ickes.
Mr. Ickes, good to have you back on LATE EDITION.
HAROLD ICKES, SENIOR ADVISER, HILLARY 2000: Good to be here, Wolf.
BLITZER: The headline in the New York Post today, "Bring 'em on." Rick Lazio saying that he's ready for this fight. You've been in this business a long time. These poll numbers right now mean absolutely nothing. This is going to be a tough fight for Mrs. Clinton.
ICKES: I think it's going to be a strong fight. It's going to be based on issues, and Hillary has been making her case to the people of New York for the past year. She has been in all 62 counties. She's been talking in a positive way about a series of issues -- education, health care, working families. And that's how she's going to continue to conduct her race. But we expect to have a hard fought race.
BLITZER: Some people think it might even be tougher now. Do you wish you were running against Rudy Giuliani?
ICKES: Wishes don't make any difference. We have what we have. We assume that Mr. Lazio will get the Republican designation, although they have yet to hold their convention. And so we're waiting to see.
BLITZER: Listen to what Rudy Giuliani said earlier today on MEET THE PRESS in assessing where this campaign with Rick Lazio as the Republican candidate is going to be moving very, very soon. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: I think this is going to be an election, ultimately, in about maybe it will take three weeks, four weeks that will come down to that same undecided 7 percent or 8 percent that was involved in the election between Hillary Clinton and me. It will be a very close election because people have made up their -- a lot of people have made up their minds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You agree with the mayor?
ICKES: I don't know. I'm not going to speak for the people of New York. They're going to listen to the issues that they're concerned about, and they're going to make up their mind in November. We think that Hillary is on the right side of a broad range of issues, think that Rick Lazio is out of the step with mainstream New York. And you can see that by some of his past positions that he's taken over the years.
But again, New Yorkers are very sophisticated. They're very savvy. They know the problems that they face. And they're going to be listening very closely to these candidates to see who they think can be most effective in the United States Senate for New York and who will make the best judgments for them.
BLITZER: On many of the most sensitive issues, he has taken what's described as a moderate position. He supports a woman's right to have an abortion. He's voted in favor of gun control legislation. He supports funding for children's health care issues. It's going to be very hard for you to paint him, as some of your colleagues are already trying to do, as a Newt Gingrich clone.
ICKES: Well, I think the Newt Gingrich clone aspect has been overemphasized. What that really stands for is -- are some of the votes that he's taken. He voted to eliminate the Department of Education, for instance.
BLITZER: He points out that that was a budget resolution that was non-binding, only voted for a number, and that in the way things are done in the House of Representatives, that had no real impact. He supports the Department of Education.
ICKES: All I know is that his vote is a matter of record and something for him to explain. I understand that this morning he is against handgun registration and against gun locks. He voted...
BLITZER: Well, he said he doesn't favor -- he wants to study the issue of registration and licensing. He didn't necessarily say he was opposed to gun locks, safety locks.
ICKES: OK, I didn't hear him. I was just told. But again, there is going to be very strong differences between Hillary and Rick Lazio. I mean, on the issue of education alone, recently -- Hillary is for reducing class size, more teachers in the classroom and more money for school construction. Rick Lazio recently has voted against legislation favoring both of those.
So there are going to be some very, very distinct differences. Are there similarities? The answer is yes. We're in the 21st century after all. And we're in New York. But there will be some distinct differences. Those differences will be presented to the New York voters in a positive way by Hillary, and that's what they will make their decision on in November.
BLITZER: Many observers are pointing out, though, that he may have an advantage over Rudy Giuliani in that he does not bring with him the controversy, the baggage that Rudy Giuliani would have brought. And now this is a real fight, not so much over personalities, but over issues. And he will do better than Giuliani would have done.
ICKES: Well, again, I'm not going to make a judgment for the people of New York. We look forward to a debate on issues.
Hillary has been campaigning across the state for a year now year now, talking about a series of issues, economic development in upstate New York, education, health care. She's going to continue to do that, and we welcome the joinder (ph) of these issues because we think there are very distinct differences between Hillary on the one hand and Rick Lazio on the other. We think he's out of step with mainstream New York.
BLITZER: In his characterization of Mrs. Clinton as an extreme left-wing liberal, he cites two issues. He cites the fact that she supports late-term abortion, the partial birth abortion procedure, as it has been called by its critics, and also her 1993 health care proposal which, of course, completely failed. He says both of these are out of touch with mainstream America.
ICKES: Well, it's ironic. I mean, Rick talks about, you know, look at my smile, I want to run on the issues. And yet his first day and a half in this contest, assuming that he's the nominee, has been really riddled with insult and political invective as opposed to really talking about the issues.
On the issue of health care, Hillary has said, "I am now for incremental approach." But the fact is, Wolf, that there are more uninsured people in the country today -- 45, 46 million compared to 36 or 37 million back in 1994 -- and there is a real problem that has to be addressed. So again, it was a proposal that she put forward. She's now for a more incremental approach, but the underlying problem is still there, and she is putting forth some proposals to address that.
BLITZER: You know, what Rick Lazio did do today is something Mrs. Clinton has not yet done, and she's been in the race for about a year. He has appeared on all five Sunday morning interview programs, including this one.
Rudy Giuliani did it the day that Mrs. Clinton announced in February. The only other person ever to do that, all five shows, was Bill Ginsburg, Monica Lewinsky's first lawyer. When is Mrs. Clinton going to start appearing on these Sunday shows, as opposed to the LATE EDITION town hall meeting that she did, the TODAY SHOW town meeting. Is she going to be -- -- making herself increasingly more available to the national news media?
ICKES: Well, she's focused on New York. She has had innumerable one-on-one interviews with New York media, both electronic and press. She has been at a number of editorial boards. She's been on your wonderful town hall out of Buffalo, your home town.
So I think if you look at where she's been, she's been focusing her attention on New York and the New York press and has been very accessible.
BLITZER: Well, we'll look forward to having her on this program, sitting in your seat right there. Thank you very much, Harold Ickes. Always good to have you on LATE EDITION.
ICKES: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you. And just ahead, we'll turn to the week's other big political story -- the battle over trade with China. Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura weighs in on that issue, politics and a lot more, when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on legislation that would grant permanent normal trade relations to China.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Earlier, I spoke about that issue and other matters with Minnesota's outspoken governor, Jesse Ventura.
Governor, thanks for joining us on LATE EDITION. Always good to have you on our program.
GOV. JESSE VENTURA (I), MINNESOTA: Hi, Wolf. It's always nice to be here.
BLITZER: All right. Let's begin with the big vote that's coming up in the House of Representatives this week on trade with China, permanent normal trade relations. Your fellow Minnesotan, the Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone, says when the vote comes up in the Senate, he will vote against it. He cites human rights violations by the Chinese. He also says that jobs will be exported. But among other things, listen to what he says in a statement. Quote, "Permanent FNN -- MFN", excuse me, "status for China may be what's best for big corporate agribusiness, but it sure isn't what's best for Minnesota's family farmers and rural communities."
What do you say to your fellow Minnesotans who have that position, it's not good for small farms?
VENTURA: Well, I disagree with that because selling their commodities -- right now, our farmers are dependent upon federal subsidies. And if we open up trade relations with China, it's a potential 1.2 billion more customers for our agriculture industry.
And I disagree -- I mean, you have to remember something, if farmers stay dependent upon federal subsidies, that means the senator's an important person in their life. If they don't require federal subsidies anymore, then they don't require him as much either. So you've got to look at it from that angle, too, is that the senator loves to lead marches and all that and bring up troubled times. Well, this is an opportunity for farmers to get out of those troubled times.
I've been told it could increase our farm export up to 50 percent, doubling what it is today.
BLITZER: Is that just for the agribusiness, for the big farms? What about the small family farmers who don't really export their products to China or anyplace else, for that matter?
VENTURA: Well, if the big farmers are exporting to China, that's going to open up for the small farmers to export here in America, in the United States, isn't it?
BLITZER: All right. Well, you disagree, obviously, with Senator Wellstone. You say he's dead wrong.
VENTURA: I strongly disagree with him.
BLITZER: All right. Now another fellow Midwesterner, David Bonior, Democrat from Michigan, he also disagrees with you. He's leading -- among those leading the fight in the House of Representatives against this normal trade relationship with China. Listen to what he said this past week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID BONIOR (D-MI), MINORITY WHIP: China is a brutal dictatorship. It's a closed authoritarian society, and we need to send them a message. This doesn't mean we're not going to trade with them. We're going to continue to have a trading relationship. But it will mean that we will continue to have some of our leverage to raise these issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Congressman Bonior's going to be on this program later today. What do you say to that argument that he makes that there will be no leverage if the U.S. gives away the store right now? VENTURA: We're not giving away anything. Trade with China will remain the same, what they send to us. What this trade agreement does is it opens up the doors for us to send goods to China, which currently we can do that but we do it under much higher tariffs.
Take for example, barley -- you talked earlier about ag. The barley leaders told us right now there's a 30 percent tariff on barley from the United States into China. This is going to then be lowered to 10 percent. That's a 20 percent profit right across the board right there.
And as far as us losing jobs, well, I remember when NAFTA came around and the old leader of my ex-party said there would be a giant sucking sound of all the jobs leaving America. Well, currently, we in Minnesota have the lowest unemployment rate in the United States. I think we're down at 2.4, 2.5 percent. We have 44,000 jobs in the Twin Cities right now that we can't even fill. We don't have the people to fill them currently.
So we're not in any bad situation on jobs. And you'll find if you check, exporting companies tend to have more jobs, higher paying jobs and jobs with better benefits than do non-exporting companies. And this opens up a country of 1.2 billion to our exports.
And how are you going to change human rights if you're not doing business with the people, if you don't have a relationship with the country? Take a look at how great it's worked in Cuba. We've had an embargo against Cuba now for 45 years in an attempt to get Castro out of the country. Has it worked? Obviously not. He's going to survive his ninth -- or 10th president this November.
BLITZER: So what you're saying is the U.S. should lift that trade embargo against Cuba?
VENTURA: What I'm saying is absolutely it should be looked at. Everyone else in the world trades with Cuba but us, and the same thing will hold true if we don't normalize trade relations with China. They're entering the WTO. What these people are going to do in essence is isolate the United States off from the rest of the world. Having the ability to trade with China, everyone else will and we won't.
BLITZER: You know, Governor, many trade union leaders -- and you've been supportive and you've had a close relationship with many unions over the years -- many of them say that the good economic times are not going to last forever and, at some point, the joblessness, the unemployment is going to increase. That, in effect, jobs are going to be exported to cheap labor markets like China.
Listen, for example, to what James Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters wrote this week. He said this. "American workers should not be asked to compete with foreigners who are not paid a living wage or who work in inhuman conditions. Since 1992, China has not complied with the terms of bilateral agreements with the United States on issues like prison labor and intellectual property rights. Why should we trust them now?" VENTURA: Well, we probably should be very careful. But the point is, by isolating ourselves off and not trading with them, is that going to help change China? Absolutely not. Ultimately, the Chinese will be left to change China. But as Chinese workers deal with our companies and see the standards of which we work under here in the United States, you think they're not going to go back to their neighborhoods and talk about it? You think that's not going to create a relationship?
We live in a highly technology world right now. Everyone on a laptop computer can communicate with anyone else in the whole world. Pretty soon China is going to have more computers than any other country in the world. We'll be able to communicate directly back and forth with people of China. That's how you change China. That's how you bring them into capitalist ideas and bring them into the democracy that we have today. You change them by working with them, not shutting the door to them.
And if Hoffa wants to talk about sweat shops, China doesn't hold the market on sweat shops. There are sweat shops all throughout Asia. If he's going to use that attitude, then we should cut off trade relations with probably 15 or 20 different countries.
BLITZER: We have to take a quick break. Up next, Governor Ventura shares his thoughts on Campaign 2000 and whether he would consider a new part-time career.
LATE EDITION continues right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Now more of my conversation with Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.
BLITZER: Governor, when you left the Reform Party, you said that Pat Buchanan as a potential leader of the Reform Party -- you blasted the Reform Party, in your words, as being hopelessly dysfunctional. Pat Buchanan looks like he's poised to receive the Reform Party presidential nominations. If he does, do you think he should automatically be included in a debate involving Gore and Bush?
VENTURA: I believe that if they have major party status, then they should be included, regardless of who their candidate is. But I think you're being a little presumptuous, Wolf. I just read this morning in the paper that many in the Reform Party are completely dissatisfied with Buchanan. They say he's coming in just to take over the party and push his agenda, and there's a big movement now for the Reform Party not even to put up a presidential candidate.
So I think that you're being a little premature on assuming that Pat Buchanan has their nomination. But quite frankly, I don't even follow them much anymore, and I don't care what they do. BLITZER: If Pat Buchanan is allowed to be in the debates, assuming he is the Reform Party nominee, should Ralph Nader, as leader of the Green Party, should he also be allowed to participate in the debates?
VENTURA: I'll just say this. I think by stating that you have to be polling 15 percent to be allowed in the debates is ridiculous because, if you go back to my election in Minnesota at the point of the primary, I was only polling 10 percent. I was allowed to debate. I ended up in six to seven weeks going to 37 percent and winning the election.
So what you have is a clear message that happens not only locally, regionally, statewide or nationally, you have the two major parties don't want a third party, and they will band together to squash any third party movement. And that's been a constant for years and years in our country right now. And it's really sad because it cheats the American people out of another opinion that they're entitled to hear.
BLITZER: I know you're sort of disappointed that John McCain endorsed George W. Bush. But if McCain had run as a third party presidential candidate, do you think he might have won the presidency?
VENTURA: I think he had a very good chance to win the presidency because polls had him already at about 30 percent, and see, he tapped in -- you've got to remember something. Our national vote totals are going down and down and down every year. The Republicans and Democrats like that because that means less people they have to deal with. They tell you they encourage large voter participation, but in reality they don't believe in that at all.
What's happening is you've got all of these people alienated by the two party, Republican and Democrat. Many of these people would have come out and voted for John McCain. Now they've withdrawn because John McCain is just another Republican. He's nothing any different now, and those people will probably cease to vote again, and you'll see a low voter turnout this fall.
I might be wrong, but I don't think you're going to see a very good voter turnout.
BLITZER: Do you plan on making an endorsement of either of the two major party candidates, Al Gore or George W. Bush?
VENTURA: No, I will not endorse anyone. I will not endorse Democrats and Republicans. That's my standard policy. Now, what I will endorse is policy. If one of them comes out with something I agree with, I will be happy to say I agree with this candidate. But I will not give a blanket endorsement to either a Democrat or a Republican.
BLITZER: Governor, one of my producers, Chris Carino (ph), says that you would be an excellent commentator on "Monday Night Football." You've done that before. Do you think you would be good working in that ABC booth on "Monday Night Football"? VENTURA: Well, I did two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- I think back in '89 and '90, and one with the Vikings. I love football. I played football, and I know it well. And yes, I suppose I could do it. But you know, I have to govern Minnesota also, Wolf.
BLITZER: So if ABC came to you, you don't think you'd have the time Monday nights to go talk about football?
VENTURA: Oh, I could make time to do it. You know, the legislature is only in session a little bit. But I'm sure I'd take plenty of flack for it because there's people that believe once you've been elected, you're not allowed to experience capitalism anymore, that you're not allowed to make money on your own. And that's something I'm trying to change because I would rather see someone make money on their own than have to accept special interest money, PAC money, soft money, and all that influence-pedaling money that you see so predominant today.
BLITZER: OK, Governor Jesse Ventura, maybe we'll see you in that booth. You would be an admirable successor, I guess, to the late Howard Cosell.
VENTURA: Well, I'd have some big shoes to fill with Howard. He was a classic act. But right now, ABC has made no mention of signing me to do "Monday Night Football." But certainly, if they came to talk to me, I would listen to them.
BLITZER: OK, Governor Jesse Ventura.
VENTURA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Always great to have you on our program. Thank you so much.
VENTURA: Thank you, have a good one.
BLITZER: You, too.
BLITZER: And just ahead with a showdown looming in Congress over trade with China this week, we'll hear from two lawmakers who have very different views on the issue -- Michigan Democrat David Bonior and California Republican David Dreier.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We now hear from two lawmakers who will be leading the China trade debate in Congress later this week. Joining us are Michigan Democratic congressman and Minority Whip David Bonior and California Republican congressman and Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier.
Congressmen, good to have both of you on LATE EDITION.
REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Good to be back.
BONIOR: Sure is.
BLITZER: Congressman Bonior, let me begin with you. You heard your fellow Midwesterner, Governor Ventura, say that this is very important for the United States to approve permanent normal trade relations with China. Do you have the votes in the House of Representatives to stop this legislation from being approved?
BONIOR: Nobody has the votes right now. It's very close. There are probably 35 people who are undecided, and that will determine what happens. But I want to say, with respect to the Governor of Minnesota, what he doesn't understand is that we have had -- we've been giving the most favored trade status to China now for over a decade in our trade relations, and their human rights record has gotten worse over that period of time.
And the other thing that I think is important to remember here is China has not lived up to any of their trade agreements over the last decade. They don't have any compliance. They don't have any enforcement. So all that agricultural product he was talking about, it's not going to get in there.
BLITZER: Congressman Dreier, those are two strong arguments why this bill should go down in defeat.
DREIER: They really aren't. In fact, those arguments are why we should be successful in getting it through. For starters, let me just say that David is right, in that the vote is going to be very close and...
BLITZER: You need 218 votes.
DREIER: We need 218 votes, and we're not there yet. We're working very hard on it. That's one of the reasons I stayed in town this weekend. The fact is over 20 years we've actually provided China one way access to the U.S. consumer market. And I happen to think imports are good, and it's helped to strengthen our economy.
The difference with what we're doing now is, we're granting, we hope, permanent normal trade relations from the United States, so that we'll be able to pry open that market, Wolf, with 1.3 billion consumers and force them to live with a rules-based trading system. David is right. They have, in fact, violated trade agreements in the past.
When they become part of the World Trade Organization, they will, with 135 nations, be in a position where we can retaliate. We can respond by erecting tariff barriers if they don't comply. So I think that this is different than the debate in the past because this finally gives us access to them.
BLITZER: That's the kind of leverage you want, though, isn't it, Congressman Bonior? BONIOR: Of course. We have that opportunity right now to have that leverage because 40 percent of all of China's exports comes to the United States. Two percent of our exports go to China. They have systematically kept us out. When the deal was reached with Ms. Barshefsky, our trade representatives and the agricultural people in China, on wheat for instance -- let's talk Minnesota again, let's talk the Midwest. The head of the agricultural department in China said after the agreement on wheat, just recently done on WTO, that it was a theoretical agreement. There were no assurances that our wheat was going to get into the country.
They did the same thing when we did an agreement on insurance products. The head of the insurance agency in China, a woman, said, well, this is just something that we put together, but if it affects our economy negatively, you won't be able to get your products in here.
Intellectual property, we've had intellectual property agreements with the Chinese -- software, digital ware, you name it. Ninety-five percent of that stuff in China is pirated stuff.
But David, having to comply with the WTO is obviously a scenario with which they have not dealt with in the past. Let's continue to take the Midwest -- Mount Clemmons (ph), Detroit. Right now, we export about 600 automobiles a year into China. The tariff is 45 percent. Under this WTO agreement, that tariff comes down.
It stands to reason that if the tariff comes down -- a tariff is a tax -- when that tax comes down, we will have a chance to send more. Now many people -- more automobiles into China. Many people have argued that this will create an incentive for U.S. businesses to set up operations there. They can do that today. There's nothing that prevents them from doing that today.
In fact, in China today, there are domestic content requirements which force them to set up operations there. Under the WTO, they will have less of an incentive to do that and, in fact, will have a greater incentive to stay here in the United States and export from the United States to China.
DREIER: But my point, with respect -- we'll take automobiles, that's a good point to debate right now, because what's going to happen with this agreement is that China will become what Mexico has become. It's an export platform. So our corporations will move equipment, move it to China. They, as you pointed out, are required to have a certain amount of content.
BONIOR: But they won't be under this rule, under the WTO they won't.
DREIER: They will move it to China, but there will be nobody in China able to buy these products because the Chinese pay on an average 34 cents an hour for -- in their manufacturing sector.
DREIER: But it's getting better.
BONIOR: It's not getting better.
DREIER: Yes, it is.
BONIOR: You look at the people who work, you look in the sweat shops.
DREIER: The standard of living is improving dramatically.
BONIOR: It's not getting better for workers in China.
BONIOR: And as a result that stuff is going to come back here made with cheap labor.
DREIER: No, it isn't. The evidence is that it's improving and will continue to improve if we get this deal through.
BLITZER: You're investing a lot of your political capital in supporting President Clinton in going out there and fighting for this trade bill with China. The president was supposed to give an Oval Office address this evening to the nation why it's important for the United States to have permanent normal trade relations with China. He canceled that, ostensibly because he didn't want to irritate people like David Bonior and Dick Gephardt, his Democratic allies who strongly oppose this.
Listen to what Madeleine Albright, his secretary of state, said earlier today in explaining why this Oval Office address was canceled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that he feels that he's been making progress by doing the one-on-one conversations. And he's really been out there talking to everybody, and we are all working on it. So I think that he felt this was the best way to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DREIER: Wolf, I don't like angering my friend David Bonior at all.
BONIOR: Yes, you do.
DREIER And I rarely do -- I rarely do. But I think that the president was wrong in canceling this address. To say that he was going to hold it and then to withdraw it, unfortunately, does look like a politicalization of this.
We as Republicans know that this is the right thing to do. We've turned ourselves inside out to depoliticize this issues because we've said this is about global leadership. It's about maintaining economic prosperity. And it's about national security. Those things transcend politics.
And if the president had a conversation with the minority leader, Dick Gephardt, and decided then that he's not going to go on television -- when, in fact, the president could be very, very successful.
So I'm really embarrassed for him. And I talked to Gene Sperling last night and told him that. They said that it was to his credit. It was done because they thought that they could possibly lose votes. I think that the president would gain votes if he were to make a nationwide address on this.
BLITZER: All right. We have to take a quick commercial break. We'll have a chance to continue this conversation.
For our international viewers, "WORLD NEWS" is next.
For our North American audience, there's still another 30 minutes of LATE EDITION.
We'll check the hour's top stories with Gene Randall, take your phone calls for Congressmen Bonior and Dreier.
Plus, our LATE EDITION roundtable and Bruce Morton's "Last Word."
It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We'll get to your phone calls for Congressmen David Bonior and David Dreier in just a moment. But first, let's go to Gene Randall for a check of the hour's headlines -- Gene.
BLITZER: Now back to our conversation about U.S.-China trade relations with Democratic congressman David Bonior of Michigan and Republican congressman David Dreier of California.
Let's take a caller from New Iberia, Louisiana. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Oh, yes. Mr. Dreier, since you and your Republican friends are all for free trade for China, what about Cuba -- a place that's only 90 miles away from our shores?
DREIER: Well, that's a very good question, a fair question. What I've said is that when we see Fidel Castro embrace the reforms that Deng Xiaoping implemented following the Shanghai Communique in 1972, and when we see an entrepreneurial class, and we see the recognition of private property rights, which happen to exist in the People's Republic of China today, then I will be a proponent of opening up Cuba because I do believe that the forces of economic growth and economic reform do, in fact, bring about political freedom, and I think that the same can happen in Cuba.
BLITZER: All right, let's take another caller from Palm Springs, California. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Yes, for Congressman Dreier.
CALLER: You mentioned that we would indeed have the leverage globally to erect tariffs if he found it necessary if we went forward with PNTR. I wondering under what circumstances could you imagine we doing that? I mean, if not now, if the human rights abuses in China now would not cause the world to react by erecting tariffs, what possibly could happen in the future that would cause such an erection of tariffs?
DREIER: Well, it's a good question, and I will you that what will happen here is when we see, if we see China violate the structure that's put into the place for the World Trade Organization, then we have a chance to retaliate. And there have been disputes in the past that have taken place within the WTO, and that is what will lead to us do this.
See, I believe the single most powerful force for positive change in the 5,000-year history of China has been economic reform. That change is what has brought about a situation that led us from 60 million people killed during the great leap forward, a million people murdered during the cultural revolution to the situation today, which is bad. It is bad, but it is improvement over that period of time, and economic reform has played a big role in doing that.
BLITZER: Congressman, what do you say to that argument?
BONIOR: The argument -- my response to that argument is that just because you have free markets does not mean you're going to be able to have a free society. The only reason societies are made free -- religiously, politically for the rights of workers -- is because people are able to come together, form organizations, march, protest, do all the things that are necessary to create the dynamics for a society that's ruled by law.
That is not possible in China. China is a brutal authoritarian police state. You can't even communicate through the Internet in China without it being screened. You can use the technologies that are available to hinder people, to block people, to cause Orwellian types of behavior, and that is exactly what a police state will do.
DREIER: There are seventy million cell phones in China today, and there are nine million Internet users, and that's exploding. You can't control the Internet.
BONIOR: Yes, but the Internet is being blocked by the Chinese government.
DREIER: It's not being blocked. They're trying to block it...
BONIOR: ...for the Washington Post, the New York Times...
DREIER: They're trying to block it, but they can't do it.
BONIOR: And we need to open it up. BLITZER: We only have a few seconds. Very quickly, Rick Lazio -- he's going to be the Republican candidate against Mrs. Clinton. Is he a Newt Gingrich clone, as Mrs. Clinton's supporters are suggesting?
BONIOR: Well, clearly, when Rick Lazio was in the United States House of Representatives during Gingrich's first term, he went down the line with the Contract of America. You just look at his votes...
BLITZER: So did David Dreier...
BONIOR: ... and not only that, check his comments, check his quotes in the paper with respect to Newt Gingrich over that period of time. He was very supportive of Speaker Gingrich.
DREIER: Remember, most of the Contract With America was signed by President Bill Clinton -- balanced budgets, unfunded mandates, national security...
BONIOR: How about getting rid of the Department of Education?
DREIER: Was that part of the Contract With America?
BONIOR: Well, I believe so. It was their leadership.
DREIER: I didn't see that in there.
BONIOR: Thank you, Wolf.
DREIER: It wasn't formally in the Contract With America. I just re-read it.
BONIOR: It was an addendum.
DREIER: Great to be with two great bearded guys.
BLITZER: Two Davids -- David Dreier, David Bonior -- and Wolf Blitzer always making sure we keep both of you honest. Thanks for joining us.
And just ahead, the big shakeup in the New York Senate race. Does it help or hurt Hillary Clinton's chances? We'll go round the table with Steve Roberts, Susan Page and John Fund, when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: 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 John Fund, editorial writer for "The Wall Street Journal." He's sitting in today for Tucker Carlson.
All right, Steve, what does this mean for Hillary Rodham Clinton -- the fact that Rudy is out, Rick is in? STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think, in the end, it's bad news for Hillary Clinton. You know, you quoted that poll, 72 percent don't know who Rick Lazio is. Well, that's a weakness. It's also a big strength. He doesn't have a lot of the baggage. He doesn't have a lot of the enemies.
He's going to try to define himself as a Pataki centrist. Mrs. Clinton, as you pointed out, is going to try to define him as a Gingrich clone. He does have a lot of votes to defend. But when people look at this guy, I think he has two advantages. He comes across as an affable, reasonable young man. He's not some wild-eyed ideologue. I think the impression people are going to of him is going to be a positive one.
And secondly, I think that he is -- I think that people don't want to just look to the past. Bill Clinton has always said elections are about the future.
BLITZER: John, he was on all five Sunday shows today. He came across very reasonable, likable, handsome young man. Is Hillary in trouble?
JOHN FUND, CNN COMMENTATOR: She has always been difficult to get over 50 percent. This is a referendum on the first lady. No matter who she is matched up against, there seems to be about 50 percent of the New York electorate that won't vote for her under any circumstances. That's a challenge. And the real problem, of course, is accessibility.
You know, Rick Lazio is obviously willing to talk to anyone. The first lady still, even though she is a much better candidate, wants these controlled town hall meetings system. She doesn't want to go on the Sunday shows. And it's starting to look bizarre only six months before the election.
BLITZER: He did do something today, Rick Lazio. that Mrs. Clinton has never done, just go on all five shows.
SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, I know that you would like to book her for this show. One thing to look at is the way Rick Lazio got to Congress in 1992. He ran against a better-known figure, Tom Downey, a nine-term incumbent. He was out-spent five to one, and he beat him by making and issue of Tom Downey, and some of the things Tom Downey had done. Tom Downey, by the way, is Al Gore's best friend. So maybe there will be some additional grudge-match components to this race.
You can see him doing the same thing here. You know, this was previously a battle of the titans. Now we have David versus Goliath, and you're always better off being David in that race.
ROBERTS: I'm really struck how this election is starting to mirror the presidential race in the sense that the Democrat is saying, "I'm the centrist. You're the right winger." The Republican is saying, "No, I'm the centrist. You're the left winger." And here, you have Mrs. Clinton talking about welfare reform, talking about balanced budgets, and here you have Lazio talking about I'm for the disabled, I'm for housing, I'm for the environment.
BLITZER: That's very interesting.
ROBERTS: You know, both are moving as fast as they can toward the center.
BLITZER: And you know, John, Lazio has already brought Mike Murphy aboard, one of the best political strategists out there, was working for John McCain. I see that straight talk express fingerprint perhaps beginning to unfold for Rick Lazio.
FUND: Well, it will be a straight talk express. But with Mike Murphy, it will also be a lot of very fancy spinning. The real problem here with trying to paint Rick Lazio as some kind of Newt Gingrich ideologue is the Democrats once again trot out what I call their age-old issues -- abortion, guns, environment -- AGE.
The problem is Lazio is pro-choice. He's pro reasonable gun control, as he defines it. And on the environment, he's done all kinds of things to clean up Long Island Sound and do other thing. It's hard, really, to find votes, unless you twist them like the Department of Education vote that Mr. Bonior brought up, that really paint him in that corner.
BLITZER: All right. Susan, let's talk a little bit about Rudy Giuliani's decision. The front pages of Saturday's tabloids in New York. "New York Post" had a big headline, "No." "The Daily News" had a head line, "I'm no Superman." The new, more compassionate, more sensitive Rudy Giuliani -- in fact, he was on the "Meet the Press" earlier today, and he spoke a little bit about what's important to him.
Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI, (R) NEW YORK CITY: I finally figured out that politics is not my life. My life is about things that are closer to you and deeper than that. And then, maybe then, if I, you know, maybe then if I engage in politics later or practice law again or do other things, I'll do it even better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAGE: You know, he's never looked like a more genuine human being, I think, than he's looked now. Even in the face of some trouble and travail and even backing out of a race, a great disappointment to some Republicans. And I wonder, if he chooses to continue in politics, and I sort of assume he will because that's been his career, what he'll do next. You know, he could run for governor in two years.
That would be bad news for George Pataki, who I think probably wants to run for another term. You know, maybe he's got national ambitions. I mean, I don't -- this doesn't seem like the end of a political career to me. It seems to me the start of a more interesting, more fully human political career getting launched.
ROBERTS: And he himself said to talk about a new Rudy was silly, that's the word he used. But I do think that you can sense in his body language, in his tone, a certain zip has gone out of him.
ROBERTS: You know, we talked about this a week or two ago. All you had you to do was look at him on the tube and know he was not the same guy, that the illness changed him. If he becomes more reflective, if he becomes nicer to other people, so much the better. He wouldn't be the first person to have a mid-life crisis and undergo a conversion.
FUND: There's no new Rudy, but there's a legacy Rudy. He's got a year and a half now to sort of smooth off any rough edges from his mayoral term. I think he'll leave as a very popular two-term mayor. I think he can go any number of ways, including perhaps, my word, running a university, running a company, running a think-tank and then going back into politics.
BLITZER: What if George Bush is elected president, being attorney general?
FUND: I've been told by people close to Bush that he is a very high-octane combustible Cabinet figure. The Bush Cabinet is far likely to be a more consensus-oriented Cabinet.
BLITZER: Sort of like his father's Cabinet, yes.
All right, we have to take a quick break. More with our roundtable, right after this. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable.
Steve, a huge vote for President Clinton coming up in the House of Representatives this week -- this trade deal with China, permanent normal trade relations. Do you think he has the votes?
ROBERTS: Yes, I think he's going to win. I think he's going to win because he's on the right side of this issue. He's defying the unions. He's showing courage to defy the unions. The unions are being disingenuous on this. They talk a lot about human rights. That's not their real issue. They're basically being protectionistic. They're trying to defend American industries against the dynamism of a global economy. I think it's a backward-looking view. I think most Americans know that. That's why the president's going to win.
FUND: I think the president wants to have it both ways. He basically wanted to placate the business community by endorsing China, but not anger the labor unions by coming out and giving a national speech, showing Potemkin (ph) support for the issue.
The problem here, I think, for the next president, whoever that is, is this administration has destroyed a lot of our credibility with China. We have ignored their exports of missiles abroad. We have played footsie with them on human rights. And at the same time, there clearly was a cover-up on the administration's involvement in the campaign fund-raising scandal which included the Chinese. We now know that from the memo from FBI director Louis Freeh. This administration will get its trade status with China, but it's damaged our credibility on the issue.
PAGE: You know, its interesting, this is a sort of book end for the Clinton presidency. One of his first big victories was the NAFTA vote, and this will, I think, probably be his last big victory on the Hill, of his eight-year presidency. And it's interesting, you know, during the '92 campaign, Bill Clinton took a sort of hedged position when it came to free trade. But it's turned out to be perhaps one of his very biggest legacies as president.
BLITZER: Susan, you cover the White House. How it is it possible, the first time in my experience, that a president announces an Oval Office address and says never mind?
PAGE: Yes, that was very peculiar. John earlier called it a Chinese fire drill, which may be about right. You know, I think that they -- there was a lot of pressure on President Clinton to do a nationally televised address, and some people who thought it didn't make sense on this kind of vote. And then to reverse himself after publicly announcing it was odd.
FUND: Clearly, you don't go against labor in an election year, and Al Gore obviously did not want labor angry at him either.
PAGE: I don't think that's the case. I don't think that's why they canceled the address. Labor is against Al Gore in this, but they've made it clear it doesn't affect their general support for him in the presidential race.
FUND: Talk to the steelworkers. They said there will be a price if Al Gore is too far out in front on this. They went public on that.
ROBERTS: Gore has basically sided with this, George Bush has sided with this. And Susan makes a good point. If you look at the sweep of the Clinton presidency, one of his enduring shifts that he has been in charge of is raising the whole profile of economics as part of foreign policy. He's been a very consistently pro-trade president, and I think he hasn't been very deft in terms of stewarding our military abroad or a lot of other things in foreign policy, but his stewardship of the economy as part of foreign policy will be part of his lasting legacy.
BLITZER: You know, George W. Bush made a point this week of speaking out in favor of the normal trade relationship with China. I want you to listen, John, to what George W. Bush had to say in supporting, in effect, the president's position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must clearly see China not through the filters of posturing or partisanship. And so today, I'm here to urge all members of the United States Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to join together in making China a normal trading partner of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Sounding very presidential there, isn't he?
FUND: Well, the consensus in American foreign policy has been you can trade with a country, have security concerns with them, monitor what they're doing in terms of exporting nuclear materials and, at the same time, criticize the human rights record. You can do all three. And I think the U.S., in the next few years, is going to have to do that balancing act.
BLITZER: Susan, where's Al Gore in all of this?
PAGE: Well, listen, Al Gore is in a somewhat awkward position here, and he's in some ways tried to have it both ways. But he said he was for this vote, and he's not done anything to try to block it.
I think it's been interesting the impact on George W. Bush with this vote. I think both with this China vote and also with him taking a stand on the Kosovo vote this week, where some congressional -- some members of Congress tried to block, set a date certain for the ending of funding for the Kosovo mission, has helped to make him look a little more mainstream, kind of reassuring.
BLITZER: He's no isolationist, George W. Bush.
ROBERTS: Very much in his father's tradition of being very much an internationalist, and George Bush is looking through both of those issues, trade and Kosovo, through the eyes of what it looks like to be a president. And he doesn't want the future president's hands tied.
A lot of the Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are posturing from a political point of view on Kosovo, exactly what Bush just said they should not be doing. But if you look at it through the eyes of being a president, the world looks a lot different than if you're just sniping on Capitol Hill.
FUND: It would be nice to know if we'll ever leave Kosovo, though.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, we are all out of times. John Fund, Steve Roberts and, of course, Susan Page, thanks again for joining us.
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): Colorful mayors: It's not just Rudy. The city -- only New Yorkers call their city "the city." The city has had lots.
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BLITZER: New York City's mayors. Rudy Giuliani is just the latest in a long line of the Big Apple's colorful leaders.
BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's "Last Word."
These days, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is the talk of the town, but as Bruce reminds us, so were most of his predecessors.
MORTON (voice-over): Colorful mayors -- it's not just Rudy. The city -- only New Yorkers call their city "the city." The city's had lots. Robert Van Wyck was the first back in 1897. Van Wyck was a Tammany Hall guy, ran against the goo-goo, good government men, and won. All without delivering a single formal speech.
Fast forward to James J. "Jimmy" Walker, first elected in 1926. Liked night clubs, nicknames like "Beau James" and "the night mayor." Liked overseas travel -- 143 days away from the office during his first two years. "I refuse to live by the clock."
But by 1932, the Great Depression had arrived. Investigators charged His Honor with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars, good money back then, from people doing business with the city. Beau James resigned and moved to Europe. Came back later, though -- liked the city.
Fiorello LaGuardia, a Republican, the guy they named the airport after, was elected next on a fusion ticket. Five foot two, belligerent, clean, excitable. "When I make a mistake," he said, "it's a beaut." He dominated his city for 12 years. Went to fires, dropped in at city agencies uninvited, made sure city workers actually worked. He had a weekly radio show and, during a newspaper strike, once used radio to read the comics to the city's kids.
John Lindsay, another Republican who ran on a fusion ticket, won the election but lost by a knockout to Transit Workers Union boss Mike Quill, who welcomed the new mayor with a transit strike from which some said Lindsay never recovered.
And then, Ed Koch. "Hey, how am I doing?" First a liberal, then a conservative. "New York in adversity," he said, cutting the budget, "towers above any other city in the world." Well, he restored the city's credit rating. He served three terms, wanted four. It wasn't term-limited back then, but lost to David Dinkins. Never mind, the ex-mayor writes books, wrote a newspaper column, does radio and was the judge on the TV show, "The People's Court."
So, Mr. Mayor, what can I tell you? There are all kinds of things you can do. You probably shouldn't run for president of the Squeegee Mens local. They don't love you much. But almost anything else, with or without the United States Senate, the sky's the limit.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.
Time now for a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.
"U.S. News & World Report" calls him "the last hero," with Winston Churchill on the cover.
"Time" magazine has the last letters home, correspondence from soldiers who never made it back on the cover.
And on the cover of "Newsweek," the science of women's sexuality -- searching for a female Viagra.
And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, May 21. Be sure to catch us again next Sunday and every Sunday at Noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
And 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. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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