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Inside Politics

Battle for Undecided Lawmakers Intensifies as House Vote on China Trade Nears; Bush Outlines Plan for Nuclear Security

Aired May 23, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: On the eve of the big China trade vote, we'll have a snapshot of the political stakes, the players, and the head count.

Also ahead...


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time to leave the Cold War behind and defend against the new threats of the 21st century.


WOODRUFF: With big guns at his side, George W. Bush previews some of his priorities if he becomes commander in chief.

And a look ahead to dueling party ad campaigns and the soft money that will pay for them.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is off today.

We begin with the last-minute lobbying for permanent normal trade relations with China and new evidence that Al Gore may pay a price for supporting the bill despite opposition by a traditional Democratic ally, organized labor. The president of the United Auto Workers announced today that the union will actively explore alternatives to the two major party presidential candidates, including Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.

In a statement, UAW president Stephen Yokich said his members are, quote, "deeply disappointed in Gore for supporting the trade bill." The Gore campaign says the vice president has made his decision on the bill and that it was not based on political calculations.

However, on Capitol Hill, there is still a great deal of political calculating going on regarding the trade bill.

We have that story from CNN's Chris Black.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the eve of the China trade vote in the House...

JAMES ANDREWS (ph), LABOR UNION LEADER: How are you? Good to see you.

BLACK: ... James Andrews, a labor union leader from North Carolina, is urging Congresswoman Eva Clayton to vote no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman, nice to see you, thank you very much for seeing us.

BLACK: Congressman Sanford Bishop of Georgia is hearing just the opposite from lobbyists working for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As the House prepared for the vote, more undecided Democrats came out in favor of the bill, giving another boost to President Clinton and Republican leaders.

REP. ALLEN BOYD (D), FLORIDA: It came down to the fact that this is good for all of America, this is good for the American capitalists and the American worker.

BLACK: Republicans predict they will lock up at least 150 Republican votes by the close of business Tuesday. And Democrats say, 70 Democratic votes will be there when the House votes Wednesday. The bill needs 218 votes to pass.

As the number of undecided House members dwindled, rallies were held at the Capitol and the lobbying grew more intense. Business leaders even gave members of Congress samples of the U.S. products that could be sold in China.

REP. RICHARD ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: This pocket PC is a nightmare to the communist hard-liners in China, because they know that they cannot prevail when people learn about freedom the way they will in the modern information age.

BLACK: While President Clinton continued to meet privately with wavering lawmakers, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush pressed Republicans at a private meeting, saying free trade is good for the country. But opponents warned the United States would pay a price for expanded trade.

REP. DAVID BONIOR (D-MI), MINORITY WHIP: The China deal won't generate new customers for medium sized and small businesses, but it will provide a new source of cheap labor for big business and that may be good for the bottom line, but it won't help America's.


BLACK: Debate on the China trade bill is now beginning on the floor of the House and will continue through tomorrow. But lawmakers on both sides of this issue are now saying the momentum is running strongly in favor of passage -- Judy. WOODRUFF: Chris, you were showing the Republicans trying to come up with 150 votes, the Democrats 70. Where exactly does it stand right now?

BLACK: Well, right now, Judy, they're within striking distance of their goals. The problem with a vote like this is that you really don't know until the vote actually begins. Both sides will have people in their pockets who will walk the plank if they have to, but not unless they have to.

I mean, there was one congressman who is strongly in favor of this now, who was saying, you know, this could go -- pass by as many as 10 votes. Well, that's possible. It could happen, because when the train starts to pull out of the station a lot of people tend to jump onboard.

WOODRUFF: All right, Chris Black reporting from the Capitol, thanks very much.

Now a closer look at the arm-twisting and horse trading over the China trade issue and whether it's paying off.

Here's CNN's Jonathan Karl.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The hit list, the forces against permanent trade status for China have a dwindling list of undecided Democrats to target as they plot strategy in Minority Whip David Bonior's office off the House floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're visualizing a no vote.

KARL: Whatever happens in the public debate, behind the scenes Bonior's team appears to be losing the game of political horse trading.

REP. SILVESTRE REYES (D), TEXAS: Along with my colleagues tomorrow I will be voting yes on permanent normal trade relations with China. Thank you.

KARL: Democrat Silvestre Reyes says yes on China trade in part because of an administration promise to help him on something a world away from China. Reyes along with fellow Texas Democrat Solomon Ortiz demanded administration action on a pipeline that would send gas from Houston to El Paso in Reyes's district. Now they've got an administration promise to move forward on a preliminary study needed to get the project approved.

REYES: What I expect that will happen is that EPA will make a decision that there will be a time frame that will be set up in a meeting that will be held soon.

KARL: Perhaps no member was as intensely lobbied as New York Democrat Gregory Meeks. The agriculture secretary took him on a trip to China. He got a ride on Air Force One and an invite to a state dinner at the White House.

Finally, the pro-trade forces won additional support Tuesday when Speaker Dennis Hastert joined with President Clinton at the White House to push for the new markets initiative to get more investment into impoverished areas in the U.S.

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: No, it wasn't a deal-maker or a deal-breaker, but it's rather an affirmation that we made the right decision in choosing to support PNTR.

KARL: As David Dreier pulled together the pro-China trade Republicans for a last strategy meeting, the GOP acknowledged its own deal making as they target undecided Republicans.

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MINORITY WHIP: When you get to these real close votes and the bill could pass or fail on one or two votes, the leverage that the members have increases dynamically.


KARL: As for those opposed to permanent trade status for China, they acknowledge they simply don't have as much to offer in the way of political horse trading as the other side. That's because they are up against both the Republican leadership and the White House -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jonathan Karl also reporting from the Hill, thanks.

A short while ago I talked with House Speaker Dennis Hastert about the China trade bill, I began by asking him if he is confident the measure will pass tomorrow.


REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, on a vote like this you are never confident until the last vote is counted and the, you know, the timer goes off. So I think we are on a glide path, it is positive, I think we're -- have the votes lined up that we wanted to have, but we have the other side of the equation, too, and that's whether the White House will deliver the votes they need to put it over the top.

WOODRUFF (on camera): Now the Republicans as I understand it have promised 150 votes, the Democrats 70 approximately. Where do things stand precisely right now?

HASTERT: Well, I know on our side, as I said, we are on the glide path where I think we need to be. You know, a lot of people don't want to commit themselves until the very, very end, but I think we're in a pretty positive state, and we're going to be where we need to be. I'm not sure what the other side of the aisle and what their count is.

WOODRUFF: Are you comfortable with some of the horse trading that we are told is going on in order to win some of these votes, especially on the Democratic side? HASTERT: Well, I mean, the Democrats -- the president will have to deal with his folks as best he can. We really don't have a lot to give away as far as horse trading. You know, we're trying to balance the budget and pay down the debt, and that doesn't give us a lot of extra dollars to spend or anything to horse trade with. So we're trying to do this, that we think is the right thing to do, and try to do it on a policy basis and not horse trading anything.

WOODRUFF: What do you say to opponents who say that granting this permanent normal trading status to China simply rewards them for their abuses of human rights?

HASTERT: Well, that's not so. Most of the folks who have first- hand experience, a lot of the people from the churches in China, people who have been missionaries in China, people who have had human rights experience there say that the Chinese people are better off when we're engaged with China rather than not being engaged with China. The fact is we are not rewarding China at all, we're trying to level the playing field.

We have granted China the ability to have lower tariffs in this country for years. What we're asking now in this piece of legislation is that we get the same tariff treatment in China that China gets in the United States. Plus, they have to deal under a rule of law. They have no laws that affect these issues right now. In addition, you know, we have intellectual property rights guaranteed in this where there are no intellectual property rights now. So it's a win-win-win for the United States.

WOODRUFF: You, as the leader of the House Republicans are obviously able to work with the president on this issue, you are also working together on a proposal for tax credits for struggling urban and rural areas. Why do you think that you and House Republicans, other Republicans on the Hill, are not able to work with the White House on more issues?

HASTERT: Well, I mean, we worked with the White House on a lot of issues this year. First of all, we passed the African trade initiatives, Caribbean base initiatives on a bipartisan basis. Eventually we're going to work on almost all the issues. Health care we're working on a bipartisan basis and trying to get agreement with the White House. Pharmaceutical drugs we're working in trying to get agreement with the White House.

So you know, we've done this all along.

WOODRUFF: You point out that most Republicans are supporting this. You've got you said at least 150 votes. What's holding the other Republicans back?

HASTERT: Well, I mean, a lot of people have views. Some people have strong districts with a lot of union influence. Obviously, the unions are against this.

We have some folks who have textile interests that certainly they have feelings about it. There are some people who are against this just because of what they perceive the human rights situation.

So there's a lot of different reasons that people are against this.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Speaker, one last question on a different subject. As you know, a committee of the Arkansas State Supreme Court has recommended that President Clinton be disbarred because of his testimony in the Paula Jones case.

Do you think that's the right course of action?

HASTERT: That's simply -- that's strictly up to the courts. That's the Arkansas courts dealing with what they think the evidence that they have, and I'm not really qualified to answer that.

WOODRUFF: All right, Speaker Dennis Hastert, we thank you very much for joining us on this day before the big China trade vote. Thank you.

HASTERT: Thank you.


WOODRUFF: And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, Vice President Gore takes his international policy positions to two distinct audiences in a bid for support. Plus, George W. Bush talks global relations and national security here in the nation's capital.


WOODRUFF: Now, we turn to George W. Bush's continuing effort to overcome past gaffes on global issues and prove that he's ready for the world stage.

As our Candy Crowley reports, Bush's main event here in Washington today focused on defense policy and a picture of international experience.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flanked by warriors and peacemakers of the late 20th century, George Bush outlined a plan for nuclear security in the 21st.

BUSH: The Clinton-Gore administration has had over seven years to bring the U.S. force posture into the post-Cold War world. Instead they remain locked in a Cold War mentality.

CROWLEY: In the post-Cold War era, Bush envisions pursuit of two goals: reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal...

BUSH: We should not keep weapons that our military planners do not need. These unneeded weapons are the expensive relics of dead conflicts.

CROWLEY: ... and deployment of a missile defense system, a goal Bush hopes President Clinton will keep in mind during an upcoming trip to Moscow.

BUSH: What I'm really suggesting is, is that he not hamstring the ability of the next president to fully develop an anti-ballistic missile system to protect ourselves and our allies.

CROWLEY: The White House brushed aside Bush's plan as too detail-less to be meaningful and managed to underscore Bush's experience on the world stage at the same time.

JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Listen, you know, he's -- he is the governor of Texas, not someone who's setting our national policy.

CROWLEY: Governor Bush's lack of international experience is not an oddity in a presidential race. Neither the former governor of Georgia, the former governor of California, nor the former governor of Arkansas clocked much time in the global arena before they were elected. Still, it's a resume gap Al Gore hopes to exploit.

And thus the reinforcements with George Bush. It was there in the pictures: former secretaries of defense and state, two former national security advisers, including Henry Kissinger, who helped negotiate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the former head of the joint chiefs of staff, Colin Powell, arguably the most politically popular military figure since Dwight Eisenhower.

And to the pictures, Bush added the words.

BUSH: I would never do anything to put our nation at risk.

CROWLEY: In one way or another, he said it five times over the course of 30 minutes.

BUSH: I will never put our security at risk. America can be assured of that.

CROWLEY: Polls show Gore and Bush running about even when voters are asked who best to handle global affairs.

(on camera): Absent war, the international expertise of a candidate does not drive elections. Still, with Gore intent on framing Bush as risky and untested, the Bush campaign is committed to reassuring voters otherwise.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: In an effort to draw contrast with Bush on international policy, Al Gore used an appearance here in Washington today to showcase his experience with world affairs. But behind the scenes, the Gore campaign may be grappling with their candidate's disadvantages against Bush.

CNN's Gene Randall has more on the vice president's day and his political problems. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GENE RANDALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Al Gore had a friendly audience this morning here in Washington, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. Later, in Pittsburgh, the Service Employees International Union convention provided another warm welcome: mainly smiles, even though the vice president parts ways with the union over trade with China.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will fight to strengthen and protect your right to organize. I will never let it be taken away, endangered or weakened. It is a basic American right, the right to organize.


RANDALL: There may be fewer smiles among Gore campaign official, given that their candidate, a sitting vice president in a strong economy, continues to have trouble gaining traction with voters. Gore trails Republican George W. Bush in the polls and does poorly among married women with children, the soccer moms, a Bill Clinton power base in 1996.

Governor Bush's post-primary-season turn to the center is apparently paying political dividends. Gore's considered effort to paint his opponent as reckless and unprepared to be president has so far fallen flat.

Is Gore doing something wrong? A veteran Democratic consultant told us Gore is still trying to find his voice, that he is hard- pressed to identify the vice president's central message or a central strategy.

But the Gore camp rejects that, with key advisers insisting that people are not yet paying much attention to the race. One says that will not change until Gore and Bush have each announced their running mates and each has had his national convention.

Still, Gore officials say the Democratic National Committee will spend more than $25 million on soft money ads this summer meant to bolster Gore's standing.

Said one top Gore operative, "We need to introduce our guys to the voters." TV stations in key states have been asked what time slots are available.


RANDALL: On reports of Gore camp tensions brought on by the poll numbers, said one top adviser, "I have never seen a campaign in which there are not strong-willed people that have severe clashes from time to time."

"Did that apply to the Gore campaign?"

"No," he said. "We have disagreements and heated discussions" -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Gene Randall, thanks very much.

And joining us now, David Broder of The Washington Post.

David, what shape is the Gore campaign in right now?

DAVID BRODER, "WASHINGTON POST": I think they're wallowing a bit. The campaign has lost some of its focus since he defeated Bill Bradley. And the vice president, I think, is having a little trouble keeping up with Governor Bush at this point.

The lucky thing for him is that it's only May and the real campaign is still several months away...

WOODRUFF: Have you been able to put your finger on why they've lost focus?

BRODER: Well, I haven't been out with Vice President Gore, so these are second-hand impressions. But I was talking with somebody who is part of his entourage and operation last week, who made what I thought was an interesting comment, Judy -- said that Gore is best at close range with an opponent.

You will remember that he seemed to have a lot of trouble getting Bill Bradley into his sights before they actually started having debates up in New Hampshire. And this person said that Gore is really a close-range battler and that he is at his best when he has the opponent on the same stage in front of the same cameras: not as good when they are sparring at a distance.

WOODRUFF: Did they not realize that before the campaign?

BRODER: I think they probably knew that, but there's not very much that they can do because they can't force Governor Bush to share the stage with them at this point.

You know, Vice President Gore's been challenging him to meet in a debate once a week, and Bush has been brushing that off without any real recognition.

WOODRUFF: David, what about the quote we just heard from Gene Randall in talking to someone inside the Gore effort, Gore organization, saying that they -- they believe he is still trying to find his voice. They're not sure even what his central message is.

BRODER: Well, I think that's the other impression that you have, that he's talking about a great many different subjects. You know, Gore is a little bit like President Clinton in the sense that he sees the connections between one issue and another issue, and so if he starts out talking about topic a, he often ends up on topic x, y, or z.

His own campaign people will tell you that they have tried to keep him more focused on a very few subjects. He tends to resist that kind of management. WOODRUFF: What about the amount of money, David, that they're -- that we're hearing they're going to throw out there this summer? $25 million, somewhere in that neighborhood. Is -- are these the kinds of problems that can be solved with a lot of money?

BRODER: Well, you know, we saw in '96 that President Clinton did a very effective job of defining his opponent, Bob Dole, before the campaign really got rolling in the fall. And clearly, Gore would like to that with Governor Bush. But the Bush people also saw what happened to Dole, and I think they are much better prepared to fight that off.

They've got the money in the bank to do that, and so if there's going to be heavy advertising over the summer months, it's likely to be by both sides, not just by one side.

WOODRUFF: And when it comes to Governor Bush, David, he is, as we've been pointing out, ahead in the polls right now. What does he need do to stay there?

BRODER: Well, I think they feel that they're doing pretty well at this point. He's laid out a series of clear policy messages. I think the one problem that may be piling up for Governor Bush in the future is that he's now taking several different policy areas -- Social Security; taxes; today, military defense, particularly missile defense. Each one of these is going to take a good deal of explaining on his part, and he may be biting off perhaps more than he can chew.

WOODRUFF: All right, David Broder at The Washington Post, thank you very much. Good to see you.

And much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come, the political parties and soft money: a look at how they could put their ad dollars to work in the national campaign. Plus, a look at which side is ahead in the ad war over China's trade status. David Peeler helps us check the numbers.

And later...


HOWARD KURTZ, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Rick Lazio, a little-known Long Island congressman, has inherited the Republican mission of knocking off the first lady. And that means launching an all-out media offensive to raise his profile in a hurry.


WOODRUFF: Howard Kurtz on New York's new GOP Senate candidate and his game of campaign catch-up.


WOODRUFF: We'll have more of this day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. Severe thunderstorms battered parts of western Kentucky this afternoon. At least one tornado was spotted in the Leitchfield, Kentucky, area.

CNN's Karen Maginnis is in the Weather Center in Atlanta with a look at this storm system -- Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Thanks, Judy. It doesn't look like our severe weather is over with. As a matter of fact, it looks like it's going to continue throughout the rest of the evening: a very volatile atmosphere along the Eastern Seaboard. Most of the severe activity that we're looking at extends from an area in Ohio all the way down to northeastern Georgia.

And we have a number of severe weather watches issued: tornado watches and severe thunderstorm watches. Some of the tops on these storms of around 50,000 or so feet -- when you see thunderstorm heights that high, then you're looking at the potential for severe weather.

And that storm that affected the Leitchfield area -- that's just to the north and slightly northwest of Bowling Green -- well, that's eased a bit. But now, we're watching another line of severe weather move across north central Kentucky. And I just took a look at our reports, and right along the Ohio River just to the north-northwest of Stubinville (ph) they have reported a Doppler radar-indicated tornado.

So we're not over with it yet. I'll be here at the CNN Weather Center to keep you updated. Now more news with Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Karen.

To the Middle East now, with Israeli troops moving out, Hezbollah fighters and their supporters are moving into the former occupied territories in southern Lebanon. They have secured most of the former Israeli command posts in the border region. The Israeli pullout began abruptly and should be completed within days.

Lebanese militia were supposed to have held the buffer zone until U.N. troops arrived. Many are going home while others are surrendering to the guerrillas.

South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges is expected to sign a bill tonight that would remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome. Legislators approved the bill last week after months of bitter debate. A similar flag will fly at a Confederate soldiers monument at the Statehouse.

Actor Michael J. Fox is launching a new foundation for Parkinson's research. He made the announcement today on Capitol Hill. He also appealed to Congress for help in conquering the ailment within a decade.

The 38-year-old actor was diagnosed with the disease more than seven years ago. He is leaving his popular "Spin City" television series in order to focus on finding a cure. When INSIDE POLITICS returns, we will talk with Democratic fund- raiser Terry McAuliffe about the record cash his party is expected to bring in tomorrow night.


WOODRUFF: When INSIDE POLITICS returns, we will talk with Democratic fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe about the record cash his party is expected to bring in tomorrow night.


WOODRUFF: Democrats here in Washington are gearing up for a record-breaking fund-raiser tomorrow night and a major soft-money ad blitz, the start date uncertain. The Gore team and the Democratic National Committee are working out the details of the preconvention ad campaign as the Republicans prepare to respond.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): Among the options for the DNC ad campaigns: positive biographical spots, similar to ads run last year, before the primaries, highlighting Gore's service in Vietnam, his early career as a journalist in Nashville and his years in the House and Senate.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Al Gore was only 28, but he's seen a lot about what could go wrong in America.


WOODRUFF: The DNC could also go negative. For a joke, the party sent reporters this T-shirt, satirizing Bush's controversial appearance at Bob Jones University. Ads on that theme would have a more serious purpose: to drive up Bush's negative ratings.

The Republican National Committee has said that it wait for the DNC to start its ad campaign before responding in kind. Republican sources tell CNN the RNC ads would likely be a mix of biographical spots designed to boost Bush's image in key states where he is little known, and negative ads, probably mocking some of Gore's more controversial statements.

The Republican Opposition Research Team has already compiled a hitlist of what chairman Jim Nicholson calls -- quote -- "lies, blunders, and flip-flops" -- end quote -- and put them together in a CD. There's Internet Inventor, Love Canal Discoverer, Tobacco Flip- Flop and no Controlling Legal Authority.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to get into what other vice president has done. I'm proud of what I did.

WOODRUFF: Once the DNC goes up with its soft-money ads, the Republicans say they will add another apparent Gore contradiction to the list: an e-mail promising to ask the DNC -- quote -- "not to run any issue ads paid for by soft money unless and until the Republican Party using money for advertising."

But Democrats say Bush and his allies have already fired the first shots, in aids aired by hard-to-trace independent groups, known as 527's, after their tax designation.


UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: America has no defense against missile attacks. Clinton and Gore have left us unprotected.


WOODRUFF: That ad, by the Coalition to Protect Americans Now, went up Sunday. This morning, Bush held a news conference on the same theme: missile defense.

JENNIFER BACKUS, DNC PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's very indicative of how cynical the Bush campaign is. I think that it's very indicative of how Karl Rove and the people on his campaign have this tactic to do this radar screen -- under the radar screen.

WOODRUFF: The DNC and Gore campaigns have not yet decided on the scope and shape of the preconvention ad campaign, but it is certain to be expensive.


WOODRUFF: With these costly ad campaigns imminent, the pressure is on the political parties to raise money, and raise it fast. Tomorrow night, the Democratic National Committee is holding a gala tribute to President Clinton here in Washington. Stevie Wonder, Leann Rimes and Robin Williams are among the performers. The organizers are hoping to break the existing record for a single DNC event: $12.6 million. That was set four years ago.

Joining me now to talk about the gala and the 2000 campaign, Democratic fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe, who was President Clinton's top money man in 1996.

Terry McAuliffe, thank you for being with us.


WOODRUFF: Are you going to break that record? How much are you going to raise?

MCAULIFFE: Well, we're not only going to break that record, we're going to Break the Republicans'. They had a beautiful black tie, elegant affair a month ago and raise $21.3 million. We will break that record. We will have the largest person event ever held in the history of American politics. We have a sellout event, over 12,000 people. Tomorrow, we'll be at the MCI Arena in a tribute to President Clinton and also to help Al Gore become the next president. So we are very excited.

WOODRUFF: How much do you think you'll bring in?

MCAULIFFE: We'll raise about $26 million. We've really worked hard to make it a federal money event. We've sold tickets $50. The entire arena is sold out. We have thousand dollar tickets, and we have Tables at $25,000. We have tried to impress upon people we need federal money. So it really has been sort of a federal money event.

WOODRUFF: But you're taking in much larger contributions?

MCAULIFFE: Sure we are.

WOODRUFF: What's the largest amount you've taken in?

MCAULIFFE: Well, One gentleman wrote $500,000. He writes a large check every year to the Democratic National Committee, so it's not that he's doing it for this gala. He writes a large check every year.

WOODRUFF: Who is it, by the way?

MCAULIFFE: Danny Abraham, who owns Slim Fast, supports the Democratic Party, but he gives a large check every year. He believes in what the president and the vice president have done in the Mideast and really supports the president on the issues.

WOODRUFF: What is this money going to be spent for, the 26 million?

MCAULIFFE: I think a lot of it is going to be used for ads, to get our message across, to get out to the American public what Al Gore stands for, what he's going to do. We want to herald the accomplishments of the last eight years and what this administration has done for working families out there. I think most of it will go for media.

WOODRUFF: what do you say to people like Fred Wortheimer, former head of Common Cause, now with a group called Democracy 21, saying this is a -- quote -- "an obscene display of greed in American politics by the self-described party of the people?"

MCAULIFFE: Well once again, Fred doesn't know what he's talking about. And the point I'm trying to make is we have 12,000 people that will be there tomorrow night who $50 to be there. They will be wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots, and we're going to have a lot of fun. This is not a big soft money event. The big soft money even was four weeks ago, when the Republicans had a big event, $250,000 for the front tables. They had all their special interests. They had the NRA. They had the tobacco salesman there. They had all those folks. Ours is the American people are going to be there. We have great entertainment. We have great food. We're bringing a barbecue from Tennessee and Arkansas.

WOODRUFF: But how much of the 26 million is hard money? MCAULIFFE: Well, we won't know until probably a week after the event, but we're looking at a majority of the money coming in from federal money. We want to really -- worked hard, and the DNC finance staff has worked hard.

WOODRUFF: More than 50 percent?

MCAULIFFE: We don't know today. All the, obviously, $50 tickets, the thousand-dollar tickets will all be federal money. And then when the other checks come in, we want to do the allocations. But we're going to try to make as much federal money as we can. But is a people's event. Don't let these people out here, Judy, mislead you on a big soft money event. This is an event for the people.

We're sold out. We sold this event out one week ago. We turned off our Web site, couldn't get another person in this room if we want. They're here to celebrate what this Clinton-Gore administration has done.

WOODRUFF: So when people like Fred Wortheimer argue that it's hypocritical for this party that endorses campaign finance reform to go off and raise huge amounts of money like this, you say...

MCAULIFFE: I say, first of all, and the point that I continually try to make, is the Democratic Party is for the total elimination of soft money. There is no one out there that would rather get rid of soft money than myself. I don't enjoy going out there every day asking people for money. There are a lot of other things I'd rather be doing.

The president, the vice president, Gephardt, Daschle have all said we want the elimination of soft money.

If the Republicans would send us a bill, the president would sign it. Get rid of soft money.

We don't even need legislation, Judy. If the Republicans today would say we will no longer take soft money, we will stop today. But we can't unilaterally say we won't take soft money if they're going to continue to raise it and spend it.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about the Gore campaign overall.


WOODRUFF: I don't know if you heard David Broder of The Washington Post a few minutes ago on the program saying that he and other journalists talking with the campaign, people inside the campaign, acknowledging there's a problem with focus on the part of the candidate himself, a problem with the sense that the campaign knows where it's going.

How do you read the Gore effort?

MCAULIFFE: I think we're doing great. You know, in Washington, you've got a lot of experts that talk about this and that, and you always have naysayers. You've got to remember that Al Gore was 19 points down. He's pulled even with the polls. A lot of the American people today are not focusing on the general election. They will at some point, probably as we move into the summer, as we get toward Labor Day they're going to do it. At this point, it doesn't really matter.

Al Gore is a better-qualified candidate to be president of the United States of America. He's better on the issues. He's done a great job as the vice president. Ultimately, when the American public focuses, they're going to vote for Al Gore. I mean, at this point it doesn't matter.

WOODRUFF: Governor Bush, however, ever since the primaries essentially ended in early March, has been moving to the center very definitively, criticizing the administration, but himself putting out one position after another, moving to the center, the broad center, where the votes are. How does Vice President Gore counter that?

MCAULIFFE: Well, listen, he has to do that, Judy. All -- all he's been is the governor of Texas. It's not a very powerful governor, so he has to come out with these issues.

Al Gore has a record in the House, in the Senate, and as vice president. So he's got to catch up with us, and he's moving more to the middle. He's coming over to us.

Let him come over to the Democratic Party. We know we're right on the issues. That's why he's moving closer to us. Come on, Governor Bush, keep on coming.

But listen, at the end the day, we are right on the issues. We're right on guns. We're right on tobacco. We're right on health care. We're right on education. And at the end of the day, when the American people go in and have to pull that lever in the ballot box, they're going to vote for Al Gore.

WOODRUFF: All right, Terry McAuliffe, the $26 million man.

MCAULIFFE: I have a great staff. I want to thank all the finance staff and everybody. It was a group effort of a lot of people.

Thanks, Judy, great to be with you.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate you're being here.

And coming up next, more on the ad wars from China trade to missile defense to the New York Senate race.


WOODRUFF: With a House vote on permanent normal trade status for China approaching, the airwaves are filled with ads on both sides of the issue. The AFL-CIO has been the most visible opponent to the China trade measure. On the other side, the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests have aired ads in support of the pending legislation.

Well, joining us now, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

Hello, David.


WOODRUFF: First of all, tell us, how much are both sides spending on this issue?

PEELER: Well, Judy, the groups that supporting the trade status, which is the Business Roundtable and the Business Coalition, have combined to spend over $2 million behind this movement. They spent it very, very effectively. They spent a fair amount of money in the Washington Beltway to move the debate. They spent some money on national cable in order to get to the public opinion leaders, and then they went out to the districts and spent in the districts to make sure that those congressmen sitting on the fence got the message.

The group against, which is principally the AFL-CIO, spent a little over a million dollars, that in combination with the Business and Industry Council that spent some money in South Carolina.

They've employed some of the same tactics, but obviously not to the same extent, because they haven't had the same amount of money behind it.

So it's a big money event and a big money issue.

WOODRUFF: Well, as we reported earlier, a group called the Coalition to Protect Americans now is running an ad criticizing the administration's position on missile defense.

David Peeler, how much is this independent group spending on the ad?

PEELER: Well, interestingly enough, not very much: only about $3,500, but they spent it very, very tactically. They ran last Sunday only in the Washington Beltway, ran specifically in the morning news program. So here's another example of what we call pundit advertising, where a group is out there with a media message trying to craft the debate, and they get an awful lot of play out of it, because the opinion leaders pick it up and it moves on to the debate.

WOODRUFF: Not really mass media, much more targeted.

David, now to the -- to the New York Senate race. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has released a new campaign ad with a direct appeal to the voters of New York. Let's take a look.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: If we reach past our divisions, there's so much we can do working together. I hope you'll give me that chance. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: David, given the withdrawal of Mayor Giuliani, how does the spending in the New York race look?

PEELER: Well, it enabled Mrs. Clinton to go from second to first. Since she started her campaign at the beginning of the month, she spent about $350,000. That's against $1.1 million that Mayor Giuliani spent.

But you know, the story's all about Rick Lazio. Rick Lazio is now -- hasn't spent any money in paid media, and in a conventional race you'd say this would be a problem, but this is an unconventional race.

You know, Rick Lazio is getting a huge bump from the media in his announcement that he's getting into it. And someone commented that, you know, anybody that runs against Hillary Clinton in New York is not going to have problems with name ID and probably with fund raising.

So I think that while we have a new participant in the race, this is still going to be a very competitive race. It's still going to be a very, very aggressive and nasty campaign.

And you know, it's funny, on the way over here, I saw what the networks had for their new fall season, and I'll you what, this race beats any storyline that I've seen from the networks. So I think we ought to stay tuned to it.

WOODRUFF: And I have a feeling we will. All right, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting, thanks a lot.

And up next, more on how Rick Lazio is using all that media attention to his advantage.


WOODRUFF: The Empire State was well-represented at the White House state dinner for the president of South Africa last night. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her capacity as first lady, took a break from the campaign trail to serve as the evening's hostess.

But Mrs. Clinton returned to the campaign trail today, with a stop in Mount Vernon, New York.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated throughout...


WOODRUFF: Mrs. Clinton joined the bingo games and answered questions at a local senior center. As for her new opponent in the race, Mrs. Clinton had this to say about Republican Rick Lazio.


H. CLINTON: I've been a little disappointed. I thought it was unfortunate that he seems to be running a campaign of insults instead of an ideas and issue-oriented campaign, but I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing.


WOODRUFF: For his part, Congressman Lazio spent the morning greeting voters at New York's Grand Central Station. With his Senate bid only four days old, Lazio is making the most of his time in New York between House votes in Washington.


REP. RICK LAZIO (R), NEW YORK SEN. CANDIDATE: We have had incredible enthusiasm everywhere, we have been in the state, we've done about 20 events in the last 72 hours, we've been in every media market in New York, we have people coming out of the woodwork.


WOODRUFF: As Lazio tries to make his a household name in New York, he's no doubt discovering the necessity of the media.

As Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" reports, learning to capitalize on media coverage is an invaluable skill out on the campaign trail.


HOWARD KURTZ, CNN MEDIA ANALYST (voice-over): When the New York Senate race began taking shape 15 months ago, it was all about her. But in recent weeks, the campaign was all about him. Now that the New York mayor is out of the race, it's suddenly about this man.

Rick Lazio, a little-known Long Island congressman, has inherited the Republican mission of knocking off the first lady and that means launching an all-out media offensive to raise his profile in a hurry. Lazio began by appearing on all five Sunday talk shows, a media slam- dunk. He talked about being a native son.

LAZIO: I know that I'm a lifelong New Yorker who's married to a lifelong New Yorker.

I was born and raised in this state, clammed in its waters, went to school here.

I think I reflect New York, New York values. I'm a home-grown guy. I'm the real deal.

KURTZ: He tried to distance himself from the former House speaker he once supported.

LAZIO: This campaign for the United States Senate is not going to be about Newt Gingrich and it's not going to be about Bill Clinton.

This is no more about Newt Gingrich than it's about Bill Clinton.

KURTZ: And he tried out a soundbite slogan against Hillary Clinton.

LAZIO: And she's no more a new Democrat than a New Yorker.

Well, she's no more a new Democrat than a New Yorker.

KURTZ: Back in the days before television, Lazio would have faced an all-but-impossible task. Getting known from Brooklyn to Buffalo would have required going from county to county and hoping for newspaper coverage. After all, even Harry Truman had to take the train to meet voters.

But in the cable age, Lazio could become a very familiar face by September and October. Wherever he goes, the cameras will follow, as they did yesterday in Albany.

LAZIO: I look forward to a number of debates. I hope we have a number of different forums where the public gets to see the unvarnished candidates, where we can spar on the issues and that we can hold each other accountable. That's what this campaign ought to be all about.

KURTZ: And to underscore the importance of a media strategy, Lazio has hired Mike Murphy, John McCain's media guru, and even plans to roll out a McCain-style bus.

(on camera): Rick Lazio has one thing in his favor: Rudy or no Rudy, a Senate race involving Hillary Clinton will continue to draw a tidal wave of publicity and that will sweep the previously obscure Mr. Lazio to national prominence before you know it.

This is Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."



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



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