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Presidential Candidates Skirmish Over Defense; Lazio's Holiday Photo-Op Leaves Candidate Hurting; Clinton and the Military: Then and NowAired May 29, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Memorial Day tributes by the men vying to be the next commander in chief. We will discuss their political skirmishes over defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATS: I give thanks to all those who have stood their ground to defend freedom and democracy and human dignity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: President Clinton and the military: now and then. We'll look back at that often uneasy relationship.
Plus, find out why New York Senate candidate Rick Lazio's holiday photo-op left him hurting.
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.
SHAW: Thank you for joining us. Judy is off today.
We begin with this Memorial Day as a backdrop for the political battle between Al Gore and George W. Bush.
As so many candidates have gone before them, the two presidential hopefuls marked this holiday by reaching out to veterans and their families, and by trying to look and sound like a commander in chief.
SHAW (voice-over): Vice President Gore marked Memorial Day in western Pennsylvania with a wreath and a speech honoring those who gave their lives while touching lightly on his own Vietnam record.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And today, we particularly honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I know that my service doesn't in any way match that of the heroes that we honor on this day. I was a reporter, and when I went into the field, I carried a pencil and an M-16.
SHAW: Gore spent six months in Vietnam as an Army journalist. He was issued a rifle, but never had to fire it.
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the nation, and while Gore was careful not to overstate his own contribution, his message was clear: I'm one of you.
Although he had real reservations about the merits of the war, Gore joined up after college and volunteered to go to Vietnam.
GORE: My draft board was in Carthage, Tennessee, and that made a big difference, because, you know, if you found some way not to go, you would know the person who went in your place. That person would have a face and a name and a family and a faith.
SHAW: At a similar ceremony near Fort Hood Army Base in Texas, governor George W. Bush paid his tribute to the fallen.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We dedicate ourselves to the memory of the bravest of the brave to remember them in our time for all time.
SHAW: Bush did not once mention his own service as a pilot with the Texas Air National Guard. Instead he focused on the future.
BUSH: Those who man the lighthouse of freedom ask little of our nation in return. But what they ask our nation must provide: a military of high morale, a military that's well-paid and well-housed, and a modern defense system aimed to protect our homeland and to protect our allies.
SHAW: That was as close as anyone got to an issue that dominated the news over the weekend: the missile defense plan Bush outlined last week, which Gore criticized in a supposedly nonpolitical address to the graduating class at West Point.
GORE: An approach that combines serious unilateral reductions with an attempt to build a massive defensive system would create instability and thus undermine our security.
SHAW: Defense Secretary William Cohen followed up, offering to brief Bush on the dangers of his plan. Bush refused.
WILLIAM COHEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And I think that it would be helpful if Governor Bush wanted to have that opportunity to take advantage of it. Since he's not, I think that's the end of it.
SHAW: And for today, at least, as the candidates honored the nation's war dead, politics took a back seat.
SHAW: In the heat of a presidential campaign, any debate over policy is political. But once the election is over, the defense issues now being discussed have the potential to affect people around the world. Three journalists join us to help give us the global view: Ben Fenton of the London's Daily -- of London's "Daily Telegraph" -- pardon me -- Andrei Sitov, the Washington bureau chief of Russia's Tass News Agency; and Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."
Ron, first to you, has Governor Bush closed the foreign policy gap with the vice president?
RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, he's made a lot of progress in the last few weeks in terms of driving the debate in this area as he has in most areas. He's also surrounded himself with a lot of reassuring figures. I think Colin Powell seems destined for a large role at the convention. All of this trying to deal with some of the doubts that may be about Bush as a governor who has never dealt with foreign policy handling this.
Ultimately, though, is he going to have to carry it himself, in the end, in the debates and in the fall, at the convention and beyond.
I was at a focus group a few weeks ago in Pennsylvania with undecided voters, and one of the only things they remembered about Governor Bush was him flunking that foreign policy quiz during the -- during the primaries.
So in the end, despite everything that's going on around him -- and they are orchestrating it very well; both of his foreign policy speeches have been very well-received -- he is going to have to personally carry this message, I think, in the fall and in the debates.
SHAW: Let's go overseas. Andrei Sitov, what do Russians make of these candidates' foreign policy positions, especially on the proposed missile defense system?
ANDREI SITOV, TASS NEWS AGENCY: Well, I would first point out that neither of the candidates is seeking the sort of an endorsement from Moscow at this point, which is not surprising in the case of Governor Bush. But obviously, it's a very different story for the vice president, who has invested a lot of personal effort and time in developing relations with Russia.
So I think his reticence in a way is a sign that he himself does not believe it to be the success it could have been otherwise.
In terms of the ABM issue, I think the overriding concern of the Russians is that this not be the issue where the United States or anyone else would rush into a decision. So my impression is that my government would love to see the issue delayed until at least the next administration.
SHAW: And Ben Fenton, what's the view in Britain?
BEN FENTON, "DAILY TELEGRAPH": Well, Bernie, I don't think Britain either is in a hurry for America to take decisions on national missile defense. I mean, the Labour government finds itself in an awkward position if there's a very strong national missile defense system, which is being sort of hung as a bait for Britain, you know, to say you can be brought into this umbrella, because Britain is putting its weight, at the moment, behind the European Strategic Defense Initiative. Not everybody in Britain is by any means comfortable with that. But it's really looking to strengthen that element of its alliance with Europe.
And so, if you've got a strong alternative policy emanating from Washington, Britain -- which, of course, considers itself to have a very close relationship with the United States -- finds itself torn between those two competing, if you like, forces.
SHAW: Ron Brownstein, just using these two views just expressed by our colleagues, there's no perceived threat. Why is this missile defense system gaining the kind of credibility it's gained, because both candidates are talking about it here in the United States in a presidential election?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. And in fact, one thing -- one thing to think about this is how much ground has been covered since the '80s that you have in fact both parties now talking about different versions of a missile defense, nonetheless still very different versions.
The driving force, the intellectual justification in both parties is the idea of a rogue attack from a North Korea, an Iraq, something like that. Bush, though, is talking about a much bigger -- although again, as in the case of Social Security reform, not exactly specified -- a much bigger plan than Clinton and Gore are talking about. And it is one that is surprisingly emerging as one of the real key distinctions between them. We really haven't had defense play a central role in the last two presidential campaigns. But there's a very big difference between the Clinton administration talking about a one-site limited missile defense in Alaska possibly, a decision to come this fall, Bush talking about something that would defend the entire country -- possibly be space-based, and possibly, even in fact likely in his formulation, covering our allies abroad, even Taiwan.
These are -- these are things that could be really sharp differences and ones that could provoke very different reactions abroad in the end, I think.
SHAW: Now, on the point you just made, in a few days in the Kremlin when the president of the United States sits down with the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, when Mr. Clinton talks about a limited missile defense system, won't he be implicitly criticizing Governor Bush's proposal?
BROWNSTEIN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, they've made very clear, as your spot did also, that the Clinton administration views as far as they are going as about as far as they could plausibly push the Russians. Governor Bush has said that if the Russian government will not negotiate changes in the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 that would allow a national missile defense, he will universally -- unilaterally abrogate the treaty as president. That is very different from what Clinton and Gore are talking about.
FENTON: And that's tough talk, and I think certainly Western Europe that sent a few shock waves through, that kind of expression of, you know, quite a Cold War feel to those kinds of remarks, which, I mean, many of the people who are now at top of the so-called "Third Way" government in Britain just aren't familiar with. Those belong to a conservative agenda in Britain and a Helmut Kohl agenda in Germany. So it's given them a lot of pause for thought, hearing the man who may very well be the next president of the United States talk like that.
SHAW: Andrei's eyes are sparkling?
SITOV: Well, I don't know. I can only repeat that we don't see any need to rush into this. As for President Bush and the experience, the supposed experience of Vice President Gore, we know from history that Republican presidents sometimes show -- be more forthcoming in the way in resolving thorny issues, like President Reagan for instance. And experience can -- is not always good.
SITOV: Not always all good.
SHAW: ... once when she was prime minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher went to Moscow, and after meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, she said, the West, we can do business with Mr. Gorbachev. Which candidate, Bush or Gore, can President Putin do business with?
SITOV: An interesting question. I have to backtrack here probably, and I would say that Vice President Gore at this point is better prepared, just because, for instance, he has the experience of running the inter-governmental commission for the past few years, and the Russians are very keen on the commission to continue working and, for instance, holding the next session even before the presidential election in the United States.
But again, I have to say that experience can be gained, and I'm sure that if Governor Bush is elected president then Russians will try to establish as good a working relationship with him.
SHAW: Ben Fenton, compared to your country's election process, the presidential campaign and election in this country is so long. Does it turn off British interests?
FENTON: Well it's been very difficult to interest my editors in stories on the election campaign since the primaries. Indeed I have to say, Bernie, yes. You say that and it's certainly true. Technically, there's only four, six weeks electioneering before a British general election, but just like the United States, I mean, really, electioneering is going on now in Britain with a thought towards an election in 2001.
The interesting thing about the whole Bush-Gore dynamic as far as the Labor Party, the governing party is concerned is that assuming it wins that election -- it seems likely because it has such a huge majority at the moment in Parliament -- then who would they actually like to see in the White House? They've established a very close relationship with the Clinton-Gore administration, and do they want to see that changed? I mean, probably not. But then, they seem so obviously partipris to the Clinton-Gore administration, if Mr. Bush comes through and wins, how are they going to cross that gap? It's very interesting to see how that will all work out.
SHAW: Very interesting indeed. Quickly to you for a closing thought, Ron Brownstein, can voters really tell which of these two candidates would be the better commander in chief?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think it's part of the whole broad assessment they have to make of them, and which -- an assessment that involves not only their views on issues, which are going to different. As I said, defense is emerging as a real difference. The issues of missile defense in particular and arms control here more than anything else are real contrasts and something that people have to sort through. But that will go through, Bernie, I think, to the kind of personal assessments that they make of the two of them. Are they strong? Are they decisive? Do they have the courage of their convictions? And in the end, it may be that those assessments outweigh the individual issues, not only on this front but really across the board as they're making this decision between these two candidates.
SHAW: Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Time," Ben Fenton of London's "The Daily Telegraph," and Andrei Sitov, the Washington bureau chief of Russia's Tass news agency, gentlemen, thanks very much.
FENTON: Thank you.
SHAW: Quite welcome.
The presidential campaign certainly helps drive home the point that Mr. Clinton's days as commander-in-chief are numbered. On this Memorial Day, our Kelly Wallace looks at the president's rocky history as leader of the armed forces.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Clinton's last Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and his final speech on the day honoring those who died fighting America's wars.
CLINTON: I give thanks to all those who have stood their ground to defend freedom and democracy and human dignity, and especially to those and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice.
WALLACE: The road to this speech has not been an easy one for Mr. Clinton, his lack of service in Vietnam and attitude toward the military at the time damaging his relationship with veterans and the military.
Sailors criticized their commander in chief during first visit to an aircraft carrier. And at his first Memorial Day speech, angry veterans called him a draft-dodger, protesting his appearance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 31, 1993)
CLINTON: Let us continue to disagree, if we must, about the war, but let us not let it divide us as people any longer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: One of his first acts as president, a "don't ask-don't tell" policy about gays that angered both the military and gay rights groups. But over time, some presidential historians say Mr. Clinton managed to repair relations with the military, deferring to the Pentagon about when and how to deploy U.S. forces.
ALAN LICHTMAN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Regardless of what you might think about the politics of his operation, he has really let the military run the military side of the many operations he has launched around the world.
WALLACE: During his presidency, Mr. Clinton ordered U.S. troops to Haiti, bombed Iraq and led the way in NATO's air war against Yugoslavia.
Following that campaign, Mr. Clinton received cheers at a U.S. air base from crews who flew bombing missions over Serbia.
But there are some who still don't respect the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's had eight years to prove himself. Talk is cheaper than chicken. Do it, and then talk about what you've done.
WALLACE: Other veterans see things differently.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I commend him as our president in his taking care of our veterans and being responsible for them, even though he has not been in the service.
WALLACE: Mr. Clinton's final Memorial Day act, calling for a moment of silence to remember those who have fallen in service to their country.
Kelly Wallace, CNN, the White House.
SHAW: Still ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS, parades and politics in New York, as the first lady joins her neighbors.
And Republican Senate candidate Rick Lazio joins his predecessor for a day out on the campaign trail.
SHAW: First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton observing Memorial Day with her New York neighbors. This morning, the New York Senate candidate joined the participants of the Newcastle-Chappaqua parade near her Westchester County residence.
For Republican Congressman Rick Lazio, Mrs. Clinton's opponent in the Senate race, the holiday has been an eventful one. Lazio's Memorial Day observances included a show of party unity with Mayor Rudy Giuliani at his side. But, as Frank Buckley reports, the candidate's day began with a misstep.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani campaigned alongside the Republican that replaced him in New York's Senate race, Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio, who was smarting a fat lip and stitches received in an earlier parade in his home district, when Lazio tripped and fell after running to keep his place in the parade.
REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, I was so happy to be back home that I had to kiss the ground. I didn't know it was going to kiss back.
BUCKLEY: Lazio and the Republicans could have kissed Giuliani for appearing with the congressman for its symbolic value of unity on the eve of the party's state nominating convention.
LAZIO: He's a lifelong New Yorker, and he can vouch for another lifelong New Yorker. And we're going to be going into this battle together, and I'm very, very grateful for it.
BUCKLEY: Giuliani would not say if he plans to turn over the expected $5 million in leftover campaign funds to Republican Party officials eager to use it in Lazio's efforts against first lady Hillary Clinton. But the mayor endorsed Lazio's candidacy.
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK CITY: I strongly support him for the Senate. I'm going to do everything that I can to get him elected. He's already doing a terrific job as a candidate, and he's going to be a terrific senator.
BUCKLEY: One of Giuliani's greatest strengths in a statewide race would have been in the suburbs of New York City. Lazio is not as well known here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Rudy shouldn't have gotten out of the race. I think he had a better chance. I don't that was good for the Republicans.
BUCKLEY: Conversely, Lazio doesn't have the negatives that Giuliani carried among some voters who just can't stand him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe that if Giuliani had kept in, Hillary would have gotten it, definitely. But this way, she's got a fight on her hands.
BUCKLEY: Against a Republican party coming together in time to nominate its candidate.
BUCKLEY: And the Republican state nominating convention gets under way tomorrow in the city of Buffalo in upstate New York. Republican Party officials are downplaying the significance of the event itself, saying it will not be as big as the Democratic nominating convention in which Hillary Clinton was formally nominated by the Democratic Party. Some 11,000 Democrats attended that.
Immediately following the formal nomination of Rick Lazio tomorrow, he will embark on a bus tour of upstate New York -- Bernie.
SHAW: Frank Buckley with a dazzling New York skyline behind him. Thanks very much.
And there's much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
Still to come:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For most of the 65 years since FDR signed the Social Security Act, the program has been extremely popular and politically untouchable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Jonathan Karl on how the GOP hopeful is courting a new class of voters on the issue of Social Security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): District 22 has the nation's largest percentage of residents over age 65. That means Social Security is a top issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Pat Neal on the issues and the voters in Florida's key House race.
And later, Memorial Day observations: Our Bill Schneider on the history behind this holiday.
SHAW: We will have more the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.
Some Florida residents are returning home after wildfires forced evacuations over the weekend. Dozens of fires are scorching hundreds of acres and several homes and other buildings in three counties.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM GILLESPIE, OSTEEN, FLORIDA RESIDENT: An inferno. The flames leaped 150 feet in the air, and it all happened within 30 seconds. I thought, it can't consume that forest in 30 seconds -- but it did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Officials say the lack of rain and low humidity are hampering efforts to bring the fires under control.
The E. coli outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario, continues, with more people reported infected. And town officials issue tough new guidelines for testing the water supply. Five people died and hundreds became ill after the town's wells were contaminated with a deadly form of the E. coli bacteria. This outbreak is one of the worst ever to hit North America.
Indonesian prosecutors are stepping up efforts to put former President Suharto on trial for corruption by August 10th. Their latest move today will confine Suharto to his home until that time.
CNN's Atika Shubert has details.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Indonesia's attorney general has stepped up the pressure on former President Suharto, placing him under house arrest. On Monday, a spokesman for the attorney general's office said Suharto was no longer allowed to leave his home in a plush residential area of Jakarta.
Prosecutors say the move was made to speed up the investigation. The announcement comes days after the attorney general, Marzuki Darusman, said he would bring Suharto to court by August 10th on charges of corruption. Suharto and his family are suspected of siphoning off millions of dollars through corrupt businesses and government contracts during his 32 years in power, but the investigation has dragged on for months.
Suharto is 79 years old and has suffered two strokes. His lawyers say his health is too fragile to risk vigorous questioning. They say the strokes have impaired Suharto's speech and mental abilities to the point where he is simply unable to answer complicated questions.
The slow pace of the investigation has frustrated many Indonesians, especially student protesters, who played a major role in bringing down the Suharto regime in 1998. Students have been conducting almost daily protests outside his home. Demonstrations spun out of control on Friday, when students at a nearby university began torching passing military vehicles while chanting "hang Suharto."
But despite the pressure, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid says he will pardon Suharto if he is found guilty and if any money the former president is proven to have stolen is returned.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Jakarta.
SHAW: Space shuttle Atlantis is back from its repair mission to the International Space Station. It arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida before dawn. During the 10-day mission, the seven-member crew replaced batteries, installed an antenna and smoke detectors, and pushed the space station into a higher orbit.
SHAW: When INSIDE POLITICS returns, Social Security and other points of dispute in the presidential campaign. We'll talk to Ceci Connolly of "The Washington Post" and CNN's Beth Fouhy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB DOLE (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And there is sort of a bond with veterans whether you are in World War II, World War I -- there is still a few of those around -- or the Korean conflict, Vietnam, Desert Storm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: World War II veteran and former presidential candidate Bob Dole visiting the Korean War Memorial here in Washington this day and offering some thoughts on the generations of men and women who have served in uniform.
On this Memorial Day, we turn to a political issue of interest to the, quote, "greatest generation," and other older Americans.
Our Jonathan Karl revisits the presidential candidates' different stands on Social Security and how they are playing with voters old and young.
KARL (voice-over): For most of the 65 years since FDR signed the Social Security Act, the program has been extremely popular and politically untouchable. Now, George W. Bush is betting that the politics of the issue has fundamentally changed.
BUSH: Right now, the real return people get from what they put in Social Security is a dismal 2 percent a year.
KARL: Bush's aides cite the emergence of a new "investor class" of young and middle-aged workers who have more faith in the stock market than Social Security, like the 2 million people who visit the online investment firm The Motley Fool, which, despite the name, has a serious attitude about long-term investing.
BILL MANN, "THE MOTLEY FOOL": If you look at the statistics of who is in the market now, more than 50 percent of all American households own some stock, and more than 80 percent of the households of people who are 35 and younger own some stock, be it in mutual funds, be it through their 401(k) or in individual equities.
KARL: Those young investors are exactly the kind of people the Bush campaign believes would be enthusiastic about investing part of their payroll taxes in the stock market.
MANN: It is a good thing for you to have the power over your own money and your own future, and you're the one who cares about it the most. So we're very -- we'd be very positive for those types of proposals.
KARL: In fact, 70 percent of voters under age 50 say they favor the idea of allowing workers to invest part of their Social Security taxes in the stock market. But the generational divide is deep. Only 36 percent of those 65 and older favor the idea, and seniors have consistently proven Social Security is an issue they will vote on, unlike the young workers Bush is targeting, who see the issue as a lower priority.
GORE: The Bush privatization plan would take the security out of Social Security.
KARL: That is why Democrats think Al Gore can score by attacking Bush's proposal: young people may like the idea, but seniors don't.
VICKI SHABO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Gore has an advantage on Social Security. I think Gore has a good argument to make, and Bush has some weaknesses here, and the Gore campaign needs to exploit those weaknesses.
KARL: By a double-digit margin, those over 50 say Gore would do a better job on the issue in a recent CNN/"USA Today" Gallup Poll. Although among voters under age 50, Gore's advantage disappears.
Gore believes the key to keeping Social Security solvent is to pay down the national debt, but he has proposed no structural changes in the program. The challenge for the vice president is to reach out to the voters under age 50, who overwhelmingly find the idea of private investment attractive. To win over those voters, even the senior advocacy group AARP says Gore may have to do more than attack Bush's proposals.
MARTIN CORRY, AARP: I think what is important is that we not just hear criticism of what one candidate is proposing, but we also hear from both candidates what they would do. I think what the public is tiring of is the finger pointing and the exclusive resort to criticizing the other candidate.
KARL (on camera): Bush's aides acknowledge he must find a way to convince seniors they will not be hurt by his ideas on Social Security reform. That's because regardless of the support Bush may gain among younger voters, older voters vote in much larger numbers.
Jonathan Karl, CNN, Washington.
SHAW: And now we are joined by Ceci Connolly of "The Washington Post" and Beth Fouhy, the executive producer of CNN's political unit.
Ceci, first to you and also, Beth, these two candidates have been attacking and counter attacking. So far, on this day in May, what is the up shot?
CECI CONNOLLY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, the up shot is that Vice President Gore has seen what we call in the business his unfavorable ratings climbing. In other words, people don't have very good feelings about him as a person, which is why, Bernie, this week starting a little bit today at a Memorial Day service in Pennsylvania out near Pittsburgh, he is going to soften the approach a little bit, less attacking, more selling himself in a very personal way.
BETH FOUHY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that is right. The Bush people, in fact, are keeping account right now of how many attacks have come from Gore to Bush, like something like 30 in the last 35 days, they are keeping a grid sort of to demonstrate and to show reporters who are asking.
They really feel like it's been a failure on the Gore campaign's part and they're sort of scratching their head about it, because Governor Bush has been able to really claim the center on a lot of issues and get out there and -- with a really provocative message on a number of things like Social Security, as we just discussed, missile defense, all sorts of things that have basically put the vice president in the mode of reacting and they see that as a real victory for themselves, the Bush campaign -- they placed their man where they want him to be, and the Gore folks still seem like they're struggling.
SHAW: Is the thought that Gore has wasted precious time by using so much to attack Bush?
CONNOLLY: There is certainly that fear when you talk to Democratic activists around the country or you go up to Capitol Hill and talk to Democratic members of Congress. The Gore campaign team will say, no, no, no, we're laying this foundation so that come fall when voters are tuned in, these things will catch on.
The Gore folks make one very good strong point, which is in the primaries last fall when they started attacking Bill Bradley it didn't take right away, but it eventually was very effective. And for better or for worse, we know that negative campaigning can indeed win races, but not until voters have a decent enough feeling about the candidate who they are supposed to go running to, and they are not there yet in the case of Vice President Gore.
FOUHY: Yes, and there is no question, I think everybody has the sense that right now very few people are paying attention except for really hardcore political junkies and people like us who watch this every day. But it is -- it has to be distressing, I know that many people in the Gore campaign have concerns about this high unfavorability that all the polls are showing for Vice President Gore, as Ceci mentioned.
He just does -- hasn't given anybody anything likable about him and that's really hurt him among women, among a lot of really traditional Democratic constituencies who should be right there with him now.
SHAW: Beth Fouhy, is the shadow of President Bill Clinton, 42nd president, lame duck going out, is that shadow too long and too wide for Gore to step beyond?
FOUHY: You know, I think there is no question that President Clinton has a star quality that is basically unmatched and I don't think that Vice President Gore matches it at this point. Last week at the Democratic gala, the big Democratic fund-raising gala, the star power of President Clinton was just so bright and you could tell that Vice President Gore was really trying to own this the event, because he's the -- he's the guy who, in fact, this is all being done for. He just doesn't really quite have it, and yet I think that's a blessing and a curse, because there's so much baggage that Clinton had that Gore is very anxious to shed that as long as he doesn't connect that strongly in many of the personal aspects of President Clinton he's ultimately better off.
SHAW: Ceci, do you think Gore's wishing Clinton would go away, impossible as that is?
CONNOLLY: Oh, oh, he certainly is, Bernie. In fact, last week, an interesting story developed in which we started learning that President Clinton himself is very worried about Gore's negative perception out there. And in fact, Clinton wants to see other Democrats, maybe even himself, start taking on Bush to kind of take off some of that heat. But Gore and his top advisers have resisted that for over a year now, because they don't want it to look as if Al Gore's big brother is coming out to fight his fight.
Gore very much feels that he has to, as he puts it frequently, win this race on his own. And that's a real problem, because there are -- there are some very tricky emotional elements to this relationship between these two men, and it is very difficult to imagine Bill Clinton suddenly receding from that spotlight that he's owned for eight full years now.
FOUHY: And nobody, whether you like Clinton or not, nobody can deny he has political gifts that are sensational and probably has a lot of strategic advice to offer that might actually be worth taking.
SHAW: Of course, that's within the walls of the White House, but outside those iron gates, on Pennsylvania Avenue, there are names. I'll roll one across the desk here. Ralph Nader: What does that name do to a Gore campaign?
CONNOLLY: It's interesting. You know, for the longest time, we thought that the Reform Party candidate -- perhaps Pat Buchanan, if it turns out that way -- would be the one siphoning votes from one of these major party candidates. I think now of the things that the Gore campaign needs to be careful about is Nader's impact in a couple of key states. I'm thinking about the Pacific Northwest, California, perhaps New England, Florida, where the environment is such an enormous issue, consumer rights are big issues. If Nader draws 5, 7, 8 percent of the vote from Gore in those -- in those key states, that could be the race.
FOUHY: And he's underperforming in those states already, particularly the upper Pacific Northwest. I mean, the -- the Bush people have identified a number of states that should really be Gore strongholds or very competitive swing states that they feel that Bush is outperforming where he ought to be. But I don't think anybody should underestimate the vice president, and I don't think anybody should overestimate the governor. We saw what happened to Governor Bush during the primaries. When he was met with a strong challenge, he really had to run. He really had to run hard.
When he's not in a perfectly comfortable place for himself, he has a tendency to trip a bit or to not appear as presidential. He's got -- he's got a lot of work ahead of him, there's no question about it, and it really is early right now.
SHAW: Beth Fouhy, executive producer of CNN's political unit, and Ceci Connolly of The Washington Post, thanks very much.
CONNOLLY: Thanks, Bernie.
SHAW: See you next time.
SHAW: You're welcome.
And just ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS, a key race in the battle for the House: a look at the candidates and the issues in Florida's 22nd district.
SHAW: With Democrats needing, wanting, hoping to pick up six seats in November to gain control of the House of Representatives, both parties are paying special attention to Florida's 22nd district.
Pat Neal reports on a hotly contested race shaped by the unique geographic and demographic features in the South Florida coastal district.
REP. CLAY SHAW (R), FLORIDA: That was the welfare reform bill that I authored.
NEAL (voice-over): Of the 20 years Republican Clay Shaw has spent in the U.S. House, he calls his work on welfare reform his proudest accomplishment. As a senior Republican on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Shaw authored legislation that resulted in the most sweeping changes to the welfare program in history.
CLAY SHAW: That bill itself has reduced the welfare rolls in this country by 50 percent.
NEAL: It's on that record that Shaw is seeking his 11th term.
ELAINE BLOOM (D), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm here today to tell you how important your vote is.
NEAL: But Democratic state representative Elaine Bloom may give Shaw his toughest race ever.
BLOOM: I believe that he doesn't represent his constituents.
NEAL: Those constituents are mostly elderly. District 22 has the nation's largest percentage of residents over age 65. That means Social Security is a top issue.
Shaw sponsored legislation that lifted the earnings cap for Social Security recipients. He says he's now pushing for Social Security reform.
CLAY SHAW: We don't privatize Social Security, we leave it intact, but we set up individual retirement accounts separate and apart from the Social Security system.
BLOOM: The people of this district do not want to have games played with Social Security, and talking about privatizing a portion of it and using the stock market as a barometer is certainly not of interest to the majority of the people here.
NEAL: The district runs 90 miles along the Florida coast, from Miami Beach into Palm Beach County. It's only a half-mile across in spots and never widens to more than 3 miles.
BLOOM: I was the first ever Kosher member of the Florida legislature.
NEAL: Bloom's campaign estimates the district is about 30 percent Jewish, and voters here sent Bill Clinton to the White House in both 1992 and 1996.
CLAY SHAW: The Democrats have a three-point advantage, very large population of independents. And that's where the swing votes are going to be.
NEAL: Shaw has been courting them for years. Before his two decades in Congress, he served as mayor of Fort Lauderdale.
As an 18-year veteran of the state legislature, Bloom is well- known here, too.
(on camera): Bloom has proven to be a formidable fund-raiser. Of all the congressional challengers in open or contested races across the country, she's the second-highest fund-raiser.
CLAY SHAW: That's certainly -- certainly gotten my attention.
NEAL (voice-over): Shaw says he has about $1 1/2 million in the bank to Bloom's 1.2 million. About $90,000 has come from Emily's List, the national organization that supports Democratic women who favor abortion rights.
That money will be necessary to buy pricey television time in a district that stretches between two TV markets, and it may go fast as this campaign heats up.
Pat Neal, CNN, Miami.
SHAW: Up next, Bill Schneider on the history behind today's holiday.
SHAW: Across this great nation, Americans are taking time this day to remember the sacrifices of those who died in service to our nation. As Bill Schneider reminds us, the official national observance of Memorial Day can be traced back to a politician.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The Civil War, a nation torn apart. More than 620,000 Americans killed, more than in all other wars combined. To memorialize that sacrifice, women all over the country began decorating the grave sites of fallen soldiers.
In 1865, a druggist in the village of Waterloo, New York, man by the name of Henry Welles, came up with the idea of setting aside a day to honor the Civil War dead. In May 1866, the first organized Memorial Day ceremony was held in Waterloo, a place Congress duly recognized a century later as the birthplace of Memorial Day.
But it took a politician to proclaim a national Memorial Day -- John Logan, Illinois Congressman and first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, the politically potent organization of Union Army veterans. In 1868, Logan issued an order designating May 30, the last day Union volunteers were discharged, "for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion."
The holiday was first known as Decoration Day, and it was celebrated mostly outside the South. It took President Theodore Roosevelt to make a big deal of Memorial Day. The Civil War generation had passed, and T.R. called on Americans to honor the fallen on both sides, North and South. Gradually, the holiday came to commemorate all wars and all dead, known and unknown. So politicians talk of courage and sacrifice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... respect for those that gave their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: Sometimes at their own risk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: ... with the decision made to send the young men and women to battle in Vietnam. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: Americans party and picnic, and watch auto races, and go to the beach, and instead of cursing war...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hate war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: ... they curse traffic. After all, the U.S. fights wars today mostly with technology from high above the battlefield. Not much decoration gets done any more on Decoration Day.
(on camera): John Logan went on to become a United States senator and the GOP nominee for vice president in 1884. Being a Civil War hero did wonders for your political career in those days.
(voice-over): Here he is, right here in Washington's Logan Circle.
But if John Logan is remembered at all, it's as founder of Memorial Day. In that first ceremony, another Civil War hero, General James Garfield, made this observation: "We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke. But we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country, they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts and made immortal their patriotism and virtue."
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
SHAW: And the closing words with "Taps," they go, "All is well, safely nigh, God is rest."
That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you again tomorrow, when our Frank Buckley will be in Buffalo, New York, at the state Republican convention, where Congressman Rick Lazio is expected to get the nomination to face Hillary Rodham Clinton in that U.S. Senate race. And, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com.
I'm Bernard Shaw. "WORLDVIEW" is next.
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