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Inside Politics

Gore Promotes Family Agenda; Bush Camp Responds to Gore's Latest Image; How Cable News Networks Drive the Political World

Aired June 2, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A personal, passionate, and unshakeable commitment by fathers to be there for their children whatever it takes. That's what I mean by fatherhood.


FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore promotes his family ties and his family agenda in another event aimed at showing his softer side.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today's positive approach, the Bush campaign said, is Gore version 6.0. Gore 5.0 was, quote, "Negative Al."


SESNO: Jonathan Karl on the Bush camp's response to Gore's latest image.

And two decades after CNN started it all, how cable news networks drive the political world 24-7.

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

SESNO: Hello, everybody. Thanks for joining us. I'm Frank Sesno, sitting in today for Bernie and Judy.

We begin with Al Gore capping a week-long effort to warm up his image. In Washington today, Gore spoke about ways to promote responsible fatherhood without, once again, ever mentioning his rival, George W. Bush.

CNN's Kelly Wallace has more on Gore's day and his latest approach.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was another day for Al Gore to get personal: remembering his father, who died last year.

GORE: I recall a way he had at looking at my mother. From such moments, sons learn more from their dads about patience, joy, duty, and love.

WALLACE: He also reminisced about becoming a father and a grandfather.

GORE: It seems like only yesterday that our oldest daughter was born and we held her in our arms. What a precious moment. Last July, for the first time, Tipper and I were with our daughter and able to hold her child in our arms. We became grandparents for the first time on July 4th.

WALLACE: Yet another opportunity for Gore to mix the personal with policy. He used this Washington summit on fatherhood to unveil another new proposal from his so-called "Family Agenda": a plan to help dads get off the welfare rolls so they can pay child support.

GORE: Not all fathers who run away from their financial responsibilities are deadbeat dads. There are also dead-broke dads.

WALLACE: Gore's plan: offer bonuses to states that do the best job of moving low-income fathers into jobs and create parental responsibility accounts. Fathers would contribute to these accounts. The money would go directly to their children once they leave welfare.

This announcement comes at the end of a week-long campaign designed to showcase Gore's agenda and a softer, personal side after weeks of relentless attacks on George W. Bush. Gore talked of serving in Vietnam; attended a mental health conference with his wife, who battled depression years ago; and spoke of how cancer touched his family.

The vice president for now isn't mentioning his Republican rival at all. Democratic strategists concede Gore's negative tone may have turned off voters.

PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think Al Gore's problem is he's run a tactical campaign in the past. This allows him to essentially open up and tell the voters who he is.

WALLACE (on camera): The Gore campaign said it is not ruling out eliminating contrasts with Bush in the future, but that for now it is focusing on Gore's agenda. And next week the vice president is expected to follow the same script, touting new policies affecting the elderly and unveiling a new child-care plan with TV personality Rosie O'Donnell.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, Washington.


SESNO: Now, we should tell you that George W. Bush taped a message to that summit on fatherhood. He was in California today. We'll have more on George W. Bush's day in just a moment. But in any case, let us look more at Al Gore. Image make-overs are by no means a new concept in the world of politics, or for that matter, in the television news business.

Some thoughts on the subject now from Bruce Morton's "Campaign Journal."


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Dan Rather succeeded Walter Cronkite as anchor of the "CBS Evening News," he didn't sit behind Cronkite's desk for the first week or so. He perched on it, not feeling at home perhaps.

Rather settled in of course. It may be harder for politicians.

Reporters wrote often about the new Richard Nixon. There were several. Hubert Humphrey ran this add back in 1968.


NARRATOR: Ever notice what happens to Nixon when the political winds blow? Last year, he said, "I oppose a federal open housing law." This year he said, "I support the 1968 civil rights bill with open housing."

Again this year, he said, "I just supported it to get it out of sight."

Which way will he blow next?


MORTON: In 1988, Michael Dukakis could never define himself with voters. They didn't see the son of immigrants. They saw a card- carrying member of the ACLU, or George Bush's version of the card- carrying communist charges of the 1950, or a liberal, meaning a bad person.


GOV. MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm not going to let the Republican Party pervert that word or give it a meaning that it doesn't have.


MORTON: But they did. Dukakis was the funny guy in the tank.

This year's make-over king is Al Gore. Is he wooden? Make a joke of it.

GORE: The Al Gore version of "The Macarena." Would you like to see it again?

MORTON: But he often is wooden and boring. GORE: And I know that with our history as our rudder and our ideals as our compass...

MORTON: Take him out of the suit, away from the podium, dress him in Earth tones.

GORE: ... seeing this great and beautiful expanse of water, and feeling the spirit in this crowd really does me so much good.

MORTON: Well, it was better.

Republicans have derided Gore as the city kid raised in a Washington hotel, partly true. But his parents were born poor and worked their way up, and the farm is partly true, too.

George W. Bush, for all his easy way with voters, is much more a part of the American aristocracy: son of a president, grandson of a senator. But he's comfortable. Gore often seems not to be.

And now, worried that he's attacked Bush too much, Gore is stressing his human side.

GORE: We lived in Horseley (ph) Trailer Park, lot No. 10. And -- but we were very unfortunate, because our trailer had a little extension off the -- off the living room. And I'm telling you that extra four feet made all the difference in the world.

MORTON: His time in the Army.

GORE: We both remember what it was like to say goodbye to one another our first Christmas together as husband and wife as I headed off to Vietnam.

MORTON: Funny thing. There's an Al Gore reporters meeting on Air Force Two, relaxed, thoughtful, sometimes funny. If they bag all the make-overs and the inevitable stories about the make-overs and just let the guy on the plane campaign, they might be pleasantly surprised.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


SESNO: We're joined now by E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Michael Barone of "U.S. News & World Report."

Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

First and foremost, great taste in ties. These are the two most colorful ties in all of Washington today.

Let's start with great taste in candidates, and specifically what Bruce Morton was just reporting on.

E.J., you wrote in a column just a couple of days ago: "To hear critiques of Gore these days you don't have to talk to a single Republican." Is it about that?

E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": Right. I think that there was a sense that especially since the primaries Al Gore had just not connected with anybody. What's interesting about the current make- over is that it really hearkens back to what he did in the primaries.

I remember being in New Hampshire in a number of small towns where he did the same autobiographical thing that we just saw right now, and it's as if Gore lost the thread once the primaries were over.

Bush knew he had to move to the center. He knew he had to do some things. He got them done. Gore has been floundering, and the attacks on Bush I think while effective in the long hall perhaps -- say, on Social Security -- did harm his image and people weren't hearing what Gore stands for.

MICHAEL BARONE, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Well, I'm surprised that Al Gore didn't start off much earlier doing this sort of positive campaigning. The fact is that this year is a year when voters are interested in compromise, they're interested in smoothing over differences, reconciling differences. They don't like a crunchy issue where they have to decide yes or no. Elian Gonzalez was such an issue. They didn't like that issue. They wanted it to go away.

But the problem that Al Gore had is that he is essentially a crunchy kind of guy. I mean, I've been following him for about 15 years. He's one of the most partisan politicians in that he attributes bad motives to the other side. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, it may often be true, but you see that coming out in his campaign. And the rat-a-tat-tat got to the point of self-parody.

I mean, you had -- George W. Bush gave a thoughtful speech of foreign policy. Gore, who has also given thoughtful speeches on foreign policy, comes back and says Bush is (a) a "cold warrior" and (b) an isolationist.

Well, you want -- at that point, you know, you think that might be a good line for Jay Leno...


... but it's not necessarily a good one for Al Gore in this year's move.

SESNO: I spoke to the Gore campaign today, and they say, look, this is a phase, you've got to understand the phases of the campaign, and we're into the "introducing the candidate phase" now. And in point of fact, Americans aren't paying much attention. Now is the time when Al Gore starts to introduce himself, culminating in the convention.

DIONNE: Well, the truth is he had a better week this week than he's had in a while. What's funny, my colleague Dan Balz said that nothing is ever subtle about the Gore campaign, and the Gore campaign leaked like crazy that look, we are going positive, policy-heavy, optimistic, autobiographical. And lo and behold, most of the coverage -- while it said the Gore campaign is doing a conscious thing -- actually showed an Al Gore who said some of the things we just saw, who was more optimistic.

And the other thing that happened this week is that you saw a number of stories that said, you know, this is really early. Do these early polls mean that much? That's another message the Gore campaign got out there.

So I think you can say this is the first week where Gore may have actually won the week from Bush or at least ran him even since the primaries ended.

BARONE: Well, you know, what's interesting also, off to the side, there is obviously a well-coordinated campaign by the leading Democrats to deliver the rat-a-tat-tat against George W. Bush from the other side. We saw such leading Democrats as Charles Schumer, John Kerry, both intellectually serious senators, as launching part of this attack this week.

What the Gore campaign has been trying to do all spring and into the early summer, as it now seems to be, at least here in Washington, is disqualify George W. Bush, to say that his positions were so far out. On Social Security, you know, starving old widows and so forth and so on, risky schemes. It hasn't worked so far. They're trying to do what they think George Bush Sr. did to Michael Dukakis in 1988, although we should note, on the Bruce Morton piece, the first person to call Michael Dukakis a card-carrying member of the ACLU was Michael Dukakis. That wasn't a spear by somebody else, it was repeating Dukakis' phrase about himself.

DIONNE: But I think if you go back to the Bush campaign of '88, the Bush people were very smart at the beginning in trying to discredit Dukakis, not out of Bush's mouth, but through surrogates.

I got a call on the phone one day, and it was then-Congressman Newt Gingrich in May, saying I have this veto message that you might be interested in. It was Dukakis vetoing the bill requiring kids to say the Pledge of Allegiance. The Bush didn't campaign didn't put that out. Gingrich was pushing it out. And I think perhaps a little late. The Gore campaign is...

BARONE: Coordinated.

DIONNE: Sure. And that I think that the Gore campaign has learned something.

SESNO: Over to George W. Bush here, granting his first death penalty reprieve this week, very interesting move. The politics in it, and in any case, does it ignite a more profound discussion in this country, now campaign based, about the death penalty, do you think?

DIONNE: Well, I think this does show that the mood has changed on the death penalty. It's not that a majority of Americans don't support it. They still do, but when governor -- yes, although the opposition is growing just a little bit. But what's happen with Governor Ryan in Illinois, a Republican who supports the death penalty, saying look, if you look at all these cases, about half of the people on death row, there were problems with the cases.

We can't have confidence in the death penalty system, the system that gives it out, and I think you're seeing some unease with it in the country, and I also think the drop in the crime rate makes it easy for people to say we should have second thoughts about the death penalty. George Bush knows that. He wants to look more moderate. Clinton executed somebody in the middle of the campaign, Ricky Ray Rector, you know, agreed to execute somebody in the middle of the campaign. That was '92. Bush is doing exactly the opposite in the year 2000.

BARONE: Yes, and he's criticized on the left by people like Christopher Hitchens as being insincere. The fact is I think George W. Bush made his decision on this reprieve, a 30-day reprieve, for the same reason most governors make their decisions on death penalty cases, up or down, and that's because they think it's the right thing to do.

SESNO: The DNA evidence.

BARONE: Well, you know, the fact is that E.J. is right about what's happened to public opinion on the death penalty. It's not quite as strong for it as it used to be.

What we're really seeing, though, is we've had a press offensive against the death penalty. The press is as heavily against the death penalty as the voters are for it, and the press is bringing out what is a genuinely strong argument against the death penalty, which is innocent people may be executed, and you can't rectify it, that error if it happens. It's a powerful argument, and they're raising the possibilities that people have been wrongly executed, and we'll see who -- you know, whether the press is able to move the public farther away from the death penalty than the very fact of executions have moved them so far.

SESNO: Michael Barone, E.J. Dionne, great to see you both, great ties. Appreciate your insights.

We'll have more on that issue of Al Gore's new campaign style and the campaign of his rival, George W. Bush. Bush was in California today making a brief appearance at a gathering of governors from states that border Mexico, and while he was relatively low key in public, on paper, his campaign issued a biting response to what it's calling Gore's latest effort to reinvent himself, as we mentioned earlier.

Here's CNN's Jonathan Karl.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was an unusual week for George W. Bush. He went the entire week without getting directly attacked by his usually feisty rival Al Gore.

Bush professes amusement at Gore's new approach. GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know how many times you're allowed to reinvent yourself in the course of a campaign.

KARL: That was on Tuesday. By Friday, the Bush campaign released what it called a chronology of six efforts by the vice president to reinvent himself during the course of the campaign.

Today's positive approach, the Bush campaign said, is Gore version 6.0.

Gore 5.0 was, quote, "negative Al."

Before that, the Bush campaign says, was Gore 4.0, the crusading reformer latching on to John McCain's message after the primaries.

3.0: the earth-tone wearing alpha male consulted by feminist Naomi Wolf.

2.0: the underdog facing an uphill battle against Bill Bradley.

And finally, the Bush campaign says, Gore 1.0: the average Joe brought up on a farm in Carthage, Tennessee.

The Gore campaign responds that it is George W. Bush who has tried to pull off the most profound reinvention of the campaign, trading in a hardline conservative message that helped him win him the GOP nomination, for a more moderate message on what they call the "Bob Jones redemption tour."

BUSH: I'm a counter puncher. I readily concede, I'll defend my honor with my record, but I want to spend more time talking about what I intend to do for America.

KARL: Bush has spent most of his time laying out his positive message, but in laying out his own proposals, he almost always throws a few punches at his rival, something that hasn't changed since Gore stopped the direct attacks.

CHRIS LEHANE, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: It's a pretty sad day in presidential politics when George W. Bush is reduced to ridiculing Al Gore's efforts to promote responsible parenthood, to promote a war on cancer, the hot-button issues like mental health. But I guess after all, we really shouldn't be that surprised. After all, George W. Bush has shown that he'll do anything to get elected president.

KARL: This period free of direct attacks from his rival probably won't last long. Gore aides says the newly positive approach isn't a reinvention, but a temporary shift in tone.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Sacramento.


KARL: And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, the New York Senate race, a look back at Congressman Rick Lazio's introductory tour across the Empire State.


SESNO: In New York today, first lady-turned Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton reiterated her support of a measurement to require handgun licensing. The legislation is sponsored by New York Senator Charles Schumer. It would require handgun buyers to obtain a photo buyers license from the state. Mrs. Clinton's Republican opponent, Congressman Rick Lazio, says he supports rational gun control measures but has not yet seen a workable licensing proposal.

And Congressman Lazio will officially receive the endorsement of the state's Conservative Party tomorrow. The party has already released ads on Lazio's behalf, and party chairman Michael Long says he expects to deliver 350,000 votes for the GOP hopeful.

Tomorrow's endorsement caps off a very busy week for the newcomer to the New York Senate race.

Frank Buckley reports.


REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), SENATE CANDIDATE: And they grew and they grew.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rick Lazio was reading to kids and reaping the benefits of the intense media coverage he's enjoyed this week.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I saw you on live TV.

LAZIO: You did?

BUCKLEY: His name recognition up, even among 5- and 6-year-olds at a Brooklyn day care center.


BUCKLEY: The campaign is hoping voting-age New Yorkers are also beginning to know who Rick Lazio is.

LAZIO: I am deeply, deeply honored to accept your nomination for the United States Senate.

BUCKLEY: The four-term Long Island congressman is still relatively unknown statewide, stepping in to replace New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the high-profile Senate contest.

Lazio unveiled a campaign bus immediately after accepting his party's nomination, calling it the Mainstream Express, a page borrowed from former presidential candidate John McCain's Straight Talk Express brought over by Mike Murphy, who was McCain's media strategist, now working for Lazio. But it was not the freewheeling full-time access that McCain campaign reporters enjoyed. Reporters on the Lazio bus were given access in rotation, Lazio shedding a tear in an interview with CNN when the conversation turned to his relationship with his late father.

LAZIO: His values are the values that we're going to carry through this campaign. He believed in a sense of responsibility, of working hard

BUCKLEY: It was the emotional side of Lazio that campaign aides were happy to see revealed, providing a contrast to the sometimes confrontational first-choice Republican, Rudy Giuliani.

Another contrast: Lazio appearing with his wife Patricia at every opportunity, as opposed to Giuliani, who recently announced he was seeking a separation from his wife of 16 years. The contrasts in candidates leading some Republican voters to believe Lazio will do better upstate than Giuliani would have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he has a little bit less baggage to carry around with him.

BUCKLEY: Lazio professed to being positive, but reminded voters at every turn that while he is a New York native, his opponent is not.

Otherwise, the four-day bus tour, the drop-ins at diners and delis, the stump speeches and handshaking offered little insight into Lazio's policy positions or his rationale for running.

JOEL SIEGEL, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": We learned that Rick Lazio is a New Yorker, we learned that he's not Hillary Clinton, we learned that he was a congressman and he has a nice wife and family. We didn't really learn much beyond that, other than that he supports the environment and good jobs, good schools, things that really almost every politician supports.

BUCKLEY (on camera): But that will come later, say Lazio's aides. This was a meet-the-candidate tour. an introduction to the replacement Republican. Substance and policy to follow, they promise, in what still looks to be a close and interesting race.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.


SESNO: And still ahead, 24-hour news, 24-hour politics with what effect? That and much more, when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


SESNO: There's much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come, CNN marks its 20th, so we'll examine politics and the advent of 24-hour news.


MIKE MCCURRY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You thought today was going to be health care. In fact, it's going to be the latest international crisis because it's breaking news on CNN.


SESNO: An we'll take a look at how the changes in TV news resonate in the political arena.



REP. JAMES ROGAN (R), CALIFORNIA: People at the end of the day want their leaders to do what they think is right and not what they think is going to get them re-elected. Well, I gave it the office on that one.


SESNO: A California congressman pays the price for his role in the president's impeachment: a look at Jim Rogan's re-election battle.

And later:


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): What's the stereotype of a conservative? Not a nice guy, mean, tough, nasty.

SESNO: Our Bill Schneider on how shattering the stereotypes can be worth a political "Play of the Week."





BUSH: More than any other media source, CNN has helped usher in the information age. CNN has made Americans more aware of the world and of our leadership and involvement in it.

GORE: I hear diplomats now refer to the "CNN factor." CNN has become a quintessential part of the global age.


SESNO: Both Al Gore and George W. Bush helped this network mark its 20th anniversary by addressing the CNN WORLD REPORT conference in Atlanta. Now while they noted the global impact of round-the-clock television news, CNN and other cable news channels have dramatically changed the way political campaigns operate as well. As seen in the documentary "The War Room," the '92 Clinton campaign created a now- legendary rapid response team to help meet the demands of the new, 24- hour news cycle -- to own it, really. It continued in the Clinton White House. Republicans have jumped on the bandwagon. The RNC in particular is known for issuing daily faxes taking aim at the opposition. And presidential candidates of both parties often clamor for the opportunity to have their campaign speeches carried live and unfiltered, they hope, a rarity in the days before all news, all the time.

So three guests join us now to talk about the so-called CNN effect on politics and the 24-hour impact generally, Democratic strategist Frank Greer, who takes time out of his busy day to join us in Seattle.

Hello, Frank.


SESNO: Just great.

Jake Tapper, Washington correspondent for the next generation,


SESNO: How are you?

And Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."

Well, gentlemen, to all of you -- and, Howard Kurtz, why don't you start us off with this: What in your view has been the effect of 24-hour, non-stop, real-time relentless news on the political campaign trail?

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": Frank, it's news at the speed of Nintendo. To say that it's utterly transformed the landscape on both the media and the political sides would be a clear understatement. And, of course, now it's kind of in triplicate. It's the CNN, Fox, MSNBC effect.

I was stunned when I wrote a book about the Clinton White House to find how much time they spend worrying about, for example, whether a speech by the president at 1:00 in the afternoon is going to be carried by the all-news cable networks -- not just because they're trying to reach the audience that those networks reach, but because journalists are watching TV in their news rooms, and is a presidential speech is on CNN, for example, it may seem more important, and it may get a better ride in the next day's newspapers.

SESNO: Frank Greer, you've worked inside campaigns both before and during and after the CNN effect and these other networks. How has it changed the way campaigns work, and give us some examples.

GREER: Well, first of all, it used to be that it would be like a weekly news cycle or a daily news cycle, and you could plan on the basis of that. Now it is an immediate, hourly, if not momentary, news cycle. I think it's accelerated the pace of politics and certainly public policy in the way that decisions are made, and they're driven very much, as Howie was saying, they're driven by a decision of how to get into that news cycle and then how to amplify that.

The other thing is I think it's given voters and citizens a lot more information so they can decide for themselves.

And the other thing is, I think it's certainly escalated or raised the level of kind of negative nature of coverage and the way we talk about politics, because it's encouraged kind of sensationalism in news coverage.

SESNO: It's encouraged sensationalism, you think?

GREER: And negativism, because I think you have to feed that news beast, as we say. And part of it is not just good public policy debates but -- or presidential speeches, but it is looking for problems and trouble and scandal. And feeding that news beast has meant that there's a lot more information that's negative information out there in the public arena.

SESNO: Howie...

GREER: The other -- one other thing...

SESNO: Let me come back to you on that, Frank.


SESNO: Howie, I'm going to want you respond to that, but after I ask Jake Tapper the next question. So come back to that sensationalism/negativism aspect that Frank Greer mentioned.

Jake, you've been out on the campaign trail. You really are the next generation. You're You're bringing the speed of the Internet to the campaign trail. How are you feeling the impact of that?

TAPPER: Well, I mean, I think that what we do is not dissimilar from what CNN did, except that we are a print version of it in a lot of ways. We can be -- we're different in the sense that, because we're the new kids on the block, we're a little edgier and we can provide magazine-style coverage rather than what, you know, the stodgy media culture is used to.

SESNO: Stodgy media culture?

TAPPER: Yes, yes, that's correct.

SESNO: How dare you. We'll come back.

Howard Kurtz, back to what Frank Greer was mentioning...

KURTZ: I'm not sure...

SESNO: ... negativism, sensationalism?

KURTZ: Well, I'm not sure I would agree that 24-hour news is necessarily more negative. It's certainly louder, but I think it's clearly more sensational because there's this need, in order to get those eyeballs that any cable network needs to stay on the air, to jump on the latest O.J. Story, Monica story, nanny trial, you name it.

SESNO: But we're talking about politics here, Howie...

KURTZ: Well, the Monica Lewinsky story certainly involved politics.

SESNO: Mmm-hmm.

KURTZ: I think as well, Frank, there is a downside that we shouldn't lose sight of here. I mean, it's great to be able to turn on the TV 2:00 in the morning or 2:00 in the afternoon and get the latest headlines. It also means that everybody now is on deadline all the time, newspapers as well because of their Web sites. And that can mean blowing things out of proportion. It can mean making mistakes because of speed. It could be a lack of time for reflection, and I think that is the other side of the cable news/ revolution.

SESNO: Frank Greer, you wanted to make another point.

GREER: And yes, the other point, I think, is that in the public policy arena, I think, being driven by media considerations and by the immediacy of the news cycle and all news all the time maybe does not provide for the deliberative process where you reach consensus and you come up with the best public policy.

And so now we have decisions in government being -- and not just at the national level, but at the state level, at the local level and mayors' offices all across the country -- being driven by consideration of the news cycle and how to respond quickly, how to control that process, and I think that doesn't necessarily make for good public policy, either.

SESNO: Let's turn -- let me turn that question over to Jake Tapper.

Jake, you've been on the campaign trail, as I mentioned.


SESNO: Certainly those of us in television knows, heaven forbid, that occasionally we may be used by a campaign, or at least that would cross their mind.

Is the Internet journalist being used...

TAPPER: Oh, of course.

SESNO: ... in a similar way?

TAPPER: Oh yes, I've been used all the time.

SESNO: In a different way than we've been used in the past because of the nature of your medium? TAPPER: Yes. There was one time in particular during the campaign that, I think, an ally of the McCain family called me to give me some information about -- it was a time during the New York primary when Governor Bush was running a completely false and deceptive ad implying that Senator McCain was in favor of breast cancer.

Senator McCain's older sister -- he did not -- McCain didn't talk about it, but his older sister was a breast cancer survivor. This ally of the family wanted this information out there to show that Bush was not only being demagogic, but also was being rather insensitive, considering McCain's sister had the disease he was calling McCain into about funding.

So really there was no one else to give it to other than an Internet publication, because the papers had gone to bed and the news, basically, teams and all the television stations and cable TV stations, as well, were closed for the night. We were able to write the story, get it up, and the next morning Bush was asked about it at a press conference.

SESNO: Frank Greer, very quickly to you, how does a campaign use the next generation -- that is, the Internet, that Jake was just discussing?

GREER: Right, it's very interesting. I think the Internet has been as much of a revolution as all full-time television and CNN was when it came about.

The other thing I've got to say, in both his magazine and also "Slate" and some others, they've done a wonderful job of covering this campaign. I think some of the most insightful political coverage this year has been on the Internet. And if anything, it's accelerated the speed of coverage -- just the example he gave of overnight, the kind of in-depth coverage that the Internet can provide and Internet publications can provide. I think it's going to change the nature of politics.

You know, in '88 Michael Dukakis realized what not having a rapid response meant. He lost bigtime. We learned that lesson in '92, when the Clinton campaign had a rapid response system. I think you're going to see even more almost 24-hour rapid response. And you've already seen it in the nature of the Gore campaign and the Bush campaign responding to politics -- political charges very rapidly this time around.

SESNO: And I'm going to do a rapid response right now.

Frank Greer, Jake Tapper and Howie Kurtz, that's what we have time for today. Thanks to you very much for looking back, and looking ahead a bit on our political coverage.

We'll be back after this.


SESNO: New Jersey Democratic Senate candidate Jon Corzine picked up the endorsement today of Senator Charles Schumer of New York. Corzine, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, faces former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Today, three New Jersey newspapers endorsed Florio's candidacy, citing his experience as a governor and a congressman, and criticizing Corzine's spending in the race.

And now to California's 27th congressional district. There, Republican Congressman Jim Rogan is fighting for re-election after becoming a Democratic target for his role in the impeachment of President Clinton.

Our Jennifer Auther has more on the race.


REP. JIM ROGAN (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, I'm working very hard.

JENNIFER AUTHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican Congressman Jim Rogan is in the fight of his political career. He is locked in one of four key California races, with the Democrats needing only six seats to gain a majority in the U.S. House.

Rogan is running in a district that is increasingly Democratic. He hopes to get a bounce from Senator John McCain, who appeared Tuesday night at this $500-a-plate backyard fund-raiser in posh Bel Air.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think history will judge him not only with kindness, but with praise for the job that heroic job that he and others did during that very difficult time for the American people.

AUTHER: This former judge and prosecutor rose from relative obscurity as a House manager while prosecuting President Clinton during the impeachment trial. It ended in acquittal, but made Rogan a big hit among staunch conservatives.

ROGAN: I am more proud to have stood with those men and women on the Judiciary Committee to do the right thing than anything I have ever professionally done in my life.

AUTHER (on camera): While Jim Rogan outspent his toughest challenger, Democratic State Senator Adam Schiff, the two-term Republican ended up almost 3,000 votes behind Schiff in California's first blanket primary, where all the candidates' names were on the same ballot.

ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: To be ahead of the incumbent early in the campaign is quite astounding, particularly since we have not spent our money on communicating yet with voters. We will be doing that extensively in the fall.

AUTHER (voice-over): And for his relative obscurity, Adam Schiff gets his money from some pretty astounding sources. His fund-raisers have been hosted and attended by film moguls such as David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffery Katzenberg. It has made this race the most expensive congressional race in U.S. history.

ROGAN: This will probably be out the door on both sides a $10 million race. That's not my fault. That's the fault of all of those that just decided to put a crosshair on me. The truth is he wouldn't have been in this race if it hadn't been for impeachment.

AUTHER: Rogan won his first race with 51 percent. His second term, he won with 50.8 percent. Now he is now raising money from out of state, firing back with television ads.


NARRATOR: Jim Rogan supports a patients' bill of rights and wants Medicare to pay for prescription drugs. Adam Schiff supports a health care plan that creates lawsuits and earns millions for trial and personal injury lawyers, who contributed nearly $100,000 to his campaign.


AUTHER: For his part, Schiff says he's a firm supporter of HMO reform and patients' rights. Organizers in both parties say of the four congressional races, this one is the primary focus.

JON FLEISCHMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA GOP: For the California Republican Party, re-electing Jim Rogan to Congress is our No. 1 priority.

ART TORRES, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN: We're going to put 120 percent in terms of winning those four congressional races to help make Dick Gephardt speaker of the House.

AUTHER: Rogan says he hopes voters here will look at his work to improve public schools and shore up Social Security, and says if they want to judge him on the impeachment trial, that's fine, too.

ROGAN: People at the end of the day want their leaders to do what they think is right and not what they think is going to get them re-elected. Well, I gave at the office on that one, and on November 7th, the folks here can decide whether they want a congressman like that. If they don't, I will come home and thank them very much for the privilege.

AUTHER: Jennifer Auther, CNN, Glendale, California.


SESNO: And when we return, Bill Schneider has a kinder, gentler political "Play of the Week."


SESNO: A political makeover, a stay of execution and a mainstream bus tour -- from the road to the White House to the New York campaign trail, there is one common theme this week.

Bill Schneider explains.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): They say nice guys finish last. Nice guys never get the girl. Well, not this week. This week, everybody wants to be a nice guy. Why? Because it's good politics. And it's the political "Play of the Week."

(voice-over): It's all about combating stereotypes. What's the stereotype of a conservative? Not a nice guy. Mean. Tough. Nasty. Well, meet George W. Bush, the self-described "compassionate conservative."

BUSH: This is a land full of people who really care about their neighbors.

SCHNEIDER: He talks about his wife.

BUSH: I wish my wife were with me. I think you can judge the nature of a man by the company he keeps.

SCHNEIDER: And his cat.

BUSH: My wife's short list? Ernie. Inside joke, the cat.

SCHNEIDER: This week, after the Texas Parole Board refused to stay the execution of a condemned man, Governor Bush stepped in and granted a temporary reprieve so the evidence against him could be re- examined.

BUSH: Because it's a case where we're dealing with a man's innocence or guilt.

SCHNEIDER: What's the stereotype of a vice president? An attack dog -- a role Al Gore seemed all too willing to play, until this week, when he signaled a new phase of his campaign.

LEHANE: The American people want to know who Al Gore is. And this is a challenge that vice presidents historically face; it's not unique to Al Gore.

SCHNEIDER: The vice president decided to get personal about mental illness.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can just imagine how proud I am of Tipper and the leadership that she's been providing. She's educated me about this whole issue.

SCHNEIDER: And cancer.

GORE: When you've been through an experience like that, you have a bond with others who go through it and realize what people are feeling.

SCHNEIDER: What's the stereotype of a New Yorker? Bullying. Wise guy. But this week, the New York GOP gave its Senate nomination to a nice young man, one who's eager to please.

REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), SENATE CANDIDATE: I love serving people.


LAZIO: I want to be worthy of winning.

SCHNEIDER: And self-deprecating.

LAZIO: 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.

SCHNEIDER: Who says no more Mr. Nice Guy? In this campaign, everybody's trying to be Mr. Nice Guy. Nice guys don't finish last; they finish first, for this week's political "Play of the Week."

(on camera): Why is it smart politics to be nice this year? Because times are good, and there aren't a lot of angry voters out there. Now if the Reform Party nominates Pat Buchanan and he tries to play Mr. Nice Guy, we'll know something big is happening.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.


SESNO: And yes, Bill Schneider is a nice guy.

That's it for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Have a great weekend. But of course, during that time, you can go online all the time at CNN's

And this weekend, programming note: New York Republican Senate candidate Rick Lazio will be the guest tomorrow on "Evans, Novak, hunt & Shields," which is, as always, at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

I'm Frank Sesno. Thanks for joining us.

"WORLDVIEW" is next.



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