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House Vote Blunts Surge Against 527s; Bush Criticizes Gore's Reform Record; McCain Keeps Fight for Campaign Finance Reform AliveAired June 9, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Yesterday's vote in the Senate indicates that it's getting harder and harder to play keep-away on this.
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JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Could the disclosure-free tax status known as 527 soon be a thing of the past? A look at the latest skirmish in the battle for campaign finance reform.
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GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The way things work now, there's one agency that inspects cheese pizza, there's another agency to inspect pepperoni pizza.
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WOODRUFF: George W. Bush says reform should be on Washington's menu, and that his opponent hasn't gone far enough. That as Al Gore wades into the issue of conservation in the Northwest.
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WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This week, we saw plenty of evidence that the money power and the political power are coming together in this country, but which one comes out on top?
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WOODRUFF: Our Bill Schneider on the whirlwind triumph that earns a political "Play of the Week."
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.
Thank you for joining us. Bernie is off today. House Republicans managed today to blunt a sudden surge by campaign finance reformers, who were spurred to action by former GOP presidential candidate John McCain. The Republican House members defeated, at least for now, an effort begun by McCain in the Senate to shed some light on the secretive funding of certain political ads.
Our Chris Black has the story.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vanquished on the campaign trail, Senator John McCain has become a powerhouse in the Senate, striking the Senate's first win for a campaign finance reform measure in seven years.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: China, the Mafia, drug dealers can be part of our political campaigns, and we will never know who they are.
BLACK: McCain's proposal would force secretive political committees, called 527s, to report the names of donors and expenditures. They're currently allowed to operate in virtual anonymity. These tax-exempt committees are a growing political force, and McCain himself has felt their bite. One group spent $2.3 million on TV ads against McCain during the Republican primary contest in New York.
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ANNOUNCER: Last year, John McCain voted against solar and renewable energy. That means more use of coal-burning plants that pollute our air.
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BLACK: McCain rallied his campaign troops, sending an e-mail message to 200,000 supporters. He wrote: "I am asking for your help to fight one more battle." Thirteen Republicans joined McCain and the Democrats to block an attempt by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to kill the amendment. The vote sparked a similar effort in the House.
REP. DENNIS MOORE (D), KANSAS: Last night, John McCain stood up in the United States Senate and stood up for the American people on behalf of disclosure. I urge all of my colleagues in this body on both sides of the aisle to stand up for disclosure.
REP. MARTIN MEEHAN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Yesterday, the United States Senate took a small but important step towards restoring some accountability towards to our election system. We have a chance today to match that step with one of our own. We can't afford to wait.
BLACK: By a narrow margin, the House defeated the measure, after Republican leaders promised action at a later date.
One Republican supporter warned his colleagues of the political consequences of inaction. REP. GREG GANSKE (R), IOWA: A no vote is going to be mighty hard to explain in November.
BLACK: Some Senate Republicans have been blocking campaign finance reform, but supporters say that McCain's unexpected victory is improving chances for some limited reform this year -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Chris Black, reporting from the Capitol. Thanks.
Over a veto threat from President Clinton, dozens of House Democrats today joined Republicans to pass a bill to repeal the inheritance tax. The plan would gradually eliminate the tax at a cost of more than $100 billion over the 10-year phase-out period. As it is today, the tax is principally paid by the wealthy, but can also effect certain family farms and small businesses. Sixty-five Democrats broke with the administration, and their numbers included many blacks and Hispanics who believe the tax is affecting minority entrepreneurs. The bill to eliminate the tax now moves to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. Opponents, including the administration, say the bill is too expensive and amounts to a giveaway for the rich.
Now the presidential campaign. If Al Gore claims to have reinvented government, George W. Bush asserted today that Washington still needs fixing. Campaigning in Philadelphia, Bush claimed that Gore's crusade to make the government more efficient lacks a major component: results.
CNN's Jonathan Karl is with the Bush campaign.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After taking a stroll through Philadelphia's historic district with Pennsylvania governor and potential vice presidential contender Tom Ridge, George W. Bush took aim at one of the most important initiatives of Al Gore's tenure as vice president: the so-called "reinventing government" effort.
BUSH: They haven't reinvented the government bureaucracy; they simply reshuffled it.
KARL: In 1993, the vice president, with a truckload of rules and regulations as a backdrop, launched the initiative to streamline the federal. Now in virtually every stump speech, Gore claims the effort saved billions and the made government more efficient.
BUSH: They called the idea a national performance review, to reinvent government. At last report, they had, in the vice president's words, created a government that works better and cost less. But that doesn't really square with the facts.
KARL: The Gore campaign dismissed Bush's criticism, saying Gore's effort to help trim the federal workforce by 377,000 employees. But Bush claims the can government bureaucracy has swelled with middle manages under the Clinton-Gore administration. He offered a series of proposals, to, in the word of one top aide, "reinvent government with results.
BUSH: Today in the federal government, there are hundreds of thousands of full-time federal employees performing tasks that could be done by companies in the private sector. I will put as many of these tasks as possible up for competitive bid. See my attitude is, if the private sector can do the better job, the private can get the contract.
KARL: Bush proposed slashing the federal workforce by 40,000 through retirement and attrition, creating a bipartisan review board that would recommend doing away with inefficient programs, and several other measures he claimed would save $88 billion over five years.
(on camera): This weekend, Bush will go his family's vacation compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, where after celebrating his mother's 75th birthday and his father's 76th, he'll spend several days huddled his top advisers. They'll be plotting the next phase of his campaign, beginning with the national party convention this summer.
Jonathan Karl, CNN, Philadelphia.
WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Vice President Gore took a river ride today to demonstrate his support for environmental causes. Gore waded into the great Northwest and into the region's perennial clash between conservation and economic growth.
CNN's Jennifer Auther is with the Gore campaign in Spokane, Washington.
JENNIFER AUTHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Acting in an official capacity while enhancing his image as environmentally sensitive, Vice President Al Gore took an hour-long boat tour along a stretch of Washington State's Columbia River and declared the Hanford Reach a national monument.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, by protecting the Hanford Reach as a national monument, by rededicating ourselves to the environment of the Pacific Northwest, and by working to restore the salmon in the Columbia River, we can guarantee that the Columbia rolls on clean and pure for generations to come.
AUTHER: The proclamation was also sign for a 52 thousand acre area of Oregon's Cascade Siskew (ph). Back in Washington State, this 51-mile-long stretch of river and 200,000 surrounding acres in Southeast Washington State act as a security buffer on the edge of one of the country's most contaminated nuclear sites. It is part of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where the U.S. government made plutonium for nuclear arsenals from WWII, through the 1980s, but this particular stretch of free-flowing river has been undeveloped for more than 50 years now.
Debate over Hanford Reach has raged for over a decade. One side, including conservationists, pushed for federal protection for Chinook salmon spawning and other wildlife and plants. The opposing side, including Washington State Republicans in both the House and Senate, wanted local control. They tried to stave off this White House move under the Federal Antiquities Act, but in a presidential race, even a declaration such as this one is fodder for the opponent.
(on camera): News that Gore would declare the Hanford Reach a national monument was leaked in a conference call with reporters a day early by Washington State Republican senator Slade Gorton. That call was arranged by aides of Texas Governor George W. Bush.
(voice-over): Recently, Gore's opponent, Texas Governor George W. Bush, has been critical of the Clinton/Gore administration, saying it has been too heavyhanded, and that instead, local farmers and civic leaders should be the ones to decide how to manage and protect their lands. Meantime, the vice president didn't miss an opportunity to link an official declaration with some old-style campaigning.
At Washington State University, the vice president called for a summit with local leaders and farmers on various issues, including irrigation and dams along the Columbia River. Next, Gore launches a two-week tour he calls "Progress and Prosperity," in which the vice president says he'll outline his ideas for leading the country in an era of budget surpluses.
Jennifer Auther, CNN, Richland, Washington.
WOODRUFF: One other note on Gore: His campaign moved into the mainstream today -- that is Mainstream Drive in Nashville, several miles from the office space it used after the much discuss move from Washington in October. Campaign says it needed extra room as it adds staff for the general election.
Up next, the latest in the ad wars.
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GEORGE P. BUSH, SON OF JEB BUSH: I'm a young Latino in the U.S. and very proud of my bloodline.
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WOODRUFF: He is proud of his bloodline, and of his uncle, too.
Plus: politicians behaving like children.
This is INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: The Republican Party begins its 2000 soft money ad campaign on Monday, with a spot touting George W. Bush's Social Security plan. This will come just days after the Democrats started their own soft money ad campaign, touting vice president Gore's prescription drug plan. The GOP ad promises that under the Bush plan, retirees and those close to retirement will get all the Social Security benefits due them, but younger people will have the chance to put part of their funds in private investments. The Texas Governor also is getting a little ad help from a member of the family, George P. Bush. He's the son of Florida Governor Jeb Bush. He is George W.'s nephew. He also happens to be Hispanic, from his Mexican-born mother, a heritage he stresses in the new spot.
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GEORGE P. BUSH: I believe in opportunity, a level playing field for everyone and the achievement of the American dream. I have an uncle running for president because he believes in the same thing, opportunity for every American, for every Latino. His name, same as mine, George Bush.
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WOODRUFF: This ad, paid for by the Bush campaign, will air Sunday in New York as the holds its Puerto Rican Day Parade. George P. Bush will be among the marchers.
Joining us now to talk about the intensifying ad war and other political matters, E.J. Dionne of "The Washington Post" and Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard."
Gentlemen, great to see you.
Bill Kristol, Republican soft ads -- this is one example; there will be others -- is this the right approach for the campaign to be taking right now?
WILLIAM KRISTOL, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, the Bush campaign thinks it's done this for two and three months, and it's done pretty well. The ad says strengthen and improve Social Security twice, before it even mentions Governor Bush's plan to reform Social Security. This is a defensive ad, an attempt to get to the middle and prevent Gore from attacking Bush as a threat to Social Security.
WOODRUFF: Is this a response, E.J., to the Democrats?
E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": I think it clearly is, and I think as Bill points out, there is a defensive quality to the ad. It's a pretty good ad, and at the end it says, you know, it's good for the old and it'll good for young for them to invest, but I think it suggests that the Republicans realize that privatazation is one of those ideas that sounds better on paper and even in some focus groups once than it might to a lot of voters once they've thought about it for a while, and so he wants to push away the Gore attack.
WOODRUFF: How much longer do you expect the campaigns to continue with these issue ads? DIONNE: I think right through November 7, and I think the Bush campaign will continue as long as it can soft, fuzzy and moderate. The Republican convention is going to be an issue-free zone, a lot of moderate faces and voices. Look, Bush is more popular right than Gore,personally. If issues never acquire any salience, George Bush wins.
KRISTOL: I think that's broadly speaking right. I think that the...
WOODRUFF: But they're still doing issue ads.
KRISTOL: But they're soft issue Arizona. The trite thing about this, if you compare it to the last couple of election cycles, as we said, the Republicans are going to go up with an ad, what are they going to say? They're not going to attack Clinton-Gore corruption. They're not going to attack liberalism. They're going to say, we love Social Security.
DIONNE: But see, I think that's the surprising thing. A lot of people think this is not a big election. It is a big election. There are some big differences between Gore and Bush, especially on basic economic issues, issues of regulation, as we saw earlier in the show, issues about whether we should cut taxes as much as Bush wants to cut them. And so I think that everybody's surprise is going to be a very substantive election, and I agree with Bill, that I think it's in Gore's interest to push it as much to issues and to these differences as he possibly can.
WOODRUFF: And with the Democratic ads still out there -- or just out there, on drugs, and -- prescription drugs -- so forth, that's what they're doing.
DIONNE: Right, and those kind of issues where the government can give a tangible benefit to people who have a right to that tangible benefit -- seniors who think it's crazy that the government pays for health care, but not for prescription drugs, that's a very good issue for Democrats to run on.
WOODRUFF: Republicans smart to do this -- how did you put it? -- touchy-feely convention? Those weren't your words.
KRISTOL: No, those are good words -- fuzzy, touchy-feely. I don't know, I guess we'll see. I mean, it's a little risky for the challenger at a time of peace and prosperity to be running such a soft campaign. On the other hand, Bush has had a good three months. And as I say, the polling does suggest that people would -- all being equal, would prefer to vote for Bush. There's some resistance to Gore, and maybe Bush is wise to just keep it low key as long as he can.
DIONNE: And I was struck, too. This week, I talked to somebody up in Philadelphia, where the Republicans are surveying the town to see where can they send Republicans to be covered by the media with poor people, with African Americans, with Latinos? They really want to send this inclusive message. WOODRUFF: The kind of things Bush has been doing.
DIONNE: Right. And they want the whole convention to focus around this idea of a new Republican Party. And on balance, compared to the alternatives, it's not a terrible idea.
WOODRUFF: Campaign finance reform, a win for John McCain. Yesterday in the Senate, a little step for campaign finance reform, but a step back today in the House. Bill Kristol, is this going anywhere?
KRISTOL: I think campaign finance reform still has more legs is an issue that people often think. Fourteen Republicans voted for the bill -- 13 plus Senator McCain -- including many of the Republicans up for re-election this year in tough races. That tells me that they don't want to be on record voting against disclosure for these 527 cases. One interesting vote for the bill Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas, not known as a big reformer, in close contact with the Bush campaign, and I think the big story of this week on the Hill is that Governor Bush is now somewhat in alliance with Senator McCain against his Republican congressional leadership.
WOODRUFF: Against the leadership. A loss for Senator Lott.
KRISTOL: Yes, a big loss for the majority leader, Senator Lott, and Bush's speech yesterday on government reform echoes a lot of McCain themes. And McCain and Bush spoke twice on the phone this week, and the McCain people feel as if Bush is embracing their reform agenda. And I'd be curious the first time Governor Bush is asked, so you agree? What's your position on disclosure of 527 committees? I think he may come out with Senator McCain and against Senator Lott.
DIONNE: What's striking is the House voted it down today, or voted a version of this down. And Greg Ganske, a Republican from Iowa, said a no vote is going to be might hard to explain in November. And at some level, this really is about hypocrisy, because opponents of campaign finance reform say, well, we don't think there should be these restrictions, but there should be full disclosure. Yet these 527 committees don't have to disclose anything and can raise almost any amount of money. It is very hard to explain how you can oppose the idea that somebody who intervenes in an election doesn't even have to disclose who their contributors are.
WOODRUFF: Any sense that they'll come back at this on the Hill?
KRISTOL: Yes, I think so.
DIONNE: I think so, too.
WOODRUFF: OK, New York Senate race, Rick Lazio, you've got a little information to impart about the Lazio campaign.
KRISTOL: Well, I think today the Lazio campaign selected Bill Dal Col, Steve Forbes's primary campaign manager, as their campaign manager. And this followed a couple of weeks of internal battling about who would run the campaign. John Weaver, who had been political director for Senator McCain, had come up and had an interview with Rick Lazio. Rick Lazio was well disposed. And then the Pataki- D'Amato machine came down on Lazio and said, we do not want the McCain guys running this campaign. Remember, McCain had had a huge fight with the New York Republican Party three months ago in the New York primary, and they're going to -- I think the Pataki people are now trying to take over the Lazio campaign.
WOODRUFF: Is this -- if this is the case, E.J., is this good news or bad news for Mrs. Clinton?
DIONNE: I think any internal warfare inside the Republican Party is good news for Mrs. Clinton, No. 1. No. 2, New York is the sort of state where a McCain-style appeal is going to work better, I think, on balance than a Bush-style appeal to the general electorate.
You also have Mike Murphy, who is Lazio's main media guy, who is now going to be stuck with people who are not necessarily his friend or allies. Weaver and Murphy worked together on the McCain campaign, so this could create tensions. And you look back and you say, well, Lazio had a pretty good opening to this campaign. Why do you decide to get rid of the apparatus, or fight against the apparatus...
WOODRUFF: That are...
DIONNE: ... that was doing pretty well.
WOODRUFF: ... helped him do this.
WOODRUFF: All right, E.J. Dionne, Bill Kristol, thank you both. Have a great weekend.
DIONNE: You too.
KRISTOL: Thanks, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Thanks a lot.
DIONNE: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: As the old Hollywood saying goes, you should never work with children or animals because they will upstage you every time. Well, despite that warning, Al Gore and George W. Bush can't seem to get enough of kids or the photo opportunities that schools and child care centers provide. It makes for some interesting times out on the campaign trail.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All right, let me see if I can do it now. Are you ready?
This truly is an extraordinary time for our country. Our children and grandchildren will grow up in a world with opportunities as wide and open as the Texas sky. Many of them will work in jobs and industries that we cannot even imagine today. We may never have another chance like this one to remake the schools they depend on and strengthen the world that will soon be theirs.
If I were president, I would take the hospital cafeteria out of the hospital.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for trying to be our president. We hope that a lot of people vote for you -- so do I.
If one of the things a leader can do is to say, we're going to stop shuffling kids through because we (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Every child can learn and every child matters. If we can set a new way of thinking in school districts all around the country and empower people and call upon people to rally to our children's side, you'll be amazed at what can happen in America.
WOODRUFF: Wonderful faces.
Much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
Still to come:
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BUSH: No question that the man did the crime. It's the penalty phase that needs to be re-examined.
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WOODRUFF: A look at the latest case to raise questions about the death penalty in Texas.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When November comes, you're going think twice before you give away a vote over this issue.
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WOODRUFF: Will the Elian Gonzalez case have any affect on the presidential race in Florida? We'll look at the case's effect in that major state.
And later, Capitol Hill takes on campaign finance and earns someone the political "Play of the Week."
WOODRUFF: We'll have more of this day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. A new investigation by the Justice Department concludes that there is no credible evidence of conspiracy in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This 18-month probe finds James Earl Ray acted alone when he gunned down the civil rights leader on the balcony of a Memphis motel in 1968. Justice officials say they reviewed numerous conspiracy theories as part of their 150-page report. Convicted assassin James Earl Ray initially confessed to killing King. He later recanted, claiming a man named "Raoul" lured him to Memphis, and then framed him. The department now says Raoul was Ray's creation.
Less than a week after Ray Lewis was acquitted on murder charges, the pro football star says, it is time to move on. The Baltimore Ravens linebacker made these and other remarks during an afternoon press conference in his hometown.
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RAY LEWIS, BALTIMORE RAVENS: I think what I honestly learned is that, you know, no matter who you are, no matter how much money you have, no matter who you think you know, if someone wants to accuses you of something, they will, regardless.
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WOODRUFF: Felony charges were dropped on Monday against Lewis in exchange for testimony. Two former associates were charged with the fatal stabbings of two men outside an Atlanta nightclub last January.
More potential problems in cyberspace. Experts now say a malicious computer bug disguised as a movie clip may wreak havoc with personal computers. The program would leave PCs vulnerable to hacker attacks, especially those with high-speed Internet access. Federal investigators met today with computer security experts to assess the threat.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is launching a study to determine whether cell phones pose a health danger. A mobile phone industry group will fund the research. The study will look at whether cell phones put people at risk for brain cancer or genetic mutations. It may take up to five years.
A landmark announcement from the Big Three U.S. automakers: General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler say that they will extend health care benefits to employees' same-sex domestic partners in the United States. Employees will have to prove that they are in a committed relationship and that they live in the same household. About half a million workers could benefit.
Where are the best places to retire? "Money" magazine recommends Brunswick, Maine; Asheville, North Carolina; or Bradenton, Florida. Rounding out the list of the top-five retirement sites are: Fort Collins, Colorado, and Bend, Oregon. The runners-up include Amherst, Massachusetts, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The magazine compared cost of living, education, medical care and recreational opportunities in hundreds of cities. The survey appears in "Money" magazine's July issue -- and why didn't they include Washington, D.C.?
Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS capital punishment in George W. Bush's state of Texas: Have minorities been discriminated against?
WOODRUFF: As the governor of Texas, George W. Bush has presided over 131 executions, more than any other governor in the country. But this week, Texas received a rebuke by the Supreme Court over its handling of some death penalty cases. At issue, the fairness of capital punishment as carried out in Texas among the state's minorities.
CNN's Charles Zewe has the story.
CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-eight-year- old Argentine laborer Victor Hugo Saldano was convicted murdering a man for his watch and wallet in a Dallas suburb. A jury sentenced him to die, Saldano says:
VICTOR HUGO SALDANO, DEATH ROW INMATE: Because they were racist.
ZEWE: Saldano's sentence was based on what's called his "future dangerousness," an aggravating factor that allows Texas courts to administer the death penalty instead of life in prison. He was declared dangerous by this man, psychologist Walter Quijano, who testified during the punishment phase of his trial. Quijano said that because 70 percent of Texas's prison population is black or Hispanic, that makes blacks and Hispanics more likely to commit crimes.
WALTER QUIJANO, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Various statistical studies not only in Texas but also across the country, ethnicity is a very strong correlation -- has a very strong correlation with violence.
ZEWE: Saldano's lawyers didn't appeal his guilt, but said such racial statements were improper.
SALDANO: It's discrimination, discrimination against the Spanish community.
ZEWE: The United States Supreme Court agreed and ordered Texas courts to hold a new sentencing hearing for Saldano. New Texas Attorney General John Cornyn sided with Saldano.
JOHN CORNYN, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: I believe that it is inappropriate in a fair critical justice system to consider a person's race or ethnicity in determining whether they should be given the ultimate penalty of death.
ZEWE: Cornyn says there should be a new sentencing hearing for Saldano and possibly eight other cases that involve Quihano's testimony. Cornyn adding, however:
CORNYN: All indications of our investigation are now is that no one has been executed based on this type of testimony.
ZEWE: The latest death penalty flap in Texas comes less than a week after presumptive GOP nominee George W. Bush halted the execution of a condemned inmate to allow new DNA testing. The governor, who's declared only guilty people are being executed in Texas, says that the Saldano case is proof there are safeguards in the system.
BUSH: No question that the man did the crime. It's the penalty phase that needs to be re-examined. And I think the system's working.
ZEWE: But death penalty opponents say just the opposite is true, that the system is fundamentally flawed.
RICK HALPERIN, TEXAS COALITION TO ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY: It should give cause to an immediate moratorium of killing death row inmates in this state so that this system can be looked at and these cases can be looked at.
ZEWE: Beyond the nine under review, Quijano says he's made similar statements both as a prosecution and a defense witness in more than 100 death penalty cases. It's not known whether any of those defendants were put to death. Still, Quijano defends using race in determining a killer's future dangerousness.
QUIJANO: You only have to say, as a group, this type of people who are minorities, who are unemployed, who use drugs and alcohol, who are male and who are below age 30, is very likely to commit a crime.
ZEWE: Officials say a re-sentencing hearing for Saldano will likely be held this fall. Does he think he'll get a death sentence again?
SALDANO: Yes, oh, yes. Knowing about Texas and knowing about justice in Texas, it's not working. You know, you can have a nice death sentence, including, I think, the death penalty's (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
ZEWE: If he does, Saldano says, he'll seek to drop all appeals and face lethal injection. It's too much abuse, he says.
Charles Zewe, CNN, Dallas.
WOODRUFF: If there is a 6-year-old who could affect the outcome of the November election, it would probably be Elian Gonzalez. His presence has touched the campaign already.
CNN's Mark Potter examines Elian's possible effect on the electoral prize of Florida.
MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During the months that the Elian Gonzalez case has captured the nation's attention, the state of Florida, with its 25 electoral votes, was cast as a new kind of political battleground. While George W. Bush and Al Gore both agreed on how the matter should be handled, it was the vice president who made the most news.
GORE: I've long believed that the best way to have handled it would have been to put it in a family court.
POTTER: By divorcing himself from the administration's position that Elian belongs with his Cuban father, Mr. Gore faced widespread criticism he was pandering to Cuban-American voters. It raised fears it might hurt him among the broader Florida electorate, which went for the Clinton-Gore ticket in 1996.
DARIO MORENO, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: What it's done is shown him either as a weak vice-president, or as someone who is so anxious to get votes that he's willing to say anything or do anything to save votes.
POTTER: Dario Moreno, a political science professor at Florida International University, says Gore's position on the Elian case actually did little to help himself in the Cuban community, even though Clinton and Gore made in-roads there last time.
MORENO: Cuban-Americans view him as part of the administration, and say, well, if he really believed what he was saying, he could have done something.
POTTER: But political analysts doubt the Elian Gonzalez case will ultimately have much effect on the presidential election. Despite all the criticism of Gore and the political muscle of Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, George W. Bush has only a slight lead in the polls here.
JIM KANE, EDITOR, THE FLORIDA VOTER: I don't think it's going to have any effect in November. Cuban-Americans were likely to vote Republican without this issue. They're still going vote Republican, and I think most other Floridians are going to forget about it by November.
POTTER: Jim Kane, the editor of "The Florida Voter," a political newsletter, says perhaps the biggest victim of the Elian drama is Florida's Democratic Senator Bob Graham. Graham harshly criticized the Clinton administration for the forcible removal of Elian from his Miami relatives. Kane says Graham's alienation from the administration likely ended his chance to become Gore's vice- presidential nominee.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to say what you're here for. You're here to elect the next president of the United States, Al Gore.
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POTTER: Amadeo Trinchitella is a senior officer and Democratic political activist at Century Village, a retirement community in Deerfield Beach. He agrees the Gonzalez case will have little effect at the polls, especially on south Florida's staunchly Democratic senior voting block.
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GORE: And I ask for your support.
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AMADEO TRINCHITELLA, DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST: When November comes, you're going to think twice before you give away a vote over this issue of whether he should be with his father in Cuba or over here. You'll think twice about that.
POTTER: The Cuban-American community represents about 7 percent of the votes statewide in Florida. George W. Bush is as strong there as Al Gore is in the south Florida condos -- with or without Elian Gonzalez.
Mark Potter, CNN, Miami.
WOODRUFF: And up next, New York Senate hopefuls take their campaigns to the air waves. A look at the latest ads and spending with David Peeler.
WOODRUFF: Republican Congressman Rick Lazio is releasing the first official ad of his New York Senate campaign this weekend. The ad, which focuses on his life and career in New York is scheduled to run in upstate New York. It tops today's ad reel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LAZIO CAMPAIGN AD)
REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: I've been a congressman for eight years. I work hard on issues like housing and the environment. And with two daughters in New York public schools, I care deeply about education.
I've got a mainstream record, and I've stood up for New York. Now I'm in the race for Senate, and while I may be the underdog, I'm ready to work hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Lazio's campaign describes the ad buy as "significant."
His opponent, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is also releasing new campaign ads today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN AD)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: In the last year, I've traveled to all 62 counties of New York. I believe it's important to tell you where I stand and what I'll do: I have a plan to bring high-tech jobs to every corner of New York; to help middle-class families deduct up to $10,000 a year in college costs; to help everyone get access to lower-cost prescription drugs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: The Clinton campaign would not say how long these ads will run.
Joining us now from New York, David Peeler, President and CEO of Competitive Media Reporting.
DAVID PEELER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Hi, Judy.
WOODRUFF: How much spending have we seen in this New York Senate race?
PEELER: Well, we know that Hillary Clinton got out early in this race. During May and June she'd spent about $400,000, and we expect that to continue from now on and through the summer.
Rick Lazio was -- benefited by not having to go on air spending his own money because he got a lot of free publicity around his announcement. But he did get some publicity and some ads run by the New York Conservative Party. They spent about $18,000. And the RLC has produced an ad, which they say they're going to spend $100,000 on, supporting his campaign over the next two weeks.
So that, in conjunction with what Rick Lazio's planning to do over the weekend -- it's everything we expected it to be. It'll be a very heavy-spending, big-money race here in New York.
WOODRUFF: All right.
Now, moving onto Florida and the race to replace retiring GOP Senator Connie Mack. In the Republican primary, Congressman Bill McCollum and State Education Commissioner Tom Gallagher are waging a bitter ad war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GALLAGHER CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Washington: where they raise their own pay, but cut Medicare for us.
TOM GALLAGHER, COMMISSIONER, FLORIDA STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: The culture of Washington is at odds with Florida's values. That's why I'm running for the U.S. Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCOLLUM CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was Gallagher who called for increasing the payroll tax. And it was Tom Gallagher who ran personal negative ads attacking Jeb Bush.
Tom Gallagher: He's slick, he's sly, and he tried to raise your taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: David Peeler, how much are these Florida Republicans spending?
PEELER: Well, this is going to be a nasty one, I think, Judy.
Remember now, that this is a primary, and the primary for the Republican side doesn't take place until September. So all summer long you can expect this kind of activity.
McCollum moves out in front of the polls. He spent about $300,000.
Gallagher, who's trying to paint McCollum as the Washington insider, spent about $104,000. This is for the primary. It's going to go all through the summer.
WOODRUFF: All right.
Now in another key race, Michigan Republican Senator Spence Abraham is on the air with his first wave of campaign ads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ABRAHAM CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Spence Abraham: Michigan's work horse -- millions more funding for roads, welfare reform, better schools for Michigan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Abraham's seat is one of several being targeted by the Democratic Party. A recent poll shows Abraham's challenger, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow, with a lead.
David, how much money is being spent in this race?
PEELER: Well, this is a different story, Judy. Here you see the independent expenditure groups weighing in very heavily. Abraham has spent $153,000 of his own money, and he's had to do it because some groups came out in attack of Abraham and have spent about $450,000 against him.
His opponent hasn't had that. He has had some groups supporting him, but what they've done here is: The independent expenditure groups have been able to smoke-out Abraham. And he's had to spend money where he probably would have prefered to save it through the summer.
WOODRUFF: All right. David Peeler, Competitive Media Reporting, thanks very much.
And up next: the almighty dollar takes it on the chin in the political "Play of the Week."
WOODRUFF: The battle between campaign finance reformers and big money has always been something of a David and Goliath contest. Well, Goliath may have won one round this week, but it wasn't a clean sweep.
Here's Bill Schneider -- Bill.
SCHNEIDER: Money talks. You heard it here first.
Well, we saw plenty dramatic evidence of that this week, but we also saw that people can talk back: dramatic evidence of that, too. Maybe elections are for sale, but you know the political "Play of the Week" is not.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): It sure looked like the election was for sale in New Jersey on Tuesday. Businessman Jon Corzine spent $35 million to win the Democratic Senate primary. That's an all-time record for a U.S. Senate race.
Corzine claims his spending shows he's independent.
JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY SENATE CANDIDATE: I won't owe anything to anyone but you.
SCHNEIDER: By the time this is all over in November, Corzine may spend over 50 million: $50 million for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Are there no limits? Actually no.
The Supreme Court says money is speech. It's unconstitutional to limit how much money candidates can spend on their own campaigns or others can spend on their behalf. But the people want limits, two to one.
If they can't have limits, reformers at least want to know who's giving the money to pay for all those stealth ads. So this week Senator John McCain proposed an amendment to a defense bill that would require tax-exempt groups to disclose their campaign spending. The Republican leadership tried to kill it: Oh, this is unconstitutional, they said; oh, this will doom the military bill, they said. Oh, what hypocrites you are, McCain said.
MCCAIN: The American people will see through this.
SCHNEIDER: And to everyone's surprise, an effort to kill McCain's measure failed by a big margin, 57 to 42: 14 Republicans, eight of them up for re-election this year, broke with their party leaders and voted with McCain. For the first time in seven years, the Senate voted to reform the campaign finance system.
Senator Russ Feingold said, "There is no question that John McCain's campaign had a lot to do with what happened today." The Senate vote was a payoff to the 6 1/2 million people who voted for John McCain. Those votes gave him standing to issue a warning to his fellow senators just before they voted.
MCCAIN: Now we're going to find out whether we are for disclosure or we will continue to allow the corruption of American politics.
SCHNEIDER: The Senate chose option a. What's the prize? For McCain, it's the political "Play of the Week."
SCHNEIDER: Now does today's House vote doom the measure? No. The House vote was close and the speaker has promised to schedule another vote on a similar measure. "This will become law one way or another," Senator McCain said yesterday. You know, he sounds like a man who believes the force is with him. And the force is the people.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.
In Stewart, Florida, a -- while we're talking about campaign finance reform, there's a 10-year-old girl who's questioning whether money dominates politics or in her case it was actually Blow Pops. Sarah Sparks (ph) ran for fourth-grade president on a platform calling for cleaner bathrooms, more activities and better cafeteria food.
Well, she says she never had a chance because her young opponent bribed voters with a candy called Blow Pops. In an e-mail to county officials Sparks said even some of her best friends were swayed by the candy. A school principal says there will be a list of campaign rules, next year.
Hmm, never too young for reform.
That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, but of course you can go online all the time at CNN's Allpolitics.com.
I'm Judy Woodruff. "WORLDVIEW" is next.
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