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Inside Politics

Rising Gas Prices Could Have Political Ramifications; Gore Unveils Social Security Plan

Aired June 20, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Rising gas costs as a presidential campaign issue. Will one candidate pay a price on Election Day?


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It's not all that obvious in this year's presidential race, not when one candidate is part of the incumbent administration and the other candidate used to be an oilman.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Bill Schneider on the political gray area at the pump.

Also ahead...


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My plan is Social Security plus, not Social Security minus; it's the best of both worlds, not the worst of both worlds.


WOODRUFF: How does the new Gore retirement savings plan compare to the Bush proposal? We'll check the facts.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're in a usual spot to be able to....

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop the execution of Gary Graham!

Don't kill an innocent man! Don't kill an innocent man!


SHAW: The death penalty debate dogging George W. Bush more intensely on the trail. ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

We begin with high gas prices and the potential fallout for Al Gore. Today, the administration continues stepping up its bid to be seen as leading the charge against possible price gouging. This as Republicans press their claim that the president and vice president share some of the blame for the problem.


SHAW (voice-over): White House spokesman Joe Lockhart criticized the oil industry, saying its contention that federal clean air regulations drove prices up just doesn't wash.

JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: None of this adds up, as far as we can see, to the kind of dramatic price rise that we saw over a very quick period.

SHAW: Lockhart urged the industry to cooperate with a federal investigation into possible price gouging. Across town, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson asked the OPEC ministers, who are preparing to meet in Vienna, to consider raising production to ease the price pressure.

BILL RICHARDSON, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: Right now, our immediate task is to try to get more gasoline in the market, try to find out the reasons for this price differential and then act.

SHAW: Behind the urgency, a hard political reality: rising gas prices may be costing consumers a few extra dollars at the pump, but they could cost Al Gore on Election Day. Gas prices are up all over the U.S., but they're highest in two states that have the power to swing the fall election: Illinois and Michigan.

According to the AAA daily survey of gas prices, a gallon of regular unleaded costs an average of $1.98 in Illinois, $2.13 in Chicago. Michigan is close behind, averaging $1.96 statewide, and $2.00 in Detroit -- a 50 cent increase since May.

Illinois and Michigan are among the most competitive states this fall, and they hold a combined 40 electoral votes, 15 percent of the total needed to win. The fear among some Democrats: that the gas hike will take the luster off Gore's "never had it so good" campaign message.

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": A couple of percentage points could easily cost him Michigan and even Illinois. And this -- if this election is as close as many people think it will be, something like gas prices, high gas prices -- which won't fundamentally change the lay of the land, but could tip the scales slightly -- could really hurt the vice president.

SHAW: While the danger for Al Gore from the Midwest price spike is clear, just what caused prices to leap remains a mystery. Oil companies say two pipeline problems cut off supply to the region for several days, and so drove up local prices. But the pipeline firm says the most serious problem was fixed months ago, time enough for the market to adjust.

The industry also blames regulations mandating cleaner-burning gas made with ethanol, which is more expensive to produce. But several cities outside the Midwest, including New York, also require the more expensive fuel, and prices in those cities haven't jumped nearly as much.


SHAW: And from Indiana today, a new effort to ease the high price of gasoline. Democratic Governor Frank O'Bannon says he is using his constitutional authority to place a 60-day moratorium on the state's 5 cents-a-gallon tax. The moratorium will go into effect on July 1, the height of the summer travel season. For the record, O'Bannon is up for re-election this year.

WOODRUFF: For more on the political ramifications of higher gas prices, we're joined now by our senior political analyst Bill Schneider -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Judy, what is the political fallout of soaring gasoline prices? Well, it's not all that obvious in this year's presidential race, not when one candidate is part of the incumbent administration and the other candidate used to be an oilman.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Who do voters blame? Government or business? The answer: both. About equal numbers blame the U.S. government and oil producers like OPEC, followed by the oil companies. Very few blame environmentalists who demand cleaner fuel, or drivers who insist on driving gigantic gas guzzlers.

Gore is vulnerable on this issue because he is the government. Just when Gore starts his prosperity and progress tour to tout all the good news, he gets hit in the face with this. The gas issue also reinforces an impression created by the Los Alamos fiasco: Does this administration know what it's doing?

BUSH: There is no plan, it seems like to me, in Washington to increase the supply of crude oil or natural gas. There is no national energy plan.

SCHNEIDER: Bush says it's a problem of supply and demand. His answer: increase supply, internationally...

BUSH: I don't understand why the administration can't get cooperation from countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Mexico who -- to open up the spigots to increase the supply of crude oil which would drop the price of crude. These are countries with which we should have enormous amount of capital. These are countries where it wasn't all that long ago that a President Bush helped Kuwait, or United States helped Mexico.

SCHNEIDER: ... and domestically.

BUSH: ... recognize that our country better become less dependent on foreign crude. That's why I'm for the exploration of Anwar, that's why I'm for the exploration of natural gas which is hemispheric, it's not subject to price.

SCHNEIDER: Sure enough, Bush voters tend to blame the government while Gore voters tend to blame oil producers.

GORE: ... because I just learned that the big oil companies' profits for the first part of this year have just gone up 500 percent.

SCHNEIDER: And which candidate does the oil industry favor? Just look at the campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry: $1.5 million to Bush, less than $100,000 to Gore. So, Gore sees a convenient target.

GORE: I think the -- that all adds up to a need for investigation of collusion, antitrust violations and price gouging.


SCHNEIDER: People blame government and business about equally. So, who gets hurt? If people get mad at business, all they can do is complain. If they get mad at government, they can vote, and that's something for Gore to think about -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: Al Gore has more on his mind this day than high gas prices, or even his announcement of his retirement savings plan. He rushed back here to Washington on the chance he may have to serve in his role as president of the Senate.

Our Chris Black joins us with details from the Hill -- Chris.

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, Vice President Al Gore took a detour from the second week of his prosperity and progress tour to leave Kentucky, moving his speech up by 40 minutes, to fly back here and break what they think is a dead-even vote on expanding federal jurisdiction for hate-crimes legislation, or hate-crimes prosecution.

The bipartisan amendment to the spending bill would increase the categories for federal prosecutors of hate crimes from the current three -- race, religion, and national origin -- to six. The new categories are gender, sexual orientation, and disability.

The roll-call vote is going on right now in the United States Senate. Gore as the vice president gets to break tie votes, it's his -- one of his few constitutional roles. He came back from the campaign trail just a month ago to do the same thing, but in the end his vote wasn't needed. Today, as he talked to reporters on Air Force 2 flying back from Kentucky, he told them why he thinks this legislation is important.


GORE: I personally don't understand why it's so difficult to see that these crimes are really different. They're fueled by a force of hatred that is unnatural, and can lead the perpetrator to do horrible things, and unless that's singled out for punishment and identified for what it is, then we're not being true to ourselves in saying that's inconsistent with the United States of America.


BLACK: The vice president has been pushing an expansion of hate crimes jurisdiction in his -- on the campaign trail and President Clinton has been pushing this for three years. The president made some phone calls to wavering senators yesterday from Houston, but Republicans say it's not necessary. In fact, the Senate just approved in a 50-49 roll-call vote an amendment sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch, which would have the Justice Department conduct a study on hate crimes -- Judy.

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

And now to Gore's main event of this day, the formal unveiling of his retirement savings proposal.

Our John King traveled with Gore to Kentucky.


JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the rollout of the new plan came a clear contrast.

GORE: My plan is Social Security plus, not Social Security minus. It's the best of both worlds, not the worst of both worlds.

KING: The vice president calls his new program "retirement savings plus." It would cost $200 billion over 10 years and offer government subsidies to encourage workers to invest up to $2,000 a year in tax-free supplemental private retirement accounts.

Couples making less than $30,000 a year would get $3 in government money for each $1 they contribute. Couples making $30,000 to $60,000 a year would get a one-for-one match from the government. And couples in the $60,000 to $100,000 income range would get 33 cents from the government for every $1 they invest in the 401(k)-style accounts. Income limits for individuals would be one-half the amount for couples.

GORE: If you believe that we shouldn't have to choose between the Social Security you have earned, and the savings and investments you deserve, then join with me and we will win this fight.

KING: Governor Bush takes a different approach. He favors allowing workers to divert a small percentage of their Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts. Those who choose this option would get slightly reduced Social Security benefits. But Bush argues earnings from the private account would more than make up the difference without creating the costly new government subsidy Gore proposes.

NEIL NEWHOUSE, GOP POLLSTER: It's those 45- to probably 60- years-olds who this is really geared toward. A big chunk of the electorate. They always -- they absolutely always vote. And right now, Gore has a significant deficit among those voters compared to where Bill Clinton was against Bob Dole.

KING: The vice president's first stop on week two of his Progress and Prosperity Tour was aimed at making up some of that lost ground. Kentucky has just eight electoral votes, but is considered a bellwether in presidential politics. Bill Clinton narrowly carried the state twice, but Kentucky was solidly in the Republican column in 1988.

GORE: If you believe that America can be better off still in terms of our affluence and in terms of our spirit four years from this day, then I want your vote.

KING: Gore advisers acknowledge Governor Bush got a head start in appealing to voters worried about retirement savings, but they predict the vice president's plan will have more appeal in the end.

(on camera): And as that competition unfolds in the months ahead, both candidates are facing criticism that their plans do little to deal with the financial crisis facing Social Security in about 25 years as more of the baby boomers retire and the system begins paying out more than it's taking in.

John King, CNN, Lexington, Kentucky.


SHAW: And we have an addition to our lead story about those high gas prices in certain Midwestern states, especially Illinois and Michigan. Vice President Gore this afternoon said that he is asking for a meeting of governors most affected. The vice president is asking the energy secretary, Bill Richardson, and EPA administrator Carol Browner to contact governors of states most affected by those high gas prices. The vice president wants a meeting so the federal government and the states can work together and come up with solutions.

Still ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS: Al Gore's plan to help retirees.


GORE: It does not come at the expense of Social Security. It comes in addition to Social Security. We will protect Social Security.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SHAW: The nuts, the bolts of Gore's plan and a look at how it differs from the Bush proposal.


WOODRUFF: With Vice President Gore formally outlining his plan today to help Americans save for retirement, the two leading presidential contenders now have competing plans on the table.

Our Brooks Jackson takes a look at both plans and how they differ.


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The stock market is about all they have in common. Al Gore and George W. Bush both propose to put tax money into private Social Security accounts, where investments could grow tax-free, like present 401(k) accounts, but otherwise their plans are very different.

Bush has offered few details, just a general approach. Gore's plan is fairly detailed as far as it goes.

Bush's plan is carved out of existing Social Security taxes. Gore's would be added on top of the existing program.

Bush has proposed no direct subsidies to savers. Gore's plan has $35 billion worth per year when fully effective.

Anybody could participate in Bush's plan. But Gore's is limited to those making under $100,000 a year.

Unlike Bush's approach, Gore's plan has a big Robin Hood element. It would transfer billions from upper-income taxpayers to lower-income savers.

GORE: The hardest-pressed working families will get even bigger tax credits.

JACKSON: Under Gore's plan, couples making $30,000 a year or less could get savings subsidies of up to $3,000 a year from the government, but to get that full benefit, they must save $1,000 of their own money. Would incentives work?

MICHAEL TANNER, CATO INSTITUTE: The problem is, if you don't have money to invest, you don't have the money.

JACKSON: Bush wouldn't rely on incentives. He'd just deposit some portion of Social Security taxes directly into private accounts.

Bush has this in common with Gore: Both leave a lot of questions about how to cure the basic ills of the Social Security system itself.

GENE STEUERLE, URBAN INSTITUTE: Social Security now has over three workers per retiree. It's going to drop to less than two workers per retiree. You cut in a third the number of taxpayers contributing to a system and you're either going cut in a third the number of benefits paid or you're going to bump up taxes quite a bit.

JACKSON: Bush's approach is to rely on gains in the stock market to fill in the gaps. But what if the gains aren't big enough or fast enough? He hasn't said.

Gore proposes to push Social Security's day of reckoning out several years by pouring in billions from general tax revenues, but he's proposed no long-term solution to Social Security solvency and has said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

TANNER: I don't think either one of them is really telling the whole story. What Bush is in essence saying is that if you eat your spinach, you'll be able to have some ice cream for dessert, but he doesn't really want to talk much about the spinach. Al Gore, on the other hand, just wants to pretend that the spinach doesn't exist.

JACKSON: Bush rules out any increase in Social Security taxes. Gore does not. Bush is open to cuts in future benefits. He'd leave that to a national commission. Gore would increase some benefits, making the money run out faster.

(on camera): There's not much political gain in talking about painful solutions, however necessary they may be. So both candidates accentuate the positive, talking about things like tax-free stock market gains and federal subsidies to save your own money.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: And joining us now, Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Ron, is Gore's plan an attempt to checkmate Bush's?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": It's an attempt to reformulate the debate. Up until today, the debate has been about whether or not the government should help people invest in the market to supplement their retirement. What Gore is trying to do is move the debate from whether to how. Now he has a competing proposal of his own on the table. They are both offering alternatives for helping people invest in the market, and you can try to shift the debate toward which approach is better.

It's similar in some ways to what Bill Clinton did in 1995 when he battled with the Republicans over the budget when he accepted the principle of the balanced budget, and the debate moved from whether to balance the budget to how. That was when he got leverage, and I think that's what the Gore people are hoping will happen this time as well.

SHAW: In your view of these two plans, the risks and the benefits?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, they both have -- they have very different risks in terms of the allocation of risk between individual and government. The Bush plan does begin a process of shifting some of the risk for retirement from this sort of collective safety net of Social Security to individuals. Because for it to work, you would in the long run have to reduce the guaranteed benefit in the hope that people would make up at least that much in what they earn on their own private account.

But the Gore plan basically adds on, as Brooks said, a new government entitlement to the existing Social Security payment, in which you would say: OK, for people earning $100,000 a year or less, we're going to help you -- we're going to subsidize your retirement.

The risk there is a fiscal risk because what you're doing is, you know -- we shouldn't be too, you know, confused here. We're creating another entitlement at a time when Social Security and Medicare are facing enormous financial pressures in the future. Gore is creating another retirement entitlement at this point. Or would be.

SHAW: Fundamentally -- or would be. Fundamentally, what has changed about this argument and is anyone winning it?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, what's changed about the argument is that over the last generation, many, many more Americans have become invested in the stock market, whether in 401(k)s or through their own accounts. About half the people in the country now have some investment in the stock market. Now, much of that is 401(k). The idea of an investor nation probably isn't as far advanced as some Republicans think.

But nonetheless, people are more comfortable with the idea of investing in the market. And I think that what you're seeing is both sides responding to a -- sort of an attractive notion for many Americans at this point, which is that the market seems to be a reasonable place to build wealth for your retirement. In some ways, they may have more faith in Wall Street than they do in Washington to provide for their future retirement.

SHAW: Now, the American voters are confronted with these two plans. But what happens -- what happens if the much-touted surplus is less?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, they are both -- you know, both of these have long-term fiscal risks. The Gore proposal -- the Gore-Clinton approach for saving Social Security, in essence, is -- there is some complicated steps -- but in essence, is to put a lot of general revenue money into it beginning in 2011.

What he's done now is create a new competitor for that general revenue money with this new entitlement for subsidized savings. Conversely, the Bush plan is relying on large Social Security surpluses to fund these individual accounts. That's how he's going to pay for them, although they haven't said this publicly. Clearly the alternative to pay for them is out of the Social Security surplus.

But when that goes away, Bernie, when the baby boom retires, he's going to have to reach into general revenue, too, to fund these accounts. And they're both creating large future obligations. So there are substantial financial risks for the government in both of these proposals, especially if the surpluses aren't as large as we anticipate now.

SHAW: Thank you.


SHAW: Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times." Boy, it's a lot, isn't it?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, it's a lot of money they're talking about.

SHAW: Big dollars.

Well, there is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Still to come:


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In California to talk education and raise money, almost 7 million this trip, Bush was greeted at a Monday night fund-raiser by people with a different agenda.


WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley on the GOP hopeful and an issue that keeps cropping up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to learn the lessons of last night also so that we will have an outstanding and safe Democratic National Convention in August.


SHAW: Laker mayhem in Los Angeles. Will things be different when the Democrats come to town?

And later...

WOODRUFF: The presidential race and Ralph Nader. We'll ask the Green Party candidate about his campaign, the debates and the latest polls.


WOODRUFF: We'll have more of the day's political news coming up. But now a look at some other top stories.

A federal judge sides with the Justice Department and sends the Microsoft anti-trust case directly to the Supreme Court. Today's ruling is seen as a major victory for the Justice Department, which wants the case heard quickly. Microsoft is appealing the order that would split the company and would impose new business restrictions on it.

SHAW: Investigators say they don't know how long those secret computer disks were missing from a Los Alamos Laboratory vault. The last audit shows they were there just after New Year's. The hard drives containing nuclear secrets reappeared last week after they were discovered missing May 7th. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson will appear before a Senate Arms Services Committee hearing tomorrow.

WOODRUFF: A hearing began today in Connecticut for Kennedy relative Michael Skakel. It will determine whether Skakel, the nephew of Bobby Kennedy's wife, Ethel, will be charged as an adult in a 25- year-old murder case.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Michael Skakel began to cry during the testimony of his former schoolmate. That man, John Higgins, testified that Skakel and he were on patrol late one night at which time Skakel told him about the events of the night Martha Moxley was murdered.

According to the classmate, Skakel said that he remembers running through the woods with a golf club, reaching the pine trees and then blacking out. The schoolmate then said Skakel admitted saying he did it. But on crossexamination Skakel's attorney accused the man of lying to collect a reward.

MICKEY SHERMAN, SKAKEL'S ATTORNEY: Higgins lied about whether or not he heard Michael Skakel confess, and he admitted a few moments ago that he lied. He said very specifically, yes, I lied.

QUESTION: About hearing it?

SHERMAN: Yes. But he said, now I'm not lying. So, you know, the question is how do you tell when this guy's not lying. I don't know.

FEYERICK: Two other witnesses also took the stand: one a friend of Martha's who found the girl's body; the second person, a former captain, Tom Kegan (ph). He spoke about the golf club used as the murder weapon. That golf club today was introduced as evidence. And he said that a missing piece, which contained the Skakel name, made it very suspicious, pointing to the Skakel family.

Now on crossexamination, that captain actually admitted that on the golf club there were no fingerprints and that there was nothing to indicate that Michael Skakel killed Martha Moxley.

Reporting from Stamford, Connecticut, Deborah Feyerick, CNN.


WOODRUFF: A woman who taught Bible at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas testified today in the wrongful death suit against the government. The suit was brought by survivors and relatives of the deadly siege. Rita Riddle (ph) says she saw ATF agents knock over fuel tanks weeks before fire destroyed the compound, and killed more than 80 people in 1993.

SHAW: Late word from the Hill on the hate crimes legislation by a Senate vote of 57-42. Passage has been given to the Kennedy measure within the Hate Crimes Bill. Vice President Gore had flown back to Washington to stand by in his role as President in the Senate to cast a tie-breaking vote. But the 57-42 vote made it unnecessary for him to do so.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, as George W. Bush stops in California again, is he making any headway there? We'll have a snapshot of the race, and Bush's swing through "the Golden State."


WOODRUFF: In California, Al Gore has widened his lead over George W. Bush to 11 points in a new Field poll of likely voters there. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader gets 7 percent and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan 2 percent. Gore's strength in California comes from Hispanics and other minorities, which favor him about 2 to 1 over Bush, and from the state's two biggest metro areas, Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay area.

Bush is in California today, his ninth swing through the state since the clinching of the GOP presidential nomination back in March. While Bush tried to keep the focus on education, he also faced fallout from an execution scheduled in his home state this Thursday.

Our Candy Crowley is with Bush in California.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Silicon Valley, home of high-tech, George Bush pushed $2.3-billion-worth of initiatives aimed at improving math and science education.

BUSH: This is America. There's no reason for us to be next to last in the world in math. There's no reason for us to be last in physics.

CROWLEY: In California to talk education and raise money, almost 7 million this trip, Bush was greeted at a Monday night fund-raiser by people with a different agenda.


There is new life in the anti-death penalty movement, triggered by stories of condemned prisoners found to be innocent and a study showing a high rate of reversal on appeal in death penalty cases.

Aboard the flight West, Bush told reporters, "Fine people can disagree; it's not an easy issue." On the fact of it, the death penalty does not look like much of a vote-changer. Most Americans support the death penalty, including George Bush and Al Gore, but Bush is governor of a state with a comparatively brisk rate of executions and he's been resolute in his faith that no innocent person has been put to death in Texas.

The combination tends to stoke the death penalty issue, focusing national headlines on each Texas case and protests along the Bush campaign trail.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: And there will be a chair for him, because if he really that Gary Graham is guilty, if he believes that the state will be safer on Thursday night at 6:15, he should witness the killing, or the murder, of Mr. Graham.

CROWLEY: Texas inmate Gary Graham is scheduled for execution Thursday for a murder committed in 1981. Graham says he didn't do it and a spate of national stories suggests the case against him had significant holes unexplored by a lax court-appointed lawyer. Graham's life can be spared with a majority vote of a Bush-appointed pardons board and Bush's approval.

The governor's only singular power in these cases is to grant a temporary 30-day stay. Bush won't say whether he will, and there is some legal question whether he can grant a stay in the Graham case. He avoided questions about it Tuesday.

BUSH: Not right now.

CROWLEY: En route to the West Coast Monday, Bush said he has spent a lot of time looking at the Graham record. On whether the death penalty issue hurts his campaign, Bush said: "This is what happens when you are a decision-maker. Sometimes it is going to be controversial. I hope voters see somebody who upholds the law."

Bush has only granted one temporary stay in his 5 1/2 years as governor. That was 19 days ago, delaying an execution pending some DNA testing. It was a move criticized in Texas as political.


CROWLEY: So far, there is no evidence in the polls that this issue is hurting the Bush campaign. Still, for every day the focus is on the death penalty, the focus is not on the Bush agenda -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Candy. Also in the state where you are today, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan condemned the violence that erupted after the Los Angeles Lakers championship win last night as the work of -- quote -- "a few hundred hoodlums." And he assured city residents that the streets of Los Angeles will be safe during the Democratic national convention in August.

Our Bruce Morton has more on the unrest, and what may or may not happen when the Democrats come to town.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lakers win: Nothing wrong with that, unless you happen to be a Pacers fan. Lakers, Laker fans celebrate: Nothing wrong with that. But some turn ugly, set fires, clash with police -- 11 arrests, two police cars, two TV vans trashed. Why do you burn and break things when your team won?

MAYOR RICHARD RIORDAN (R), LOS ANGELES: These are not fans. They are losers who only know how to trash our city. They're vandals.

MORTON: As sports violence goes, this is small. English soccer fans are famous for riots: 39 fans dies when Liverpool played Italy's Uventis (ph) in 1985. England was banned from European matches for five years, but they're back and making trouble again.

Political violence is sometimes understandable. Many African- Americans probably thought the acquittal of the white Los Angeles police who beat Rodney King was wrong. Some after the 1992 verdict took to the streets.

Anti-Vietnam War demonstrators clashed with police at, or really outside, the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968. A later investigation described what happened as a police riot.

Well, of course, Los Angeles will host the Democratic convention this summer. What about that?

RIORDAN: I am highly confident that we will do the best job of security in any convention in history.

MORTON: Maybe. We do know that demonstrators came to Seattle and then to Washington, D.C. to protest the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and various trade policies of which they disapproved. They've promised to be in Philadelphia for the Republicans and Los Angeles for the Democrats, though most say they're committed to nonviolence.

The chance of other crowds passionately for or against Al Gore or George W. Bush: So far, polls suggest, most Americans would rather watch "hoops," non-violently, of course.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And coming up, we will ask Ralph Nader about his net worth, about an upcoming meeting with Teamsters leaders, and more.


WOODRUFF: New numbers from the Federal Election Commission show George W. Bush ahead in fund raising, though Al Gore has more funds currently available. In the month of May, Bush raised just over six million dollars, bringing his total fund raising to more than $90 million. But the GOP hopeful has just seven million dollars in cash on hand. Al Gore raised almost four million dollars in May, bringing his campaign total to $49 million. Gore has more than nine million dollars on hand, including one million due in matching funds.

Well, joining us now, the Green Party presidential candidate, Ralph Nader.

The FEC says they don't have your numbers, yet, but can you tell us how much do you have on hand and how much have you raised?

RALPH NADER, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, GREEN PARTY: We've raised about $800,000 and we've filed our first matching funds with the FEC.

WOODRUFF: Putting you way behind these other gentlemen.

NADER: Well, we make up in energy, time and volunteers.

WOODRUFF: Ralph Nader, it was reported just a day ago that your net worth close to four million dollars. After all these years you've spent as a consumer advocate, railing against big corporations, much of your net worth apparently in stocks, in the very corporations, some of which you've been railing against. Some people say this is hypocrisy.

NADER: Well, it isn't, because most of the money -- and it's not much compared to what these executives often pick up in a couple weeks at their job -- it's not much when you consider what we're up against, trillion dollar industries. And it's not much when you consider that I donate over 80 percent of my earnings to civic projects and charitable activities, which is embarrassingly comparative to Gore and Bush.

WOODRUFF: One of main companies you're invested in, Cisco systems, is deeply into trade with China. They're going to make something like half a billion dollars this year, next year. Now, this is something you are personally very much against. Is there a contradiction here?

NADER: No, because I don't mind trade with China in non-weapons and non-toxic materials. Basically, producers of routers and other...

WOODRUFF: Computers parts...

NADER: ... computers for the Internet, so it really doesn't accord with my oppositions, basically. And not monitoring the Chinese regime, and multi-national U.S. corporations, who are taking factories and setting factories up over there.

WOODRUFF: I'm going to skip around a lot because there's a lot of ground I want to cover today. You're having a joint news conference, we're told, this Thursday, with some leaders of the Teamsters Union. Are they going to endorse you for president?

NADER: I mean, you have to ask them. I don't know how they do their decisions, but I know they're very upset with the Clinton-Gore administration, not only on issues dealing with NAFTA and the situation on the border in Mexico, but generally the anti-labor positions. I mean, Gore has just appointed William Daley of the Department of Commerce, the point man for GATT and NAFTA as his campaign director. It's just rubbing it in again and again. It's NAFTA, it's WTO, it's China, and now it's William Daley.

WOODRUFF: But you're having a news conference with them. You must have discussed with them what's going to be said.

NADER: No, actually, I haven't. I hope they say some nice things. I mean, we are appealing to labor all over the country.

WOODRUFF: For their support.


WOODRUFF: But you don't know at this point whether they plan to...


WOODRUFF: You've asked them for their endorsement.

NADER: No, I haven't asked them.

WOODRUFF: You have not asked them.


WOODRUFF: So you literally, you don't know at this point.

NADER: It's very rare that I ask anybody for endorsements. I mean, if they want to come support, fine.

WOODRUFF: You are suing the federal government over the corporate sponsorship of the presidential debates, sponsored by the Debate Commission this fall. Does it really matter if there's corporate money in these debates?

NADER: Well, it highlights the exclusive nature. I mean, this corporate money -- and in the past, it's been tobacco, auto, liquor money -- to a Debate Commission that's a private entity created by Republican and Democratic parties. And one of its purposes is to exclude competition. They let Ross Perot in 1992, and they're never going to make that same mistake again.

Well, I don't think the federal laws allows corporations to fund what is in effect a two-hour campaign commercial for Bush and Gore, and to do it in a way that supports exclusion. I think the American people are going to fall asleep watching the drab debate the dreary.

WOODRUFF: The Reform Party: some division in the ranks of the Buchanan candidacy. He lost his co-chair yesterday, Lenora Fulani. Are you interested in pursuing the Reform Party?

NADER: No, I think that that's going to be Pat Buchanan's victory. He's worked very hard for it, and it is going to be a raucous convention, I know. But I'm focusing on, which is our burgeoning Web site, full of good information and opportunities for people to be part of a progressive political movement.

Our lead story today: higher gas prices, much higher in some parts of the country, particularly the Midwest.

Why are they so high, do you think?

NADER: Well, not because there's any shortage of petroleum in the world, or produced petroleum. It's the ability of the oil industry, if there's a refinery shut down or some, you know, squeegee in the pipeline to suddenly jack the prices up. And, you know, years ago this would have led to a congressional investigation, to an investigation by the Department of Energy. And other than a few probes by the EPA, I think President Clinton is not taking this seriously. There's an uproar in the Midwest on this. It's going well over two dollars an hour -- two dollars a gallon.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ralph Nader, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

And when we return, could Ralph Nader be a threat to Al Gore in California? We'll ask Mark Shields and Kate O'Beirne.


SHAW: At CNN's, you can enter the "Veepstakes 2000" and pick whom you think George W. Bush will choose as his vice presidential running mate. Soon, you'll also be able to weigh in on the Democratic contest. Just go to CNN's and click on "veepstakes."

Joining us now, these two, CNN's "CAPITOL GANG" -- Mark Shields, and Kate O'Beirne.

A short while ago here on INSIDE POLITICS, Judy Woodruff reporting a field poll result showing Al Gore with an 11-point lead over Governor Bush in California; third, Ralph Nader with 7 points. Nader just here a few minutes agent.

Is Ralph Nader bad news for Al Gore in California?

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I think Ralph Nader is potentially bad news for Al Gore in California, which is key to Al Gore. Al Gore has visited California on average once every six weeks for the past eight years, nobody knows better than Al Gore how key California is. And Ralph Nader I think is potential problem out there for him.

MARK SHIELDS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I just got back from California, Bernie, and Republicans there predicate their hopes, which are not profound hopes, of carrying California for George Bush in the fall on Ralph Nader is doing very well.

The fact he's getting 7 points this early, you can be sure of one thing, and that is that those points are not coming from George Bush. They're either coming from people who aren't going to vote, don't see that much of a difference between Gore and Bush, or aren't excited by either candidacy, or Democrats who are for one reason or another disaffected with Bush -- with Gore, excuse me.

SHAW: But Nader has made it very clear, he's not going away.

SHIELDS: No, no, he's not going away and in some respects he may be the best thing that happened to Al Gore if in fact he forces Al Gore to sharpen and define himself more precisely as a Democrat, I would say, in California.

Remember this about California, California is one of only three states in the Union -- only three -- that has a Democratic governor, two Democratic senators, a Democratic legislature in both Houses, and a majority in the congressional delegation. So, I mean, it's a Democratic state. Bill Clinton carried it twice by 13 percent. Gray Davis, the Democratic governor, won in 1998 by a bigger margin than Ronald Reagan ever won the governorship.

O'BEIRNE: The Republicans, though, are optimistic that they have a candidate in Governor Bush who is going to have more appeal in California certainly than Bob Dole did in 1996.

SHIELDS: They...

O'BEIRNE: Bob Dole identified, it seems to me, the minimum Republican vote in California in 1996, he got 36 percent.

They're optimistic that Governor Bush is a more attractive candidate, he certainly has a record of appealing to Latino voters to a far greater extent than your typical Republican candidate. So, they are cautiously optimistic, but they are hoping Ralph Nader plays a spoiler role here.

SHIELDS: Big difference in California, though, in the last decade. There are a million more Latinos in California than there were a decade ago, a million more, there are a hundred thousand pure Anglos. I point that out because in 1998 Gray Davis won 78 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Pete Wilson, only Republican to win statewide office in California at the senatorial, gubernatorial election in the last 10 years. His Proposition 187 left the Latinos angry at the Republicans. So it's an uphill battle for George Bush in California.

SHAW: A Bush problem, home state, Texas, Thursday is the deadline for granting a reprieve in the execution of Gary Graham, the scheduled execution. Is Bush in a tough spot politically?

O'BEIRNE: I don't think so on this one. I mean, clearly there are all sorts of voices. The anti-death penalty movement it seems to me has shifted from arguing on behalf of the poor misunderstood criminal on death row to raising questions about whether or not people are truly guilty, which I think is far more effective for those who have misgivings about the death penalty. But Al Gore certainly has not talked about the death penalty. I think he fears reviving the image of the Democratic Party as being soft on crime, which they worked mightily to do away with. So, I don't think he is going to be criticized by Al Gore.

I do think there are going to be voices trying to paint Texas as outside the mainstream. It is important to remember that despite the number of executions in Texas, less than 3 percent of murder cases even in Texas wind up in executions.

SHIELDS: It's a tricky issue for George Bush. He's used it to establish he's bona fide, he's a tough on crime guy, and he's boasted time and again, I've -- completely confident about every execution.

What we are seeing in study after study is evidence that -- of mistakes that are made, of inadequate representation, half being overturned on appeal, and I just think that that's the risk that George Bush has. He's not going to win anybody over from the anti- death penalty side by changing his tune at this point.

It's a little bit -- not to be analogous, or overly analogous -- to Al Gore on Elian Gonzalez for George Bush to change now -- politically. I'm not talking about the ethics or the morality of it, I'm talking about the politics of it. He picks up nothing now by becoming more doubting about the death penalty.

SHAW: And succinctly, because we are going to visit this subject with you many more times in the future, your initial judgment now that both candidates have plans on the table to address concerns of people when they face retirement.

O'BEIRNE: Al Gore is now recognizing this retirement savings plan he has as the latest evidence of that, the political reality of the growing class of investors. Over 50 percent of households now invest in the stock market at relatively modest income, so it's a tribute, I think -- this new plan -- to the popularity of George Bush's Social Security personal accounts.

SHAW: And Mark.

SHIELDS: I think Al Gore's plan is entirely different from George Bush's, but I think at the same time by offering it, which is a plan that can stand on its own merits, it is does obscure the differences between the two parties on this issue and I think that works to Bush's advantage.

SHAW: Mark Shields, Kate O'Beirne, thank you.

O'BEIRNE: Thanks, Bernie.

SHAW: See you.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. "WORLDVIEW" is next.



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