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CNN Late Edition
Bob Dole Discusses Campaign 2000; Pat Buchanan Talks About His Bid for the Reform Party NominationAired July 2, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles, 11 a.m. in Mexico City and 5 p.m. in London.
Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90-minute LATE EDITION.
We'll get to our guests including former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole shortly but first a look at our top stories. We begin in Mexico, where voters today are choosing a new president. The election could mark the end of 71 years in power for Mexico's ruling party.
Joining us now live with the latest is CNN's Mexico City bureau chief Harris Whitbeck.
HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN MEXICO CITY BUREAU CHIEF: Good morning, Wolf.
Polls throughout the country opened about three hours ago. About 113,000 voting centers have been set up throughout the country. And throughout the day 59 million people will be casting votes for president, to renew the Congress and Senate here and to vote for new governors in two states, and a new mayor for Mexico City. So far there have been no irregularities reported. We understand turnout has been high. A lot of national and international observers are monitoring this election closely. Among them former U.S. President Jimmy Carter who has some good things to say about what he saw this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think this is probably the best organized, you know, process, legally, that I have ever seen. It is very clear. The central election commission has complete authority. All members of it have been agreed upon by all three major parties, so there is no prejudice there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITBECK: Mexico's federal electoral institute has spent a lot of money to ensure the cleanliness of this process. About a billion dollars has been spent in installing new computer systems and also in instituting programs to educate the Mexican voters about their rights. The idea here, is to improve the political culture in a country that has been used to over seven decades of a one party system. Wolf?
BLITZER: Harris Whitbeck in Mexico City, thanks.
And stay with CNN for complete coverage as this day of elections in Mexico continues.
In other news, the president of the Cuban national assembly says it is time for the U.S. and Cuba to let bygones be bygones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICARDO ALARCON, PRESIDENT, CUBAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: We are prepared to forget the past. To look towards the future, and to accommodate ourselves with the new relationship with America, but please, the ones who establish this policy are the ones who have to change it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: In the interview Alarcon made no concessions, refusing to signal any significant change in Cuba's policies following the return this past week of Elian Gonzalez.
In Northern Ireland where there has been a tenuous peace agreement between Protestants and Catholics, police are trying to maintain calm in the village of Dumphrey (ph). Several thousand members of the Orange Order, a Protestant pro-British group paraded through the Catholic part of town as part of the annual marching season. Some scuffles broke out between protesters and police, but the day so far has been relatively orderly.
Here in the United States as July 4th Independence Day approaches, a new study reports the major monuments in the nation's capital may be easy targets for a terrorist attack. The study commissioned by the National Park Service suggests more officers and a budget increase could help secure vulnerable areas on the national mall, but police say there is no cause for concern about the fireworks celebrations scheduled for Tuesday.
Returning now to the U.S. presidential race. Four years ago it was former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who ran as the Republican Party's presidential nominee. This weekend, I had a chance to talk with him about this year's presidential race, and more.
BLITZER: Senator Dole, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
BOB DOLE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Always great to have you on, especially this July Fourth holiday weekend. And I want to talk about July Fourth, World War II, patriotism, all that stuff. But let's go through a little political stuff right now. You remember politics?
DOLE: I'm a little rusty on that... BLITZER: At one point in your life you were pretty interested in politics. We've got some new numbers here, our latest CNN/USA Today/Gallop poll. It shows, among likely voters, George W. Bush at 50 percent, Al Gore at 38 percent, Ralph Nader at 6 percent, your old friend Pat Buchanan down at 2 percent, not doing very well right now.
Does this mean that George W. Bush at this point can coast, can, sort of, rest easy, given this 12-point lead he has in our poll?
DOLE: I don't think so, because it, you know, it is about the end of June, July, July Fourth weekend's coming up, and now that many people are focused. Obviously it's good news for George Bush. I think the best news in that poll is the Nader vote.
BLITZER: Because those voters would vote for...
DOLE: I think probably 90 percent would be Gore voters, and the Buchanan voters would probably be 90 percent Bush voters. So if Buchanan's at 2 percent and Nader's at 6 percent, that's got to be good news.
BLITZER: And especially in a state like California...
BLITZER: ... where Nader is even doing better than that, presumably.
DOLE: And of course that really wasn't in play in '96. We thought it was, but turned out it was not. It could be in play, it could have a big, big impact on the election.
BLITZER: Now, Pat Buchanan -- some say he was a spoiler in '92, hurt President Bush's chances. Others say he hurt your chances in '96.
DOLE: He didn't help them any.
BLITZER: Is he going to be a spoiler for George W. Bush this time around?
DOLE: I don't think so. I don't think there are many angry people out there, as many as there were particularly in '92. There were fewer in '96. There are even fewer in the year 2000.
I think Pat -- Pat's going to have a problem. I mean, he may get a little more than 2 percent, but I don't think much more.
BLITZER: And so you don't think that George W. Bush has a lot to worry about from that element -- that very conservative element that normally would support Pat Buchanan?
DOLE: I don't believe so. I mean, it seems to me that Bush is in a pretty good position, if we just keep the abortion thing under, you know, keep it under control and not make that the big fight and talk about other issues that are very, very important. He has a got shot of winning.
BLITZER: What -- I want to get to that abortion issue in a second, but the whole question of debates. Shouldn't Nader and Buchanan be allowed to participate in the debates if they're still running at 6 and 3 or 2 percent of the vote, or that 15 percent threshold, is that something that the debate organizers should hold to?
DOLE: Well, there's nothing magic about it. I think if they were crowding it, let's say if they're at 10, 12 percent, you say, OK, let's open this up. I don't -- but at 2 percent I don't know why anybody would feel compelled and have Pat Buchanan. He might think he could go to 3 or 5 or 10 percent if he were in the debates, but, you know, we went through all of this and we were accused of keeping Perot out of the debates. I'm not certain that's accurate.
But I'll leave it up to the organizers. It's going to cause the candidates some angst because they're going to be asked, you know, Why don't you let these people in? And I don't know what Bush or Gore might say at this point.
BLITZER: You were once a vice presidential running mate. What should George W. Bush be looking for right now in his very important decision who's going to be his number two?
DOLE: Well, they always say you look for somebody who can be president, but that -- and that's good, it makes a nice sound bite, but what you're looking for is somebody who can help you win, or at least not hurt you. Some would say it doesn't make any difference, you know, they're voting for president, voting for Al Gore or George Bush, may not be voting for number two.
So I think Bush should be looking for somebody who should be president and somebody who should help -- could help him. I still think Tom Ridge would be a good choice, that's my view.
BLITZER: Even though he supports a woman's right to have an abortion.
DOLE: He supports that, but he also supports the ban on partial- birth abortion, notwithstanding the Supreme Court's case, and I think the Supreme Court's decision is going to make that a bigger issue now. It may make it easier for George Bush or it may make it tougher, depending on how the pro-life people react.
BLITZER: And what about Mrs. Dole?
DOLE: Well, she'd be a great choice. Again, I think she would be -- but, again, she's in a state, North Carolina, that Bush probably feels is probably already -- looks pretty good. He may want to go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois. Because if he can break one of those states and do well in the South as he is in the West and the Rocky Mountains, he's going to win.
BLITZER: Sounds like it's unlikely, you think, that he's going to pick Mrs. Dole. DOLE: Well, there's no gender gap. I think that's a -- you know -- we suffer from a gender gap. I don't see that right now. Of course the heavy artillery hasn't come down yet. But...
BLITZER: Has she been called by Dick Cheney, who's supervising the selection process?
DOLE: Well, I think I'm not at liberty to say.
BLITZER: I see. You don't want to get into that.
DOLE: I don't want to...
BLITZER: So public housing is...
DOLE: And I have good long weekend at home.
BLITZER: Public housing for you doesn't seem to be in the future anytime soon.
BLITZER: Public housing.
DOLE: No, I don't think so. I haven't had government housing since I left the service. And I thought there was a chance in '96, but looks pretty dim right now.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit, before we get to the abortion issue, about what Gore should be looking for in a vice presidential candidate. Put on your political hat.
DOLE: He's going to be looking for a lot of things, you know. But, again, you know, I think the choice is he -- all these names out to be -- when you sit down to really do it as we did, and I'm certain as George Bush and Al Gore will do, there aren't going to be that many choices. I think Bill Richardson's probably in some difficulty.
DOLE: And they talked about -- Evan Bayh, is a very fine young senator, but I don't think Gore will carry Indiana. Feinstein, if he's doing well in California, that's probably not a -- so I don't know who he has on his list, maybe Bill Bradley, maybe somebody else, maybe John Kerry, I don't know.
BLITZER: It's still open.
Let's talk a little about this issue -- a very divisive issue of abortion. You think that, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision saying that this late-term abortion procedure, known as partial birth abortion, is unconstitutional -- that was a five-to -our vote. And a lot of people are saying, Gore especially, if you vote for George W. Bush, that one vote -- there could be two or three or four new Supreme Court justices -- that could have an enormous impact on whether abortions would be legal in this country.
DOLE: I think it will have an impact. And I think both sides are going to use this -- there will be new judges appointed. We tried to make the point that -- you always try to make the point that the judiciary is very important and who makes the appointment is going to be very important -- the nominations. I think Bush can make his case. Gore can make his case. But I'm not certain how many voters other than the strong pro-choice or pro-life voters are really going to pay much attention.
BLITZER: You know, you tried, in '96, to get that tolerance plant through the platform at the Republican convention, didn't go very far.
DOLE: Well, somebody reneged at the last moment. We thought we had it worked out and I've never quite determined who it was, but...
BLITZER: Is it a useful thing to try to reinsert this time?
DOLE: Well, apparently they're not going to do that. They're going say, Let's just go to the platform -- I mean, I think the candidate will make it clear that he's tolerant. And, again, I was accused of not reading the platform. Well wrote most of it. We didn't have to reread it.
But it's not a binding document. It's a party -- people come together for a couple of days and many people without a lot of expertise and they write all these things to the platform, you can't bind the candidate on every issue.
BLITZER: It looks now that Al Gore is trying to do to George W. Bush what Bill Clinton did to you four years ago, say there are risky tax cuts, that you're going to endanger the future of Social Security. Can Al Gore get away with that this time, given the current political climate?
DOLE: I don't think so. I think it's changed. I mean, I look back on my career, I think saving Social Security is my proudest achievement, but you never would have known that after '96.
I think the fact that Newt, who is a friend of mine, who is not around, is going to help George Bush. He was in every Bob Dole ad. Every anti- -- every Clinton-Gore ad had me and Newt, sort of, joined at the hip, and his favorable rating was not particularly high.
But they are going to make the effort. They're going to come after Bush on Medicare and the Republican Party, the hard right, everything you can think of, Social Security.
BLITZER: On Social Security, as you know, Governor Bush wants to give an opportunity to privatize some of the investment -- let individual recipients invest some of that money in the stock market. Gore says that's a risky scheme and it's going to hurt and it's going to cause all sorts of problems down the road. What's your sense, as someone who spent a lifetime studying Social Security? DOLE: I think it's a step in the right direction. I mean, we got a younger generation out there that would like to invest some of their own money. He's not talking about a lot of money.
I think the one thing that Bush will have to reassure people, sort of, in the pipeline, that they're not going to be affected. And it's -- you know, they can -- they don't have to do this, they can stay right on track and get their Social Security benefit.
BLITZER: And they would still have piece of mind, you think even if some of its small portion were invested in the stock market?
DOLE: And let's face it, Social Security is going to be in good shape now until the year 2018 or beyond. So it's, we think we did a pretty good fix in 1983. We thought it was going to be 75 years, it's probably going to be a 50-year fix, but that's not bad.
BLITZER: All right.
Senator, we have to take a quick break.
Up next, Senator Dole's latest project to build a World War II memorial on the national Mall. What could be wrong with that? We'll discuss the memorial, the Mall and the controversy, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The event that speaks most to the courage and character of America is World War II. It defined the 20th century. And until it has a place on our national Mall, the story of America that is told there will be woefully incomplete.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Clinton joined Senator Bob Dole on Thursday, lending his support to the World War II memorial on the national Mall here in Washington.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
With us this holiday weekend is the former Republican presidential nominee and World War II veteran Bob Dole.
Senator Dole, give us a status report. What are the prospects that this Mall -- this memorial is going to get off the ground?
DOLE: It's well off the ground. We've raised about a gross of about $140 million. We've raised net...
BLITZER: From private sources.
DOLE: Private sources. There's some government money. We're going to pay back about $5 million of the government money. And the government's going to pay for the dedication -- we don't think we should raise that money -- and the groundbreaking.
So we have about $92 million net and we need about $98.6 or -- net. So we're only about $6 million, $7 million short.
BLITZER: And we're looking at some pictures of some artists' renderings of what it will look like once it's completed.
You know, it's hard to believe that there could be a controversy surrounding this memorial, but there is as you know. In fact, one World War II veteran, Charles Cassell (ph), an architect, says it's the wrong place to do it. It's a good idea to have a memorial, but it's the wrong place.
Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES CASSELL, ARCHITECT: We think that the World War II veterans certainly need to be recognized. And there should be a proper memorial, but not at this place. This is the wrong place for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Those who oppose it say it would mar the scenery, the openness of the national Mall.
DOLE: Well, you know, I didn't pick the site, but I disagree. And Mr. Cassell has every right -- we fought for freedom of expression, so I want him to have his views. But this is the most important event in the 20th century, and had we not prevailed, it wouldn't make much difference whether we had the Lincoln Memorial there or the Washington Monument, we wouldn't be in charge; somebody else would be.
That's how important World War II was and that's the point I think President Clinton made. He dedicated the site in 1995, so I don't know where these people have been for the last five years.
BLITZER: Is patriotism waning in America now?
DOLE: Well, I think it's growing.
BLITZER: Really. Why do you think so?
DOLE: In fact, I wrote a letter to President Bush saying I hope that we have a little segment at the convention -- I wrote to President Bush about it because he's a World War II veteran and a World War II hero -- on veterans. Because I just feel it as I travel around the country and the response we've had to the World War II memorial.
Even though we've lost 10 million World War II veterans and there are less than 6 million left, I think there's a growing feeling about veterans, veteran's service, others who stayed home on the farm or taught or whatever and made all this work. So I think it's on the upsurge.
BLITZER: And you get emotional, you get passionate when it comes...
DOLE: I do.
BLITZER: ... to this issue, because a lot of World War II veterans, a lot of people who lived through World War II unfortunately are passing away.
DOLE: Most of them are. I mean 10 million out of 16 million are gone. So this is not a memorial for us. What we would like to think -- maybe we're wishful thinking, that 10 years from now or 20 years from now or 30, our children or grandchildren will go by and say, You know, this is what it's all about. I mean, this is sacrifice. This is what -- how you preserve liberty and freedom.
And we think it's going to be a very fine, dignified memorial. It's going to -- this is an American memorial. It's not just those of us in uniform. Not everybody could wear a uniform. We had to have the teachers and the shopkeepers and Rosey the Riveters and the farmers. It's a national memorial to the greatest victory in the history of America.
BLITZER: All right. Switching gears. You've spent a little time over these past few years having some fun. You're a regular political analyst on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. We've all had a good time enjoying your performances there.
Some people say that the humor that you've been showing, the jokes, the past few years, if only you had done that in '96...
DOLE: You ought to see my mail. I mean, the letters are, saying, gee, If you would have done this before the election, I'd have voted for you.
But I think people on the Hill understood I had -- you know, liked to have a little fun.
BLITZER: Insiders knew you had a good sense of humor for years, but most Americans, you know, remember the hatchet man, the tough guy...
DOLE: The hatchet man, the tough guy, the partisan, and of course, you have to -- if you're the leader, you have to carry the flag if you're the leader of either party. But I got a lot more relaxed. I don't have to worry about what somebody may think about it. I try to you know keep it clean and short and hopefully funny.
BLITZER: You know, on our sister network, the Cartoon Network, there's a fictitious election going on...
BLITZER: ... and that you were involved in this as well. I'm going to show our audience around the world, Bob Dole -- a different side of Bob Dole.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOLE: From his famous speech in the Senate on behalf of rabbit rights, to his service in the military in the name of freedom, Bugs has shown us all how to be honorable and inspired people. I dream of a world built on honor and inspiration. I dream of a president like Bugs Bunny. So get out there and vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOLE: You know, we did that to get the kids to get to their parents. We figure if the kids are going to get excited about it, they're going to go and say, Mommy, why aren't you going to vote? You know, I'm voting for Bugs Bunny or whoever. So we think it might work.
BLITZER: It's an adorable, cute little promotion for voting. And I urge everyone to go out there and vote.
DOLE: Yes. I don't do quite as well as Michael Jordan with Tweety but I'm working on it.
BLITZER: You've got a future in this business.
Senator Bob Dole on this July Fourth holiday weekend. Thank you so much.
DOLE: And don't forget the 800-number, 1-800-639-4WW2, if you want to send some money for the World War II memorial.
BLITZER: All right. Bob Dole. It's time to say thank you and hopefully a lot of people will.
DOLE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks for joining us.
DOLE: Have a good weekend.
BLITZER: You, too.
BLITZER: And coming up next, Pat Buchanan's brigades have more than the Fourth of July to celebrate this weekend. A late development appears to give their candidate a clear path to the Reform Party presidential nominations.
We'll talk with Pat Buchanan about his plans for challenging the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees in November when LATE EDITION continues.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT BUCHANAN (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is if you will a conspiracy by the two parties to keep third parties out of the presidential debates and therefore to maintain a hammerlock on the presidency of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan criticizing the decision to limit this year's presidential debates to candidates who have about 15 percent support in the national polls.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now from the campaign trail in Spokane, Washington, is Pat Buchanan.
Always good to have you on LATE EDITION, Mr. Buchanan. Thanks for joining us.
BUCHANAN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: If you are now, according to the latest CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll, at two percent. Nader's at six percent. Why should either of you have a chance to appear in those nationally televised debates in the fall?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think there's a difference between Ralph and I. If I'm the nominee of the Reform Party, we are one of three recognized parties by the Federal Election Commission, Wolf. We get federal matching funds for our convention, federal funds for our campaign. The taxpayers of the United States will be funding the campaign of the Reform party. And the question is who decides.
The Presidential Debate Commission is basically, a little collusive conspiracy between the two parties in power, Republicans and Democrats, the objective of which is to keep our party, the third party, out of the debates that are going to decide the election. The key issue is, should Frank Fehrenkopf (ph) and Paul Kirk tell the American people whom they may here in the critical presidential debates, or should the American people decide that?
When the question is asked should Pat Buchanan be in the debates, the answer comes over 50 percent say yes. That should be the determinant factor, not where I stand in the polls. After all, in Mexico, in Mexico they had six candidates in their first debate and the three major candidates were in every debate.
BLITZER: You know, Paul Kirk one of the co-chairmen of those presidential debates commission, he said this actually June 21st. He said our role is not to jump-start your campaign and all of a sudden make you competitive. It is not a perfect analogy but in sports, people understand you don't make the play-offs, unless you start to accumulate enough wins to show you're competitive. Frank Fehrenkopf (ph), the Republican co-chairman, says basically the same thing. BUCHANAN: All right, now this is just the point. Who is Paul Kirk? He is an ex-Democratic party chair. Who is Frank Fehrenkopf? He is an ex-Republican party chair who is currently a lobbyist, a million dollar a year lobbyist, for the Nevada gambling industry! Who are these two individuals and a commission which is entirely Republican and entirely Democrat combined, a Republican commission. Who are they to decide for the American people?
Fifty percent of the American people want me in those debates, and our party there. We have reached all the criterion set by the Congress of the United States. Five percent in 1996. We are on the ballot in all 50 states. I have gotten three million votes against Senator Dole, three million votes against the president of the United States, George Bush 10 weeks after coming off a television talk show.
Our argument is simply this: let the American people decide who they want to be president, who they want in debates, and not these two political operatives who represent, their respective parties.
BLITZER: All right, let's move on.
In the news this weekend Ross Perot's decision not to run. He wrote a letter to the Reform party Friday night. He said, among other things, he said this. "If your committee determines that my candidacy can be listed on the nomination ballot as 'No Endorsement' to allow a meaningful vote to members of the party who believe the other qualified candidates do not represent the principles of reform, I agree to be a candidate."
To which "The New York Times" today had this explanation of what he was saying. "The New York Times" writing, quote, "It seemed abundantly clear to many party leaders that Mr. Perot's request was directed at Mr. Buchanan as a rebuke of his agenda, as antithetical to the party platform, as a serious effort to undermine his support on the eve of primary voting."
So the good news for you, Ross Perot is not running. The bad news is he's telling his supporters maybe they should support no endorsement as opposed to supporting you.
BUCHANAN: Well, if that were true, I would find it inexplicable that Ross would argue that we really shouldn't -- if it's not him, it really should not be our party. It should not be a party whose delegates have selected the nominee, it really should go out of existence.
As for "The New York Times", that is perfectly understandable. "The New York Times" is a house organ of the national establishment. The national establishment has two political parties, both of which support NAFTA and GATT, and the WTO and intervention in the Balkans and NATO expansion and doing nothing about illegal immigration and not controlling immigration.
Wolf, we've got a one party establishment in Washington. Republicans are one half of it, Democrats the other half. But there are vital issues that will not be addressed by that establishment. You mentioned one. The Supreme Court. Bob Dole said, you know, nobody cares about that. They do care about it. The Supreme Court is the second or first institution of government today. It is extraordinarily powerful. And I -- it makes decisions not only about partial-birth abortion, the Miranda decision, the Boy Scout decision. It decides how we are going to live our lives. And, the justices ...
BLITZER: Mr. Buchanan.
BUCHANAN: Go ahead.
BLITZER: I wanted to interrupt because we have to take a quick break.
BLITZER: But I want to get to the Supreme Court, some other issues.
BLITZER: But first we have to take this break. Coming up next, more questions, and your phone calls, for Pat Buchanan.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We are talking with Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and he joins us from Spokane, Washington.
This past week, Mr. Buchanan, Lenora Fulani, who's an activist, of course, in the Reform Party, threw her support to the other candidate who is challenging you, John Hagelin. And she said this in defending her decision. She said, "Pat Buchanan wants to turn the party into a party of and for social conservatives. John Hagelin wants to keep the party as it was originally engineered by Ross Perot and many others -- a populist party that is inclusive, non- ideologival, and pro-reform." How much of a set back is that to your -- the prospects of your unifying the Reform Party around you?
BUCHANAN: About zero, Wolf. Miss Fulani departed from our party when I said we could not name her the chairman of the Reform Party. And, if I had said yes we will try to name you chairman, she would still be in the party. What she is doing is putting out this talk about social conservatives, and all the rest of to it spin folks like Wolf Blitzer, because they know that as soon as you mention the right to life, and as soon as you mention the Christian Coalition, Wolf, you will rise to the bait. Take a look at it. She wanted to be chairman. We said no. She left. John Hagelin, she supports him. She has every right to do so.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take a caller from Dallas, Texas. Let's hear your question, please. CALLER: Yes, my name is James Koenig from Dallas, Texas.
Mr. Buchanan, you ran on the Republican ticket, and you ran on the Republican platform. Now that you are running on Reform Party ticket you still have some of the same views that you had as a Republican. It seems to me, as though we still have only a two-party system. You just split up the Republican Party with the same platform. First part of the question. Second part of the question.
BUCHANAN: Well, let me answer the first part of the question. Tom Edsel writes in "The Washington Post" today that George Bush, his agents are going move the Republican Party very dramatically to the left, or what they call the center. They're going to go -- come out for the department of education. Bob Dole indicated in a previous, this interview with Wolf, that really platforms don't make any difference to him. And when we wrote that platform in 96, Mr. Dole walked away from it.
So we are not into writing platforms anymore. We're into giving the American people an authentic choice of a candidate who genuinely believes in small government, getting our troops out of these wars in the Balkans, that both major parties support. Controlling America's border all along Arizona, and defending the borders of this country rather than borders all over the world. We are the only party in America that is now a small-government, low-tax party which will shut down parts of the federal government.
This is what we are offering America, what the Republican Party once did under Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. It is now a Bush party. Mr. Bush says, I don't have any litmus test for the Supreme Court. Hillary Clinton does, Al Gore does, Mr. Bush is a question mark on the Supreme Court. What I'm saying is, our Supreme Court will be constitutionalists, conservative, pro-life, respecting the religious heritage of this country, or they will not be nominated, so we offer America a real choice.
BLITZER: But what do you say to those Reform Party activist supporters who say the Reform Party historically has been Libertarian, has not gotten involved in some of these social issues like abortion, and that you're moving the party in a direction where the founders didn't want it to go?
BUCHANAN: Well, look, Ross Perot is not running for the nomination, I am. We are not going to change a line in Reform Party platform, Wolf. I promised the folks that. What the people do have a right to know is where Pat Buchanan stands on the Supreme Court, where he stands on Bosnia, where he stands on immigration. So I'm going to issue a separate personal statement of solemn commitment, which people can take to the bank not like the Republican platform which Mr. Kemp -- Mr. Dole and Mr. Kemp ran away from.
BLITZER: All right, let's take another caller from Knoxville, Tennessee. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Good afternoon, my name is Melanie Morris (ph), and I'm a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Tennessee.
I think there are a lot of commonalities between your populist- right campaign and Ralph Nader's populist-left campaign. However, Nader's poll numbers are substantially higher than yours. So, does this suggest to you then that your socially conservative views are out of step with the country?
BUCHANAN: Well, I would say no. As you know, I won three out of the first four primaries and caucuses in '96 in the Republican Party. I almost beat a sitting president of the United States in New Hampshire. What this should tell you, and when I started I was ahead of Mr. Nader. He is ahead of me. What this should tell you, frankly, is that there has been media blackout of the Reform Party. I believe that will come to an end at our convention. It does tell you that we've got to get our message to the American people.
The majority of Americans support me on immigration. The majority of Americans didn't want NAFTA.
BUCHANAN: A majority of Americans didn't want this rotten trade deal with communist China that gives away the store and gets us nothing in return but missiles pointed at our country.
If our message can be heard, we can win. If it's not going to be carried by media, if they're not going to let us in debate, I agree with you, we can't win if they are going to give us a media blackout. But that's what we're fighting against. We're building this party for you, for the American people, to give you a choice. You can say no or yes, but we want to give you the choice.
BLITZER: We've heard some rumblings about possible running mates, if get Reform Party nomination. Everyone from Alan Keyes to ...
BUCHANAN: Rumblings are what they are.
BLITZER: Alan Keyes to Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Give us a hint ...
BUCHANAN: Wolf, somebody threw your name there. We threw it right out immediately.
BLITZER: I don't think so, but tell us who your -- tell us who are some of the people you would consider, and we only have a few seconds left.
BUCHANAN: All right. I would not throw out names, but someone who is pro-life, who's got the ability to communicate, who fundamentally agrees with me and who is capable being president of the United States on a moment's notice.
BLITZER: And when will you make that decision?
BUCHANAN: We better make it before convention. I don't even know that we've got to make it by then, but probably, at the convention. BLITZER: OK, Pat Buchanan ...
BUCHANAN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: ... Reform Party presidential candidate. Thanks for joining us on LATE EDITION. Always good to have you on our program.
BUCHANAN: All right. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And coming up next, Gore versus Bush. What's the strategy for both candidates as they prepare for their party's conventions. We'll talk with Gore senior adviser Bob Shrum and supporting the Bush campaign, House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to appoint people who strictly interpret the constitution and who will not use bench from which to legislate.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is obvious that he intends to, if he ever gets the chance, to try to change the court's opinion on a woman's right to choose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush and his Democratic challenger, Vice President Al Gore, speaking about the shape of the Supreme Court under next U.S. president.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now to talk about the Bush and Gore campaigns are two political veterans. In Columbus, Ohio Republican congressman and House Budget Committee chairman, John Kasich, he's a Bush supporter who's also been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate. And here in Washington, Bob Shrum, he's a long-time political strategist and the senior adviser to Vice President Gore's campaign.
Gentlemen, always great to have you both of you on our program.
And let me begin with you, Bob Shrum. This whole issue of abortion rights for women. Is the vice president going to try to do now what has really been unsuccessful in the past make this, the makeup of supreme court, a key issue, that he'll run on?
BOB SHRUM, SENIOR ADVISOR, GORE 2000 CAMPAIGN: Well, I don't -- first of all, I'd quarrel with your notion unsuccessful in the past. I actually think it was probably very important, in the 1992 campaign.
BLITZER: The issue of makeup of Supreme Court. SHRUM: Yes, right after appointment of Clarence Thomas. The whole sense that a woman's right to choose might be in jeopardy. And I think what's happened this week is in part because of the opinions written by Scalia and Thomas, who basically didn't just defend a ban on partial-birth abortion but said we want to get rid of woman's right to choose and set it in very purple language followed by George Bush saying the people he admired were Scalia and Thomas. I think that that has made this an issue. And it is an issue for American women whether they're keeping right to choose.
BLITZER: What about that, Congressman Kasich.
REP. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, I think first of all, it is a red herring, I think, to argue that if Roe v Wade is repealed, and we really don't know that that would happen, but if it was, that we wouldn't have an entire patchwork of options presented in the states.
I think Governor Bush is on record as saying he thought that the court overstepped their interpretive bounds and they ought to stop lawmaking. But -- and I think that's where George Bush is on this, he wants a Supreme Court that's going to follow the Constitution and not be active legislatively. But to argue that if the court would decide that Roe v Wade does not apply today, that that would end a woman's right to choose, in my judgment it's inaccurate. I'm pro-life. I'd tell you that what will happen is the state -- the states would then decide how they wanted to carry on.
But we're so far away from that, I just think it's another tactic by Al Gore, to try to scare. If Social Security didn't work, if tax cuts -- scaring people about tax cuts, or about Social Security doesn't work, let's just keep hunting until we can figure out how to scare them. It doesn't seem to be working though.
BLITZER: Are you simply trying to scare the American people about ...
SHRUM: Well, first all, we'll be back to tax cut issue because when you take Bush's tax cuts, his spending proposals and his $1 trillion cost for transition for Social Security, you are going to turn a $1.5 trillion surplus, non-Social Security surplus into a $1.5 trillion deficit. So we'll be back to that.
But look, this fundamental. And it was Scalia and Thomas who made it very clear. It was George Bush who said they were the justices he admired. It was George Bush who said we're not going to change the Republican platform on a woman's right to choose.
What John just said is a little like saying "oh, it wouldn't matter if Brown v. Board of Education was repealed because we have a patchwork all over country. Some places we'd have segregation, other places we'd have integration. Well you know what, when it comes to people's fundamental rights, we shouldn't have a patchwork all over country.
BLITZER: All right. John Kasich, you know, we heard two different points of view coming ....
KASICH: Wolf, let me just -- can I just say one thing. Look, let's not -- we shouldn't confuse ourselves on this.
KASICH: George Bush is pro-life, but I think he wants a work to try to figure out how to prevent unwanted pregnancies. But at the base of our party and at the base of George Bush, he has a pro-life position.
However, when he appoints justices, he said he is not going to have a litmus test other than the fact that these are judges who are not going to legislate. And there is a good argument that can be made, that Roe v. Wade was legislating by judges. And I think what George Bush is saying is that we want to have conservatives who will interpret the Constitution.
BLITZER: You know on that issue, Congressman Kasich, James Dobson is a leader in the Christian right in the United States. He was on ABC earlier today, and he and Christine Todd Whitman, the governor of New Jersey, disagreed on this whole issue of where Governor Bush should wind up. But listen to some of the rhetoric that we heard from James Dobson, who issued a warning in effect to Governor Bush on this issue.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES DOBSON: I am warning him on the abortion issue. That is the central issue before us. That is the most significant moral issue of our time. We are the bloodiest nation in history. Forty million babies have died. And that's not negotiable.
GOV. CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (R), NEW JERSEY: And with all due respect to James Dobson, some of the more extreme views that he holds do not represent the base of the Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Who does represent the base of the Republican Party, James Dobson or Governor Whitman?
KASICH: Well, I don't think you can say that either of them are the definition of the base. Look, I mean it's pretty clear George Bush is pro-life. They are going to maintain the plank in the Republican platform that says that we would advocate a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. As you know Governor Bush supports an exception to rape, incest, and life of the mother. My understanding is that this point there will be no fight over the longstanding tradition embraced by the great President Ronald Reagan.
I don't think you will see any undoing of the platform. And it is consistent with Reagan and George Bush and so many of the Republican candidates. And in fact, interestingly enough, Democrats like David Bonior who happens to be a leader in the House of Representatives. BLITZER: Bob Shrum, if Governor Bush does name someone who supports abortion rights as his running mate, does that take the steam out of your sail on this issue.
SCHRUM: No, it's pretty clear where George Bush is heading when he says he admires justices like Thomas and Scalia. That tells you who he is going to appoint to the Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade hangs by the margin of one vote or two votes. And the last thing this country needs is another Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court of the United States. John has a lot of fancy code words but when you get beyond the code words, and you talk about what they mean by strict construction, what they mean by conservative, they mean put another Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.
BLITZER: OK, Bob.
KASICH: Whoa, I'm not ...
BLITZER: John Kasich. Stand by John. We have to take a quick break. We still have a lot more time coming up. In addition to everything else, surplus politics. With the government's coffers now overflowing, are George W. Bush and Al Gore on a campaign trail spending spree?
Plus, we'll be taking your phone calls for John Kasich and Bob Shrum.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We're continuing our conversation with the Republican House Budget Committee Chairman and Bush supporter John Kasich and Gore Senior Adviser Bob Shrum.
Congressman Kasich, the president, in announcing those larger than expected budget surplus numbers offered this proposal to the Republicans in Congress -- that would include you, of course -- that he would be willing to accept your proposal to eliminate the so-called marriage tax penalty, in exchange for your accepting the Democrats' version of prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients.
Is that a fair compromise?
KASICH: Well, Wolf, look, the president and prescription drugs wants give prescription drug coverage to the wealthiest senior citizens in the country. They don't need that. What we did was target it to people who have lower incomes, and I think that is the way it ought to be. The interesting thing, though, is that the president is now talking about signing the marriage penalty.
I kind of look at this like welfare reform, where he didn't want it for a bunch of time until the public figured it out. The public loves the notion of ending a penalty of marriage, and frankly the vice president came out for a big tax cut. It was a targeted tax cut -- a phony argument as to how you fix Social Security, but nevertheless, Al Gore, keeps getting closer and closer to Bush and saying he wants a cut taxes.
Fortunately, George Bush wants not only to fix Social Security by letting people have a little bit more control of their taxes, but at the same time wants to eliminate a state taxes. He wants to get rid of the penalty on getting married. He wants a lower marginal rates. Listen, this is all going George Bush's way and the most recent surplus announcements confirms the fact that George Bush cannot only fix Social Security, but cut taxes at the same time. It's a 10 strike.
BLITZER: There is a lot of people, Bob Shrum, who make that point, that with these huge surpluses, much better than anyone expected, that it is time as Governor Bush says, give the American people back some of their money in the form of tax cuts, and that instead of they say what Al Gore and Bill Clinton would like to do is just continue government spending, give the money back to people.
SHRUM: First all of what John said was more hot air than hard numbers. The fact is on the prescription drug benefit, when you hear a Republican beginning to say they don't like something because it helps the wealthy, and then a couple seconds later say we want to cut marginal tax rates, you know you are not hearing a real argument.
The fact is that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that half of the seniors in America, would not be covered by the prescription drug proposal the Republicans are making. It is a proposal that says you can go beg the insurance companies and the HMO for coverage. We will give you a little bit of help. And it leaves millions and millions of people out in the cold, and the terms of the benefit are set by the insurance company.
Secondly, the Bush tax cut, which is five times larger than what Al Gore has proposed, would cost $1.6 trillion over the next nine years. It would entirely wipe out the non-Social Security surplus.
BLITZER: Let's let John Kasich respond to that.
KASICH: Now, Wolf, let me tell you. For Bob Shrum to talk about me, hot air, and the budget -- I'm the architect of the first program -- the balanced budget in this country is a flat-out joke. Bob Shrum doesn't know what he is talking about. The fact is that we are going to set aside for the first time in my lifetime a big chunk of money that can be used to actually fix the Social Security program, not only for baby boomers and their children, but will protect the senior citizens.
And in addition to that, we can also have another big tax cut, because what we are going to find this fall is that Bill Clinton is going to want to take this surplus money, and spend it on more bureaucrats, more bureaucracy, maybe some more goofy programs, and the Department of Energy that drives up the price of gasoline. Who the heck knows? But the fight this fall will be over Republicans wanting to limit the growth of the federal government versus Bill Clinton, who wants to spend it all. Let's have a big tax cut.
BLITZER: All right. We are going to continue this debate but, first, we have to take another break.
For our international viewers, "WORLD NEWS" is next.
For our North American audience, stay tuned for another 30 minutes of LATE EDITION.
We'll be taking more of your phone calls for John Kasich and Bob Shrum.
Plus, our LATE EDITION roundtable and Bruce Morton's "Last Word."
It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We will continue our conversation with Republican House budget chairman John Kasich and Gore senior adviser Bob Shrum in just a moment, but first let's go to Charles Bierbauer for a check of the hour's top stories.
CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf.
In Mexico, millions of voters are casting ballots in a national election that could end the ruling party's 71 year grip on power. Voters will choose a new president, Congress and two state governors. The ruling PRI party of Francisco Labastida is said to be in a virtual tie with that of opposition presidential candidate Vicente Fox. Fox is a former Coca-Cola executive.
Investigators are looking for explanations why a concrete terrace collapsed at winery in Ohio. One person was killed and dozens injured. That accident Saturday happened at the Long's winery located on an island in Lake Erie, about six miles from the mainland. Police say the victims fell about 18 feet when the terrace gave away.
A study from the National Park Service says many of the nation's best known monuments are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The report in "The Washington Post" says the Washington monument, the Lincoln Memorial and other top tourist attractions around Washington, D.C., are not adequately protected. The National Park Service is already making changes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA MENDELSON, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: The National Park Service works very closely with the National Park Police. And we will begin to -- we will continue to implement some of the recommendations that were made in the study and a key component of that is in fact, staffing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BIERBAUER: The report says $3 million to the Park Services would help implement changes to bring eight monuments up to security standards.
And those are some stories making headlines. We'll have more news at the top of the hour. Now back to LATE EDITION with Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Thanks, Charles.
Now back to our conversation with Republican House budget committee chairman and Bush supporter, John Kasich. And Gore senior adviser Bob Shrum.
Let's take a phone call from Houston, Texas. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Yes, good afternoon. I was wondering will Al Gore continue to oppose any attempt to ban partial birth abortion even if a provision is put in to allow the procedure in cases where the mother's life is in danger?
BLITZER: Let's ask Bob Shrum.
SHRUM: The Democrats in the Senate have several times offered a proposal to limit third trimester abortions, if there is an exception for rape, incest and the health of the mother and the life of the mother. And the Republicans have consistently refused to do that.
BLITZER: President Clinton's position is similar to that. He says he would sign it if there was a provision for the health and life of a mother. Let's take another caller from Aztec, New Mexico. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Good afternoon. My question is for John Kasich. Senator, will you except the vice presidential nomination if you are asked to do so?
KASICH: Well, you don't talk about what might happen. Or, you know, like when I asked my wife to get married I would never have presumed what the answer was going to be. You just don't speculate on things like that. And that is obviously a decision that George Bush has to make, in terms of who he wants. And it would be premature for me to have any opinion on that. And I think Bob Shrum would agree, that is probably the best way to answer that question.
SHRUM: You know, maybe I will endorse you, John. I already endorsed Bill Bennett. I'd be happy to endorse you. I just don't want to get you in trouble.
BLITZER: Is that your worst case nightSmare: John Kasich as the vice presidential running mate.
SHRUM: Well no, because then when he said he was the architect of the balanced budget, I'd say actually he was the architect of the government shutdown and that he refuses to talk about the hard numbers here which turn under the Bush plan a 1.5 billion surplus into 1.5 billion dollar deficit.
BLITZER: You see, John Kasich, Bob Shrum stays on message no matter what the subject is.
KASICH: Hey, Wolf, let me tell you. Do you know how much I would like to debate Bob Shrum, Al Gore and the whole crowd of them on the issue of how we balance the budget and what we ought to do to reduce people's taxes?
SHRUM: John, you closed down the government in 1995 in order to cut Medicare by $270 billion. It was the wrong way to balance the budget. You know, you guys spent, you were in power 12 years. Ronald Reagan and George Bush talked about balanced budgets, welfare reform. None of it ever happened.
BLITZER: OK, let's let John Kasich respond.
KASICH: Let me just say this. Can you imagine that we reformed the welfare system and we forced Bill Clinton to sign a bill, that has just changed the entire cultural landscape in this country.
KASICH: Now we have a balanced budget and surpluses that are so big, it is leaving all the economists scratching their head. And I think the American people are finally saying "thank God it happened." And I'm thrilled that they're in this position.
SHRUM: But, John, then Bush blows away the surplus. He blows away the surplus. Turns a $1.5 trillion surplus into a $1.5 trillion deficit.
KASICH: Could you imagine that we are in a position where we would not only be able to save Social Security for three generations of Americans, but at the same time, be able to reduce taxes on all people. Take the estate tax. I mean, you die and the government takes 55 percent of what you have. George Bush wants to get rid of it, thank God. Or the marriage penalty. I mean these are big things, and the people are for it, and you're going to find that Al Gore is going to get closer and closer to where George Bush is on these issues. And, you know, that is the way it is.
BLITZER: That's a little preview of what's in store as this campaign heats up. Bob Shrum, always good to have you on our program.
SHRUM: I'm glad to be here, and he's left us with a $1.5 trillion deficit, won't talk about hard numbers.
BLITZER: John Kasich, always good to have you on our program.
KASICH: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks again, and we hope both of you will be back. Just ahead, will the next president shift the balance of the Supreme Court? And what impact will the abortion issue have on the presidential race? We'll go round the table with Susan Page, Jake Tapper, and Rich Lowry when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Time now for our LATE EDITION roundtable.
Joining me, Susan Page, who has a new position. She's the Washington bureau chief for "USA Today". Congratulations to Susan. And in for Steve Roberts, Jake Tapper, Washington correspondent for the online magazine "Salon.com." And in for Tucker Carlson is Rich Lowry, editor of "The National Review." A lot of people on vacation, I wonder why.
Rich, tomorrow, Governor Bush meets with his advisers in Austin to formally begin, or continue or wrap up, this process of picking a vice presidential nominee. Do we have any sense what's going to happen there?
RICH LOWRY, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I think there -- it's just a slight exaggeration to say there are three qualities that are most important for Bush in making this pick: loyalty, loyalty and loyalty. And I think bodes very well for Frank Keating, the governor from Oklahoma, who during those dark days in primaries when McCain was the hottest thing -- a lot of Bush supporters were very sheepish and hard to find, but Keating stuck with him like glue. And that was noticed in Austin and by Bush.
BLITZER: Yes, but, Susan, Governor Keating brings Oklahoma, not many electoral votes.
SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Adjoins Kansas, my home state, so ...
BLITZER: He may be very loyal. He was on this program only recently. He's a very attractive governor. And was of course -- became well-known during the Oklahoma City bombing, but does he bring the kind of political calculation that would be required.
PAGE: It seems to me that Governor Keating looks good to Governor Bush. If Governor Bush thinks there's nothing really he needs to do but keep the dynamic not changed. He doesn't change the dynamic. He's -- think generally would be seen as qualified. He's not -- it's -- he's narrow geographically and ideologically. But if Bush thinks this election is his to lose then maybe that's what he wants to do, not to rock the boat.
If Bush thinks he needs to shake things up, change the dynamic, go heavily after a swing state, maybe create some problems for Al Gore, I think he's more likely to choose Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.
BLITZER: Governor Keating is Catholic. And he's pro-life. I guess that would make him acceptable to a lot of people.
JAKE TAPPER, SALON.COM: Yes, well, certainly Tom Ridge throws a wild card. And obviously Bush does not want the kind of fractious convention that Ridge's nomination as VP would present. Behind the scenes, I understand that in the Keating camp they've been told to like -- to lay low, because people like Tom Ridge who have, you know, been basically fastened to Bush whenever they can be have -- you know, the word from the Bush campaign is that they don't like that. They don't like candidates answering questions on-air about these sort of things, potential VP candidates.
So Keating, I understand, was very upset by the Drudge Report that came out this week with a story that he was high up on the list.
LOWRY: Well, the thing about Keating, he's -- he doesn't make sense geographically, but he does make sense demographically. He's an attractive guy. I think he might be appealing to women. He's an ethnic, a Catholic. That's a crucial swing group in this election. So demographically he makes sense even if Oklahoma is not, you know, a key swing state by any means.
But I think Ridge is really not a possibility. He would be a walking invitation for the press to write stories about the split in the GOP over abortion. And that's the last thing the Bush campaign wants the press to focus on.
BLITZER: Is there anybody else besides Keating and Ridge that is being seriously considered?
LOWRY: Well, I think Cox is still a possibility. He's a Californian. Extremely bright and fast on his feet. Very careful and cautious, not accident prone. So I think he's still a possibility.
I think John Kasich is still a possibility. The rap on Kasich was that he would reinforce Bush's boyishness. But there's a flip side to that, which you would also reinforce the energy, the freshness, the idea that these are new kinds of Republicans.
TAPPER: Yes, one other thing about Tom Ridge is I don't ever think that he was really a serious contender. I think, of course I'll be disproven in a week or something, but Tom Ridge, I think, just floating his name allowed Bush to appear moderate, to appear willing to have a pro-choicer on the ticket without ever having him on the ticket.
LOWRY: That's exactly right. I think that's been the strategy all along.
BLITZER: What about who's on the Democratic side? Vice President Gore, he's got to be seriously narrowing that list.
PAGE: Yes. I think he has -- I think he has narrowed the list. And I suppose all of us should show some modesty in making these predictions because, as Bob Shrum said to us in the Green Room, those who know aren't talking and those who are talking don't know.
But that said, I think there are some careful calculations that are going on in the Gore camp. And Gore can basically go two ways. He can try to get a key state. If he does that, he might well choose Bob Graham of Florida, puts Florida in play. That's a state that Republicans hope to have solidly in their camp.
If he decides to do the more national thing, which is what President Clinton did in choosing Al Gore as vice president, there is some talk that the candidate he might choose is John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, who has ties to various people in the Gore campaign. Seen as a -- he's a Vietnam vet, he's a commanding figure and he worked also as Lieutenant Governor in Massachusetts. He has some experience at being number two.
BLITZER: Who would be the worst case nightmare scenario for the Republicans?
LOWRY: Well, let me throw an interesting idea out here. If Gore is behind going into the convention, say, 6 to 8 points, which isn't totally impossible, I think he has to do something a little riskier, something to shake things up, and I think a very interesting idea would be Bill Cohen. A Republican of all things, because one of the crucial things, I think, Gore has to rebut is idea that he is a nasty partisan attacker, which the Bush campaign tries to reinforce that idea everyday. This would immediately take the air out of that charge. I think Cohen is an attractive guy. He's in a biracial marriage, a very glamorous couple.
PAGE: Cohen is also a Republican. One of Al Gore's problems is that he hasn't camped down the Democratic base yet. One out of four Democrats now says they hope the Democrats nominate somebody else at their convention. This is a risk that is too far for Gore to go.
LOWRY: I think in a tight race that liberal base is coming back naturally.
BLITZER: Secretary of Defense Cohen hasn't even said that he is going to vote for the Al Gore in the Democratic ticket.
TAPPER: Well, clearly that's Rich's favorite vice presidential pick, and Rich is a Republican.
LOWRY: If we could have three Republicans in the four slots, that would be ...
TAPPER: Then they win. You know, I think, I mean, there are all these crazy names that get floated out there. Tom Brokaw's name I saw in "The New York Times."
BLITZER: Was that serious?
TAPPER: I have no idea. Some of these names are preposterous. What was the other one? Robert Rubin? That's never going to happen. Rubin has never held elective office. Now, I think, you know, I think Al Gore, if he could bronze Rubin hang him from his neck for the rest of the election, he would. But I don't think he's ever going to be a serious vice presidential candidate.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break. A lot more to talk about. Up next, it used to be Al Gore that led the attack against President Clinton's political foes, but now it's the president leading the charge against the vice president's challenger George W. Bush. I'll ask the roundtable about the president's new role as critic in chief when LATE EDITION continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody has ever done as much for America as vice president as Al Gore has. Therefore, in my lifetime, he's the best-qualified person to serve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable. You know, this past week, there was a column Friday in "The Wall Street Journal."
Paul Gigot writing, saying this:
"Every presidential candidate needs a good attack dog, a loyal aide who will yap and snarl and bite an opponent. Usually he's the vice presidential nominee, but Al Gore doesn't need one. He already has Bill Clinton."
I guess he was referring to some of the latest attacks that Bill Clinton leveled against George W. Bush.
Listen to this little snippet:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Who do you think we ought to have somebody in the oval office that really understands this stuff and all the complications of it? I do. I really think so. The things that the Bush campaign did to Senator McCain made my hair stand up on the back of my neck. And now they are all acting like we're being mean and negative, if we point out what their positions are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is this going to be a role that Clinton will have during this campaign, going after Bush like that?
TAPPER: I sure hope so. That's great stuff. But the guy cannot get -- I don't think he can stand the idea of having the camera not on him. But at least now he's saying things to help Gore, instead of telling the press, you know, how bad and wooden Gore is and what are they doing over there. At least now he is on message.
BLITZER: Isn't a president at some point supposed to step back and let Gore be the ...
PAGE: Traditional presidents maybe, but I think that, you know, this probably serves Gore well. Gore has been lagging. He needs to get something going. I think this may also be an effect of Bill Daley coming on board as head of this campaign. We see, Bill Daley talks a lot to Bill Clinton. I think Bill Clinton's role in this campaign is going to get a little bigger. Daley is also bringing back some other people that were longtime close to Gore that Tony Coelho had kind of edged out. I think we're going to see some changes in the dynamics and the strategy this campaign is playing.
BLITZER: What do you think then?
LOWRY: There is no question he's great at it. I mean, he's a great natural campaigner. He's just wonderful.
The problem is that the challenge for Gore is also a to associate himself with the Clinton legacy without associating himself with Bill Clinton. So I think there is a potential downside to all this, which is just Bill Clinton standing up and jumping up and down and saying hey guys, I'm still here. When Al Gore wants to move on. Remember that phrase from the impeachment, so I think Clinton reminding people that he's still around doesn't help.
TAPPER: But isn't it also great having Bill Clinton like basically calling Bush stupid? I mean, that's very entertaining politics.
BLITZER: Very tough. He had similar words not maybe that tough, but pretty tough, against Lazio in New York, who's of course challenging Mrs. Clinton. We don't have time to get to that.
But I want to ask you, Jake about this whole third party challenge from Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan. We heard Pat Buchanan on this program earlier. Is it your sense they will get into these presidential debates?
TAPPER: No, I don't think they will. I think -- and I have no love for Pat Buchanan, but if he is at five percent or more in the polls, which is the standard by which you get federal matching funds, I see no reason why he shouldn't be included in debates. It is very clear the two people in charge are -- I mean, everything Buchanan says is right. I mean, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And this is one of those instances for Pat Buchanan. He is right. A Democrat and a Republican are in charge and they are trying to keep out Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan because the parties don't want any third party candidates winning away any of their voters.
BLITZER: And the Republicans certainly don't want Pat Buchanan in that debate.
LOWRY: Sure. I think Buchanan has been hurt by a couple of things. First, he's the ultimate conviction politician. People loved him because he stood up for his beliefs. And he really hurt himself by playing footsy with Marxists in the Reform Party, like Lenore Fulani. And also last week didn't help, that Supreme Court decision on partial birth just reinforced how important it is for conservative pro-lifers to win back the White House. So the Buchanan brigades are in the mood to elect George Bush, not to play footsy with Pat Buchanan.
PAGE: It seems unlikely to me that they will actually get into the debates, but it could work as a kind of delaying tactic for the Bush folks. I think the Bush folks would like to have as few debates as possible. They'd like them to be as messy as possible. Four candidates in that debate would be fine with them. And the debate over debates could be something that slows down the actual debates to their -- in a way that would please the Bush side.
BLITZER: Susan Page, the new Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." Did you say congratulations?
TAPPER: I did, mazeltov.
BLITZER: Good work, of course, Rich Lowrey. Jake Tapper, always good to have you on our program as well. Steve Roberts and Tucker Carlson will be back next week.
Just ahead, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major newsmagazines, plus, Bruce Morton's "Last Word."
BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's "Last Word." On this holiday weekend, when we celebrate America's past, some, it seems, may have to go back and hit the history books.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Independence Day is coming up -- a good time to think about U.S. history, a subject America's young adults may not have a very good grasp of these days. A new survey asked randomly selected seniors from the country's top colleges and universities, among them Amherst, Harvard, Stanford, 34 multiple choice questions about American history.
Ninety-nine percent knew that Beavis and Butthead were TV cartoon characters. Eighty-nine percent knew that Sputnik was the first man- made satellite. Just one in four, 26 percent, knew that the Emancipation Proclamation said that slaves in Confederate territory were free. Just 60 percent knew that the Constitution was the document which established the division of powers between the states and the federal government.
Thirty-eight percent correctly said Valley Forge was the lowest point in American fortunes during the Revolutionary War. Twenty-four percent said Bunker Hill was. Asked who was the American general at Yorktown, where the British surrendered ending the Revolutionary War, 34 percent correctly said George Washington, but 37 percent picked Ulysses Grant, a Union general in the Civil War.
Only 23 percent, correctly picked James Madison as the father of the Constitution. Fifty-three percent picked Thomas Jefferson, who instead wrote the Declaration of Independence, signed 224 years ago this week.
Forty percent knew it was accused spy Nathan Hale who said, "I regret that I have only one life to give for my country." Just 22 percent knew that the phrase "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" came from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Thirty- one percent said the U.S. Constitution, 43 percent the Declaration of Independence.
One student of the 556 surveyed got all 34 questions right. Two students tied for worst -- two questions right, the score of 6 percent. Overall, the average was 53 percent right. Put another way, if this had been a regular college test, 65 percent would have flunked, 16 percent gotten Ds, and 19 percent C or higher. Why such poor scores? Maybe because 100 percent of the colleges and universities in this survey, require no American history courses; 78 percent require no history at all.
A philosopher named George Santayana once wrote, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." What if he was right?
Happy Independence Day.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.
Now, a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. "TIME" magazine has a special issue: "Life on the Mississippi," an eye-opening journey along America's river of dreams, on the cover.
"Newsweek" has the war over the Supreme Court. How Bush or Gore could tip the balance, on the cover.
And on the cover of "U.S. News & World Report," lost cities. Dazzling new finds rewrite the story of civilization.
And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, July 2nd. Be sure to catch us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. And you can join us tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, of course, on "THE WORLD TODAY."
And coming up next, "CNNdotCOM," from promises to pink slips. How people are coping with the downturn of the dot.com start-ups. And a reminder, you can now see "Earth Matters" later today and every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Eastern -- that's 1:30 p.m. on the West Coast.
For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a safe and happy Fourth of July. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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