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Hillary Clinton Opens Up on Campaign Anniversary; Gore Reaches Out to Women Voters; Politics on Parade in the Land of DisneyAired July 7, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm a baby campaigner. I mean, you know, I'm still in, you know, the toddler stage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton opens up on the bus, acknowledging her stumping skills still don't compare to her husband's.
Al Gore reaches out to women voters before a more delicate embrace by Bill Bradley next week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the district that Disney built. But this is no Mickey Mouse race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Pat Neal on a bitter House contest in Mickey's backyard.
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is on assignment.
We begin with Hillary Clinton's journey from first lady to Senate candidate, from critic of the media to a courter of the media. Mrs. Clinton talked to reporters today about the road she has traveled, as she marked the second day of her latest tour of upstate New York, and an anniversary.
CNN's Frank Buckley was along for the ride.
HILLARY CLINTON: It's our anniversary. FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The one-year anniversary of first lady Hillary Clinton's listening tour of New York, which began on the upstate farm of the senator she hopes to replace.
Mrs. Clinton coming aboard the press bus one year later to reflect.
HILLARY CLINTON: It's just been a real learning experience. It has been a challenge to, you know, feel comfortable doing it, to make sure -- I mean, I asked myself all during this past year, you know, I wanted to make sure I was really doing it for the right reasons, that I could make a contribution, that it would make a difference. And I feel good about that. The experience has been great for me personally.
QUESTION: Is there any moment during this past year that you look back on and you think, gee, I wish I had done that differently? Anything you've regretted?
HILLARY CLINTON: You know, most this has been a great experience for me. I mean, I've learned a lot. You know, I've tried to, you know, learn every day. And I had to learn how to be a candidate. I mean, those of you who were with me early on I hope have seen a different -- I hope. Because I sure have tried to, you know, be more effective in becoming a candidate, which is something I'd never done before.
And if you help me get elected, I'll work day and night to put this plan in effect for the people.
BUCKLEY: Candidate Clinton, a year into her historic run for the U.S. Senate, has immersed herself in the complicated politics of diverse New York state. She is more accessible to reporters than she was once. She is no longer stilted on the stump or in a crowd.
But Mrs. Clinton believes her husband, the president, is still the best campaigner she's ever seen.
QUESTION: How do you stack up next to him?
HILLARY CLINTON: Oh please, Mark. I mean, I'm a baby campaigner. I'm still in, you know, the toddler stage.
BUCKLEY: Clinton sometimes campaigns seven days a week, and that schedule of meeting voters will only intensify in the months ahead.
(on camera): Many of the people Mrs. Clinton encounters on the road are enthusiastic, or at least polite. But polls suggest a large number of New Yorkers don't like the first lady, many of them with strong feelings against her. While Mrs. Clinton acknowledges that she does know about those feelings, she says she doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about it.
(voice-over): And she rejects the notion that an elected official's life must be an open book -- available to all, cover to cover.
HILLARY CLINTON: Even people you think you know extremely well, do you know their entire personality? Do you know everything they think every minute of the day? Do they, at every point that you're with them, reveal totally who they are? Of course not. I mean, we now expect people in the public arena to somehow do that. I think that's a kind of...
QUESTION: To do what?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, you know, who are you and all of that. I don't -- I mean, I don't know that that is the right question. I mean, I don't understand the need behind that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES (singing): Senator Hillary, that sounds so fine. We know that you're going to shine.
BUCKLEY: But her run for a public office has focused even more attention on the first lady. And because her opponent, Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio, is still a relative unknown...
REP. RICK LAZIO (R), NEW YORK: Hello.
BUCKLEY: ... the race for the U.S. Senate seat from New York is still about Hillary Clinton.
Frank Buckley, CNN, Elmira, New York.
WOODRUFF: And we are joined now by Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Bill DeBlasio. And we should note that Rick Lazio's campaign manager, Bill Dal Col, was a guest on INSIDE POLITICS last week.
Bill DeBlasio, thanks for being with us.
BILL DEBLASIO, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It's a pleasure, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Someone watching this campaign from the outside would say, wait a minute here, we've got a first lady of the land running an unprecedented race for the last year for a Senate seat against a much younger, or younger, less-experienced member of Congress, not as well known. And yet they're running neck in neck. How do you explain that?
DEBLASIO: Well, Judy, we always thought this would be a very close race, regardless of who the opponent was. And we think it will continue to be a close race going into the fall. It's just the nature of the politics of this state. But we feel very confident, as you saw on this upstate swing these last few days, when Hillary gets around the state, and particularly upstate, which has turned out to be a very, very fertile area for her politically, and when she talks about issues...
WOODRUFF: But... DEBLASIO: ... most particularly the upstate economy, it has an impact. And that is why we're doing so well in the polls up there.
WOODRUFF: But if I may interrupt, she has now been running -- she announced her candidacy one year ago today after months and months of speculation. People have had plenty of time to think about the fact that she's a candidate. We just heard in this report from our Frank Buckley, he said many people, after listening to her, say they still don't like the first lady, wouldn't vote for her. Why is that?
DEBLASIO: I guess it depends on how you look at the whole history of this race and the recent history of the state. We feel very good, Judy. It's very simple. Of the folks who have declared which side they're on in this struggle, the folks who have said who they'd vote for, we basically get half of them. And I think you'd agree that for any candidate four months from Election Day to have half of the folks who are ready to declare their preference is a very healthy place to be.
We are confident that we can build on that. We are confident that in a state that is overwhelmingly Democratic in registration, that we can turn out the Democratic vote and we can win this.
I don't think we consider it any way, you know, off the track we expect to be on for us to be in a tie ball game right now.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about the fund-raising letter that Congressman Lazio sent out, in which among other things he talked about the president and the first lady having embarrassed the country. He now says that that wasn't his doing. He's not really accepting responsibility for it, saying it's the work of the people who are raising money for him. Do you accept his explanation?
DEBLASIO: Well, no, Judy. I would be fascinated to know if you could ever remember a candidate who tried such a thing. I certainly can't. Who says they don't take responsibility for a letter out on their own stationery sent out by their own campaign over their own signature. It's unheard of. And it's certainly an interesting comment about what kind of person he is and what kind of candidate he is that he hasn't simply stepped forward and said, yes, this is my letter, I stand by it.
WOODRUFF: His advisers, as I'm sure you know, are saying that this was a positive campaign until Mrs. Clinton started running negative television ads?
DEBLASIO: Well, the very first day of Rick Lazio's candidacy, when he announced his candidacy on Long Island, he started personal attacks on Hillary Clinton. His first interview with "The New York Times" that came out that same day was filled with personal attacks. We have endeavored to make this a campaign about issues, and again, on this upstate tour we're talking a lot about how to improve the upstate economy, which is a big issue in this state.
Lazio from day one went on the attack. And this letter, in fact, is quite consistent with what he's done from day one. It's all the more unfortunate that he tries to disavow something that's clearly the work of his campaign and the kind of thinking that he's brought to this effort and, by the way, to what he did in previous campaigns, including against Congressman Downey.
WOODRUFF: There's another Lazio adviser, Mike Murphy, who, I think, just yesterday said on an interview on NBC, he said, if you want a positive campaign, Mrs. Clinton, pull your negative ads. Is your campaign willing to do this?
DEBLASIO: Well, our ads talk about real issue differences. And in fact, I wish that this discourse was about issue differences. I wish we could get the entire campaign to be about the differences on issues. There are profound differences on the choice issue, there are profound differences on patients' bill of rights, on the gas tax, on a range of concerns.
If this is what the campaign is about, not only do we think we'd prevail, we think it would be better for the political life of our state, but let's face it. You know, Rick Lazio in a letter attempts a type of character assassination. Our ads are about issues.
WOODRUFF: Just quickly, Governor Bush is going to be campaigning for Mr. Lazio. Is Vice President Gore going to be campaigning for the first lady?
DEBLASIO: Well, they've already campaigned together three times, and I'm sure they'll continue to. And, you know, we think that's a very, very positive partnership.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill DeBlasio, who is campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, thank you very much for joining us.
DEBLASIO: Thank you. Thanks a lot, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
In the presidential race, Al Gore is set to get something that has eluded him for months now: the formal endorsement of his primary season rival, Bill Bradley.
CNN's Patty Davis has more on that and Gore's pitch to women voters in Pennsylvania today.
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Al Gore promised to fight for health care for women at a campaign stop in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, saying older women pay more for drugs than men.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will focus on an effort to see that every woman in this land has access to the high- quality health care coverage that she deserves and can afford the prescription medicines that she needs.
DAVIS: Gore has made health care a top issue, touting his fixes: more money for Medicare and a prescription drug benefit for the elderly. He's accused drug companies of gouging seniors, and he warned Texas Governor George W. Bush is in the pockets of those companies.
GORE: It makes a difference in the future of health care for women in this country whether or not you have a president who is willing to fight for you, or will fight for you, or someone who is instead interested in fighting for the big drug companies.
DAVIS: It was the fourth and final week of Gore's "Prosperity and Progress Tour." The vice president has been hitting battleground states, trying to capitalize on the economy's good health and take credit for it.
Next week, Gore will head to Wisconsin, another important state. CNN has learned that former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley will formally endorse the vice president in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as the two campaign together. Bradley has stopped short of a formal endorsement in the past.
GORE: I appreciate it, and want it and look forward to campaigning with him.
DAVIS: The Gore campaign hopes Bradley will help woo independent voters in Wisconsin, those who have supported Ross Perot in the past. In addition to the endorsement, there are tentative plans for Bradley to speak at the Democratic National Convention.
(on camera): In the weeks ahead, aides say Gore will continue to stress health care and other themes -- themes that show him the champion of the common person, Bush on the side of special interest. One aide saying gore wants to plant seeds now, hoping to harvest them in the fall.
Patty Davis, CNN, Ridgeville, Pennsylvania.
WOODRUFF: As for Gore's vice presidential search, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California confirms she has been contacted by the Gore campaign. She refused to disclose anything about the conversation, but said she did not anticipate that she would be asked to be Gore's running mate. Hoping to get some more information out of her, former presidential candidate-turned Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown put Feinstein on the spot during a joint appearance yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MYR. JERRY BROWN, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: If and when Al Gore asked you to you be his running mate, will you accept?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Jerry, I wonder if I can do this. We've got 40 Baptist pastors here. Would they stand so we can give you a big round of applause.
(APPLAUSE) BROWN: You didn't answer the question.
BROWN: Well, I'd accept, I'll tell you that.
FEINSTEIN: All right. Jerry Brown for vice president!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: We never did hear her answer, except today, of course her campaign or her office saying that she does not expect to be asked.
Coming up next, the politics of missile defense. The parties attempt to boost their electoral fortunes, as the U.S. military takes another shot at downing a missile in space.
WOODRUFF: President Clinton is nearing a decision on whether to go ahead with a nationwide system to stop a small-scale attack of ballistic missiles. In one form or another, the idea has been around for decades. But with billions of dollars spent, scientists have yet to prove that a shield against enemy missiles will actually work.
Tonight, the U.S. Air Force will try to prove that it can, by testing a prototype that succeeded on its first attempt but failed on its second. Here's our military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If about 1,000 things go right, here's how the third intercept test will work. From Vandenberg Air Force base in California, a modified Minuteman missile carries a mock warhead and a balloon decoy into space.
As soon as U.S. spy satellites detect the launch, an interceptor missile armed with busting payload, called a "kill vehicle" is fired from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. Navigating by the stars and guided by powerful ground radars, the non-explosive device seeks out the warm target in the cold of space, using sophisticated computer algorithms and thermal sensors to discriminate between the warhead and the decoy balloon.
When the two objects collide at more than 12,000 miles per hour, the result will be space dust. That's what happened in the first test last October. Although critics called it a lucky shot, arguing the decoy actually helped the shot find its target, a second test in January missled by a few hundred feet, when at the last second a thermal sensor malfunctioned.
MCINTYRE: Even though this is billed as third and crucial test, it's really not a make-or-break event, according to Pentagon officials, who point out there are 16 more tests to go. In fact, the decision facing President Clinton is not whether or not to build a national missile defense, but whether to decide to build it now or let the next president decide to build it later -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So, Jamie, are you saying that if this test fails, it doesn't affect the president's decision-making one way or another?
MCINTYRE: Well, if the tests were to fail because of just one small, identifiable part the rest of the test went OK, they could still in theory go ahead and approve this program. But all the momentum is leaning toward a delay at this point, not so much because of the technology, or the cost or even the threat, but because European allies are dead-set against it, and the United States has still failed to convince Russia that this system isn't aimed against it. So the betting is that President Clinton will probably defer a decision until the next president.
WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's military affairs correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, thanks.
Ever since President Reagan first proposed a missile-defense system, Republicans have been the project's biggest champions. And many Republicans, including George W. Bush, support a more ambitious system than the one being considered by President Clinton and Al Gore.
Joining us now are two experts who more or less reflect the parties' positions. They are Republican Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania. He's a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Michael Nacth, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He is an expert on national security.
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.
REP. CURT WELDON (R-PA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Happy to be here.
PROF. MICHAEL NACTH, UNIVERISTY OF CALIFORNIA AT BERKELEY: My pleasure.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Weldon, to you first. Given all we know about the system, about the potential threat, does the United States really need this missile defense system?
WELDON: Absolutely. For the first time we now have rogue nations or developing capabilities that pose direct threats to the U.S. The CIA, in fact, last year, following the Rumsfeld Commission, have basically legitimatemized the concern and have now acknowledged that North Korea could launch a missile. It wouldn't have an accurate guidance system, but with a light payload, could actually hit the U.S. mainland. We now see Iran, in fact, moving in the same direction, Iraq shortly to follow. So we have a risk that we have to deal with, and that's really what missile defense is all about.
WOODRUFF: Professor Nacth, are those the reasons that the U.S. should proceed, despite all the criticims and concern across the globe.
NACTH: Well I mean, I think there are really two issues here about threat. One is, as Congressman Weldon said, the issue of states of concern, as we're calling them now. North Korea, more recently, more immediately, and possibly Iran and Iraq down the road, threatening us with the small numbers of missiles attacking the U.S. And also there's a possibility of unauthorized or accidental launch of missile, possibly by a rogue officer in the Russian Strategic Defense Forces. So there are those two. We're not talking about a major defensive system against a massive attack from the former Soviet Union, as we were in the "Star Wars" days.
WOODRUFF: It's not a major system or a system that would defend against the larger states, if you will, Congressman Weldon, but Russia is virtually on the war path. Its new President Vladimir Putin has been traveling throughout Europe, saying this would, in effect, blow the anti-missile -- or rather the the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty out of the water. How can the U.S. proceed with this kind of opposition?
WELDON: Well, Judy, you have to understand the russian perspective. I speak Russian. My undergrad degree is in Russian. I have been there 21 times. I was with Secretary Cohen in Moscow just a month ago. I don't fault the Russians. We sent mixed signals for the past eight years. Boris Yeltsin challenged George Bush to work with Russia on a joint missile-defense initiative, and we started that, and Bill Clinton when he took over canceled those discussions between our State Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia. In 1996, it was President Clinton and Vice President Gore who canceled the funds for the only cooperative missile defense system we have with the Russians. It's called the Ramos Project.
It was because of people like myself and Carl Levin we restored the funding. So we have sent the wrong signals. The Russians are just -- they're unsure of what our intentions are, and that's because this administration has sent terrible signals to Russia over the past eight years.
WOODRUFF: Professor Nacth, is that the real reason the russians are so concerned?
NACHT: No, the Russians are concerned becaue they feel that perhaps down the road a limited missile defense system today could become a robust system tomorrow that can threaten their own forces. And President Clinton and Vice President Gore have made it abundantly clear on many occasions, as have Secretary Albright and Secretary Cohen, that this is not the case. I served in the Clinton administration for three years, and I've been party to meetings where we displayed our knowledge of our systems to them.
At the moment, they're` reisting. But you know, their position has evolved. If you noticed carefuly, President Putin in his joint statement with President Clinton has acknowledged that there's a threat. For a long time, there didn't even acknowledge there was a threat. But it does raise this point that this is a four-pronged issue, about threat, technical feasabilty, cost and relations with Russia, China and our allies, and you have to work all sides of these problems. You can't just say let's go full blast ahead with a technology that we don't have or a cost that we can't afford.
WOODRUFF: We've got less than two minutes, if you'll forgive me for stepping in here. Congressman Welddon, given -- it's not just the Russians who are concerned; it's the Chinese, it's the European allies of hte United States. Given all that concern, why isn't a more limited proplosal, like the one the president and Vice President Gore are saying they would support, more acceptable?
WELDON: Well, first of all, Judy, it's not a program that the president and Vice President Gore suggested. Up until one year ago, when my bill passed the House, they were adamantly opposed to missle defense. The only reason the president changed his positon was to remove the table from the political landscape for Vice President Gore. They haven't supported anything for the last seven years, up until last year.
So all of a sudden, our allies are saying, what in the world is going on here? This president and this vice president oppose missile defense that the Congress wanted, bipartisan support in the Congress, I might add, and all of a sudden, now they're for it. I understand the confusion. If I were in Europe or if I were in russia, I would be confused, too. The problem is this administration is just playing politics with the issue.
WOODRUFF: And, Professor Nacth, is that what the administration is doing, playing politics?
NACTH: Well, in fact, Congressman Weldon is aware that Undersecretary of Defense Perry -- the Clinton administration initiated a three-plus-three program to look hard at missile defense readiness and then consider deploying in another three years if there was a threat.
WELDON: The fact is judy, a year ago -- the day my bill was up for a vote on the house floor, President Clinton and Vice President Gore sent a letter to every member of Congress opposing this initiative.
WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to have to it there, gentlemen, We'll perhaps know a little bit more tonight, at least in terms of how this test goes, but clearly, this debate is far from over.
WELDON: Just beginning.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Weldon and Professor Nacth, thank you both for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS.
WELDON: Thank you.
NACHT: My pleasure. WOODRUFF: And one other note, the defense department is planning a briefing just in advance of tonight's anti-missile test. Officials will speak with reporters at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. CNN plans live coverage around 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
Much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. Up next:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At inner-city schools and before civil rights groups, Texas Governor George W. Bush extols the rhetoric of inclusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Charles Zewe on Bush's appeal to African-Americans, and whether his record matches his rhetoric.
And later, politics on parade in the land of Disney. A profile of the House race in Orlando.
Plus: That's the way the cookie crumble -- which presidential hopeful has lovers of sweets on his side?
WOODRUFF: We'll more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. Nascar driver Kenny Irwin has died after crashing his car during a practice run at New Hampshire International Speedway. Officials suspect the throttle on Irwin's chevy stuck open and sent him into the wall. The accident happened at nearly the same spot where racer Adam Petty crashed and died in May. Irwin was 30 years old.
Basketall star Julius Erving says he is grateful police finally found the body of his missing son. The body of 19-year-old Cory Erving was recovered, along with his car, from a retention pond in Central Florida. He had been missing for more than a month. Investigators say that Erving's death appears to be an accident.
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SHERIFF DONALD ESLINGER, SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA: We have an obligation to provide information to the family and find some resolution to this case, and we don't want to speculate. We don't want to draw any false conclusions or lead us. It's like from the very begining on May the 4th -- or June the 4th, becauee we want to maintain objectivity on the case. We want to look at all the possible scenarios.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Authorities say that Cory Erving was not wearing a seatbelt. Results of an autopsy have not been released.
A strong finish for the markets. Signs of a slowing economy sparked a Wall Street buying frenzy. The Dow Jones gained 154 points, closing at 10636. For the holiday-shortned week, the blue-chip index rose 188 points. Meantime, the Nasdaq composite gained 62 points, closing at 4,023. It's the first time the Nasdaq has closed above 4000 since the start of summer. For the week, the Nasdaq rose 57 points.
British forces step up security in Northern Ireland after shots were fired overnight in a fifth night of violence. New barricades are being erected in Drumcree to prevent Protestant Orangmen from marching into a Catholic area on Sunday.
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PETER MANDELSON, N. IRELAND SECRETARY: I say this weekend, people in Portadown (ph) have a choice of tactics: They can either choose to tolerate and continue their protest and see the violence that we've seen over the last few days, or instead they can choose dialouge, talking to people. And I think if they choose dialogue and proper engagement with the parades commision and other local residents, it should be possible for them to get some march in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: The parade commission says the Orangemen can march three months from now, if they call off the protests.
It is the summer home where Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation. And today President Clinton proclaimed Anderson Cottage a national monument. It may not be as majestic as the Lincoln Memorial, but Mr. Clinton says the hilltop retreat only three miles from the White House is "just as precious as a giant sequoia."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not enough Americans know about Anderson Cottage and the truly historic role it has played in our nation's history. We should, and now we shall. There is fragile, vital history in this house. Today we come to reclaim it, to preserve it, and to make it live again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Mr. Clinton pledged a quarter-million dollars toward the site's restoration. The 157-year-old Anderson Cottage was just one of 71 historic sites named today.
When INSIDE POLITICS returns, the death penalty and politics at the federal level: why the president plans to postpone an execution.
WOODRUFF: The Clinton-Gore administration is adding a new element to the election year debate about the death penalty.
CNN's Kelly Wallace has details on a decision made by the president and its political implications.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Clinton has decided to put off what would have been the first federal execution in nearly 40 years, postponing the scheduled August execution of Juan Raul Garza, a Texas man on death row for drug-related murders.
JAKE SIEWART, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's asking that we have clear guidelines in place because he believes that if we were to administer the death penalty we ought to make sure that it's done in a just manner.
WALLACE: Mr. Clinton wants to give Garza an opportunity to submit a request for clemency using new guidelines the Justice Department should complete in the next week or so. This is the latest example of the death penalty coming under increased scrutiny.
In Illinois, Republican Governor George Ryan imposed a moratorium on state executions after 13 death row convictions were overturned. And Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is now calling for a moratorium on federal executions.
Last week, Mr. Clinton himself expressed concerns about the way the federal death penalty is administered and told reporters the Justice Department is investigating.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: The issues at the federal level relate more to the disturbing racial composition of those who've been convicted and the apparent fact that almost all the convictions are coming out of just a handful of states.
WALLACE: Just last month, questions about the death penalty dogged Texas Governor George W. Bush before the execution of Texas inmate Gary Graham.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The death penalty is not an easy subject for a lot of folks.
WALLACE: Not easy for death penalty supporter Al Gore, who during the Graham case struggled to walk a fine line.
GORE: I fully support the use of DNA testing in circumstances where it can improve the administration of justice.
WALLACE: But the person who may benefit most by the president's decision is Al Gore.
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, POLITICAL ANALYST: This is good news for Al Gore. We know that 70 percent or more of Americans approve of the death penalty. But approving of the death penalty doesn't mean that Americans want people lined up and mowed down.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WALLACE: White House officials dismiss any notion that Mr. Clinton's plan to grant a stay in the Garza case is politically motivated. They say it is solely driven by the president's desire to make sure the death penalty, something he strongly supports, is administered fairly -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: CNN's Kelly Wallace at the White House, thanks.
George W. Bush is in Texas today, taking another day off from the campaign trail. On his agenda in the coming days, an appearance at the NAACP convention in Baltimore on Monday, another example of Bush's attempts to reach out to minority voters.
CNN's Charles Zewe looks at the governor's record on race and whether it matches his rhetoric.
ZEWE (voice-over): At inner city schools...
BUSH: We must make these schools worthy of all our children.
ZEWE: ... and before civil rights groups, Texas Governor George W. Bush extols the rhetoric of inclusion.
BUSH: To make sure that people are not left behind as we head into the 21st century, regardless of race or religion or station in life.
ZEWE: Casting himself as a new Republican, Bush, who got a quarter of the black vote in his 1998 re-election bid, is campaigning in black neighborhoods and churches, trying to overcome perceived ill- will between Republicans and African-American voters.
At Bush's urging, Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts was named a co- chair of the upcoming GOP convention. Retired General Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice advise Bush on international policy and are members of his inner circle.
CONDOLEEZA RICE, BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The message has not always been one of inclusiveness in the Republican Party.
ZEWE: Bush, Rice says, is trying to convince black voters...
RICE: That opportunity for all is one of the strongest and highest priorities that he would pursue as president.
ZEWE (on camera): Bush critics say the governor's outreach to blacks is a sham, designed not as much to appeal to African-American voters as it is to convince white, moderate voters that he's not some wild-eyed conservative.
FAYE ANDERSON, FORMER GOP ACTIVIST: We are being used as props.
ZEWE: Republican activist Faye Anderson resigned from the party this spring. She says Bush's attempts to court black support are cynical and offensive.
ANDERSON: It really isn't about blacks. Blacks are being used as commodities.
ZEWE: Anderson and others point to Bush's support of the death penalty, his refusal to condemn the Confederate flag atop the Statehouse in South Carolina, his opposition to affirmative action and a failure to avoid more blacks in his administration.
MICHAEL WILLIAMS, CHAIRMAN, TEXAS RAILROAD COMMISSION: This is a very, very different candidate.
ZEWE: But Bush supporters, like Michael Williams, disagree. Bush named Williams chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates utilities in the state.
WILLIAMS: African-American voters themselves are much, much more conservative than maybe some of the national African-American leadership.
ZEWE: Polls suggest blacks may be growing more conservative, but are still center-left in their politics.
DAVID BOSITIS, JOINT CENTER FOR POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC STUDIES: Regardless of the issues, African-Americans aren't going to vote Republican because they don't trust the Republican Party.
ZEWE: But Rice contends Bush can win their trust with a simple message.
RICE: This is a man of a good heart, of a great record and of strong convictions that we are going to be one America or we're not going to be a very strong America at all.
ZEWE: Analysts say, though, with polls showing Al Gore enjoying nearly 80 percent support among black voters, Bush has a lot of ground to make up.
Charles Zewe, CNN, Austin, Texas.
WOODRUFF: And next on INSIDE POLITICS, a heated race in the Sunshine State that could bear on the balance of Congress.
WOODRUFF: In Michigan, a new poll of likely voters shows George W. Bush has taken a 12-point lead over Al Gore in four-man presidential race. Green Party nominee Ralph Nader gets 8 percent, Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan 3 percent.
The survey shows Nader drawing his support almost entirely from Gore, who had a slight lead in Michigan back in May in a head-to-head matchup with Bush. The Epic/MRA survey also show Republican Senator Spencer Abraham with a 3 point lead over his Democratic challenger, Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow. Abraham was slightly behind Stabenow two months ago.
Like Michigan, Florida stands to be a key presidential battleground. It could also play a role in the Democrats' hopes for wresting control of Congress. In Florida's 8th Congressional District, the race for an open House seat is as hot already as a summer's day at Disney World.
CNN's Pat Neal has the story from Orlando.
NEAL (voice-over): This is the district that Disney built.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALT DISNEY: We have a perfect location in Florida, almost in the very center of this state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEAL: Up from the swamps and orange groves came Walt Disney World, setting off an economic book in Orlando that shaped this district. But this is no Mickey Mouse race.
RIC KELLER (R), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: It will be a very bitter, street-fight sort of primary.
NEAL: Three Republicans are vying for their party's nomination to succeed Congressman Bill McCollum, who's running for the U.S. Senate. The race has already turned nasty.
The last time the three debated, first-time candidate Ric Keller tried to paint opponent Bill Sublette as too moderate.
BILL SUBLETTE (R), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I don't have any experience in voting for the largest property tax increase in Florida history. It's experience that I don't want.
NEAL: The seven-year state representative shot back.
KELLER: I ask you, stop lying to the voters.
NEAL: Ducking the crossfire is businessman Bob Herring. The primary race has gotten so bitter, the National Republican Congressional Committee has called on the candidates to, quote, "spend more time attacking the Democrat than each other."
LINDA CHAPIN (D), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I've got support from places you'd be surprised.
NEAL: That Democrat is Linda Chapin, who's uncontested in her party's primary. A former Orange County chairman who now serves as county clerk, Chapin has 90 percent name recognition in the district.
CHAPIN: I've run three times county-wide in this district, and it's almost the same geographic area. The people of central Florida know me. I've always enjoyed a lot of Republican crossover support.
NEAL: Chapin has also proven to be a formidable fund raiser, collecting $800,000 for her race so far. That's more than the three Republicans combined.
But Republicans say they have other numbers that count.
(on camera): Republicans do have an edge here, about 6 percent more registered voters. But also in play are the number of independents and those who haven't declared a party affiliation. They make up about 16 percent.
(voice-over): Republicans count on those independents to vote their way. The district went for Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential election, George Bush in 1992, and re-elected the conservative Republican McCollum for 20 years.
SUBLETTE: And it's a very Republican district. I think I'm far more conservative than Ms. Chapin.
NEAL: Republicans admit they're in a tough fight here. Polls show Chapin beating any of the three GOP candidates. And while she focuses on the November election, Republicans are concerned there will be no clear winner in the September primary, meaning they might not have a nominee until an October runoff.
Pat Neal, CNN, Orlando.
WOODRUFF: Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS, analysts Bill Kristol and E.J. Dionne.
Plus, a little bit of flavor from the presidential race.
WOODRUFF: A new survey shows Al Gore on the losing end of a "generation gap." The poll by Edison Media Research has George W. Bush favored by 11-points among American teenagers. Teenage girls split between the candidates. The boys went with Bush.
WOODRUFF: And speaking of the presidential campaign, joining us now Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard" and "E.J. Dionne" of "The "Washington Post."
Gentleman, if it's Friday, it must be Mr. Kristol and Mr. Dionne. Thank you for being here.
WILLIAM KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Good to be with you.
E.J. DIONNE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good to be here.
WOODRUFF: Al Gore out this week out talking day after day about health care. E.J., is this getting him anywhere in the campaign? DIONNE: William Jennings Bryan Gore, the populist. He did, I think that is the first week, and we've been sitting here for a long time. This is the first week you can say Gore actually won the week.
I think he won the week, because as long as his campaign is primarily about personality and whose campaign feels good, Bush seems to know how to do that. He does that better than Gore. I think on core issues, and especially on Medicare and especially on these prescription drug benefits, the country is closer to the Democrats.
The House Democrats now are running perhaps 10 points ahead of Gore in most of the polls, both public and private. I think that's because the issues are on their side. And I think the Republicans are having a great deal of trouble in selling their alternative, because it's so indirect. I mean, this is one benefit where people, older people think of Medicare as an insurance policy. It ought to pay for drugs, like other insurance policies, and that's what the Democrats are saying.
WOODRUFF: Do you think Gore is getting any mileage on this, Bill?
KRISTOL: Not with teenage boys.
WOODRUFF: We should have talked about that first. Why is it?
KRISTOL: I think better of American teenagers as a result of that poll. I don't know why teenage boys identify with George W. Bush.
DIONNE: Because he was a great baseball...
KRISTOL: Because they're like him, you know, happy go lucky sports fans.
WOODRUFF: We can analyze that.
KRISTOL: Al Gore is attractive to teenage girls. I'll ask my daughter.
Health care has been the political issue of the '90s. You know, at the beginning of the '90s, it was a huge asset for Democrats, it hurt President Bush badly in '92. In '94, it destroyed -- the failure of Mrs. Clinton's plan let Republicans win the Congress, and then Bill Clinton destroyed in Newt Gingrich on Medicare in '96. It's a very volatile issue.
I think it's intelligent for Al Gore to pick on that. I think it's probably the cutting issue where Gore can try to say, look, we are going to provide these prescription drugs and George W. Bush isn't.
And the interesting thing is that the Bush campaign is so sensitive to this that they released a press release yesterday, boasting that the Bush plan doubles Medicare spending over the next years, this is the Republicans, and criticizing the Clinton-Gore administration for, quote, "cutting Medicare" by 70 billion over 10 years.
Now remember, when Gingrich used to complain bitterly that Democrats would attack the Republican Congress for cutting Medicare. And he would say, we're not cutting Medicare, we're reducing the rate of growth of Medicare.
WOODRUFF: And now the shoe is on the other foot.
DIONNE: Now the shoe is very much on the other foot. George W. Bush is as far from Newt Gingrich as you possibly can be.
KRISTOL: A wild liberal from Texas.
DIONNE: I think there's another reason why this is a very powerful issue. The constituency that was most affected by the Clinton scandal, people most turned off to Democrats, older women, and older woman are people who care passionately Medicare and the prescription drug benefit, that if they were to vote just on their attitude toward the Clinton-Gore administration, they might be inclined to vote for Bush. This is an issue that can pull them right back over to the Democratic Party.
KRISTOL: You know, one other point about this, we've -- everyone assumes that Ralph Nader is hurting Al Gore. And as that Michigan poll suggests, he might be taking some votes for Gore.
But I think, ironically, Nader may have helped the Gore campaign. Because Ralph Nader forced Al Gore to be more of a populist, and I do think E.J. is right. In the last 10 days, when Gore is on the attack against Big Oil and now against the drug companies, he finally has been setting the agenda a little bit. Bush is going to have to respond, if they are going to have to debate on Medicare now. It's not just George Bush getting to move to the center and Gore responding to Bush.
WOODRUFF: You're saying it's a reaction to Nader, in part.
KRISTOL: Yes, but I think it's helped. Ironically, Nader has helped Gore.
DIONNE: I agree with that. It's also because Al Gore is not getting the Democratic vote the way that he should. George Bush has pretty much locked up the Republican base. There are still a lot of Democrats who haven't committed to Gore. Before he goes into his convention, he's got to lock up Democrats, and this kind of issue and a kind of populous-class appeal appeals right to that Democratic base.
WOODRUFF: Well, talking about going outside one's base, George W. Bush appealing to a number of minority groups, going to speak to the NAACP next week. Bill, what does this really bring George W. Bush. Can he hope to get a larger percentage of the black vote?
KRISTOL: He can get a little bit larger percentage, but he can get the votes of lots of moderates who, understandably, are happy with the Republicans. In the past, maybe have been unfairly caricatured as hostile or different to the interests of minorities, and so I think it's intelligent for Governor Bush. It's a little bit of a double- edged sword. I mean, Gore is watching this.
They're not foolish. They're going to put statements out over the weekend encouraging the NAACP members to ask Governor Bush what his position is on racial preferences. You now, in other words, Bush has had kind of a free ride in his move in the center so far. Conservatives have said nothing, and Gore has not been effective on pinning Bush on possible tensions between his attempt to move to the center and positions he holds.
WOODRUFF: Has he tried to do that, E.J.?
DIONNE: Think that, rhetorically, as your piece said, he's moved to the center. And all of the feelings that you get out of those very nice pictures of Bush with little kinds, he clearly looks tolerant. That's different from moving to the political center, depending on the issue, and there are a lot of issues where he is firmly conservative, and I think until the last week to 10 days, Gore has not done a good job of pinning him down.
Where I think it could be important is with the Hispanic vote. And I think you've got a Hispanic vote in Florida, which is mostly Cuban, which is probably going to be pretty solidly Republican, even though there is some seepage in the Republican vote. In Texas, he is going to win Texas anyway, whether the Hispanics vote for him with 30 percent or 50 percent.
The real question is California. And there are two factors: One, does Nader make it close enough to make the state competitive? So far, he hasn't quite done that yet. If the state becomes competitive, the only way Bush can win is to cut this huge margin that the Democrats have enjoyed in California, and I think you've got to, sort of, look at Hispanics differently, not only within different ethnic groups, but in particular, in different parts of the country.
WOODRUFF: All right, there is so much more to talk about, but we are going to have to leave it there. And we look forward to seeing you next week.
E.J. Dionne, Bill Kristol, thank you. Have a great weekend.
DIONNE: Thanks, Judy.
KRISTOL: You too.
WOODRUFF: And finally, a presidential poll that is half baked. The Web site americachews.com. -- that is, C-H-E-W-S, offers the chance to register your presidential preference by buying cookies that bear the likeness of either Al Gore or George W. Bush. Of course you have to be willing to fork over $16.95 for a dozen candidate cookies. So far, Gore is getting bitten in the cookie poll. Bush is ahead by about 2-1. I think that we should check on that every week.
DIONNE: Especially with teenage boys.
WOODRUFF: That's right.
E.J. Dionne just said, especially with the vote of teenage boys.
That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But of course you can go online all the time at cnn's allpolitics.com.
And these weekend program notes, the general chairman of the Democratic Party, Ed Rendell, will be the guest tomorrow on "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS." That's at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
And at noon Eastern on Sunday, Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader will be among Wolf Blitzer's guests on "LATE EDITION."
I'm Judy Woodruff.
"WORLDVIEW" is next.
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