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Inside Politics

Bush and Gore Battle Over Texas; Gore Recycles Familiar Campaign Strategy

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



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It should be a state where it's just as easy to raise a child as it is to set up an oil rig.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore lands in George W. Bush's backyard and takes the governor to task on everything from child welfare to the state budget.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He should be ashamed. Texas doesn't need the vice president to lecture us on balanced budgets.


WOODRUFF: George W. Bush fights back and defends his Lone Star record.



WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Al Gore's in Texas today following a familiar political script. It's called get the governor. Where did Gore get the script? Most likely from Governor Bush's father, who followed it twice.


WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider on recycling a familiar campaign strategy.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is on assignment and he'll join us shortly.

Al Gore invaded Texas today and blasted the record of Texas Governor George W. Bush. Gore's side trip to San Antonio was triggered by reports of cost overruns in the Texas state budget, which Democrats are blaming on a Bush tax cut.

In a lengthy attack, Gore accused Bush of favoring special interests over Texans in need. Bush fired back, defending his record and his state.

Chris Black has the first of our two reports.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Al Gore took Air Force Two straight to the Texas turf of his rival.

GORE: Now this is a wonderful state, but I think it should be, and I think most people agree, it should be a state where it's just as easy to raise a child as it is to set up an oil rig.

BLACK: Sensing a vulnerability in George W. Bush's record, Gore changed his schedule and flew to the second largest city in Texas to launch a two-pronged attack on Bush's ability to balance a budget and his budget priorities in Texas. Gore asked why Bush pushed for big tax cuts instead of health insurance for 1.4 million uninsured Texas children.

GORE: Here in Texas, faced with the largest surplus ever, courtesy, I would argue in part at least, of the national economic boom that produced surpluses in most states, Governor Bush chose a different set of priorities.

BLACK: Gore recited a litany of Texas statistics at a hastily arranged forum on health care.

GORE: Texas now ranks No. 1 in industrial pollution. It's No. 2 for child poverty. It's No. 3 for deaths from asthma.

BLACK: Gore says the Bush administration made it difficult for low-income Texans to enroll in the federally sponsored health insurance program for children in order to save money for a tax cut. But first he complimented his opponent.

GORE: I understand that Governor Bush is a popular and well- liked governor here. And I want to give him some credit on that score. I think he has a warm and engaging personality.

BLACK: Then suggested Bush does not measure up to the job of president.

GORE: But you know, the presidency is more than just a popularity contest. It's -- it involves whether or not you're willing to fight for what's right, whether or not you're willing to spend some popularity to do difficult, hard things. BLACK: The strategy is an attempt to put Bush on the defense as he prepares to announce a running mate and accept the Republican presidential nomination.

Gore aides say it also strikes at Bush's potential advantages, the GOP's traditional reputation for fiscal conservatism and Bush's message of compassionate conservatism.

Four Democratic legislators joined Gore, complaining the Bush administration is not being forthcoming about state budget overruns.

Nobody's telling us. Nobody's telling us those numbers.

(on camera): After the quick detour to Texas, the vice president flew back to Washington. But his campaign plans to keep up the attack, using Bush's words and record against him.

Chris Black, CNN, San Antonio, Texas.



JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Jonathan Karl in Austin.

George W. Bush welcomed Al Gore to his home state with a blunt message: Don't mess with Texas.

BUSH: Texas doesn't need the vice president to lecture us about balanced budgets. Every budget I have signed in Texas has been balanced, unlike the vice president's own administration, which has left half of its budgets in deficit and in the red.

KARL: Bush says he is happy to defend a record that got him re- elected by a nearly 40-point landslide.

BUSH: I'm proud that under my leadership, working with Republicans and Democrats, Texas has increased spending for education, increased spending for heal care, built and funded prisons and cut taxes by record amounts. And we still have a large surplus.

KARL: But Bush signaled he won't stay on defense. In a strategy his aides say will become a campaign trademark, Bush first defended his record and then went on offense.

BUSH: Perhaps while he's in Texas, he will also explain why he is criticizing our state when his own federal government has cost overruns in 37 federal agencies or offices.

KARL: Before responding to Gore, Bush taped an interview with Larry King to be aired tonight. Bush told King he received a call earlier this week from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE") BUSH: The progress, he thought, was slow, but he thought something might happen positively. And I was very grateful for the phone call.


KARL: In the interview, Bush said he will forego attacking Vice President Gore at the upcoming Republican convention.


LARRY KING, HOST: Gore will be spared?

BUSH: He will be spared, because I want to spend time talking about what we intend to do. I may needle him a little bit.


KARL: The Bush campaign is launching a new, targeted ad blitz in an effort to build momentum before the Republican convention, now less than two weeks away.


BUSH: And the right way to make America better for everyone is to be bold and decisive, to unite instead of divide. Now is the time to do the hard things.


KARL: The campaign plans to spend more than $3 million running ads in four key states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington state.

(on camera): For now, at least, all of Bush's ads are positive. The governor likes to call himself a "counterpuncher," and campaign strategists say he will likely wait for Gore to launch the first negative ad before launching attack ads of his own.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Austin.


WOODRUFF: A new poll released today shows the presidential race has tightened, this one actually showing Al Gore leading George W. Bush in a two-man race. The Bloomberg news poll of registered voters has Gore at 45 percent, Bush at 44 percent. With Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan added to the field, the Bloomberg poll shows Bush ahead of Gore, but by only 2 points.

A CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll earlier this week also showed Bush's lead down to 2 points in a four-way race. Bush led Gore by 5 points in a recent CBS four-way matchup and by six points in a Zogby America survey. In all of the polls, the race had tightened.

Let's go now to Austin, Texas, and to my colleague Bernard Shaw, who has a special guest from the Bush camp.

Hello, Bernie.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Judy, 104, 105 here in Austin. The special guest is the Bush campaign's chief strategist, Karl Rove.

With Judy's reporting just in mind, why -- how has Gore closed the lead your man once enjoyed?

KARL ROVE, BUSH CAMPAIGN SENIOR STRATEGIST: Well, it's a natural process. We're getting close to the conventions. We've done a -- Governor Bush has done an exceptionally good job in uniting the Republican Party. Al Gore has done a poor job of uniting the Democratic Party until recently. And as Democrats come home, as they will as the convention approaches, the race will tighten up. And that's what we're seeing.

SHAW: Do you regard the vice president as prowling around in your state, trying to stir up trouble?

ROVE: No, look, this is a pathetic effort by the vice president, an act of desperation. Yesterday afternoon, the Gore campaign apparently decided on the spur of the moment to come to Texas. And they wanted to come here to attack the governor on one of his strong points. You heard it. They had hoped to turn one of his strengths into a weakness and it's not going to succeed.

We have a $1.4 billion surplus. Now how somebody from Washington, D.C. can turn that into a shortfall or a deficit is beyond me?

SHAW: Is the surplus controversy to Governor Bush what Boston Harbor was to former Governor Michael Dukakis in the '88 campaign?

ROVE: Oh, absolutely not. Look, Governor Bush has a surplus. We've got the vice president of the United States down here claiming that because Texas has a $1.4 billion surplus, that somehow or another Governor Bush is not a good fiscal stirrer. We balanced the budget every year that the governor's been in office, and he has a $1.4 billion surplus, one of the largest in the state's history as of today. And the money's in the bank. And why the vice president thinks he can run around the countryside and somehow claim that's a shortfall or a deficit is beyond -- beyond me.

SHAW: Gore in Texas, your backyard today. Are you going to flip the tables on him and send Governor Bush into Tennessee?

ROVE: Well, we'll see. But we hope the vice president spends a lot of his time campaigning in Texas. The latest polls in Texas have him a mere 37 points behind. Why doesn't the vice president come down here and see if he can close that gap a little bit.

We welcome him to Texas. We want him to be spending some of that Democrat money in the state, spending his time here rather than states that are up for grabs. And we welcome him to come down here. But I repeat, it's pretty pathetic to have the vice president of the United States down here mouthing something that is just factually not true and expecting people to believe it.

SHAW: In effect, you're saying that Gore is lying?

ROVE: I'm saying Gore is doing a heck of a job distorting the truth. It reminds me of what Bill Bradley said. How can we expect you to tell the truth as president, he said of Al Gore, when you won't tell the truth as a candidate.

SHAW: I've received information that you and your office are telling the people on the governor's short vice presidential list to stay by the phone this weekend. True?

ROVE: You're hearing lots of rumors. The governor has yet to make a decision. We're not making calls to any list, because the list is only in two people's hand, Governor Bush and Dick Cheney's.

SHAW: How many people know?

ROVE: Two, maybe three, and know the status of the names on the list. And the governor has not made a decision, and won't make a decision until at least this weekend.

SHAW: Tactically, will you put the chosen one on the road right away once the name is announced?

ROVE: Well, I think it's important for the American people to get to know this person and to see this person with Governor Bush, and how quickly that'll be done depends on when the governor makes a decision. You know, this will be a good choice and it will be one that we want the American people to see.

SHAW: Will that choice put pressure on Vice President Gore's selection process?

ROVE: Well, I don't think it should. He should be making up his own mind, but he's clearly paying attention to what Governor Bush has done. There has been a number of news reports the vice president, and staff and advisers have said they are looking closely what Governor Bush does. Tony Coelho, before he was tossed out as campaign chairman, came here to Austin, Texas in a Democrat fund-raiser, and said they would be paying very close attention to what Governor Bush did, and depending what Governor Bush did, they might be forced to go one way or another.

SHAW: Did you mean to say Coelho was tossed out when he indeed left out because of health problems?

ROVE: I'll accept his explanation, but the long knives were out, and I believe your network reported the long knives were out well before his health problems surfaced.

SHAW: Philadelphia -- how much of a polling do you want to see before you leave? ROVE: We want to see the biggest possible. But in reality, you get most of your bounce by uniting base, so our view is that Al Gore is likely to have a significantly larger bounce out of his convention, because he's further behind in consolidating his base than we're in ours. Governor Bush has today between 89 and 92 percent of Republicans supporting him on -- according to most polls, the best anybody has been able to do was 94 percent with Ronald Reagan in 1984. So there's not much of a bounce we're going to get by getting more Republicans in, but Gore has a long way to go with Democrats, and they're going to come home at the Democratic convention, no ifs, ands or buts.

SHAW: Appreciate your time. One last question. Tuesday night of the convention in Philadelphia, Senator John McCain talking about security and defense matters. Tactically, how will you deploy Senator McCain in an effort to get and lock up, if you can, independent and swing voters?

ROVE: Senator McCain has been enormously gracious in his conversations with the governor's office to campaign for Governor Bush this fall, and we intend to take him up on it as often as he is willing to let us. He's going to be a great ally and a great stalwart on the campaign trail, and I expect you'll see him sooner rather than later.

SHAW: Sooner rather than later.

Karl Rove, the chief strategist, thanks very much.

Judy, back to you in Washington.

WOODRUFF: Every bit of that 104 degrees. Bernie, thanks very much. Every word fascinating there.

Well, joining us now from Nashville, Tennessee is Mark Fabiani, who is Al Gore's deputy campaign manager for communications. First of all, Mark Fabiani, you heard Karl Rove say what the vice president is doing in going to Texas, he said it's an act of desperation, it's a pathetic effort, and he's not telling the truth?

MARK FABIANI, GORE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN MANAGER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Well, as Yogi Berra said, you can look it up. Last year, the state of Texas had a $6 billion surplus, and then George Bush decide for a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Texans. That surplus is now down because the budget is in shortfall to $250 million from $6 billion in just a year.

And in a rare moment of candor a few days ago, Governor Bush said, I hope I don't have to be around next year to deal with it. That's the kind of quote that's going to hangs around the governor's neck like an albatross between now and November.

WOODRUFF: But what about the governor's comment himself? We heard in that report earlier from Jonathan Karl, Governor Bush saying, how can Al Gore come to Texas and criticize us for a shortfall in one program, when the federal government has shortfalls in 37-some-odd programs.

FABIANI: You just have to look at the numbers. The federal surplus under President Clinton and Vice President Gore has gone up every single year. It's now at a record amount. The prosperity and progress of the country is enormous under the president and the vice president.

What's happened in Texas is exactly the opposite. The surplus has gone down after just one year of Bush's tax cuts. The surplus is virtually eliminated. You know, in Texas, in their emergency fund, they can only run the government for one day if there was some kind of emergency, that's not the kind of fiscal responsibility that Americans expect out of a governor, particularly a Republican governor running for president.

WOODRUFF: So as Governor Bush reminded us a moment ago, he said I've increased spending for education, I've increased spending for health care, we still have a surplus. You're saying none of that matters?

FABIANI: It's not. It's true they still have a surplus, except if you count in a year a $6 billion surplus being reduced to 250 million, and it's going down. It's like someone on the Titanic at the very bow of the ship, which is the only part that's above water, saying the ship hasn't sunk yet. It's going down. It's going to go down even further. They'll be in deficit next year, and Governor Bush admitted he doesn't want to have to be around to deal with it. He hopes he's going to be elected president. Well, that's not the kind of attitude people want to hear from a presidential candidate.

WOODRUFF: All right, let me slightly change the subject here, Mark Fabiani, and ask you about the polls. It is the case Vice President Gore is catching up with Governor Bush nationally. Polls are showing the race is tightening. But in some key states, states that Democrats won in the last few elections, states they're presumably counting on this November, Governor Bush is either ahead, or it's very close, and Ralph Nader, in states like Washington state, like Connecticut, is doing very well. What does Vice President Gore do about Ralph Nader?

FABIANI: Well, Vice President Gore is going to stick to his issues, which are balance the budget by paying off the national debt, protect Social Security, put Medicare in a lockbox, make good investments in the environment, and education and health care. In the end, people who are attracted to other third-party candidates are going to come back to Al Gore. And in the last three or four weeks, it's already happening. The vice president has taken on the big oil company. He's taken on the big pharmaceutical companies. He's shown he has what it takes to take on the old guard and the special interest, and he's shown, too, that Governor Bush doesn't have what it takes to get that done.

WOODRUFF: But Ralph Nader 11 points ahead in Connecticut. The Democrats won Connecticut for the last two elections, and Nader seven points ahead in the state of Washington. The Democrats won Washington in the last three presidential elections. FABIANI: Well, with all that going on, as you just reported, the national poll that's out today shows that Vice President Gore is one point ahead of Governor Bush. But the polls don't matter at this point, if the vice president sticks to his message, and he will, because he wants to explain how he's going to fight on behalf of working families against the special interest. In the end, people who are attracted to third party candidates will come and they will vote for the vice president. That's a certainty if we're able to communicate our message, and we're going to be able to do that right through the fall.

WOODRUFF: Republicans say they're going to have a very TV- friendly convention, there's going to be no big stage, there are going to be very few politicians, a lot of real people. Are the Democrats worried?

FABIANI: Well, it sounds like the last two Democratic conventions. Vice President Gore and President Clinton pioneered that kind of a convention, focusing on real Americans, in 1992 and again in 1996. So the Republicans are copying what the Democrats have done.

But look, the bottom line is, no matter what kind of convention you hold, your candidate has to have what it takes to be president of the United States. And there are a lot of people wondering whether George Bush has what it takes to be president, if he can't run Texas, if he can't stand up to the special interests.

WOODRUFF: How soon after the Republican convention do we know who Al Gore's running mate choice is?

FABIANI: Well, that process, as you know, is being very closely held by the vice president and...

WOODRUFF: But you can share it with us.


FABIANI: ... and by Secretary Christopher in Los Angeles. I think the selection will be made at some point after the convention, but exactly when, I can't tell you, because I don't know.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mark Fabiani with the Gore Campaign, we thank you very much for joining us.

FABIANI: Thanks for having me.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. We'll see you very soon.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, Bob Novak on the running-mate rumors in the GOP. Is the Oklahoma governor a front-runner in the veepstakes?


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. FRANK KEATING (R), OKLAHOMA: ... this moment, I have not had a conversation with Governor Bush or any member of his staff. And, you know, that's a fact. So, you know, it's a situation that I accept. And I think the world of George Bush. Anything I can do to help him, I'm going to help him. But I just don't feel it's going to happen.


WOODRUFF: Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating talking about his chances in the Republican vice presidential sweepstakes.

Joining us now with his "Reporter's Notebook," Bob Novak of the "Chicago Sun Times."

Bob, what are you hearing about Governor Keating's chances?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": Well, they seem to be diminishing, because he was the hot article, as you know, Judy, for a couple of weeks, really. And everybody kind of looked at him -- and everybody likes Frank Keating in the Republican Party. He's a very solid conservative and a stable person, but not very exciting. And so, the fact that his name was out there has kind of diminished it.

Now, I don't know where it's coming from, Judy, but there is talk about John McCain has resurfaced. Everybody does feel that if George W. Bush went to John McCain and said, "We really need you, I need you, the country -- the party needs, the country needs you," that Senator McCain would go on the ticket, even though he says that he doesn't want to be the vice presidential candidate. And that would be something that would energize this convention in Philadelphia a week ahead of time. And it would scare the Republicans to death.

The only other person that would do that...

WOODRUFF: The Democrats?

NOVAK: The Democrats to death, I'm sorry. It would scare some Republicans to death, too. But the only other person on the ticket that would have that kind of excitement would be General Colin Powell, and he has repeatedly said he will not go on the ticket in much stronger language, I think, than Senator McCain.

WOODRUFF: Well, very interesting. All right, what about the Republican Convention? You've been talking to people about what the Republicans have in mind, what they hope to accomplish.

NOVAK: Well, they tried to make it as little like an old- fashioned political convention as possible -- not that there's any contest for president or vice president, that is long gone -- but they are trying to have no platform fights in the committee. It's all being done at the order of George W. Bush. There is a little fight on the rules that might go to the floor on the primary contest schedule for the year 2004. That excites you and me, Judy, but nobody else.

It's going to be so little like a convention -- without a keynote speaker, with a stage instead of a podium -- that some of the managers wonder if the old delegates will say: Hey, is this a political convention or an infomercial for the Republican Party?

WOODRUFF: Bob, the Georgia Senate seat, now vacated by the untimely death of Republican Senator Paul Coverdell: What happens now? Are the Republicans in danger of losing that seat?

NOVAK: They sure are. And, of course, you know politicians, they all -- everybody liked Paul Coverdell -- but the minute he was dead, they started talking about the politics of the succession. The strongest possibility in either party is the former Democratic governor of Georgia, Zell Miller. And if he is the Democratic nominee, he would be a very strong favorite. The person that Senator Lott, I am told, and the Republican leadership, want is a congressman, a three-term Congressman, very attractive personality named Saxby Chambliss, from South Georgia.

And -- however, the leaders in the House of Representatives are not keen about him running for the Senate, because they don't know if they can hold the Congressional seat, which would be very tough. And they need that seat, of course, to keep control of the House of Representatives and the Republican Party in this election.

WOODRUFF: All right, a lot to keep an eye on. Always great to get a peek in your notebook over there.

NOVAK: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Bob Novak, thanks very much.

Still much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Still to come:


JAMES P. HOFFA, TEAMSTERS PRESIDENT: We also watched politicians from both parties support trade deals like NAFTA, where copyrights are more important than human rights.


WOODRUFF: Words of discontent from the Teamsters as labor prepares for the fall election. Plus, the political parties go head- to-head once again. David Peeler looks at how the spending stacks up. And later, an environmental issue that has the vice president in a political quandary.


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

The Camp David peace talks live on, minus President Clinton for now. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is shepherding negotiations until Mr. Clinton's return from the G8 economic conference in Japan. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher briefed reporters just a short time today.


RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Shortly after noon, she met with Chairman Arafat. Later, after that, she met with Prime Minister Barak. Contacts between the parties continue on all the issues. As I left, the secretary was meeting with her U.S. negotiating team, looking at the next set of activities. And we continue our efforts to move forward on the issues.


WOODRUFF: It was late last night when Israel's Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat surprised nearly everyone by agreeing to stay on at Camp David.

Two Salt Lake City Olympic officials are indicted by a federal grand jury. Former committee president Tom Welch and former vice president David Johnson are charged with conspiracy, fraud and racketeering. The indictment says the two men paid one million dollars to more than a dozen members of the International Committee to help them win their bid for the 1999 winter games.

The Justice Department will conduct a preliminary investigation into the July 4th killing of a gay African-American man in West Virginia. Arthur Warren Jr. was beaten to death. His parents met today with Justice Department officials to push for an investigation. They said the killing of their son was a hate crime.


BRENDA WARREN, VICTIM'S MOTHER: We can't understand how you can say that hate was not involved, because for the brutality that was done to our son, you could not do that without hate. And we're still standing by what we said originally. We're going to leave it up to the justice system to handle it, and we know that they will take care of it.


WOODRUFF: Two 17-year-old boys are charged with killing Warren.

A Seattle pharmacist sues her employer because her health plan doesn't cover birth control. Jennifer Erickson says contraceptives are part of a woman's basic health needs, and lack of coverage amounts to sexual discrimination. Her employer, the Bartell Drug Company, says it is not discriminatory. It's medical plan also excludes Viagra, infertility drugs and diet drugs.

Tiger Woods turned in a strong performance to open his chase for the British Open golf title, but he is not on top of the leader board. That honor after the first round belongs to South Africa's Ernie Els, who shot a six under par. Woods, who is tied for second at five under, says his goal is to stay focused.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER: You need to keep focused on what you need to accomplish right now -- not in the future, not behind you, you need to stay focused on what you need to accomplish right now. And I was able to do that and I've been able to do that. It's just -- I've learned how to play the game of golf better, and just as time goes along I'm starting to learn how to play it.


WOODRUFF: Woods won the U.S. Open title last month.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, a look at the latest FEC numbers from the presidential campaigns.

Plus, an ad campaign that targets two leading Republicans in the House.


WOODRUFF: Al Gore and George W. Bush had about the same amount of money in the bank at the end of June, according to reports to be files with the Federal Election Commission. Bush has about $8 million on hand, compared to $7.7 million for Gore. Bush continues to raise money at a rapid pace, pulling in more than $4 million in June. He is not accepting federal matching funds, so he can raise money right up through the GOP convention.

By contrast, Gore, who is accepting the match, must abide by strict limits, and, therefore, he has raised much less. Candidates who accept the matching money can legally spend about $40 million during the primary period.

So far, the political parties are spending the bulk of the ad dollars in the presidential race. Joining us now to talk some more about that, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

Hi, David.


WOODRUFF: David, how much are the Democratic and Republican National Committees spending?

PEELER: Well, Judy, you know, we expect to see the parties spend behind the candidates during the summer kind of blackout period before the conventions. What we've seen, though, was both parties spending some money this spring, and then on June 25th we saw a divergence of that. We saw the DNC spend $6.2 million since June 25th in about 17 key states.

They ran unopposed in those states because the RNC had pulled back. The Bush campaign, you'll recall at the time, said that they were doing pretty well and that they weren't going to go on air. And so they pulled back. Interestingly enough, we see that the RNC went back on air this past Tuesday, the 18th. They spent in the first day alone about $700,000 in 20 states. And another interesting element that we picked up was that they started spending some money in California, that coinciding with what the Bush campaign announced today, which is that they're starting their ad campaign. I think there's two things you might speculate on. One, you've got the conventions coming up for the Republicans, and, two, you saw a tightening in the polls. So I don't think either one of the two candidates want to let the other candidate get too far out in front.

WOODRUFF: All right, so now turning to the congressional races, a group called the Coalition for the Future American Worker is airing ads in several districts. The coalition's goal, it says, is to defeat legislation which grants work visas to international workers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dear, high-tech company, I would like to send you my resume.

COMPUTER VOICE: Dear, graduate, sorry. Congress is going to give your job to a foreign worker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I just finished four hard years of technical studies.

COMPUTER VOICE: Sorry. Besides, foreign workers will work for a lot less.

ANNOUNCER: Is this any way to treat American workers? But based on her record, Congresswoman Northup is likely to vote in favor of the foreign worker bill.


WOODRUFF: Now the coalition says it is targeting only congressional members who have supported international workers bills in the past or who support the current bills. That list does include Congresswoman Ann Northup of Kentucky and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Majority Whip Tom DeLay and Congressman George Nethercutt of Washington state.

Tell us, David, how much is this group spending?

PEELER: Well, an interesting tactic, Judy. We've seen the group spend about $700,000 against all of these congressional candidates. And we've also, as you'd expect, seen it show up in the congressional districts of these members.

What's interesting here, though, is that the Nethercutt and the Northup campaigns, or seats, are open seats -- not open seat, but they're contested seats. They're competitive races. The Armey and DeLay seats are very safe seats. So it looks like they're trying to spend some money where they can maybe win the election and then, in almost a harass-the-leadership kind of media tactic, they're going after Armey and DeLay. So it's interesting. And, you know, I think you're going to see an awful lot of this as we get down to the fall campaign, because there's an awful lot of independent expenditure groups who are going to weigh in with a lot of money.

WOODRUFF: All right, well as we know, David, prescription drug coverage has been a key issue on the presidential campaign trail. It has also come up in the Rhode Island Senate race. There, two Democrats are vying for the chance to run against incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee, who is serving out the term of his father, the late John Chafee.

Former Lieutenant Governor Richard Licht and Congressman Robert Weygand are waging an ad war over prescription drugs.


ANNOUNCER: Bob Weygand is an original sponsor of legislation that would force drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Weygand's legislation is supported by National Council of Senior Citizens and the Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.



RICHARD LICHT (D), RHODE ISLAND SENATE CANDIDATE: Bob Weygand and I just disagree. I have a full prescription drug plan for seniors with no co-payment and no deductible. Ask Bob Weygand why his plan charges seniors a 50 percent co-payment, costing them thousands they can't afford.


WOODRUFF: Another issue in the Democratic primary is abortion and Weygand's position against abortion rights.


ANNOUNCER: Bob Weygand thinks that a lot of people don't know what his position is. There are a lot of people here who don't understand that Bob Weygand is anti-choice.


WOODRUFF: Tell us, David Peeler, how much are these two candidates spending in this Rhode Island primary?

PEELER: Well, it's a small state but a very competitive race. Licht has went on early and spent about $190,000 to date. We saw Weygand, who is ahead in the polls, spend $60,000. He went on about a little over a week ago. You know, remember, they're spending against the Democratic primary. They're both going to have to face Chafee, who is probably in a pretty good position going into the November elections, so I think it's going to be a very competitive race in the state of Rhode Island.

WOODRUFF: All right, David Peeler, thank you very much. Good to see you again.

PEELER: Nice seeing you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And up next on INSIDE POLITICS, can Democrats still count on organized labor? A look at one labor convention and a union leader who is giving the party cause for concern.

Plus, balancing the fate of salmon and the economy, an environmental issue that could play a big role in November.


WOODRUFF: The AFL-CIO's transportation unions met today in Washington. And with House minority leader Dick Gephardt on the speakers list, the event took on the air of a Democratic pep rally. But one man wasn't cheering, and he just happened to be the head of the nation's largest industrial union.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): At a union convention dominated by talk of the fall election, Teamsters president James Hoffa didn't once mention Vice President Al Gore, and instead criticized all of Washington, pushing free trade.

HOFFA: We also watch politicians from both parties support trade deals like NAFTA, where copyrights are more important than human rights.

WOODRUFF: Hoffa's 1.5 million-member Teamsters union has refused to follow the AFL-CIO's lead and endorse Gore, angry over his support for the China trade bill and NAFTA. Hoffa is openly exploring his options, even planning to attend the GOP Convention, where Republican chairman Jim Nicholson is throwing a party in his honor. And Hoffa has gone out of his way to praise Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.

HOFFA: No one in the political arena speaks stronger on the issues important to the American working families than Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader understands what globalization mean -- money and jobs are going overseas.

WOODRUFF: Back in the convention hall, House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt told the union members their votes their votes are critical to Democratic hopes for taking back the House.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: But if we can't get our people out to vote and to understand why this is important, then we won't win the election, and the people who will be deciding these issues in the next years will have very different views than ours.

WOODRUFF: But Hoffa's not making Gephardt's job any easier either. As payback for bucking the Teamsters on the China vote, the union has withdrawn its financial support for Democratic candidates in five key races.


WOODRUFF: James P. Hoffa has a busy month ahead of him. Once he's being done being a guest of the Republicans in Philadelphia, he heads to the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, where he is serving as a delegate.

A new poll in Washington State shows George W. Bush with a four- point lead over Al Gore. The Research 2000 poll has Bush at 43 percent, Gore at 39 percent, Ralph Nader at 7, and Pat Buchanan at 2. The Democratic candidate has carried Washington State in the last three presidential elections.

Washington State and its neighbors are keep a close watch on a regional issue that has worked its way into the race for president. The Clinton administration has made a decision to delay a controversial plan to blast holes in several damns along the Snake River. While the holes would clear a path for migratory salmon, they would render the dams economically useless.

CNN's David George reports on a case where the environment and the economy are squarely at issue.


DAVID GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Time was, almost anyone could catch fish along the Snake and Columbia Rivers in the Pacific Northwest, and there was a time when almost everybody did.

Craig Rember was a fishing guide along Idaho's Salmon River for 40 years.

CRAIG REMBER, RETIRED FISHING GUIDE: And if they could hit the river, they could catch a fish, there was so many in there, and that wasn't too many years ago.

GEORGE: But a new day began in the 1980s with the construction of four dams on the Snake River. The dams were good for the economy, providing hydropower electricity, huge pools for irrigation and recreation, and a waterway to the sea for farmers and businesses as far inland as Idaho.

But the dams were a disaster for the salmon. The natural cycle of the fish -- hatching in the rivers' headwaters, migrating to sea and then returning three years later to spawn -- was brutally interrupted.

BRENT SNYDER, IDAHO FISH AND GAME: Back in the mid '80s, we had as many as 1,800 fish return to the hatchery here, and now we're down to 100 fish.

GEORGE: Environmentalists argue that efforts to re-establish salmon by breeding them in hatcheries hasn't worked. The answer, they say, is to breach the dams. But that sets up a bitter fight between the environment...


ANNOUNCER: At birth, wild salmon bond to mothering stones and a streams' clear flow.


GEORGE: And the economy.


ANNOUNCER: If we lose the dams, we lose an employment base, we lose our way of life.


GEORGE: It's the kind of lose-lose fight no presidential candidate wants. George W. Bush has declared himself squarely on the side of the economy.

GEORGE W. BUSH: You know, I don't believe we ought to be breaching the dams. I believe we ought to be using the technologies available to save salmon.

GEORGE: Al Gore, who has championed environmental protection during his years in public life, would like to have it both ways.

GORE: I'm going to bring all of the parties together to come up with a solution that respects the environment and does not cause an upheaval in the economy.

But environmentalists warn if something's not done soon, the salmon won't survive. There isn't time, they argue, for five more years of study.

(on camera): Would breaching the dams solve it, do you think?

REMBER: They caused it.

GEORGE (voice-over): The decision leaves Governor Bush where you'd expect him to be, on the side of business, and Vice President Gore in the middle, promising to find ways to boost the environment without battering a region's economy. But with the two candidates running neck in neck in both Washington and Oregon and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader's surging presence there, the dilemma over the dams could have real consequences in November.

David George, CNN.


WOODRUFF: Next on INSIDE POLITICS: taking a page from the first Bush-for-president playbook. Could some of the former president's tactics return to haunt his son?


WOODRUFF: As we've seen vividly today, Al Gore is training a microscope on the record in office of Texas Governor George W. Bush. It's a strategy that rings familiar with our political analyst, Bill Schneider.

What do you know, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: It certainly does ring familiar. Al Gore is in Texas today, and he is following a familiar political script. It's called, "Get the Governor." Now, where did Gore get that script? Well, most likely, from Governor Bush's father, who followed it twice.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In 1988, Michael Dukakis ran on his record as governor of Massachusetts. Remember, the "Massachusetts Miracle?" Then-vice-president George Bush made short work of that.


GEORGE BUSH, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... is that the "Massachusetts Miracle" is really the Massachusetts mirage.


SCHNEIDER: Bush got the governor on the issue of criminal furloughs...


VICE PRESIDENT BUSH: And you remember the case of Willy Horton who -- in the "Reader's Digest" -- the guy was furloughed -- murderer -- hadn't even served enough time for parole -- goes down to Maryland and murders again.


SCHNEIDER: ... and pollution,


NARRATOR: Now Boston Harbor, the dirtiest harbor in America, will cost residents six billion dollars to clean. And Michael Dukakis promises to do for America what he's done for Massachusetts.


SCHNEIDER: "Get the Governor" worked for Bush in 1988. Why? For one thing, Dukakis wasn't very aggressive about defending his record. For another thing, voters were pretty happy with the Reagan- Bush record. Why take a risk on a governor with questionable priorities? Four years later, when President Bush faced the governor of Arkansas, he played "Get the Governor" again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1992) PRESIDENT BUSH: They are 50th in the quality of environmental initiatives. They are 50th in the percentage of adults with college degrees. They are 50th in per-capita spending on criminal justice.


SCHNEIDER: The ads even sounded the same.


NARRATOR: And now Bill Clinton wants to do for America what he's done for Arkansas. America can't take that risk.


SCHNEIDER: But it didn't work as well in 1992. Why not? For one thing, Clinton vigorously defended his record.


GOV. WILLIAM J. CLINTON (D-AR), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No matter how much Mr. Bush tries to convince you to the contrary, his own government says Arkansas leads the nation in private-sector job growth.


SCHNEIDER: Voters were very unhappy with the Bush record in 1992. So when President Bush argued that Arkansas was badly managed, a lot of voters wondered, who's he to talk? So, will "Get the Governor" work for Gore this year? Governor Bush is certainly running on his record.

BUSH: You know, I'm proud of my record as governor of Texas, and my vision.

SCHNEIDER: But no Dukakis, he.

BUSH: I'm a counter-puncher. I readily concede I'll defend my honor and my record.

SCHNEIDER: In fact, the political terrain looks a lot more like 1988 than 1992: an administration with a strong economic record and a governor with questionable priorities.

GORE: By making his top priority a $1.7 billion tax cut for special and powerful interests, the governor evidently did not heed a warning that came early on that there were going to be increased expenditures needed for Medicade. And now, the largest surplus in Texas state history, a year ago, has become a shortfall.

SCHNEIDER: For Gore's allies, the air in Houston has become the water in Boston Harbor.


NARRATOR: Texas has the most industrial air pollution in the nation.


SCHNEIDER: Change the name of the state from Massachusetts to Texas, and it won't be long before this line comes out of Al Gore's mouth.


VICE PRESIDENT BUSH: My opponent will say that, he will do for America what he's done for Massachusetts. No, boy, I fear for my country.



SCHNEIDER: Gore is in Texas, drilling for issues, and it looks like he's hit a gusher, not because Texas has a lot of problems, but because Gore can relate this latest problem -- the budget shortfall -- to Bush's priorities as governor, exactly the same priorities Bush intends to take with him here to Washington -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Ups and downs of the campaign -- Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

And that's it for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

"WORLDVIEW" is next.



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