ad info

Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  





Bush signs order opening 'faith-based' charity office for business

Rescues continue 4 days after devastating India earthquake

DaimlerChrysler employees join rapidly swelling ranks of laid-off U.S. workers

Disney's is a goner


4:30pm ET, 4/16









CNN Websites
Networks image

Inside Politics

Democratic National Convention Set to Begin

Aired August 13, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET





JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore's roadshow on the eve of the Democratic Convention. Is he helping himself by emphasizing issues?

Also ahead, President Clinton in the Los Angeles spotlight casting shadow's on Gore's convention.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, since I don't have cable TV, I won't be watching much of it.


WOODRUFF: George W. Bush kicks back while his allies prepare to counter attack.

And our correspondents preview the Democrats' opening day from their posts at the podium and on the convention floor.

ANNOUNCER: From the Staples Center in Los Angeles, site of the Democratic National Convention, this is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff, and analysts Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us.

In this hall tomorrow, it will be showtime for the Democrats. So today, Al Gore seems mindful of what many people here in Los Angeles already know: advance promotion can help determine whether you have a hit or a flop on your hands.

During a swing through the Midwest, the Democratic presidential nominee in waiting talked about his convention goals with our Jonathan Karl.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Gore campaigns his way to Los Angeles and the most important political moment of his life, he says the American people still don't fully know who he is.

(on camera): What is it, that after all your years in public life, Americans still need to know about you personally?

GORE: That I'm a husband of 30 years, we just celebrated our anniversary. That we have four children, and a grandson, that my faith and family are my highest priorities. That I have fought for working people for nearly a quarter century, and that I am more than the person who has stood on the stage as vice president for eight years, and I want to bring the experience that I have gained and the compassion that I have for fighting for the American people to do the job of president.

KARL (voice-over): Gore's aides say the convention, especially the acceptance speech, is meant to re-introduce Al Gore to America, making a very clear connection between his policy proposals and his life story.

(on camera): Is it that shadow of the presidency that vice presidents have historically been subject to, is that why people still don't know these aspects of your personal life?

GORE: No, I think it comes with the nature of the job, but I also think that there is a natural evolution that takes place around the convention time and Labor Day of an election year and at that point when people begin to tune into the -- to what the candidates for president are saying.

KARL: George W. Bush challenged you to explain exactly where you differ with President Clinton, in politics and he said, in all else. So how do you?

GORE: Yeah, yeah. He wants to make the campaign about something that is very different than what's on the minds of the American people. The American people know that this campaign is about the future, it's about them. It's not about George Bush. It's not about Al Gore. It's about the American people, and it's about who is going to be most effective in fighting on behalf of working families. I fight for the people, not the powerful.

KARL (voice-over): Gore says he is the principle writer of his speech, working on it on his laptop computer and sharing it only with a tight group of advisers. Gore is working hard to project optimism and energy on the way to Los Angeles, frequently stopping his motorcade and charging out to meet people, even jumping into a wedding receiving line.

GORE: May I kiss the bride?

KARL: With Hollywood's Rob Reiner at his side, Gore visited a children's hospital in Cleveland, studiously avoiding any mention of his opponent as he talked about kids without health care.

GORE: They're not getting it because the barriers are so hard to get over.

ROB REINER, DIRECTOR: In places like Texas?


REINER: I'm just curious. Is one of the places that makes those barriers very hard Texas? I'm just curious, I could be wrong. I could be wrong.


GORE: If that's the case, can I not say?


KARL (on camera): Gore says he will offer specific policy proposals in his speech, something his aides hope will stand in stark contrast to George W. Bush's acceptance speech, which, they say was short on specifics.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Cleveland.


WOODRUFF: And now to our correspondents who will be following the action inside the convention hall. First, let's go to CNN's Frank Sesno -- Frank.

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, as you just heard from Jon Karl's piece, the vice president feels he needs to introduce himself, reintroduce himself, and so that's what he and his top aides say they're going to be spending all week doing, despite the fact that he has been vice president for eight years, was a senator for eight years before that, a congressman for eight years before that. They just feel the American people don't know him very well.

And so, we are told, all week long there will be friends, family members, political colleagues will be talking about various aspects of his life. There will be videos about his life in attempt to expose the American people to the real Al Gore, not that it hasn't been the real Al Gore presumably, who has been out on the campaign trail for nearly a year now.

In addition to that, he'll be emphasizing heavily where he stands on the issues. Why? To emphasize policy, to emphasize his substance and to show his vision. Another thing we'll be hearing, as we heard in that piece, the emphasis on fighting for working families, for the people, not the powerful. That may be sort of a tough sell to hear over time if, in fact, it's going to in any way confuse the issue over the prosperity that he also wants to claim as he claims the mantle of the future.

To my colleague John King now.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, thank you, Frank. One of the more fascinating dynamics at this convention, the passing of the baton, if you will, from President Clinton to his loyal vice president these past eight years, Al Gore. The president has been working on his speech the past few days. We're told that it's divided into two halves: the first half looking back at the past eight years, the president wants to discuss what he believes are the key achievements of his administration and do so in the context of rebutting what we heard from Governor Bush at the Republican National Convention.

Governor Bush repeatedly said the president had coasted, he had squandered the last eight years, that he had not led the country. The president will rattle off figures like 22 million new jobs, cutting the welfare rolls in half, to make the case that, in fact, he has led this nation. The second half of the speech, we're told, the unfinished business, with an emphasis on health care and why in the president's view the Gore-Lieberman ticket is much better off than the Bush-Cheney ticket to lead America for the next four and eight years. And we're told also to look for a personal testimonial from the president to the vice president who has served at his side.

Now for more on the convention, to Wolf Blitzer on the podium.


The vice presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman, spent much of today trying to play down any differences he may have on substantive policy issues with the Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut insisted that those differences were not significant, differences over his openness to consider, for example, school vouchers for public -- for students attending bad public schools, or privatizing at least part of the Social Security retirement funds. He's open -- he's clearly open to the possibility of raising the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare recipients. And he's also open to the possibility of limiting the opportunity for individuals to sue their HMOs, part of the patients' bill of rights.

But on the various shows today, including on CNN's "LATE EDITION," he insisted those differences are not significant.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There have been some differences of opinion between Al Gore and me, and I think it's a mark of his strength as a leader that he didn't look for somebody who agreed with him on everything, and he's encouraged me to continue to share my point of view, quest for new ideas, better solutions to problems.


BLITZER: One thing is clear, when Joe Lieberman addresses this convention Wednesday evening, he's unlikely to stress any of those differences, he's going to be speaking about the similarities in his position and Al Gore's. Now, for more on what we can expect, let's go down to Jeanne Meserve on the floor.


The Democrats will tell you that this convention will bear no resemblance to the one the Republicans threw in Philadelphia, and to some degree they will be right. This will not be the sort of entertainment revue the Republicans put on. There will be more substance here, health care, education, prescription drug prices, those sorts of issues will be discussed in some depth by panels of real people and in -- also in speeches from elected officials. You'll remember that elected officials were virtually invisible in Philadelphia.

Not only will things look different on the stage, they'll look different down here on the floor. In Philadelphia, the delegations were predominantly male and white. Here there are 18 percent African- American and half of the delegates will be women. But for all the differences, there will be, of course, similarities. These are both coronation ceremonies, no suspense about who's going to get the nomination here, and both are intended as sales vehicles. What the Democrats will be doing mirrors what the Republicans did, they are trying to sell their candidate to the American public and propel him to victory out of this convention to November.

And now to my colleague Candy Crowley.


You can count out George W. Bush, the Republican nominee, as one of those who will not be watching the Democratic Convention, at least that's what he says. He is down at his home in Crawford, Texas, a ranch there where he says he doesn't even have cable TV. This is a week for Bush to step out of the limelight, but not before the run-up where he took a West Coast trip up the coast of California into Oregon and Washington with Senator John McCain. Bush wrapped up that tour by a visit to the McCain home in Arizona and then back to Crawford to lay low for a couple of days while the Democrats have their convention.

It will not be entirely quiet from the Bush campaign perspective. They have sent some Democrats from Texas here to California to defend against what they believe will be more attacks against Texas. There are surrogates as well. After all of this is over, George Bush intends to make his first stop on Friday in Tennessee, very in-your- face stop. That, of course, the home of Al Gore -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley, thanks very much to all of you -- Bernie.

SHAW: On this Democratic Convention eve, our new survey of likely voters shows Gore trailing George W. Bush by 16 points in a four way match-up, including Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. The numbers haven't changed much since our poll taken right after the Republican National Convention.

Our Bill Schneider is here right now.

What's the significance of these numbers?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: What does it all mean? What it all means is that Bush is holding on to his convention bounce. All that excitement over Gore's pick of Joe Lieberman has really not changed this race. Now, what about the Reform Party Convention and Pat Buchanan's pick of a running mate? Well, if there was any bounce from that convention, it hit Buchanan on the head and knocked him out. In fact, both third-party candidates seem to be fading away. Buchanan is now an asterisk.

We asked voters, which is more important to you, the issues or the candidates' leadership skills and visions? Well, back in March, people gave the edge to leadership skills, and that clearly benefited George W. Bush. Now issues are becoming more important, but you know what? It's not helping Gore. Why not? Because voters who care more about issues are still voting for Bush, not as much as people voting on personal qualities, but Bush leads in both categories. Gore has accomplished exactly half of what he needs to do: more people are voting the issues. This convention has to get them to take the next step, and that is he has to convince issue voters that Gore is the one who is actually better on the issues -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Bill Schneider. We'll see you again shortly.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you.

SHAW: On to you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: That's right.

And joining us now here in Los Angeles, the Gore campaign chairman, Bill Daley.

Bill Daley, you heard what Bill Schneider is saying about these polls, not only is the vice president running behind on leadership qualities, he's running behind now on the issues.

How in the world do you climb that mountain and get over it?

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Well, all due respect, Judy, to your pollster -- and CNN spends a lot of money at this convention, I'd probably spend a little more money and get a different pollster, because you're the only one with such numbers. Most of the other polls have shown a -- and are showing a closing race, one that's very tight.

We expect coming out of this convention, as we have predicted, to have basically a horse race, and that's what's taking place, and I believe this is going to be a very close election. But the issues are the ones that matter to American people and that's why Al Gore, as he stated in your run-up piece, is going to talk specifics at this convention and not just sort of generalities, as you saw in Philadelphia. WOODRUFF: You know, it seems to me in the days leading up to the Republican Convention, George W. Bush was able to dominate the news, he was making an excursion across the Midwest, he was in the news, at the top of news every day. But leading up to this convention, George W. Bush has still been in the news, President Clinton, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Is the vice president, Al Gore having a harder time just getting control of the agenda here and staying in the spotlight?

DALEY: No, I don't think there's any question that he's been leading the news on most evenings over the last -- since the Republican Convention ended through last weekend, running up to the selection of Senator Lieberman and surely this last week -- someone described it as Liebermania. It has been a overwhelming amount of attention on the vice president, on Senator Lieberman.

And I don't think there is any question that the American people are beginning to see Al Gore has the potential as the next president of the United States. And as of Thursday, when he's the official nominee of the party, they will get a chance to finally see he and his partner, Joe Lieberman, standing there as the next two people who may be the president and vice president of the United States.

WOODRUFF: Will President Clinton once again absolve Al Gore of any responsibility for the president's own personal mistakes in office?

DALEY: I would not predict that at all. I think the American people don't want to talk about things that happened a year or two years ago, or eight years ago. They're talking about the future, and they want to hear the candidates talk about the future. Some people want to keep getting dragged back, and the Republicans obviously want to keep talking about things that the American people are way beyond.

So I expect the president to give a speech about the changes that have occurred over the last eight years, remind the American people of the state of the economy, the state of the nation. And today, with welfare down and crime down and unemployment down, and the lowest unemployment in African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans, strongest economy in a generation; those are the sort of things that I think you'll hear the president talk about.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about a contradiction. This came up, actually, in our report from Frank Sesno just a moment or so ago.

Here you have on the one hand the vice president saying, "I've been part of an administration that has brought you great prosperity, but we still need to get out there and fight for working families."

Is that a mixed message?

DALEY: No, not at all. I don't think anyone would say that the United States of America is perfect as the way all of us have succeeded over the years. There's no question this is a strong economy. No question more people are doing better in the United States probably than in our history. But we can do better, and what Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are going to talk about in this campaign are the ways that they can improve on health care, education, continue to reform welfare and continue to keep our crime down. Those are challenges. We have lots of challenges and they are prepared to talk about them specifically.

WOODRUFF: Well, you have -- you're the outgoing secretary of commerce, let me specifically direct this to you. You -- the campaign keeps pointing out 20, 22 million jobs created during the Clinton-Gore administration. Given that, is it smart for Al Gore to go out bashing, in effect, corporate America, anti-big pharmaceutical companies, anti-big oil, anti-big insurance companies? Does that make sense? It's these businesses, isn't it, that's been creating all these jobs?

DALEY: And it's the policies of the Gore administration that will continue creating jobs. It is the policies. However, there is no question on certain issues, the vice president feels very strongly that there are interests that have to be taken on, and there are special interests, whether they're large companies, or small ones that are out there, on specific issues.

We know that the success of the American economy is dependent upon policies and ingenuity of the American business community. But at the same time, there are interests out there that are trying to fight certain reforms that the vice president believes are important to continue to bring this prosperity and opportunities to more Americans.

WOODRUFF: Bill Daley, Jeff Greenfield has a question.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Mr. Chairman, you and other Democrats keep saying the public doesn't want to look back, but history would argue with you. In 1976, they looked back on Ford's pardon of Nixon, may have made Carter president. In 1968, they looked back on a war and division and they made Nixon the president. And in '92, Clinton won, in part, because they looked back on a recession that was already over.

Why shouldn't the public look back on behavior that even Democrats thought was absolutely indefensible and at least ask the question, is Al Gore willing to clearly break with the president on that?

DALEY: Well, Jeff, I think the things you talked about -- the examples you used are not personal failings of those people, as the president has admitted to. Those are policy decisions, or public statements, or public issues that they've talked about. The issue that you've referred to and the president has talked about is a personal failing, and I don't think there's anyone that would ever -- or has ever thought that the vice president somehow should be held responsible for that.

GREENFIELD: Let me turn to something else, and I'm going to ask it impolitely, being a journalist. When the Republicans talk about why they can beat your man, here's what they told us in Philadelphia. They say that people don't like Al Gore because he's the hall-patrol monitor, he's the public scold, he talks to people as if they're not very bright 8-year-olds. He's Eddie Haskell from "Leave it to Beaver."

Now, I'm not suggesting that you agree with this, but if this is a perception that is helping to drive people away from Al Gore, how can he change that by talking about issues? That seems to me to be so fundamental a feeling that it's -- how do you break that, how do you do that?

DALEY: Well, I don't think necessarily the Republicans who use those phrases are representative of the American people. There's no question Al Gore is a serious person. He takes his life, public service, seriously. It's not a side job. It's not something he just decided to do over the last couple of years. He takes it seriously. He addresses the issues in a serious way because he believes he has an obligation to the people of America, and as he did when he was in Tennessee to the people of Tennessee, to deal with these issues and help solve issues, so he deals with them in serious way. Some people don't like that.

Some people want to be flippant and light, and also want to just deal on personalities. That's not Al Gore. I think you'll hear him speak on Thursday and I think you see him campaigning in a way that is serious, but yet having fun with the American people and trying to address some of these issues that are very serious. But I would just consider those sort of comments by the people in Philadelphia as the continuing sort of negative campaigning that they do in snide ways, in ways that they think are funny. But the American people really don't respect that sort of attitude.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Daley, campaign manager for Al Gore, thanks very much.

DALEY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, we will talk to the Republican mayor of Los Angeles, Richard Riordan, about everything from protesters to campaign finance reform.

Plus, a quick look back to the last time Los Angeles hosted the Democratic National Convention.


WOODRUFF: In downtown Los Angeles, hundreds of demonstrators marched peacefully this afternoon to the Staples Center. As many as 1,500 anti-death penalty protesters took part in the rally and march. They were accompanied by almost 500 police officers.

Forty years ago, Democrats held their convention here in Los Angeles. But then, unlike now, the nomination of John F. Kennedy was less than certain.


SEN. JOHN F. KENNEDY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We wish to keep it strong and we wish to keep it free. It requires at this critical time the best of all of us, and I can assure all of you here, who have reposed this confidence in me that I will be worthy of your trust. We will carry the fight to the people in the fall and we shall win!


WOODRUFF: Kennedy did win on the first ballot, and with Lyndon Johnson on the ticket, he went on to win the White House that November.

SHAW: Today, I talked with Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, and I asked him why it took four decades to bring the Democratic Convention back to his city.


MAYOR RICHARD RIORDAN (R), LOS ANGELES: You know, it took the Democrats a while to realize that we're the greatest city in the world and the best place they could come to.

SHAW (on camera): Well, in 1960 it was great for John F. Kennedy. He was nominated here, he was a winner.

Vice President Al Gore has his turn here in this hall behind us. Do you think he will be a winner Election Day?

RIORDAN: Well, I'm going to leave that up to the public. I'm a Republican. My first love is Los Angeles, I'm going to be non- partisan as long as I can be, because I want to put on the best convention possible for the Democrats.

SHAW: What are your concerns about this city's image? The whole nation, the whole world is watching the City of Angels now.

RIORDAN: Well, it's a little scary. I mean, it's like a father putting on a huge wedding for his daughter, and you don't know whether everything is going to come together or not, and at the last minute you lose control and you just have to accept what happens. But so far it's been great. People have really been impressed by Los Angeles.

SHAW: I'm curious, are the protesters here as welcome as these delegates?

RIORDAN: We try to make them as welcome. We respect their First Amendment rights. The vast, vast majority of them are peaceful, they want to get a message across. There are a few who want to cause physical damage, or physical injury, and those are the ones that we worry about, we're ready for and we'll be tough with.

SHAW: You were in Philadelphia.

RIORDAN: Yes. SHAW: I saw you in Philadelphia as we covered the Republican Convention. What were your thoughts about what was going on there and your thoughts about this city here, or the Democrats here?

RIORDAN: You know, I think the Republicans put on a very good convention. I saw some very good touches they had, the volunteers did a great job. You had a lot of the volunteers on rollerblades, police on bicycles, things like that, and I thought, gee, we should be doing that.

But also, we could do some things better. And quite honestly, I think we're putting on a better convention than Philadelphia. But my hat still goes off to Mayor Street, because they put on a wonderful, wonderful event for the Republicans.

SHAW: You saw the millions and millions of dollars, soft money spent by corporations in Philadelphia, the parties, the lavish parties. You've seen the millions and millions of dollars here and the lavish parties.

Is there a dramatic need for campaign reform?

RIORDAN: Bernie, you know, I tell you, I don't know, I'll tell you why. You know, money has always been the mother's milk of politics. And for example, we've had reform in the city of L.A. where you could only give a thousand dollars per person to the mayor, for mayor's race. Now, the -- what happened is it gives the incumbent a tremendous advantage. I can go out and get a thousand dollars from 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 people, where a non-incumbent has trouble getting it from 200 or 300 people.

SHAW: Well, I ask the question because the Republicans say they're going to need almost a quarter million dollars if they are going to defeat Al Gore. The Democrats haven't said how many millions they're going to need to defeat Governor Bush. This is soft money we're talking about.

RIORDAN: The bottom -- well, I mean, the bottom line is, they're both going out there raising as much soft money as they can, the Republicans and the Democrats, it's -- the law allows it. It's part of the American way. It's something I don't like, you don't like, I don't think most of the people like. But it's a fact of life, and both of them are right, or both of them are wrong. So you can't throw blame at any one of them.

SHAW: As you acknowledged, you're a Republican hosting these Democrats. Do you wish Al Gore and Joe Lieberman the best of luck?

RIORDAN: I do. I mean, I wish whoever gets elected the best of luck, because they're going to be the leaders of our country, the most -- the strongest leaders in the world for the next four years, and I want them to succeed, and if George Bush and Cheney are the ones elected, I wish them the best of luck.

SHAW: Last easy question.

RIORDAN: You've given me easy ones so far.

SHAW: Once this is over, what are you going to do?

RIORDAN: What I'm going to do is work a couple days and then go on a vacation to Yugoslavia.

SHAW: Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS.

RIORDAN: Thank you, Bernard.


SHAW: And he says he's going to ride a bicycle.

One correction: In the interview question to the mayor, I referred to the Republican campaign war chest as a quarter million dollars. It should be an estimated $200 million.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: The oldest daughters of Al and Tipper Gore volunteered at a local food bank today as part of their outreach to young voters.

Karenna Gore Schiff and Kristin Gore have a number of scheduled appearances this week, and Schiff will address the delegates on Wednesday night. So much to look forward to.

SHAW: That was Karenna in the white T-shirt.

WOODRUFF: There's much more ahead on this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

SHAW: Still to come:


KING (voice-over): The pre-convention spotlight is on a man who loves the limelight -- so much so that many wonder if he is ready to give it up.


SHAW: Our man John King on the dilemma facing the president as the focus turns toward his No. 2.


WOODRUFF: A look at what is not on George W. Bush's agenda this week.


SHAW: Jeff Greenfield on what voters might learn from the upcoming convention. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well now we focus on the current president of the United States. At this hour, Mr. Clinton is scheduled to appear at a Jewish community celebration here in Los Angeles. Earlier, at Barbra Streisand's home, he raised money for his presidential library. It's all part of a farewell tour of sorts, which includes his speech in this hall tomorrow night.

As our John King reports, both Mr. Clinton's convention role and his relationship with Al Gore are complicated.


KING (voice-over): The pre-convention spotlight is on a man who loves the limelight -- so much so that many wonder if he is ready to give it up.

CLINTON: I think that I've earned the right to talk a little bit about economic policy. And I...


KING: This has always been a complicated partnership, never more so than now: a president determined to shape his legacy and to make his imprint on the race to succeed him, yet under pressure not to overshadow the man who stood with him these past eight years.

CLINTON: I have worked closer with Al Gore than any other living human being outside his family. He supported all the tough decisions I made, including the ones that were unpopular.

KING: Mr. Clinton is viewed by top Gore strategists as both a curse and a blessing -- every reminder of the Monica Lewinsky scandal an obstacle, every fund raiser for the Democratic National Committee a chance for Gore to keep his focus on campaigning.

Key Gore allies say talk of tension is exaggerated.

ROY NEEL, FORMER GORE CHIEF OF STAFF: He had an extraordinary good experience as vice president to Bill Clinton, in part because the relationship was solid and sound from the first, and because the president was determined that Al Gore was going to be the most involved and the most significant vice president in history.

KING: Looking ahead, the president is viewed by top Gore strategists as critical on three fronts: raising millions more for the party's TV ads, shaping the issues debate thought the coming budget battle with congressional Republicans, and energizing African- American, Hispanic and other Democratic base voters for November.

Monday is the president's day, but this becomes Al Gore's convention, Al Gore's Democratic Party, beginning Tuesday.

TAD DEVINE, GORE CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: This has got to be about Al Gore, about who he is. People have got to understand where he wants to lead this nation.

KING: It is a familiar dilemma to those who remember the last time a sitting vice president tried to win the White House.

KEN DUBERSTEIN, REAGAN WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It's also because of the larger than life personality, aura, persona of Ronald Reagan, and to some extent Bill Clinton, that these are big characters on the world stage. Vice president's are, in fact, No. 2. They never achieve that stature just by being vice president.

KING: Mr. Clinton has closely studied how President Reagan handled the similar transition 12 years ago.


KING: So in his convention speech, much like President Reagan back in 1988, Mr. Clinton will make the case that a lot has changed, and for the better, since he took office, and that the best way to keep the economy humming along is to promote his No. 2 to the top job -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: But, John, do the folks in the Gore campaign really believe that they can somehow contain President Clinton from now until the election?

KING: Absolutely not, Judy. They know they cannot contain him. This is a president who does not like to sit still. He wants to be very active up until the last day, the president has said he would work. So what they want to do is use him to their advantage, send him out to raise more money. They think that is the best thing he could do for Al Gore, send him pout to speak to Democratic constituency groups. The president may be a controversial figure among independent voters, still highly popular with Democrats. The Gore campaign hopes to make him an asset, hopes to have him have him campaign among key Democratic constituencies -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, there on the convention floor -- Bernie.

SHAW: Continuing with this, Bill Schneider is back with us.

Bill, is President Clinton helping Gore or hurting him right now?

SCHNEIDER: Right now, he is hurting Gore. A third of voters say they think less of Gore because of his ties to Clinton. Just a few say his ties to Clinton make them like Gore better. So the bad stuff is rubbing off on Gore more than the good stuff.

But what about the economy? That's great stuff. We asked voters, who deserves the most credit for this good economy? And just 22 percent say the Clinton-Gore administration should get the credit. As you would expect, those people are voting big time for Gore. A third say the credit should go to American workers and business people. Some say Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve, some give the credit to Congress. People who give any of those answers are all voting for George Bush. Now here's the kicker. In October 1992, just before President Bush got fired, only 11 percent of Americans said the economy was in good shape. Well this weekend, we asked people how they would rate the nation's economy back when the elder George Bush was president. And looking back, 52 percent say the economy was just fine when Bush was president. I think the Democrats might want to do something here at this convention to jog people's memories a little bit.

SHAW: Thank you Bill Schneider -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: For more on the Clinton factor we turn, once again, to our Jeff Greenfield -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Well, Judy, I don't think there's any doubt about what's going to happen tomorrow night when President Clinton takes the podium. He's going to receive a hero's welcome as the leader who brought the Democratic Party back into the White House, the first two- term Democratic president since FDR.

But take a step back, and the picture of Clinton and the Democrats is more complicated. It's almost like a pendulum swinging between lighter and darker shades.


(voice-over): Eight years ago, Bill Clinton helped his party take back the presidency after a quarter century of a near-complete GOP White House lock.


CLINTON: That I will faithfully execute...


GREENFIELD: He was a different kind of Democrats, he said, and the voters believed him.

But a muddled first two years and a Hillary-led health care debacle...


HILLARY CLINTON, FIRST LADY: We need health care reform.


GREENFIELD: ... helped Republicans win both houses of the Congress in 1994, the first time that had happened in 40 years. That left Clinton politically vulnerable, maybe even to a challenge to his renomination.

But the specter of Newt Gingrich as speaker so petrified Democrats that they rallied around the president. Like Obi-Wan Kenobe in "Star Wars," he was their only hope. There was no primary fight, and Clinton had running room to move to the center on issues like welfare reform, free and he made Republicans pay big time for the government shut down.

But Clinton was so worried about his re-election prospects that he turned the money spigots on full blast. And the stories of those successes may well have cost Democrats the chance to retake the House in 1996.

They also left Al Gore tainted by fund-raising questions that haunt his own prospects for election.

But a re-election triumph in 1996, along with the booming economy, gave Clinton the chance to preside over an end to federal budget deficits, indeed to huge surpluses that may make that multi- trillion dollar national debt a thing of the past.

But any momentum Clinton might have gained from re-election was wiped out by the scandal that engulfed the White House and led to his impeachment.

But a zealous Republican House and a politically tone-deaf independent counsel so overplayed their hands that voters said enough already. Democrats actually gained seats in the House in 1998.

But while the public did not want the president removed from office, they did not like what he had done.


CLINTON: In fact it was wrong.


GREENFIELD: And that gave the Republicans something to talk about this year beside the booming economy: restoring honor and decency to the White House. That issue could be the biggest obstacle standing between Al Gore and his presidency.


GREENFIELD: One other thing: After eight years, Bill Clinton has made his party financially competitive with the GOP, and he's also given them an edge they've rarely had before in questions like crime and the economy.

But note this: After eight Clinton years, Democrats now have 11 fewer senators than they had eight years ago, 58 fewer House members, 10 fewer governors. After the cheering dies down tomorrow, Democrats are going to have to wait until November to see what President Clinton has really wrought -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield.

SHAW: Thank you.

This past week, Mr. Clinton urged voters not to hold his transgressions against Al Gore. He also expressed remorse, once again, for the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

CNN's Larry King asked Hillary Rodham Clinton to weigh in on her husband's remarks to a group of ministers.


HILLARY CLINTON: I don't have anything to add to what he said. I think that what's important here at this convention and certainly what's important in this election is the future. And it's very clear to me that if you look at the public record of this administration and what Bill Clinton and Al Gore have meant to America and the world, this shouldn't even be a close election. But I think we have to really get people to focus on what's at stake in their lives and what the decisions are going to be.


SHAW: The full interview with Mrs. Clinton airs on "LARRY KING LIVE" tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

And just ahead, his campaign tour with John McCain is behind him. We will take a look at the week ahead for George W. Bush with our Chris Black.


WOODRUFF: With the latest public opinion polls in his favor, George W. Bush says he's planning a lower profile for the next week. The Republican hopeful says he will sit back while the Democrats take the spotlight.

Our Chris Black reports.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George W. Bush wound up a campaign swing with one-time rival John McCain and headed home to ride out the Democratic National Convention at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

BUSH: I'm just going to hang out and be with my wife and maybe chop a little cedar, maybe fish some of the tanks. And I've got some friends coming over.

BLACK: Bush intends to meet with top advisers early this week to plot strategy for the fall campaign. He will leave the heavy lifting of responding to any Democratic attacks during their convention to his Republican friends.

Bush's recent campaigning, featuring John McCain, was aimed at independent voters. This week, the Republican defense will be led by similar messengers, including Governors Paul Celucci of Massachusetts and Christie Whitman of New Jersey. And the three co-chairs of the GOP's campaign effort, Representatives Jennifer Dunn of Washington state, Henry Bonilla of Texas and Governor Jim Gilmore of Virginia. To counter anticipated Democratic criticism of Bush's performance in Texas, a team of Texas Democrats who support Bush will be in Los Angeles with a bird's eye view of the Democratic convention site.

TERRY HOLT, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: A group of Texas Democrats for Governor Bush will be in town this week on a vigilant watch to make sure the Gore forces don't attack Texas.

BLACK: The Republican Party has reserved five hours of satellite time each day to beam interviews with GOP officials to local television stations. Democrats angered Republicans by running attack ads in 17 battleground states during the Republican National Convention.


ANNOUNCER: Houston is now the smog capital of the U.S.


BLACK: A CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll shows 25 percent of the public saw one of those ads. But so far Republicans say they have no plans to respond in kind.

(on camera): Bush campaign officials say they know this week belongs to the Democrats, so they intend to stay out of the way and spend their time getting ready for what they fully expect will be a tight and tough race in the fall.

Chris Black, CNN, Sedona, Arizona.


SHAW: And just ahead, Bill Schneider on Al Gore and the task at hand.

Plus Jeff Greenfield's thoughts on the Democratic convention.


WOODRUFF: Now it's time for our political I.Q. test with questions which were posted on our Web site early today.

Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson and this president are the only men ever elected twice with a minority of the popular vote. The answer: A) Bill Clinton.

Next, when was the last time the Democratic National Convention went more than one ballot for president? The answer: B) 1952.

And finally, Was it Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, Williams Jennings Bryan or Franklin Roosevelt who has run on more national Democratic tickets than any other candidate in history? The answer: Roosevelt, of course.

Tonight at midnight Eastern, six new questions will be posted at with the answers revealed at noon and 7:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow -- Bernie.

SHAW: Our Bill Schneider back once again.

Bill, how does Vice President Gore's situation now compare to Vice President Bush's in 1988?

SCHNEIDER: Well, just before the 1988 Republican convention, Bush was just a few points behind Democrat Michael Dukakis, nothing like the 16-point deficit Gore now faces.

But here's some good news for Al Gore: 53 percent say Gore has the leadership qualities a president should have. Now that's higher than the 46 percent who said that about Bush going into his 1988 convention.

By the time the 1988 GOP convention was over, Bush's leadership rating was up to 58 percent. The senior Bush successfully used his convention to convey the image of leadership, something that's always a problem for any vice president. Gore has to do the same thing this week -- only bigger, because he's farther behind than George Bush was.

SHAW: And, of course, we'll all be watching. Thank you -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And joining us again with some final thoughts on this convention eve -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Well what is it we'll will be watching, or maybe not watching, over the next four nights? Of course it isn't the conventions that the first generation of television viewers discovered. Those riveting contests went away almost a generation ago.

So do today's conventions -- sorry -- have any point? Yes. As a political Democratic operative explained it, they are "framing devices." That is, they're designed to tell voters what the nominee and the party believes. And they do not always communicate messages the party wants us to hear.

For instance, if an incumbent party can't make a powerful case for a second term, Carter in '80, Bush in '92, viewers pick that up.

If delegates really don't think their candidate has a chance, as with Dole in 1996, you will know that, too.

Now in this time of calm, if you believe it doesn't matter at all who the president is, then none of this matters. As Sam Goldwyn once said, If people don't want to see a movie, nothing can stop them. But for those who believe it still matters, this convention really is a genuine event.

WOODRUFF: We think it still matters.

GREENFIELD: We better, we're here.

WOODRUFF: We're glued to these chairs for the next four days.

All right -- Bernie.

SHAW: Well, that's INSIDE POLITICS, this special edition. We'll be on the air tomorrow for the Democratic convention.

I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us.



Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.