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Inside Politics

Al Gore Steps Forward to Assume His Party's Nomination

Aired August 17, 2000 - 4:00 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: From the Staples Center in Los Angeles, site of the Democratic National Convention, this is an expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS, with Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to this expanded version of INSIDE POLITICS.

We are here at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles on this day that Al Gore steps forward to assume his party's nomination.

But we want to begin with some breaking news. There is word now that the independent counsel Robert Ray has moved forward in the investigation of President Clinton.

CNN senior White House correspondent John King, he's here in Los Angeles, and he has information on the latest -- John.


CNN has learned from legal sources familiar with the investigation that the independent counsel Robert Ray -- he is the gentleman who succeeded Ken Starr -- has empaneled a new grand jury, and we are told by these sources the grand jury's charge is to continue the investigation of the president's conduct in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Now, we have very little information about exactly what the grand jury has been up to. We do know it has been empaneled now for a little more than a month, again, at a federal district court in Washington, D.C., to continue the Lewinsky investigation. News of this coming today catching the president's legal team largely off guard.

Sources familiar with the president's legal situation say to the best of their knowledge there have been no new requests for documents, no new requests for witnesses. And indeed, these sources and other legal sources familiar with this saying we should be careful here, not to be overly alarming in the sense that the independent counsel when he took over, Mr. Ray said that he would continue the investigation and that he might need a new grand jury to do that.

So some sources saying he could simply be conducting housekeeping matters to bring the investigation to a close. Others, though, say obviously he could be using the grand jury to continue his exploration of the president's conduct. Now, the timing of this is what is raising the most eyebrows, especially out here in Los Angeles.

Back at the White House, spokesman Jake Siewart telling CNN that the White House knew nothing about this, would have no official comment on the investigation, but he said -- quote -- "the timing of it absolutely reeks, but given the past conduct and practices of that office it is not surprising." Now, remember throughout Ken Starr's investigation the White House said this was a politically inspired investigation.

For Al Gore, who accepts the nomination tonight in the hall behind me, the timing couldn't be worse. One of his major endeavors at this convention has been to separate himself from the president's personal misconduct, the vice president tonight now competing in the headlines with words the investigation of the president continues -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And, John, just to refresh everyone's memory here, Robert Ray, who took over for Ken Starr as the independent counsel, he has publicly -- he is publicly not ruling out the possibility of filing some sort of criminal indictment against the president after Mr. Clinton leaves office.

KING: That's right. And it's a key distinction, Wolf, he has said his investigation would continue, and again, he has said he might need a grand jury to do that. So this is not a surprise in that sense. But what does surprise some legal sources is the timing, because he did say he would not go after any charges against Mr. Clinton should he decide to take that route until after the president left office. That is why some are surprised this grand jury was empaneled in July. We should also make note to our viewers it was exactly two years ago today that Mr. Clinton testified before Ken Starr's grand jury.

BLITZER: All right, John King, stand by.

Want to bring in our Washington bureau chief, Frank Sesno, he's on the floor here at the Democratic National Convention. He's got some reaction from the Gore campaign -- Frank.

FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Wolf, I spoke just a few moments ago to a senior Gore adviser who when informed of this rolled his eyes and said, "Well, this is a nice gift on the last night of the convention." He said it is essential that the Gore campaign and Gore followers not -- quote -- "get distracted by this sort of thing," that in the end he asserted voters will know that they are not voting for Bill Clinton, but that they are voting -- if they are Democrats -- for Al Gore.

Nonetheless, it is quite clear that there is some real exasperation with this component of the Clinton legacy, which continues to dog this campaign and this vice president. This adviser said "the only thing that will end this is an election." And he went out of his way to point out that Bill Clinton is not going to be doing that much side-by-side campaigning with Al Gore, that he'll be tending to some fund raisers, working some core constituencies, but that this is and must be Al Gore's campaign.

So this timing issue, as John King mentioned, very much on the minds of the Gore campaign, and on this convention night which is supposed to be Al Gore's night, he's now going to need to compete for some attention, at least in the early going -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Frank. Stand by also, please.

I want to bring in Jeffrey Harris, a former Justice Department official, he's on the phone from New York and perhaps can explain -- give us some perspective on what all this means.

Mr. Harris, what is your take on this latest development?

JEFFREY HARRIS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, my take is that when Ken Starr left office he left the dangling question about whether the president ought to be indicted, or could be indicted, or should be indicted. And I believe that what Mr. Ray has done is he has empaneled a grand jury and he is going to use the time between now and the end of the year to gather his evidence in front of the grand jury so that when Mr. Clinton does leave office he is either going to close the case or he's going to file charges.

BLITZER: Is it unusual, though, for this kind of story to leak, or to come out in the midst of what is obviously the -- probably at least in his political life the most important day of Al Gore's history?

HARRIS: You would have to say the answer to that is yes. Apparently this grand jury was empaneled over a month ago and today that its existence became known or was leaked, so I would have to say it is coincidental and I'm not one who believes in coincidences.

BLITZER: Is it -- could it be simply, though, a very, very technical decision to -- since the other grand may have been expired, may have run its course, just to convene another one, as our John King speculated, that perhaps this is just for house cleaning purposes, to clean up whatever has not yet been resolved in this entire investigation?

HARRIS: Yes, you would have to say that's a possibility. You know, Wolf, there are a number of grand juries that sit, some of them sit five days a week every day, some of them are empaneled and only come in when called in, and that can be once a month, once every two months. So it is possible that a grand jury was empaneled and it's going to do very little except housekeeping. But on the other hand, the other possibility also exists that it's going to consider charges and be ready to act when Mr. Clinton leaves office.

BLITZER: And one final question before I let you go, Mr. Harris, the fact that the president's attorneys don't really know much about the convening of this grand jury, is there any requirement by the independent counsel to notify the president's defense attorneys that this is going on? HARRIS: No, there isn't, and the fact that they don't know anything about it would indicate that there's probably been very little in the way of new witnesses, but rather using the facts that were gathered before Mr. Starr left and presenting that to this grand jury. Otherwise, you would think the president's lawyers would have gotten wind of it.

BLITZER: All right, Jeffrey Harris in our Washington bureau -- actually in Washington, D.C. -- thanks for joining us on the phone.

Joining us here now in Los Angeles is Jack Quinn, he is a former White House counsel, former chief of staff to Al Gore, he is here attending this convention.

But I want to get your take, Mr. Quinn, on what this means.

You obviously were in the White House. You're a prominent Washington attorney. Can you get a sense of what this might or might not mean?

JACK QUINN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Look, Wolf, I don't know if this is a big deal for President Clinton or a small deal. Housekeeping details, as someone said. I agree with the comment that came from Mr. Siewart, that the timing of this just absolutely stinks.

BLITZER: He is the White House deputy press secretary.

QUINN: Absolutely. The timing of this stinks, but more importantly, I'm not going to be distracted by it. I'm sure Vice President Gore is not going to be distracted by it, and most importantly, the American people are not going to be distracted by it. The Republicans made very clear in Philadelphia that they want to talk about President Clinton, that they want to look backwards; Al Gore wants to look forward, he wants to talk to the American people about his hopes and dreams and ambitions for them.

That's what the American people care about. They want a discussion in this campaign on how their kids are going to get the best education in the world. They want to know how their parents are going to be able to afford the life-saving pharmaceutical drugs that they need. They want to know whether we are going to squander this surplus, as we think Governor Bush would do, or whether we are going to secure it and secure the prosperity, build on it and move forward. The American people are not going to be distracted by this nonsense and we shouldn't be here.

BLITZER: How serious, though, should the president -- should he be concerned about this new grand jury that Mr. Ray has now convened?

QUINN: I honestly have no idea, and I don't think anyone else does, whether this is, as I say, a big deal or a small deal. But we are here to nominate Al Gore, not Bill Clinton, Al Gore to be president of the United States. He will stand on his own. He had nothing to do with all of that. He has a program and a plan and an agenda for the American people. He is going to talk about it tonight and, as I say, the American people deserve credit, they are not going to be distracted by this. They are not going to be fooled by this.

They want to hear these candidates talk about the issues they care about: education, health care, prescription drugs, Social Security, tax cuts, what kind we are going to have. They don't want to hear about Monica Lewinsky, they don't want to hear about President Clinton and what he and she may or may not have done outside of his public life. It is just irrelevant to what's going on here, and that's how it should be treated.

BLITZER: All right, Jack Quinn, please stay with us. We have a lot more to talk about...


BLITZER: ... the president's speech tonight, other developments here at the convention. But we want to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll talk also with the vice president's wife, Tipper Gore. Stay with us.


BLITZER: We are here at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

We are also following a breaking story. The independent counsel, Robert Ray, impaneling a new grand jury to hear evidence in connection with any possible criminal wrongdoing on the part of President Clinton in the entire Monica Lewinsky scandal. We'll have more on that later.

But on this final day of the Democratic Convention, which has now been under way for almost a half hour, the Democrats decided to move up the schedule slightly as they head into the big event this evening, Al Gore's acceptance of his party's presidential nomination. During the course of this hour, we'll set the stage for Gore's remarks.

And we'll also look at his stand on taxes. We'll also bring you my interview with Tipper Gore.

Is she convinced her husband's speech will be the most important speech of his life?

Plus, we'll continue our conversation with Gore former White House counsel, Jack Quinn.

But first, CNN's Bernard Shaw previews the day's agenda.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Here's a look at the final evening of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, August 17th: a rousing and reflective tribute to police officers and firefighters. One of those to be honored, Matt Mosely...



SHAW: ... an Atlanta firefighter who made a daring rescue last year of a crane operator stranded over an out-of-control warehouse fire.

Nine o'clock Eastern, 6:00 Pacific, the spotlight returns to the presidential nominee. Family and friends will share their personal stories of Al Gore, his boyhood, his college years, his military service, his beginning in politics.

Then, Al Gore speaks for himself.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The victory starts in California.

SHAW: His acceptance speech will take up most of the hour, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific and set the stage for the party's celebration of its presidential ticket. That will bring down the curtain on the final night of the Democratic National Convention.


BLITZER: With those scheduled appearances by daughter Kristin and wife Tipper, the Democratic Convention is becoming a family affair for the Gores. Last night, the vice president made an unscheduled appearance on stage to join daughter Karenna Gore Schiff. He appeared just after she delivered a speech seconding his nomination to be the party's presidential nominee.

Earlier, I spoke with Tipper Gore about what's on her mind heading into her husband's big night.


TIPPER GORE, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: I think, you know, a tremendous amount of pride, a realization that he has fought for American families for 24 years in public service. And now we have come to this moment. It's really humbling in many ways, and also overwhelming. And you know, I want to make sure that his suit doesn't have a crease in it, all those things.

BLITZER: You've been thinking about this obviously for a long time; 1988, you ran unsuccessfully for the party nominee. When did he first say to you: Tipper, I would like to be president of the United States?

T. GORE: Well, I think the '88 campaign was a giveaway.

BLITZER: But years earlier, he never said: My real ultimate goal is to become president?

T. GORE: Well, no. You know, as you know, Wolf, he started out his career as a journalist. I really thought he was going to be a writer, When a Congressional seat opened up in '76, he decided to run for it and he won. And he wasn't expected to win that. But we worked very hard and changed our lives. I thought that public service obviously was something that was always in the background for him in his life experience. And he could come back to it. And I think journalism brought him out of his dissolutionment and helped him see that he could be a part of the solutions.

It did matter who was elected to make decisions that affected people's lives.

BLITZER: How important of a speech is this for Al Gore, the acceptance speech at this convention?

T. GORE: Well, I think it is an important speech. There's no question.

BLITZER: Why is it so important?

T. GORE: But I don't think it's you know, "the" most important speech, necessarily. I mean, I don't want to -- I don't think it needs to be so -- we don't have to go overboard here. But it is very important. And I think it is important for this reason: He's going to talk about what he would like to do in specific terms for American families if he's elected for the next four years. And I think people need and want to know that. And ultimately, when they tune into this election, they are going to see a very clear-cut choice and very clear-cut differences between the two candidates.

It's Al's responsibility to begin to outline those differences.

BLITZER: You know, many have said this is the most important speech of his life, because, in effect, once again, he's introducing himself to the American people.

T. GORE: Well, I don't know. I thought that, actually, when he gave his father's eulogy that that was one of the most important ones of his whole life. This one is certainly important. It is going to be the beginning of the campaign. And hopefully, we'll have a lot of debates and a lot of discussions so people can have an informed choice. As I said, there's going to be a very clear-cut difference. And you will see him talking about specifics and what he plans to do and where he would like to take this nation in the next four years.

BLITZER: You obviously know Al Gore better than anyone. You've been married for many, many years. How many years have you been married?

T. GORE: Thirty.

BLITZER: So it's a long time. What don't the American people know about Al Gore that you know about him that you are ready to tell them: Let me tell you who Al Gore really is?

T. GORE: One thing I think is important that does speaks to his character is that, even though he's had a very busy public life and career, and he's very dedicated to it -- he's been in public service for 24 years -- there are four children and a grandson now. But whenever any of us have really needed him in the life of our family he's been there for us.

And I think that speaks to the quality of his character. And I think that speaks to the quality of his character. And I think it also says that he will be there for American families.

BLITZER: You're going to be introducing him from the podium. Give us a preview. What will you say?

T. GORE: Well, I want you to stay tuned.

BLITZER: We will. We'll stay tuned.

T. GORE: I know. You've been wonderful. I think the coverage has been really good, and I think that's important for our democracy, so I want to thank you.

I'm going to be talking about him in more personal terms than I think he would talk about himself or anybody else might be able to talk about him.

BLITZER: You know, your daughter Karenna is a senior adviser to the vice president, very much involved in this campaign. Everyone says she's playing a very important role. Is there a third generation now of Gores about ready to go officially into politics?

T. GORE: Well, I'm not sure we would characterize it that way in our family. We talk about how people are characterizing, we're just a family who always has communicated and talked and support each other in our endeavors. Obviously, she has come forward and cares passionately about this election and the issues that she knows are going to affect her life and the life of her child. And she cares deeply about it.

So I think it's -- I think it's fair to say that all of us talk about it and give him advice and feedback as family members.

BLITZER: You're the wife of a politician, would you like to be the mother of a politician as well?

T. GORE: I'm very happy -- What I want for my children and what I've always said to each of them is find out who you are, what gifts you have and what makes you happy in life, and go for it. Whatever that is, I want to support them.

BLITZER: I know that your time is brief. I just want to ask you about if you become the first lady of the United States -- we've seen several in recent years, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton -- what kind of first lady will you be?

T. GORE: Well, again I don't want to think past November 7th when people are going to make this historic decision, but what I can say is I will continue to work very hard as an advocate on issues I care very passionately about, and that would be better access and treatment for those with the mental health issue in our country, the one in five families. I will continue to work on poverty issues and issues of homelessness. I think we can do better as a nation in helping people who need that extra hand.

BLITZER: Tipper Gore, congratulations on this huge day in your life and look forward to talking with you again.

T. GORE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you so much.


BLITZER: And there's another major story we're following in the world of politics, and that involves the health of Republican Senator John McCain.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen is standing by in Arizona with the latest on the senator's cancer diagnosis -- Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, today Senator John McCain left the Mayo Clinic after three houses of testing, and now sources close to McCain say it's probable he will have surgery on Saturday. The tests that he had done were blood work, a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, MRI, CT scan and echocardiogram. Now a dermatologist tells us that these tests are done to see if the cancer has spread from the surface of the skin to inside the body, and his prognosis will be very different depending on if it has spread or not.

Senator and Mrs. McCain are due to go back to Mayo clinic tomorrow to get the results of those tests and to talk about possible courses of treatment -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And, Elizabeth, there's no indication yet what those treatments might include?

COHEN: There's no indication. In general, speaking -- not for his case specifically -- but in general, for melanoma, if it has spread, you're looking at chemotherapy possibly, possibly immunotherapy, which is therapy that boosts the patients own immune system.

BLITZER: All right, Elizabeth Cohen in Arizona, thank you.

We have to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll go down to the floor of this convention, which has now been in session for about 35 minutes.

Stay with us.



ANNOUNCER: On day four of the 1992 Democratic convention in New York City, delegates awaiting nominee Bill Clinton's acceptance address got a surprise from Dallas: Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot was dropping out.


ROSS PEROT: Therefore, I will not become a candidate.


ANNOUNCER: So the Clinton people quickly added a line to the nominee's neatly hour-long speech that night.


GOV. WILLIAM J. CLINTON (D-AR), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All those millions of people who rallied to Ross Perot's cause wanted to be in an army of patriots for change. Tonight, I say to them, join us and together we will revitalize America.


ANNOUNCER: Perot would get back in and get 19 percent of the vote. But Bill Clinton would get George Bush out of the White House.


BLITZER: As we head toward the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention, the party's most important hours lie ahead.

CNN troops have once again returned to this battlefield. Our floor reporters, Frank Sesno, Jeanne Meserve, Candy Crowley and John King, they're all in place for the afternoon session -- except for John King. He's standing outside the Staples Center.

John, tell us what we can expect.

KING: You can expect the vice president in his speech tonight, Wolf, to make a direct appeal to the middle of the American electorate, stressing issues like health care, education, the environment, the vice president trying to make a direct appeal to the swing voters who make up the key battleground issue in this election right now.

Thematically, the big theme will be, how should we spend the big federal budget surplus. The vice president will make the case he would do so in a way that helps working families while protecting key federal programs, like Social Security and Medicare. He will make the case his Republican opponent, George W. Bush, would squander the surplus on big, risky tax cuts.

Now as the vice president put this speech together, it is a reflection of his personal style. He has spent nearly two months working on it, writing it mostly himself, that a reflection that this is a politician, Al Gore, who unlike many of his predecessors who have sought and won the presidency, a man who does not have a traditional kitchen cabinet.


(voice-over): She is the one constant, always in the mix when Al Gore faces a big decision.


GORE: The love of my life, the grandmother of my grandson, the mother of my four children, my closest adviser and best friend.


KING: Tipper Gore is chairwoman of her husband's kitchen cabinet, if you can call it that.

QUINN: I don't think there is one core group of advisers who would always be called upon to give him advice, no matter what the issue before him. He reaches out to people he thinks he have something valuable to contribute, given the subject matter in question.

KING: White House domestic policy adviser Bruce Reed is an old Gore Senate staffer, a likely call if the vice president wants to talk about welfare reform or fighting crime.

Leon Fuerth (ph) is Gore's longtime national security adviser.

Roy Neel, Jack Quinn and Peter Knight are former top Gore aides who are now Washington lobbyists and occasional sounding boards for the vice president. So is former Congressman Tom Downey, a close friend from Gore's days in the House.

ROY NEEL, FORMER GORE CHIEF OF STAFF: He's very disciplined and focused and wants the best and most timely information. If you've got it, he's going to call you. If you don't, he's not.

KING: Mrs. Gore and the vice president's brother-in-law, Frank Hunger, are those most often at the candidate's side and were the last one's consulted before Gore settled on Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running mate.

T. GORE: He tries to get different viewpoints on the decision that he's making. And then he might ask, you know, my opinion or Frank's or someone, but he makes the decision himself.

KING: Gore has a history of high staff turnover. Some former aides privately grumble that the vice president is prone to micromanaging.

Like the president, Gore is known for his mastery of policy minutia. But those who have worked closely with both men say Gore has a different style.

QUINN: President Clinton, as you know, enjoys getting a group of folks around a table, getting different input, and trying to stitch together some consensus out of these different perspectives.

The vice president is more likely, I think, to not so much try to come up with a compromise that makes everyone happy, but really come up with what he thinks is correct. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Now the vice president says he knows the stakes of writing his speech largely himself, telling reporters if his speech is a big success tonight, he should get the credit. And if he bombs, he should be blamed for failing.

For more on final day dynamics, down to my colleague Jeanne Meserve on the convention floor.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's been said over and over that this is the most important speech of Al Gore's political career. It happens to be true. More people will be taking his measures as a presidential candidate tonight than ever have. It is his best chance to change mind and move votes.

His first job has become more difficult, given the day's news. He has to disentangle himself from President Clinton. He has to persuade the world that he is a leader, that he has the vision, that he has the courage of his convictions.

He also wants to persuade people that he is a likable fellow, that he is not the automaton that the public sometimes perceives him as being. He has to articulate his positions and contrast them with the Republicans. He has to energize the base, and he has to persuade people in this hall and outside that he can win.

Now on to Frank Sesno.

SESNO: Jeanne, those qualities that you just ticked off as things that people will be looking at is what we hear again and again from the delegates we're talking to here on the floor this evening. They're starting to arrive.

This is as good as it's going to get. This is the big night. And there is a genuine era of anticipation here, not only because they're going to hear Al Gore in the speech, but because they know their candidate is behind. They know their candidate has to communicate effectively this evening. They know their candidate has to cut through the media and the coverage and even the attacks by the Republicans to make his point.

Wandering around, talking to some of the delegates on the floor, we hear many of the same words, Jeanne, you touched upon, vision, he's got to show that her's got the grasp of real issues. He's got to show genuine compassion, in the words of one delegate. And as far as the likability index, it's important, but in the words of one delegate, we're not looking for a date here, we're looking for a president -- Candy Crowley.


A lot of -- by the time we get to midnight, we will have both a Republican nominee and a Democratic nominee officially. The question is, where do they go from here? And the answer is, they are both off. And where they're going tells a lot about where they are. Al Gore is going to take a trip down the Mississippi to Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri, all states that have been very safe Democratic territory in the past two elections. This, of course, shows that the ground underneath Gore has been very shaky to date, some of that ground he hopes to make up tonight.

A look at George Bush, he will have a very in-your-face trip tomorrow. He will start off in the home state of Al Gore, a trip to Tennessee again to underline that Gore's base is very shaky. Then Bush will head to Texas to show that his own base is very solid.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Candy.

And I just want to go back to John King for a second.

When Al Gore tonight delivers that speech, he's going to get on a plane, get out of town right away. There is a sprint, and especially over the next two weeks or so, the general consensus is that if you're not ahead by Labor Day in the polls, you're probably not going to win in November. How seriously concerned are the Gore people right now that these coming days are going to be so important to this potential presidency?

KING: They understand certainly that the next week to 10 days, beginning with that one hour when the vice president addresses the nation tonight, the most critical point perhaps of this campaign.

As you mentioned, Labor Day a key benchmark. They want to be ahead -- they'd like to be ahead, but certainly within the margin of error, three, four, five points in any polling by then. They know the polls in the next two or three days won't really matter. There's a fluctuation because of the convention. A week or so, 10 days from now, we'll get a sense.

They know they need to be competitive around Labor Day. That would put them in a good position for the debates with Governor Bush. They believe that is critical. And don't just look at the national polling, the big key over the next few weeks, look at the big battleground states, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and look to see if the vice president builds a commanding lead here in California, because if he has to keep coming back to California to compete, that means he's in deep trouble -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, John King, Candy Crowley, Frank Sesno and Jeanne Meserve, thanks for joining us. Of course, they will be covering this entire convention as it continues today.

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, once again we'll bring in Gore adviser, former Gore chief of staff and former White House counsel Jack Quinn.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANNOUNCER: On day four of the 1984 Democratic national convention in San Francisco, delegates made history by making a woman the first major party nominee for vice president.

New York Representative Geraldine Ferarro got the job by acclimation. She thanked the delegates that same night in a speech that touched on the American dream, women's rights and family values.


REP. GERALDINE FERARRO (D-NY), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By choosing a woman to run for our nation's second highest office, you send a powerful signal to all Americans. There are no doors we cannot unlock.

If we can do this, we can do anything.


ANNOUNCER: But she and Walter Mondale would not stop Ronald Reagan's re-election.


BLITZER: Joining us once again is Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel and the Gore campaign's senior adviser.

How important, really, is this speech for Al Gore? Tipper Gore says it may not be the most important speech, but a lot of political pundits say it's the speech that could make or break his campaign.

QUINN: Well I think, frankly, that she made a terrific point. The eulogy he gave after his father passed away was undoubtedly the most important in...

BLITZER: Personal, but not many were watching it.

QUINN: ... his personal life. That's right. And the convention speech, there's no doubt about it, this is a critically important speech, this is a critically important night. I have absolute confidence that he's going to do terrifically well and come out of this convention with a real sense of momentum.

BLITZER: You've known Al Gore for many, many years. You've seen him in action up close, personal. Why does he seemingly have so much trouble connecting with the public out there?

QUINN: Well, to be honest, I think that this is sort of a self- fulfilling media prophecy. This is a guy who is warm, he is funny, he's incredibly decent and caring. He's devoted to his family, he's devoted to his friends. Tipper talked about how he's always there for her and the children, but you know, he's also always there for his friends. If anyone's in need, he's on the phone right away to find out if he can help.

BLITZER: A lot of those problems where he had the caricature of being stiff or wooden came from during '92, in the campaign, where he used to stand behind Bill Clinton for long periods of time, and he just stood there almost rigid. And the comics picked up on that.

QUINN: Well, I think every vice president suffers that fate to some degree. You are, of necessity, one of the people sort of over the president's right-hand shoulder. And you're seen in that light day in and day out over a period of time. But just as former President Bush was able to emerge at the 1988 convention, that's going to happen with Al Gore.

And look, as much as the Republicans want to look back, want to run against Bill Clinton -- who, by the way, beat them twice. I'm not sure why they want to run against him again -- but as much as they would like to talk about that, they're going to have to face Al Gore, what he wants to do for America, where he wants to lead the country.

You know, this is going to be a campaign that the American people are going to understand is a choice between Al Gore and his vision for the future and George W. Bush's and whether he has a vision or not.

BLITZER: And we all remember during the Democratic primaries when Bill Bradley, the former New Jersey senator, made a strong showing, and Al Gore retooled his strategy somewhat, came out as a fighter and went on to win in a landslide in those primary contests. Does he have to do that again right now, at least since he's the underdog in the polls?

QUINN: Well, he is a fighter. I mean, this is a guy that does nothing casually. I mean, this is a man who is devoted to public service, who takes every issue before him with the utmost seriousness, and who is going to take this campaign very seriously. He's going to fight to win, but he's not fighting to win for himself. He's fighting to win for the children of this country and the families of this country.

I'll tell you a little story. When he ran in 1988 -- in 1987...

BLITZER: When he was running for the presidential nomination.

QUINN: Right, before the campaign began, I asked him, sitting in his office, just him and me, why are you doing this? And he talked for about 20 minutes about kids and how important it was that we make this world safe, that we make this country better, that we open the doors of opportunity, for his kids, my kids, every kid in this country. That's what really motivates him, commitment to the children of this country, their future and their families.

BLITZER: All right, Jack Quinn, the former Gore chief of staff, former White House counsel, thanks for joining us. I want to bring in our CNN political analyst Bill Schneider. You've been looking, you've been studying, you've been assessing what's going on -- give us a sense of what's going on?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Here's what's going on. Al Gore does have a lot of problems in this campaign, but there's one problem he really doesn't have, and that's compassion. Do people believe Gore cares about the average American? Where are the voters? Well, the answer is yes, by a huge margin. Compassion is a traditional Democratic advantage, and George W. Bush is trying to steal it this year. Gore's problem really isn't compassion, it's the perception of weakness. Voters don't see him as a strong leader, in part, because the job of a vice president is not to be a leader; it's really to be a follower.

So tonight, I think what Gore is going to try to do is package compassion with toughness. He's going to portray himself, as Jack just said, as a fighter for ordinary Americans against the special interests. After all, didn't the Republicans just nominate a ticket with two Texas oilmen.

BLITZER: And before you go, Bill, I want to just ask you about the lead story, we were reporting the breaking story, about this entire Lewinsky investigation, Robert Ray, the independent counsel, impaneling a new grand jury to look in it, the story coming out on this day, the biggest political day of Al Gore's life. It could have an impact on the way the story is covered somewhat.

SCHNEIDER: Of course, because it's going to compete for the headlines. But you've got to be careful how this story plays, because the voters really want this to be over. They can't imagine that the Monica Lewinsky story still exists. Remember who got hurt in that story? Bill Clinton survived. The people who got destroyed were Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, and the Republicans, who expected to gain to gain seats in the House, ended up losing seats in the House. So a lot of Democrats, say, wait a minute, this story might actually have a backlash against Republicans.

BLITZER: All right, I want to bring in Jeanne Meserve on the floor. She's one of our correspondents. She has a guest who wants to talk about some of these latest developments -- Jeanne.

MESERVE: Yes, I am down here with Congressman Barney Frank, you'll remember, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Your reaction to the news that a new grand jury has been impaneled.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I thought I was beyond being surprised by the outrageous tactics of that gang of law- enforcement desperadoes, but this one astounded me. The only thing I can think of, it is so unjustified, so inappropriate to intrude this electoral process right now.

The only thing I can think of is that Ken Starr realized how badly he had misbehaved and how terrible his reputation was going to look, so when he recommended a successor, he tried to come up with someone who would be a bigger jerk than he was, so he would not go down in the history as one of the most abusive prosecutors ever, and I think Mr. Ray has borne that out.

MESERVE: Couldn't this timing be coincidental?

FRANK: No. No. There as nothing coincidental, because he knew that this was happening. He could have waited. He could wait have waited until November.

First of all, it's not just a question of timing; it's a question of the fact, what is one more grand jury doing in this inquisition by ordeal?

You know, they just had to exonerate the Clinton administration completely on the FBI files. They found nothing found wrong with the Travel Office. This is a desperate group that I guess is going to try and try and try to come up with something until the end of time.

MESERVE: Barney Frank, thank so much for joining us. Now back up to the booth.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Jeanne.

We are going to take a quick break. When we come back, we will have work on another developing story half a world away involving that stranded Russian submarine.

Natalie Allen will have the very latest from Atlanta.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Michigan Congressman John Conyers addressing this Democratic convention, which has now been in session for about one hour. Welcome back.

We are going to take a look now at a story that is developing half a world away. Natalie Allen is in Atlanta with developing word on what is going on with that Russian submarine -- Natalie.


Some good news about the rescue efforts. CNN has news that the British and Russian submarine hatches are compatible. That had been a big question the past few days. So the British will be able to access the stranded Russian submarine, when its rescue vessel arrives there in a couple of days.

Now a short time ago, CNN Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty was allowed on Russian television and took part in a broadcast, and interviewed the first Russian correspondent who has been at the scene of the rescue effort. Jill conducts this interview in Russian, so you will hear the voice of our producer, who's interpreting.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN PRODUCER: CNN bureau chief Jill Dougherty here. So, Jill, please, you can ask the question for our worldwide audience.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN RUSSIAN BUREAU CHIEF (through translator): Arcutti (ph), please, could you explain to us precisely what kind of work the British and the Norwegians will be performing?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (through translator): Good evening.

I will try to tell you a little bit, as far as I know about it. So in accordance with the agreement between Russia, and Norway and Britain, a ship called Eagle is heading our way. It's expected to arrive overnight, August 19-20. Let me see, it's supposed to arrive in Port Tromso to get some oxygen at its port, and then its supposed to arrive here and help our rescuers save the sub, to help our Russian rescuers.

There is one important thing that we haven't looked into in great detail. The rescuing vessel is very, very good. The one that is on board Eagle, the ship. But the hatches of the Kursk submarine may be different. And whether we can make it possible so that we can provide ideal contact between the rescuing vessel and the sub, that is still a question, nobody can tell us.


ALLEN: But again, CNN has just learned that the hatches, the British hatches and the Russian hatches on the submarines are compatible, so they should be able to access the sub once that British vessel gets there in a couple of days. We'll continue to provide you developments on this dramatic story that still unfolds. In a moment, more though live from L.A. and the Democratic National Convention.


BLITZER: At every political convention, there are always some lighter moments. Our Laurin Sydney and Jim Moret are standing by from "SHOWBIZ TODAY" to share some of those with you.

LAURIN SYDNEY, CNN "SHOWBIZ TODAY": And here comes the light, Wolf, way over here.

While the convention is obviously coming to a close this evening, the Hollywood community is showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to fund raising.

JIM MORET, CNN "SHOWBIZ TODAY": Michael J. Fox, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ted Danson were just a few of the celebrity guests Wednesday night at an event raising money for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

SYDNEY: Reeve attended the dinner, but was unavailable to the press. The event was co-hosted by the Creative Coalition and "George" magazine, the political glossy founded by the late John F. Kennedy Jr.

MORET: It is just one event drawing money from the Hollywood community.


MELISSA ETHERIDGE, MUSICIAN: There's a lot of money, a lot of people that want to support Gore. And it is very important that he get elected. So yes, I think there's enough.


SYDNEY: And right now, we are very, very fortunate because we have a special guest with us. He is a violinist, a composer, and a fiddler. And his name is Mark O'Connor.

MORET: And aside from being a Grammy award-winner, Mark has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, and has appeared at the White House and the presidential inauguration celebration.

SYDNEY: He has been called one of the most talented and imaginative people working in music today. And tonight, he'll be fiddling around at the Democratic National Convention.

MORET: We're giving him a big head already, I can see it.

SYDNEY: No, no, no. He's very down to earth.

Now, Mark, you have a strong musical history with the Gore family. You actually played at Karenna's wedding ceremony. But how did the moment happen? How did they contact you about playing this evening?

MARK O'CONNOR, VIOLINIST/COMPOSER/FIDDLER: Well I had played for Al Gore Sr.'s funeral service. The vice president called me on the phone and asked if I would play a certain fiddle tune that his father used to play on the camping trail back in the 1940s, at the service. And so I was there and I did it. And I said at that time, you know: If you want me to play anything for you for your campaign. And they called. And here I am on Thursday night.

MORET: And you're calling, isn't that -- could you show us, give us a sample of what you're going to play tonight? And as you do that, I am going to hold up this album, "Fanfare for the Volunteer," because Al Gore sent you a personal note of thanks for this album, because he listened to it on the campaign trail. Let's listen to a little bit right now.


MORET: Now, you said you were a violinist and a fiddler. What was that?

O'CONNOR: That's sort of in between, a little bit of influence from both sides.

SYDNEY: Now, Mark, although you are a veteran performer, is there a whole different set of butterflies that go with a huge event like this?

O'CONNOR: Yes. It is incredible. I mean, there is another purpose for being here too, and it's, you know, helping somebody that you believe in with the goals for the country. And when I think about music, I think about music lessons, arts in the school. And things like those issues are close at home. And so anything I can do to promote, you know, what I do in my life, you know, dedicating it to the arts and getting it out there in the political scene is, I think, is the best for the artist.

MORET: Mark O'Connor is going to play tonight. Give us about 10 seconds, if you will, while we go back to Wolf Blitzer for more news.


MORET: That's the best toss Wolf will ever get.

SYDNEY: And it was light.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Too bad we didn't have time for some more.

CNN's convention coverage continues next with Bernard Shaw, Judy Woodruff, Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider.

I'll be back in an hour with a special edition of "THE WORLD TODAY."

Thanks for joining us.


SHAW: One man and his big moment: What will Al Gore say tonight and will it make a difference? Talk about bad timing for Gore: a new investigation of the Monica Lewinsky scandal is under way -- plus, an update on Senator John McCain and his battle with cancer.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

Just hours before Al Gore enters this hall and speaks to delegates and the nation, his political life has gotten more complicated. That is because of the news today that a new grand jury has been impaneled to investigate the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a reminder of the Clinton problem Gore is trying to overcome.

Our senior White House correspondent John King is here in Los Angeles -- John.

KING: Judy, several legal sources confirming to CNN that the independent counsel, Robert Ray -- he is the man who succeeded Ken Starr -- impaneled this new grand jury about five weeks ago. We're told by these sources that its charge was to continue the Monica Lewinsky investigation. Now, the president obviously was impeached by the House of Representatives. The Senate refused to convict the president. But Robert Ray, when he took office, said there was still questions as to whether the president or anyone else had violated any federal statutes during that investigation.

There were, of course, questions of obstruction of justice, questions of a White House cover-up. The president's lawyers denied all that, of course -- but this investigation continuing. We should note it was just two years ago today that the president testified before Ken Starr's grand jury. Obviously, now, the reaction here in Los Angeles, the politicians are aghast at this because of the timing -- the White House saying it knows nothing about the substance of the investigation.

But a White House spokesman, as well as key Gore loyalist, raising questions about why word of this leaked out on the very night Al Gore will accept the Democratic presidential nomination.


QUINN: The timing of this just absolutely stinks.

BLITZER: He's the White House deputy press secretary.

QUINN: Absolutely. The timing of this stinks. But more importantly, I'm not going to be distracted by it. I'm sure Vice President Gore is not going to be distracted by it. And most importantly, the American people are not going to be distracted by it.


KING: Now, Mr. Ray has said his investigation would look into whether or not he believes the president should be charged with any offenses. He has said he would not bring any charges if he reached that conclusion -- and we should stress "if" there -- until the president had left office next January. That timing -- Mr. Ray saying he would wait until the president left office -- has many in the legal community questioning why he would impanel this new grand jury now.

It was seated in July -- legal sources telling us to the best of their knowledge, there have been no requests for new documents or new witnesses of the White House or of the president personally, no indication if any witnesses have gone before that Grand Jury. But we do know it was impaneled five weeks ago by the man who took over for Ken Starr.

The White House and the Al Gore campaign saying this is a political investigation. Obviously, they would question the timing on this very big day in Al Gore's political career -- unclear as yet whether the president himself has anything to worry about in terms of any criminal charges -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, what do we know about why it came out today from the independent counsel?

KING: We know nothing about why it came out today. Obviously, we cannot reveal our own sources of this information except to say that they are legal sources familiar with the investigation. We are certain they know what is going on. As to the timing of it, all's we can say is our sources telling us about this development today, and obviously the political community will react to that. Already on the floor inside the Staples Center, our Jeanne Meserve interviewed Congressman Barney Frank. He said this was an outrage, obviously in his view a Republican effort to smear not only the president, but to distract the vice president on a very big day. There will be, as there was throughout the Starr investigation, dual paths here: a criminal investigation of the president and his conduct and a political debate over whether that investigation should be going on to begin with, and to whether it is being motivated by political critics of this administration.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, here in Los Angeles, thanks -- Bernie.

SHAW: Now, this update on another big story that has been distracting attention at the convention here: Senator John McCain's diagnosis of skin cancer.

CNN's Jonathan Karl is in Arizona, where McCain underwent medical tests today.


QUESTION: How are you feeling, sir?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm just fine, thanks. I think you're supposed to be over there, aren't you?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Still in good spirits after three and a half hours of tests at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, John McCain is preparing to undergo surgery to remove cancerous growths on his temple and his arm. A source close to McCain says the senator will very likely undergo the surgery on Saturday and then spend two or three days recovering at the Mayo Clinic.

The source said that doctors are optimistic, but cautioned -- quote --"We don't know the tests results yet." As for McCain, the source joked: "He's cantankerous, but no more than usual, maybe even a little less than usual." McCain's Senate office released a statement detailing the tests he underwent, including blood work, a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, MRI, CT Scan and echocardiogram.

McCain will return to the Mayo Clinic with his wife Cindy on Friday to review the test results and make a final decision on treatment.


KARL: McCain has spent much of the last day or so answering phone calls from a long list of well-wishers that includes Joe Lieberman, Bob Dole, John Kerry, Nancy Reagan, and last night, a call from President Clinton. Now, there is another thing he'll be doing now -- actually he is already there -- McCain going to so a movie with his family. The movie is "Gladiator" -- a little bit of background on that.

McCain is a very superstitious man in many ways, especially when it comes to politics. In virtually every election, every election night during his entire career, he has gone to see a movie while he has waited for the results of these elections to come in. So as he awaits these results for a far more important test, he is with his family at a movie theater watching "Gladiator."

Back to you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John Karl, reporting from Arizona, thanks.

And now to Los Angeles to Al Gore and the challenge he faces in this hall tonight.

CNN's Patty Davis joins us with the latest on Gore's convention speech and the strategy behind it.


Al Gore laid pretty low today. His aides say he was still working on his convention speech, a speech long on specifics, Gore says, as well as biographical moments. We do expect at some point before the speech to get excerpts. But he did make a surprise visit here on the convention floor yesterday.



DAVIS (voice-over): A crowd-pleasing appearance by Vice president Al Gore, as he greeted his daughter Karenna on stage at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday. Gore gets the audience to himself tonight, more than 20,000 in the packed convention hall, millions more tuning in by television. The detailed focus on policy is highly calculated, intended to show Gore has a much greater mastery of the issues than his Republican rival, George W. Bush.

It's a strategy the campaign is betting will sell with voters.

TAD DEVINE, GORE CAMPAIGN CONSULTANT: We think that voters really want to know what the next president is going to do, not just what the next president is going to say in a rally, smiling at them or waving at them, OK. These are serious issues and serious times. And I think people understand what's at stake in this election.

DAVIS: The campaign is going to great length to humanize their candidate: a 10-minute video on Gore's life. And he will be introduced by his wife, the popular Tipper Gore.


DAVIS: Al Gore not wasting any time: Once his convention speech is over, he heads to a DNC gala. Then he takes a red-eye on Air Force Two back to the heartland. He's going to Wisconsin, where he will launch a riverboat cruise, a way to get some media attention again, keep his momentum going. That will go down the Mississippi River from Wisconsin all the way to Missouri, hitting battleground states in major battleground cities all the way -- Judy. WOODRUFF: Patty, we have already heard from Jack Quinn, who has worked with the vice president in the past. What are the Gore people saying today about this revelation about the grand jury investigating the president?

DAVIS: The -- Chris Lehane, a spokesperson for vice president Al Gore, clearly trying to say that there is some political actions here on the part of Republicans. His quote is: "The timing seems very odd that it comes out today, given the fact that impaneling the jury -- the grand jury -- occurred more than a month ago." He went on to say that Republicans want to focus on the past. Gore and Lieberman want to focus on the future -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Patty Davis, down on the floor -- Bernie.

SHAW: Our Bill Schneider joins us now to talk more about this latest probe of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Bill, what does this mean for the vice president?

SCHNEIDER: Well, as Joe Lieberman might say: Oy vey. This is a problem. I mean, voters want this whole story over. If electing Gore means it won't be over, if there are going to be charges of criminal activity, if they're going to be talking about pardons, they are going to think very carefully before they vote for Al Gore. You know, in our polling, we can see the effect of this scandal on Gore's standing.

A vast majority, almost 60 percent of Americans, say they think Clinton is doing a good job. And they should all be voting for Al Gore. But if you take those people who think Clinton is doing a good job, but they have a negative personal opinion of the president, Gore's support drops enormously. They don't need to be reminded of this. They want -- the voters want this story over.

SHAW: This, "this." how does Gore handle this?

SCHNEIDER: What he does is the same way he planned it -- don't talk about Clinton, don't talk about which any of this. You notice, in Joe Lieberman's speech last night, he hardly mentioned Clinton. He was one in a list of presidents. I doubt if Gore's planning to bring up Clinton very much. The Clinton convention ended Monday night. It shut down. He handed over power. Now they want to say Clinton is irrelevant. I think they have to continue with that plan.

SHAW: Are Republicans cheering or groaning about this?

SCHNEIDER: Well, they may want to cheer, but they may remember something -- the Monica story did a lot more damage to the Republicans than it did to Bill Clinton and to the Democrats. Who was destroyed by the Monica Lewinsky scandal? It wasn't Bill Clinton. His ratings soared. The people who were destroyed were Newt Gingrich. His political career was ended. Livingston -- Bob Livingston -- was going to be speaker of the House. He never made it to the speakership, And of course the Republicans expected, according to the historical example, they expected to gain seats in the House of Representatives, and they lost seats in the House in 1998. So it was the Republicans who were damaged.

If Republicans seem to be cheering this on, they could create a big backlash against themselves.

SHAW: Bill, Judy, our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield joins us now.

Looking at the vice president's speech tonight any contrast with now and the recent past?

GREENFIELD: Very much so, Bernie. Four years ago, Bill Clinton gave a speech that one wise fellow, my son, described as a shopping list. It had very little vision. It was loaded with specifics. But Bill Clinton had been president for four years -- nobody had to introduce him to the country. And second, it was way ahead. It was the equivalent of a prevent defense; he didn't have to do anything.

There is so much pressure on Gore now, I think he should come out with a dictionary, because everybody is describing this as a defining moment. He could look up words for an hour.

A more serious point about this, you know, this whole notion that after 25 years in public life, now he's going to tell us who he is, puts a whole different kind of pressure him than, say, on Clinton four years ago.

WOODRUFF: But do we really know what he's going to say tonight, Jeff. I mean, at this point, we're just going on...

GREENFIELD: What they're telling us.

WOODRUFF: What they're telling us.

GREENFIELD: Yes, they're telling us policy, they're telling us go positive. Could there be a surprise? Could it turn out to be a lyrical speech? You know, for a guy who is called a wonky, this guy has given two of the most emotional acceptance speeches in history, some people thought way over the top, invoking his injured son in 1992 and his dead sister in '96. So I'm not take bets anyhow on what we will do.

WOODRUFF: And yet, this campaign, the Gore people keep telling us, has got to be one of the issues, .

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

WOODRUFF: And so doesn't he have to talk about the issues tonight.

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, there is something you might call "competence charisma." That was what Michael Dukakis tried to run on. It doesn't work. That's the charisma of losers.

What Gore needs to do tonight is make one simple point -- I have a life. Because people see him as totally driven by politics, the man who would do anything and say anything to get elected, and that's a very serious problem for him. He hires consultants to tell him how to be an alpha male. Everything he does seems to be driven by politics. What he wants to do is tell people he has a real biography. He served in Vietnam. He's a good family man. He has a lot of friends. And that he also is driven by conviction. That was the point Lieberman made about Gore defecting from the party line to support the Gulf War. This man is a man of principle. That would be a different kind of Al Gore than what people think they know.

WOODRUFF: But they've been talking about this at this convention. I mean, last night, we heard from Tommy Lee Jones briefly. We heard from his daughter briefly. We heard from Joe Lieberman. We've heard from Bob Kerrey. We've heard from Max Cleland. I mean, how much more do we want to know about him?

SCHNEIDER: We'd like to hear from Al Gore, and we'd like to see a different Al Gore from the Al Gore we've seen in the past. You know, he's got to make the argument he is a fighting populist, against the special interests, and he has a good target. The target is a ticket in which the Republicans have nominated two Texas oilmen, and Gore is going to try to present himself as the champion of the people against the special interests.

WOODRUFF: All right, and now let's turn back to Jeff Greenfield and this Democratic convention. And what does it tell us about this man?

GREENFIELD: You actually tipped my hand, for which I appreciate.


GREENFIELD: No. It's a good thing, it sets it up. Because for a political journalist, as we all know, there is nothing more heady than finding out what a campaign's really up to -- off-the-record lunches, late-night phone calls, all this designed to learn what the campaign's hidden strategy is. But you know, there's another way to find out what's really going on: Listen and watch what they say and do in public.

Based solely on that test, we know a whole lot about the private assumptions and strategies of the Gore campaign.


GREENFIELD (voice-over): For instance, is the Gore Campaign worried about their man's likability? Oh, boy are they. How can you tell?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please welcome Tommy Lee Jones!

GREENFIELD: Look at who nominated him. There was Tommy Lee Jones, Oscar-winning actor and ultimate alpha male. Right now, Gore is getting creamed by Bush among white males in the polls. And what did Jones tell us about his onetime college roommate who's seen as the ultimate grind?

TOMMY LEE JONES, ACTOR: We shot pool and we watched "Star Trek" when maybe we should have been studying for exams.

GREENFIELD: In other words, Al Gore is not the teacher's pet who asked for homework just before spring break.

Is the campaign worried that voters still don't know the real Al Gore? you bet? That's why another nominating speech given by his daughter, Karenna. Her message: My dad doesn't come home at night and scour the congressional record looking for typos, he is a great dad, who helps the kid their homework.

GORE SCHIFF: My dad was the one who took me to the store to get the emergency Q-tips, colored Play-Dough and construction paper, because he was simply being a dad.

GREENFIELD: On the issues, the Gore campaign clearly believes it cannot win a personality contest against Governor Bush, that they must use his record in Texas to prove he would be a risk to America. How do we know this? Just listen to Joe Lieberman from last night.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm sad to say that in Texas, Texas led the nation in the percentage of residents who did not have insurance.

... ranks next to last for health insurance for both women and children.

... quality of the air and water is some of the worst in America.

GREENFIELD: And are they eager to separate themselves from President Clinton on the whole values question? Once again, just listen.

LIEBERMAN: That Al Gore is a man of family and a man of faith.

Al Gore is also a man of courage and conviction.

Al Gore is also a man of vision and a man of values.


GREENFIELD: That's a lot to learn without a single off-the- record conversation. And it's not going to take a private huddle to learn the one thing we don't yet know: whether the vice president can get America to take a fresh look at him. That we will know in about six hours.

WOODRUFF: That's right. That's right. And we can still try to have cups of coffee with these people.

GREENFIELD: As long as you can deduct it from the expense account, why not?

WOODRUFF: All right, still ahead: more on Gore, on his opponent and the affect of the new grand jury investigation. We'll talk to Tad Devine of the Gore campaign and Karen Hughes from the Bush camp.


WOODRUFF: Now, we're going to talk to two operatives from the Gore and Bush camps. In a moment, we'll go to Bush campaign communications director Karen Hughes, but first we are joined by senior Gore adviser Tad Devine.

Thank you for being with us.


WOODRUFF: For the last three years, the Clinton-Gore administration has been shadowed by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Tad Devine. Today we have the revelation that another grand jury has been empaneled to investigate the president and this whole business once again. Does this hurt -- doesn't this hurt what the vice president is trying to do tonight?

DEVINE: I don't think so. I think people will not -- won't be distracted by this. I think the American voters really want to know about Al Gore, who he is, where he comes from, what he believes, and where he wants to lead the nation.

And I think there'll be a lot of noise out there; the timing of this obviously is pretty suspect, but I think the American people are going to look beyond this. I don't think it will have any impact at all.

WOODRUFF: What do you mean, the timing is suspect?

DEVINE: Well, I think, it's the, you know, final day of the convention. They decide, once again, to leak something on -- at this point in time; it's obviously a choice someone made. I don't think -- I think people will see through that. I think they're very interested in Al Gore.

They want to know his story; they want to know his issues and where he's going to lead the nation. This election's about a fight for America's working families and they're anxious to hear from him in specific detail about issues that matter to them.

WOODRUFF: It may be hard for those of us who like to follow politics all the time to believe, but there are a number of people who are maybe thinking, "I already know who Al Gore is. He's been the vice president. I know a little bit about what he thinks. Why should I listen to this speech tonight?" What do you say to them?

DEVINE: Well, I say that, when we talk to voters out there, we find that when they're introduced to his biography, for example, it's almost a revelation. So many people don't know about his record of service, that he volunteered for Vietnam; they don't know he was a reporter in Tennessee for many years; they don't know his motivation to enter public service; they're not familiar with the fact that he was a leader in Congress in the early years on legislation, for example, that led to the cleanup of toxic waste sites. So when people find out this information about his record and career, they're really impressed by it, and they look at him in a different light. WOODRUFF: But you're saying that a year and a half, at least a year into this campaign, people still don't know some of these very fundamental things about the vice president? Isn't that strange?

DEVINE: No, I don't think it's strange at all. Listen, this election's a couple of months away, and the voters who are going to decide it, the swing voters, the people who are out there working, particularly the working families that are really going to determine the outcome this election, are busy with their lives, their own responsibilities; they're just beginning to tune in.

And tonight, for the first time, Al Gore will step on the stage by himself, and people will be able to look him in his own light and look at him as his own man. And I think that's an important moment in the campaign. He's got to make the case to them that this election is about whether or not, in this time of unprecedented prosperity, working families and not just the few will have the chance for a better life.

WOODRUFF: Some of the people I've been talking to, Tad Devine, delegates, other people outside this city have been watching this on television say, "We know that Al Gore has a tendency to be a kind of a wooden speaker. Why can't he just be himself tonight?" Is he going to just be himself?



DEVINE: I think he will be himself. Listen, this is someone, you know, has been in public life for a while, but a vice president is a very different role than a president's, a very different role than someone who's a member of the House who has different responsibilities, or a member of the Senate, or a governor.

I think people are going to begin to look at him as possibly their next president, beginning tonight. And when he occupies that role, I think they'll see him in a different light, so we're looking forward to this.

This is a great opportunity to talk to the American people about the real issues: prescription drug benefit, Medicare and how to protect it. That's the agenda of America's working families.

WOODRUFF: We talked to delegates leaving Philadelphia, the Republican convention, many of them feeling very confident, looking at the polls. Some of the delegates here, a number of them hopeful about November but anxious. What do you say to them?

DEVINE: I say to them that I can understand their being anxious. They see a number of polls out there, but we feel that this race is close and getting closer. We think we're going to have a very close race going into Labor Day. It's a race the vice president can win; the issue terrain of this election centering around issues that favor Democrats and favor the vice president is one that we would choose if we could. The voters have already chosen it for us, so we're very optimistic. We think we're going to have a great election in the months ahead, and we fully expect to win, and win convincingly.

WOODRUFF: All right. Tad Devine, thank you very much for being with us. DEVINE: OK, nice to be with you.

And joining us now from Austin, Texas, Bush communications director Karen Hughes.


WOODRUFF: I'm fine, and we're -- we want to thank you for joining us. Is Governor Bush going to be watching tonight?

HUGHES: Yes, I imagine that he will watch part of the vice president's speech from -- he's here in the governor's mansion. He's come back from his ranch in Crawford, and I expect he will watch some to find out what Vice President Gore plans to say tonight.

WOODRUFF: Has he watched much else of the convention this week?

HUGHES: No, he hasn't. He's been at his ranch in Crawford. I think he has some meetings about the fall campaign on Monday and Tuesday. He's had friends staying there with he and Mrs. Bush. And so he hasn't really watched much to date, but I expect he will watch some of the vice president's speech tonight.

WOODRUFF: Is the timing curious, Karen Hughes, about this revelation today that the grand jury has been empaneled again to look into the Monica Lewinsky scandal and President Clinton's conduct?

HUGHES: Yes, Judy, and I know this will probably surprise you, but I actually agree with Tad on this. We think the timing of this was wrong; it was simply not appropriate for this type of news to come out on Al Gore's big day. This election is not about the past and it's not about President Clinton. It's about the future and it's about what Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney plan to do to reform America's public schools and to improve our military and save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.

So this election is not about the past; it's about the future. I do think it's interesting, though, I think the Democrats may be realizing that they made a strategic mistake in allowing President Clinton to open their convention on Monday night, because I think he has really dominated the convention.

What's emanating from Los Angeles is, I think, a sense of disappointment. I think some of the delegates are realizing that their nominee, Vice President Gore, doesn't quite measure up to the political skills of the current president. So I think the Democrats made a strategic mistake in making the opening part of their convention so much about President Clinton.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something Joe Lieberman said in his acceptance speech tonight. Among other things, he said he's glad that Governor Bush is talking about health insurance, but he said that the fact is, he said, Texas led the nation in the percentage of residents who didn't have health insurance and right now it's next to last for the number of women and children who don't have health insurance. HUGHES: Well, Judy, it's interesting that he should bring that up, because we think the Democrats are vulnerable on that issue. We spend, in Texas, $4.7 billion a year to provide health care for those who do not have insurance, and the number of Americans who do not have health insurance has grown under Clinton-Gore by 8 million to 44 million people.

And I'm sure this is not what the vice president intends, but as he talks tonight in his speech about issues like health care and about education reform and other issues, he really is going to be indicting his own administration for its failure to properly address those issues. Under eight years of Clinton-Gore, we've -- what's been done for health care?

We have more uninsured Americans today, 8 million more, the size of the entire city of New York, who do not have health insurance today. So if I were Senator Lieberman, I'm not sure I'd want to open that debate, because the Clinton-Gore administration's record has been one of squandered opportunity on that issue.

Eight years of Clinton-Gore, we have no prescription drug coverage for our senior citizens; they ignored and squandered the bipartisan opportunity to provide that important benefit for our seniors. Governor Bush is committed to giving that opportunity to our seniors.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about something else Joe Lieberman said last night. At one point, he said he was angry at something that had been said at the Republican convention. He was quoting from one of the speeches. He said the statement that the United States has "a hollow military" -- he said, instead, the U.S. military is the best-trained, best-equipped, most potent fighting force in the world. Is he wrong?

HUGHES: Judy, I think if you'll talk to veterans, as we do, all across America, you talk to the veterans who come to the rallies, they know that America's military today is overextended and underfunded. Morale is a problem; the military itself has requested additional funds. Readiness is a problem; the military itself has reported that. Governor Bush is committed to rebuilding our military, to increasing the pay and morale of our soldiers and fighting men and women.

WOODRUFF: But when Governor Bush talked about two divisions not being ready to fight, since that speech has he not had to -- had to retract that statement, in effect.

HUGHES: No, he hasn't, Judy. In fact, that's what the Army reported in November. Now, they're now claiming that they've -- overnight, by virtue of Governor Bush giving a speech, suddenly they're ready. But I think we have talked to people within the military who feel that that is not the case. And as recently as last month, the Army was requesting additional funds complaining that readiness was a problem for the United States Army. So I think there's lots of independent evidence to back up Governor Bush's statement that readiness is a problem for our military.

WOODRUFF: All right. Karen Hughes, communications director for the Bush campaign, we thank you very much for joining us.

HUGHES: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bernie. And there is still much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Still to come: the many sides of Al Gore and the myths about his image.



SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: There are people here that were Biden supporters. They're the first people I'd go to.


WOODRUFF: The hotspot on the convention floor for politicians with an eye on the future.

And later, using the name of a former president to predict the next winner? Our Jeff Greenfield explains.


SHAW: Tipper Gore, Hadassah Lieberman at a morning rally here in the City of Angels. Everybody is busy during this convention week.

And in this hall tonight, Al Gore will take center stage, of course, and re-introduce himself to the delegates and to the American people. One of his goals, perhaps, to erase some of the -- or try to erase some of the preconceptions and misconceptions voters may have formed in the course of this campaign.

Joining us now to talk more about Al Gore and his image, Eric Pooley of "Time" magazine. He has written this piece in the latest edition of "Time" magazine, "The Man Behind the Myths."

And after reading your piece twice, I have to ask you, will the speech behind us from the podium tonight, as a backdrop, in Vice President's gore mind and in the mind of his people, do they believe that he has been somehow lodged beneath an identity rock?

ERIC POOLEY, "TIME" CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, they do. They feel that a lot of the ideas that are out there about Al Gore and the things that everybody knows are untrue. There is truth, there is a nugget of truth, Bernie, to all of them, but it's true that they don't capture the essence of the man in many cases. I mean, people think that Al Gore is a gross exaggeration, even a liar. The fact is that a lot of the most famous cases are themselves real exaggerations. You know, he never claimed to have discovered "Love Canal," the toxic waste site. He was misquoted in two newspapers. He really was one of the models for "Love Story."

You know, he just is a guy who now, the press is on a hair trigger with him, and so anytime he says something -- and look, all politicians exaggerate a little bit, and so does Al Gore, but -- and I think that one has gone a little too far.

And really it was four years ago at the convention in Chicago when he gave a speech about his sister he was branded a hypocrite, because he still took tobacco money, even though he said he was an anti-tobacco crusader, for six years after she died of lung cancer. And, you know, the fact is that that changed Gore's image in the press. After that, he never got the benefit of the doubt again.

So now at this convention, he's going to try to redo it. Sure, there's going to be a lot of policy in this speech. The people who are familiar with it have told me that late in the speech he's going to talk about himself. He's going to talk about how he's never been comfortable with politics, but that he would be very comfortable in the Oval Office as president and that he wants to roll up his sleeves and get the job done, but he's not much of a campaigner.

So, you know, they can't take on these myths directly, Bernie. They can't get up -- have Tommy Lee Jones get up there and say, Al Gore is not a liar. So what they have to do is assault us with, you know, "Al the good," "Al the great," "Al the hero," "Al the leader" all the time. It may seem to us he's getting a little bit overwhelmingly, somewhere in the 11th testimonial today.

SHAW: Well I just heard some news in what you just reported. When the vice president tonight says, look, I'm not a natural president, but I certainly know how to be the commander in chief, is that akin to someone saying that Al Gore is not a good dancer but he sure knows the music?

POOLEY: Yes, I think there's something to that. And, you know, a lot of times, Al Gore seems to be impersonating a politician. He's up there doing the rah-rah stuff on the stump, but somehow you can tell his heart isn't in it. So he needs to not -- if he seems like he's giving a speech tonight, Bernie, it will be a failure. It needs to be conversational and real.

SHAW: You talked about the contention by some that Al Gore exaggerates. Two weeks ago, Philadelphia, acceptance speech, Governor Bush alluded to the story about Al Gore inventing the Internet. What's the true story behind that?

POOLEY: Well, as you know, what Gore said to Wolf Blitzer of CNN was not, I invented the Internet. No, what he said was a little unfortunate. He said, I took the lead in creating the Internet. It was an unfortunate way of saying something that was essentially true, that he bankrolled the Internet.

There was a transformation from the Defense Department, ARPANET, to the Internet as we know it today. Gore's bill paid for that. So he has a real claim there. And he did coin the term "information superhighway" back in '79. So this is a guy who has been a visionary on the subject, but now everyone thinks that he made it all up.

SHAW: Last quick question, how can Al Gore give voters a feel for him over television? How can he possibly make voters know him in one speech?

POOLEY: Well, it's very hard. And that's why there's a little bit of a whip-saw effect in this whole two-night, "Al Gore the man" thing, where they're just hitting us with so much information. It's a very tall order. I think it can only begin to do the job. You can't turn around an ocean liner on a dime. It takes time to change someone's image. Any public relations professional will tell you that. I think they just want to give it a good start tonight.

SHAW: But the Democrats, of course, are feeling the hot breath of time?

POOLEY: Yes, they are.

SHAW: OK, thank you. Eric Pooly, "Time" magazine.

And just ahead, ulterior motives at this convention?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're all behind the vice president in his candidacy, and -- but we're also looking for the stars of the future.


SHAW: Why the New Hampshire delegation is so popular here in Los Angeles.


WOODRUFF: Handsome group of people there, don't you think?

Even though we're at the Democratic convention, news from the Republican campaign manages to work its way in here, and our Jeanne Meserve here in Los Angeles has something to tell us about the fall debates -- Jeanne.

MESERVE: Judy, that's right. This phase of the electoral process isn't even over, and we do have news about what's coming in the fall. The Bush campaign announced today that Governor George W. Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, would engage in five debates -- that is an unprecedented number. Three of those will be presidential debates, two of them will be vice presidential debates.

Campaign manager Joe Albaugh and Andy Card, who is the manager of the GOP convention in Philadelphia, will begin meeting with the 42 groups who have proffered invitations to Bush and Gore to participate in invitations this fall. Bush campaign officials say they will not be negotiating directly with the Gore campaign about formats. They will instead be talking to those potential host groups.

Gore has already accepted a number of debate invitations.

Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeanne Meserve. So where does that leave the commission on presidential debates?

MESERVE: Judy, if that's a question for me, I haven't had a chance to address that fact. I really don't know the answer.

WOODRUFF: OK, Jeanne Meserve, thanks very much for that update -- Bernie.

SHAW: Judy, I can add some background to this, your question.

If the Bush people are indicating they want to do five debates and two vice presidential...

WOODRUFF: Three -- three, she said three presidential and two...

SHAW: Three presidential and two vice presidential, and they're going to meet with 42 groups offering to participate, and you asked the logical question, what about the commission on presidential debates, which wants to sponsor three...

WOODRUFF: And one.

SHAW: Three presidential and one vice presidential, it seems as if the Bush campaign doesn't necessarily want to swear allegiance to what the presidential...

WOODRUFF: That's exactly what it sounds like.

SHAW: ... debate commission wants to do. And I know for a fact that Governor Bush does not like the dictates of the presidential commission on debates. In fact, when we interviewed him a few weeks ago, in a conversation after the interview at the governor's mansion in Austin, he indicated that he would want to do more debates, more than just three presidential debates and he wouldn't be beholden to the commission on presidential debates. And this reporting by Jeanne Meserve indicates Governor Bush is following through or on his thinking.

WOODRUFF: That's right, three and two.

SHAW: Yes.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeanne Meserve. And, of course, we'll be looking for more information on that.

Here at the Staples Center, the delegates and the politicians are united in their support of the Gore-Lieberman ticket. But the future and future elections are still on the minds of at least some attendees.

Our Frank Buckley explains.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Delaware Senator Joe Biden dropped in on the New Hampshire delegation...

BIDEN: I will never, ever, ever, ever forget that. I swear to God.

BUCKLEY: ... to renew old friendships, sign a few autographs and campaign.

BIDEN: I knew as soon as I set foot in New Hampshire, immediately the speculation would start whether or not I was running again.

BUCKLEY: He is campaigning for Al Gore. But Biden, himself a presidential candidate in 1988, admits that after Gore's shot, he might be calling on these old friends for help on a Biden bid for the presidency.

(on camera): Are you thinking maybe at some point, eight years down the line, you might run again?

BIDEN: If I stay in public life, the likelihood is I'll run again. Have I decided to run again? The honest to God answer is no. I've become sort of a great respecter of fate in my life. And I don't plan that far ahead.

BUCKLEY: But Biden, like other ambitious politicians, are at least looking ahead, New Hampshire delegates used to their visits.

RICH TROMBLY, NEW HAMPSHIRE DELEGATE: We see it every convention that those who might have some aspirations in the future. After we re-elect Gore in 2004, 2008 everyone will be up campaigning in the snows of New Hampshire. And I think they like to get a jump on that.

BUCKLEY: Among New Hampshire's visitors this year: Biden, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt, and the new to the national political scene senator from North Carolina, John Edwards. States like New Hampshire and others with influence in the process of selecting a president see them all.

STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Political figures who want to become well-known nationally, want to create a national identity, see this as an opportunity to make the rounds, to show their faces and shake hands. I don't think that there are war rooms in hotel rooms over here where people are plotting the 2004, 2008 presidential races, but there are lots of politicians here. And politicians have ambitions, and they want to meet people.

BUCKLEY: Of course, it would be the height of bad form to campaign for president at someone else's convention. Still, as one candidate for president accepts his party's nomination, others are at least laying the foundation for their own.

Frank Buckley, CNN, Los Angeles.


SHAW: In the hall, time to ask Robert Novak of "The Chicago Sun- Times" what he's thinking about with the speech tonight.

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": You know, the Democrats I talked to last night and today were very happy with Joe Lieberman's speech introducing himself. And for all the talk about Al Gore reintroducing himself, Democrats I talk to think it has to be more than that. They think that he can't just say he was in Vietnam and he was a reporter for "The National Tennesseean."

He has to make a more conventional, political speech that shows him as a leader, really able to take over the reins. And so reintroduction, they say, is not enough.

SHAW: Endorsement? What's this about the Teamsters union?

NOVAK: They were ready to not endorse anybody, making an announcement on Labor Day. But Joe Lieberman may change all that, Bernie. Joe Lieberman has always had his door open to the Teamsters, even though they might disagree on trade.

So Lieberman makes it much more possible that the Teamsters will go for the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

SHAW: OK, Bob Kerrey in hot water with some in his party?

NOVAK: Yes, some of the delegates -- and I heard arguing with some in the hall -- didn't like Bob Kerrey saying that President Clinton should bug out for the rest of the campaign. But let me tell you something. President Clinton has been on the phone this week in the wee hours of the morning to Gore campaign officials giving suggestions on how the acceptance speech should be delivered tonight. Bill Clinton just can't leave it alone.

SHAW: OK, Bob Novak. See you later on this evening.

And coming up next, Jeff Greenfield with some thoughts.


WOODRUFF: Joining us once again, our colleague Jeff Greenfield.

GREENFIELD: Thank you.

You know, as we move into the fall election, we're going to spend billions of dollars, tens of thousands of people hours and countless expense-reimbursable meals, all devoted to one question: Who's going to win? So allow me to save everybody a whole lot of time and money.

There is absolutely one infallible guide, and it's the "Harry Truman rule": Whichever side invokes the name of Harry Truman in this campaign is going to lose. This iron law of politics was first discovered by "THE CAPITAL GANG"'s Mark Shields. But he's not here and I am, so what the heck.

It's very simple: Everybody knows that in 1948 Harry Truman pulled off the greatest upset in history. So anytime now a candidate's behind, he tries to rally the troops by invoking that memory. The only trouble is, the only candidate for whom the Harry Truman example ever worked was Harry Truman. Two other candidates, Humphrey in '68 and Ford in '76, did come from far behind and wound up losing close races. But, as they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

So throw out the polls, skip the electoral vote counts, and just keep listening: As soon as you hear a candidate say "Harry Truman," you bet the farm on the other guy.

WOODRUFF: Harry Truman, Harry Truman.

Jeff Greenfield, thank you...

GREENFIELD: See you later.

WOODRUFF: ... from Bernie and me.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. We'll be back with the convention in an hour.



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