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Bush Slams Gore's Speech in VP's Home State; Gore Takes Campaign to Key Battlegrounds; McCain Optimistic Before Cancer Surgery TomorrowAired August 18, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last night, we heard a laundry list of new promises, which I thought was an attempt to cover up old failures.
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JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush slams Al Gore's convention speech and adds to the insult by stumping in Gore's home state.
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AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Didn't we have a great convention in Los Angeles?
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WOODRUFF: Still riding a wave of convention enthusiasm, Gore shifts out to some key campaign battlegrounds.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: In a very short period of time, I'll be back on the Straight Talk Express campaigning for our candidates around the country as well as for Governor Bush.
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WOODRUFF: Senator John McCain says he and his doctors are optimistic and he prepares for skin cancer surgery tomorrow.
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is on assignment.
Well, as carefully as Al Gore tried to lay out his campaign themes here in Los Angeles, George W. Bush tried to pick them apart one by one today.
CNN's Chris Black begins our coverage on this day after the Democratic Convention with the Republican counterattack.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an aggressive response to Al Gore's I'm-my-own-man convention speech, George W. Bush is trying to tie him to the past.
BUSH: As much as he tried to separate himself from the squandered opportunities of his own administration, the vice president's speech reminded us of the fundamental choice in this election: Will we prolong four more years of Clinton-Gore or will we give America a fresh start?
BLACK: There was more.
BUSH: Last night, we heard a laundry list of new promises, which I thought was an attempt to cover up old failures.
BLACK: Bush and his running mate Dick Cheney taunted Al Gore by opening the post-convention campaigning in Gore's home state of Tennessee.
BUSH: What a great day to be a Republican in Tennessee.
BLACK: Bush says the choice is now clear.
BUSH: They got one candidate who wants four more years of finger-pointing and politicizing and blaming, a candidate who will pit one group of people against another, a candidate who wants to wage class warfare to get ahead.
BLACK: Reports the independent counsel convened a new grand jury to hear evidence against Bill Clinton surfaced just hours before Gore's acceptance speech.
BUSH: I thought the timing announcement was unfair for Al Gore. I did. I didn't appreciate that. And, you know, I don't know who leaked it, but it was -- as we say in Texas, that wasn't right.
BLACK: But Cheney and Tennessee's two Republicans senators all introduced Bush with the exact same words, a not-so-subtle indictment of the Clinton years.
RICHARD B. CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to end this era of division and distrust. We're going to change the tone in our nation's capital and we are going to restore honor and dignity to the White House.
BLACK: For the fall campaign, Bush plans to focus his fire on what he considers the failures of the Clinton-Gore administration.
BUSH: I felt like there's a lot of unanswered business from the past seven years. QUESTION: Like what?
BUSH: Well, like Medicare reform, Social Security reform, strengthening the military.
BLACK: And he says he agrees with Gore's assertion, the presidential race is not a popularity contest.
BUSH: I couldn't agree more with him. This is a contest of ideas and who can get positive things done for America.
BLACK: In the weeks ahead, Bush and Cheney will travel exclusively in states they consider battlegrounds, focusing on a narrow number of issues, starting with education reform -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Chris, we hear Bush and Cheney saying that they're not running against Bill Clinton, and yet clearly they are trying to tie Al Gore to Bill Clinton. Are they trying to have it both ways?
BLACK: Oh, absolutely. There's no question about it. Bill Clinton remains a very effective target for the Republican ticket, for two big reasons. One is that the Republican base just hates him. And it's a way to keep the base excited, keep the base highly motivated in support of the ticket. And second, swing voters are really sick and tired of business-as-usual in Washington. They have had it up to here with scandals, investigations, impeachment.
And he's playing on that and saying: Look, with Al Gore, you will just get more of the same.
WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Chris Black, thanks a lot.
Of course, Al Gore would say that his convention speech tells a far different story from the way George W. Bush described it. But Gore knows that he cannot rest on whatever success he may have had here in Los Angeles. So today, the Gore campaign began a photo- friendly tour of the politically-important Midwest.
And our John King was there.
GORE: Thank you, La Crosse.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And thank you, La Crosse. We love you.
JOHN KING, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Mississippi-River launch opened the Democrats' 81-day dash to November. The send-off had the vice president in high spirits, still celebrating his convention finale the night before in Los Angeles.
GORE: I loved it. I had a good time.
KING: Senator Lieberman was quick to prove he has this loyal running mate thing down pat.
LIEBERMAN: It was the best I have ever heard at a convention. That's an unbiased response.
KING: The vice president is hoping this morning-after burst of enthusiasm is the beginning of a Democratic comeback.
GORE: We're for you. We need to you help us. We need your support. We need your votes. We need your enthusiasm. We need to bring our people together.
KING: Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri are Gore's first post-convention targets. This riverboat journey reflects not only the likelihood that the race will be decided here in the Midwest, but also the vice president's struggles in places and with people key to the Democratic victories in 1992 and 1996.
PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: That he has to be able to reach what I call the white-collar middle of the electorate. Those are people that Bill Clinton did well last -- four years ago. Al Gore needs to do better among that group. The election is very, very close. In the end, he who wins the middle wins the presidency.
KING: The strategy counts on locking up California early and keeping Republican-leading Florida in play. Georgia, North Carolina and Gore's native Tennessee are targets in the South -- victories across the industrial belt from New Jersey to Missouri considered critical.
This is a fight shaped by the politics of prosperity, competing plans to spend the growing federal budget surplus. Health care was Gore's topic at a floating town hall Friday, Social Security and tax cuts up in the days to come.
GORE: Our opponent's plan does not put any new money into home- base care or Medicare, life extension, or a prescription drug benefit going...
KING: It is a calculated mix of policy and pictures, designed to build on a convention that Democratic sources say played well in focus groups with independents and other swing voters. The campaign is considering launching its first general election ads in the next week or two.
KING: Now, in contrast to that more aggressive posture, we have just heard from Governor Bush a kinder, gentle -- if you will. Al Gore on the campaign trail today, the morning after his convention, he said he considered both Governor Bush and Dick Cheney to be good men, said he believed they were in politics for the right reasons, but he made clear that in the weeks ahead, he will stress he believes they have the wrong policies -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, John King traveling with the Gore campaign, thanks very much. And we're joined now here in Los Angeles by E.J. Dionne of "The Washington Post" and David Brooks of the "Weekly Standard."
We know going into convention, we kept hearing what Al Gore needed to do was he needed to work on likability and he needed to work on leadership, both areas where he's struggling with voters, David, let's talk about likability first. How did he do in that area? Did he help himself?
DAVID BROOKS, "WEEKLY STANDARD": A little, but not so much. I think what we saw last night was the Al Gore emerging, you know: the driftwood, the stiff guy, shed all that bark and suddenly the fighter came out -- you know, alpha male triumphant. He mentioned the word "fight" 20 times in that speech last night. It was about being combative. It was a worldview which I really didn't know Al Gore had in him, but I really think now is the core of him: the idea he sees himself as the protector of the little man, the populous fighter. And so I'm not sure that's likable. But it may be effective.
WOODRUFF: What about on the likability side, E.J.?
E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think you learned more about Al Gore at this convention. On people who didn't know things about him, they stressed his Vietnam experience. And he did it himself in the speech. In some ways, that paragraph may have been the most effective, because he didn't play up what he did, he played it down, but said he did it in contrast implicitly with Governor Bush.
I think that what you also saw was an Al Gore -- he said the word "fight," but he actually spoke in a rather calm way. And I think one of the good things he did for himself is he avoided that barking, yelling, sometimes faux-populous style. And I think that went over better than other Al Gores have gone over in the past.
WOODRUFF: What about other piece of this, David, that he needed to come more of a leader, a strong leader, somebody capable of running the country. How did he do on that score?
BROOKS: Well, I think strength really was there. I mean, he really showed -- there was virility, it was, you know, Mike Tyson coming out of the corner -- laying the groundwork first for a savage campaign in the fall, but second, for protecting people against the powerful interests. He really sketched out a whole worldview, which is really the worldview of his father, really a worldview that takes you back to FDR, which fits the middle classes, sort of the Kmart voters against the upper classes, against the entrenched interests. And so that leadership and strength really was there.
DIONNE: And I think the emphasis that David put on middle class is important because it's not just sort of old-fashioned class politics out of the 1930s and 1940s. It has that element, but he picked some very careful targets. He didn't attack all rich people, he attacked big oil, big polluters -- nobody likes big polluters -- the HMOs and the pharmaceutical companies, and then he linked that to some pretty popular policy, a drug benefit for seniors under Medicare, a health care bill of rights. DIONNE: I think it's part of two stages. I think the first stage, Al Gore is going to go after that Kmart voter, and then in the latter stage of the campaign, I think he's going to go after the better off Crate & Barrel voter, if you will, by saying, you know, I'll protect you with government. Don't wreck the prosperity.
WOODRUFF: David, just picking up on this theme, Gore indicating, I'm going to fight for working families. Is that a winning strategy?
BROOKS: I think it's not, actually. I think...
WOODRUFF: Because there aren't enough working families?
BROOKS: First of all, they don't think of themselves as working families. They think of themselves as recently fat and happy suburban families.
Second, he promises combat, which really means partisanship. And we're already seeing the Bush people respond by saying he's going to continue to divide Washington. He's going to lead to more fighting in Washington. And the Bush convention was really a lovey-dovey, mushy convention.
WOODRUFF: Bush is sounding tough today.
BROOKS: But that was very interesting. But I think the general trend of his campaign is, we're lovers, we're not fighters.
DIONNE: And I think what was striking is that after a period when Al Gore was the attack dog and George Bush was sort of the mellow guy, today he really came out tough against Gore. I think that suggests that Bush understands that this race is getting closer and that Al Gore has a case to make when he says that I stand for some kind of activist government that defends you.
I think what's strident here is we are going to have a really good election about two fundamentally different views, just like Governor Bush said.
And I think also one of the points Al Gore pressed hard last night is the cost of the tax cut. And I think that he made very clear that we're going to argue about how to use this surplus.
WOODRUFF: When -- you know, there are those who are saying, well, he just ticked off a list of liberal issues last night.
David, is that what it was, or was it an attempt to say this is a new direction for the Democratic Party and here's what I believe.
BROOKS: It wasn't strictly liberal issues. He did talk about -- tick off welfare reform, which is a new Democratic issue.
But listen, I think one of the headlines of this convention has to be the diminishment of the Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist group. They talk about transforming the economy, transforming the government into the information age. That talk was gone. It was back to the more solid liberal issues. And that was part reflected on the floor. The biggest applause last night was the pro-choice line about abortion.
WOODRUFF: Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there.
E.J. Dionne, David Brooks, thank you both. Safe travels to both of you.
DIONNE: Thank you.
BROOKS: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: All right, great to have you.
And now we turn our attention to the health of Senator John McCain. He spoke to reporters on this day before he is scheduled to undergo surgery to remove two cancerous growths on his skin.
Our Jonathan Karl joins us now with an update from Phoenix, Arizona -- Jonathan.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, McCain got a generally positive report from his doctors at the Mayo Clinic, positive because all those test he took yesterday came out negative. Those were tests to determine whether or not the cancer had spread to any of the surrounding areas. So as far as those tests could determine, they came out negative.
Now I think McCain is behind me right now, which is why we see -- there he is, leaving in his car.
He's been very upbeat today. He was asked by reporters as he came out to talk to us in front of his house about how he felt, what he felt his prognosis was.
This is what he had to say.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We expect it to be relatively short, relatively simple, and, as I say I'm very confident. I've been in a number of fights in my life, and this is just another one. And I'm sure we will be able to prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: When McCain came out to talk to reporters, he came out with his wife Cindy, and they brought with them bottled water and sunscreen, 30 SPF sunscreen to give to all the reporters and camera crews assembled here, saying that he was becoming himself a commercial for hats and sunscreen, warning about, of course, the danger of skin cancer.
McCain seemed to be in a very good mood, actually. He was, as always, telling jokes.
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CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: I feel confident tomorrow will be a good day with good news, and like everything, our role in this and my role particularly is to make sure our children are OK.
MCCAIN: Late last night, I did get up and I saw her thumbing through the insurance policies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: McCain also addressed something that's been a subject of speculation. A lot of people have speculated as to whether or not his condition might be related to his days as a POW in Vietnam. He said he found that speculation somewhat humorous, because during his five years in Vietnam, there were many, many days where he was praying to go outside and see the sun. All he wanted was to see some sunlight, obviously being kept inside during much of that time.
He was also asked at the very end if this would have any impact on his future running for president. And the senator said that it would be, quote, "a cold day in Gila Bend, Arizona, when I run for president again."
Now I'm not from Arizona, but I'm told Gila Bend is about as hot as it gets in Arizona.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right, I think that's meteorologically correct, John Karl. Thanks a lot, we appreciate it.
And we have this story just in to CNN. CNN has learned something about the leak of information yesterday, that a grand jury has been impaneled in Washington to resume an investigation of President Clinton in connection with the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
A federal judge, Judge Richard Cutahy (ph), has today acknowledged that he was, in his words, the inadvertent source of that leak that the new grand jury had been impaneled. The judge said that he revealed the information in response to a reporter's question about the work of the so-called special division. This is the three-judge panel that oversees the office of the independent counsel.
So that's one question now answered.
Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS. did Gore get a bounce from his convention performance?
We'll talk about a new tracking poll and how Gore is viewed by voters now.
WOODRUFF: Now the big post-convention question: Did Al Gore leave Los Angeles with a bounce? Polls in the next few days will tell us more, but an early signs comes with the Voter.com Battleground tracking poll, which suggests some tightening in the presidential race. Gore now trails Bush by five points among likely voters nationwide. Heading into the Democratic convention, the tracking poll had Gore behind by nine points.
Well I spoke a little while ago with the people behind that survey, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake and Republican pollster Ed Goeas.
I began by asking them what this slight move in Gore's favor tells us altogether.
CELINDA LAKE, VOTER.COM/BATTLEGROUND POLL: I think it's very good news for the Democrats. We already had big success before we got here, and now they've got from an 18-point margin to a five-point margin, really very close race. We, over course of the convention, proved dramatically with independents. We also improved in the last two nights with men. Those are tough audiences for Democrats, so it's very good news for the Democrats I think out of this convention.
WOODRUFF: Ed, what do you see as you look over at the overall picture here?
ED GOEAS, VOTER.COM/BATTLEGROUND POLL: Well, we saw them come into the week and actually decline some during the week. They made up some ground. They ended up with a bounce of two points, when traditionally, the bounce is 10 points. I think the big surprise here is Republicans and George W. Bush maintained his lead with women voters, and yet overwhelmingly, he had a command of 18 points, slid to only 10 point by the week.
WOODRUFF: Celinda, when you say some improvement with independents and men, what are you talking about.
LAKE: Well, we went from being 17 points behind to four points behind in the most recent poll from the first night to the last night of the convention. And as we said, among men, we went from being 18 points behind to 10 points behind. Democrats traditionally target women voters pretty effectively, although George Bush knows how to do it better than any Republican I've ever seen. So I think we think it's very good news that we picked up men, because we can go get the women.
WOODRUFF: And you're saying the women, you didn't see the kind of pickup...
GOEAS: The other thing that was interesting is the Midwest. We held a 15-point lead in the Midwest, which is usually the swing areas that you see independents affect. Where the real lead built for the Democrats was actually in the Northeast, which I think was a reaction to Lieberman.
WOODRUFF: My colleagues Bill Schneider and Jeff Greenfield would like to remind you that you really have to wait until several days after the conventions, time for people to not just see what happened, but to read about what was said at the convention. What will you two be looking for in the polls, in your polls and other polls in the days ahead?
LAKE: Well, I think that they're absolutely right, and I think we expect this to kind of settle down and I then think we both expect it to be a very close race from Labor Day on in. The fact we got it so close within range, within a five point margin, I think you'd expect in a couple days between three or four points, it'll settle up to five. And then I think it's going to be a battle for those independents. It's going to be a big battleground for the Midwest. And It's not a surprise both campaigns are headed there today.
GOEAS: From my perspective, and like what we saw in yesterday's polling, which was a very substantial improvement from one day to the next, we saw it rather flat in the last two days, and on the unaided ballot, where we don't give names of the candidates, we saw an eight- point lead. And all the lead actually is bigger amongst definite voters. If you look definite voters, George W. Bush is still leading by nine points. So there's a lot a filling in of the new voters over the gap that has been closed by Gore. I probably wouldn't expect it to close as much as what Celinda is talking about.
WOODRUFF: Where should these candidates be focusing their efforts in this? Linda, you mentioned, their both going into the Midwest. I mean, actually, Al Gore is in Tennessee today. I'm sorry, George W. Bush is in Tennessee today. Where should they be focusing their efforts, geographically and among voter groups?
LAKE: I think that they'll have to focus it on independents, and two-thirds of the undecided voters are independents, and they'll both focus on the Midwest. But there is the far-Western states, also real battlegrounds. I think for Democrats, we have to make sure that our base remains as energized as the Republican base. We came in to...
WOODRUFF: You mean that's still not still locked up?
LAKE: Well, let's say that the convention was very successful in doing that. But traditionally, we've had more trouble getting our voters out. So that will be a number we'll watch very closely in the fall.
WOODRUFF: What about George W. Bush, Ed Goeas? What does he need to focus on?
LAKE: We did see the numbers tighten a little bit, mainly because of the declining demand in the South. So I think going South, going to Tennessee makes sense, take it down to Al Gore's home. And I think focusing on getting the intensity back up among Republicans. We really saw him sitting aside and not doing much during this week, that the attention level toward George Bush dropped dramatically during the week, and that had as much to do with the numbers changing as anything else.
WOODRUFF: If you're Al Gore today, Celinda, are you -- what part of the country are you worried about? I mean, clearly the Midwest. Should you be focusing on making sure you've got California and New York in your column. Can you -- where can you assume you're OK and forget about that, anywhere?
LAKE: Well, I don't think we forget about anything, but I think post-convention you could say that the Northeast has become really a base vote for Democrats, and you've seen that trend over the last couple of years. The South had been very Republican. In our polling data most recently, the South Central States, which are George Bush's base, he has a very strong lead, but the Southern states are more competitive. We'll have to watch and see if that happens. There may be opportunities in the South we hadn't been counting on. I think can count pretty strongly on New York and California.
WOODRUFF: And, Ed, what about if you're George Bush, where can you count on you're going to be all right?
GOEAS: I think you can count on the South. I think there's still a question on states like Tennessee and Arkansas. But the rest of the South, it's looking very solid. I think the big surprise right now is the Midwest is holding up, even though they still have to compete for that all the way through.
WOODRUFF: For Bush.
GOEAS: But the West is dead even right now, and I think that is going to be competitive into the fall, and it's not just California; it's Washington, Oregon and some of the other Western states.
WOODRUFF: All right, Ed Goeas, Celinda Lake, thank you both.
LAKE: Thank you very much.
GOEAS: Good to see you.
WOODRUFF: Good to see you.
WOODRUFF: And much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come, Al Gore's financial strength. How does the vice president's party stand compared to George W. Bush and the GOP.
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WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is Hollywood, right? And in Hollywood, there's only one thing that counts -- starpower.
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WOODRUFF: Our Bill Schneider spotlights the Tinseltown "Play of the Week."
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CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What a week. The best of times. The worst of times.
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WOODRUFF: Four days of sights, sounds and politics.
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WILLIAM COHEN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Our forces are ready to fight. Anyone who suggests that they are incapable of carrying out the responsibility is seriously miscalculating, and I think also that President Clinton made it clear during the speech at the Democratic convention that anyone who would seize upon any statements made during this particular period of time would be make a gross miscalculation of our capabilities and would come to rue it. So we are ready, we are prepared.
As a matter of fact, I think morale is increasing. I assume during any course of the campaign that defense and other capabilities will certainly come into be challenged. That's the nature of our political system. All I can say is that we have the most capable force in the world. It's trained. It's ready, and fully capable of carrying out its missions.
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WOODRUFF: That was Defense Secretary William Cohen today publicly dismissing criticism of U.S. military readiness and morale by George W. Bush and by other Republicans. Here in Los Angeles, Al Gore and President Clinton talked about the skill and the preparedness of U.S. forces.
Joining us now, Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."
George Bush, Dick Cheney, raised this at their convention in Philadelphia. You now have Secretary Cohen coming out saying it's not true. Of course the Democrats saying it's not true. Where does all this go?
RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": And the president very forcefully on Monday night in his speech saying it's not true. Bush cites this -- when I interviewed him on Saturday, he cites this as part of his list of reasons why the country is not really better off than they were eight years ago. He says military readiness and morale are down. Obviously, it's important for Democrats to try to -- one of the things that Clinton tried to do in the '90s was make the Democrats more competitive on that issue. Bush is trying to get back to the '80s level of Republican advantage on that. And in fact, he has been. In our last poll, he had a 40-point advantage over Al Gore of who was best able to handle military readiness and defense policy. Kind of an amazing thing when you about it. He's been a governor for five years; Al Gore has been vice president for seven years, but again, they're looking to Republicans and that sort of traditional advantage and will try to reassert it.
WOODRUFF: Well, can a statement like this by the Republican secretary of defense make a difference? Or do we just look for this to go on as a part the political debate between now and November?
BROWNSTEIN: I think it probably goes on as part of the debate, because as the out party, as the challenger, Bush, has to look for any trends which he say are not improving, you know, and he talks about the administration not solving Social Security and Medicare. He talks about test scores and then he talks about defense.
WOODRUFF: All right, Ron, as we all know, last night, Al Gore also injected what you might call a populist theme into his acceptance speech. Let's listen to some of it.
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GORE: To all of the families in America who have to struggle to afford the right education and the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, I want you to know this -- I have taken on the powerful forces, and as president, I'll stand up to them, and I'll stand up for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Is this a smart move on Bush's part?
BROWNSTEIN: On Gore's part.
WOODRUFF: I am sorry, on Gore's part?
BROWNSTEIN: I think it is a tremendous gamble, that in the year 2000, after eight years of prosperity, with home ownership at its all- time high, unemployment at a decades-long low and half a country owning stock, that you can basically try to divide Americans between the people and the powerful, sort of working families and the wealthy. One of the things that Bill Clinton did for the Democratic Party was he made them more accessible to people who were advancing in the economy, and in fact moved their appeal up the income ladder, as well as holding on to sort of the traditional vote.
Now Gore is following largely the Clinton agenda, but he's not following the Clinton language or the Clinton approach, and he is pursuing a much more polarizing strategy, which again, seems more oriented toward voters who are being left behind, kind of an odd thing to do when you're the incumbent party in good times.
WOODRUFF: David Brooks was here a little bit earlier, and he was saying, I said, well, what's wrong with going after working families? And his response was, well, many of these families don't think of themselves as working families; they think they've made it. Is that...
BROWNSTEIN: Right. And there's also nothing wrong with going after working families, but you don't necessarily define the choice as working families against those who are getting ahead. In fact, one of the geniuses of the New Democrat agenda that Clinton put together, and which Gore, as I said, is largely following, is that it offers a way to speak to people who are both more modest in their income and people who are doing well. It combines fiscal responsibility and discipline with government activism, but it doesn't necessarily frame the choice as one that is very polarizing.
And the other risk to Gore is the one that Gore seized on right away. People are more dissatisfied with the climate in Washington than they are with conditions in the country, and the risk, I think, that Gore faces in this is that he's promising a very sort of combative, partisan tone that may alienate some voters who would like to see Washington strike a different kind of way of doing things.
WOODRUFF: But is it so partisan when -- I mean, it seemed to me that Gore went out of his way last night never to name George W. Bush. He talked about "the other side" at one point, but it didn't seem to be a partisan, at least in words, to me?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, it wasn't personal at Bush, but it was certainly the tone is much more partisan than Clinton has struck at the most important the points in his career. I mean, what Gore talks about, he uses a more traditional Democratic language. This convention was aimed much more at the Democratic base than the Republican convention was aimed at the Republican base, and I think you saw, you know, a kind of ideological schizophrenia over the course of the week as they lurched back and forth, rather than synthesizing this into one clear message. On the other hand, as I think they said earlier he did a good job in introducing himself personally to the country, and that may be the real benefit that he got out of this.
WOODRUFF: What you're saying, Ron, is it's risky for him to try to do this between now and November. Can he, coming out of a convention with this message, this strong of a message, then try to, sort of, do a U-turn and do something in September and/or October?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I really wonder about that. I mean, this was the culmination of several months in which he has moved in this direction, and he, you know, presents himself as a fighter, but again, if you look and you say that 55 percent of the country thinks that things are going well in the country overall.
Ninety percent of Americans in our last poll are satisfied with the economy. Lots of people are moving up. Sure, there are people who are not doing well as every would like them to, but the question is, do you -- how do you reach a majority in the electorate at that the point? Is sort of a class-division populism the way to do it in the year 2000? And I think that what Gore is doing is putting his own stamp, his own little variation on sort of Clintonism.
It is now his own vision, and he will rise or fall with it.
WOODRUFF: But could it be that he just believes this and wants to get it out there? BROWNSTEIN: Yes. No, I think it is -- and look, it is very much a part of him. In many ways, he is fusing sort of the language of his father...
WOODRUFF: His father, a longtime senator.
BROWNSTEIN: ... with the agenda -- the senator from Tennessee, a New Deal populist, with the agenda of his political father, Bill Clinton, and political mentor. And you know, you sort of have the moderate Democratic policies of the '90s and the immoderate Democratic language of the '30s being welded together here, and we'll see how well it holds together.
WOODRUFF: We will see. All right...
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: ... Ron Brownstein, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Well, now that Gore's nominating convention is over, he gets more than $67 million in public funding for his general election campaign. But as CNN's Brooks Jackson reports, the Democrats still face something of a money crunch.
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet the equalizer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sisters and brothers, sisters and brothers...
JACKSON: Fired up troops from the labor movement, ready for campaign combat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you help us elect Gore and Lieberman?
Will you help us?
JACKSON: With the kind of enthusiasm money can't buy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it! I love it!
JACKSON: A good thing for Gore, because despite all the millions Democrats have raised from wealthy donors, Hollywood, trial lawyers, and business corporations, Gore still starts the presidential campaign at a big disadvantage in money. By Friday, he'll get $67.6 million in public funding from the U.S. Treasury, exactly what George W. Bush got, but the Democratic National Committee had only 35 million to spend on Gore's behalf at last report, June 30th, half of what the Republican National Committee says it has and will soon report. Scandal plagued the Democrats fund raising four years ago. Investigations, indictments and convictions followed. But the Democratic National Committee raised record amounts to spend on ads attacking Bob Dole...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC AD)
NARRATOR: The president passes family relief. Dole-Gingrich vote no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: ... and re-electing Bill Clinton.
But in this election cycle, the DNC's fund raising is down 12 percent from '96 and the Republican National Committee's fund raising is up 21 percent. Gore already is drawing down the DNC's scarce millions on ads attacking Bush...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC AD)
NARRATOR: George W. Bush appointed a chemical company lobbyist to enforce the environmental laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: ... ads concentrated in 17 battleground states. But beyond that, Democratic leaders are tight-lipped about how much money they expect to spend.
JOE ANDREW, DNC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: You're not going to hear a number, because it depends on how much money we raise. It's obviously just, you know, political nonsense to be able to say you have got a budget. Obviously, in politics, it depends upon how much money you can raise.
JACKSON: That's where labor comes in, ground troops. These union members will do plenty trying to elect Gore at no cost to the DNC. Republicans say they're planning to spend $100 million or more trying to match that.
GERALD MCENTEE, PRESIDENT, AFSCME: They can knock on doors, and they can have phone banks, and they can get out the vote. Well, obviously, that's a page right out of our book. We don't mind them, you know, taking the page out of the book because we still have the book.
JACKSON: Financially, the need for money is driving Democrats ever closer to business and the rich. But labor still tops the list of their big donors. McEntee's union has given the most: more than $900,000. Six of the DNC's biggest donors are unions.
Labor is also spending big money to attack Gore's rival with independent ads like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: George W. Bush, who vetoed a patients' bill of rights...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: McEntee says his union put $700,000 into the nonprofit group that ran the ad. It could spend millions by election day.
MCENTEE: I don't know the total budget, because it's a work in progress. It's part of a progressive group, a progressive group that we're proud to be part of.
JACKSON (on camera): So as Al Gore leaves here, he's trailing badly in the money race and leaning heavily on labor to help narrow the gap.
Brooks Jackson, CNN, following the money in Los Angeles.
WOODRUFF: And just a quick correction with regard to a graphic. What Brooks Jackson said was correct, but at one point the graphic that the Democrats had twice as much money as the Republicans to spend between now, as of June 30th. Those numbers were reversed. It's actually the Republicans that have twice as much as the Democrats.
When we return, Bill Schneider with the political "Play of the Week."
WOODRUFF: The Democrats' decision to hold this convention here in Los Angeles at times seemed especially appropriate. Not only did the event battle for media attention amid protests and other national and political news, but the star players at the convention also seemed to be jostling for position in the spotlight.
Our own star, Bill Schneider, joins us now to explain all this -- Bill.
SCHNEIDER: Judy, this is Hollywood, right? And in Hollywood, there's only one thing that counts: star power. Well, that's no less true of politics than it is of movies, and only one performer could give that audience the star power it craved.
On Monday night, the star arrived. He daunted, he dazzled, and he delivered the political "Play of the Week."
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Make way for the star. They said he was finished, washed up, disgraced. They said he'd never make another picture. They said the audience was tired of him. Clinton fatigue, huh?
Well, where are they going to find another star who can match this guy? I mean, look at these credits. Lower poverty -- that was him. Lower crime -- that was him. Lower unemployment -- that was him. Impeached -- that was him. Well, every star's entitled to one flop.
They're calling this a farewell performance. They say the Constitution bans him from appearing on stage again. Well, if that's the case, he's going to give them the farewell performance of their lives. Sit up and take notice: The comeback kid is making another comeback.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, are we better off today than we were eight years ago?
SCHNEIDER: They say he's lost it, do they? Well, this guy can still get off a zinger or two.
CLINTON: Remember, our Republicans friends said then they would absolutely not be held responsible for our economic policies. I hope the American people take them at their word.
SCHNEIDER: So the critics are claiming his success was just a matter of luck, are they? Well, in this business, buddy, you make your own luck.
CLINTON: Let me be clear...
... America -- America's success was not a matter of chance. It was a matter of choice.
SCHNEIDER: A real star knows how to keep them guessing, like this.
CLINTON: Whenever (ph) you think about me, keep putting people first. Keep building those bridges!
SCHNEIDER: Did he say "whenever" or "whatever" you think of me? Listen again.
CLINTON: Whenever you think about me, keep putting people first.
Keep building those bridges! And don't stop thinking about tomorrow!
I love you and good night. SCHNEIDER: Not sure, are you? A little controversy is good for a star. A star performance like that deserves an award.
GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: The highest award Hollywood could give for extraordinary performance...
SCHNEIDER: An Oscar? Come on! This performance deserves better than that. This performance deserves the political "Play of the Week."
SCHNEIDER: Look at all this man has given his audiences over the years: drama, conflict, thrills, sex. And you know what? It's not over yet. Word leaked out yesterday that the independent counsel's office may ask for an encore.
WOODRUFF: And Bill Schneider, as we reported a little bit earlier, the judge, the federal judge who leaked that said that it was an inadvertent leak on his part in answer to a reporter's questions. And I have to tell you, Bill, that when I heard the president, I thought he said "whatever you think of me." But when I listen to -- you play it back, it sounds like it could be "whenever."
SCHNEIDER: That's right. The reports of what he said were "Whatever you think of me, keep putting people first." And then the White House transcript said that he really said "whenever." Now, it sounds a little more like whenever, but you know, that's good for ratings, isn't it? A little controversy.
WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, you're good for ratings, too.
SCHNEIDER: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Thanks a lot.
Just ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, a few of the picture perfect moments of the last four days.
WOODRUFF: Both presidential tickets are already moving full speed into the next phase of this campaign, putting the conventions behind them. But as we wrap-up this final day here in Los Angeles, Anne McDermott takes a look at some highlights of the last few days.
ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What a week: the best of times, the worst of times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, get back right now. Back. Media, back.
MCDERMOTT: Maybe a decent donut would have helped. Well, they sold them at Staples.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they're $5 a box. You get four in it.
MCDERMOTT (on camera): Four donuts for $5?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. For $5, the best donuts.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Well, there were plenty of other things to eat and do, like baby surfing. Now, there's a photo opportunity. A sweaty tot with a sweaty Tennessean. But it kind of made some yearn for the good old days. Well, this man anyway. Yes, he's a staunch supporter for Al, but he is from Arkansas.
(on camera): Do you think life after Bill is going to be a lot more boring?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Still, it was hard to be bored in here, what with all the gizmos and the get-ups, and celebrities, like a somber Sean Penn and a rah-rah Ron Howard. Or watching delegates getting interviewed and delegates getting startled.
Still bored? Well, all you had to was step outside Staples and try to figure out what the heck this statue is supposed to be. Or you could go to a party. See this guy? He's a U.S. senator from Louisiana.
How to explain it? How to explain the whole week? Well, there was that full moon.
Anne McDermott, CNN, Los Angeles.
WOODRUFF: Some of us watched that full moon every night when we were driving back to our hotel.
Well, that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. It has been quite a week, but of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's Allpolitics.com.
These weekend programming notes: Bush campaign communications director Karen Hughes will be among Wolf Blitzer's guests Sunday on "LATE EDITION." Also appearing, Mark Fabiani, the Gore deputy campaign manager for communications.
I'm Judy Woodruff. "WORLDVIEW" coming up next.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
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