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Inside Politics

Gore Unveils Economic Plan; Bush Says Gore Plan Busts the Budget

Aired September 6, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You don't have to guess at what the specifics are. You can read my plan.


No blank checks, no deficit spending.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore tries to convince voters he's written the book on spending the budget surplus wisely.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope we have the debate on Tuesday. As I say, I'm showing up and I suspect Americans that want to watch the debate will figure it out how to tune into the debate.


BLITZER: George W. Bush sticks to his guns in the battle over presidential debates.



BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Politicians blurting out something in front of an open mike is like having a sneezing fit during your wedding. You wish you hadn't but it happens.


BLITZER: Bruce Morton on Bush's blooper and other candidates' slips of the lip.

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

BLITZER: Thanks for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer, sitting in for Bernie and Judy.

We're monitoring two stories here even as we begin INSIDE POLITICS: the Firestone hearings on Capitol Hill as well as that breaking news hostage situation just outside of Los Angeles. When news develops, when we get more information, we'll of course go to those stories.

For now, though, Al Gore took his bid to be seen as "Mr. Specifics" to a new level today by putting his economic proposals in print and implying George W. Bush is giving voters only tea leaves to read.

CNN's Jonathan Karl has more on Gore's blueprint and his effort to appear both fiscally cautious and bold.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Al Gore, it was a day to set big goals and make big promises.

GORE: Let's reach the lowest level of poverty in recorded history. We will also raise family incomes by one-third.

We will double the number of families with savings over $50,000.

... adding 10 million new high-tech, high-skill jobs across every sector of our economy.

A typical family within two years will have the lowest tax burden in half a century.

KARL: The campaign billed the Cleveland speech as a "major economic address." In addition to making 10 ambitious economic promises, Gore used his speech to unveil a 191-page book outlining his plans for the budget surplus. He said both his goals and his budgets are specific and measurable.

GORE: You don't have to guess at what the specifics are; you can read my plan. No blank checks, no deficit spending.

KARL: Gore said his spending plans can easily be paid for with the budget surplus. In fact, he said his plan leaves a so-called surplus reserve fund of $300 billion unspent.

GORE: So if today's economic forecasts fall short, this new reserve fund will guarantee that even if they do fall short, we will not have to cut education or health care.

KARL: Gore used his speech to hit his opponent for promoting a tax cut for the wealthy that would bust the budget.

George W. Bush, campaigning in Scranton, Pennsylvania, quickly responded, saying Gore is the one who would squander the budget surplus.

BUSH: I want America to add up all the promises my opponent has made, all the promises in the course of this campaign. See, that's the easy style of campaigning: go to one community and make a promise here, go to another community. And when you add it up, he spends the whole surplus on bigger government.

KARL: The Bush campaign issued a competing analysis, prepared by the Republican-controlled Senate Budget Committee, showing Gore's proposals overspending the surplus by $900 billion over the next 10 years.

BUSH: He won't admit it, but we're going to call -- we're going to bring the accountants in and look at the numbers and make sure the American people hear it loud and clear, the truth.

KARL: Even before Gore unveiled his plan, the Bush campaign hit morning newspapers in several battleground states with an ad listing Nobel laureates and other economists, most of them longstanding Bush supporters, who prefer the Bush plan.


KARL: The vice president is expected here in downtown Detroit shortly, where he'll hold a fund-raiser here at the Fox Theater. Before he does that, he's actually going to be across the street over at the stadium where the Detroit Tigers play, dropping in for a little batting practice with the Detroit Tigers.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Jonathan, as you remember and our viewers, of course, remember, in 1992, the Clinton-Gore campaign put out a book entitled "Putting People First," a detailed book of what they proposed to do if they were elected to the White House. Are any of Gore's advisers now suggesting they've gone back to the Clinton playbook in releasing this new very detailed book that they have put out today?

KARL: Actually, what they're saying very specifically, Wolf, is that they've gone beyond that. Bob Rubin today, who introduced the vice president at his event in Cleveland, said this is the most detailed plan, the most detailed economic plan that he has ever seen a presidential candidate put forth.

BLITZER: OK, Jonathan Karl in Detroit, thanks for joining us.

Now, the bottom line: Do Gore's numbers really add up? Our Brooks Jackson has been going over the figures and the facts.


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Promises, promises.

GORE: Let's lift millions out of poverty.

JACKSON: A long list. Ambitious promises.

GORE: We will also raise family incomes by 1/3. JACKSON: And very expensive promises.

GORE: As we do these thing, let's reduce the national debt year after year, every single year, until it is completely eliminated by the year 2012.

JACKSON: And Al Gore says he can pay for them all with lots left over.

GORE: Today, I am announcing that we will underspend rather than overpromise.

JACKSON: But can he really do that? Republicans say Gore can't possibly pay for it all.

SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R-NM), CHAIRMAN, BUDGET COMMITTEE: His proposals are expansive, expensive and risky. Vice President Gore's numerous spending proposals would devour, as we figure it, every dime of the federal budget surplus.

JACKSON: Gore figures his proposals would fit within the currently projected budget surplus over the next 10 years, with $300 billion left over as a surplus reserve fund. But Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee figure Gore's proposals would consume the entire surplus and more, leaving a deficit of anywhere from $27 billion to more than $900 billion. And some outside budget experts also say Gore's promises cost more than he's letting on, roughly half a trillion more, according to former Republican Senate aide Carol Cox Wait.

CAROL COX WAIT, COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE FEDERAL BUDGET: The vice president accuses Governor Bush of understating the cost of his tax cuts. Why should it surprise you that the vice president's camp, at least in my view, understates the cost of their spending proposals? It's, you know, it's human nature.

JACKSON: Gore's numbers are also being questioned by "Wall Street Journal" reporters, who recently detailed how Gore scaled back some of his high-sounding promises. They said -- quote -- "Mr. Gore's advisers used a magic shop of budgetary tricks to hold down potentially huge costs of his retirement savings plus proposal."

For example, they say Gore's tax-subsidized savings accounts actually would not be available for 36 million persons, those making under $5,000 a year or retired or full-time students. And the plan won't even be fully effective until 2010. But Gore keeps promising great things from that proposal.

GORE: We will double the number of families with savings over $50,000.

JACKSON: So, do Gore's numbers add up? Who can really say?

ROBERT REISCHAUER, PRESIDENT, URBAN INSTITUTE: Without knowing the specifics of the policies, which won't be available until legislative language is written, it's impossible to know whether these programs bust the budget that Gore has set out or can be fit into it.

JACKSON: The broad outlines of what Gore wants to do are clear. Predicting whether he can pay for it all would take a crystal ball.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.



We want to update our audience on other breaking news story that we've been following late this afternoon: a robbery in Los Angeles, outside -- just outside of Los Angeles -- in Westminster, California, Orange County.

We are now told that the gunman has surrendered to police following his alleged foiled robbery. The hostage situation apparently has been resolved, with no injuries -- just outside of Los Angeles in Orange County. We're looking at these videotaped pictures of the incident only moments ago.

Apparently, the situation now has been resolved, with the alleged gunman now in police custody.

We're going to continue to follow both of these stories -- the hearings on Capitol Hill, as well as what's happening in Westminster, California -- but we're going to take a commercial break.

More of INSIDE POLITICS when we return.


BLITZER: Al Gore's economic plan was just one target of George W. Bush's verbal fire today. During a campaign swing through the Midwest, the governor also revisited the dispute over presidential debates and the issue of military readiness.

Here is our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There will be no retreat for the Republican nominee.

BUSH: George Bush, Post 77, reporting for duty.

CROWLEY: Criticized for criticizing military readiness, George W. Bush went to an American Legion convention and launched an offensive.

BUSH: My opponent said to put out these challenges is to run down the military. But let's get something straight: These are not criticisms of the military. They are criticisms of the current commander-in-chief and the vice president for not providing the necessary leadership for America. CROWLEY: No mention of the oft-challenged assertion in his convention speech that two Army divisions are not combat-ready, but Bush did come equipped with a litany of familiar complaints, including a Veterans Administration that gets in the way rather than helps.

BUSH: The present administration claims to have reinvented and reorganized government. What they have not done is improve the way our veterans are treated.

CROWLEY: Moving from Wisconsin to Indiana, Bush opened up on the homefront, intent on making Gore's refusal of Bush's debate proposal an issue of credibility.

BUSH: The other day I turned on the TV and saw the man say: I'll debate him any place, anytime, anywhere. I said: Fine, next Tuesday, let's debate Mr. Russert. Evidently any place, anytime, anywhere doesn't mean that. I guess it depends upon what the definition of anytime, and anywhere is.

CROWLEY: While Bush strikes out at Gore on the ground, his campaign is on the air with reinforcement.


NARRATOR: If we can't trust Al Gore on debates, why should we trust him on anything?


CROWLEY: The Gore camp uses the debate-debate to suggest that Bush wants the NBC and CNN forums because he is afraid to face the vice president, and he assumes other networks won't carry the events.

BUSH: You assume people don't know how to flip channels. People in America know how to tune into TV shows. If they are that interested in watching a TV show at prime time, they will tune in.

CROWLEY: Before anything else, Gore wants Bush to agree first the three Presidential Commission Debates, which presumably would air on all the networks: no blinking on either side as the stare-down moves toward the first test.

BUSH: I'm still showing up. And I hope the vice president shows up.

GORE: I'm not going to play games to try to substitute a talk show for the national bipartisan commission debates that everybody can see.


CROWLEY: One Bush strategist insists for every day this goes on, Al Gore is hurt. But some outside Republican strategists are not so certain and a little queasy. "You just can't turn votes on the what and where of debates," said one. "I think they are approaching the point of diminishing returns." Responds the Bush team: "Give it a couple of days" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Candy, so if this plays out, next Tuesday, Tim Russert is scheduled to hold a prime-time "Meet the Press." George W. Bush says he is going to be in Washington for that debate. There could be an empty chair involving the vice president. How will it play out? Will it actually go that far? Any indication from NBC that they are just going to have an interview between Tim Russert and George W. Bush?

CROWLEY: It's my understanding that no, what NBC wants is a debate between the two of them. So I don't think you will actually see the empty chair and Tim Russert and George Bush. But the Bush campaign wants to play this out as far as they can into that Tuesday sort of next point in this debate about debates.

So, yes, we are expecting that the Bush team will make a campaign swing Monday and then move to Washington on Monday night.

BLITZER: And we'll see what happens after that.

Candy Crowley, thanks for joining us.

And joining us now to talk more about the political battle over the presidential debates, Bush adviser Vin Weber and Democratic strategist Frank Greer.

And let me begin with you, Vin Weber. How is this going to play out? It looks like both sides have dug deeply into various entrenched positions?

VIN WEBER, BUSH ADVISER: Well, who knows how it's going to play out. But I think what's happened is that the vice president and his campaign have been sort of caught with their pants down. The vice president's challenge to Governor Bush was clear: anytime, anywhere -- explicitly about "Meet the Press," about Tim Russert on "Meet the Press."

And now he's saying he won't show up to do it. I don't know how he sustains that position through next Tuesday. My guess is that he ends up showing up. But I can't -- it's amazing to me that he has let it go this far, because his own words are going to be hanging him on this if he isn't there to debate next week.

BLITZER: Frank Greer, the vice president said specifically this morning that unless there is a commitment from George W. Bush to go ahead with those three Presidential Debate Commission-authorized formats, he's not going to show up at Tim Russert event.

FRANK GREER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, in the crazy kind of Orwellian double-speak of presidential politics -- I mean, this started out with, I think, Bush realizing he was in real trouble, realizing that the debates are probably the most important event in presidential politics -- more important than advertising and news coverage -- and wanting to figure a way to limit his audience and risk in these debates. And so he was ducking. And all of the sudden, in the Orwellian sense, it has got turned around and it's looking as if Al Gore is ducking. And I tell you the truth. I think that the Gore campaign might have been better off to say: Fine, we'll do the three presidential debates that were negotiated by a bipartisan commission. And we'll show up for the other two as well. Let's have at least five debates. It would be good for the country and good for the voters.

BLITZER: You know, Vin Weber, there are some people who are saying given Al Gore's reputation as a very good debater that he may just call George W. Bush's bluff and show up and debate George W. Bush next Tuesday -- which some people are suggesting George W. Bush really doesn't want to see happen.

WEBER: Well, no, that's not true. We hope he's going to do that. WE expect he's going to do it. You are right. The vice president's got a huge reputation as a debater. And certainly, one of things that's interesting to me is now some of the vice president's people are saying this is a soft format. This is the first time I have ever heard anybody suggest that Tim Russert interviewing you was a soft format.

That's a tough format, in my book. But I -- I think what's on the line is the vice president's credibility. I mean, he said he would do this. He has got to show up. He is in -- you had him earlier in the program talking about his economic program said: You don't have to guess. You can look for the specifics. The question is now, not do we have to look for the specifics, but can we believe him when he says them?

If he didn't mean it when he said he would come on "Meet the Press" and debate in front of Tim Russert with Governor Bush, well, how do we know he means it when he talks about an economic program or a prescription drug program? That's what at stake here.


BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.

GREER: I think it's very different. And I think Vin knows this. Debates about debates are for political insiders. And for average voters, they don't really care that much. They do want to see debates. And they want to see it happen. But the format and the where and the who-shot-John of the debates really doesn't impact average voters.

Let me tell you, Vin, the specifics that were offered today on the budget, on Medicare, and on the tax proposals in the Bush campaign, that really does matter. And people are paying attention. And it's a lot more substantive than just a debate about debates. We're going to have debates.

I think the other thing you are seeing, Wolf, is the lowering of expectations for the governor. And the governor of Texas has had a lot of debates in his campaign for governor. And he did very well. He had a lot of debates in the primary and came through those pretty well. So I'm not going to let Vin get away with lowering expectations for Bush.

WEBER: Well, we are anxious to have a debate on substance too, Frank, because we think we have two very clear contrasting visions. The vice president's programs are higher taxes, more spending, bigger government and more bureaucracy. Governor Bush's programs deal with the same problems but in a much different way: less expensive, more individual choice for consumer, don't put people in a government straight jacket on medical policy.

We're anxious to have that debate.

GREER: And we would say...

WEBER: But we first have to see that the vice president is going to do what he said he would do, which is to show up and debate on "Meet the Press."

GREER: Right. But Vin, I've got to say: You have got a tax giveaway to the rich by George Bush.

WEBER: Oh, come one.

GREER: And you've got a failure to provide for real health care. And you have got a giveaway to the insurance companies and the health companies. That's the prescription that George Bush has for, you know, Medicare and for prescription-drug coverage.


WEBER: Not true. Let's have our candidates debate it next week, Frank.

GREER: Let's have a debate about it -- on the air.

BLITZER: Let's end this debate.

GREER: And let's have a maximum audience for it. I think that's what Bush is trying to avoid.


BLITZER: Unfortunately, we have to end this debate right now.

Vin Weber, Frank Greer, always good to have you on INSIDE POLITICS. Thanks for joining us.

WEBER: Thank you.

BLITZER: And later on INSIDE POLITICS: Ralph Nader versus vanilla?


BLITZER: There is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Still to come: Who is winning the argument over the televised debates? We will ask Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson. Plus:


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is it is a sign of trouble for Al Gore or just a nuisance on the political fringe?


BLITZER: Our John King on voters in the Heartland and why some are choosing Ralph Nader.

And later:


BUSH: There he is, Adam Clymer, major-league (EXPLETIVE DELETED)


BUSH: ... from the "New York Times."

CHENEY: ... big time.


BLITZER: Bruce Morton on politicians and their words caught on tape.


BLITZER: Consumer-advocate-turned-presidential-candidate Ralph Nader went to Capitol Hill today for the hearing into defective Firestone tires and the deaths associate with them. The Green Party nominee did not testify, but he did tell reporters Congress should respond to this controversy by adding a criminal penalty to tire- safety laws.

Nader still may be viewed as a thorn in corporate America side, but in the political world, does he pose a threat to Al Gore?

CNN's John King revisited that question in Ohio.


KING (voice-over): It is a sign of the times in Toledo, the handiwork of Ralph Nader's small-but-loyal band of followers. But is it a sign of trouble for Al Gore or just a nuisance on the political fringe?

These folks back Nader because he joined their unsuccessful fight to keep the city from leveling the 83 homes that once stood here -- their neighborhood -- so Chrysler could build a new jeep plant nearby.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where those bushes are there, and the patch of grass, that was my yard. KING: The trucks roar through now, but not without a glimpse at the politics of protest. Up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Larry Bell's brewery offers 18 selections, from New World Ale to Kalamazoo Stout. He says Nader is anti-business, but Bell plans to vote for the Green Party nominee anyway to protest two-party dominance.

LARRY BELL, BREWER, KALAMAZOO BREWING COMPANY: I believe that we just don't have enough voices in this country, and I think that's evidenced by the fact that half the electorate doesn't vote, because they feel that they're getting two different flavors of vanilla.

KING: Bell hasn't backed a major party candidate since 1980. It's not his vote for the Green Party nominee that threatens the Gore camp. They're worried more about longtime Democrats looking elsewhere.

(on camera): Nader's support dropped after the Democratic convention, as many traditionally Democratic voters took a second look at the vice president. But the race is tight here in Ohio and across the industrial Midwest, and even a modest defection of liberals and labor activists to the Nader camp could influence the outcome.

(voice-over): Anita Rios (ph) is a lifelong Democrat, longtime union member, angry about welfare reform and global trade deals, looking to send a message.

ANITA RIOS: Al Gore and Bill Clinton have done more to hurt the small people than just about anybody who's ever been elected to office.

KING: Home doubles as campaign headquarters because resources are scarce. Sometimes homemade has to do. An old home computer, the main connection with other Nader loyalists.

RIOS: Without e-mail, without the Internet, we couldn't function.

KING: Al Hart (ph) organizes for the 35,000-member United Electrical Union, another two-time Clinton voter who will bypass the Democratic lever this time around.

AL HART: Labor and minorities and environmentalists are treated like we have no place else to go. So maybe we need to establish someplace else to go.

KING: Toledo is a still a big labor town and big labor backs Gore. But there were just a few signs of that at the Labor Day parade here: proof to Nader activists that many rank-and-file union members might not march in lock-step with their leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now have over 48 million people uninsured: no health care insurance in the United States. And Ralph Nader's the only candidate who offers universal single-payer health care.

KING: Nader activists know that money is scarce and that the polls have taken a turn for the worse. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we should try to organize a meeting in Bowling Green.

KING: It doesn't help that there are other options for lodging a protest vote or that their man is likely to be left out of the presidential debates.

But they're determined to press on, to make these buttons and their votes treasured keepsakes, not throwaways soon to be forgotten.

John King, CNN, Toledo, Ohio.


BLITZER: Up next, Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson on campaign messages and the wrangling over debates.


BLITZER: ... Missouri. Lieberman talked to workers about innovations at the plant, taking the opportunity to promote the retraining programs included in Al Gore's new economic package.

Lieberman's visit comes just as a new Mason-Dixon Poll shows Gore gaining ground in Missouri: 45 percent of likely voters now support Gore, 41 percent support Bush. In July, Gore was behind by 11 points.

Joining us now, Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine and Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard."

Margaret, first of all, who is wining this debate over debates?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": I think the longer we're talking about debates, the more Bush is losing, because it's not his subject. The general impression people have is that Bush doesn't want to debate. He doesn't -- at least he doesn't want adult debates; he wants pass- fail debates in a talk-show format.

Not to say anything bad about the god Larry King of CNN, but it is...

BLITZER: Or Tim Russert.

M. CARLSON: ... but it is an easier format than a formal commission debate where, if not the whole world is watching, at least as many people as you can get in this day and age to watch are watching, because the networks are roadblocked.

BLITZER: Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not working for Bush at all, and I don't think the new spot is working either.

I think it would have worked if the Bush campaign had said, look, we want these other debates because we want debates now. We need to talk about things now. We're not going to wait for the commission debates, so let's just do Larry King and then Russert, and then, perhaps, do all the commission debates.

That's not the way they played it. And it's just -- there's no evidence that the Bush campaign is getting anything out of this. I think the single message is filtering down to voters, and that is the message that Al Gore is pushing: Bush is afraid.

BLITZER: So how does -- how should -- what should Al Gore do next Tuesday, assuming George W. Bush arrives in Washington and he's all set to go on Tim Russert's "Meet the Press"?

M. CARLSON: Well, I don't think the network is going to have, as far as I know, they're going to have the empty-chair debate. I don't know whether that gambit is going to actually play out.

You know, the premise is that if Bush agrees to the grown-up debates, Gore will do the other debates. And if that's the impression people have, Bush can't win the debate debate, even if he comes to an empty-chair debate.

BLITZER: But no one can assume that Tim Russert's "Meet the Press" show all of us watch is an easy format for either one of these candidates.

M. CARLSON: No, but there's this civic event that we have, which is the debates, that both parties participate in coming up with the format and it's the level-est playing field we can get and the biggest audience we can get. And most times these days, it's very hard to get everybody thinking or talking about one thing at once, and the closest you can probably come is a Super Bowl-type debate, where you're guaranteeing as much of an audience as you can get.

T. CARLSON: Well, I don't know. I mean, that may be a bit thick, I mean, to call the commission debates a civic event. I mean, it's not the 4th of July. I mean it's not, you know, it's not -- it's not necessarily...

M. CARLSON: At least it's a nonpartisan -- they've come together, let's find some way to make democracy work better.

T. CARLSON: Sure, but I still think you can -- right, and those are all sort of high-minded ideas...

M. CARLSON: I like high-minded ideas.

T. CARLSON: Well, I don't, I must say.


No, I'm just kidding. I do think...

M. CARLSON: I could be in the League of Women Voters, I'm so high-minded.

T. CARLSON: Doubtless you are already. But I think you could make the case: look, a Larry King or a Tim Russert debate would work just fine, but you still are left with this question that Gore raises: Why don't you want the debates with the most viewers?

You could have a problem, though, on Tuesday. It's a stand-off at this point. Bush says, I'm going; Gore has essentially said, I'm not.

So you could have this scenario where Bush shows up on Nebraska Avenue in Washington outside the NBC studios and so he stages some sort of Alan Keyes-like hunger strike, you know, waiting for Al Gore to show up.

I just don't think it's going to help Bush in the end.

BLITZER: Well, if I were in charge of NBC -- which, of course, I'm not -- I would go ahead and play it out, not necessarily put it on NBC, but put it on MSNBC and let Tim Russert do an interview with George W. Bush next Tuesday night and air it on MSNBC.

M. CARLSON: Well, in that case, Bush doesn't win, NBC wins. It's great publicity for NBC or MSNBC to hold that debate and get all the publicity they would get for, you know, Gore not coming.

T. CARLSON: But I also think that -- I mean, the larger problem you have here is that when Gore continuously says, I want as many debates as possibly, he's acting like the insurgent candidate.

Here's a guy who's been there for eight years. It really ought to be Bush who says, you know, I'm going to have as many debates as I can, I'm going to have as many appearances as a I can, no more naps, I'm going to send the feather pillow back to Austin and campaign as hard as I can for the next two months.

Bush ought to be playing the role of underdog, and here you have Gore doing it. It's a very weird situation.

BLITZER: I have to ask Tucker Carlson, you did a profile of George W. Bush not long ago, when you reported that he did use some profanity in his private conversations. This -- in recent days, we heard him speak about a "New York Times" reporter.

How surprised were you when you heard what was going on this past Monday?

T. CARLSON: Well, I loved it. I mean, I think when George W. Bush said that about Adam Clymer, he was speaking from the heart, you know. He really meant it, and it's nice to see candidates speak what they truly think. I mean, Adam Clymer ought to be laughed out of journalism for saying, you know, I was disappointed in the governor's language.

Please! Reporters are supposed to like profanity. I do.

M. CARLSON: It would be an honor -- it would be an honor to be, you know, singled out for being...

(CROSSTALK) ... for being a tough reporter. But I don't want to name any names, but Adam Clymer is not the first person that comes to mind as a guy with attitude that Bush would rail against.

T. CARLSON: Well, there's some competition.

M. CARLSON: He's just not. There's a lot of competition for that.

BLITZER: You know, we have to leave it there. But for those who really want to read George W. Bush profanity, you have to go back to Tucker's article...

M. CARLSON: "Talk" magazine.

BLITZER: ... in "Talk" magazine.


M. CARLSON: The best profile yet.

BLITZER: A lot of us remember that article. Margaret Carlson, Tucker Carlson -- no relation -- thanks for joining us.

M. CARLSON: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: And up next, a political tradition of saying too much: Bruce Morton on past missteps with microphones.


BLITZER: As George W. Bush learned this week, public figures have to be careful when it comes to making private comments near microphones. But our Bruce Morton reminds us that the GOP hopeful is not the first and likely won't be the last to make that mistake.


MORTON (voice-over): For politicians, blurting out something in front of an open mike is like having a sneezing fit during your wedding: you wish you hadn't, but it happens. George W. Bush is just the latest in a long line.


BUSH: There's Adam Clymer, a major league (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

CHENEY: Oh, yes, he is. Big time.


MORTON: You try to move on. Your opponents try to keep the story going.


JOHN PODESTA, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Is this mike on? You can never be too careful these days.


Welcome to the White House.


PODESTA: Especially the people in the back.


MORTON: Well, there are precedents. Bill Clinton himself during his 1992 campaign getting the word, wrongly, that Jesse Jackson was going to endorse somebody else.


CLINTON: ... house at midnight. I have called him. I have done everything I could. For him to do this, for me to hear this on a television program is an act of absolute dishonor. Everything he has bragged about, he has gushed to me about trust and trust and trust, and it's a back-stabbing thing to do.


MORTON: It went on. Not true, of course. Jackson supported Clinton and is the president's special envoy to Africa these days.

Then there was the time Ronald Reagan -- consummate showman, always with a sense of humor -- was warming up for his weekly radio talk.


RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.


MORTON: Fortunately, before reporters got to the phones to announce World War III, aides explained the president was just having a little fun.

Reagan's vice president, Governor Bush's father, the day after his debate with Geraldine Ferraro, the Democrats' candidate for VP in 1984, announced he had wanted "to kick a little" -- expletive -- "last night," and the mike picked it up.

Does any of this matter? No. Reagan and Bush got elected twice. In '84, after that Ferraro gaffe, they carried 49 of the 50 states. Clinton, despite blowing off steam about Jackson, got elected twice, and as noted, Jackson is part of his administration.

So don't worry, governor. You probably haven't lost a thing. In fact, attacking news media may even have won you some votes.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. And of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's

This note: Starting tomorrow CNN will begin reporting daily tracking poll results for the presidential contest. Also, George W. Bush takes his quest for the White House to the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio tomorrow. Our Candy Crowley will be there to bring you all the details.

And Al Gore campaigns in Pennsylvania and Louisiana. Jonathan Karl will join us with the latest on that.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. "WORLDVIEW" is next.



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