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Inside Politics

Democrats Discover 'RATS' in Republican Ad; Bush Campaign Denies Ad Was Effort to Send a Subliminal Message

Aired September 12, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The idea of putting subliminable (sic) messages into ads is -- it's ridiculous. You know, we need to be debating the issues.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The news that a GOP attack ad includes a flash of the word "RATS," takes the Bush camp off message again.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I find it a very disappointing development. I've never seen anything quite like it.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The target of the "RATS" ad keeps his response to a minimum. But we'll talk, at some length, about the commercial and the controversy. Plus...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a battle between black folks and white folks. It's a battle between faith and fear, between an evil spirit and a holy spirit. This is not our battle, it's the Lord's battle!


WOODRUFF: The battle to unseat the mayor of Selma, Alabama, laced with emotions and memories of Bloody Sunday.

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

SHAW: And thanks for joining us.

After a series of missteps and distractions, members of the Bush camp may be expressing their frustration today with a single word: "RATS." That word is at the center of a new flap about a Republican Party ad and whether it was designed to send voters a message about Al Gore in the blink of an eye.

We begin our coverage with CNN's Jonathan Karl, on the road with George W. Bush.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've seen the ad, is that correct?

BUSH: I saw it on a computer and I didn't see "RATS."

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was supposed to be a day for a retooled Bush campaign to talk about health care, not rats.

BUSH: This is referring to a major -- "U.S. Daily's" story about subliminable (sic) messages. I talked to our ad man. There's one frame out of 900.

It is difficult -- it's impossible to see it, you know, just if you run it and look at it on TV. Conspiracy theories abound in American politics.

KARL: The word "RATS" appears boldly, but for only 1/30th of a second, in a Republican ad attacking Vice President Gore's prescription drug plan. Bush said that was not an effort to send a subliminal message.

But in making his case, Bush repeatedly mispronounced the word.

BUSH: I want to make it clear to people that, you know, the idea of putting subliminable (sic) messages into ads is -- it's ridiculous, we, you know, we need to be debating the issues.

KARL: As part of the effort to retool his campaign, Bush is making more impromptu stops between scheduled campaign events. But even at Howley's Restaurant (ph) in west Palm Beach, a patron brought up the ad.

BUSH: Yes, they asked me about it this morning. They read everything into anything, don't they?

KARL: Even as he defends the ad, Bush says it will no longer run; not because of the controversy, he says, but because the ad has completed its two-week rotation.


KARL: Republican ad man Alex Castellanos insists he did not know the word "RATS" was in his ad at the time it was made. But he acknowledges that he ran the ad aggressively for another two weeks after finding out about it.

Bernie, back to you.

SHAW: Jonathan Karl in St. Louis, thank you -- Judy. WOODRUFF: Well, some people in the advertising industry say they believe the inclusion of the word "RATS" was intentional, even if it was not designed to send a subliminal or subconscious message.

CNN's Beth Fouhy has more on the spot, and the possible strategy behind it.



KEVIN NEALON, ACTOE: All Iraqi targets are positively identified by U.S. intelligence (CNN), and I, as well...



BETH FOUHY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're more likely to see subliminal messages as part of parody than in real ads, mostly because they don't work.

Just ask the man who made the so-called "RATS" ad, Republican consultant Alex Castellanos.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, GOP MEDIA CONSULTANT: If subliminal advertising worked, I'd be a lot better dad to my kids, you know -- hey, kids, I'm glad you're home (do your homework), you know, (clean up your room), that kind of thing.

FOUHY: Whatever Castellanos' intent, a lot of voters throughout the country have seen the ad.

According to CNN's consultant, the Competitive Media Analysis Group, the ad has run 4,400 times in 16 states, including big battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Total spending on the ad since august 28th: $2.6 million.

Indeed, the ad's direct message is an important one, drawing distinctions between Bush and Gore on their competing prescription drug proposals.


NARRATOR: Under Clinton-Gore, prescription drug prices have skyrocketed and nothing's been done. George Bush has a plan.


FOUHY: With that kind of issue comparison so important to Bush's overall strategy, Castellanos asks why he'd ever include an unnecessary distraction.

CASTELLANOS: There's a big word there, the bad word that the Gore people are scared about is bureaucrat, not rat. Because bureaucrats decide whether you get your medicines or not in their health plan.

WILL ROBINSON (ph), DEMOCRATIC MEDIA CONSULTANT: Now, that is not an accident.

FOUHY: Will Robinson is a Democratic media consultant, not associated with the Gore campaign. He finds it implausible that no one noticed the word "RATS" when the ad was in production.

ROBINSON: Someone made a decision to put that word up on the screen and make it part of the spot, and they worked hard to make sure it was that way.

FOUHY: Either way, the controversy is just the latest in a series of advertising mishaps for the Bush campaign. Bush himself pulled one anti-Gore RNC ad that he considered misleading. And this ad...


NARRATOR: Al Gore, claiming credit for things he didn't even do!


FOUHY: ... has been criticized as possibly too sarcastic for independent voters.

(on camera): But in the end, the most interesting subtle message in the ad may be this one: Now, the ad doesn't spell it out, but this video was lifted...

(voice-over): ... from his infamous 1997 press conference.

GORE: There is no controlling legal authority...

FOUHY: Bush aides were hoping to make a larger point about Gore's credibility, until a certain four-letter word stole the show.

Beth Fouhy, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Well, we are joined now by the man who produced that controversial RNC ad, he is GOP Media Consultant Alex Castellanos.

All right, Alex Castellanos, how did the word "RATS" end up in this commercial?

CASTELLANOS: Well, it's obviously part of our clever rodent strategy to get the anti-rodent vote.

It's an accident, it's unintended, and this is really just a cheesy effort by the Gore people to divert from the real issue here, which is...

WOODRUFF: But wait a minute... CASTELLANOS: ... which I emphasize one phrase in that ad, "bureaucrats decide," because under the Gore plan, bureaucrats decide whether you get your medicines or not.

That's real political manipulation, when you promise seniors a prescription drug plan, but then you don't tell them how it's going to work.

WOODRUFF: But when you put an ad together, you look at every frame of that ad. You had to know -- did you know that that word was in there?

CASTELLANOS: I didn't know it. I didn't know it until it was pointed out to me, and since I didn't intend to do that it didn't mean anything to me.

When you put an ad together you put the music together.

WOODRUFF: But why would you put part of a word, and the "R-A-T- S" part of it?

CASTELLANOS: It's a four-step, little thing just to draw emphasis to one phrase -- bureaucrats decide. Under Gore's plan, bureaucrats decide whether you get your medicines or not.

WOODRUFF: But "bureau" isn't there. It's just "RATS."

CASTELLANOS: It happens to be right in the middle. And, it was pointed out to me, you know, that's the way it turned out.

I think that it's -- the real important thing here is that they don't want to talk about the issue, they want to attack the messenger instead of the message.

The message is -- the real bad word he's scared about here is bureaucrats not "RATS."

WOODRUFF: Let me quote two -- or cite, what two Republican media -- two consultants said today; Greg Stevens, he's a veteran Republican advertising consultant, Scott Reed, Bob Dole's '96 campaign manager, both of them said they don't think this was done by accident.

CASTELLANOS: Well, you know, I'm sure that they're probably closer to infallibility than yours truly. But look, all we're -- there's no reason to do anything like this, for a Republican or a Democrat to try to get the anti-rat vote here, this is not really a clever political strategy.

The important thing people care about is who's going to decide whether you get your medicines, bureaucrats, or you and doctor.

WOODRUFF: I talked today with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dr. Jamieson, who's head of -- dean, as you know, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications, University of Pennsylvania; respected scholar on political communication. I want to be careful about this. She wrote a book in 1992 about negative campaigning in which she singled out an ad you did in 1990 for Jesse Helms running for the Senate in the state of North Carolina.

She pointed out what she called a priming technique, and I'm going to show just a portion of that Helms ad here, in which we show a white job applicant saying that he was being notified in a letter that he was shut out of a job because of a minority applicant. Let's just show just a small portion of that ad, Alex.


NARRATOR: You needed that job, and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.


WOODRUFF: Now there was a -- the part about crumpling up the ad and all the rest of it, but Alex Castellanos, there's also a black mark, a black hand on that ad, Kathleen Jamieson went around, talked to voters, they -- she says in her book that these voters were primed by that ad to then think negatively toward African-Americans.

CASTELLANOS: I wish I was half as smart as Kathleen, God bless her, thinks we are, and I wish there was enough time in politics to map all of this stuff all out.

That piece of paper in that ad with the black -- that happened to be in the desk drawer where we were shooting. The camera man happened to be the guy with the red shirt and I'm guy running the camera. It's the typical chaos you find in politics.

This is a Mickey Mouse effort to distract from -- Mickey Mouse word game from the Clinton-Gore people. They're very good at this. They've played these kind of word games for eight years. It's not -- nobody cares about this.

What they do care about is: are they going to get their prescription medicines, and they're not under the Gore plan, because what he's not telling them is, he dumps them into a federal HMO.

WOODRUFF: But when she says that -- you were priming then, you're priming now, because I asked her about today's ad, which she looked at, the rats. She said it's not an accident.

CASTELLANOS: If she could explain to me what priming it, maybe I'll figure out how to do it.

WOODRUFF: She said it's putting a thought out there that then causes -- shapes what viewers and readers think about the next thing?

CASTELLANOS: You know, my experience is that Americans are generally pretty smart people. And they mostly think elections and things like that are about them and what they care about and what's important in their lives. I don't know that "RATS" is really a big deal. But who's going to give them their prescription medicines? Are they going to get it? Are they going to have to go to a bureaucrat under Gore to get a refill? That they care about.

It's the silly season in politics now. And I wish we were talking about more important things.

WOODRUFF: Have you heard today from the Bush campaign?

CASTELLANOS: Oh, I think we've -- you know, we've talked about this, and for the RNC...

WOODRUFF: What are they saying to you about it?

CASTELLANOS: Well, that it would sure be nice if we could talk about the big differences here, policy-wise -- the RNC. And again, that's the difference in policy.

WOODRUFF: Scott Reed quoted today as saying: "Somebody ought to have the grace to resign over this."

CASTELLANOS: Well, if the -- you know, if the Indiana job is still open for that coaching thing, maybe I'll look into that. But I hope that -- this is an inadvertent thing. I know it's a distraction. But at the end of the day, I think voters are very smart. And they'll look -- compare agendas here and decide which agenda is best for them: bureaucrats decide whether you get your medicines or you and your doctors. That's the difference between Gore and Bush.

WOODRUFF: Alex Castellanos, we thank you very much for joining us.


WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thank you -- Bernie.

SHAW: Well, like the rest of the political world, the Gore campaign is buzzing about that "RATS" ad -- at least in private.

But as our Candy Crowley reports, the vice president said as little about it in public as possible.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Al Gore's reaction to the "RATS" caper was muted.

GORE: I think's it a very disappointing development. And it's different from anything I've seen.

CROWLEY: But even as Gore demurred, his staff was operating in a parallel universe, eager to see that reporters were privy to the "RATS" ad, and a bio of the man who made it, and a wealth of information on the FCC's position on subliminal advertising. Still, the vice president won't bite.

(on camera): Is there an issue? I mean, is it one of, you know, deceptive advertising? I mean, what's wrong with it?

GORE: I don't have comment beyond that. I think it speaks for itself.

CROWLEY: OK. And do you hold Governor Bush personally responsible for it?

GORE: Again, I don't have any comment.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Call it political counter-programming. Al Gore was happy to -- in fact intent on -- letting George Bush talk about "RATS" on a Florida tarmac, while the Democratic ticket rolled merrily through Ohio on an education tour.

A middle school classroom by morning:

GORE: What we're proposing is a comprehensive approach that focuses first of all on the classroom, to reduce the class size by recruiting a 100,000 new teacher.

CROWLEY: A high school gymnasium at noon:

GORE: Most of all, most of all, we need to put the focus on improving our schools -- not just in a gradual way, but we need dramatic, revolutionary progress.

CROWLEY: And a community college as the day faded.

In between, there were discourses -- on a school bus of course.

GORE: I get the feeling you are not too keen on uniforms.

CROWLEY: Like Bill Clinton before him, Gore is adept at embracing elements of his opponent's plan, to dilute the strength of it.

GORE: Both Governor Bush and I agreed that the policies and the decision-making should stay at the local level. And both of us believe that there should be accountability -- new accountability -- to encourage better performance.

CROWLEY (on camera): Though education has long been seen as a Democratic strength, George Bush put it at the core of his campaign, and has been making inroads. But Gore will not cede this territory without a fight. Wednesday, he will move from classroom to classroom in a high school in Maine.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Cincinnati.


WOODRUFF: And coming up on INSIDE POLITICS: Gore and Bush spending big bucks in their bid to capture the White House -- Brooks Jackson with a look at where all the money's going.


SHAW: Our CNN/"Usa Today"/Gallup daily tracking poll still shows Al Gore leading George Bush among likely voters today, by six points. Gore held a seven-point lead in yesterday's poll.

Despite all the attention attack ads have been getting lately in the presidential campaign, Bush and Gore themselves are taking a positive spin.

Brooks Jackson now on what they are saying and where they're putting all their TV-ad money.


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're taking the high road, leaving the political parties to cover the dark side. Al Gore's campaign ads are blasting away at HMO bean-counters, never even mentioning George W. Bush.


GORE: I'm telling you, we need a patients' bill of rights to take...


JACKSON: Since Labor Day, the Gore campaign has spent nearly $1.5 million to run that ad, according to new figures from CNN's consultant, Competitive Media Reporting. Gore ran very little else. Meanwhile, the Bush campaign was running this ad, also positive.


BUSH: And President George W. Bush will keep the promise of Social Security.


JACKSON: One million, three-hundred thousand dollars on that ad alone. Meanwhile, look what the parties are up to.


NARRATOR: The Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple?


JACKSON: The Republican National Committee spent more than two million dollars on that ad alone since Labor Day -- nearly 80 percent of all the money they spent -- while the Democratic National Committee was running this:


NARRATOR: The judge's findings: Bush's administration broke a promise to improve health care for kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JACKSON: The DNC spend more than $850,000 on that ad, attacking Bush's record in Texas. Nearly all the party spending is going for ads that are either purely or partly negative.

RICK DAVIS, FMR. MCCAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: In the Dole campaign, we actually ran negative ads on Dole's dime. And I think we've learned a lesson since then: Let the party do the dirty work.

JACKSON: Where is it being spent? Last week, the candidates and their parties spent a total of nearly eight million dollars on TV ads, which ran in only 21 battleground states. And Republicans outspent Democrats by more than one million, $4.5 million by the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee, and $3.4 million by the Gore campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

But more than half of all that money was concentrated in just three states: Florida -- where Bush campaigned Monday -- Ohio -- where Gore campaigned Tuesday -- and Pennsylvania. In Florida, a state once thought safe for Bush, Republicans outspent Democrats nearly four to one: $800,000 to $213,000, an indication Bush may be worried there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida is absolutely critical to Bush. He is already at a disadvantage not being able to compete in California and not being able to compete in New York. He needs to be able to win a large state.

JACKSON: In Ohio, Republicans were outspent $608,000 to $733,000. But in Pennsylvania, Republicans spent $894,000, beating out the Democrats' $767,000. Republicans have promised to contest California, even though many consider the state safe for Gore. And sure enough, Republican ads appeared in California last week, as promised, but only $82,000 worth. Democrats spent next to nothing. So it's not yet clear yet whether either side can afford a California TV campaign.

DAVIS: California is a very expensive to play. We learned our lesson in the Dole campaign. We spent about six million dollars and wound up getting beat by 15 percentage points. So I'm not sure it was the greatest use of our money.

JACKSON (on camera): Talk is cheap, but TV time isn't. So, where a campaign puts money says a lot about its real strategy.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

SHAW: Up next:


PAT BUCHANAN, REFORM PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to give the people who nominated me the kind of campaign which they deserve and which I've been waiting to do all my life. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Pat Buchanan upbeat and even closer today to getting the Reform Party's share of federal election funds.

Also ahead:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have never from day one counted on anybody to lead us the promised land. We know we are in this, you know, by ourselves.


SHAW: But are congressional Republicans worrying anyway that Bush won't have coattails and Gore will?

WOODRUFF: Plus: Hillary Clinton on her primary day, looking forward to a debate tomorrow.

And later, the civil rights battle of the 1960s revisited in the 2000 mayoral race in Selma, Alabama.


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

The president of Ford Motor Company told a Senate investigative panel today, Firestone withheld important information on its tires. Jacques Nasser says it was information that might have led to a recall sooner.


JACQUES NASSER, PRESIDENT & CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Last week, I listened in disbelief as senior Firestone executives not only acknowledged that Firestone had analyzed its claims data, but also identified significant pattern of tread separations as early as 1998. Yet, Firestone said nothing to anyone, including the Ford Motor Company.


WOODRUFF: Earlier today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater called on Congress to beef up the authority of federal safety inspectors: this as a way to avoid a repeat of the Firestone tire- recall case.

The British government declares an emergency to deal with its crisis over gasoline prices. Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered police and the military to guard fuel trucks and make sure the pumps are replenished. Gas pumps ran dry after truckers and farmers formed a blockade around oil refineries. SHAW: The White House is calling a new Justice Department study troubling. It says wide racial and geographic disparities exist in the federal government's request for death penalties.


JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The survey today finds that minorities are overrepresented in the federal death penalty system, as both victims and defendants, relative to the general population. Sadly, the same is true of the entire criminal justice system, both state and federal. This should be of concern to us all.


SHAW: The report could provoke renewed calls for a moratorium on federal death sentences.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says it's up to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to end sanctions against his country. Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Albright says the key is allowing U.N. weapons inspections.


MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have made very clear that it is essential for Baghdad live up to its obligations. And we are opposed to it using force. We have our red lines. And we have made those quite clear. And I think it is very important that, somehow, Saddam Hussein get them -- gets the message that he is the one that is out of step with the rest of the members of the United Nations.


SHAW: There have been no arms inspections in Iraq since December of 1998.

WOODRUFF: Wen Ho Lee remains in solitary confinement -- his plea agreement with the government hitting a snag. He could be freed tomorrow if a hearing goes his way. The fired Los Alamos nuclear scientist is accused of improperly downloading classified information. He was to plead guilty to one felony count and be sentenced to time served.

SHAW: At a news conference moments ago, assistant coach Mike Davis named interim basketball coach at Indiana University. Davis was assistant coach at Indiana for the past three years. This move comes two days after Indiana fired head coach Bob Knight for alleged misconduct. School officials hope naming Davis will avert a possible player revolt over the firing of Knight.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns: The FEC votes on Pat Buchanan's claim for federal campaign money.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: The Federal Election Commission issued a preliminary ruling today that presidential candidate Pat Buchanan should get the Reform Party's disputed share of federal campaign cash. That totals $12.6 million.

CNN's Bob Franken has for more on the FEC vote and what happens next.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a 5-1 vote. The Federal Election Commission decided that Pat Buchanan was the lone true presidential candidate of the Reform Party, heading the one ticket eligible for federal campaign funds. And it rejected the claim of Reform Party rival John Hagelin. It came down to a single major consideration.

DARRYL WOLD, CHAIRMAN, FEC: Is the claimant on the ballot as the nominee of the Reform Party in at least 10 states?

FRANKEN: The FEC concluded the Buchanan ticket qualified in 10 or more states, Hagelin in only three states. Now, that the commission has made its decision, is that the end of it? Does Buchanan get the money now? Not necessarily.

KIRK JOWERS, HAGELIN ATTORNEY: The appeal will come in the district -- in the Circuit Court of Appeals here in Washington, D.C., if that's necessary, which now it appears it will be.

BAY BUCHANAN, EXECUTIVE CHAIRWOMAN, BUCHANAN CAMPAIGN: I do expect them to appeal, but I do not think they'll be the least bit successful. In order to be successful to hold up this money, they would have to convince a judge, a federal judge, that they have a strong case.

FRANKEN: This is just another act in the continuing Reform Party melodrama.

In August, the party split in two. Buchanan and Hagelin in effect ran two conventions, each raucous, each at the same time, in different parts of the same Long Beach, California building.

PAT BUCHANAN (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Friends, it is time to pick up the pitchforks, and go down and clean out the pig pen.

JOHN HAGELIN (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This campaign is different from any previous campaign, because in this millennial year most Americans recognize the need for foundational reforms.

FRANKEN: Buchanan hopes that the federal money will breathe new life into his campaign, raise his profile, raise his poll numbers. Right now, he hovers around 1 percent.

(on camera): He's also fighting to participate in the presidential debate. For that, the debates commission rules say he must sustain 15 percent in the polls. Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: A short while ago, I spoke with Pat Buchanan about the FEC vote and other matters. I began by asking him how he's feeling after his recent gallbladder surgery and given the fact that he has 1 percent support in our latest poll.


P. BUCHANAN: I feel a lot better than I did several weeks ago, Bernie, and I think we're going to get that 12.6 million. And we've got two-thirds of this campaign left. Eight weeks is a lifetime in national politics. I'm going to give it everything I've got, and I think we're going to have dramatic impact on this national election yet.

SHAW (on camera): The Federal Election Commission has decided that you, Pat Buchanan, are the legitimate nominee. How are you going to spend that money?

P. BUCHANAN: Well, first, Bernie, they should have decided sooner this. Hagelin had no claim. He lost every convention. He lost the popular vote. He lost the convention 2-1. He waled out.

What we're going to do, we're going to have to spend a million- and-a-half dollars a week. We're going to spend it on radio ads, which I'm going to do myself. We're going to spend it on television ads. We're going to go into states that Bush has written off -- New York, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, states like that -- and go hard, and ask those Republicans and conservatives and populists, say, look, Republicans have written these off. Let's at least build a third party out of this state.

We're going to go into the swing states where I do well, Michigan, if we can get on the ballot -- they're trying to keep us off -- Florida. We're going to go into where I did well, Minnesota, Wisconsin.

And in the mountain states, we're going to try to do those and one swing through the South. That's the way we've got it planned. And we're going to give the people who nominated me the kind of campaign they deserve and which I've been waiting to do all my life.

SHAW: Are you surprised at the strength of the legal challenges against you within the Reform Party?

P. BUCHANAN: The strength is due to the money behind them. I believe Ross Perot has been behind these. His people have been behind them.

SHAW: Do you think Perot...

P. BUCHANAN: Oh, sure, sure. I think Perot is behind it. They don't have any money, these other folks, and this was orchestrated since the convention basically to sabotage our campaign. I regret to say it, but these folks, really, they didn't want Dick Lamm. They didn't want Ventura when he came in. They drove off poor Gargan. I came in to build this party.

They just want to rule or ruin it, Bernie, and that's -- that's regrettable, but we've got to overcome that, too.

SHAW: Overcome? What about overcoming 1 percent in the polls? Why are you there?

P. BUCHANAN: Well, we're there because I've been completely out of the news for four weeks, and before that, I was out of the news for a year as we were building this party. People don't know we're even in this race, Bernie.

But you know, I went into New Hampshire, 10 weeks, starting at 5 percent against the president of the United States and almost beat him in '92. We can ignite this country, but I need time. And we've got to deal with issues the other parties aren't dealing with, like this OPEC crisis you've got all over Europe.

SHAW: Do you really think that you can sue your way into those presidential debates?

P. BUCHANAN: The case is going to be decided by a federal judge.

How can the two major parties, which get federal funding, deny the third party, which is financed by taxpayers also, the right to participate in the one event that's going to decide the election?

Bernie, if the American people will stand back, they will see that we have a fraudulent democracy. In Mexico, the first debate had six candidates. The final debates had all three candidates, even though the third one was pretty much out of it.

What is the matter with America, this Federal Election Commission, these other two parties that they can't stand open, free, fair competition and a battle on ideas and issues? The reason they can't is because they're Xerox copies of one another, both of them funded by the same big fat lobbyists and corporations who are buying and selling trade policy and foreign policy right in this capital city.

SHAW: Gore, surging ahead in the polls, if he maintain his lead, will he win over Bush?

P. BUCHANAN: Well, if he maintains his lead he will certainly win over Bush. I don't really -- you know, I don't want to get into how those two candidates are doing other than to say this. This is a vapid, boring campaign.

One issue, Bernie: You've got -- Europe is almost in paralysis because of a criminal cartel named OPEC, which if it meant in the United States, they'd all be locked up. What does Mr. Clinton do? He's smashing Microsoft, an American company, while this cartel has got the Western industrial democracies by the throat. Where is the -- where is the policy of Gore or Clinton or Bush to smash the OPEC cartel on behalf of the United States and the West. They don't have a policy. They're not talking about it. They're arguing over prescription drugs.

SHAW: Well, our time is smashed here. I'm glad you're out of the hospital.

P. BUCHANAN: Good to see you again, Bernie.

SHAW: Good to see you. Thanks for being on INSIDE POLITICS.

P. BUCHANAN: Delighted. You take it easy, fellow.

SHAW: You, too.


SHAW: Pat Buchanan. Tonight, he'll be the guest on "CROSSFIRE." That's at 7:30 Eastern.

And coming up on INSIDE POLITICS, a big day for Hillary Clinton in her fight with Rick Lazio for a New York Senate seat.


WOODRUFF: George W. Bush is not the only one who may be just a little concerned about Al Gore's recent surge in the polls. As CNN's Chris Black reports, some folks on Capitol Hill may also be getting nervous.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joe Lieberman spent the entire weekend in Florida's 22nd House district, where Democrat Elaine Bloom is challenging the 20-year Republican incumbent Clay Shaw. With Florida now a presidential battleground, Lieberman and Al Gore promised Bloom one of them will appear in her district every week between now and election day.

ELAINE BLOOM (D-FL), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I was the first ever kosher member of the Florida legislature.

BLACK: Bloom's campaign staff is hoping the Gore-Lieberman coattails in this heavily Jewish, Democratic district will carry her to victory in November. But Shaw says only if there is a landslide.

REP. CLAY SHAW (R), FLORIDA: President Clinton took my district. I ran ahead of him back in 1996. But he definitely carried my district.

So my district doesn't follow the top of the ticket. It can affect turnout, which I think is very important.

BLACK: In fact, House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt has said a Bloom victory would put him on his way to becoming the next House speaker. A swing of just six seats shifts control of the House from Republicans to Democrats.

With gore picking up steam nationally and in many state polls, Republicans on Capitol Hill are getting nervous about George W. Bush's campaign.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: There is a concern about what happened to the 17-point lead, which he had when he was in Philadelphia.

BLACK: There is good reason for concern. Presidential elections tend to boost voter turnout, particularly among minorities and people with lower incomes, who tend to vote Democratic.

CURTIS GANS, COMMITTEE ON STUDY OF AMERICAN ELECTORATE: A Democrat will have a better chance in a presidential election year, all things being equal, than they would have in a midterm, and that will affect this election.

BLACK: The impact of presidential coattails will be particularly apparent in some of the 34 open House seats: 25 are now held by Republicans, only nine by Democrats.

ED GOEAS, GOP POLLSTER: The ones that really are kind of blowing in the wind, if you will, kind of affected by the gives-and-takes of the presidential campaign are the open seats, those races that do not have a well-established, well-known incumbent on either side.

BLACK: The head of the National Republican Congressional Committee this year says the GOP candidates cannot count on the presidential candidate.

REP. TOM DAVIS (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE: We have never from day one counted on anybody to lead us to the promised land. We know we're in this, you know, by ourselves and we have to do the job.

BLACK (on camera): In fact, many in Congress believe the party that wins the White House wins the U.S. House. So while Republicans aren't yet panicking, the Gore surge has definitely sent tremors through Capitol Hill.

Chris Black, CNN, Capitol Hill.


SHAW: Hillary Rodham Clinton did something today she's never done. As CNN's Frank Buckley reports, it was another step, key step in her bid to become the next U.S. senator from New York.



FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First lady Hillary Clinton went to the polls with the president at her side, both of them pulling the lever for the Clinton on the ballot that for the first time was not Bill.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a thrill today. After all these years of her helping me, it was a thrill. I loved it.

BUCKLEY: The president voting as a New Yorker for U.S. Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, who was forced into a Democratic primary by a virtual unknown.


BUCKLEY: Mark McMahon. He is an orthopedic surgeon, who had an uphill battle against a Democratic establishment that was against him. Even the voting booth gave him problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. McMahon, do you want some help?


BUCKLEY: Still, the candidate once described by one New York Democrat as a no one from nowhere felt good about his chances.

MCMAHON: I feel like a winner today. The Clintons attempted to hijack the Democratic Party, the democratic process. This campaign gave the democratic process back to the voters.

BUCKLEY: Meanwhile, Republican Senate candidate Rick Lazio voted on local races while looking forward to the general election in November, two new polls suggesting the race is extremely close. The Quinnipac University poll shows Mrs. Clinton up 49 to 44 percent among likely voters. The Marist Institute polls show Clinton ahead 48 to 46 percent.

LEE MIRINGOFF, MARIST INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC OPINION: There isn't that connection yet between Rick Lazio and the New York electorate. The anti-Hillary vote gets him into the 40s, but he's going to have to do more to get into the -- talk about a vision of a senator and all those things to get into the 50s. He's not there yet.

BUCKLEY: Lazio's campaign manager argues it's only a matter of time.

BILL DAL COL, LAZIO CAMPAIGN MANAGER: They know who she is. They have solid views on her. With Rick, they're just getting to know him. And people that know him like him, and when they like him they support him. When they support him, they'll vote for him.

BUCKLEY: Tomorrow, the candidates meet in Buffalo in their face- to-face debate. Both sides are downplaying expectations of a K.O. in the ring.

HOWARD WOLFSON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Hillary's never debated before in an election before. She's a first-time candidate. Rick Lazio has obviously debated before. Both candidates are going to walk in their hoping to do well, and we hope that we will. BUCKLEY: But McMahon is saying it's too early to call it a Clinton-Lazio match-up.

MCMAHON: I have my ticket to Buffalo and I'll be expecting to be debating Mr. Lazio.

BUCKLEY (on camera): Dr. McMahon might be best served with a refundable ticket to Buffalo, because the primary vote is almost certain to send Mrs. Clinton into the general election as the Democrats' choice to face the Republican Rick Lazio.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.


WOODRUFF: As Mrs. Clinton was voting today, the American Conservative Union began airing an ad attacking her brief tenure as a New York resident.


NARRATOR: In New York, babies like these all have one thing in common: They've lived in New York longer than Hillary Rodham Clinton.


WOODRUFF: The ACU describes the one-week buy of this ad as -- quote -- "significant" and they say it is part of a $7 million education effort in New York. The Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party are responding to these and other attack ads with ads of their own.


NARRATOR: Lazio voted with Newt Gingrich to eliminate the federal Department of Education.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was the worst thing he could possibly have done.

NARRATOR: And for the largest education cuts in history.



ANNOUNCER: Who will be a strong voice for our children's education? Hillary. Always has been, always will be.


WOODRUFF: Well, joining us now from New York with his take on all this, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

Hi, David.


WOODRUFF: What do you think?

PEELER: Well, Judy, I think the story here is that the Democrats have been taking the attack issue on Rick Lazio's education stance for quite some time here. That's enabled the Clinton campaign and the first lady to stay positive with her ad messages, which she's been very, very successful at doing.

If we take a look at the numbers, I think it tells the story. Do you see the Democratic national Party -- the New York Democratic Party has spent $1.6 million attacking Lazio on his education spot. You have the Liberal Party come in with about $13,000, and the RLC at $64,000. If you look at in comparison to what we see from the candidates themselves, you'll see that Mrs. Clinton has been able to spend $2.4 million. Rick Lazio has had to spend 4 million of his own campaign dollars to counter the attack that the party has been waging against him as well as the first lady.

So, you know, if you're -- if you're Rick Lazio, you think that you'd -- it's probably time for a sitdown with the Democratic -- Republican Senatorial Committee and see if there are some funds available to help him fight this war.

WOODRUFF: All right, David. So, that's New York. Now, let's look to another couple of races.

There are a couple of congressional contests that we're keeping an eye on in the state of Kentucky. The first ads we're going to show are from the third district battle between Republican Representative Anne Northup and Democratic challenger Eleanor Jordan.


NARRATOR: In '98, Jordan voted to increase her own pay 43 percent. Now Jordan votes to increase her pension 72 percent.

Eleanor Jordan at work.

ELEANOR JORDAN (D-KY), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I urge you to pass this bill. Let's get on with it. I have a fund-raiser at 6 o'clock and I want to get out of here.

NARRATOR: Jordan putting herself first.



JORDAN: There's more we can do to help working families: raise the minimum wage, expand Medicare to include prescription drug coverage, and one other thing, get rid of the marriage penalty tax that costs working families money.


WOODRUFF: All right. David, what can you tell us about this Kentucky race?

PEELER: Well, the third district falls in the market of Louisville. So it's a relatively small market. But there's an awful lot of media dollars being spent in that market. You know -- Anne Northup was the Republican incumbent that was elected in '96. She has spent $325,000 to so far fight off her challenger.

Jordan, on the hand, has spent $120,000 so far. But let's look at who else is spending money in this race, because this is about the House. This is -- here -- here is what is going to happen. The AFL- CIO has weighed in with $395,000 -- Coalition for Future American Workers: $80,000 -- the Democratic Party in Kentucky: $115,000 -- and the Campaign for Progressive Future -- I'm not sure what that group is -- but they've weighed in at $60,000.

So in total, in the market of Louisville, you have $770,000 being waged against Anne Northup. So this is what the race for the House is going to be: independent groups coming in and waging battle on behalf of their candidates. In the past, we have seen the business groups step up and engaged in this by this point. We haven't seen them yet. But let's see what happens as the race unfolds in the coming weeks.

WOODRUFF: All right, David Peeler, Competitive Media Reporting, thank you. Thanks very much.

PEELER: And when we return: A former segregationist battles an African-American opponent in a bid to keep his job as mayor of Selma, Alabama.


SHAW: Voters in Selma, Alabama are casting ballots this day in a highly charged run-off election for mayor.

CNN's Brian Cabell reports.


BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is an image forever etched on the nation's memory: Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965 -- civil rights marchers demonstrating for voting rights being beaten by state troopers and the sheriff's deputies after they had crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma; 35 years later, Joe Smitherman is still the mayor here.

MAYOR JOE SMITHERMAN, SELMA, ALABAMA: This is George Wallace's first wife...

CABELL: He was a segregationist back in the '60s. He regrets it now.

SMITHERMAN: I'll be a footnote in history. I was on the wrong side of history. CABELL: Nevertheless, Smitherman has won nine straight mayoral elections, even though African-Americans comprise more than 60 percent of the registered voters here.

CROWD: Joe gotta go! Joe gotta go!

CABELL: Smitherman's long tenure has angered many black activists, who has accuse his administration of corruption, nepotism, and negligence. Smitherman's opponent: Selma native James Perkins, a 47-year-old computer consultant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we thank the Lord God, for James Perkins Jr., Lord.

CABELL: Support for Perkins, who has lost two previous elections, has taken on a religious fervor.

AUDIENCE (singing): Down on my knees, dear Lord, come by here...

CABELL: Even Perkins, normally a subdued personality, who's emphasized economic issues in the campaign, has gotten caught up in it.

JAMES PERKINS, SELMA MAYORAL CANDIDATE: This is not a battle between James Perkins and Joe Smitherman! It's not a battle between black folks and white folks! It's a battle between faith and fear, between an evil spirit and a holy spirit! This is not our battle, it's the Lord's battle!

CABELL: Smitherman's supporters remain quietly confident. He's withstood previous challenges. And he boasts that he has substantial black support, because he's been fair to both races.

SMITHERMAN: I think it's good diversity to have a white mayor and a majority black city council. It makes sense to industry business and so forth.

CABELL: He's warned that if he's voted out of office, white businesses will leave town.

CROWD: Joe gotta go! Joe gotta go!

CABELL: His opponents don't buy it. "Joe gotta go" is their slogan; 36 years of the same mayor, a former segregationist, is enough, they say.


CABELL: The Perkins campaign has two primary concerns this evening. One of them is turnout. Generally speaking, blacks do not vote in as great numbers as whites do here in town. Perkins will need a heavy black turnout. So far, we hear it's been heavy in both areas, both black and white precincts.

Second problem for that campaign is absentee voting. In the past, there has been heavy absentee voting. We hear it will be heavy again today. Generally speaking, those votes go to Smitherman. That has led to charges of voter fraud. We will probably hear those charges again tonight.

We will probably get the first votes -- the first results -- in about two hours. We will probably find out who will be the next mayor in about five or six hours -- Bernie, Judy.

SHAW: Thanks, Brian Cabell.


"WORLDVIEW" is next.



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