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Inside Politics

George W. Bush Devotes Day to Babies and Tax Cuts; Gore Works to Protect Momentum; On the scene of a Rocky Mountain Battleground

Aired September 18, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A family with a child will get a $1,000 credit, no ands, ifs or buts.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush tries to put some new life into his campaign message with a day devoted to babies and tax cuts.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore works to protect his momentum and deflect the Bush camp's new attacks, including a to-do involving his dog.



PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): from the Rocky Mountain's pristine streams to the state's majestic sandstone sculptures, Colorado's politics are as diverse as its natural beauty.


SHAW: Pat Neal on the scene of what is suddenly a presidential battleground.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

Well by our count, George W. Bush said the words "middle class" eight times in about 10 minutes today, leaving little doubt about his emphasis, as he steps up his effort to undo Al Gore's gains.

Our Candy Crowley and Jonathan Karl are covering the candidates and the battle over working families.

First to Candy, on the road with the Bush campaign, to you first.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: On the road in Kansas City, Judy, where George Bush has just wrapped up a town hall meeting here. This is part of the beginning of a tour where Bush will explain his policies as they apply from the cradle to the grave over the next six days. Bush calls it a blueprint for the middle class. It began earlier in Little Rock, Arkansas.


SHAW: This is heaven, all kinds of babies to kiss.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Cooing over newborns and wooing their parents, George Bush began a six-day, nine-state tour with a single set of voters in mind.

BUSH: We begin an important week in this campaign, a week that speaks to the aspirations and hopes of middle-class families all across the country.

CROWLEY: Campaign pamphlet in hand, middle-class families on the stage, Bush is going after the working-class voters Al Gore has siphoned off, taking on the vice president's people versus the powerful theme.

BUSH: I don't believe in the rhetoric that he used at his own convention, when he said that only the "right" people would get tax relief. I don't think government ought to try to pick and chose winners. I think the right people are all people in America who pay taxes.

CROWLEY: Bruised by three weeks of misspeaks, missteps and bad press, Bush is looking to change the dynamic. There is less time with the media, more time with voters, less talk about Gore's character and credibility, more time trying to engage on the ground the vice president has cultivated so successfully.

BUSH: The tax code is too complicated as it is. My opponent's plan makes it more complicated. There's a lot of fine print. You get tax relief only if you behave a certain way or only if you meet a small, certain category. Mine is straightforward. It says every child -- every family with a child will get a $1,000 credit, no ands, if or buts, no fine print.

CROWLEY: Not that the credibility thing has entirely fallen by the wayside. Bush's staff was quick to promote a "Boston Globe" story suggesting that when talking about prescription drugs, Gore fabricated a personal story and misrepresented the underlying facts.

KAREN HUGHES, BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Someone who's willing to make up numbers about their mother in law and their dog and their prescription medicine, I think that's an alarming -- I think that's alarming. And I think that you all should talk to the vice president himself, not a spokesman, not a surrogate, to the vice president himself about exactly why he made up those figures.

CROWLEY: Gore aides say the story the vice president told was true and his facts are correct based on the wholesale drug prices.


CROWLEY: The debate over dogs and drugs will apparently be left at the staff level. For now, George Bush, like Al Gore, intends to stay on message -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley. And, Candy, we want you to stay with us.

Now we go to Jonathan Karl, who's been with the Gore campaign in Las Vegas -- Jonathan.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, the Gore campaign is talking about George W. Bush's newfound interest in issues, and they're saying bring it on, a point the vice president made here. He's at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, just gave a speech where he was talking about women's health issues, and saying he looks forward to a focus on issues.


GORE: I absolutely believe the American people deserve a campaign on the issues. That's why I've been campaigning on the issues. That's what this election is about, to talk about the choices on the issues that we have to make. And the issue today, the issue today, is whether or not we will have a president who stands up and fights for families who need health care, for the women who need health care, for the children, all of whom should have health care, and against the HMOs and insurance companies that are often standing in the way.

KARL (voice-over): Gore again took on the HMOs in a roundtable discussion that immediately preceded this speech. He was joined by Andre Agassi, the tennis star who has had two family members stricken with breast cancer. He talked about a proposal of his to support legislation that would require HMOs to cover mastectomies and mammograms and other breast cancer treatments.

And the vice president also took aim at George W. Bush on the issue of a patients' bill of rights.

GORE: Well there ought to be a law, and it ought to be called the patients' bill of rights. And it shouldn't be a phony bill of rights.

The other side has heard the footsteps of Americans, marching to the beat of this drummer and insisting that we pass this law, and so they've come up with a -- a proposal that they claim is a bill of rights. They give it that title, but it leaves out more than 100 million Americans.


KARL: Now as George W. Bush starts to sharpen his attacks on Al Gore's specific proposals, looking at the specifics of what Gore is proposing, what the Gore campaign is going to do is aggressively respond by looking at Bush's proposals, not surprising. What they've done here is they've got a little trick. It's a new Web site. They're calling it They secured that domain name, which is, of course, the new slogan by the Bush campaign. They're going to be using this new Web site to day to day take a look at the proposals that Bush is talking about on that given day and how they will affect very specifically people in the states that Bush is visiting.

So the Gore campaign here looking very much to this focus on issues and saying that what they're going to be doing is very aggressively challenging Bush's proposals, even as Bush is challenging Gore's proposals.

Back to you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John. We want to bring Candy back into this.

Candy, back on these comments that the Bush people were making today about what Gore had to say about prescription drugs, his mother- in-law and his dog. Can you just bring us up to date? What exactly are the Bush people saying the vice president said?

CROWLEY: Well, what they're saying the vice president said is what appeared in "The Boston Globe." I mean, it was a story that suggested that in showing a prescription drug problem, Gore talked about his mother-in-law taking a certain drug and his dog taking a similar drug and that the price of the dog's drug was much lower.

"The Boston Globe" tried to get a comment from the Gore campaign, couldn't get anyone to confirm that actually the story itself was true and also questioned the underlying figures about comparing the two drug prices. But again, the Gore campaign says, look, the story is true, and Al Gore was talking wholesale prices. This may be a day or so sorting itself out.

WOODRUFF: And, John, on the part of the Gore camp, is this the end of it as far as they're concerned?

KARL: Well, they would certainly like it to be the end of it. They're saying this shows that George W. Bush is not really focusing on the issues like the campaign has been talking about, again make personal attacks.

But this is an interesting case, because the vice president had made this issue, talking about how both his mother-in-law and his dog take the same drugs, and the dog, the price of the drugs are much lower. And what they are saying is that Gore was not actually talking about the price that his family pays for those drugs, but he took the stats out of a study that was done by the Democrats on Capitol Hill.

And now they're saying that, you know, yes, in fact they do take those drugs. They do take -- his mother-in-law does take the brand name of those drugs. But what's interesting is they will not release the actual price that the Gore family is paying for these. They're saying you can go to a pharmacy to find out. But when Gore first brought this up, they were talking about specific prices. And now it turns out those prices were drawn not from the family's actual medical bills but from a study on the issue by Democrats on Capitol Hill.

WOODRUFF: And, Candy, just one other note. In saying now that Governor Bush is going to be focusing on the issues, are they acknowledging that going after the vice president on character wasn't working, or what are they saying about that?

CROWLEY: Well, a couple of things here, Judy. They would dispute that they haven't been talking issues. They point out that they put out a Social Security plan many months ago, that they have had many specific plans that they put out there in the spring.

This is a packaging issue, frankly. I mean, for the last three weeks, as you know, it has been very hard for George Bush to talk about any issues, because there have been so many problems, some of them self-inflicted, others just things that happen along a campaign route.

So what they do believe in terms of the credibility issue and -- is that they have to have some balance here, that they need to engage Al Gore on the credibility of his stances on the issue as opposed to his personal credibility.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley on the trail with Governor Bush, John Karl on the trail with Vice President Al Gore. Thank you, both -- Bernie.

SHAW: Fifty, fifty days and counting to the presidential election. Gore leads bush by 5 points in our daily tracking poll of likely voters. Though there have been some minor fluctuations in recent days, statistically, the horse race has not really changed in the CNN/"USA Today" Gallup survey. But, our Bill Schneider says there is evidence of some longer-term shifts in the way voters view the candidates.

Bill, what has changed?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's go back one month to right after the Democratic convention. I'm tired already. When the two conventions ended, favorable opinion of Gore and Bush was exactly the same: 61 percent. Strange but true. And, where are things now? Gore is still at 61 percent. No change. But favorable opinion of Bush has dropped almost 10 points.

Gore made big gains in public favorability during the Democratic convention, and he has stayed steady in the month since. What's changed is the public's view of Governor Bush. The story of the last few weeks: is Bush slipping more than Gore gaining?

SHAW: Do voters now see Gore as his own man?

SCHNEIDER: Absolutely, and we can prove it. Opinion of Gore is nearly 2-1, favorable. But most voters have an unfavorable opinion of President Clinton. Now that is an enormous gap between a president and his own vice president: 20 points. Gore's negatives -- look at that -- are at 33 percent. Clinton's negatives are at 53 percent.

Clinton fatigue is still out there, but Gore is no longer paying a penalty for it. He has become his own man.

SHAW: How do voters see this election now?

SCHNEIDER: Well, they see the election -- let's take a look. Just before Labor Day, half the public said they thought Bush would win in November. Only a third expected Gore to win. Those expectations have now been completely reversed. Now, most voters believe Gore's going to win. Only a third expect Bush to win.

This is a self-reinforcing cycle. The polls shift in Gore's favor, which then drives the press coverage. Gore's favorable press coverage then changes public expectations. Bush needs a dramatic event to break out of that cycle. Now remember, Gore was in that cycle most of this year: poor polls, bad press, low expectations. The Democratic convention is what allowed him to break out. That's why Bush desperately needs those debates next month. They're the only events left where the voters will be paying full attention.

SHAW: Thank you, Bill Schneider -- to Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right.

And now we are joined by Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times." Ron, what is behind this new emphasis by Governor Bush on the issues?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they're not going to completely, as Candy suggests, eliminate the efforts to question Gore's credibility, because they feel that their base needs to hear that. But I think that the hard reality is -- you know, to some extent what we saw in impeachment -- there is not a majority to be mustered around the idea of simply a character attack on Clinton or Gore.

And what the Bush campaign decided, I think, or realized, was that the last 5 percent or 6 percent they need to get from 42, 43 which is their base to a plurality to win, was not going to be moved by questions of character and credibility so much as a debate on issues. They have to fundamentally engage Gore on that terrain.

WOODRUFF: Does it work at this stage of the campaign to go after Al Gore as an old-fashioned, Democrat -- liberal Democrat?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, it's a striking tack for Bush to take. I mean they have, they have gestured in this direction all year, but are really escalating it now with his speech over the weekend to the Republican party in California and some of the remarks today. It really poses risks, Judy, for both sides, I think. For Bush, to go after Gore as a creature of big government and to use very conventional, conservative language in denouncing big government, risks undermining his effort all year to present himself as a different kind of Republican, who is not anti-government, who would use Washington in different ways, perhaps, but was not ideologically opposed.

Now for Gore, the risk in this is that over the course of Clinton's second term, because they've been able to balance the budget, because they've been able to pay down the debt, Democrats have grown more comfortable in proposing more spending. And there is quite a bit of new spending in the Gore plan, about $900 billion over 10 years. By his account about double that. By the Republican accounting.

So the question for Gore is whether, in fact, being for a balanced budget and paying down the national -- paying off the national debt by 2012 as he is, provides a defense against the Republican charge that you're just going to spend all of this new money. I think the Democrats believe this has fundamentally changed the fiscal debate. The Republicans don't, and we'll find out in the next few weeks.

WOODRUFF: To what extent, though, Ron, is Bush, by doing this moving to Gore's turf, if you will, because Gore is the one who has been talking about this for some time about this as a campaign that's going to be won on issues?

BROWNSTEIN: I think that, you know, in fairness to the Bush campaign, they have had some of their best moments, particularly in South Carolina, during the primaries, when they have tried emphasize his own reform agenda. And to some extent, Bush's best argument is one that is admittedly hard to make. He is basically trying to argue, not that he is anti-government, but that Gore is simply going to put new money into old programs without reform.

He will not reform Social Security fundamentally, he will not reform Medicare fundamentally. He will not reform public education fundamentally because he is enthralled to Democratic interests groups -- I will make fundamental changes in these programs.

Now what Gore comes back and says is look: what Bush is doing and all of these programs is basically transferring risk from government to individuals. He says he's maximizing choice for people, but in Social Security, with the individual accounts, or Medicare, with his sort of voucher idea, what he's doing, in effect, is creating more risks for individuals of unequal benefits. So you have a very clear ideological divide.

Gore puts a lot of money into maintaining the existing base line of benefits on Medicare and Social Security, while Bush is saying look -- he's creating obligations he won't be able to fulfill in the future.

WOODRUFF: But getting back to the point that Bill Schneider just made about the time left between now...


WOODRUFF: ... and the election, the time to really grab the electorate's attention. How hard is it going to be for George W. Bush to do that? BROWNSTEIN: He is back, I think where he was -- what they didn't answer in August. He is right back to that now. They have always assumed, many Republicans have always assumed that Clinton fatigue and the Clinton character questions will provide the reason for change for the electorate. I think it's pretty clear now that there is a portion of the electorate that feels that way. But not enough to win.

And so Bush still faces the question that I thought they did not sufficiently answer in Philadelphia which is, Why change? Why go in a different direction when 55, 58 percent of the country say they are satisfied with the way things are going: 4 percent unemployment, 11,000 Dow. It's not an easy argument to make but they've got to find a reason for change. And that's what they've been looking for, I think, somewhat fitfully all year.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein. Thanks very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, a new twist on a campaign issue, as Lynne Cheney takes on pop culture.

Plus, the Reform Party candidate visits the Palmetto state's most controversial university.


SHAW: Al Gore heads to West Hollywood tonight for a closed DNC fundraiser, organized by director Rob Reiner -- this as Gore is being accused by the Bush campaign of hypocrisy for taking the entertainment industry's money while criticizing its values.

Now, that point was made forcefully over the weekend by a veteran of the culture wars: Lynne Cheney.


(voice-over): Her husband may still be finding his voice, but Lynne Cheney is coming across loud and clear. After testifying before the Senate last week on Hollywood's marketing adult entertainment to kids, Cheney hit the talk show circuit Sunday. She ripped into the popular rapper, Eminem.

LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF DICK CHENEY: These lyrics are so demeaning to women. He talks about raping and killing his mother. He talks about killing women slowly so that they will scream for a long time.

SHAW: And she ridiculed Al Gore for criticizing the entertainment industry while taking its money.

L. CHENEY: Al Gore's message on this is completely craven depending upon the moment, depending upon whether he wants the entertainment industry's money, or whether he wants the votes of moms and dads around the country.

SHAW: In many ways, Cheney is the Hillary Clinton model of a political spouse: outspoken, involved, active on the trail. But while Mrs. Clinton was judged by some to be naive when she first came to Washington, Cheney has been fighting political battles for years, as head of the National Endowment for Humanities, and later, a host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."

The Bush campaign believes that background gives her considerable weight, and has given her the lead role in criticizing Gore and Lieberman's threat to force Hollywood to stop marketing sex and violence to kids.

L. CHENEY: They know that you cannot enact legislation or regulation to take care of this matter without running afoul of the First Amendment. They know that. This is wallpaper. This is spin. This is blur to make it think that -- to make people think that they're on the side of parents in this country.

SHAW: So what's her recommendation for making Hollywood executives toe the line?

L. CHENEY: You want to make these people so embarrassed that friends don't want to have them over for dinner. We've been able to do this with some entertainers. Jerry Springer is not thought of as a useful and important house guest.


SHAW: Now, beyond the comparisons with Mrs. Clinton, Lynne Cheney's criticism of the entertainment industry brings to mind Tipper Gore's campaign against offensive lyrics in the 1980s. But Cheney rejected that comparison, citing a report that Tipper Gore later told industry executives that high-profile hearings into the lyrics had been a mistake -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Tonight, Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan is revisiting a site of controversy from the GOP presidential primary season. Buchanan will speak at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Earlier this year, George W. Bush was criticized for visiting the school known for its fundamentalist and anti-Catholic views.

Buchanan, a Catholic, defended the school then, and says tonight that he will stand by his friends there. This is his most visible campaign stop since receiving the Reform Party's $12 million in federal funds last week.

SHAW: And there is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Still to come: A Western state that has historically voted Republican becomes a political battleground. Pat Neal takes a look at what is fueling this change.



PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is this the face of a new Democratic majority in Congress this fall? Democrats think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to do it!


SHAW: Patty Davis on one crucial race in the Democratic plan to take back the House.

And later:

WOODRUFF: The power of the written word? A look at the presidential hopefuls turned authors.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SHAW: Judy and I will have more of this day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.

The work week got off to a rough start for many commuters in Los Angeles: 4,300 rail and bus operators are walking the picket lines. Work hours and pay are among the issues. About 500,000 commuters rely on buses and trains. Efforts are under way to get negotiations back on track.

WOODRUFF: In Colorado, firefighters are trying to keep the flames from a big wildfire away from dozens of homes. The fire is about eight miles southwest of Boulder. So far, it has scorched nearly 1,100 acres.

Florida is cleaning up, meanwhile, after an unwelcome visitor. Tropical Storm Gordon made landfall last night, but has since been downgraded to a tropical depression. Gordon dumped up to 10 inches of rain in some areas, and knocked out power to about 120,000 customers. Gordon could still bring flooding and tornadoes to parts of the Carolinas.

SHAW: The New Hampshire Senate has opened the state's first-ever impeachment trial. It's considering the fate of State Supreme Court Chief Justice David Brock, who is accused of lying to investigators, among other charges.

CNN's Bill Delaney has the story.


BILL DELANEY, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The last time anyone of Chief Justice David Brock's stature faced conviction on counts of impeachment in New Hampshire, the ink on the U.S. Constitution was barely dry.

In 1790, state legislators impeached a judge, who then resigned. Judge Brock, impeached last July in the New Hampshire House, will face his accusers in the Senate, charged with: lying under oath; making an improper call to a lower court judge; allowing a former Supreme Court justice to try influencing his own divorce case; and with allowing judges to routinely comment on cases from which they were disqualified.

Law professor Albert Scherr says the outcome is very tough to call since it's based on what's called maladministration, not something more clear-cut like bribery or corruption.

ALBERT SCHERR, ASSOCIATE DEAN, FRANKLIN PIERCE LAW CENTER: The real question becomes, Does the conduct that Chief Justice Brock engaged in, assuming it happened, which is an open question -- but even assuming it happened, does it rise to the level that we want to impose the judicial death penalty?

DELANEY: Twenty-two New Hampshire senators will decide.

(on camera): The trial will take place here in what's usually a committee hearing room. A measure of how seriously the Senate takes all this, it voted overwhelmingly that a two-thirds vote, not a simple majority, will be necessary to convict Chief Justice Brock.

(voice-over): Though state legislator James Craig voted to impeach, he's concerned about legislators on judicial turf.

JAMES CRAIG, N.H. STATE REPRESENTATIVE: There's got to be a balance there, there's no question about that in my mind. And we're messing with that balance right now.

DELANEY: The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Concord, New Hampshire.


WOODRUFF: Another sign of improving relations between North and South Korea: Workers are rebuilding a railway that could one day cut across the demilitarized zone dividing the two nations. South Korea's President, Kim Dae-jung, presided over the groundbreaking ceremony today.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, analysts consider the campaign question: Who is reinventing himself now?


WOODRUFF: Checking the latest state polls, Al Gore has moved into the lead in Delaware. He is 9 points ahead of George W. Bush in the University of Delaware survey of likely voters.

And the vice president has reclaimed the lead in the predominantly Democratic state of Hawaii. Gore is up 18 points among likely voters in the Mason-Dixon poll.

The race is neck and neck in New Mexico, according to a new "Albuquerque Journal" poll. Bush has a 1-point advantage among likely voters there.

In another western state, Nevada, the Texas governor's lead has narrowed to 4 points in a new Mason-Dixon poll of likely voters. But Bush still has a double-digit lead in Virginia. He is 13 points ahead of Gore in the Old Dominion University survey of likely voters.

In Colorado, a recent poll showed the race now is neck and neck, a setback for Bush, who had been the leader in that western state.

CNN's Pat Neal went to Colorado to explore its new status as a presidential battleground this year.

Our apologies, the gremlins found our tape and we can't bring it to you now, but we will try to get it for you before the end of the program -- Bernie.

SHAW: And we're going to beat back those gremlins by talking to our next guests. We're joined by Ceci Connolly of "The Washington Post" and Beth Fouhy of CNN's political unit.

Throughout the campaign, it seems we've heard a lot about character, but now this week Governor Bush seems to be going back to issues, talking about the middle class all week.

Beth, what's going on?

BETH FOUHY, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, CNN POLITICAL UNIT: Well, you know, Bernie, I think that it's interesting it see that for the longest time Al Gore was the subject of so much ridicule for changing strategies. He was constantly being poked fun at by Republicans and by pollsters and pundits about the fact that he was changing his style, changing his rhetoric. Now we're seeing Bush having to do the same thing.

And really, what it comes down to is when you're not ahead, when you're struggling a bit, you need to change strategy. That's what he's doing. He's talking about issues. He's challenging Al Gore. He's saying, I can play on this turf, too. I think that the Republican message, my message, on tax cuts, prescription drugs, health care, Social Security, all of which are -- all of those issues are issues that win with voters. So I'm going to go ahead and pursue this. I'm going to go toe to toe with you on this territory, and I'm going to win.

SHAW: Ceci?



CONNOLLY: Well, I think Beth is absolutely right. And as Candy pointed out, in fairness, Governor Bush certainly he had been talking about issues and giving some policy speeches throughout the campaign, but this is more of a shift in emphasis.

I guess you would have to say this is at minimum a small victory for the vice president, because he has always felt that if this campaign came down to issues rather than personality, he was on much stronger terrain.

That said, I think that Governor Bush, while this might have been a little bit slow in coming was really the only step for him to take at this juncture. He needs to sort of mix it up with Gore a little bit more. There are some real policy differences that he can exploit. For instance, if you look at vice president Gore's proposals, he wants to spend quite a bit more of federal taxpayers money. That's somebody that not everyone may be inclined to support. So there are some things for them to argue about and debate in these coming weeks.

SHAW: Well in your collective judgments, do you think this campaign is going to be won or lost on the issues?

CONNOLLY: That would be a shocker, eh, Bernie?

I think that what you are seeing in 2000 is a very interesting blend of candidates using issues to illuminate their character. I've certainly talked at length to the people in the Gore camp about this, less to the Bush people, though my sense is that's where they're heading as well. And what they're trying to say is if you look at where candidate X stands on these important things that you care about, whether it's education, health care, Medicare, Social Security, you will learn something about my character, my value system, my beliefs.

I'm still certain that we're going to get a couple more rough shots in between now and Election Day, don't get me wrong, because this is a very close, virtually dead-even race. But I think that's the way it's playing out.

FOUHY: Yes, that's right. I think Ceci's right. And, Bernie, I think the other point is that the Bush folks have been working under the assumption that character was going to be the issue that would win them the White House and attacks on Gore's character. They've been looking at the polling now for so many weeks and seeing that that's just not working. A direct attack on his character, they've been doing it through their ads, through comments that Bush makes in his speeches, it hasn't had the affect that they expected to have. So they've had to move to this more issue-driven strategy, which, as Ceci said, is a place where Gore has probably wanted the campaign to be all this time.

But they really think, "they" the Bush people, can make the point that character is a subtext to issues. This whole thing about the dog and the mother-in-law today, talking about Al Gore's truthfulness on prescription drugs, they really felt that they could blend the two, that this kind of crazy story about whether or not the mother-in-law -- Al Gore's mother-in-law and his dog were taking the same dog and whether Al Gore actually made the story up. It turned out to be not the case, but this was their first attempt at trying to blend his truthfulness on issues with questions about his believability. We will perhaps see more of that over the next couple of weeks.

SHAW: I'm sure. Beth Fouhy, CNN's political unit executive producer, and Ceci Connolly of "The Washington Post," thanks very much. I think we have the gremlins behind us. Let's check with Judy and find out.

WOODRUFF: Well, let's hope so, Bernie. We think we do.

As we were saying just a minute ago before Bernie's interview, the state of Colorado has suddenly become competitive in the presidential contest after George W. Bush had been leading there for some time. And we spent our Pat Neal to Colorado investigate.

Here's her report.


NEAL (voice-over): From the Rocky Mountains' pristine streams to the state's majestic sandstone sculptures, Colorado's politics are as diverse as its natural beauty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the West, you get a real strain of independence.

NEAL: Free-spirited and historically Republican, the all-West ticket of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney has been leading here.

But since his appearance at the Democratic convention, Al Gore's prospects in Colorado have taken off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's close, but there is a slight Bush advantage.

NEAL: More than a hundred years ago, the lure of the Old West was gold, and the destination, Pike's Peak or bust. The gold rush made the mining town of Central City the richest square mile on Earth.

Now a new West beckons, a high-tech push that has made Colorado one of the nation's fastest growing states. Republicans still dominate here, boosted by a boom in growth by religious conservatives in Colorado Springs.

Mary Harold is a recent arrival, having escaped Southern California for the Colorado lifestyle. She's with Bush.

MARY HAROLD, REPUBLICAN VOTER: Because of his leadership skills, he has been proven as a leader. He has been in charge of the 11th largest economy in the whole world.

NEAL: But new jobs and new residents have also raised concerns about the environment. Supporters say that's helping Al Gore.

KEN SALAZER, COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL: Al Gore is somebody who really cares about Colorado and its beauty, and its natural resources, and I think it's because of that history that we are going to see a significant, positive support for Al Gore.

NEAL: Gore's base of support lies in the urban areas of Denver, and Boulder, which had its own wave of liberal immigrants in the 1970s. More than half the state's population lives in these areas.

But to capture this state, a candidate must lasso Colorado's large block of independent voters. Colorado native Bill Marsh is one. He says he's had enough of the Clinton-Gore years.

BILL MARSH, INDEPENDENT VOTER: It's time for the Democrats to go home. I am not a great fan of Mr. Bush's, but I think he'll do a good job, and I think we'll be able to depend a lot more about what he is saying is what he believes -- become, as have many people I think, highly cynical about the current administration.

NEAL: But many independent voters haven't yet made up their minds.

(on camera): In 1992, Bill Clinton carried Colorado, the first Democrat to do so in 28 years. But four years later, Senator Bob Dole narrowly won this state.


DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Lynne and I are delighted to be here today. Colorado isn't home. But it's close.


NEAL (voice-over): With polls showing a tight race, both vice presidential candidates have campaigned here in recent days.




NEAL: Many Democrat now see Colorado as a state that could be on their horizon, despite its Republican ways. But the Bush campaign says Gore will find rocky terrain, if he tries to steel this free- spirited state from two fellow Westerners.

Pat Neal, CNN, Denver.


SHAW: Up next, shaping the next Congress. A look at labor's effort to tip the balance on the Hill.


WOODRUFF: As the AFL-CIO continues its ad campaign against George W. Bush in four key battleground states, big labor is also focusing attention on the battle over the control of the House. In our ad reel, Brooks Jackson takes a look at labor ads and the congressional races.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four years ago, the AFL-CIO launched an all-out air war on Republicans in the House, issue ads like this one.


ANNOUNCER: Congressman George Nethercutt voted with Newt Gingrich to cut $270 billion from Medicare.


JACKSON: The Labor Federation said it spent $20 million on ads then. Now it says it's running a more limited air war. The AFL isn't giving numbers, but Republicans say the federation has spent $5.4 million against their candidate so far this year.

This ad started last week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had surgery on both hands, but I'll be in pain for the rest of my life.


JACKSON: It attacks several congressmen for a controversial vote last June on repetitive motion injuries.


Yet Congressman Steven Kaykendall voted to block federal safety standards that would help protect workers from this. Tell Kaykendall his politics causes pain.


JACKSON: Ouch! The ad is highly partisan aimed only at Republicans. GOP officials saying that that AFL-CIO ad is running in 10 states, hammering 13 Republicans considered most vulnerable to defeat. But no Democrats are being targeted, even though 16 of them also voted against the same safety regulation.

In past elections, the AFL-CIO has directly coordinated activities with Democrats, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

MARIT RABIN, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE: All along, for this entire election cycle, the DCCC has said they are going to target these GOP members. And now the unions happen to be running in only those 13 districts. I don't think that's a coincidence.

JACKSON: The Democratic committee says, they do brief the AFL- CIO on targeted races, but don't clear the AFL-CIO's ads. Still, ads like this:


ANNOUNCER: His politics causes pain.


JACKSON: Have to be painful for Republicans.

(on camera): The AFL-CIO won't say how much they're spending or where, but they do say the ads are just a small part of their political effort this year. They're spending much more on direct voter contact, the ground war.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: Indiana's 8th Congressional District is among the seats targeted by Democrats. There, an incumbent Republican is running in a swing district, challenged by a doctor turned candidate.

As Patty Davis reports, the result may be a race that lives up to the region's political reputation.




PERRY: Running for U.S. Congress.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is this the face of a new Democratic majority in Congress this fall? Democrats think so.

PERRY: We're going to do it.

DAVIS: Paul Perry, a doctor and political newcomer, is vying for the House seat of conservative Republican John Hostettler in Indiana's 8th Congressional District.

(on camera): The 8th Congressional District is known as the "bloody eighth," called that because elections often go down to the wire in this blue-collar swing district, and incumbents are by no means safe.

(voice-over): Political analysts predict the race will once again be close. Voters have never given Hostettler, a three-term incumbent, more than 52 percent of the vote.

PROF. LEROY RIESELBACH, INDIANA UNIVERSITY: All you have to do is find 3 percent and you have reversed the outcome, particularly in a district that has had Democratic representation several times in the past.

DAVIS: To help tip the voter scales, Perry is working to cut into Hostettler's conservative base. Like Hostettler, he opposes abortion, as well as gun control. But he's focusing his campaign almost exclusively on an issue on which they differ: health care.

PERRY: It's the reason I'm running for Congress. I'm a physician. I have a great practice. I love what I do. I love taking care of my patients, but I can't take care of my patients to the best of my ability if the politicians in Washington D.C. don't let me do that.

DAVIS: Perry backs adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare and a patients bill of rights. Hostettler has opposed Democratic and Republican prescription drug plans.

REP. JOHN HOSTETTLER (R), INDIANA: John Hostettler from Indiana's 8th Congressional District.

DAVIS: Hostettler is refusing to cede any ground to the Democrats. Not to be outdone by his opponent on the gun issue, the Indiana Republican is working against the Clinton administration's agreement with gunmaker Smith & Wesson. His big issues include eliminating the marriage penalty and the estate tax.

Hostettler, who shies away from the national media, did not want to be interviewed for this story, but his aides say Republican polls show he is far ahead in the bloody 8th.

PERRY: I'm a surgeon. And a little blood never bothered me too much in the operating room. I wouldn't expect it to bother me here in the political arena.

DAVIS: Democrats say their polls show a tight race, fueling their hopes that Perry may help put them one step closer to gaining control of the U.S. Congress in November.

Patty Davis, CNN, Bloomington, Indiana.


WOODRUFF: And just ahead: Bruce Morton on required reading for the campaign trail.


SHAW: Out on the campaign trail, bound copies of candidates' proposals have become the must-have accessory. Al Gore and George W. Bush have new books out.

In his "Campaign Journal," our Bruce Morton takes a closer look at this evolution of these political tomes.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sure, they're shaking hands, and making speeches, and all that. But you know what else these candidates are doing? Writing books, that's what -- or at least putting their names on books their staffs wrote. Some are autobiographical. Here's one on George W. Bush that came out last year. But the fashion right now is for books about issues. You can trace it back pretty easily to Bill Clinton in 1992. "Putting People First," it was called. Flip through and you'll see how Clinton would deal with crime, reward working families, and so on. Affordable, quality health care is on page 141.

Aren't they still arguing about that? Here's one from, maybe by Ross Perot in 1992. Hmm, bar graphs, you remember those from school: candidates trying to impress the voters -- or scare them, probably. Then there was Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" in 1994: poll- tested ideas voters liked and Republicans could campaign on. Some became law: Congress and the president did balance the budget, though without a constitutional amendment.

Some, like term limits, didn't. House Speaker Dick Armey had a book too: "Restoring the Dream." You've probably read that one. This year? Hard to know where to start. Bush put out a 400-plus page book at the convention: what he's going to do about almost everything. Gore more recently came out with "Prosperity for America's Families," a crisp 191 pages. But, yes, it's got graphs and charts and that hard stuff too.

Then this brand new one, "Real Plans for Real People," from the Bush campaign. We printed it off the Internet. But pamphlets are out -- and then, almost before the printer had stopped, the Gore counter- attack: "Who Has 'Real Plans' to Help 'Real People'?," which is thicker than the Bush original, if that proves anything.

(on camera): Do voters ever read these things? That's a question. But at least the candidate can always say: Hey, here's where I stand. You can look it up. Job in the Bible wishes that "mine adversary had written a book." If Bush or Gore ever made that wish, their wish was granted -- more than once.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

Hey, health care is in here somewhere.


SHAW: Bruce.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's

We'll see you again tomorrow, when George W. Bush will be on the trail in Illinois and Kentucky, and Al Gore will spend the day campaigning in California.

WOODRUFF: This programming note: Former Clinton adviser, Paul Begala, and Bush adviser, Haley Barbour, will be the guest tonight on "CROSSFIRE." That's at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: I'm Bernard Shaw.

"WORLDVIEW" is next.



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