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Gore Makes Gains in Polls; GOP Governors Barnstorm for BushAired October 23, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... days is a long time if you are trying to hide behind tracking polls and not engage on the issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore uses the latest polls to slam George W. Bush and proclaim himself a man with momentum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For seven and a half years, the vice president has been the second biggest obstacle to reform in America.
And now he wants to be the obstacle in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Bush hammers Gore on the reform issue with a little help from his fellow GOP governors.
WOODRUFF: We'll update the state of the presidential race, particularly in key battlegrounds two weeks before decision day.
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.
SHAW: Thanks for joining us.
With just 15 days left in campaign 2000, George W. Bush and Al Gore both seem to be getting more intense out there on the stump and putting more bite into their campaign strategies. In Gore's case, he is finding aid and comfort in the latest polls.
CNN's Jonathan Karl is with Gore in Washington state.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Gore usually insists he doesn't pay attention to the polls, but now he's pointing to them and declaring himself "Mr. Mo." GORE: Well, this is a tight, close election all over the country. You know, I'm talking to you as somebody who was 20 points behind, and I've made up that ground. And I'm convinced that the reason I have the momentum now is not because of me, it's because of the people I'm fighting for.
KARL: In several national poll, the vice president, who had lost ground during the debates and their immediate aftermath, appears to have regained some ground, although most polls still give Bush a narrow lead, within the margin of error.
GORE: The other side is trying, as I said, to hold the ball, run out the clock and hide behind tracking polls. But you know what? Those tracking polls have a way of kind of closing up and getting closer and closer. I'm going to be talking about the issues, because I think that's what you want. Are you ready for some details and specifics?
KARL: As the vice president talks about polls and prosperity in the Pacific Northwest, the Democratic National Committee released a 10-minute video depicting Texas under George W. Bush as a backwater with bad pollution, failing schools, intractable poverty -- and worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC VIDEO)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no doubt that lives are lost in Texas and that people suffer in Texas because there isn't adequate access to health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: But this DNC video may be the last gasp of the effort to make Bush's Texas record a central campaign issue. One senior Gore strategist said the campaign and party are phasing out ads attacking Bush's Texas record. Aides say the tactic, which was the major focus of the period during the debate, was not as successful as they hoped.
Replacing the attacks on the Texas record will be a continuous drum-beat questioning whether Governor Bush has the experience and judgment to be president. It's a theme now pushed by the vice president's high-profile supporters in Congress, but soon may be seen on campaign commercials.
GORE: Hello, guys, how are you?
KARL: In Portland, Oregon, Gore held the first in a series of daily "kitchen table discussions" with working families. The vice president visited a Portland business owner and mother to highlight the economic record of the Clinton administration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Again, the overall economy, it has been awesome the past eight years and...
GORE: You don't want to throw that away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... quite frankly, absolutely not. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KARL: Here in the Pacific Northwest, Gore's efforts are complicated by strong support for Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader. Today, the vice president took Nader on head-on, saying that he would compare -- Gore would compare his environmental record to anybody's and it would compare favorably, including in a comparison to Ralph Nader. The vice president also saying regarding Nader, quote, I'm not going to suggest a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush, but that may be well true" -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jonathan Karl, on the trail with the vice president.
And now checking those tracking polls you just heard about, right now Bush leads Gore by two points in our daily CNN/"USA Today" Gallup survey of likely voters. Now Bush had been up by nine or 10 points in the past several days. It's too soon to tell if Gore's gains represent the start of a trend. But, like our survey, some other tracking polls also suggest possible tightening in the race.
Bush leads by two points in the Reuters/MSNBC survey. The governor is ahead by the same margin in "The Washington Post" tracking poll. Bush is also up by two points in the latest "New York Times"'s poll of likely voters.
Our Bill Schneider is here now.
Bill, tell us, why does this race appear to be tightening?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Two points in everybody's poll, that's a consistency.
You know, Bush opened up a lead immediately after last week's debate. But it only lasted a few days, and then the race tightened up again. We've seen this before. Precisely the same thing happened after the first debate on October 3rd. Bush opened up a lead and it quickly disappeared.
It did not happen after the second debate, however, on October 11th, because the international crisis dominated the news immediately after that debate.
Bush came out of the debates strong because voters find him more personally appealing than Gore. The biggest difference between the two candidates is on trustworthiness. Bush strikes voters as more trustworthy than Gore. Notice that over 40 percent say Gore is not honest and trustworthy. That's a very large number, over 10 points higher than the number who say Bush is not trustworthy. But when the debate images fade and the voters start to think about the issues again, the race tightens up.
WOODRUFF: Bill, is there a difference in enthusiasm among Bush supporters and Gore supporters?
SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, there used to be. It used to be the case until now that Republicans were more determined to vote than Democrats. And that's one reason why Bush was in the lead. But things have evened up. We're seeing Democrats and Republicans about equally determined to vote and equally enthusiastic about their candidates. And it is helping Al Gore catch up.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks a lot -- Bernie.
SHAW: Governor Bush is trying to limit any rebound by Gore by launching his so-called "Barnstorm for Reform" tour through battleground states.
Our CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley is traveling with Bush.
BUSH: Two weeks, feeling great.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Bush moves through the Heartland with old pals at his side, a new sign at his back, and a sharper edge to his speech.
BUSH: For seven and a half years, the vice president has been second the biggest obstacle to reform in America. And now we he wants to be the biggest. And now he wants to be the obstacle in chief.
CROWLEY: He is pushing reform and himself as the best man to get it done. Though packaged in fresh rhetoric, the issues are the same: rebuilding the military, tax relief, Medicare, Social Security and education reform.
BUSH: I want to solve our education problems. He wants to subsidize them. I will work for children and their parents. He will work for the entrenched interests that fund his campaign. On education, I will challenge the status quo. He is the status quo.
CROWLEY: Touting his Social Security plan, Bush accused Democrats of scare tactics, distortions and exaggerations, and he plugged his own tax cut while criticizing Al Gore's.
BUSH: You might call it an "iffy" tax scheme. Yes, under his plan, you might get some things you want, but only if you do everything the government wants.
CROWLEY: Adding fuel to the Bush bandwagon, 29 Republican governors who met up in Austin Sunday and then fanned out across the country. Four reconnoitered with the candidate in Kansas City.
GOV. BOB TAFT (R), OHIO: As governors, we know that Governor Bush doesn't make things up, he makes things happen.
CROWLEY: The last two weeks always bring new intensity to the much-traveled campaign trail. Add in what may be the closest race in more than 40 years, crowds of true believers, and the adrenaline starts to pump.
Bush answered one voter question about taxes with an 11-minute- plus answer,
BUSH: Hold on, no, you got to hear this, because when you leave here, you're going to go out and find somebody, and you're going to say, here's what George W.'s talking about when it comes to tax relief. This is part of figuring out how we're going to convince the undecideds in this close election how to come our way. So I'm going to be a little windy on this subject.
CROWLEY: At this point, the issues are as well-worn as the flight paths to the Midwest.
(on camera): At this point, absent a major mistake, the campaign is about keeping your voters excited enough to vote while pulling the fence-sitters on to your side. Suddenly, there is so little time and still so many battlegrounds.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.
WOODRUFF: And we are joined now by journalists from battleground states: Bill Ballenger of "Inside Michigan Politics," Mark Silva of "The Miami Herald" and Ann McFeatters of "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Thank you all three, and we want to get right to it with the question, how does the race look right now in each one of your states, starting with Michigan and Bill Ballenger -- Bill?
BILL BALLENGER, "INSIDE MICHIGAN POLITICS": Close as two peas in a pod, Judy. I'm surprised to see Al Gore out in Washington. I could have sworn he was still here in the state. It seems like the candidates and their running mates and families are living here in Michigan.
WOODRUFF: Mark Silva, what about Florida?
MARK SILVA, "MIAMI HERALD": Al Gore was living in Florida for about the better part of two weeks. I think he prepared for the debates about seven days here, or six anyway. And the state is as close can be. We've had polls that show a two-point, three-point margin in either direction, within the margin, everywhere you look.
WOODRUFF: Ann McFeatters, what about Pennsylvania?
ANN MCFEATTERS, "PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE": It's a "Who'd have thunk it?" state at this point. Gore was up about 11 points just a couple of weeks ago. It's down to about two points now. Every candidate -- Gore, Bush, Tipper, Hadassah, Cheney -- they're all coming to the state this week.
WOODRUFF: Bill Ballenger, back to Michigan for a moment. This was a state -- this is a state right now where Ralph Nader is showing up in the polls. To what extent is he a factor hurting Gore?
BALLENGER: Well, there's -- one important point is Michigan is one of the few states where Pat Buchanan is not on the ballot this year but Ralph Nader is. And so potentially, Gore gets the worst of both possible worlds and Bush gets the best. So, that's one factor that we've got to watch.
And when you look at Nader voters, the real question is, are they new voters? Are they voters that would never vote for one of the two major party nominees and Nader is simply the alternative of choice? If so, they won't take many votes away from Al Gore. But on the other hand, Judy, let's say Ralph Nader gets 5 percent in Michigan. Let's say only 1 1/2 percent or 2 percent of that comes from Al Gore. That could cost him the election. It's that close in Michigan.
WOODRUFF: And Mark Silva, in -- I'm sorry -- in Florida, this is a state where Governor Bush has been counting on his brother, Governor Jeb Bush, to help him. To what extent has Jeb Bush been able to help him?
SILVA: Jeb Bush was a factor early on in fund raising, extensive fund raising for the campaign and the party. Organizationally, the campaign of Jeb Bush still exists today and it's a strong organization county by county. They're making telephone calls, that sort of thing.
The governor, Jeb Bush, has not been as publicly, high-profiled as a lot of people expected. I don't think he likes the comparisons between he and his brother, but he's starting to step it now. He's out there this week.
WOODRUFF: And Ann McFeatters in Pennsylvania, what do you see as the factors there?
MCFEATTERS: The Social Security is going to be a big issue, I think. Everybody is expecting the race will get kind of nasty in the last two weeks, and partly, Pennsylvania is not like the rest of the country. It's culturally conservative, economically liberal. And the education issues, environment issues, Social Security issues are going to be big here.
Ed Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia, co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, is now touring by bus this state. He's left the national trail to concentrate on his backyard. They're very worried.
WOODRUFF: You mentioned a minute ago how much it's tightened up from the strong lead that Gore had not very long ago. Why did it tighten up?
MCFEATTERS: Partly the debates and partly -- they took a serious look at Governor Bush. They liked him. And they didn't like Gore's aggressive nature in those debates and the way he kind of changed his persona. And I think that it's come down to personality. Gore is trying to bring it back to the issues here in Pennsylvania, but it's -- it's tight.
WOODRUFF: And Bill Ballenger, in Michigan, to what extent has personality hurt Gore in your state?
BALLENGER: Oh, I think it's hurt him here just as it has in most of the other states and throughout the country. And I think this race is going to get down to turn out in Michigan: who actually turns out. And there are some critical unknown factors in that respect.
The UAW gets a day off, election day, for the first time in history because of a contract they have with the automakers. Will that enable Al Gore to get extra votes that he never would get otherwise? And there's no track record. We've never had this happen before. That could spell the difference between victory defeat for Al Gore in Michigan.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you all three about another factor in this race, potentially on Gore's side, and that is the debate over whether President Clinton ought to be out there working for Gore. To you, first, Ann McFeatters, would it help Al Gore if Bill Clinton were there campaigning in Pennsylvania?
MCFEATTERS: Almost decidedly, yes. John Zogby, the pollster, said today that he was convinced that it could make the margin of difference, not to have Clinton on the same stage with Gore, but to have him out rousing those union workers and minority voters.
WOODRUFF: And Mark Silva in Florida.
SILVA: We don't have quite the same automatic buttons that can be pushed here in terms of union support and that sort of thing. It's much more of an independent state. I don't think Bill Clinton can do much more than he's done already, which is to raise a lot of money in Florida very effectively. I think his exposure in Florida probably doesn't work to Gore's advantage. Bush has effectively campaigned against the White House as it exists today. And Bill Clinton just reminds people about it, I think.
WOODRUFF: And Bill Ballenger, in Michigan?
BALLENGER: I think Bill Clinton would help, no question about it. He won Michigan by 5 percent higher margin in 1996 than he won nationally. He would energized the base, the African-American vote. If it gets down to the final days of the campaign, Al Gore can't fiddle around, worrying about whether he is going to turn off independents or ticket-splitters by having Bill Clinton campaign for him. He has simply got to get that base out. And the I think he will.
WOODRUFF: And what else, Bill Ballenger, other than getting the president into Michigan, would help Gore? And what would help Bush?
BALLENGER: Well, just, I guess, repetition of the message. Just get everybody in here you can on either side. Keep pounding away -- I think get-out-the-vote efforts -- I mean, phone banks, on-the-ground efforts to make sure that voters make it to the polls, from which ever side you are on. I mean, that is going to be hand-and-fist, door-to- door, trench-warfare combat right up to November 7. And that could determine the winner here in Michigan.
WOODRUFF: And Ann McFeatters in Pennsylvania, other than the president, what else could Gore do? And quickly, what could Bush do? MCFEATTERS: Absolutely. They have got to get out their voters. There are more registered Democrats in Pennsylvania than Republicans. And Bush has -- is brining those governors to the state. He is going to be there himself. He has got to look presidential. And his people think he's doing it.
WOODRUFF: And finally, Mark Silva in Florida, what else can Gore do? What else can Bush do?
SILVA: I think it comes back to turnout. It could be worth a couple of points in terms of the organizational efforts of the more successful party. I think the die is cast in terms of the election, unless someone makes a fatal error in a speech or an event. I think nothing is left to impact the election, except the parties' ability to move the people out.
WOODRUFF: All right, Mark Silva in Florida, Bill Ballenger with "Inside Michigan Politics," Ann McFeatters with the "Pittsburgh Post Gazette," thank you all three -- Bernie.
SHAW: Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: analyzing the ads and the news media coverage -- Brooks Jackson with a fact check -- and Stephen Hess with his weekly look at the presidential race as seen on the network news.
WOODRUFF: George W. Bush maintains a slim lead in a new poll in the battleground state of Ohio. The Mason-Dixon survey shows Bush at 45 percent, Al Gore at 41 percent. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader had 4 percent. The survey was conducted after last week's final presidential debate.
Ohio is one of seven battleground states where Gore and his party are running ads tailor-made to appeal to local voters.
Our Brooks Jackson has been reviewing those targeted spots to see if they are on target in terms of accuracy.
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not only Al Gore's tax cuts that are narrowly targeted. Just look at his TV ads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: George W. Bush wants to bring his Texas ideas to Ohio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Gore and the Democratic Party are targeting specific promises and specific attacks to specific states.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: Is George W. Bush good for West Virginia? (END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Ads are pitched specifically not only to Ohio and West Virginia, but also Nevada, Florida, Washington, Iowa, New Hampshire. And sometimes they're not fair or accurate. For example, in Iowa:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: With Bush as governor, Texas has fallen from 29th to the 48th worst state to raise a child. Iowa ranks as one of the best places to raise a child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: That's badly misleading, if not downright false. Texas' fall from 29th to 48th occurred mostly under Bush's Democratic predecessor, Ann Richards, according to the Children's Rights Council. The ad cites the nonpartisan group's 1999 report, but the report uses many government statistics that don't go beyond 1996. Bush only became governor in 1995, and so had little chance to influence those numbers.
The report's author, David Levy, says he asked the Democratic National Committee not to use his report, but they did anyway.
DAVID LEVY, CHILDREN'S RIGHTS COUNCIL: Before these ads ran, our Children's Rights Council received a call from the Democratic National Committee wanting a copy of this report. And I declined to give it to them, because we didn't want this data to be misrepresented.
JACKSON: Gore is making the same claim about Texas in an Ohio ad. Levy says both ads ought to be pulled off the air.
LEVY: I would like them to stop using this misleading data.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: On nuclear waste, George W. Bush sides with the nuclear industry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: You could call it targeted pandering. This Gore ad is running only in Nevada, where many voters oppose a proposed nuclear waste dump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: Nevada's leading columnist said Bush clearly would hasten the dump's arrival. The next president will sign or veto a bill to put nuclear waste in Nevada right away. Al Gore will veto it and protect Nevadans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Actually, Bush promised to veto temporary storage in Nevada, too. There's no difference on that issue. And Gore himself has not promised to keep nuclear waste out of Nevada permanently. In fact, that same newspaper columnist Gore quotes also wrote -- quote -- "The Clinton-Gore administration has greased the wheels for the permanent dump project."
In West Virginia, a Gore ad hits Bush below the belt on pay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: The Texas minimum wage is $3.35 an hour. Six times, Bush refused to raise it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Refused? Actually, state minimum wage legislation never got out of committee in the Texas legislature, even where Democrats were in the majority. And anyway, well over 90 percent of Texas workers are covered by the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, according to the Texas Work force Commission.
Other targeted ads hit Bush on pollution, suggesting Bush would bring smog to Seattle, or dirty water to Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC AD)
NARRATOR: Well, imagine Bush's Texas record in Florida's Everglades.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON (on camera): What pollutes elections is false or misleading information. So we'll keep checking the facts on both sides.
Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: As Brooks noted, he has been checking the accuracy of both sides' ads. And he has found examples in which both have played it loose with the facts. Now, this report focused only on Gore and the Democrats, because only they are targeting spots to specific states.
SHAW: Brooks Jackson's fact-check reports are a good example of the sort of hard-edged journalism now featured in political reporting. But have the media been even-handed in doling out criticism? According to the Brookings Institution's Center for Media and Public Affairs the answer is yes.
The center looked at news reports on the big three broadcast networks over the first six weeks of the campaign and found 67 percent of all stories about George W. Bush were negative and just 33 percent positive. Reports about Al Gore were almost as critical: 61 percent negative, 39 percent positive. Steve Hess of the Brookings Institution has been analyzing those data and writing about it every Monday in "USA Today."
The network coverage of this presidential campaign: so far fair?
STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, pretty much on balance between the two candidates. And the important things is, that is very different than it has been in the last two elections. In 1992, it was way overboard for Bill Clinton. And the critics said: Well, that's because there's an anti-incumbency bias. We have always hit the president harder. And George Bush got it that time.
Four years later, it was again in Bill Clinton's side in the press. And they said: Well, it must be a liberal bias, even though Clinton had been badly treated by the press, he could claim -- rightly, I think -- in his first term. So this is quite different to see that both of them are treated about the same. But we should say, treated about the same means twice as much negative as positive.
SHAW: Overall, Steve, why so much complaining about alleged media bias?
HESS: Oh, I think a lot of is it in the eye of the beholden. Everybody thinks that the media is biased against what they particularly believe in. And, as the media becomes more and more analytical, more and more people say: Ah, that must be biased. So it would be pretty hard to -- as indeed, there have been scholarly proposals where you have taken the coverage of the Middle East and you have brought in a group of pro-Arabs and a group of pro-Israelis.
And they're seeing the exactly the same thing. And when they come out, you test them, and they both say, it was biased against them. So a lot of that is going on.
SHAW: Has quote-negativity become a part of news broadcasting?
HESS: I think that is true. I think it's a very hard edge. For example, NBC has a segment now called "The Truth Squad." Well, that is a phrase inherited from campaigns where you send somebody after the candidate to find that he's telling the untruth. So, really, it's to find out what the candidate -- the untruth of the candidates.
The same would be with CBS's "Reality Check." It's really to find the unreality. Now, for example, if you go to PBS, the "Jim Lehrer News Hour," you would find quite the opposite. The focus is on a positive, rather than negative. So it's not, in other words, framed in the stars. It's framed in the newsrooms.
SHAW: One quickie before you get out the door: Is the network news coverage giving a fair picture of these candidates?
HESS: It's giving a picture of them as campaigners. And that is what they are really looking at, when we look at this positive, negative: so that one week we have a rat ad. And suddenly the Bush -- goes way down negative. The next week we have something to do with Gore's dog and mother-in-law. And it goes way down negative for Gore. So when we say they're about the same, we are really doing this by averaging a roller coaster. SHAW: Stephen Hess, thank you. Good to see you again, as always on Monday. Take care.
Well, there is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Still to come, the commander in chief lends a hand on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're mostly on defense. So there are Maalox moments every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Which Senate races are causing heartburn on the Hill? Chris Black takes a look.
WOODRUFF: Engaging key minority voters in a battleground state.
WOODRUFF: We'll have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.
It is a new law designed to save lives. President Clinton has signed a bill requiring states to lower the legal amount of alcohol to be considered driving under the influence. That or risk losing millions in federal highway funds.
Elliot Lewis has the story.
ELLIOT LEWIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new law in effect lowers the legal blood-alcohol limit from .10 to .08. President Clinton calls the change a victory but cautions even at the lower level impaired drivers are still a threat.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When a driver with a .08 blood level turns the ignition, that driver is turning the car into a lethal weapon.
LEWIS: Supporters estimate the measure could save 500 lives a year and prevent thousands of injuries.
MILLIE WEBB, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, MADD: For those of us who are victims of .08 BAC drivers, this measures truly heals a scar on our hearts.
LEWIS (on camera): Nineteen states already use the lower drunk- driving standard. Now the remaining 31 stand to lose federal highway funds if they don't adopt it by the fall of 2003.
(voice-over): The restaurant and alcohol industries claim the new law would penalize social drinkers while ignoring the bigger problem of repeat offenders. The president argues lowering the limit is simply common sense.
CLINTON: This .08 standard is the biggest step to toughen drunk- driving laws and reduce alcohol-related crashes since a national minimum drinking age was established a generation ago.
LEWIS: The Department of Transportation says that while the number of drunk-driving deaths hit a new low last year, alcohol- related crashes still claimed more than 15,000 lives.
Elliot Lewis for CNN, Washington.
SHAW: A unity meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon ends without agreement today. Palestinian leaders have warn a unity government could spell the end to the peace process.
Meanwhile, gunfire is exchanged in Gaza, where Israel closed the airport earlier today. The airport has reopened in just the past hour. A convoy of Jewish settlers trying to leave the area was rocked by an explosion. No one was hurt.
Secretary of State Madeline Albright making a historic trip to Pyongyang, North Korea, as Cold War relations begin to thaw. Albright met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for three hours. She is laying groundwork for a possible visit by President Clinton.
WOODRUFF: The space shuttle Discovery is ready to come home, but weather conditions have forced NASA to forgo landing for another day. Rain and icing conditions have been detected at Edwards Air Force Base in California. NASA will try again tomorrow.
SHAW: When INSIDE POLITICS returns, should Al Gore enlist campaign help from President Clinton? We'll look for an answer in our new poll.
SHAW: President Clinton put in another plug for Al Gore's White House bid this day while campaigning for a New York congressman, not for the vice president. Mr. Clinton reportedly thinks Gore could use his help, but would that be wise?
Let's turn back to our Bill Schneider.
Bill, does Gore need President Clinton to rally the Democratic base?
SCHNEIDER: Bernie, that really would be risky, because President Clinton also rallies the Republican base. We asked people, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for Al Gore if President Clinton were to actively campaign for Gore? Forty percent said less likely compared to only 17 percent who said more likely. OK, but maybe those 40 percent are already committed to Bush and would never think of voting for Gore.
Let's take a look at what Gore voters say.
Thirty-five percent of Gore voters say that if President Clinton were to campaign for Gore, they would be more likely to come out and vote for Gore. Ten percent say President Clinton would turn them off. So it looks like Mr. Clinton could rally some Democrats, but it could cost gore as much as 10 percent of his support.
Now let's look at how Mr. Clinton would affect Bush's supporters. Whoa, 70 percent of Bush's supporters say President Clinton would rally them against Gore. Mr. Clinton's negative impact among Bush voters, 70 percent, is twice as big as his positive impact among Gore supporters, which was 35.
The president certainly would not convert many Bush supporters. Just 1 percent of them say Mr. Clinton's support would make them more likely to vote for Al Gore.
SHAW: So within this, what's the message for Gore?
SCHNEIDER: Well, you use the word "risk." President Clinton is a very risky figure. Gore risks losing a lot more voters than he would gain if the president actively campaigns for him. Sure, Mr. Clinton can help mobilize Democrats, but he would also mobilize Republicans. And with the two campaigns now about equally committed and equally enthusiastic, you know, Gore may not need Mr. Clinton's help.
SHAW: Bill Schneider, thank you.
WOODRUFF: Well, whatever the vice president does, President Clinton's campaign help has been welcomed by his other political partner, Hillary Rodham Clinton. He will campaign for his wife again this evening after raising more than half a million dollars for her Senate bid yesterday.
CNN's Frank Buckley has more on Mr. Clinton's role in election 2000.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Clinton was in New York on a political assignment.
CLINTON: As the spouse and cheerleader in chief in America...
BUCKLEY: Leading the party faithful in New York in a cheer for the other Clinton running for office.
CLINTON: Please welcome the next United States senator from New York.
BUCKLEY: His wife: Hillary Clinton, who says the president's presence is welcome.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: He's helping me by talking about the progress and prosperity of the last eight years and what I would do in the Senate to build on that and how important it is to elect Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.
BUCKLEY: Speaking of Al Gore, the vice president has taken a different tack with regard to the president.
GORE: I stand here tonight as my own man.
BUCKLEY: Gore making it clear since he began his campaign that he would win or lose on his own terms, leaving some to wonder.
TAMALA EDWARDS, "TIME" CORRESPONDENT: There are a lot of Democrats who are scratching their heads saying, you know, listen, we're thinking about the base, get out the vote, you know, who let the dogs out. Let's let out the big dog. Let's put Bill Clinton out there.
BUCKLEY: In New York, Bill Clinton kept a relatively low profile in the Senate race until just recently, aides saying the first lady had to show voters who Hillary Clinton was as a candidate.
MICKEY BLUM, POLLSTER: I think that she was very wise in not having him there with her at the very beginning, because I think she needed to establish that she was her own person, that she was running as her own candidate, and that this was about her as a senator and not about Bill Clinton.
BUCKLEY: But aides say bill Clinton was a consultant from the beginning, offering everything from strategic vision to mundane advice: how to speak in sound bites, for example. Now his role more public, energizing Democratic voters to turn out.
CLINTON: This is the first time in 26 years they're having an election and I'm not on the ballot, but I care more about this election than anyone I've ever been involved in.
BUCKLEY: Mrs. Clinton is also counting on the vice president in this election and Senator Joe Lieberman, with whom she campaigned last week. Polls show the Democratic national ticket way ahead here. By contrast, her Republican opponent, Rick Lazio, is staying away from Texas Governor George W. Bush.
(on camera): Lazio is hoping some Gore supporters will cross over to him or not vote at all in the Senate race, a race in which he faces not just one Clinton, but two.
Frank Buckley, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SHAW: Of course, the Clinton-Lazio race is part of a bigger political fight for control of the United States Senate.
CNN's Chris Black has an update on the races that will help decide who wins the battle for the Hill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... Senator Spence Abraham...
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican Senator Spence Abraham of Michigan is fighting for survival, one of six incumbent senators in tight races. All but one is a Republican.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE: It's very, very close. There are about 10 Senate races that could go either way, from coast-to-coast.
SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D-NJ), CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: There are fully five or six Senate contests across the country in the polling margin of error. It's anybody's game.
BLACK: The accidental death of Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, has taken one key race off the table. Carnahan's challenge had put Republican John Ashcroft in the endangered category. But polls show races still too close to call against Republican incumbents in three states: Delaware, where Finance Committee Chairman Bill Roth faces a tough challenge from Democratic Governor Tom Carper; Washington, where Slade Gorton is fighting Democratic multimillionaire Maria Cantwell; and Montana, where Conrad Burns is in a tight battle against rancher Brian Schweitzer.
One other race isn't as close. In Minnesota, polls show incumbent Rod Grams trailing his Democratic challenger, Mark Dayton.
MCCONNELL: A lot of exposure, we're mostly on defense, so there are Maalox moments every day.
BLACK: Democrats are having their own Maalox moments in Virginia, where incumbent Chuck Robb is locked in a tight race against former Governor George Allen, with most polls showing Robb trailing. Democrats are feeling better about three states where Democratic incumbents are retiring: New York, where first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has opened up a lead over Republican Rick Lazio; New Jersey, where businessman Jon Corzine has spent a record amount of his personal wealth to pull well ahead of GOP Congressman Bob Franks; and Nebraska, where former Governor Ben Nelson is favored to beat Attorney General Don Stenberg.
Two other open seats are likely to cancel each other out. Republican John Ensign is poised to pick up the seat of retiring Democrat Richard Bryan in Nevada, but Democrat Bill Nelson will likely pick up the seat of retiring Republican Connie Mack in Florida. The dominant issues in virtually all the campaigns are health care, Social Security, Medicare and education: Each traditionally favors Democrats. That is causing many Republicans to embrace those issues while reframing them in GOP terms. President Clinton said Democrats should not let them do it.
CLINTON: Their presidential strategy and now their congressional strategy is cloud the issues, things are doing well, they will get by. Our strategy should be, clarify the issues and we'll win big.
BLACK: Michigan's Spence Abraham is one who has effectively turned a Democratic issue his way. He opened up a lead earlier this year in part by proposing his own version of a prescription drug benefit, robbing his challenger, Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow, of her signature issue. Will it work? Opinions differ.
MCCONNELL: I think the Republican version of each of those issues is much more attractive to voters.
TORRICELLI: The chances are, in the end, you vote for the real thing: That is the party that has always had credibility on those issues.
BLACK (on camera): Democratic hopes of reclaiming the Senate have declined since the death of Mel Carnahan, but observers are predicting whichever party controls the U.S. Senate next year will be operating with one of the narrowest margins in history.
Chris Black, CNN, Capitol Hill.
WOODRUFF: When we return, the political spotlight on Arab- Americans: the voters, the issues and the candidates.
SHAW: As Al Gore and George W. Bush vie for support in the battleground state of Michigan, they are focusing some of their attention on one group: Arab-American voters. It's a change from past years. In 1984, Walter Mondale returned their contributions. In '88, Michael Dukakis turned down an Arab-American endorsement. And as recently as 1996, Bob Dole abruptly canceled a meeting with their community leaders.
Pat Neal now takes a closer look at Arab-Americans and their role in this election.
PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Strong in faith and strong in numbers, Michigan's Arab-American community may play a decisive role in this presidential election.
OSAMA SIBLANI, PUBLISHER, "ARAB-AMERICAN NEWS": Arab-Americans have been locked out of the political system. NEAL: In the area of Dearborn in southeast Michigan, about 350,000 people keep alive the Arab language, food and culture. They total about 4 percent of the state's electorate and are swing voters, going for Ronald Reagan in the '80s, and more recently, Bill Clinton.
George W. Bush has visited Dearborn and met with Arab-American community leaders. That's how he won Hala Saad's (ph) support.
HALA SAAD: He is the only one who came and sat with us and really talked to us face-to-face.
NEAL: Five days later, Bush raised the community's top concerns at the second debate.
BUSH: Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what's called "secret evidence."
NEAL: Bush was actually confusing two issues: racial profiling, where Arab-Americans say they are harassed at airport checks; "secret evidence" is a little-known law that allows holding suspects, many of whom are of Arab origin, on evidence only known to the government. But Arab-Americans were grateful Bush spoke up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are thankful to him because now he has put us on the national scene.
NEAL: The airport search issue has become a nagging problem for Gore here. Many Arab-Americans blame a Gore commission on aviation safety for intensifying the problem in its effort to fight terrorism.
Gore supporter Abed Hammoud says he's had a tough sell.
ABED HAMMOUD, GORE SUPPORTER: I don't believe Gore stands for discrimination. I don't believe that he stands for racial profiling. The problem is his name is on that commission.
NEAL: Energy Secretary Bill Richardson addressed the issue at a recent Arab-American dinner. Richardson spoke of Gore's strong record on civil rights and immigration, and he tried to set the record straight.
BILL RICHARDSON, ENERGY SECRETARY: I am telling you that they did not do that. In fact, the vice president has undertaken a number of initiatives on secret evidence to ensure that doesn't happen.
NEAL: Richardson also announced Gore would visit the community next week. But Gore also faces competition here from Ralph Nader, who's of Lebanese descent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There can't be peace unless our demands as Muslims and the demands of Palestinians are met.
NEAL: There's also a direct link in Dearborn between campaign 2000 and the current Middle East crisis. While many here say they believe Gore and Bush have similar stances, Gore has a long record of support for the state of Israel. Lifelong Democrat Don Unis (ph) says he's voting for Bush.
DON UNIS, ARAB-AMERICAN: The Israel soldier kills the child, and they call the Israel soldier the victim. How dare you, as a human being, how dare you do that? It's time to stand up for America, Mr. Gore. You have not done that.
NEAL (on camera): Arab-Americans here also express concern over Al Gore's choice of Joe Lieberman as a running mate, not only because of Lieberman's Jewish religion, more importantly, they say, because of his pro-Israel stance.
(voice-over): Lieberman tried to address their concerns by meeting with Arab-Americans after he joined Gore on the ticket.
IMAD HAMAD, AMERICAN ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LEAGUE: He's with a record that's so pro-Israeli, and it had some people within our community wondering if he will be the vice president of the United States or the vice president of Israel.
NEAL: Arab-Americans say this election they're finally getting the attention their numbers warrant. They vote in higher numbers than the national average, and in a tight race for Michigan's 18 electoral votes, they could be a decisive block.
Pat Neal, CNN, Dearborn, Michigan.
WOODRUFF: Up next, the tale of an undecided campaign advertisement. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
SHAW: Well, the billboard confusion is over in Charlotte, North Carolina. Friday, an ad agency claimed this billboard, bearing the Gore logo and a photo of a smiling George W. Bush, was a mistake. But it turns out the mistake was a publicity stunt done by a dot.com job search company. Workers today added the caption, "Today's job opening: proof reader.
WOODRUFF: Very clever.
SHAW: That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com.
We'll see you again tomorrow, when George W. Bush will be seeking votes in Illinois, Tennessee and Florida, and Al Gore will be on the campaign trail in Arkansas and Louisiana.
WOODRUFF: And this programming note, former GOP Chairman Haley Barbour and the Reverend Jesse Jackson will be discussing President Clinton's role in the campaign 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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