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Inside Politics

Gore Stumps in Tennessee; Bush Visits Florida; DNC, Gore Campaign Attack Bush's Education Record

Aired October 25, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know it's Halloween time, and I know the man is trying to scare you into the voting booth. But not this time, Mr. Gore, and not this year.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush steps up his appeal to voters in Florida. Is he spooked about his chances there?


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His plan does not test a single new teacher, does not reduce the size of a single class, and does not turn around a single failing school.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Armed with a new study, Al Gore opens fire on Bush's education plan and his Texas record.


RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not my problem to worry about Al Gore's vote. He's got to earn his votes.


WOODRUFF: Ralph Nader talks to us about charges that he's robbing Gore of needed support.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I invented the Internet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lots of other stuff, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once my mom thought I was my dad. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Space shuttle, that was mine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the phone, people think I'm my dad.


SHAW: Commercials that play politics for laughs.

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

SHAW: Thank you for joining us.

If Al Gore and George W. Bush had their druthers, both probably would be campaigning someplace else this day. Gore was forced to stump in his home state, Tennessee, where polls show he's running neck-and-neck with Bush. And Bush felt the need to swing through Florida, where his brother is governor, and where a new poll shows he's leading Gore by five points. Yesterday, another survey in that state had them tied.

We begin our coverage with Bush, the battle for Florida, and CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Bush and company traveled the I-4 corridor Wednesday, a vital political artery where Florida's tight race may well be won or lost.

G. BUSH: I said, I'm telling you, this place is on fire.


CROWLEY: Drawing overflow, raucous crowds along the way, Bush rolled from Daytona Beach to Sanford in greater Orlando and to Brandon in the Tampa area. He did not roll alone.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I told my brother that we are going to carry Florida. Is it going to happen?


CROWLEY: Florida Governor and brother Jeb Bush was charged with firing up the grassroots. Former rival John McCain made it a threesome. His war-hero credentials made him a natural in the courtship of the state's growing and politically active veteran population.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We just saw in the tragedy that befell those brave young Americans on board the USS Cole that we still live in a very dangerous world. We need a steady hand on the tiller. We need the kind of leadership that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will provide this country, so we can not have those kinds of tragedies ever happen again.


CROWLEY: It is hard to see how Bush could win the presidency without Florida, and impossible to see how he can win Florida without seniors. Bush took on that courtship, playing offense against Al Gore's prescription drug plan.

G. BUSH: He calls it a pharmaceutical-benefit manager. But it works like an HMO. It acts like an HMO. It quacks like an HMO. He can call it a PBM, but that's Washington talk for HMO.

CROWLEY: But on Social Security, Bush is playing a bit of defense, countering Gore charges that Bush's plan -- allowing younger workers to invest a part of their Social Security taxes -- threatens existing benefits.

G. BUSH: I know it's Halloween time. And I know the man is trying to scare you into the voting booth. But not this time, Mr. Gore, and not this year. We've got a plan that says to our seniors -- a plan says to our seniors: We're going to keep our promise. "

CROWLEY: At every stop, Bush tells voters the Clinton-Gore administration has been promising Social Security and Medicare reform, as well as prescription drug coverage, for eight years.

G. BUSH: I want to remind you all that the vice president is going around the country saying, "You ain't seen nothing yet." I agree, Mr. Vice President, we ain't seen nothing yet. But you're going to under a new president and vice president of the United States.

CROWLEY (on camera): Bush strategists hope that this is the trip that finally nails down Florida into the Bush column. But if it isn't, rest assured, they'll be back. Florida is that important.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Orlando.


WOODRUFF: And now to Al Gore in Tennessee.

As our Jonathan Karl reports, the vice president took advantage of new ammunition to attack Bush on the education issue.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Campaigning on his home turf, Vice President Gore made his sharpest and most detailed attack yet on George W. Bush's educational proposals.

GORE: A closer look reveals that his plan doesn't test a single new teacher, doesn't reduce the size of a single class, and doesn't turn around a single failing school.

KARL: In the latest in a series of speeches outlining what the campaign calls "the big choices" facing voters in this election, Gore offered a point-by-point critique of Bush's educational proposals. He started by questioning Bush's priorities.

GORE: He would give more in tax cuts to the wealthiest 90,000 multi-millionaires than he would give in the form of all the new investments he has proposed to make in all 90,000 public schools combined.

KARL: The Bush campaign called that charge ridiculous, accusing Gore of defending the educational status quo. Gore also accused Bush of playing -- quote -- "educational roulette" with his plan to give poor parents in failing schools private school vouchers.

GORE: Governor Bush says he doesn't want a national superintendent of schools, but his mandatory voucher plan would make Washington, D.C. a national private school headmaster.

KARL: At the center of the Bush plan is mandatory testing of students to hold schools accountable. But Gore cited a new study by the RAND Corporation that raises questions about Bush's claim of improving test scores in Texas. Gore said Bush's plan, like his record, is hollow.

GORE: We need to measure performance with tests that have integrity, and we need to put an end to what's called "teaching to the test" and any other shortcuts that produce illusory test scores.

KARL: A Bush spokesman pointed out that Gore has repeatedly said he agrees with Governor Bush on accountability. And the Bush campaign calls the latest RAND study flawed, pointing to an earlier study by the same think-tank that credited testing in Texas for educational improvements in the state.

GORE: How about the economy? Are things going pretty well for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We -- we all talk about the economy.

KARL: Earlier, Vice President Gore started his day by talking economics over breakfast with a group of Nashville firefighters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any way to -- I know you are talking about new schools and more teachers. Is there any way to do it without raising taxes?

GORE: Yes.

KARL: Gore finds himself fending off a tough challenge in Tennessee, where recent polls show the race statistically tied.


KARL: The Gore campaign is quick to point out that, while the vice president is fighting for support in his backyard, Governor Bush is fighting for support in his brother's backyard -- the Gore campaign saying they have got a tough challenge. They are acting very tough against Bush in Florida, which is a traditionally Republican state, with more than twice as many electoral vote as Tennessee -- Bernie. SHAW: Jonathan Karl, thank you.

Now, let's take a closer look at that RAND study Gore is using against Bush, and what it says about the Texas governor's record on education.

Here is CNN's Pat Neal.


PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Throughout the campaign, Governor George W. Bush has pointed to what's happening in Texas classrooms as proof his education policies get results. But a new study by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation questions whether high- stakes testing is an accurate measure of achievement in Texas.

BRIAN STECHER, AUTHOR, RAND CORPORATION STUDY: Scores of students in Texas have been rising dramatically on the Texas test. But at the same time, scores of students on a nationally renowned test that's given in Texas have not been rising.

NEAL: Also, the report says, while state-testing reveals closing between white and minority students, national tests reveal the gap has widened. The Bush campaign dismissed the report as not thorough, biased, and says its release is politically motivated.

KAREN HUGHES, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, BUSH CAMPAIGN: The timing of this opinion -- this 14-page opinion paper conducted by four researchers is highly suspect. And the conclusions are dead wrong, and at odds with every credible study of the facts that has been done throughout the last several years.

NEAL: The campaign cites another extensive RAND study from July that states education reforms in Texas resulted in some of the highest achievement gains in the country. RAND says the reports cannot be compared. The July study looks at states' performance nationally. This one focused just on state-testing. The report speculates the scores were -- quote -- "inflated or biased because teachers teached to the test."

STECHER: And they tend to narrow the curriculum to focus more on what's on the test.

NEAL: In our last visit to Texas schools, students and teachers said that is a common practice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What also ends up happening is then a teacher will base their entire curriculum just around a certain test.

MARGARET LAMONTAGNE, BUSH EDUCATION ADVISER: Teachers are just so tired of teaching the TAAS, because we do teach to the TAAS, obviously.

NEAL: Vice President Gore was quick to seize on the study's results. GORE: The study reported that, contrary to all that we've been told, the achievement gap for Texas students has not narrowed. It has widened.

NEAL: Also seizing the issue, overnight, the DNC produced an ad that will begin airing Thursday in key battleground states.


NARRATOR: Texas students do not show the same gains on national tests. The percentage dropping out or failing a grade is increasing. The author concludes the Texas miracle is a myth.


NEAL (on camera): RAND dismisses criticism about the timing of this report, saying it went through an additional review because of sensitivity to the presidential election. Plus, it points out, its last report in July, which was complimentary of Texas's education reforms, was released just before the Republican National Convention.

Pat Neal, CNN, Miami.


WOODRUFF: Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader also is under some fire today from allies of Al Gore. At issue: growing concerns among Democrats that Nader is costing Gore votes in several key states -- votes that could be crucial in this close election. The National Abortion Rights Action League will begin running an anti- Nader ad in the next two days in Oregon, Minnesota and Wisconsin.


NARRATOR: If you're thinking of voting for Ralph Nader, please consider: This year a five-to-four Supreme Court decision narrowly protected Roe versus Wade. A single vote saved a woman's right to choose.

As president, George Bush would reverse the court with anti- choice justices Scalia and Thomas in control. Bush's goal: ending legal abortion. Voting for Ralph Nader helps elect George W. Bush.


WOODRUFF: The initial buy for that ad is a half million dollars.

Meantime, a millionaire Nader supporter has pulled the plug on most of the pro-Nader ads that he was paying for in California because Nader appears to be draining votes from Gore there. Gore's lead over George W. Bush in the golden state has narrowed to seven points in a new "Los Angeles Times" poll. The survey shows Nader with 5 percent support.

I spoke with Ralph Nader just a few hours ago and I asked him if his California supporters who are worried he may cost Gore the election are wrong.


NADER: They're wrong; and they're not my supporters in the sense that that's some sort of independent expenditure we have nothing to do with. I think people should vote their conscience, their dreams and their interests.

Once they engage in tactical voting, then they legitimize what they don't like, which is the least-worst way of voting between the Democrats and the Republicans. That just makes it certain that, in four years and eight years, both parties will get worse.

WOODRUFF: But their ads, before they pulled them, were saying -- and they're saying this in other states, that are states where they say that you or -- I'm sorry, that Gore or Bush have a comfortable lead, that they're telling people: Vote for someone who can't get elected, and here's why.

Does anyone believe that Ralph Nader has a serious chance of being elected? You don't even believe that, do you?

NADER: Well, you know, after being excluded from the debates and with the two parties having the money, the media, the statutory barriers to get on the ballot, who has a chance?

What we have a chance is to build a major watchdog party, a third party after November telling the two parties that they better shape up or they're going to lose more votes. We have a chance to build, in the future, a progressive political movement.

That's why this effort is a long-range effort way past November 7.

WOODRUFF: But you're not saying that the outcome of this election doesn't matter because you know it's very close now between Gore and Bush; the experts are all saying your votes are votes that would be going, most of them, to Al Gore -- you could cost Al Gore the election.

NADER: Only Al Gore can beat Al Gore; and the important thing is to build a political reform movement in this country. And it can't be done in a day. So, if you're worried about Al Gore losing to George W. Bush, you should never run for election because running for election on the presidential ballot is to take votes away from every other candidate. That's what they try to do to us.

WOODRUFF: But National Abortion Rights Action League -- abortion rights group -- running ads, now, saying George W. Bush would change the Supreme Court, he would -- so that the court would do away with Roe versus Wade; that that, alone, is enough reason not to vote for Ralph Nader.

NADER: I don't think that's going to happen. The two Republican justices, O'Connor and Souter, three times in the last 10 years had a chance to add to a majority reversal of Roe versus Wade and they declined.

I just think this is subtle policy in this country and Democratic politicians are scaring the women's movement on that issue. I've heard from so many Republican operatives who say to me privately: If the Republican Party is ever responsible for reversing Roe versus Wade, it would destroy the party. And I believe it would.

WOODRUFF: So you're so confident of that, it doesn't bother you that you're running may give the election to George W. Bush?

NADER: Exactly; and there are far more very serious issues as well where the two parties are the same.

WOODRUFF: There is also an argument out there on the environment, that Al Gore would be much better on the environment than George W. Bush.

NADER: He'd be a better speech-maker. He's had eight years to demonstrate that point, and we've put out a whole list of issues: motor vehicle fuel efficiency, biotechnology, pesticides, air, water pollution, the Everglades, the incinerator in east Ohio, WTO, NAFTA.

One after the other where he's broken his promises. He talks one way, he does another. That anesthetizes environmental groups, it weakens them.

WOODRUFF: But the bottom line, here, Ralph Nader, is that you are comfortable waking up the morning after the election with George W. Bush as president.

NADER: It's indistinguishable in Washington on major issues affecting whether the corporations are going to run this country or the people, through clean elections, are going to run this country.

That's the bottom line. I can point out, as you can, a difference here, a difference there. But the similarities, kneeling down to concentration of power and wealth in this country, are far outweighing whatever differences, in reality, there would be between the two candidates.

WOODRUFF: Clearly, the people who are supporting Al Gore disagree with that...

NADER: They are settling for less.

WOODRUFF: ... sweating this election right now, it's very close -- and they're saying in those states like Minnesota, New Mexico, even California, Washington state and a few other states, voting for you could tip the election.

NADER: They should have sweated the emergence of the permanent corporate government here, with 22,000 corporate lobbyists; 9,000 Political Action Committees, which the Democrats didn't do anything about.

They've become very good at electing very bad Republicans like Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott. This is a decaying party. It can't be reformed internally, and the sooner the progressive Democrats understand that, the better it will be for their own party.

WOODRUFF: You sound like you're angry at the Democratic Party. Is that fair to say?

NADER: I am, because they have colluded with the Republican Party to sell our government, as John McCain has said more than once, to the highest corporate bidders. And they have shoved aside the civil society in Washington.

All these environmental, consumer, anti-poverty, other groups -- they can't get anything done anymore. And when you crowd out the civil society, you have undermined our democracy and it's time for a new political movement.

WOODRUFF: Even if it means a Republican victory?


WOODRUFF: All right, Ralph Nader, thank you very much for joining us.


SHAW: And still ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, two key Senate races. Senator John Ashcroft back on the trail and back on the air in Missouri. Plus, the money, the polls and the endorsements in that New Jersey Senate race.


SHAW: In the Missouri Senate race, Republican Senator John Ashcroft has now resumed his ad campaign. Ashcroft suspended his campaign ads following the plane crash that killed his opponent, Mel Carnahan, last week.

The senator's latest ad makes an indirect reference to the governor's death.


SEN. JOHN ASHCROFT (R), MISSOURI: In times of tragedy we draw strength from our families and the values we share. Years of experience have taught me those values that keep families strong are worth fighting for every day.


SHAW: Carnahan's name is still on the ballot and his widow, Jeanne, is considering the governor's offer to appoint her to the Senate if her late husband wins the race. Republicans are questioning the legality of the governor's offer.

WOODRUFF: In the New Jersey Senate race, Republican Congressman Bob Franks is getting a boost in print and in the polls. "The New York Times" today endorsed Franks over his opponent Jon Corzine, citing the Republican's record, his experience and what it called a more responsible campaign. "The Philadelphia Inquirer" has endorsed Franks as well.

As Frank Buckley reports, Corzine countered with an endorsement of his from a popular New Jersey figure.


BILL BRADLEY, FORMER NEW JERSEY SENATOR: Your next senator, Jon Corzine.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley appeared with the Democrat who is now seeking the job, Jon Corzine, at a small gathering of mothers advocating gun control. Bradley, a former professional basketball player saying Corzine, a rookie to politics who has never held public office, has his support.

BRADLEY: There's no question in my mind that Jon Corzine will be a voice for strong gun control in the United States Senate.

BUCKLEY: Bradley's support coming on a day when Corzine was hit with some bad news from a new poll. The Democrat, who'd been enjoying a double-digit lead, is now, says the Quinnipiac University poll, locked in a close race: Corzine at 46 percent; his Republican opponent, Bob Franks, at 41 percent.


REP. ROBERT FRANKS (R), NEW JERSEY: Oh, you hard-core loyalists.


BUCKLEY: Congressman Franks, a four-term member of the House of Representatives and former state Republican Party chairman, has made Corzine's campaign spending, a record $45 million and counting, the primary issue in the race.

FRANKS: I've spent the last eight years in Congress working to earn your support. Mr. Corzine this fall is trying to buy it.

BUCKLEY: Most of the money Corzine is spending, at $1 million a week, his own money earned as co-chairman of the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and Company.


NARRATOR: John Corzine: unbought, unbossed. Bob Franks: deep in debt to the special interests.


BUCKLEY: The money is funding Corzine commercials, which air constantly in New Jersey. (on camera): Corzine's spending put him on the political map, introducing him to voters who had never heard of the former investment banker. But that spending now appears to bother at least some voters. More than 50 percent of those polled by Quinnipiac University saying they are concerned about that level of spending.

(voice-over): Corzine continues to believe, however, it will not be an issue upon which voters will make their decision.

JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY SENATE CANDIDATE: The issue is not money. The issue is what we are talking to voters about.


FRANKS: How are you? I'm Bob Franks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Second time I'm shaking your hand.

FRANKS: My goodness. When was the last time?



BUCKLEY: Franks has relied heavily on retail politics, with only $3.5 million raised. Strategists say they have enough, however, to adequately fund the last two weeks of the campaign, including TV spots of their own.


NARRATOR: Spend all you want, Jon, but New Jersey ain't buying it.


BUCKLEY: Still, Frank's money a mere pittance compared to the record $50 million plus expected to be spent by Corzine, who hopes his first run at elective office will land him in the U.S. Senate.

Frank Buckley, CNN, Morristown, New Jersey.


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

WOODRUFF: Still to come...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One minute I'm Bush and then I'm Gore and then I'm Bush and then I'm Gore.


WOODRUFF: Indecision in the suburbs of St. Louis: John King on the struggle to win over key voters. Plus...


PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're hitting the campaign trail with some of the biggest names in politics.


SHAW: Patty Davis on the battle for support on Chicago's North Shore, as Election Day closes in. And later...

WOODRUFF: From snack foods to the lights of Las Vegas: the use of politics to sway consumers.


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

Healthy people can wait for their flu shots. That recommendation comes today from Surgeon General David Satcher. He says that high- risk patients should move to the head of the flu shot line. That includes pregnant women, the elderly, health care workers, and the chronically ill. Delays in flu vaccine shipments caused a temporary shortage this season. The Centers for Disease Control says everybody else can get their shots in December.

SHAW: You're on a plane, and you have a heart attack. What's the chance you'll survive?

As Jonathan Aiken reports, it might depend on the equipment on board.


JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mike Tighe never knew what hit him while on an American Airlines flight in November of 1998.

MIKE TIGHE: I just kind of passed out and I have no recollection of what happened then. That's when I went into cardiac arrest.

AIKEN: He was lucky. His American flight was equipped with an AED, an automatic external defibrillator.

TIGHE: Because it was used quickly, because of the use of CPR, there was no depravation of oxygen to my brain, so I really came out of this whole experience with no damage.

AIKEN (on camera): Mike Tighe's case was one of 200 were AEDs were used either in airports or on airliners between June of '97 and July of last year. A study in "The New England Journal of Medicine" found their use after cardiac arrest boosted long-term survival rates to up to 40 percent.

DR. RICHARD L. PAGE, UT SOUTHWESTERN MEDICAL CENTER: Those passengers would likely not have survived since it takes at least 20 minutes to land an aircraft and have a land-based crew resuscitate the patient.

AIKEN (voice-over): AEDs are standard on American, Delta and United Airlines and in a handful of the nation's major airports. But those aren't the only places you'll find them. A parallel study in the journal looked at AED use by trained security personnel on nearly 150 patrons of casinos.

It found survival rates as high as 74 percent when AED's were used within three minutes of cardiac arrest. The success of AEDs has led to calls for them to be as commonplace as fire extinguishers in public places.

Jonathan Aiken for CNN, Washington.


SHAW: Congress has learned that a Pentagon analyst resigned a day after the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen. Senators say the terrorism expert told them his superiors did not heed his warnings about potential attacks. The Defense Intelligence Agency denies that claim. A Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today also heard from the military commander in the region.


GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, COMMANDER, CENTRAL COMMAND: We're determined to get to the bottom of this. We'll put the events that led up to Cole under a microscope, and in fact, we've begun that process. We will find the facts we need to find and we'll use the lessons that we learn from Cole to provide the best possible force protection for our troops in one of the most dangerous regions of the world.


SHAW: Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas says the military should have had more concerns about stopping in the Yemeni port of Aden.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, our daily tracking poll numbers and a slip of John McCain's tongue.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Governor Bush's message to young Americans is there is nobility in serving a cause greater than your self-interest, and that's what a Gore-Cheney presidency means.

My friends, I am proud to be with you here today.


WOODRUFF: A notable oops by Senator John McCain while he was campaigning for the Bush-Cheney ticket in Florida today. Thirteen days before voters choose the next president, George W. Bush now leads Al Gore by five points in our daily tracking poll. Gore was up by one point in yesterday's CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup survey. As always, it is too early to know if a one-day fluctuation is a sign of a trend. Our pollsters are warning that in this close race more ups and downs in the survey are very likely right up until election day.

SHAW: Suburban women, they are among the key voting groups that Bush and Gore are targeting. Our polling shows Gore with a slight edge over Bush among women who live in the suburbs. This summer, before the political conventions, Governor Bush had a nine-point lead over Gore among suburban women.

CNN's John King went back to the suburbs of St. Louis to see how the candidates are faring with female voters there.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Liz Reinus is the no- nonsense type, no qualms about a brisk bike ride on a raw rainy morning, no hesitation about her choice for president.

LIZ REINUS: I don't elect a warm and fuzzy president. I elect someone that I think has the wherewithal to lead the country, who has the political views that I espouse. I'm pro-choice. I'm pro-gun control.

KING: So count one vote for Al Gore in the struggle for the suburbs in one of campaign 2000's most critical battleground states.

(on camera): Missouri has backed the winner in every presidential election this century except one, back in 1956. And close statewide races are won or lost here in the St. Louis suburbs, where women are the key swing voting block.

(voice-over): It is a comfortable place to live. Most parents praise the schools and the atmosphere for raising a family. Times here are pretty good. But that doesn't always work to the vice president's advantage.

KAREN GROSSMAN: I feel like the last eight years, you know, a time of huge prosperity, we've seen very little progress in our schools and things that I care about.

KING: Karen Grossman is a part-time teacher and mother of two, worried when her son surfs the Internet, conflicted when it comes to picking a president.

GROSSMAN: I really think if I was going to vote my conscience and take care of the children, the poor, I would vote Democrat. But I'm not sure Gore is going to get the job done.

KING: The name Monica Lewinsky doesn't come up nearly as much as it did during a similar discussion here six months ago, but morality and values remain a strong undercurrent as the campaign comes to a close.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And although I don't agree with what he did in his private life, it was his private life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, then I don't think...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then don't be president.

KING: Health care, education, the Supreme Court dominate when the talk here is about policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One thing, though, is who's going to be maybe more effective with Congress.

KING: But for some, like Elizabeth Mesker, the decision is more personal.

ELIZABETH MESKER: I, for whatever reason, believe more in Bush. He has more credibility with me.

KING: Lori Mersman sees it that way, too, says she's more in- line with Gore on the issues, but will vote Bush, because she found the vice president's performance in the final debate, in her words, "obnoxious."

LORI MERSMAN: Just the behavior. I just thought, ooh, do I want to look at this guy for the next four years? I don't think so.

KING: Susan McGraw leans Bush, too, because she doubts the vice president's sincerity.

SUSAN MCGRAW: I do associate Gore too closely because of the whole Clinton deal, and I also feel like Gore has been pretty much of a chameleon through all this.

KING: But like many here, she says it's a tough choice. Like Bush, she opposes abortion and she thinks the governor is the better leader, yet as a mother of two girls believes Gore has it right when it comes to school safety and gun control.

MCGRAW: Well, I know, it's terrible. One minute, I'm Bush, then I'm Gore, then I'm Bush, then I'm Gore.

KING: So she's happy there's still a little more time to talk it over, a little more time before her vote helps settle the struggle for the suburbs.

John King, CNN, Clayton, Missouri.


WOODRUFF: And turning to some other battleground states, we have several now ARG polls just in. In Florida, this survey shows Gore leading Bush by four points in contrast to the poll we reported at the top of the show, which had Bush ahead by five points. In Oregon, Bush leads Gore by four points. Gore was up by one point in Oregon in an ARG survey released last week.

In Michigan, ARG now shows Gore leading Bush by three points. The two were neck-and-neck in another recent Michigan poll. And in Pennsylvania, ARG has Gore up by five points. A "Pittsburgh Post- Gazette" poll out today shows Bush and Gore dead-even in the Keystone State.

SHAW: Joining us now: Margaret Carlson, of "Time" and Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard" -- Judy's reporting underscoring the closeness of this race.

Margaret, first to you. What is the Ralph Nader factor in this campaign?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Well, the factor is that there is two, three, four points that Nader can take. And it seems to come directly from Gore. And Nader is in a little bit of danger himself, because he's not a politician. And I worked for Ralph Nader once, so I'm very fond of him. I think he's done incredible things for the country.

But his halo may be knocked a little bit, because he says: I'm not going to campaign in places to try to get my 5 percent, where the two are neck-and-neck and it will tilt the election to Bush. And then he goes and does it. So, you know, actually, if he's going to do it, Ralph Nader shouldn't say he's not going to do it, because that's not the way Ralph Nader is. And that's not his reputation, but it could be a factor.

SHAW: Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Sure. I mean, there's -- I mean, there's a need for Ralph Nader. There's a large natural Ralph Nader constituency. There's this consensus that's grown over the last eight years among both parties that it's, you know, a good thing in- itself to make a ton of money. But if you don't believe that, you've got nowhere to go except Ralph Nader. So old-fashioned liberals and lefties, you know, they just form -- they're Nader voters. And it's been this way for, I think, a number of years. Nader kind of fills a void.

And the question that I have is, where was the Gore campaign in this? Why didn't -- I mean, this was clear three months ago or longer. So why is it only now that the Gore campaign seems to be taking this really seriously and understanding it for what it is, which is a threat to Gore?

SHAW: Speaking of threats, Tucker, what's the impact on Governor Bush of the latest RAND corporation study that looks at Texas education scores?

T. CARLSON: Well, I mean, you know, it's a valid question: Are his claims about education in Texas true? On the other hand, I have a lot of doubts about whether that whole line of argument -- the idea that Texas is really not such a great place and that he's overstated its greatness and his greatness as a governor -- a lot of doubts about whether that works as an argument. I mean, I don't see any evidence that it has so far, and I think, you know, it's -- there are a lot of details in that argument. And I think a lot of voters look at it and say, well, gee, he was elected twice by increasing margins, he must have done something right.

I think it's the sort of argument that might work over time. You know, if this had come out six months ago and the Gore campaign had had a longer period of time to reinforce it with more and more evidence, perhaps it would have an effect. But you know, there are 13 days left and it's hard to see how a lot of voters are going to have their minds changed by this at this late date.

SHAW: What do you think, Margaret?

M. CARLSON: Well, voters are finally paying attention, and education is at the center of Bush's Texas miracle and this does cast doubt on that. And it casts doubt on, you know, what's come to be this testing phenomena, which is really bad for kids. I mean, we're told not to cram as students, and now there is an institutional cramming that goes on as teachers just try to teach children to pass these tests. And these tests aren't a reflection of what you've learned or your intelligence. They're a reflection of test-taking.

And so if this has a longer-term impact, which is to take away from that idea, it will serve an even larger purpose than, you know, the narrower ones of the Gore campaign to cast doubt on Bush's education miracle.

SHAW: Margaret, is Al Gore being hurt by Governor Bush's big- government charge?

M. CARLSON: Well, he's counterpunching now, saying, you know, I'm going to shrink government. But you know, the problem with that is that what people say they want, they say, "I want government to do certain things." And what they're really saying is "I want big government to do these things," because actually you need more government if you're going to accomplish them.

People never like to say that. And there's a simplistic notion that if you cut the waste, fraud and abuse out, well, then you'll have small government. But that's pretty much been cut out. So to get these things, you need probably a larger government than we have. And so it's a myth, but he's counterpunching with this. It's one of the flimsier promises of the campaign.

SHAW: And Tucker, how do you see it?

T. CARLSON: Well, let me first just say it's so refreshing to hear Margaret say that testing is bad for children. I suspected that all through school, and it's so nice to hear it confirmed.


M. CARLSON: And my SAT scores, I'll you.

T. CARLSON: Well -- no, I mean, I think this is the sort of argument that could work for Gore. I mean, you saw in the debate where Gore accused Governor Bush of making Texas government bigger. This is a pretty -- this is a clever argument, and I think that Gore, again, six months ago could have gone and tried to highlight his "Reinventing Government" initiative of some years ago. I think it could have worked. It's been much more resonant with voters than I think anyone suspected.

But again, I think it's too late. I think it's too late to introduce a brand-new theme like this.

M. CARLSON: Well, you know, he...

SHAW: Tucker Carlson, Margaret Carlson...

M. CARLSON: Oh, goodbye, Bernie.

T. CARLSON: See you.

SHAW: See you next time.


SHAW: Bye-bye.

And just ahead, choosing between two candidates who agree on the issues: drawing the distinctions on Chicago's North Shore.


SHAW: With less than two weeks to go, the two parties are counting congressional seats and closely watching the state races. In Illinois' 10th district, the candidates for an open seat are trying to woo undecided voters by pointing out their differences.

Patty Davis explains.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... is the speaker of the House of Representatives, Speaker Dennis Hastert. And thank you very much for coming.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're hitting the campaign trail with some of the biggest names in politics.

LAUREN BETH GASH (D), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: It's my pleasure to introduce you to my friend, Senator Bill Bradley.

DAVIS: Democrat Lauren Beth Gash and Republican Mark Kirk are both looking for an edge in Illinois' 10th congressional district race. Kirk, a former top aide to the district's popular retiring congressman, John Porter, has a slight lead, 44 to 39 percent in a "Chicago Tribune" poll.

GASH: We all knew that this would be a tight race. What it does show is that most of the voters don't yet know where my opponent or I, where we stand on the issues. DAVIS: Where they stand is on the same side of many issues important to voters in this swing district. Located on Chicago's North Shore, the 10th congressional district is known for its posh towns and expensive lake-front homes. Its affluent and highly educated voters are fiercely independent. Moderate politics is what sells here, be it Republican or Democratic.

Both Kirk and Gash, a popular Democrat in Illinois' Statehouse, support a patients' bill of rights, abortion rights, gun control, and strong environmental protection. So both are trying to draw distinctions and are getting increasingly nasty.


NARRATOR: And Mark Kirk would do nothing to reduce the price of prescription drugs.

GASH: Mark Kirk and I couldn't disagree more.


DAVIS: Gash accuses Kirk of telling voters whatever they want to hear on Social Security, including privatization. That's the goal of a group that's given him $46,000 in campaign contributions.

Kirk, who says he's not for privatizing Social Security, is firing back.

MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: As Ronald Reagan said when the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed him, "I do not endorse their agenda, but they have endorsed mine." The big labor unions represent half of my opponent's funding in the recent cycle.

DAVIS: Both parties have made winning this hotly contested seat a top priority this year.

STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: If the Democrats win this race, it really is a, in a sense, an unexpected victory. It would -- it could well put them over the top in their fight for the House.

DAVIS: That's why the retiring Republican John Porter is working to make sure the seat stays in Republican hands.


REP. JOHN PORTER (R), ILLINOIS: Mark Kirk shares my views and my values. Please join me in voting for Mark Kirk to carry on our tradition of independent leadership in Congress.


DAVIS: Despite the big-name endorsements and Kirk's endorsement by "The Chicago Tribune" and "The Chicago Sun-Times," 16 percent of voters are still undecided. Both campaigns say they're spending as much as a $1 million each in the final days leading up to the election to help voters make up their minds.

Patty Davis, CNN, Winnetka, Illinois.


WOODRUFF: Earlier in the program during Pat Neal's report on the Bush education plan, we incorrectly identified Donna Hashkey (ph) of the Texas State Teachers Association as Bush education adviser Margaret Lamontagne. We regret the error.

When we return, poking fun at the political process: a look at the latest ad strategy.


WOODRUFF: This close to the election, voters may feel bombarded by campaign ads on their television screens. This year, businesses also are getting into the act. They see the election as an opportunity to use politics and humor to sell their products.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): A different kind of presidential debate...


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Vote for me, my dad was president. I even look like my dad.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Big deal, my dad was a senator.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We have the same shoe size...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, well I invented the Internet. Lots of other stuff, too.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Once my mom thought I was my dad.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Space shuttle, that was mine.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: On the phone people think I'm my dad.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We have the same name, my dad and I, that is.


WOODRUFF: There is no mistaking who's being spoofed in that candy bar commercial. Madison Avenue is going a step farther this election cycle in poking fun at candidates and the political process.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We owe it to our children to provide a safe...




UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That's why I want to be your president.

No thank you, I don't like cheese.


WOODRUFF: Ad analysts say there appear to be more spots this year based on the premise that mocking politicians sells. This cheese ad got into the act early and got a lot of airtime.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What if we say he chewed, but he never swallowed?




BOB DOLE: What does Bob Dole think? Bob Dole thinks he's a doofus.


WOODRUFF: Las Vegas is trying to sell itself to tourists by ribbing the political parties.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Candidates have accused our party of flip- flopping on the issue. Well, let me tell you about that. We don't even know what the issues are, because in Las Vegas we're not concerned with issues or topics or subjects. We're concerned with freedom. The freedom to go where you want to go. To be who you want to be. The freedom to do what you want, when you want -- Hi!


WOODRUFF: Experts say ads that laugh at politics often get extra attention, particularly in an era when many Americans get campaign information from comics on late night TV.

Might spots like this one actually sway voters' views? Consider this: about 37 million people watched the third presidential debate. But in just two of numerous prime time runs, more than 40 million viewers saw this debate.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: My dad and I wear the same pants.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I invented pants.



WOODRUFF: It's a good thing we never make fun of politicians on this program.

SHAW: Never.

WOODRUFF: Never -- wouldn't think of it.

Having said that, that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go on-line all the time, at CNN's

We'll see you again tomorrow when Al Gore will be on the campaign trail in Iowa and Wisconsin; and George W. Bush will be after votes in Pennsylvania and Ohio. And, by the way, I will be in Pennsylvania, too, tomorrow and Friday.

SHAW: Miss you; safe travel.

This programming note: Governor Bush's record in Texas will be the topic tonight on "CROSSFIRE" at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. The guests will be Senator Bob Kerrey and Congressman Lindsey Graham.

I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. "WORLDVIEW" is next.



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