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Crossfire

Election 2000: Bush and Gore Target California

Aired October 31, 2000 - 7:30 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Tonight it's California, here they come as both Bush and Gore campaign in the golden state. But can bush win this democratic stronghold or is he just California dreaming?

ANNOUNCER: Live, from Washington: CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press; on the right, Robert Novak. In the crossfire, Senator Barbara Boxer, Gore California co-chair and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California, a Bush supporter.

PRESS: Good evening, welcome to CROSSFIRE and welcome to the West Coast, where both Al Gore and George Bush are trolling for support; in fact, Bush is now speaking, right here, as you see him in Portland, Oregon. Lets listen up a bit.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... the ingenuity and hard work of your federal government. I'm not kidding you. I know, I was on the stage with him three different times.

You see it's a difference of opinions folks. It's an honest difference of opinion. This surplus exists -- we know it exists because of the ingenuity and hard work of the American people. That's why it exists.

PRESS: Bush came to Oregon from California -- electoral-vote rich California; 54 big ones which Bush insists he's going to win, despite a "San Francisco Examiner"/KTVU poll showing Gore with a 10- point lead, 49 to 39, with Green Party candidate Ralph Nader pulling five percent.

Gore arrives in California tonight and Thursday he sends in Mr. California surfer himself, Bill Clinton to rally the troops one last time. Of course, while in California both Bush and Gore make obligatory stops on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" just for laughs. But for Al Gore, Oregon is no laughing matter. More than any other state, that looks like Nader territory -- now 10 percent for Nader. One state normally democratic, but thanks to Nader, Gore could lose and Bush could win. So for both candidates it's the wild West, indeed.

Tonight: Is California in play? Does Bush really have a chance of winning the golden state and will Oregon go Green -- Bob.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Senator Boxer, this is Halloween night, happy Halloween. SEN. BARBARA BOXER, GORE CALIFORNIA CO-CHAIR: To you, too.

NOVAK: And last night they celebrated it prematurely in Los Angeles, Jay Leno and George W. Bush and let's just take a little look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

JAY LENO, HOST: Now I have a Halloween mask I think you might get a kick out of. Let's see what you think here -- put this on.

Does this look a little bit like -- subliminable.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: That's scary.

LENO: Subliminable.

BUSH: This is more scary.

(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Now, all kidding aside, isn't it a fact that Al Gore is a little scary and that big 17, 18 point lead in California has shrunk down in some polls to below 10 percent, 6 percent, 5 percent -- he's a scary candidate, isn't he Barbara.

BOXER: Well, let me just say this, don't be scared of Al Gore because he's just been part of the Clinton-Gore team; and we remember in California -- this is why Bush will not win the state -- we remember where it was when George Bush, G.W.'s dad was president. We were in the worst, longest recession since the Great Depression. And believe me when I say the policies of Clinton-Gore really helped pull us out of it. And there's no question that Californians remember this. They remember when we had our terrible earthquake.

So the bottom line is that Clinton-Gore were there; and, also, you have in Gore a candidate who is pro-choice who is pro-sensible gun laws. You have in Bush a man who signed 18 anti-choice pieces of legislation. He signed a bill that said you could carry a concealed weapon into church, into a hospital. He do not fit with California on the economy, on the environment, on sensible gun laws, on a woman's right to choose; so I think -- maybe it's true that it will be five or six points, but Robert, that is half a million votes and I think that's a good margin.

I'd be very happy. We don't have on to win by 2 million votes.

NOVAK: You know, senator, I know you don't get back to California much because you're so busy obstructing legislation...

BOXER: Actually, I get back almost every weekend when we're not working. NOVAK: ... in the Senate. But -- well maybe you don't go to the right places because I just want to call...

BOXER: What's the right places, the Bohemian Club?

PRESS: He's going to tell you.

NOVAK: I'm going to quote one of the guys who really knows what's going on, that's Bill Christiansen. He's the executive director of the Orange County Republican Party, and he says we haven't seen this kind of enthusiasm since the Reagan years.

And I know when -- I've been out to California three times in the last six weeks, and I have just found a building tide of Republican enthusiasm. Don't you see that out there?

BOXER: Yes, I really do. I think the Republicans are excited. They have the most anti-choice candidate they could ever want. They have a man...

NOVAK: School choice?

BOXER: Anti-choice in terms of a woman's right to choose.

NOVAK: Oh, I thought you meant school choice.

BOXER: Well, on school choice he's for vouchers and the Democrats and Republicans vote that down every single time; they're going to vote it down again.

So yes, I think you're right. I think the Republican base is motivated and I think that the democratic base is motivated; and I'm excited about this election because there are real choices, and the Orange County guy is right.

PRESS: And speaking of Orange County, let's say good evening to Congressman Rohrabacher.

Congressman, we quoted -- I quoted earlier "The San Francisco Examiner" poll, 10-point lead for Al Gore. "The L.A. Times" poll, seven-point lead for Al Gore. This is a state, as Senator Boxer pointed out, that Bill Clinton and Al Gore carried in '92 and '96, that Dan Lungren lost, last time around, by over 20 votes.

Be honest with the people tonight: you don't have a snowball's chance of winning California, do you?

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, BUSH SUPPORTER: I think we've got a much better chance than we've ever had because, what you're not saying, Bill, is what's also evident in statistics that have been presented tonight, is the momentum is on the Republican side.

Yes, we may be down to 10 or 7 percent, but that means that we have come a long way and the momentum is coming with us. We've got all the energy and Tom Clinkey (ph) is down in Orange County; he's absolutely correct. We're going to have the precinct-walkers out because they're energized; the Democrats aren't going to want to get out of bed. Half of them think they're going to vote for Nader because these people sympathize with the demonstrators up in Seattle, and it was Al Gore who those demonstrators were demonstrating against.

PRESS: If you want to react, Barbara?

BOXER: Well, I mean -- Dana, it's nice to see you, remote though it may be. I have to say, this momentum business, if you look at polls it's just the opposite. We did fall down and now we're coming back; and, you know, time is working against George W. Bush. Every day there's a new story about what's wrong with Texas, and it's very obvious now -- the other day there was an independent survey that said that Texas is the 3rd worst place to raise a child.

ROHRABACHER: The people of Texas are voting for George Bush. The people of Tennessee aren't voting for Gore.

BOXER: But wait, let me finish my point: It's the most polluted state in the union -- Houston is the smog capital of the world. You know that most of the country doesn't want to look like that, and there's a 40 percent dropout rate in high school. We don't need that.

ROHRABACHER: And when the Democrats handed that had to George Bush it was a lot worse off. He's made it better in the last five years and everybody knows that about George. He work with Democrats, he makes things better and he's positive and the momentum's on our side.

PRESS: Congressman I want to give you one other indicator of California which I was totally surprised to see the other day. This is this week's "Fortune" magazine. "Fortune" magazine, you know, they've got the Fortune 500.

Now, in this new age of new technology they've got the Fortune 50, they call them the e-50, and they polled the CEOs of the e-50, most of them are in California, Silicon Valley, right? Gore or Bush? Here's what it shows: Gore 53 percent, Bush 30 percent. The first time in 13 years that "Fortune" magazine has been polling CEOs that a democratic candidate won. Doesn't that show, again -- California, the future is with Gore.

ROHRABACHER: Let me answer that. That is precisely why the Nader people are going to vote for Ralph Nader and a lot of Democrats...

PRESS: What!

ROHRABACHER: ... because Gore has been tied into this corporate elite that Bill Clinton...

PRESS: High tech?

ROHRABACHER: ... the whole China issue, the whole issue they were demonstrating against, this globalism where the corporations have all of the power. They know that, and they know that Al Gore is up to that up to his elbows and they're going to vote for Nader and that's going to help George Bush.

BOXER: Dana, you know what most people think, if you want to live like a Republican, vote for the Democrat. If you look at history, if you want to follow the stock market, every time a Democrat has been in the White House the market's gone up. If you want to look at recessions, if you want to look at prosperity, we are in the longest prosperity ever.

ROHRABACHER: Which started under Ronald Reagan.

BOXER: Do you remember...

NOVAK: If I could get into this dialogue, let me ask you a question. You know, you're renowned as a great political strategist, and I just want to ask you if your party didn't make a tremendous mistake in California since June 1, when the Bush campaign was way, way down they have spent 5.5 million dollars.

BOXER: The Bush people.

NOVAK: The Bush people. The Gore people have spent -- you know how much since June 1? Zero, a round number. That's a mistake, isn't it? In the biggest state in the country? Plus, Californians I talk to are very worried -- California Democrats.

BOXER: Well, let me tell you this. I am not worried and if I come back here after and I was wrong I will apologize to you and to the viewers.

NOVAK: Apologize to Press.

BOXER: When you love someone, you don't have to apologize. But the bottom line of all this is this: We know we had a finite amount of money. The Bush people have an endless amount of money. The tobacco industry's supporting them, the oil industry's supporting them, the NRA -- all that money is going in. They have money to throw around, we don't, so we're spending in the battleground states.

NOVAK: Let me show you -- let me shown you -- let me show you why George W. Bush is doing well in California and in other places. He was in California this week and there was a troubled man who had had an addiction who kind of broke down and I want you to see what George W. Bush said and ask you in advance if you can image Al Gore saying that.

BOXER: Sure.

NOVAK: Go ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We need to understand the power of faith in people's lives when it comes to helping people fight addictions. I was able to share with some of the men and women here that I quit drinking in 1986. Haven't had a drop since then. It wasn't because of a government program, by the way, in my particular case. It was because I heard a higher call that these men and women don't stand alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: That's a real person, isn't it?

ROHRABACHER: That is a real person and he's a good human being and that's what the American people are recognizing...

(CROSSTALK)

BOXER: Wait a minute. Is that the...

ROHRABACHER: He is not a bully and Al Gore is a bully and he's and that's what people see and that's why George Bush is going to win.

PRESS: The question -- now the question was directed to Senator Boxer.

BOXER: All right. Well, Dana, both of these men are deeply religious men and I feel that they both feel it inside and I think that both of them will bring that faith -- whichever one wins -- to the White House and it will in fact help them both because you need a find strength when are you in position of president of the United States.

NOVAK: I love that, that positivism, Senator. We're going to take a break on that happy note. And when we come back we'll talk about the two other states on the Left Coast, Oregon and Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. The whole West Coast was supposed to in Al Gore's pocket this election, but George W. Bush is making a real fight in Oregon and Washington where Green Candidate Ralph Nader takes support away from the vice president.

Both candidates are in the Pacific Northwest this week as well as in California. We're talking to two Californians: Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher -- Bill.

PRESS: Congressman Rohrabacher, here's something really scary. Ralph Nader found some unusual support this week from the Republican Party. I'm sure you've seen this little ad that's been running, paid for by Republicans. In case everyone hasn't seen it, hear's a little sample.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL AD)

RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Al Gore is suffering from election year delusion if he thinks his record on the environment is anything to be proud of.

NARRATOR: So what's Al Gore's real record?

NADER: Eight years of principles betrayed and promises broken.

NARRATOR: Ask Al Gore, why?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESS: Now congressman, of course the ad doesn't point that even Ralph Nader says that George Bush is far, far, far worse on the environment than Al Gore. But doesn't the fact that Republican Party's running that ad prove that a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for George Bush?

ROHRABACHER: I think a vote for Ralph Nader is probably a principled vote considering that Al Gore is up to his elbows, as you pointed out earlier, with corporate America, going after this globalism in which they would dominate everything without any type of local Democratic controls. No wonder these people who demonstrated up in Seattle -- who were demonstrating basically against the Clinton- Gore administration will vote for Ralph Nader rather than Al Gore.

PRESS: Congressman, I don't think -- I've known you a long time. I don't think you and I have ever agreed anything, but maybe we can agree on this. Just let's try. Wouldn't you agree with me that the biggest lie of this entire campaign is Ralph Nader's statement that it makes no difference whether Al Gore or George Bush wins this election?

ROHRABACHER: Well, I think it makes a difference whether Al Gore or George Bush wins. For example, the Boy Scouts of America will be safe if George Bush is elected. If Al Gore is elected, they're going to be forced to take God out of the "Scout Oath" and eliminate their moral standards for scoutmasters.

NOVAK: Senator, I want to give you a couple pieces of information you might have missed in your busy duties in the Senate. And the first is the Zogby poll in the state of Washington -- Green Washington: Gore, 45 percent; Bush, 44 percent; Nader, 6 percent. And the other piece of information is in Oregon -- Green Oregon, American Research group poll: Bush, 45 percent; Gore, 41 percent; Nader, 10 percent.

Now, isn't that surprising, not only that Nader is getting that kind of vote, but that really it's a dead heat between the two candidates in states that have been won repeatedly by the Democrats in recent campaigns?

BOXER: Well, we have a real fight in Oregon. I was just there and Nader is definitely pulling votes away. There is no question about it. But let me tell you what I think -- and I'm hope I'm right on this and we'll know soon enough in the real poll that counts on Election Day -- which is that I really think about half the Nader people are taking another look because they do not want to see George Bush in there.

Their motivating issues mostly happen to be the environment and also many cases, you know, privacy rights -- a woman's right to choose. And the fact is, I just did a little radio commercial, when Ralph Nader says it doesn't matter if Roe vs. Wade gets overturned, it'll go back to the states, the bottom line there is that's where we were before Roe and women died because 16 of the states are now primed to make abortion criminal.

So I think they're taking another look here, and I think in the end I think they'll come home to Gore. But it's a fight and I'm really glad Al's there in Oregon. I'm glad he's in California. I'm glad he's in Washington.

NOVAK: But let me suggest one the problems that your candidate Al Gore has is besides not being very likable and being abrasive, a word that was used to me by one his advisers, is that he has been wooing...

(CROSSTALK)

BOXER: You don't have be in love with the guy. You know, Tipper is, but what you want to have is a strong leader.

NOVAK: But he has -- one of reasons he's got problem with the liberals is he -- as Bill well knows, he's been wooing the Catholic votes by saying, well, I'm against partial birth abortion. I'm for common ground on abortion he.

BOXER: We all...

(CROSSTAK)

NOVAK: Oh, sure we are.

BOXER: Wait a minute -- wait a minute, Robert, you raise an important point.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: And he's completely, completely abandoned the gun control issue he never talks about it.

BOXER: Oh, that's not true.

NOVAK: I'll tell you what, I'll buy you a dinner if can you tell me the last time he mentioned gun control.

BOXER: What restaurant?

NOVAK: Isn't that what his problem is?

BOXER: No.

NOVAK: He's a trimmer, isn't he?

BOXER: The bottom line in all of this is Al Gore is pro-choice. We all don't want late-term abortions. We would all would say they should be banned except...

NOVAK: No, no, no, he says partial-birth abortion. He doesn't say late-term abortion.

BOXER: Every single one of us has said we shouldn't have that procedure.

NOVAK: Have what? Have what? Name it. Name the procedure.

PRESS: Let her answer the question.

NOVAK: You won't even name it. She won't name it though.

ROHRABACHER: You're relegated to trying to scare people.

BOXER: Robert, it isn't fair to interrupt me.

NOVAK: I want you to name the procedure.

PRESS: Please let her answer the question.

BOXER: OK, well, they have called it partial-birth abortion. I don't agree with it. It's a medical procedure used in emergency situations. All of us have said, and we have gone on bills that say -- Robert, let me finish -- we don't want to see any late-term abortions. The only time you would have it is the life and the health of the mother, if she could never have another child.

NOVAK: But Gore uses the word partial-birth abortion.

PRESS: Congressman, almost out of time, Congressman, last word.

ROHRABACHER: Gore is now relegated trying to scare people to vote for him. I met a guy here on Halloween night who has been hired by Al Gore to make phone calls to seniors to scare them about Social Security. So, I hope people don't get scared by the shark, and pay attention to the real issues.

BOXER: Let me tell you, Dana, they ought to get scared because he's promised, George Bush, your candidate, $1 trillion to seniors and $1 trillion to the young people. It doesn't add up. It doesn't add up, but it's very cute.

PRESS: Happy Halloween to both of you and thank you for joining us on CROSSFIRE.

Congress Rohrabacher, always good to have you back. Always good for laughs. Senator Barbara Boxer, great to have you here. Get back to the West Coast and get to work.

BOXER: And I'll see you at dinner.

PRESS: That's right. I'm going to be at that dinner.

Bob Novak and I will be back with closing comments coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PRESS: And don't forget at 10:00 tonight it's "THE SPIN ROOM" with me and Tucker Carlson. Tonight we are going to be talking more about what is up on the West Coast and how could anybody at this point in the election still be undecided? That's 10:00 tonight Eastern on CNN.

Bob, I have got to tell you something. I don't know for sure, I could not guess what is going to happen on November seventh nationwide. But as the -- did I ever tell you I was the former state --

NOVAK: And you lost every election.

PRESS: As the former chair, I got to tell you, Bob, there is no way that somebody who is anti-choice, pro-oil and pro-gun is going to win California. That's not California dreaming that's California smoking.

NOVAK: Nobody since Ronald Reagan.

But you know, I like to be a one-man truth squad with you, Bill. And so, if you will pardon me I want to correct something you said. First place, that commercial that had Nader in it was not a commercial for Nader as people who watched this might get the idea from listening to you. It was a commercial for Bush against Gore and they used Nader as a witness.

PRESS: But all I said was it was paid for by Republicans. That's all I said.

NOVAK: Will you please let me finish?

PRESS: I said the truth.

NOVAK: Can I finish, please?

PRESS: You may, but it...

NOVAK: It was not -- you indicated it was commercial for Nader and please let me finish. Don't interrupt me, please. I don't interrupt you.

PRESS: You interrupted the senator.

NOVAK: And you don't interrupt me, OK? It was not -- it was not that and it was not paid for it was not paid for by the Republican party. It was paid for by the Republican Liberal Council and it was not the Party. PRESS: It was still Republicans. From the left, I'm Bill Press. Good night from CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

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