CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Maryland Gubernatorial Candidate Reacts to D.C. Area Sniper Attacks; Florida's Harris Says She Wishes She Had Talked to Press More

Aired October 9, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.
As the hunt continues in the D.C. suburbs for a sniper on the loose, are the killings likely to influence the Maryland governor's race? I'll ask Republican candidate Robert Ehrlich.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on the Capitol subway, where I spoke with the only Republican in the Senate that will vote against giving the president to make war against Iraq.

BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brooks Jackson in Washington. Democrats have Republicans playing defense in the ad war over private Social Security accounts.

I'll tell you who deserves to be zapped.

WOODRUFF: Also ahead...

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You say in the book -- instead of spending thousands of dollars on therapy. Did you need therapy?


WOODRUFF: Our Bill Schneider gets up close and personal with Florida election-standoff-figure-turned-House-candidate Katherine Harris.

Announcer: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

The FBI is analyzing new evidence in the Washington area sniper case, hoping to track down the killer who has been terrorizing people in and around the nation's capital. Police sources say that police found a fortune telling card with the message "Dear policeman: I am God," along with a shell casing near the school where a 13-year-old boy was shot and wounded monday.

It is not yet clear if the Tarot card is related to the case or possibly was left by a prankster. Authorities say they found nothing in their search of the woods behind another Maryland school today. A witness reported seeing a man in the area who appeared to be carrying a long bag.

A woman driving in that area was detained for questioning but was expected to be released. Six people have been killed and two wounded in the week-long shooting spree.


SEN. PAUL SARBANES (D), MARYLAND: I want to express my very deep sympathies and condolences to the families of all those who have been struck down.

SEN. BARBARA MILKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: You are not alone. We are on your side and we are at your side.

PARRIS GLENDENING, MARYLAND GOVERNOR: We're talking about a person here who is basically a coward.

WOODRUFF: After days of cautious silence, Maryland's political class is beginning to go before the cameras to speak about the sniper.

The candidates in the high profile can governor's race, Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Republican Bob Ehrlich have kept a much low profile.

Immediately following the first shootings, Ehrlich released a statement saying, "As we learn more, I will call for the full and swift enforcement of every single relevant law on our books. These killers will be punished. Politics has no place in the investigation or outcome of these crimes, today or in the future."

Townsend has visited schools to talk about student fears, but has refused all interview requests. Before the shootings, however, the gun issue was front and center. In their first and perhaps only debate last month, Townsend criticized Ehrlich's record on gun control.

LT. GOV. KATHLEEN TOWNSEND (D), MARYLAND GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I don't think we need, as you have voted for, to put more Uzis and assault weapons on the street. What good are AK-47s doing on North Avenue? None at all.

REP. ROBERT EHRLICH (R), MARYLAND GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: The people who protect you endorse me, the Maryland State Troopers.

So they obviously don't think I'm so off base with regard to gun crime.

WOODRUFF: Since the shootings, Townsend whose father, Robert Kennedy, was killed by a gunman in 1968, has not repeated those criticisms.

But Townsend's reticence did not stop a prominent gun control group, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, from continuing to run this attack ad through the first five days of the shootings.

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Bob Ehrlich is dead wrong. Uzis and AK- 47s don't belong in our neighborhoods. In Congress, Bob Ehrlich voted to put dangerous assault weapons back on our streets.

WOODRUFF: The Townsend campaign did not ask for that ad to be pulled and has not disavowed it.

A similar charge appears on her campaign Web site.

The ongoing crisis has the potential to make guns a dominant issue in the governor's race. Maryland has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, a reflection of broad voter concern over the availability of guns.



WOODRUFF: With me now, Representative Bob Ehrlich.

EHRLICH: It's good to see you.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you.

These ads that are running now, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the point they're making is that you, as someone who has been a longtime defender of the right to own guns, should now be on the defensive because of what's happened.

EHRLICH: But it's not the right to own illegal guns, and getting guns off the street in Project Exile are, of course, part of our campaign -- and a very important part of our campaign profile, in fact.

WOODRUFF: So when they run this ad and they say that you are somebody who has been on the wrong side of the gun issue, how do you...

EHRLICH: It's to scare people. They're behind in this campaign. They thought they were going to have an easy race, and they're not having an easy race. Fear works in politics.

But I've got to tell you when you focus on illegal guns, people who should not have guns, bringing the resources of local, state, federal government to bear on felony possessors -- felons who should not have guns -- as they had in Virginia and Texas and other places -- these programs work. They decrease the murder rate dramatically. They decrease illegal guns on the street, and to that extent they do take some steam out of the issue of gun control.

WOODRUFF: But you -- but the point -- you just said that they are running, they're behind in this campaign. But these ads are not being run not by the Townsend campaign.

EHRLICH: They're her allies, of course, her allies.

WOODRUFF: But your not saying -- your campaign manager has said -- I'm just going to quote -- he said, "The lieutenant governor is hiding behind the skirts of these organizations so she doesn't look like a meany." I mean, is that...

EHRLICH: Did Paul say that? Well, the fact of it is these groups obviously share her philosophical agenda. These are in many cases Democratic activists who run these kind of ads around the country. They run against President Bush in Texas. We've seen the same ads. And in close races, particularly in a race that's not supposed to be close, like Maryland, they will come out and try to play this issue hard.

The problem is that an equal amount of people now see this as a crime problem. This is a bad guy with a gun, illegal gun. This is a crime problem, and the focus of the debate in my view and in the view of many people in this country and the state of Maryland should be on keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have guns.

WOODRUFF: So you don't feel you're on the defensive right now?

EHRLICH: Well, you have to take two observations. One is the observation of gun control as a place on the campaign. But neither campaign should, in my view, politicize this tragedy. This is a serial killer out there trying to change our way of life. And any campaign, in my view -- I think in the view of many people -- that seeks to cross that line does it at a very large risk.

WOODRUFF: But just to be clear, "The Washington Post" reported that campaigning, I think in Gaithersburg over the weekend, you ran into a voter who said -- and this is what they quoted him as saying -- "People are getting hold of guns, shooting at us." This person looked at you and said why can't you take a position to keep people from getting rifles and other guns? What do you say to...


EHRLICH: That person wanted to abolish private ownership of all weapons, including hunting rifles and all that. That's a fairly extreme position. My view has been to keep guns out of the hands of children, anybody with a mental impairment and, of course, criminals. The fact of it is Maryland has 300 very tough gun laws. We're the third most violent state in the country. We're the first in robberies. We have gun problems out of control in Baltimore city, widely reported. So I would like the focus to be on strengthening those laws and bringing maybe a different idea in. Let's focus on why these illegal guns are on the streets, because obviously, what we have on the books is not working very well.

WOODRUFF: But you did vote against a ban on assault weapons in the Congress in 1996.

EHRLICH: That's correct, with regard to a couple of semi- automatics, as opposed to all the other semiautomatics on the street. The fact of it is the emphasis -- and it's a real philosophical divide in the country -- as you know, it played out in the presidential race, it plays out in a lot of races around the county. Should we focus on gun control and the guns, or should we focus on people who should not have the guns and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law? The programs that I advocate bring the full resources of the local, state and federal government to bear on illegal guns, straw sales, straw sales through gun shows.

WOODRUFF: But are those fine points that are hard to get across at a time like this when there is high emotion in the state of Maryland?

EHRLICH: In 30 second attack ads, of course not. But you give me time -- and I appreciate that. And debates and in written literature, you can get your point across. And it's important. As I said, very few people to this point in the state of Maryland are trying to politicize a serial killer running around trying to change our way of life, killing children going to school, people cleaning their car, washing their car. Anybody who seeks to politicize that kind of tragedy does it at very real risk.


WOODRUFF: Robert Ehrlich spoke to me just a short time ago and his opponent, Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, was not available to join us for an interview today. We hope to have her soon, very soon on INSIDE POLITICS.

As you just saw, we were just telling you there, "CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" will have a special for one hour tonight on the rash of sniper shootings in the D.C. area.

In the showdown with Iraq, the White House says a CIA warning that a U.S. military strike could trigger new terror attacks, bolsters the case for action against Saddam Hussein.

But as Congress prepares to vote on a resolution authorizing the use of force, some lawmakers have found CIA Director George Tenet's report troubling.

On the Senate floor today, Democrat Russ Feingold blasted President Bush's attempt to draw a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda terrorists.


SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: If this is premised on some case that has supposedly been made with regard to a subsequent coalition between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government, I think the president has got to do better. He's got to do better than the shoddy piecing together of flimsy evidence that contradicts the very briefings we have received by various agencies, Mr. President.

I'm not hearing the same things at the briefings.


WOODRUFF: Another potential Democratic presidential candidate has announced his stand on Iraq, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. He says that he supports a resolution giving President Bush broad powers to use force against Saddam Hussein.

Well, Senate Republicans are nearly united in their support for the Iraq resolution, but our Jonathan Karl spoke today with the only announced dissenter in the ranks, Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.


KARL: Senator Chafee, welcome to the subway series.

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R), RHODE ISLAND: Thank you for inviting me.

KARL: Now, if I understand correctly, you may well be the only Republican in the United States Senate that is going to vote against this Iraq resolution.


KARL: Why is that?

CHAFEE: Yes, it appears that way. Each of the members make up their own mind as they see fit, and I know a lot of them are struggling with it. Several Republicans might vote with 11 and then if that fails, vote with the president.

KARL: But, I mean, how does it feel on an issue of war, on an issue -- I mean, there couldn't be a more important issue that the Senate is considering now, to be the only member of your party standing against what the president has asked for?

CHAFEE: Well, it's not easy. I listen carefully to what he says. I've been very receptive to all the arguments and I just have to make up my mind.

KARL: Well, what is the single biggest reason for you opposing this resolution?

CHAFEE: I think the lack of international support, that even the countries that surround Iraq, whether it's Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, even Kuwait, has expressed some kind of opposition to this military intervention.

And to me, that's says if the threat is so imminent, why the countries that are actually sit on the border to Iraq voicing their opposition?

KARL: Have you received any pressure from the Republicans or from the White House to change your vote on this, to support the president? How have they approached you? Have they lobbied you hard? I mean, what are they telling you?

CHAFEE: No, not too much pressure. I think the feeling is that this is going to be an overwhelming vote.

KARL: So they're not concerned about one vote from Senator Chafee?

CHAFEE: No, they're not going to beat me up on this one. KARL: The other big issue, going back a little ways that you were at odds with your party, was the fax cut.

How do you feel now about your vote back then against the president's tax cut?

CHAFEE: Yes, I held steady on that and hat was a lot of pressure. And I thought in my gut, We can't afford it, let's go slowly. And I think I've been vindicated. It didn't take long for the surpluses to disappear.

KARL: Would you vote to take back the tax cut?

CHAFEE: Absolutely.

KARL: You used to have some company on being, you know, on the dissenting side. Jim Jeffords used to be there with you frequently. And he obviously faced a lot of pressure from Republicans and a lot of pressure from the White House until he didn't want to take it anymore and he switched parties.

CHAFEE: Yes, that was a shame. That was a darn shame that things could have been handled so differently for that good man to have been in the party all these years to leave, not only for our majority but just to lose a good man. It's a shame.

KARL: You know, there's a very real possibility, looking at the midterm election, that the Senate could end up right back where it started 50-50, with Vice President Cheney casting the tie breaking vote and the Republicans again being in charge. I mean, it's a real possibility.

CHAFEE: Yes. Yes, it is, as you look at the races.

KARL: What would you do if that were to happen?

CHAFEE: Cross that bridge if we get to it. Have some discussions with the White House. We can't -- we can't be intimidating moderates out of the party.

KARL: Would you absolutely rule out the idea of switching parties?

CHAFEE: I'd -- that's a decision I'd really be -- find very difficult to make. Very, very difficult. Been a Republican a long time.

KARL: Well, senator, thank you so much for coming on the subway with us.

CHAFEE: My pleasure.

KARL: Really appreciate it.

CHAFEE: Thank you for inviting me.


WOODRUFF: Sounded like he left the door open.

Well, meanwhile over in the House of Representatives, a handful of Republicans have said they will vote against the Iraq resolution and our Kate Snow reports that roughly half of all House Democrats plan to vote no.

But House aides say once the resolution is on the verge of passage, some Democrats may change their minds and their political calculations and vote yes.

Well, there's much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news, including: the continuing dance between big name entertainers and the Democratic party.

Also ahead

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to Minnesota's too- close-to-call Senate race, offering voters a choice of personalities as well as politics.

WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley on the style and substance of Wellstone versus Coleman.

And coming up next:

SCHNEIDER: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. There will be a lot of new faces in Congress after this election. But at least one face may be familiar. I'll talk to Florida's freshman congressional candidate and author Katherine Harris.


WOODRUFF: As the GOP nominee in a strong Republican district, Florida's former Secretary of State Katherine Harris could be headed for a seat in Congress.

She came to the Capitol this week to raise money for her campaign. Our Bill Schneider caught up with her to talk about her race, her new book and her public image.


SCHNEIDER: Well, you mentioned that you wanted to dispel some myths that the media had promoted about you.

Can you give me an example of the sort of thing you're talking about?

HARRIS: There are numerous examples but, for example, one of the issues that was promulgated over and over again, was that I stopped the recount. And that was just what everyone says ad infinitum and nobody thinks through it.

But in reality, as secretary of state, I had no authority to order a recount or end a recount. And what I thought was a fairest conclusion would be a statewide recount, and yet we couldn't have a statewide recount until I certified the election, which was a procedural milepost and had a uniform standard.

SCHNEIDER: You say that you wrote the book instead of spending thousands of dollars on therapy.

Did you need therapy?

HARRIS: That was -- no. That was kind of just a joke. But it was interesting. A year after the recount, people were still saying these things that actually were not only untrue but continued to be unkind, so I was teasing and said that.

But it wasn't really -- well, it was cathartic for me. It was more the opportunity to share something that helped me immensely, and my hope for the book is that it will help -- help other people.

SCHNEIDER: Do you feel that you were cruelly treated in that episode?

HARRIS: If I learned -- if perhaps I had come out and spoken more often to the media, I wouldn't have been such an opportune enemy.

And so consequently, perhaps I would have done that. But when you run for a public office, you know that a lot of these things go with the territory.

But, personally, some of those assaults were difficult to handle.

SCHNEIDER: How have you come out of this? What's your opinion of the media coming out of this whole experience?

HARRIS: You know, it was an education for me as much as -- as I'm certain for them. Florida has some unique situations in our law and our statutes. The media, I don't think, ever really understood it was that I'm elected statewide. So many times they said I was appointed.

They didn't realize that we have a very decentralized election system where we have 67 supervisors of elections that have basic autonomy. They design their ballots, they choose their voting systems and they're solely responsible for adding or taking away names in the voting rolls.

And I think if they had understood that a little better, then there just wouldn't have been the onslaught. But everybody was confused and anxious and concerned at this time. And so much was at stake. And I realize I just happen to be in a certain place at a certain time.

SCHNEIDER: Scott Fitzgerald once said, "In American lives, there's no second act."

You're about to embark on a second act. You're coming to -- hope to come to Washington as a member of Congress. HARRIS: God willing.

SCHNEIDER: Have you been in touch with the president at all?

HARRIS: No -- well, I've talked with the administration about some issues occasionally but, both with regard to the president and with regard to the -- Governor Bush, I think it's very important while I think they're doing a stupendous job, it's very important to keep the two separate.

I would never want anybody to think there was a purpose in their helping me out. I have to win this on my own.

SCHNEIDER: So they have not been down to campaign?

HARRIS: No, I don't -- they can't. I will help them in any regard, but I don't -- it's important that I do this.

SCHNEIDER: What is going to be your agenda? I mean, you were associated with elections, election reform, those kinds of issues. But what's really going to be your agenda as you start this new act?

HARRIS: I'm going to be very focused on my district. When I was in the Senate, constituent care was always one of my highest priority. The issues I've already engaged -- been engaged with as long as I've been elected have really been concerning the economy and job growth and those types of opportunity, financial services.

And so I hope to continue on because I have a baseline understanding of that. But we'll see. I just know when I get here, I have a lot to learn.

My grandmother used to always say, "Integrity is doing the right thing when no one else is looking," So when the whole world is watching that certainly has to hold true.

SCHNEIDER: Thanks very much.

HARRIS: Thank you, Bill.


WOODRUFF: Very interesting.

Well, one more note on the Harris House campaign.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, through her political action committee, has donated $5,000 to Harris' opponent, Jan Schneider.

Senator Clinton and Schneider, it turns out were classmates at Yale Law School.

Just ahead, why privatization is such a bad word in the midterm elections.

Plus, why Strom Thurmond took to the floor of the Senate to express his anger at Senate Democrats.

But first, let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update.

And Rhonda, another down one.

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Judy, I mean, this was a pretty serious sell-off here.

Blue chips hammered and this came just one day after the Dow broke a four-session losing streak. Investors selling stocks on more concerns about some nasty surprises during earnings reportings season.

We're expected to get results from Internet one-time high flyer Yahoo!. They're supposed to come out any minute.

Analysts say at this point there's just not enough good, positive news to keep the buyers there. The Dow skidding 215 points.

General Electric did a lot of damage on the Dow. Morgan Stanley cut its earnings estimate for that company.

General Motors plunged after negative analysts comments on the entire auto sector.

And Johnson & Johnson also fell on a downgrade today.

The tech sector actually held its ground most of the day, but the selling picked up late in the day, and the Nasdaq finished down 15 points. A big drag on techs: word from Hewlett-Packard's VP that he doesn't expect the sector to pick up next year.

That is the very latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including a look at how Social Security has returned as a key weapon in the political ad wars.


WOODRUFF: Democrats in the House and Senate today held a public ceremony to sign a pledge to protect Social Security. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt called on all candidates for the House and Senate to sign the pledge, too.

Nationwide, the TV airwaves are full of political ads on Social Security.

Our Brooks Jackson takes a look at some of them in the latest edition of our "Ad Zapper."


JACKSON (voice-over): Just listen to these Democratic ads.

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Now she wants to privatize Social Security.

I'll never vote to privatize social security.

Elizabeth Dole's privatization plan...

JACKSON: It's a major theme in the TV ads of Democratic House and Senate candidates, and Republicans are mostly playing defense.

Here is North Carolina Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole.

ELIZABETH DOLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: I will never vote to take one single penny away from seniors on Social Security. My plan doesn't affect seniors.

JACKSON: Democrats figure corporate scandals and the plunging stock market give added strength to their attacks, like this one in South Carolina.

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Imagine turning your Social Security fund into risky stocks like Enron. That's what could happen if Lindsey Graham has his way.

JACKSON: Republicans feel compelled to run expensive denials rebutting those ads.

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Ads that have been called bogus appeals to emotion that are trying to scare us all to death.

JACKSON: Democrats generally avoid saying how they would fix Social Security, which is predicted to be bankrupt in less than 40 years.

But a fix would involve tax increases or benefit cuts or both, so they attack.

Here's a typical assault from a Kentucky House race.

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Now she wants to privatize Social Security. Anne Northrup would risk Social Security money in the stock mark, reducing guaranteed benefits.

JACKSON: It's an exaggeration.

In fact, the Bush approach would not make Social Security entirely private. Less than one sixth of Social Security taxes could be invested in stocks. Guaranteed benefits would be cut some, but total benefits could be higher or lower, depending on how investments perform.

Northrup's response was one of the rare Republican ads to go on the attack.

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Conway believes we should consider raising the retirement age and cutting Social Security benefits.

Jack Conway's Social Security position: work longer, pay more in, get less back. JACKSON: In fact, Democrat Conway did candidly concede that taxes needed to preserve Social Security could be -- quote -- "enormous," and, in the same interview said -- quote -- "we're going to have to look at the retirement age and benefit levels."

But he advocated no specifics.

Lately, a business coalition is running ads in 16 states, geographically targeted to help Republican candidates.

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: There is a way to keep the Social Security contracts sacred. Allow younger workers the voluntary option to invest a small portion of their Social Security in accounts they own.

JACKSON: These business ads are doing what most Republicans candidates won't: Openly advocating private accounts in the middle of an election.

This ad war amounts to a national debate on Social Security. And it could have a big impact on future policy. Should any Republican lose on this subject or even be seen as losing on it, private Social Security accounts will be much tougher to sell in any future Congress.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Which is true.

Well, there was a rare sighting today in the Senate. South Carolina's Strom Thurmond took to the floor to vent his anger at Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. Thurmond, who is 99 years old and retiring at the end of this term, is upset that the nomination of one of his former aides to a judgeship is being held up by the committee chairman, Patrick Leahy.

Democrats say the nomination is too contentious to be handled quickly. After his speech, Thurmond joined our committee Republicans at the White House to talk about judicial nominations that are awaiting Senate action. Tuesday's committee session could have been the last of this year, which would leave all remaining judicial nominations in limbo until January.

Still ahead: more on the hunt for a sniper on the loose and the politics of gun control.

Stay with us.


WOODRUFF: Emotions are running high in parts of Maryland, with a sniper still out there, not caught.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very disturbing. I have four kids. And I moved out to Bowie, as everyone in Potomac, out there in Montgomery County, and you think you're in a safe area. And safe is only as far as your next step.


WOODRUFF: Will fear on the streets make a difference on Election Day? We'll talk with an expert on Maryland politics when we return.


WOODRUFF: It's been another nerve-wracking day in the Washington area, as police continue to search for a sniper who has killed six people and wounded two others.

As you heard earlier on INSIDE POLITICS, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Robert Ehrlich told me that Democratic criticism of his record on gun control is, in his words, an attempt to politicize the sniper tragedy.

I asked University of Maryland professor of government and politics Ron Walters if he thinks the shooting spree is having an effect on the governor's race.


RON WALTERS, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Well, it's hard to tell, Judy, but it's certainly true that the campaigns are cautious at this point.

The Ehrlich campaign has issued a statement identifying himself with the victims and saying, in effect, that he wants his public policy position to go on as it did before. The Townsend campaign, on the other hand, has said, "We won't politicize this issue." So both of them are being very cautious.

WOODRUFF: Is he vulnerable, however, because of past positions he's taken, voting against a ban on assault weapons, the fact that he's been endorsed by the National Rifle Association?


I think whenever you have an incident like this involving guns, the candidate which has taken the pro-gun position, as it were, is on the defensive. And certainly he is. The Townsend campaign, of course, feels pretty good about this, because she's had a record of gun control, especially with respect to handguns. But certainly the Brady ad, which has come out, certainly reminds people...

WOODRUFF: The Brady Campaign.

WALTERS: The Brady Campaign, the Brady Center ad certainly reminds people of where he stands on the issue.

WOODRUFF: What about the political climate in Maryland before these shootings? I mean, how much of a pro-gun rights state are we talking about? How much of a gun control electorate are we talking about in Maryland?

WALTERS: Maryland has one of the toughest gun control laws in the country. And, to boot, it's a Democratic state, 2-1, and a relatively liberal state at that with respect to this issue.

So I think that he had an uphill climb in any case with the profile of gun support and the NRA support that he has had. But I think that particular issue is not high enough in the profile, actually, by itself. There are other issues, I think, that the voters in the state of Maryland felt very strongly about. But now that one has been boosted in the public consciousness.

WOODRUFF: The gun issue.

WALTERS: That's right. So the question is, where will that one stand now when the voters get ready to make up their mind?

WOODRUFF: And we're still, we're just under four weeks from the election now.

WALTERS: That's right.

WOODRUFF: As you point out, the Townsend campaign is not formally saying anybody. They're not formally sponsoring ads. But there are groups that you mentioned like the Brady campaign against gun violence. They are running ads. Does it work to Kathleen Townsend's benefit to have these other groups, in essence, doing this work for her?

WALTERS: It does.

Here you have an example of the Brady Center. They call this an independent expenditure. They're a separate group. But they're obviously running something which is in their own public policy interest, which, by association, helps the Townsend campaign. Other groups coming in will do the same thing. It will have an effect on boosting this issue right up there.

WOODRUFF: What could Bob Ehrlich do to inoculate himself on this, then?

WALTERS: I'm not sure he can do very much, except to do what he's doing, which is to express his sympathy for the families, hope that this comes to a very quick end, and hope that this particular issue begins to fade before the election.


WOODRUFF: Ron Walters, professor at the University of Maryland.

Another national news story, the showdown with Iraq, has become an issue in the Minnesota Senate race. Up next, our Candy Crowley reports on the face-off between two politicians who think and act very differently.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Twenty-seven days to go in our election 2002 countdown. And it's time now to profile another toss-up race that could determine which party controls the Senate.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, reports on the matchup in Minnesota.


CROWLEY(voice-over): This is the Republican candidate for Senate out wooing the motorcycle vote. This is the Democratic candidate for Senate, courting the Indian vote.

SEN. PAUL WELLSTONE (D), MINNESOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you, Indian community. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for what you do.

CROWLEY: Welcome to Minnesota's too-close-to-call Senate race, offering voters a choice of personalities as well as politics. There is Capitol Hill's intensely passionate, purely liberal Paul Wellstone.

WELLSTONE: I think the race has to do with people in Minnesota saying: "Look, this -- we want a senator who is on our side when it comes to jobs or when it comes to being willing to take on these big economic interests. We don't view Paul as a WorldCom guy or an Enron guy or a Global Crossings guy. We view him as one of us and for us."

CROWLEY: Wellstone has built his political career on the party's base: the poor, minorities, union workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has been Steelworkers' champion. He's been the premier labor senator in America today.

CROWLEY: After 12 years fighting for the little guy, Wellstone has built a big machine, foot soldiers who will turn out the vote for him.

NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: In politics, the world belongs to those who show up.

CROWLEY: It is the one thing that raises the temperature of Norm Coleman, the ultra-cool-as-a-cucumber former mayor of St. Paul.

COLEMAN: I think experience, getting stuff done, a check for Coleman. Issues set, security, economic security, health, prescription drugs, even, certainly national security, I think a check to Coleman. Ability to get out grassroots organization, check to Wellstone.

CROWLEY: Supporters say he's the man who rebuilt St. Paul. Coleman gets huge props for bringing a hockey team, prosperity and business into the city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coleman was our mayor here for years. And he did more to revitalize St. Paul than a lot of our mayors did.

CROWLEY: A former Democrat-turned-Republican, Coleman's ultimate political leaning is toward getting something done.

COLEMAN: In this post-9/11 world, I think folks are truly looking for leadership that is more healing, that is not as divisive and not as extreme and not as just so overtly partisan, unyieldingly partisan.

CROWLEY: Wellstone's ads suggests his Democrat-turned-Republican opponent may be a bit too bipartisan.


COLEMAN: And, most of all, let us agree that we as Democrats must come together and reelect President Bill Clinton and Senator Paul Wellstone.


CROWLEY: The Coleman camp quickly notes Wellstone's broken promise to leave after two terms. It may be a wash.

In this place, more than most, Iraq is at least a subtext.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you comment on Iraq in the debate, yesterday's debate, a little bit?


CROWLEY: Wellstone will not vote to give the president what he wants on Iraq. Coleman says he would support the president. And the Minnesota Republican Party took it from there.


NARRATOR: Wellstone actually voted against pay raises for our soldiers 13 times and against health benefits for our veterans.


CROWLEY: Wellstone, who was recently endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign War, is betting that his 12-year relationship with constituents will trump any disagreement on Iraq.

WELLSTONE: Which is that, ultimately, people vote for the person they like, regardless of a particular issue. It's the impression they have. Do they believe in you?

We're going to win!

CROWLEY: In Minnesota, after 12 years, they have come to know what to expect of Paul Wellstone.

COLEMAN: This is "Field of Dreams" right here, OK?

CROWLEY: The question is whether they now want something else.

Candy Crowley, CNN, St. Paul, Minnesota. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: In the Florida governor's race, a new poll shows Governor Jeb Bush leading his Democratic challenger, Bill McBride, by five points among likely voters, with 11 percent undecided.

Previous polls by the group Insider Advantage have been accurate in other hotly contested Southern political races, but McBride does appear set to get a political boost today. If it hasn't happened already, the Florida Teamsters are expected to endorse the Democrat for governor. That word comes from a source familiar with the Teamsters' deliberations. The source says that the choice between McBride and Bush was debated at the highest level of the union because of efforts to stay in the good graces of the Bush White House.

But, in the end, the Teamsters reportedly decided to -- quote -- "do the right thing on labor issues" -- end quote -- and endorse McBride.

Ahead: an unpopular incumbent and his sometimes stumbling challenger. We'll take an inside look at the California governor's race. Also: The Democrats call on their showbiz allies in their latest concert to promote voter education.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": The stars will be out in force tonight at the latest Democratic Party fund-raiser to promote voter education. Singers James Taylor and Don Henley are among the headliners for the event at Washington's Warner Theater. Janet Jackson and former President Clinton are also expected to appear.

Just days after New Jersey appears to have settled its ballot controversy, a House race in Hawaii is also headed to court over ballot names. The Hawaii attorney general has filed a petition with the state Supreme Court to remove the name of the late Congresswoman Patsy Mink from the November ballot. Mink died of pneumonia late last month. If the request is approved, state Democrats could name Mink's replacement on the ballot. Republicans say that the voters and not the party should choose Mink's replacement.

In California, Republican Bill Simon is backing off his claim that Governor Gray Davis illegally accepted a campaign contribution while serving as lieutenant governor. Simon had claimed that this 1998 photo showing Davis accepting a donation from a police organization was taken inside Davis' Capitol office. Accepting campaign money on state property is illegal. The location of the picture, however, is not the lieutenant governor's office. And Simon now says he's not sure where the photo was taken. Davis reacted, saying if Simon had any honor, he would drop out of the race.

With us now: Carla Marinucci. She's a political writer for "The San Francisco Chronicle."

So, Carla, you just said this is the latest crazy chapter in this race?

CARLA MARINUCCI, "SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE": I mean, this is like a TV movie script, having a former prosecutor say, "I've got the goods on the standing governor," and, when he produces the goods, well, it wasn't what he said it was.

It's one more problem for Bill Simon. We have two candidates that are very unpopular with the voters. But the fact is, the incumbent governor right now seems to have the leg up, especially with this latest problem that Bill Simon has.

WOODRUFF: Well, are you and others saying that Gray Davis is practically unbeatable?

MARINUCCI: No, not at all, Judy. In fact, poll numbers show more than half the voters are dissatisfied with what Gray Davis is doing in office.

He's been dogged by issues of fund-raising. Pay to play is the way Simon has tried to characterize him. And he has been dodging debates. He only wanted one debate. He got it this week. Simon had a very strong performance in that debate, which is why this recent problem once again is a major setback for him. Throughout the campaign, whenever the Republican businessman has gotten some momentum, something has come up, whether it has been the investment fraud jury decision or flip-flops on gay issues.

He's had continual problems. He's never run for public office before. To do it in California for the first time is a big order.

WOODRUFF: Carla, any issues? I mean, it seems to be the factors your citing are all over the map. Are there any issues that are overriding with voters out there?

MARINUCCI: You know, the voters want to talk about economy, education, energy, environment, the four E's, we like to call them. Both these candidates have gone after each other really on personal things.

If you listen to the ads out here, which are, of course, all over airwaves, it's a corrupt governor and a corrupt businessman facing off against each other. We finally got to hear some talk on issues at the debate this week, Judy. But there are a lot of things facing California. And, so far, we've heard a lot of rhetoric about personal attack and very little detail on the issues. And that's a big problem.

WOODRUFF: And you just said to me, you expect, at this rate, the turnout will be low. If that's the case, does that benefit Simon, then?

MARINUCCI: You know, the Simon people are hoping their core Republican base will get out there and put him over the top, as he did in that surprise win in March in the primary.

The problem is, the polls show he's even losing some of that base. I mean, right now -- but, to his credit, he's still only seven, 10 points behind Governor Davis. The fact is, Davis has more than $20 million in the bank compared to Simon's $4 million. In California, a media state, being on TV is everything. And Davis has the advantage there by far.

WOODRUFF: All right, we heard it right here, Carla Marinucci, "San Francisco Chronicle."

Good too see you, Carla. Thanks very much.

MARINUCCI: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We'll check in with you again.


WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

Here's a question: Do young people care about politics? We posed that question at a gathering of student leaders. Well, what kind of response did we get?

Stay tuned to find out.


WOODRUFF: More INSIDE POLITICS in a moment -- first, a look ahead to what's in the works for tomorrow's show. My guests will include the speaker of the House, Republican Dennis Hastert.


WOODRUFF: Since the September 11 terror attacks, we haven't seen any major increase in voter turnout. But some young people are trying to change that. Student leaders representing America's high schools have launched a nonpartisan effort to get people to the polls this coming November 5.

We asked two of the student leaders who gathered here in Washington if they believe young people really care about politics.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that they care about a lot of issues that aren't being recognized. I know the 18-to-24 demographic, and they are very passionate. But, unfortunately, it's not about the things that are recognized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think all students, especially now, after September 11, realize the importance of showing support for the government, realize the importance of starting to develop some opinions on that. And I think the level of awareness has increased dramatically since 9/11.


WOODRUFF: And that's it from the young people.

We also have this very quick update on the California governor's race: as we told you a little while ago, Bill Simon pulling back on his charge that Gray Davis accepted a campaign contribution from a California police organization illegally at his lieutenant governor's office. The Davis campaign has just called us a few minutes ago to tell us their research shows that that picture was taken at the private home of a contributor names Bruce Carats (ph) in January 1998. They reiterate it was not at the governor's then-lieutenant governor office.

That's it for today's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. We thank you for joining us.


Sniper Attacks; Florida's Harris Says She Wishes She Had Talked to Press More>

© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.