CNN INSIDE POLITICS
D.C. Area Sniper Strikes Again; Democrats Want to Change Political Focus to Economy; New Jersey Senate Race Ad Takes Aim at Lautenberg
Aired October 11, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. The D.C. area sniper may have struck again. Could tougher gun laws have prevented the terror? We'll have a debate.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ed Lavandera in Spotsylvania, Virginia, at the scene of the latest shooting. We'll have an update on the search for clues and the search for evidence in this case as well as the search for the killer.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kelly Wallace at the White House. Democrats are trying to put the president on the defensive about the economy and his political travel plans.
WOODRUFF: Also ahead, Republicans may have lost the New Jersey Senate ballot battle, but they're still trying to have the last laugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I quit. Teacher?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I fail this test, can I have Frank Lautenberg take it for me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Live, from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.
Well, the scene was frighteningly familiar, a man shot dead this morning at a gas station in the Washington area. Was he the elusive sniper's 10th victim, and are police any closer to ending the bloodshed and the fear? My colleague Wolf Blitzer is at police headquarters in Montgomery County, Maryland. Hello, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the situation here remains one of wait and watch. In about one hour, we do anticipate that Montgomery County police -- the local law enforcement authorities here will release what they're saying will be an aid in trying to pin down this elusive sniper, this killer or killers. We still don't know exactly how many may be involved in this series of killings. But they're expecting to release some sort of illustration, if you will, showing perhaps the vehicle that has been widely described as some sort of white minivan.
Terry Frieden (ph), our Justice Department producer, is quoting a law enforcement authority close to this investigation saying that the special unit of the FBI crime lab has put together some sort of illustration or sketch of this elusive van, widely described as white, and perhaps that will be released here at Montgomery County Police headquarters at the top of the hour, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, a little bit less than one hour from now.
But as you point out, about 50 miles away from here, in Virginia, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, just outside of Fredericksburg, there has been another deadly shooting. Ed Lavandera standing by for us there at the scene of this latest shooting -- Ed.
LAVANDERA: Hi, Wolf. What you see behind me is an Exxon gas station, Spotsylvania, Virginia, where dozens of investigators have descended on this area. When this shooting first happened around 9:30 this morning, investigators descended on this area, closing down several roadways, searching for, again, what was described as a white minivan leaving the area. This time, witnesses tell police that two people were seen in that car as it was driving away.
And to describe this scene here, it is a huge crime scene, and they have -- you see officers combing through this area, searching many parts of this area, not just the gas station itself but you've seen in the parking lots around this gas station as well, investigators searching for clues and searching for any kind of evidence that might point them in the direction of this killer, which is, from what we were told yesterday at the shooting that happened Wednesday night, this is what officers have been telling each other, that to expand these crime scenes, because they believe the sniper might be shooting from a significant distance, that there might be clues or evidence not just at the gas stations or wherever the shootings might have happened, but there might also be clues or evidence at a significant distance away from where the shooting victim was left to die, if you will.
So the search, again, continues for a white minivan, in this particular case, as well witnesses do -- have told police -- some of the witnesses that we've heard from, describe, again, hearing a single gunshot. And this is -- there have been three confirmed shootings at a gas station, but at this point police have not linked this shooting to the sniper killer, and they also say that it is too early to tell whether or not folks should find some sort of link into the gas station. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Ed Lavandera, we'll be standing by and getting back to you, of course, as news warrants.
Kathleen Koch is sitting here next to me. You've been covering this story almost from day one. Why is it taking so long to make a 100 percent conclusive determination that this latest shooting in Virginia is connected to the shooting spree in the Washington area? KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, even if the circumstances are very similar, what police need is hard and fast ballistic evidence.
Now, in the case of the boy, remember Monday morning who was shot at Benjamin Tasker middle school around 8:00 a.m., they were able to recover a bullet very quickly from him and determine by about 5:00 p.m. that that shooting was linked. However, in the case of someone who has been killed by a shooter, they have to follow a special procedure. There has to be a formal autopsy, and they have to handle this evidence in such a way that it can be used in a court proceeding later. So we're really not expecting to learn possibly until tomorrow whether or not this shooting is definitively linked.
BLITZER: It will take 22, 24 hours.
The other major development in this entire greater Washington area, schools, young people, children Friday night here in Montgomery County, normally football games, cheerleaders. What's the latest on that so-called lockdown situation?
KOCH: Wolf, there are a lot of schools that had started to get as close to back to normal as is possible. A lot of kids are still not allowed outside for lunch, recess, things like that, but some schools were initially going ahead tonight with football games and the like. But obviously because of this shooting, many schools, particularly here in Montgomery County, all the schools are back to code blue. Virtually all afterschool activities have been canceled.
And throughout the weekend as well now; that extended to schools now very far south of Washington in Virginia -- Stafford County and other counties that initially hadn't been taking some of these precautions that they've been taking in Prince George's County and Montgomery County areas.
BLITZER: Kathleen Koch, thanks for that report.
And we're standing by here awaiting this news conference at the top of the hour. The Montgomery County police chief, Charles Moose, the County Executive Doug Duncan, presumably accompanied by others who are going to release this illustration, this aid to help in this investigation. We'll have, of course, live coverage, and Judy will have much more coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." That's at the top of the hour. For now, back to you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf, thank you very much. And with us now is the governor of the state of Virginia, Mark Warner. Governor, thank you for talking with us.
This is now the second shooting in your state in just a matter of a few days. It may well be linked to this spree of sniper shootings. Are the citizens of Virginia in the Washington suburbs safe?
GOV. MARK WARNER, VIRGINIA: Well, actually, this is the third shooting. There was an earlier shooting in Spotsylvania, then the one in Prince William, then this shooting today. Let me assure you that all available public safety resources are being committed to this effort. The task force that have come together after the first shooting in Spotsylvania that included all of the police chiefs as well as the state police was actually meeting in Fredericksburg this morning. They have been meeting on this case since it developed, and were all on the scene.
So we're doing everything we can, and I think the families across Virginia and across the whole D.C. metro area should know that law enforcement is working in a much more coordinated fashion than perhaps in previous incidents like this.
WOODRUFF: What are you telling people to do? I mean, to go about their normal activities or what?
WARNER: Well, I'm telling everyone that obviously I know we're all a bit on edge and a bit nervous about this. That's a normal reaction. We're making sure that we've made available help lines for families to counsel their children. I'm a father of three daughters, and we talked about this last night. We're going to talk about it again tonight. We should try to make sure kids don't end up watching TV wall to wall, that we should try to keep children on a fairly normal schedule, and instill in kids that there are -- one, your parents are there, but in addition, that there are many people, police officers and others who are trying to solve this problem.
I think we all need to be extra careful, in effect, be watchful. But we also need to continue our lives.
WOODRUFF: Governor, you have been an advocate of gun rights. During your campaign for governor last year, you sought the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. Any regrets about your positions on guns?
WARNER: No, Judy, I think this is the case of an individual or individuals that clearly are heinous criminals. We're going to do all we can to bring them to justice, and I know that concerted efforts between federal authorities, local authorities, state authorities, both in Virginia, the District and the Maryland -- I want to come back to the unprecedented level of cooperation that's taking place in this investigation.
WOODRUFF: But what is to stop someone who -- I mean, clearly this person if not insane is seriously imbalanced. What's to stop someone who owns a rifle, a high-powered rifle, some other sort of military assault weapon, from taking off and shooting innocent people?
WARNER: Well, Judy, I think someone that deranged, some law that says you can't own a gun is not going to preclude that individual from taking these kind of actions. Obviously, someone that insane, that cares so little about human life just needs to be gotten off the streets. And that's what the investigation is all about.
WOODRUFF: So, in your view, there is no -- there is nothing that could be done in the way of gun laws of legal restrictions, requirements that would prevent these kinds of situations from happening in the first place?
WARNER: Well, Judy, this is basically an unprecedented situation. Colonel Massengil (ph), the head of our Virginia State Police, who is overseeing the Virginia half of the operation, in his 36 years of law enforcement, he said he has never seen an incident like that. They have been snipers in the past, but they are normally from a single setting. But someone with this methodology, someone that's made this many shootings over a period of time with such randomness, we're clearly dealing with someone that has got deranged and got serious problems, and we're going to make sure we do all we can to find that individual and bring him to justice.
WOODRUFF: And finally, what do you say to parents who must be, as you said a moment ago, very deeply troubled and unsettled by this and wondering whether they should let their children out of their sight?
WARNER: Well, the same thing I'm going to say to my daughters tonight. I think you need to be honest with them, but you also need to make sure they don't get overly exposed to the wall-to-wall TV coverage. You have got to make sure you try to maintain a relatively normal schedule. Obviously, you have to think through what kind of events they're going through, but you've got to reassure children in this setting. You've got to tell them you love them, you've got to tell them that there are people out in the community, from your police officers and other law enforcement officers who are trying to bring this individual to justice.
And that sense of reassurance is very, very critical for all children. Frankly, for all Virginians and everybody in the Washington, D.C. area at this point.
WOODRUFF: Virginia Governor Mark Warner. Thank you very much.
WARNER: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate you talking with us. Thank you.
Well, meantime at the White House, press secretary Ari Fleischer says the sniper case has become part of President Bush's daily FBI briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's heart goes out to the victims of these shootings, and to their families and to their loved ones. He understands how deeply troubling this is for the community and for people around the country. The president was informed about this morning's shooting, and I mentioned earlier that the president raised the issue of the shootings with Attorney General Ashcroft and the FBI earlier this week. Since then the president every day is informed and kept updated about the progress the law enforcement community is making.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Fleischer says the president is satisfied that federal and local governments are working well together in the hunt for the sniper. He said that Mr. Bush will let reporters know if he wants to say anything publicly about this case.
We'll have more on this story that we're following in the Washington area. Yet another shooting, a killing today, apparently the result of the same sniper, but that information we don't have yet. When we come back, a debate about gun rights and gun laws. We'll be right back.
WOODRUFF: Some Republicans are saying they are concerned that the sniper spree may be an issue in the Maryland governor's race. Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is launching a new ad bashing her GOP opponent Robert Ehrlich for voting against a ban on assault weapons. Just days ago, Townsend has said she would avoid the gun issue as long as the sniper was still at large. The Ehrlich camp calls this ad "shameful" and is accusing Townsend of trying to politicize the tragedy. She denies that, quoting her long-held support for gun control, stemming from the assassination of her father, Robert Kennedy.
Before the new Townsend ad aired, the Brady campaign to prevent gun violence had been running its own commercials attacking Ehrlich's record, and we are joined now by Tony Orza of the Brady campaign. We're also joined by Alan Gottlieb, of the gun rights group the Second Amendment Foundation.
To you first, Tony Orza. Just talking with Governor Mark Warner of Virginia, he is an advocate of gun rights and he said he doesn't think any laws on the books could do anything when you've got an insane person out there doing the kinds of things that we've seen in the Washington area the last few days.
TONY ORZA, BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: Well, I think that sometimes we see a sort of phony debate between gun rights and efforts to prevent gun violence. We don't really -- that's not really what the debate is. There are many things that we could do to make our gun laws stronger that would not interfere with anyone's rights. In this case, it's clear that if we had a national ballistic database, that would be enormously helpful to law enforcement.
WOODRUFF: Why? How so?
ORZA: Well, we've learned that from the ballistics evidence that they've been able to link the bullets to the same gun. But the problem is there's nowhere to go after that. If they had a larger comprehensive national database, they could look through that and try to match it up. That would give them information about a specific gun.
WOODRUFF: And Mr. Gottlieb, let me just turn to you, quickly. Do you have any objection to that? ALAN GOTTLIEB, FOUNDER, SECOND AMENDMENT FOUNDATION: Yes, I have a lot of objections, because really it's a bait-and-switch proposal. What it really is is a national registry system. In all honesty, Maryland has such a system for hand guns, they had it for the last two years, it cost them $1.1 million to institute, $750,000 a year to maintain. And they have not been able to solve one crime, prosecute one criminal, or catch anybody or prevent any kind of crime from happening with it. It doesn't work, because it's too easy to get around by a criminal who may -- usually gets his gun by first stealing it, or if he hasn't, it's too easy to alter the ballistics of the firearm so that it renders the whole system ineffective.
WOODRUFF: If that's the case, Mr. Orza, what good does something like this do?
ORZA: Well, Alan is wrong about several things. First of all, the Maryland State Police will tell you that they've used the database in connection with two crimes to help them there. They've also said that it's an incomplete database. It's relatively new. It's only been in place for about two years. It only has ballistics information from hand guns and not also long guns, so it doesn't have all the records that would be needed.
Given that it's a limited database, it's still been helpful, and they want to expand it. And of course, you have a problem if you just do it state by state, that's still not the best way to do it, because you need the most comprehensive database. If the database is small, the answer is to make it more complete.
WOODRUFF: You're saying make it federal is what you're saying.
ORZA: Federal complete database.
GOTTLIEB: What happened in Maryland because of it is, though, is it's made it harder for people to buy guns. A lot of guns aren't sold anymore, because manufacturers can't afford to comply with it. Right now, people in Maryland would probably be better off if it was a little easier for them to get a gun to protect themselves against a wild and crazy man running around in the streets. Maryland and Washington, D.C. have some of the toughest gun laws in the country already. It doesn't solve the problem; it only makes it harder for people like us to protect ourselves from violent terrorists.
WOODRUFF: So you're saying, Mr. Gottlieb, it should be easier for people to buy a gun, is that what you're arguing?
GOTTLIEB: Particularly in Maryland and Washington, D.C., where it's illegal to own a hand gun for self-defense or a loaded rifle or shot gun in your own home for self protection. I mean, the problem here is that criminals have -- it's the biggest gun free zone in the country, and as a result, we're all at risk.
WOODRUFF: What about that, Mr. Orza? Is that they way it is here in the Washington area?
ORZA: Well, D.C. has certainly strong gun laws, but Virginia does not. And that's the problem that you have when you have states address this each in their own manner. What you need is strong federal law so people can't traffic guns from states with weak laws into other areas. It's got to be a complete federal...
GOTTLIEB: But what about...
ORZA: Can I go back to one thing...
GOTTLIEB: But we're forgetting the fact we already have a federal background check system to buy a gun.
ORZA: The ballistics database -- can I just talk about the ballistic database?
WOODRUFF: Just quick, make your point.
ORZA: We know it's worth it (ph) -- you can go to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Web site and you'll see it's helping them solve cases. So Alan is just wrong. There is much more we need to do as well, but that's one thing that would be helpful.
WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. Tony Orza from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. Gentlemen, we appreciate it.
ORZA: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: The president gears up for a campaign travel marathon. Next, Democrats are offering their two cents on that while trying to change the political focus to the economy.
Plus, Osama bin Laden has a cameo in a new campaign ad. The target of the spot tells us why he is angry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I would urge the president to cancel his political trip today. Cancel the trip. Show the American people you're more concerned about their jobs than you are about Republican ones. Show the American people that you have an economic plan. You've indicated a concern for regime change in Iraq. I think you ought to consider a regime change in your economic counsels and in the administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: A day after the House and Senate approved resolutions on Iraq, as you just heard, Democrats tried to turn public attention to the struggling economy. Their efforts come as President Bush prepares for two weeks of traveling to campaign for Republican candidates. CNN's Kelly Wallace is with me now from the White House. Kelly, we just heard Tom Daschle calling on the president to cancel these campaign trips. Any chance that the White House is going to do that?
WALLACE: Absolutely not. And you know, Judy, the White House spokesman Ari Fleischer really dismissing Senator Daschle's comments, asking if the Senate majority leader is suggesting that Democrats cancel their fund-raising trips as well?
No, this president planning to travel extensively to help GOP candidates, and to try and get out the vote. Next week alone, the president traveling to five states -- Michigan, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota -- and then in the following weeks at the end of October, he is likely to be on the road all the time. White House officials feeling very good about the outlook for the GOP, thinking this could be a midterm election where the party in power defies tradition and does not lose seats in the November elections -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And with the Senate so close, the president could certainty help tilt the balance. Kelly, we know the White House very happy about the congressional vote supporting, authorizing the administration to use force against Iraq. Now, though, we're hearing there is some controversy perhaps about the shape of a post-Saddam government in Iraq, if that -- if his regime is knocked down. What are you hearing?
WALLACE: Well, U.S. officials spent most of this day playing down a report in today's "New York Times" suggesting that the administration was considering a military-led government to occupy Iraq based, really, on the U.S. military occupation of Japan following World War II.
Now, a senior official says that this option is just not getting traction when it comes to top decision-makers in the West Wing. The thinking is that the military could play some role in terms of providing stability in a peacekeeping way, providing humanitarian aid to pave the way for a civilian government, not unlike the model in Afghanistan.
U.S. officials also continue to say the president has not made up his mind about any military action in Iraq, but officials say the more this world knows this administration is thinking about a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, the more it shows the president's resolve to deal with the Iraqi leader -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And Kelly, back to those pesky Democrats quickly, they're saying the president needs to focus more on the economy. What's the likelihood the White House is going to do that?
WALLACE: Well, the president is going to be focusing on the economy. You know, aides here say he focuses on it every day. Tomorrow, in fact, we understand his radio address will be focusing on the economy. He's going to talk about it a lot next week. And aides here say they don't buy the conventional wisdom that Democrats benefit more when the subject of the economy comes up, and the strategy of this administration will be that the Democrats could do more about the economy, that the Democratic-led Senate could take action on bills such as terrorism insurance, but this president will say that Senator Daschle has just not done that -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: OK, Kelly, thanks very much.
With Iraq now off the congressional agenda, House and Senate Democrats, as we've just been saying, do seem to be persuaded that the economy can be a winning issue for them this November if they can get the message out to voters. Our congressional correspondent Kate Snow reports, those efforts got started first thing this morning.
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just eight hours after leaving the Senate chamber, bleary-eyed after a week-long debate on Iraq, top Democrats were back on the Hill, eager to continue talking, but this time about the economy.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Now that the president has the power to declare war, you would think that he would declare war against the deficits, against the unemployment.
SNOW: An economic forum, part of a Democratic blitz of events in the final weeks before the election, meant to shift the focus to the issues Democrats want to talk about -- the weakening economy, job loss, corporate wrongdoing, the slumping stock market.
DASCHLE: A year ago, Americans were afraid to open their mail because of anthrax. Now they're scared to open their mail because they don't want to see what the stock market has done to their college funds and their retirement savings.
SNOW: Democratic strategists are convinced Washington is living in a bubble, obsessed with Iraq and war. Real people in the real world, they say, care about the economy.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: I met citizens, one after the other, who came out of their house to tell me of their concern with what was happening with their economic picture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to do a better job of protecting jobs and not sending jobs abroad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: The ads starting to roll around the country, Democrats clearly think they've got a winning issue. But even in their own message room, a place for Democrats to do interviews on the economy, it's sometimes tough to get the word out.
REP. ROBERT MATSUI (D), CALIFORNIA: This was actually a resolution to go to war.
SNOW: The questions from one radio show were about Iraq, not about lost jobs.
REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: Don't make assumptions believing that the economy is going south. It is not.
SNOW: Republicans say they're happy to debate the economy and not eager to dwell on Iraq, but they gladly make the link between the economy and security.
DELAY: The only real way to help the American families today and the economy of the United States is to have a safe and secure homeland. And I think I find it really ironic that the Democrats are holding an economic summit today led by Tom Daschle, the majority leader of the Senate, and they have yet to pass a Department of Homeland Security.
SNOW: The Republicans dismiss the Democrats' arguments that the president isn't doing anything about the economy. They say that's a whole lot of finger-pointing, but that doesn't mean Republicans aren't a little nervous about all this, too, Judy. In fact, yesterday at a Republican meeting in the House, I'm told 20 or so Republicans who are in tough races stood up and said, we've got to debate next week some tax measures so that I have something to talk about when I go back home. They're going to debate those measures next week, Judy. They're likely to pass in the House. Probably won't go anywhere in the Senate, but it makes a real good campaign issue.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right, Kate, thank you very much.
And with us now, Mindy Tucker. She's communications director for the Republican National Committee. And Jennifer Palmieri, press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.
Let's talk first about this terrible sniper situation we have in the Washington area. Obviously, people deeply troubled about it. From a political standpoint, there is concern being expressed quietly by some Republicans, Mindy, that this could hurt the gubernatorial campaign of Bob Ehrlich in Maryland, because he has taken a very strong pro-gun rights position.
MINDY TUCKER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: Well, I think it's awful to have to talk about this in a political context.
I'm aware there has been some discussion about whether or not Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the Democrat nominee, or the Democrat candidate for governor, will use this in her campaign. I certainly hope she doesn't. I don't think it's appropriate. I think to suggest that either of these two people would want something like this to happen is ridiculous and it's absurd and it really doesn't have any place in this debate.
WOODRUFF: Jennifer. JENNIFER PALMIERI, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, DNC: I think that there has been, I think, some misreporting about Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's campaign. And I know that Democrats don't want to politicize this. And I think that most people are just focused on getting the sniper caught and then moving on from there, if there need to be legislative solutions. But I don't see it becoming an issue in Maryland.
WOODRUFF: Let's talk about what we were just hearing reported from Kelly Wallace at the White House and Kate from the Capitol: Democrats calling on the president to focus on the economy. They're even saying, Mindy: "Call off your campaign trip. Focus on the economy."
What's the White House going to do about this?
TUCKER: Well, we have been focused on the economy here in Washington for quite some time. It hasn't got us very far. We've talked about the issues. We've put the issues in front of the House. They've passed bills.
And, unfortunately, they're all sitting in the United States Senate: prescription drugs, energy security, terrorism insurance that would enable thousands and thousands of construction jobs to be created across the country. They're holding that piece of it up. There is so much that we could do for the economy. The president has beat his head against a wall trying to make it happen. He is out talking to voters about it around the country because Tom Daschle won't do anything about it.
I know they call on him to stay here in Washington and do his job. But how about Tom Daschle, instead of holding a gimmicky summit today, goes to the Senate floor, does his job, and passes these bills?
PALMIERI: Talking about a gimmicky summit, that's the only thing that George Bush has offered, is his gimmicky summit in Waco as a way of dealing with the economy. And even coming out of that, they didn't have any new ideas.
The reality is, is that there's three important points we learned in a Pew poll yesterday. One is that Americans think, 2-1, that the president should be spending more time on the economy; two, that they trust Democrats to handle the economy better than Republicans; and, three, that they're more worried about the economy and want candidates to talk about the economy more than they are about national security issues.
And I think we think this is why Democrats are doing better in all of the races that you see now. And the president, he has done 70 fund-raisers. And he has had 38 economic events. And we're being generous about saying that an event is doing anything on the economy. It's 2-1.
TUCKER: As if Tom Daschle doesn't fund-raise. And people really do trust the president on this issue.
WOODRUFF: Let's get one quick last word here.
TUCKER: Besides raising taxes, what do the Democrats propose?
PALMIERI: Our plan is to restore fiscal responsibility.
TUCKER: How? You won't pass a budget. How are you going to do that?
PALMIERI: To generate investment and to have tax cuts that would generate -- create new jobs.
TUCKER: You want more tax increases. Everybody's said so.
WOODRUFF: OK, we're going to leave it there.
Mindy Tucker, Jennifer Palmieri, thank you both. Good to see you. Have a great weekend.
TUCKER: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: All right.
Stay with us now for another update on the search for the D.C. area sniper.
INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: Up next: the crowning achievement of Jimmy Carter's years after the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First, I had a feeling of disbelief. We had a call, Rosalynn said, at two minutes after 4:00 this morning. And I thought it was some joker who was calling. And then they left word that I should call the Nobel Prize Committee at exactly 4:30 our time. And when I did and received the message, I was obviously grateful and, as I said, already humbled and honored.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Was the awarding of Carter's Nobel Peace Prize a slap at President Bush's Iraq policy? Carter talks about Iraq in an exclusive CNN interview with Larry King.
Stay with us.
WOODRUFF: In our "News Alert": Police investigating the sniper spree in the Washington area are expected to release an illustration of the suspect's vehicle at the top of the hour. Authorities are searching for a white minivan, apparently with ladders on top.
After another shooting this morning, a man was killed at a gas station near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Police have not confirmed that this shooting is the work of the sniper, who has killed seven people and wounded two others.
Jimmy Carter says he got a phone call today from President Bush congratulating him on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, which Mr. Bush said was long overdue. The former president has been a nominee for the Peace Prize for many years. Many have noted that he finally won the award even as the U.S. gears up for a possible war with Iraq, a conflict that Carter has been wary about.
The Nobel Committee alluded to the conflict with Iraq, saying -- quote -- "In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co- operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development."
In an exclusive interview with CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE," former President Carter said he would have voted against the Iraq resolution just approved by the Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")
CARTER: I would have voted no had I been in the Senate. I think that there's no way that we can avoid the obligation to work through the United Nations Security Council, to wait until we do get that condemnation of Saddam Hussein, to force him, through the United Nations, to comply completely with inspections of an unlimited nature and to make sure that we do destroy all his weapons of mass destruction and his ability to produce nuclear weapons in the future.
But I think it should all be done through the United Nations, and not unilaterally by the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: President Carter says he's especially pleased that the Nobel Committee cited the Camp David Middle East peace accord as one of his triumphs in the quest for peace. But he says the humanitarian work he has done since the left the White House more than two decades ago has been the most gratifying for him.
We're turning our attention now to election politics; 25 days left until voters head to the polls, and our countdown continues with a check of the political ad wars.
CNN consultant David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting with me now from New York. Hello, David.
DAVID PEELER, CNN MEDIA CONSULTANT: Hi, Judy. How are you?
WOODRUFF: I'm good.
Tell us what are the hot issues that you think are driving the major so-called ad buys this campaign season.
PEELER: Well, Judy, with a month to go, we've seen $535 million spent in political ads. About half of this has been against conventional kind of ads: get-to-know the candidate, bio-ads, attack ads, knocking down your competitor, and some traditional local issues.
But here is story that I think is emerging from behind it. And it's really a tactical one. A CNN poll bears this out. The top-of- mind issue for voters right now is the war on terrorism and Iraq. And for candidates who are running local races, this is a very difficult issue to jump on, whether they're for war with Iraq or against war with Iraq.
And we've seen this in the numbers. Only about $7 million has been spent against this issue. If we look against where the money is really going, it's the traditional issues that we've always seen. It's health care, with $88 million being spent against it, prescription drugs, with $48 million, education at $45 million, corporate responsibility, really the economy, at $30 million, and Social Security at $19 million. And that's how the numbers are stacking up so far.
WOODRUFF: But, again, David, you're saying, even though Iraq is important to voters, not much money is being spent on it as an ad issue.
PEELER: Yes. I think here is the issue. And the candidates have a problem with it.
One, it's a very risky strategy, particularly with 30 days to go, to try and craft a message around the war. The second thing is that, from a creative standpoint, it's a very difficult kind of message to execute against in an ad campaign. And third, I think that the economy, for most candidates, is a simpler issue for them to wrap their arms around.
And if you think about it, most of those issues that we saw all the spending around have an economic underpinning. The question is, will that connect with the voters? And I think we're going to be really focusing on the polls between now and the next 30 days to see if that happens.
WOODRUFF: All right, that we will.
David Peeler, Competitive Media Reporting, thanks very much for pulling it together for us. Appreciate it.
A first-of-its-kind political endorsement. Up next: The mayor of Las Vegas puts his name behind one of his favorite products.
WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": A new ad paid for by New Jersey Republicans takes aim at the recent ballot switch that put Democrat Frank Lautenberg in the Senate race against Republican Doug Forrester. Lautenberg, of course, stepped in when incumbent Bob Torricelli pulled out of the race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm losing. I quit. Let Frank Lautenberg play for me.
NARRATOR: Tell your children you don't quit just because you're losing.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: If Torricelli can quit, I can quit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: And to Las Vegas, where Mayor Oscar Goodman is having a few drinks for a good cause. The mayor, who has made no secret of his fondness for martinis, has signed an endorsement deal with a brand of gin. In return for the mayor's endorsement, the company is donating $100,000 to local charities.
Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss has unveiled a new TV ad against Democrat Max Cleland in that Senate race. The ad criticizes Cleland's votes on homeland defense measures, and, for a few seconds, it features the images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: As America faces terrorists and extremist dictators, Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead. He says he supports President Bush at every opportunity. But that's not the truth. Since July, Max Cleland has voted against the president's vital homeland security efforts 11 times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Well, that ad has sparked a strong reaction from Senator Cleland. A little while ago, I spoke with the senator about several things.
I started by asking why he objects so strongly to what his opponent, Mr. Chambliss, is saying in the ad.
SEN. MAX CLELAND (D), GEORGIA: Well, first of all, it's really interesting that, when I broke into politics in Georgia, there was a young man named Jimmy Carter who was governor, who offered our state and the citizens of our state hope and inspiration. That's one reason why Jimmy Carter has now won the Nobel Peace Prize. And I congratulate him on that. He's lived a career inspiring people.
That is not what we're seeing on American television today, particularly in the ad running against me. I understand that, for the first time this political season, that the image of Osama bin Laden is juxtaposed along with me and Saddam Hussein, as if to say that somehow this old Vietnam veteran, who volunteered to fight terrorists 35 years ago, links up with Saddam Hussein and embraces Osama bin Laden, which is absolutely ridiculous.
To insinuate that I somehow am linked with the murderous treachery of Osama bin Laden and his terrorist cadre, which is our No. 1 enemy, and with Saddam Hussein -- which I voted with the president last night to go after his weapons of mass destruction and dismantle them -- is absolutely ludicrous.
WOODRUFF: But the ad says, Senator, that you voted against the president's homeland security proposal 11 times.
CLELAND: Absolutely ridiculous.
I was a co-sponsor with Senator Lieberman and Senator Arlen Specter, bipartisan support, October last year. We were the original co-sponsors in the Senate for a Homeland Security Department. That's when the president and my opponent in this Senate race opposed an agency. They were still focused on an Office of Homeland Security with 11 people. Later, they changed their mind.
I'm an original co-sponsor of the Homeland Security Agency Act in the Senate. And I support the actual compromise that said the president can waive the civil service rules under national security determination. So we got 51 votes for that. We hope we can get it passed in the Senate.
WOODRUFF: You mentioned former President Jimmy Carter. He did receive the Nobel Peace Prize today. He also said in an interview that he would have voted against congressional approval authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq. He says that, under no circumstances, should the United States go in unilaterally against Iraq.
Is he wrong about that?
CLELAND: Well, Jimmy Carter is right in the focus of this.
And, overwhelmingly, the Senate said we would give the president the authority to use force, but we wanted the president to do what he said he's going to do, work with the United Nations and use this as an effort to strengthen the resolve the Security Council and the United Nations in going after the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which is really what the United Nations Security Council in 1991 said it was going to do.
So, in many ways, I think we're fulfilling the role that we were originally intended to fulfill. And that is, strengthen the U.N. in its goal of removing the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That's what this resolution means to me. And that's the focus I think that is appropriate for it.
WOODRUFF: But you did vote for it. Jimmy Carter said he would have voted against it.
CLELAND: I did vote for it.
Well, I am hopeful that this will actually strengthen the resolve of the Security Council and that we will be able to have a regime of inspections that disarm Saddam Hussein without regime change, without going to war. Hopefully, this will help keep us out of war, rather than get in one.
WOODRUFF: That was Georgia Senator Max Cleland.
The Political Play of the Week" is just ahead. Models know the value of a powerful picture, and so does our Bill Schneider.
WOODRUFF: Politicians are well aware that images matter -- or at least they should be -- which brings us to our Bill Schneider and the "Political Play of the Week."
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Boss Tweed of New York Tammany Hall once complained to cartoonist Thomas Nast -- quote -- "Let's stop those damned pictures. I don't care so much what the papers write about me. My constituents can't read. But, damn it, they can see pictures." The pictures brought down Boss Tweed in 1871.
And the pictures did it again this week in two different campaigns. The California governor's race: Republican candidate Bill Simon made a damaging accusation against Governor Gray Davis in their debate this week.
BILL SIMON (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Have you ever accepted a campaign contribution in the state Capitol or in any of your government offices? Please answer this question yes or no.
SCHNEIDER: Later, Simon claimed to have the goods on Davis: a picture showing Davis accepting a $10,000 campaign contribution in his lieutenant governor's office in 1998. That would have been illegal.
Pictures don't lie, right? Well, in this case, it did. As it turns out, the photo was not taken in the lieutenant governor's office in Sacramento. It was taken at the home of a Davis supporter in Santa Monica. Nothing illegal about that. Simon was forced to retract the charge. And Davis called on his opponent to quit the governor's race. The rap on Simon: not ready for prime time.
In Montana, the pictures did force a GOP candidate to abandon his race for senator. The pictures were in a TV ad run by the Democratic Party. The charge: that, back in the 1970s, Mike Taylor abused the student loan program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: Abuse that causes innocent students to default on their loans, abuse that cost taxpayers thousands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: But the real issue wasn't the money. The issue was the pictures and what they seemed to imply.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: State Senator Mike Taylor once ran a beauty salon and a hair care school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: Beauty salon? A hair care school? And what are those two men doing? Taylor's campaign spokesman said the implications were unavoidable; the Democrats were trying to out his candidate as a homosexual. "Enough is enough," Taylor said.
MIKE TAYLOR (R), MONTANA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I made the decision not to go in the gutter to respond to that ad or anything else. Max Baucus could have made that decision a long time ago, that he was going to stay with the issues, that he was going to debate Mike Taylor, that he had done enough for the United States Senate that he could defend his own record.
So I don't want to saying any anything about Max Baucus or his camp. They have to live with themselves. I can hold my head high. I know who Mike Taylor is.
SCHNEIDER: Taylor took himself out of the race, leaving Republicans scrambling to find a replacement just over three weeks to Election Day. It's just like Boss Tweed said, "those damn pictures." Then it was cartoons. Now it's photographs and videotapes. But it's still the "Play of the Week."
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.
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Political Focus to Economy; New Jersey Senate Race Ad Takes Aim at Lautenberg>