CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Do Democrats Really Have an Advantage When it Comes to the Economy?; The Washington Area Sniper Claims an 11th Victim and a Ninth Fatality
Aired October 15, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. I'm in our New York bureau today.
Three weeks, that is all that's left until Election Day. And the top Democrats in Congress are turning up the volume on their old refrain, "It's the economy, stupid." And they charge the Bush White House doesn't get it.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The extremist ideology of trickle down economics.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The economic circumstances have continued to worsen.
GEPHARDT: Ineffective gimmicks. Sham measures and promises of tax cuts.
DASCHLE: We had a good economy when Bill Clinton was president.
GEPHARDT: Times we're in demand new thinking and strong action.
WOODRUFF: But some Republican strategists aren't buying those lines. In an internal memo obtained by CNN, GOP pollster Matthew Dowd sees -- quote -- "Republican opportunity" in the current political landscape.
He says his polling shows Republicans and Democrats are tied heading into the mid-term election. He says the public trusts the GOP more on terrorism and security issues and he says the parties are tied on the issues of the economy and education, although he notes a majority of Americans believe the economy is going in the wrong direction.
Our Congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl and our senior White House correspondent John King are with us now.
First, let's turn to John. John, you've been listening to what the Democrats are saying and the Republican response. What are you hearing?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, first up, Dick Gephardt, the Democratic leader in the House, came out today and presented a Democratic agenda to get the economy moving again. It includes as mix of short-term tax cuts, new spending and some corporate welfare cuts to help pay for it all.
But as Gephardt and the other Democrats try to move the economy to the center stage, Judy, they are invoking the name of a new hero, who also happens to be an old hero.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In 1992, I told the American people I would focus on the economy like a laser beam.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For Democrats, the guy who promised to focus like a laser beam on the economy is back in vogue.
DASCHLE: We had a good economy when Bill Clinton was president. Ever since this president and this administration has taken over, the economic circumstances have continued to worsen.
KARL: Back in 2000, the Democratic standard bearers studiously avoided mentioning Bill Clinton on the stump.
Now, Democratic leaders echo the former presidnet.
GEPHARDT: Ten years ago, the Democratic president promised to focus like a laser beam on the economy. And I'm proud my party came together around a plan to produce the most robust economic growth in history. Now let us again focus like a laser beam on the economy.
KARL: Democrats want a side-by-side comparison of the Clinton and Bush economic records. After all, the economy soared under Clinton and has slumped under Bush.
In a new memo, Republican pollster Matthew Dowd expresses amazement that Republicans aren't paying a price for the state of the economy: "It is amazing that with an economy growing less than we would like, the Democrats have no inherent advantage on this issue."
Daschle looks at the polls too.
DASCHLE: You don't have to rely on Matthew Dowd to look for better research. And if you look at the general research, there's no question that -- that the American people are more confident that Democrats can deal with the economy than the Republicans. I've seen that in poll after poll after poll. And for good reason.
KARL: For the record, the latest CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll shows the Democrats have a 5 point lead when it comes to dealing with the economy, but that's a very slight lead, just barely outside of the margin of error.
Meanwhile, Judy, one other thing to tell you about, is that Tom Daschle went to the floor of the Senate today and had some harsh words for the president on the economy and called for the president to cancel his upcoming political travel and work less hard on trying to save the jobs of Republican politicians and harder to save the jobs of average Americans -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jon. Thanks very much.
Now we want to bring in our senior White House correspondent John King. John, you heard what the Democrats are saying. I mean, among other things they're saying the president hasn't put forward a positive plan for the economy. What is the White House saying about that? Do they feel they've done enough?
KING: Well, they say a lot of things, Judy. First and foremost, they would say Senator Daschle should go back and check the economic data, that the slowdown began in the Clinton administration and that President Bush, as he says in almost every political stop, inherited the beginnings of an economy heading into recession. That is one of the reasons that that is now a staple line, though, in the president's political speech.
When he travels, and he is traveling aggressively over the final three weeks of this election season, the president makes the point that he inherited a bad economy and that he makes the case that his tax cuts saved the economy from spiraling deeper into recession. The president says one way to have guaranteed stability and security is to make those tax cuts permanent.
Remember there was some discussion right after that Bush economic forum in Waco, Texas of this president, President Bush, putting forward a late election year stimulus package, some sort of another economic package. They decided not to do that here at the White House. One reason is they believe is Congress would not act on it, or the Democrats would try to add on too much spending to it, make the price tag too big.
Another reason, thought, Judy is Republicans believe it could open the door to Democrats making the argument that the president himself was conceding his tax cut did not work. So the president did not do that before the election, here at the White House today though they did say, they would be open to looking at some of the new stimulus ideas put forward in that speech Jon Karl just showed from Congressman Gephardt.
WOODRUFF: John, in that memo that Matthew Dowd wrote, he's sounding pretty confident about the president's chances. How confident -- I mean, the party's chances in these elections coming up November 5. How confident are they at the White House?
KING: Judy, the president is being told by his top political advisers that the Republicans are very confident and increasingly confident that they will keep control of the House of Representatives. The Senate is viewed right now as a toss-up. There are a number of competitive races. The Republicans like their chances because they have raised more money, because they have a president -- an incumbent president who will travel to some 30 states over the next three weeks, targeting key races and they feel much more comfortable because there is no national wave. They do not see an anti-economy wave. That was one thing they did worry about here at the Bush White House, Matthew Dowd noting in that memo he's amazed there is no such wave.
They believe this election will be settled on a race-by-race basis and they believe Republicans have advantages in that environment because of their fund-raising advantages. It is a cliche, but here at the White house they say in the 20 or so most competitive races for control of the House and Senate, turnout is what matters.
WOODRUFF: All right, my apologies. We were just -- we were just listening to John King and obviously we lost that shot.
John, we're sorry. We'll get you back later on.
But now let's bring in the Republican pollster who is behind that memo we've been talking about, Michael (sic) Dowd. And for the other side we have Democratic pollster Michael Meehan joining us.
Matthew Dowd, let me turn to you first. You do say in here that Americans continue to be very concerned about the economy. You say a majority of Americans are saying the economy's on the wrong track. If that's the case, how can you also argue, as the Democrats do, that the Republicans, you know, should be paying a price for this?
MATTHEW DOWD, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Well, I'm not making an argument. I'm just trying to point out the facts of the numbers which show that even with the economy not exactly where anybody would want it to be and the voters obviously concerned and it's going in the wrong direction, not as optimistic, they're not rewarding the opposition party in that scenario as of yet, which is, as I said in the memo, is sort of amazing that you have a situation with the economy, where it stands and the Republican party is at the same advantage on that issue as the Democrats are. It's not just my poll, it's a lot of public polls and it's even some of the Democrat's polls, that this recent Carville memo that was put out that had the Republicans with a five-point advantage on the economy.
So, I'm just making the point that just because it turns the economy doesn't necessarily mean it's in the Democrats' turf.
WOODRUFF: Michael Meehan, do you agree that the Democrats have just not been able to turn the economy to their benefit so far in this election?
MICHAEL MEEHAN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: There's no question that the dialogue has been about this Iraq resolution and the battle on the debate. And if you take Matt Dowd's memo at face value, then, the Senate should be sewn up and the Republicans calm and the House races should be over. But clearly, we're not at that point. Tony Fabrizio did a poll, Republican pollster, 40 of the top House districts that President Bush carried a majority of have shown the Democrats have moved five points in a month at this time. So, if you accept him at face value, these races should be over and, quite honestly, they're not. Democrats are winning because they're talking about economic issues in their states, at home, and why they should go to Washington and represent a different point of view.
I mean, the economic numbers are awful. I'd be talking up half your poll numbers too if I were them.
WOODRUFF: Well, let me -- let me quote something to you, Matt Dowd, that Dick Gephardt said in his speech today. He said the Bush record on the economy is as bad as any president since the Great Depression. He said that he has, that his administration has an extremist ideology of trickle down economics, that they've ignored the economy.
With rhetoric coming out of the Democrats like that now, is there a chance -- do you give the Democrats any chance that in the next three weeks they can get some -- get some traction on this?
DOWD: I -- of course. I mean, with politics anything changes on a day-to-day basis. But what I was trying to point out in the memo, and I -- obviously Michael mentioned but I -- since I wrote it, I'd like to sort of say what I meant by it. I didn't say we were going to win all these elections. I didn't say we were going to win every Senate race. I said, basically, it was going to come down to a race- by-race basis, which Normally in a midterm, with an economy the way it is, you would expect the party out of power to overwhelmingly winning most of these races, to carry 27 on average of the seats in the House, to winning the Senate, to winning governor's races. You would normally expect that.
But what we have in this situation is a public that supports this president more than the Democrats in Congress, not only on terrorism, not only on the war on Iraq, but on education as an issue and the economy as an issue.
So it's not just that we have a situation where Republicans versus Democrats. This president is trusted more on almost every single issue than the Democrats in Congress.
WOODRUFF: Michael Meehan, what about the charge that we hear not just from Matt Dowd, but others, that the Democrats have not come together and put forward a positive plan of their own for the economy?
MEEHAN: The Democrats have a positive plan. I mean, Majority Leader Daschle today in the Senate floor, Congressman Gephardt today in the speech talked about raising minimum wage, makes pensions portable, holding CEOs to the statement standards at shareholders with their golden parachutes. Getting together with the short term in the stimulus that would help people who are hurt by healthcare, people who move school construction.
I mean, there's very good plans articulated by the Democrats. There's no question that the White House, with this Iraq resolution, has controlled the dialogue, but that hasn't changed the outcome of any of these races. In fact, some of these races have improved for us. We would win two seats if the election were held today in the Senate. We'd pick up seven governorships.
And Matt's point about losing 27 seats, we only need to pick up seven seats. So, let's say we have a bad day by half, we're up six seats in the House. I think this is still a lot at play -- I agree with him, these races will be won and fought on a local level and it won't be a national referendum, although this memo certainly indicates it's a national referendum on President Bush.
WOODRUFF: And Matt Dowd, what are the odds that you think something could happen in the next three weeks that could give the Democrats any kind of a national win if you want to call it that?
DOWD: Well, I don't know what the odds are. I think it's going to be tough for any sort of election to get nationalized in the next three weeks.
Could it happen? Yes. But I think it's very hard. I think we're going to go down to that each race will be decided on it's own. I'm glad Michael and I agree about that.
It is amazing that the sort of Democrats are now, as of, you know, the last 48 hours, have now decided that they're going to put together a positive plan on the economy. They could have passed something six months ago in the Senate. The House has passed a number of bills to try to deal with this, but, you know, as of yet the Senate hasn't really moved on any significant legislation.
WOODRUFF: Michael Meehan, quick last word -- very quick.
MEEHAN: I think we would -- today, Tom Daschle sitting here in the Senate, so is Dick Gephardt in the House, we'll take an economic plan and we'll pass it before the election. Let's go. Let's go. That's great.
WOODRUFF: All right. Michael Meehan, Matt Dowd, great to see you both. We appreciate it.
MEEHAN: Thank you.
DOWD: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Well, for another snapshot of voter's concerns about the economy, I stopped today at a restaurant in Paramus, New Jersey, and I asked a few people about what they think about jobs and their own financial security.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do see a lot of people losing their jobs due to the downsizing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think the economy is doing that badly. Of course, I haven't lost my job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The World Trade Towers that we witnessed has been a real blow to our economy. It certainly didn't help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think what happened is we were riding on such a high crest that we got so used to it that then when it hit, we were all devastated by it, but I think eventually it's going to turn around.
WOODRUFF: I also talked to that lunchtime crowd about the important New Jersey Senate race, and we'll hear a little of that later on INSIDE POLITICS.
Also, I'll talk to GOP candidate Doug Forrester and his stump mate on the trail with him today, Senator John McCain.
Coming up next: the D.C. area sniper strikes again. I'll talk to the Congressman who represents the area where the latest killing took place.
And we will hear from a Kennedy who says the sniper is an issue in her campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND (D-MD), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I have suffered a great deal from gun violence, and I know very well how important it is that we have common sense gun laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Also ahead, Al Gore in Iowa trying to fan Democratic anger from 2000. Will those flashbacks rally voters or discourage them?
This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: We turn now to the sniper attacks across the Washington metro area, which have led to the deaths of nine people since October 2. The most recent shooting was last night outside a Home Depot store in Falls Church, Virginia.
With me now from Washington is Democratic Congressman Jim Moran. He represents Virginia's eighth district, which does include Falls Church.
Congressman Moran, can the people in the Washington area feel safe after this person is so brazen, shooting people in front of -- in a crowded parking lot at 9:00 at night?
REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: There's a pervasive fear down here, Judy, as you can imagine. I felt it for the first time the last couple of days when I took my children to a couple malls. I hadn't felt it before that, but when I was with the kids, I'm sure I had the shared feelings of so many families. These are such random killings that it could be anybody. There's no commonality among the people that have fallen victim to this guy.
And as a result, the whole region is gripped by anxiety.
WOODRUFF: Would you feel safe taking your children to malls now after last night?
MORAN: Well, I was conscious of it. I do feel that we have to go about our daily lives. I mean, we can't stay away from malls. We can't stay away from sitting in a bus shelter where one woman was killed. We can't go without filling up our cars with gas. That's -- several of the shootings occurred there.
So these are regular activities we've got to maintain. but it's understandable why the whole region is gripped with fear. Of course, we've got as many people looking after this guy as are looking after Osama bin Laden. I'm sure we're going to catch him and he seems to be getting bolder. Now we're obviously speculating, I'm speculating that it's a guy, of course. I think that's a reasonable speculation.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about guns and the availability of guns in this country, because the question has obviously arisen in the minds of many people, Would this kind of thing would happening if guns weren't so easily available?
MORAN: I think that the answer is undeterminative. It may very well be that it's because of the easy accessibility of guns that this guy was able to, but if you're really determined, you can get a gun.
I'm a co-sponsor of a bill Rob Andrews from New Jersey has sponsored that would keep a national database of the thumbprint of every weapon -- when it's shot, it puts a unique thumbprint on the bullet. That would probably have helped us apprehend him by now.
Of course, again, it's speculation. It's not foolproof --
WOODRUFF: This is the so-called -- this is the so-called ballistic fingerprinting that Ari Fleischer at the White House said the administration is opposed to.
MORAN: They're opposed to it because the National Rifle Association is opposed to it, but I don't know what they fear for. Why do they want to protect people who would be shooting other people?
There's -- you're never going to be checking out the bullet that was shot into an animal for hunting purposes. This is only when people use weapons against other human beings.
It seems to me a reasonable thing to do. The assault weapon ban that -- it's been generally opposed by many people in the White House. It's going to come up for renewal. I would hope it would get added impetus when we see what could happen with the easy availability of guns. Of course, again, it's speculation. This person who has been able to kill every person that he has shot at with one bullet is obviously a skilled marksman. And I'm glad the defense department is getting involved because it's very difficult, even if you've got natural talent, to become skilled in anything. The military is the only place where you're really paid to practice your marksmanship. Even local law enforcement doesn't have much opportunity.
So that's -- the fact that the defense department is involved may accelerate our ability to apprehend him.
WOODRUFF: Representative Jim Moran does represent the eighth district in Virginia where last night's shooting took place.
Congressman Moran, good to see you. We appreciate you coming by.
MORAN: Sure, Judy. Any time.
WOODRUFF: Thank you.
And this reminder: a special edition of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is coming up at the top of the hour with complete coverage of the sniper investigation. That's at 5 Eastern, 2 Pacific.
More political opinion from a New Jersey restaurant just ahead.
Plus, Republican Doug Forrester brings in a Senate heavy hitter to charge up his campaign. My conversation -- chat, with Forrester and Senator John McCain, next.
But first let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update.
Rhonda, it was up, up, up.
RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN SR. MARKET CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Judy, it sure was. What a rally here on Wall Street.
The major market averages soaring more than 4 percent each in their fourth straight day of gains, the buying fueled by better than expected earnings news. And there was no letup to this action. Stocks closing at session highs. Many market watchers are saying today's rally had a different tone with some improved buying out there, though there are still skeptics who say this is not the start of a bull market.
At the closing bell, Dow Jones Industrial average surging 378 points, its third best one-day point game this year. And the Nasdaq rocketed 61 points higher.
IBM the Dow's biggest point gainer, financials on fire after Citigroup edged up Wall Street's quarterly targets, net income up 23 percent. The stock surging today.
General Motors and Johnson & Johnson also beat forecasts. Moments ago, Intel just reported its results. The chipmaker missed on profit numbers but the sales were on track. About one third of the 500 biggest companies expected to hand in results this week.
That is the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including a new poll on American attitudes toward a potential presidential run by Senator Hillary Clinton.
WOODRUFF: On the record this Tuesday, the New Jersey Senate race between Republican Doug Forrester and Democrat Frank Lautenberg. The latest poll shows Lautenberg leading Forrester by 12 points, despite his late entry into the race as Bob Torricelli's replacement.
A little earlier this afternoon, I asked Doug Forrester about those poll numbers as he campaigned with Arizona Senator John McCain.
DOUG FORRESTER (R), NEW JERSEY SEN. CANDIDATE: One of the things that we have tried to do is to make sure that between now and November 5, that we don't show up ahead in the polls because we're afraid they're going to swap Frank Lautenberg out for somebody else. Every time we appear ahead in the polls, that's what they do.
You know, this is the same poll that you refer to that showed Bob Torricelli leading me a few days before he dropped out of the race. So, all I can say is the poll that really counts is November 5.
We've reoriented the campaign as far as focusing on Mr. Lautenberg's record. It's remarkably similar, in fact even worse than Mr. Torricelli's. So, the kinds of things we've been talking about for nine months in terms of Mr. Lautenberg flashing defense, and Torricelli and Lautenberg slashing intelligence gathering and slashing FBI funding, that continues to be relevant.
We're going to bring it home and make sure we win on November 5.
WOODRUFF: Senator McCain, I just came from interviewing people at a diner who say they'd like to consider voting for Mr. Forrester here, but they want to hear more of what his positions are. They said in the beginning he was only talking against Bob Torricelli.
What advice do you have to give him? What would you say about that?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Cheapest commodity in Washington, my advice has been. I think get into debates. And that's the best, I think, people of New Jersey can compare the candidates, and I think the debates are really important as well as all the other stuff and I'm confident of his ability to do well in a debate.
WOODRUFF: What brings you here to New Jersey?
MCCAIN: I believe in Doug Forrester, and I believe that he can win and I believe that New Jersey is ready for a change.
WOODRUFF: Mr. Forrester, what would you say to the people in the diner I just talked to a few minutes ago in Paramus who said, We're interested in him, but we need to know more about what he thinks on the issues.
FORRESTER: You know, I appreciate folks like that so much. I've been campaigning nine months, I've been up and down the beaches and boardwalks and fairgrounds in New Jersey. I've has the pleasure of answering more questions in front of more people, you know, eyeball to eyeball than any other public official in New Jersey.
But we have more to do. You know, when I was running was against Mr. Torricelli directly, we found there was a big huge issues that always dominated everybody's interest and that had to do with his conduct. I'm glad that's off the table.
But now that we're talking about issues of homeland security and how weak Frank Lautenberg's record has been on that score, how weak is on intelligence gathering, these are things people need to hear, because New Jerseyans want to feel safe. They want to have their families kept safe. That's what we're talking about, and I'm eager to get to that.
WOODRUFF: What about these newspaper articles you wrote about 10 years ago, among other things, saying you criticized, among things, DWI stops on the road.
FORRESTER: No. No. I think It's important people read the columns. I happen to like those columns. I liked them then and I think they're instructive even now.
The issue that we wrote about had to do with things that government does which really don't help the people be safe. I was not talking about probable cause. Obviously, we need to get drunk drivers off the roads and that's what the cops have been doing a great job at for many, many years.
So, those who want to read the column should go back and do that. I think they'll be very, very pleased at what they read. They'll find that I was thoughtful and thought through the issues.
I actually believe that I come to this race better prepared in terms of carefully of carefully thinking about what keeps Americans safe and free than people I'm running against.
WOODRUFF: Are those stops appropriate now?
FORRESTER: We're talking about the generalized stops. The American Civil Liberties Union objected to the kind of processes that were in place, middle of the day, just corralling hundred of people. That was the kind of thing that we were writing about. We're not talking about stopping people who have any sort of sign of -- yes.
WOODRUFF: And ban on assault weapons -- you're now for that?
FORRESTER: We have been in favor of the ban on assault weapons because it's existing law. We need to enforce existing laws, keep families safe. WOODRUFF: But your views changed?
FORRESTER: We've been very steadfast in this campaign in terms of enforcing existing laws. That includes the assault weapons ban.
WOODRUFF: OK, Mr. Forrester, thank you very much.
FORRESTER: Thank you. Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Those last few questions on some columns that Doug Forrester wrote about 10 or 12 years ago, a story in today's "New York Times" raising questions about positions he had then, some of which have changed since.
Well, Frank Lautenberg's controversial late entry into the New Jersey Senate race has sparked some strong opinions among New Jersey voters. Here's another sampling from my visit this morning to a New Jersey restaurant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of Forrester's ads were putting down Torricelli.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of the way they put Lautenberg in, I think they broke the law. It was 21 days before an election ends. It's unacceptable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very relieved that Lautenberg is going to run.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Torricelli, I probably would have voted for him, but not with a good heart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that Mr. Lautenberg is the past. And I think that Mr. Forrester is the future.
WOODRUFF: So, you can see it was a mix of opinion.
An update on the search for the Washington area sniper just ahead: CNN's Daryn Kagan joins us from Montgomery County, Maryland, for the latest on the investigation.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan in Montgomery County, Maryland, with the latest on the search for the sniper.
We learned quite a bit today. First of all, we learned the identity and had a chance to see the face of the latest victim. She was Linda Franklin, 47 years old, from Arlington, Virginia, an analyst for the FBI. She was killed last night when she went shopping at the Home Depot in nearby Falls Church with her husband. She was in the parking lot after doing some shopping and loading some things up into her car. And she was hit at that time, one shot to the head.
This latest shooting is a lot closer to Washington, D.C. than the last three previous shootings have been. It also is in a county that we haven't seen before in terms of these shootings, Fairfax County, which increases the number of jurisdictions and police agencies that are now working on this case.
The other development today: police finally releasing the composite of the white Astro van that they are looking for. And, in fact, they released two composites. They said, after talking to eyewitnesses, they just couldn't come up with one picture, so they released two. And if we can put those need pictures up.
They are releasing one that is a white Chevy Astro van with silver ladder racks on top. The other is a Ford Econovan. Police are being very specific to say this is not one picture. It's a graphic composite. And they want people to look at those and see if it jogs the memory and help bring any other tips in. I know that when they released the composite of the white box truck over the weekend, that brought in a number of tips, and police hoping that this does the same.
And, Judy, I can tell you, the story from here in the Washington, D.C. area, as much as the sniper, is the weather. And a big, big storm is expected tonight. Between the fear factor of people not knowing who is out there and what he or she plans to do next and the bad weather, which could turn into a nor'easter, people are more than happy to stay indoors tonight into tomorrow morning.
WOODRUFF: No question, Daryn. It is a city on edge. I left there this morning just to come up to New York and New Jersey. And I've never seen it like that in the years I've lived there.
KAGAN: Yes, I think especially with...
WOODRUFF: All right.
KAGAN: I'm sorry.
WOODRUFF: No, I was just going to say -- go ahead.
KAGAN: Especially with this latest one moving closer in towards D.C., I think some people inside D.C. or closer to D.C. were thinking, well, this is just happening out in the suburbs. But right now, it's very clear it is impossible to predict where the sniper might hit next.
WOODRUFF: Right. And one of the victims was actually killed inside the D.C. line. That was a little over a week ago.
All right, Daryn, thanks very much. Well, as these sniper killings continue, Maryland's gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has stepped up her criticism of the gun control record of her GOP opponent, Robert Ehrlich.
Our Capitol Hill producer, Dana Bash, caught up with Townsend out on the campaign trail.
DANA BASH, CNN CAPITOL HILL PRODUCER: I wanted to ask you about the gun issue...
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Yes.
BASH: ... and particularly with the sniper, how it's playing out in the campaign. Do you think that the gun issue in general, gun control, is a legitimate issue at this point in your campaign?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: I think that it has to be. I mean, you're electing somebody for four years. And you're saying: Who is going to do the best job to protect our citizens? Whose values are more in line with Maryland citizens? And I think it's very important that people know the difference between my position and my opponent's.
BASH: How do you respond to criticism that's really coming from Congressman Ehrlich's campaign that, by using the gun issue at this point, you're politicizing an issue that has a lot of people living in Maryland very frightened?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: I have suffered more than most from gun violence. And I certainly want to do all I can to make sure that we can reduce gun violence. And I think it's important that we understand that it helps to have common-sense gun laws.
BASH: Is there concern that people actually won't go to the polls?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Well, we've talked to Chief Moose and Colonel Mitchell about making sure that there is protection. As you know, most of the polling booths are at the schools. And there's already police presence at the schools. And I think that will have to continue.
BASH: How much do you think voters will kind of be voting on this issue, based on what's going on right now in Washington?
KENNEDY TOWNSEND: I think people understand that it is an issue that faces us, not just based on the events of the last two weeks. It is an issue that faces us every day in Baltimore City and every day in parts of our state. And I think it's very important to understand that we're voting for somebody who is going to be governor for four years and they're interested in reducing crime every place.
WOODRUFF: We were having a little trouble hearing and understanding some of that here. We hope that you were able to hear it clearly there. That was Kathleen Kennedy Townsend out on the campaign trail this afternoon.
Well, the sniper attacks, as we've been saying on this program, have prompted new calls for so-called fingerprinting of firearms. But the White House today is brushing aside that technology, saying that it may not be reliable in identifying shooters and it could, it says, the White House says, undermine gun owner's privacy.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says that new gun laws would not stop the sniper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: But when it comes to criminal behavior, and people who use guns to commit murder, there's no amount of laws that's going to stop these people from committing these depraved crimes. The issue is the morality. The issue is their values. And they have broken the law, they will break the law.
New laws don't stop people like this. What stops people like this is tough enforcement of the laws--the additional resources the president has provided to state governments so that if somebody commits a crime, they know they will be prosecuted for the crime and serve time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: And with us now: Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."
Paul, we just heard Ari Fleischer saying the so-called ballistic fingerprinting wouldn't accomplish anything. A little earlier in the program, Congressman Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia, whose district this killing occurred in last night, says that he doesn't understand that position, that what is it that the White House is afraid of? Is this an issue that has staying power, do you think?
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, the risk for the Democrats is always that they go too far and they frighten people. A lot of the swing districts in this congressional election are rural. And they don't want a lot of gun control.
But the Republican answer from Fleischer, I thought, was too weak. The notion that this is new gun control, it's not. It is a law enforcement tool. A ballistic fingerprint of every bullet fired would be a tool that cops say they could use to catch this person. And Ari says, well, it wouldn't have prevented it. And I'm sure he's right. But now we're not interested in prevention. We're worried in arrest and conviction.
And it would be a tool that the cops say, "We need." So the Republicans, I think, right now do have a great political risk of seeming like they don't care enough to give law enforcement the tools that they need. And I think, yes, it will have an effect in some of the races. WOODRUFF: Tucker, how exactly would ballistic fingerprinting affect the privacy of gun owners?
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, first of all, let me just say I think it's distressing and kind of sad to see Congressman Jim Moran, of all people, attempting to use a tragedy like this for political gain. I hope that's not what he was doing.
It might be a useful tool to determine who fired a gun in a crime. It might not be. There's a debate, as you know, about how effective it would be. A lot of the remedies one hears about guns, devices, for instance, that would allow a gun only to be fired by its owner, work better in theory than they do in practice. That's a debate I think Ari Fleischer said this morning that we need to continue having.
But the idea that gun control laws would have prevented this in the first place is ludicrous. Keep in mind that the first shootings took place in the Maryland suburbs, Prince George's County and Montgomery County, two of the counties with the toughest gun control laws in the country. So the idea that, if we had more laws, this guy would have said, "Oh, my gosh, I better not become a sniper, because it is, after all, illegal," is kind of ludicrous.
WOODRUFF: All right, I'm going to change the subject dramatically: Al Gore in Iowa campaigning yesterday and today.
Tucker, the former vice president conjuring up 2000 and saying: "You remember what happened two years ago. You better get out and vote. Every vote counts." Is this going to work for Democrats?
CARLSON: Well, I hope that this is a sign that Al Gore is going to run for president again in 2004. He should run. I think he has a moral obligation to run. I think, from the Republican point of view, he's the perfect candidate, after, of course, Al Sharpton.
But there's a fascinating piece today in "The Washington Post" by Dan Balz that tries to answer the question: What has Al Gore been doing for the last two years? And the answer, really, is becoming increasingly unpopular with Democrats. The Democrat running for governor in Tennessee won't even allow Gore to campaign with him. It's really sad.
WOODRUFF: All right.
BEGALA: It's actually a very good idea.
The party that wins the midterm elections is not the Republicans or the Democrats. It's the hacked-off party. Which party is more angry? Which base is more angry? Generally, that's the party out of power. But the Democratic base, watching the debate about Iraq, watching most Democrats vote with the president, a lot of liberals and a lot of Democratic base voters are very alienated from their own party now.
I think what Gore is trying to get do is get back to them, reenergize their anger, not at their leadership for going along with Bush on the war, but rather go back to Florida. And it's a perfectly smart political strategy to use in a midterm. I'm glad to see Al Gore doing it. Yes, good idea.
WOODRUFF: OK, I had a feeling you guys might not agree on that.
Paul Begala, Tucker Carlson, good to see you both. Thanks. And we'll see you tonight on "CROSSFIRE."
We check the White House travel schedule as Election Day approaches. One GOP candidate may have lost a chance at a presidential visit. Also: Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney blaming GOP crossover voting for her primary defeat, but a ballot study finds otherwise -- details ahead in our "Campaign News Daily."
WOODRUFF: "Inside Buzz" from our John King: A late addition to the president's campaign travel schedule has now been canceled. Mr. Bush was expected to make a stop on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon in California later this month. The appearance was added just before Simon falsely claimed last week that incumbent Democrat Gray Davis had accepted an illegal campaign contribution. Well, officially, the cancellation is being blamed on a scheduling conflict.
Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily": Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan says he is flattered by the support he's received, but he's not going to mount a write-in campaign for governor. Polls have shown voters are unhappy with both incumbent Gray Davis and challenger Simon. He tells the "L.A. Times" -- quote -- "My ego hasn't become that large. But," in his words, "if I could pull a New Jersey and be on the ballot, that would be a big difference."
A new poll finds a large majority of American do not want Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to make a run for the White House. A Marist survey finds 69 percent say Senator Clinton should not run for president; 26 percent say she should run for the White House someday.
Defeated Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was not booted from office by Republican crossover votes, according to a ballot analysis by "The Atlanta-Journal Constitution." McKinney has claimed that her loss to challenger Denise Majette was caused by Republicans who targeted her and voted in the Democratic primary. But the newspaper found only about 3,100 ballots could be identified as being cast by Republicans. McKinney lost the election by six times that amount.
Up next on INSIDE POLITICS: It's down to the wire in Missouri.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: In a 50/50 state within a 50/50 country running for a 51/49 Senate, you hear a lot of talk about playing well with others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: In a season of high stakes and squeakers, our Candy Crowley reports on one of those Senate races that could decide it all.
WOODRUFF: The Missouri Senate race is yet another one of those tight races which could decide the balance of power in Washington. The state was closely divided in 2000 between Al Gore and George W. Bush. And the Senate contest looks to be equally close come Election Day.
Here's our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.
CROWLEY (voice-over): In the middle of a politically divided country is a politically divided state which could swing the balance of a divided U.S. Senate, depending on who wins the Senate race, which is a dead heat.
(on camera): Do you think Missourians are sort of in the middle? It seems like a pretty split state.
SEN. JEAN CARNAHAN (D), MISSOURI: Yes, we were even that way during the Civil War. So I think it's a tradition we've carried on.
CROWLEY (voice-over): The widow of former Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, Jean Carnahan, took his seat Senate two years ago, which he won two years ago, even though he died weeks before the election in a plane crash. An aide and a Carnahan son were also killed.
REP. JIM TALENT (R-MO), MISSOURI SENATE CANDIDATE: I believe that people still feel a lot of sympathy for Jean. And they should. I do.
CROWLEY: Running against a grandmother who lost her husband and son in 2000 is a delicate matter of uncertain import in 2002.
TALENT: It's kind of like the elephant in the room. It's obvious because of the circumstances under which Mrs. Carnahan went to the Senate. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't sense voters making decisions based on that. Of course, they're going to call it as they see it.
CROWLEY: The subtext of Jim Talent's campaign is that she's a nice but underqualified lady.
TALENT: I'm miked up, so watch it. CNN is following me.
CROWLEY: Twenty-four years younger than Carnahan, Talent is a bit of a policy wonk who lacks her cozy people skills, but trumps her resume with 14 years more of experience, first in the state legislature, then in the U.S. Congress.
TALENT: We need a Senate that's led by people who are going to give President Bush's domestic agenda a fair hearing, so we can get jobs in this country and we can get this country moving again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your husband, I worked my buns off for him. And I'm working for you.
CARNAHAN: Oh, bless your heart.
CROWLEY: Though she only have two years of on-the-job training in the Senate, Carnahan is a natural on the campaign trail, with quite an ear for the sound bite.
CARNAHAN: I'm the No. 1 target of the White House. They can't get Osama bin Laden. They're going to get me.
CROWLEY: They disagree on many issues, but in a 50/50 state within a 50/50 country running for a 51/49 Senate...
TALENT: I can work across party lines. I can work in the minority, work in the majority and get things done for folks.
CROWLEY: ... you hear a lot of talk about playing well with others.
CARNAHAN: As you know, I voted for the president's tax cut.
CROWLEY: Winning means getting more of your people to the polls and poaching votes in the other guy's territory. So Talent plays in the state's urban minority areas.
TALENT: They've asked, "Who's come up with the big ideas for the urban core in the last 10 years, which party," whether you agree with all of them or not? And the Republican Party: on housing, on education, on jobs.
CROWLEY: And Carnahan is well-traveled and well-photographed in Missouri's hunt-happy rural areas.
CARNAHAN: I shot skeet long before. But I do enjoy doing that. And our family has had guns in our home. And our son is going out this weekend to see if he can get a turkey for Thanksgiving.
CROWLEY: Advantage no one.
(on camera): Unless there is a breakthrough or breakdown performance in one of the upcoming debates, Carnahan-Talent figures to be the tightest race in an election season full of close calls. No one would be surprised if, come late election eve, the nation turned to the Show Me State to see which way the Senate will lean.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Parkville, Missouri.
WOODRUFF: That's one we're all going to be watching on November 5.
INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: With just three weeks to go until the election, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS today.
I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us.
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Economy?; The Washington Area Sniper Claims an 11th Victim and a Ninth Fatality>