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Cheney Asked Not to Attend Wellstone Service; Condit's Children Seek Political Revenge against the Man That Defeated Him in the Primary

Aired October 29, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Some of the biggest names in this town are heading to Minnesota and a memorial service for Senator Paul Wellstone. But one was asked to stay away.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl in Minneapolis where politicians in both parties are coming together for the Wellstone memorial before the Minnesota Senate battle resumes tomorrow with a new Democratic candidate.

WOODRUFF: Also ahead, Congressman Gary Condit's children seek political revenge against the man that defeated their father in the primary.

And if you think politics is for the birds, check out November 5 ballot fight that is ruffling feathers.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Senator Paul Wellstone considered himself a man of the people and tonight more than 15,000 are expected to attend his public memorial service in Minnesota, billed as a grass roots farewell to the unabashed liberal Democrat and others who died in a plane crash on Friday.

Our Jonathan Karl is on the campus of the University of Minnesota where the service will be held.

Jon, what you have learned about tonight's service?

KARL: Well, we've learned that there are going to be, as you said, some of the biggest names in Washington coming here, but the Wellstone campaign, the Wellstone -- Wellstone's friends and families are calling this a populist service.

And you can see, Judy, the service is not for another three hours but already people have started to line up outside of Paul Wellstone's old campaign bus. And there are hundreds and hundreds perhaps more people in all different directions lining up, waiting to get into this service.

And the guest list will include a who's who of politicians in both parties. Bill Clinton will be here, Al Gore will be here, more than 50 United States senators will be here, including the leaders of the Republican party Trent Lott, Democratic leader Tom Daschle, the Republican candidate that was running against Paul Wellstone, Norm Coleman, will be here, as will be Walter Mondale, the Democrat that is expected to be chosen to succeed Wellstone on the ballot tomorrow night.

And, as you made reference to, there is somebody who is not here. That is Vice President Cheney. The White house had offered to send the vice president to this service, but the Wellstone family declined. People close to the family tell me there were a couple of reasons for that decision.

One reason was they didn't want to see the entire Secret Service contingent come here, the security that comes with a vice presidential visit. They thought would change the tone and the nature of this event, which again they see as a populist event where everyone is invited.

Also, as far as the actual ceremony tonight. None of these big name politicians will be speaking. As a matter of fact, there will be no politicians speaking, I am told, except for one, and that is Tom Harkin, senator from Iowa, who also was Paul Wellstone's best friend in the United States Senate. And he will be the lone politician speaking at this event.

And Judy, there will be a representative from the White House. It won't be a vice president, but it will be Tommy Thompson, the secretary of Health and Human Services -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Very unusual to have so many politicians there and have only one of them speaking.

John, you mentioned Walter Mondale. He is expected to be nominated tomorrow night by the DFL meeting convention there in Minnesota. What should we look for out of that?

KARL: Judy, I think I lost you. Can you come again?

WOODRUFF: Sorry, Jon. I was asking about Walter Mondale. You were -- you mentioned him. He is going to be nominated, everybody believes, at this DFL convention tomorrow night. What should we look for in way of the campaign getting under way after this memorial?

KARL: Well, the Coleman campaign, the Republican campaign has said they will start vigor -- a vigorous campaign tomorrow morning. Coleman will be back out campaigning.

Walter Mondale will be nominated, as you mentioned, at that convention, this kind of instant convention that will be held tomorrow. There will be about 800 delegates from around the state, DFL activists, that will nominate him, as expected, tomorrow night. And Walter Mondale, we are told, will address that convention. He will speak to the convention. It will be his first speech as a political candidate since 1984 and Democratic party officials here have told me they expected he will mount a vigorous campaign starting the following morning. So, maybe the shortest Senate campaign -- shortest, hotly contested in modern political history. But it will be a campaign, five or six days worth. Both candidates will be out crisscrossing the state. Obviously, an extraordinary campaign. Not your typical campaign. But both parties are saying that they will be out there vigorously fighting for their candidates.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jon Karl at the site of tonight's memorial service for Paul Wellstone.

I just returned from Minnesota last night and you could see just in the numbers of people who showed up at Wellstone headquarters in St. Paul the affection in which he was held.

Well, with me now political analyst Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times."

Ron, let's move on to the politics in Minnesota. What do we look for from Walter Mondale? We haven't heard from this man, politically, he hasn't spoken since the Wellstone death except briefly to express his condolences.

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, as Jonathan said, they are going to have a speech tomorrow night. They will make this event more like a convention, sort of a beginning of the campaign. And you can look for Mondale, I think, to wrap himself very closely in the Wellstone legacy. I think you have different strategies already emerming from the two parties.

I think the Democrats, to some extent, want to depersonalize this, make this less about Mondale than about Wellstone, make the election a way for the voters to memorialize or pay tribute to Paul Wellstone.

The Republicans are very intent on making this a Coleman/Mondale choice, because they realize hey they can't really win in that other construct if they're running against, in effect, the ghost of Paul Wellstone. That's a losing propostion. They want to make this a choice. Coleman probably stays on the upbeat, the positive. The party raises questions about Mondale.

WOODRUFF: What are you hearing about a debate? The Coleman people originally asked for five, now we're hearing...

BROWNSTEIN: I think they're going to get a debate. The indications I have from the Mondale camp is -- as one said to me, He's never been afraid to debate. I thinkt hey realize the people of Minnesota expect one and I would expect we will get a debate before Election Day.

WOODRUFF: And what about ads?

BROWNSTEIN: I think Mondale -- their initial inclination is to stay off the air. From the Mondale campaign, per se.

Now, you've got a situation where the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which had been advertising heavily in the state, criticizing Coleman, has said it is out for the duration.

The independent group, Americans for Job Security, which had been spending very heavily in the state criticizing Wellstone has said it is out for the duration.

The big uncertainity is the National Republican Senatorial Committee which has not made such a pledge, is still actively discussing whether to go on the air. But if they do, and even if they do raise questions about Mondale, they basically say, It's going to have to be a different tone, moderate, more sedate than it would be otherwise.

WOODRUFF: Fascinating five days. Just fascininating. We haven't seen anything quite like this.

BROWNSTEIN: And it really will be something to remember. Incredible to have it happen two elections in a row.

WOODRUFF: No question. All right, Ron, thank you very much.

BROWNSTEIN; Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

Well, that Minnesota race is among a number of House and Senate contests which are extremely tight but share few other similarities.

With just one week left until Election Day, our Jeff Greenfield has a reminder that even a small shift in voter turnout can have a big impact on the post-election landscape.


JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The theme of this midterm election is that there is no theme. No overriding national issue and not all that much voter interest either.

So does that mean there might not be big changes coming? No.

For one thing, an unevenly divided country, with both Houses of the Congress evenly divided, little things mean a lot.

For instance, back in 1986, a popular President Reagan watched as Democrats won very close races in six states, thus putting the Senate back in Democratic hands.

This year, two of the least populous states, New Hampshire and South Dakota, could tilt the U.S. Senate. And last time both of those races were decided by about a thousand votes each.

That same dynamic, of course, is possible in the House, where a shift of only six seats puts the House back in Democratic hands.

But so what? What difference would that make politically or to the citizenry? Well, for starters, an all Republican Congress would likely mean a prescription drug bill more to the White House liking, with insurance companies, rather than Medicare, as the key component.

It would mean a much more vigorous fight from the White House for permanent tax cuts and for tax relief to the business and corporate community.

It would mean that the lawyers, a key source of Democratic funding, might well be on the losing end of fights about tort reform and when and where lawsuits will be heard under a patients' bill of rights.

And on the issue of federal judges, a hot button item for true believers in both parties, a Republican Senate would mean that President Bush's nominees would face far easier sailing. Indeed, he'd likely make the same appointments that the judges blocked in committee this past year.

Just as important, the machinery of investigation would operate very differently. Back in the 80's, when Democrats controlled the Congress and Republicans controled the White House, issues liek Iran Contra were treated very differently than they would have been if Republicans had held the Congress.

Or look at the 90's, when the GOP ran Congress and Clinton was in the White House. Did it make a difference to issues like Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky and impeachment? You bet.

One more, non-Washington point. Democrats now seem poised to pick up governorships in big states they haven't governed in years, even decades. Given that 4 out of 5 of the last presidents have been governors and given how important a governor can be to a potential president's prospect, think about Florida two years ago, those races could wind up producing the biggest changes of all.

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.


WOODRUFF: Well, with all the emotional issues at stake next Tuesday, there's probably none quite like a question facing voters in Oklahoma. The issue is cock fighting. An effort to outlaw the practice has turned into a battle of rural versus urban, native versus newcomer.

As our Candy Crowley reports, neither side sees any room for compromise.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are 202 statewide ballot measures this election season.

In Oklahome, State Question 687 is for the birds. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The issue is human cruelty. The purpose in slashing these birds to death in front of these crowds is for gambling and for the entertainment of people.

CROWLEY: Yes, cockfighting is legal in Oklahoma. Has been since the 60's, when a court ruled that animal cruelty laws do not apply to chickens because chickens are not animals.

Animal rights activisits have been crying foul ever since.

Enough with the puns. This is serious stuff to Janet Halliburton, animal rights' activists, lawyer.

JANET HALLIBURTON, ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISIT: These cockfighters involve their children in the cockfights. And so the children see these animals being slashed to death for gambling purposes. And this desensitization makes it more likely that there's going to be human violence involved at some other stage..

CROWLEY: Six eighty-seven would make cockfighting and raising cockfighters illegal. It is a big bucks battle.

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Knives strapped to bird's legs. Placed in a pit to fight to the death. They call this sport?

CROWLEY: Oklahoma City, with its faux river walk, trendy restaurants and yes, coffee shops, may seem an unlikely spot for a divise debate over cockfighting. But the truth is you don't have to leave city limits to find a view and views that are very different.

Devin Smith, husband, father, radio ad salesman, game foul breeder, cockfighter.

DEVIN SMITH, FREEDOM OF CHOICE ADVOCATE: Well, I enjoy the competition of it, just to be honest with you. There's a competition -- maybe it's a man thing.

CROWLEY: Smith sees 687 as an overwritten first step by out of state liberals to take away his freedom and change Oklahoma culture.

There are fewer bucks on this side but enough to make the point.

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: The long-term goal is to outlaw fishing, hunting, rodeos, all animal sports. They say these sports are cruel and inhumane. Sportsmen, it's time to wake up. These California radicals are here.

CROWLEY: There is no bridging this divide. No middle ground. Not even any commonality of facts.

This, say animal rights activists, is what a cockfight looks like. Cockfighters won't allow pictures of the real thing, but Smith says this is more typical.

SMITH: As you can see, neither rooster is injured at all. CROWLEY: He describes a rural community of game foul and pump $100 million into the state economy. He said he uses tiny leather boxing gloves on his roosters. And that mostly, in Oklahoma, the roosters don't die.

HALLIBURTON: You've been lied to.

CROWLEY: She describes an Oklahoma embarassment, an underworld of gambling and criminals, supported by a bloodsport.

She's been at this for years and now senses victory.

He's been fighting and raising game foul for 30 years and he senses momentum.

SMITH: The animal rights activists support is slipping away like a California mudslide, as I like to say.

CROWLEY: Candy Crowley, CNN, Oklahoma City.


WOODRUFF: We keep our focus on next week's mid-term elections.

When we come back, two party pollsters will share their insights on the tight races.

Also, Congressman Gary Condit -- why his children are trying to derail the fellow Democrat that defeated him.

An update on the New Hampshire Senate race and the issues that matter most to Granite state voters.

And later:

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Her father ran for governor and her grandmother was secretary of state. Has she something to prove? Of course she does.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider introduces us to one of the fresh faces of the current election season.

You're watching INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.



WOODRUFF: Well, now that we've been watching the Haitian refugees, we'll continue to report on that. But for the moment, back to INSIDE POLITICS and back to next week's midterm elections.

We're joined now by Democratic pollster Michael Meehan -- he's here in Washington -- and from Austin, Texas, Republican pollster Matthew Dowd.

Matthew Dowd, to you first.

There are new polls that are showing that the mood of the country has shifted somewhat. We have a new CNN/"TIME" magazine poll showing 49 percent of Americans think things are going well today, compared with 57 percent back in August, 66 percent in January. Is this trend going to hurt your party?


There's a couple of things. To put it in context, back in '94, when the Republicans took the House back, the right-direction/wrong- track numbers were 24 right direction, whatever that was, 68 or 70 percent wrong track. Normally, it's a much bigger spread in order for one party to take an advantage of it. That's the first thing.

The second thing is that, though the public thinks, to some degree, the country is not in the right direction, especially the economy, they have not, as of yet, blamed one party or the other about what the situation is. So I still think it's going to be fought out on a race-by-base basis.

WOODRUFF: Well, in fact, Michael Meehan, even with this increased anxiety over how things are going, we have another poll result to show you: that, only by a margin of 44 percent to 39 percent do people say the Democrats can do a better job. That's not exactly a resounding vote there.

MICHAEL MEEHAN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, that's the first time during the course of this year that we've actually had an advantage on the economy. We're looking for trend lines here a week out before the election. This is not a good trend line for Matt and the White House.

The president's personal numbers have come down. His job of handling the economy is below 50. The direction of the country, unfortunately, is headed the wrong way, and just today, a nine-year low on consumer confidence on this economy. Two-thirds of every dollar in this economy that gets spent is spent by consumers. And it's at a nine-year low.

These are not trending the right way. This is a little bit of the breeze that we've been looking for. And it's the right time to have a little bit of breeze. We've got a dozen close Senate races, two dozen close governor's races, 40 House races. There's still a lot at play and we're still being very competitive in a lot of places. And I think next week's poll will answer a lot of these questions.

WOODRUFF: Matthew Dowd, Michael just mentioned the president's approval rating, as, in fact, they are down from the high 70s they were back in January to something like 61 percent in this poll. The president is out campaigning for so many Republican candidates. Is he going to be able to do then the good that it looked like months ago he was going be able to do them?

DOWD: His numbers have come down. And it's what we all expected. It's what sort of I've been talking about for almost a year now, even at his high of 90, that this would happen. Eventually, partisans would come home, and his numbers would be decked down in the low 60s or high 50s.

And it's exactly where I thought it would be. I think what the president provides is a unique situation, where normally, in a midterm, we would lose seats or expect to have heavy losses. And because his numbers are still relatively high -- you got to keep in mind, in '94, when the Republicans took a number of seats back, that President Clinton's numbers were 43 percent, 44 percent job approval.

So to have a job approval at 60 or 61 is still unprecedented. The last president to have a job approval above 60 in their first midterm was 40 years ago. So I still think he's an asset, but I am not a believer in coattails.

WOODRUFF: Michael Meehan, it is the case that the president still has pretty high approval ratings.

MEEHAN: Sure. And that's good for him today. But I think, a week from now, when people say, "Do we need to have a check and balance and put a focus on the economy?" -- three out of four tell pollsters they want this campaign to be about the economy. And people are slightly favoring our party on that, and for good reason.

I think this president and this White House are spending a lot of time -- the Cabinet is out, helping to help work for incumbents who are in trouble, Republicans in trouble and ailing. And if they spent half the energy on helping the ailing economy as they do in helping ailing Republican candidates, we'll be in much better shape as a country.

So I look forward to this campaign being over, a bunch of new Democrats being elected, and rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on the economy as well.

WOODRUFF: All right, what about this notion? One pollster said this is a "Seinfeld" election. It's not about anything. What about that, Matthew Dowd? Is this an election where there is no national issue or trend that matters? It's just local.

DOWD: I don't see any national trend one way or the other. The Democrats and Republicans, the public is split on who can handle education, who can handle the economy. It's basically split.

The Republicans are favored on some broad issues. Democrats are favored on others. But it's basically going to come down to individual races in individual states.

WOODRUFF: You agree, Michael?

MEEHAN: Yes, I agree. and I think we've got great candidates who have shown some momentum in the last week. And things are looking much better for us in the House and the Senate, as well as a bunch of these governor's races. But it's still the economy and jobs and education. And I think those issues break for us in the next week.

WOODRUFF: Michael Meehan, Matthew Dowd, thank you both for helping us understand it all. Good to see you both. DOWD: Thank you.

MEEHAN: Thank you.

DOWD: Nice to be here.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

In California's 18th Congressional District, a battle is raging for the seat now held by Gary Condit. The Democrat who hopes to replace Condit is one of his former staff members, Dennis Cardoza. But now Cardoza not only is battling the Republican nominee. He's also catching a lot of criticism from Condit's two children.

The story from CNN's Rusty Dornin.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite the crush of negative publicity about his affair with Chandra Levy, Congressman Gary Condit ran for reelection. He lost the primary to a former staffer, Dennis Cardoza, a state assemblyman, a moderate Democrat, much like Condit, to some here, heir apparent to the 18th Congressional District.

But now Condit's heirs, his two children, Cadee and Chad, have turned against their father's former protege.

(on camera): You want people to vote against your party because of personal feelings


CHAD CONDIT, SON OF GARY CONDIT: I'm an American, first and foremost. And Dennis Cardoza is no more a Democrat than the man in the moon. He is a shameless opportunist.

DORNIN (voice-over): And that's not all, according to the letter Chad Condit and his sister sent to Democratic voters, a string of allegations.

DENNIS CARDOZA (D), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Everything in it is untrue. I've never had a bankruptcy. I've never had a sexual harassment claim. It was things that they knew were absolutely false. For them to be that vindictive and that angry at me and put all these things that just have no merit whatsoever just sort of surprised me.

DORNIN: It also surprised Sandy Lucas, a Democratic Party spokesperson here. She thought upheaval in the district ended with the march primary.

(on camera): Is this letter going to hurt Cardoza?

SANDY LUCAS, Democratic Party SPOKESWOMAN: No, not at all. In fact, it's backfired. I think, if anything, it will either help him or stay neutral. I don't think it's going to have a major impact. The area has moved past March, even the Condit children haven't.

DORNIN (voice-over): But what about Cardoza's opponent, Republican state Senator Dick Monteith?

(on camera): Do you think this letter will help you?

DICK MONTEITH (R), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I think this. First of all, I had nothing to do with it, but I believe the letter probably will.

DORNIN (voice-over): Democrats hope not. It's another seat they need to gain control of the House. Condit held the seat for 14 years.

(on camera): Did you ever talk to your father about doing this?

CONDIT: No, we didn't.

DORNIN: Was he surprised? Or did he support it?

CONDIT: I really haven't talked to him about it. I'm sure he got one in the mail.

DORNIN: There are no official polls. And despite the letter, political observers say it's a toss-up.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Modesto, California.


WOODRUFF: One more in a lot of toss-ups this year.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy is criticizing a new ad for her opponent, Republican Marilyn O'Grady. The ad features a man whose son died in the World Trade Center attacks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never thought I'd do anything political like this, but I had to let the people of Nassau County know that Carolyn McCarthy has a terrible record on illegal immigration. McCarthy got an F from Americans for Immigration Control. She even voted to stop deporting aliens who are convicted of serious crimes in this country.


WOODRUFF: Congresswoman McCarthy has denounced the ad. She says O'Grady is exploiting the September 11 attacks.

The candidates for Massachusetts governor meet tonight in their final debate before Election Day. Heading into their last showdown, a new "Boston Herald" poll gives Democrat Shannon O'Brien 44 percent to Republican Mitt Romney's 38 percent among likely voters; 12 percent say they are undecided.

The California governor's race between incumbent Democrat Gray Davis and Republican Bill Simon looks like it will remain negative until the bitter end. Late yesterday, Simon called on Davis to respond to recently unsealed court claims by a convicted racketeer. The accusations try to link the governor to a campaign fund-raising scheme almost a decade ago. A Davis spokesman blasted Simon's attempts to publicize the accusations and noted that the accuser is a convicted felon and admitted perjurer.

Well, across the nation this campaign season, young candidates from both political parties are emerging as viable contenders in some big races. In the days ahead, we plan to take a quick look at some of these fresh faces of the political world.

In today's spotlight: South Carolina (sic) House candidate Stephanie Herseth.

Here's our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): She's been called a political rock star. South Dakotans say they've never seen anything quite like Stephanie Herseth, Democratic candidate for the state's only congressional district.

STEPHANIE HERSETH (D), SOUTH DAKOTA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: And so I stand before you today at the age of 31 ready to have at it.

ARLENE CURRY, HERSETH VOLUNTEER: She seemed to just have an energy and a freshness about her that I really liked.

SCHNEIDER: This race is not about issues. It's about images. Hers is young.

HERSETH: One of the reasons we're doing so well is because the average age of the campaign team, including the age of the candidate, is 25.

SCHNEIDER: And female.

ELDON NYGAARD, HERSETH SUPPORTER: She is a woman. And that statement alone is important in South Dakota.

SCHNEIDER: Her Republican opponent, fourth-term Governor Bill Janklow, cannot claim to be young or female. His image is experience.

GOV. BILL JANKLOW (R-SD), SOUTH DAKOTA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm the only governor, I think, that took on the Reagan administration and the Clinton administration for fair trade for our agriculture producers.

SCHNEIDER: South Dakotans know Janklow. They're just meeting Herseth, who went to school in Washington and worked there as a lawyer and law instructor. She comes across as poised, confident, professional, very Washington.

HERSETH: My professional experience that's been both in Washington and in South Dakota will help me hit the ground running.

SCHNEIDER: Maybe to Washington.

DAVID KRANTZ, "SIOUX FALLS ARGUS LEADER": A lot of people like to have her answer the question, "Well, if you lose this election, are you going to stay here?"

SCHNEIDER: She does have deep roots in South Dakota, political roots. Her grandfather was governor. Her father ran for governor. And her grandmother was secretary of state. Has Herseth got something to prove? Of course she does: that she's a tough competitor.

HERSETH: I always carry a basketball around with me in the back of my truck, just in case.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Have you ever thought of challenging Governor Janklow some free-throws or something? What do you think of that?

HERSETH: That's not a bad idea. That's not a bad idea: free- throws. Maybe not one-on-one, but free-throws we could do.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): And she can talk cattle.

HERSETH: And I always say to the cattlemen, I think our next member of Congress should know how to move cattle in all four forms: on foot, in the truck, on horseback and on the four-wheeler.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): And you can do it all?

HERSETH: I can do it all.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): She says she can do it all. He says he's done it all -- tough choice, close race.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


WOODRUFF: And I'm told that I said South Carolina leading into that piece. I'm not sure I believe that, but, if I did, I meant to say South Dakota.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thank you for joining us.


Children Seek Political Revenge against the Man That Defeated Him in the Primary>

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