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Bush Money Machine Rolls On; New Dean of Democratic Fund- Raising

Aired June 30, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Meet the new dean of Democratic fund-raising. We'll explore the surprise twists in the presidential money race and the stumbles that may lie ahead.

Dick Gephardt's daughter comes out.

CHRISSY GEPHARDT, DAUGHTER OF RICHARD GEPHARDT: Not only did they accept me, but they accepted my partner, Amy. And it was really sort of a surreal experience, actually.

ANNOUNCER: Chrissy Gephardt shares her personal story and talks about her father's views on gay rights.

He's an expert as playing to the cameras. Would that be enough to make Jerry Springer a senator?



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.

Well, if anyone still questioned whether Howard Dean is in the top tier of Democratic presidential candidates, just take a look at his war chest. At this hour, the Dean camp is reporting more than $6.6 million raised in the second quarter, which ends at midnight.

As our Kate Snow reports, the former Vermont governor's haul is stunning the political world and worrying his primary rivals.


KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People- powered Howard is having a huge day.

JOE TRIPPI, DEAN SPOKESMAN: The rest of the campaigns kind of laughed at us and sort of rolled their eyes and went, yes, right. Well, I think today they're saying, oh, man.

SNOW: On his Web site, a slugger's bat kept a running tally of second-quarter fund-raising, the goal constantly being re-upped: $6.5 million, then $6.75 million, then $7 million. Donations poured in Monday at the rate of $50,000 an hour. "History is being made," Dean wrote, in an e-mail early Monday to supporters.

Eight days ago, Dean sat down with NBC's Tim Russert. Critics say he bombed. Supporters say it energized Dean's base. Since that Sunday, Dean has raised nearly three million bucks online, his total more than any other candidate for this second quarter.

HAROLD ICKES, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: To some extent, you'd always rather not be the front-runner this early, because now the attention of the fourth estate will turn on them. The other candidates will turn their fire on him.

SNOW: Supporters of John Kerry and John Edwards were eager to say Dean's advantage would hurt the other guy more. Senator Kerry is on track to raise $5 million this quarter. "We're not going to beat Deans," say his aides, "but we've got a big war chest."

Edwards, who won the money chase in the first quarter, will also come in around $5 million, depending on how much he gets out of a dinner featuring the Beach Boys. That could put him at the top of all the Democrats for money raised this year.


SNOW: And what about the rest of the candidates?

Dick Gephardt is on track to raise $4 million to $5 million. Joe Lieberman's camp says he's aimed at raising $4 million. Bob Graham is fund-raising in his home state today, hoping to raise $2 million to $3 million in the second quarter. Dennis Kucinich will report more than $1 million. That's more than five times what he raised in the first quarter. Al Sharpton's campaign estimates he'll take in between $70,000 and $100,000. And Carol Moseley Braun has doubled her first quarter with $150,000.

Judy, Moseley Braun's campaign treasurer says, "I'd like to steal some of Dean's fund-raisers, if I could." In fact, every campaign aide I spoke with today, all the other eight campaigns, most of them said they were watching Dean's Internet Web site, they had it up on their computers, Judy, and they wanted to how he was doing. They all said they were amazed by it. But they wonder whether it will hold -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, these are numbers the politics watchers are poring over today. All right, Kate Snow, thanks very much.

As impressive as Howard Dean's fund-raising may be, he is still no George W. Bush.

As our senior White House correspondent, John King, reports, the president capped his second-quarter quest for campaign cash in Florida.


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Monday lunch hour in Miami: $1.8 million more for the most methodical fund-raising machine on record.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're laying the groundwork for what is going to be a victory in November of 2004.


BUSH: I'm getting ready. I'm loosening up for the task ahead.

KING: In just six weeks, the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign has shattered the records, raising more than $30 million, as much, if not a little more, than all nine would-be Democratic challenges raised over the last three months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It demoralizes the Democrats. It shows that this president can go spend an hour 10 minutes in a ballroom and raise more money than the Democrats can in a week of running around, rattling the tin cup.

KING: It cost $2,000 for a speech that runs about 30 minutes, maybe a handshake or a photo, and an early glimpse at the themes Mr. Bush hopes will bring him a second term.

BUSH: Terrorists declared war on the United States, and war is what they got. And to get our economy going again, we have twice led the United States Congress to pass historic tax relief for the people of America.

KING: With no primary opponent, Mr. Bush can test more than themes. He lost California and New York by big margins last time. The chief strategist, Karl Rove, thinks they could be more competitive this time. And the primary season fund-raising goal of $175 million or more allows the luxury of organizing, polling and even TV ads in states that would not make the cut in a campaign short on cash.

And while the Democrats are competing against each other, Mr. Bush can train his focus on next November.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty or 50 percent of this money on paid advertising. And the rest will be focused on grassroots organizing in these key battleground states, where they'll be able to hire workers for the first time, put them on the ground to go out and identify the vote and turn out the vote.

KING: One downside for an incumbent is the price tag of flying Air Force One.


KING: But, like his predecessors, this president often schedules policy events around his fund-raising. Witness today's Medicare event this morning in Miami, so the taxpayers, Judy, pick up some of the travel costs.

WOODRUFF: It does defray the costs of these trips, doesn't it?

KING: It does. WOODRUFF: OK, John King at the White House.

Well, one candidate who isn't even running already has money pledged and set aside for his use. The group says that it will have $100,000 in pledges by midweek for what it calls its "General Fund." This money would be given to retired General Wesley Clark, should he decide to run. Clark is telling "Newsweek" that he'll make his plans known in the next couple of months.

Well, now we turn to a different kind of political bottom line. And that is public opinion polls.

Our Bill Schneider joins us now with some new numbers released just this hour.

Bill, first, let me ask you about Iraq. Is it becoming a problem for the Bush administration?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: No. Or, more precisely, not yet; 61 percent of Americans do not believe that the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But the number who believe the administration did mislead them has been creeping up, from 31 percent three weeks ago to 37 percent now. So public concern on this is growing, not diminishing, especially because most Americans say it would matter to them a great deal if they were convinced that the Bush administration misled them about Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Bill, do most Americans, are they still saying they believe Iraq was worth going to war over?

SCHNEIDER: Well, yes, though not quite as much as a couple of months ago. Just after the war ended, for instance, in April, 73 percent said the war was worth fighting. Now it's down to 56 -- again, not a problem yet, but growing doubts.

The big surprise, Judy, in this poll is that Americans do not seem to be angry over losses in Iraq since the war ended. When asked whether the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq since April has been unacceptably high, only a quarter of the public, 24 percent, says yes. Nearly three-quarters say those losses are to be expected because we knew Iraq would continue to be a dangerous place. The public is showing a lot of fortitude about Iraq. They are not ready to cut and run.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about a couple of domestic issues. The Medicare bill now making its way through Congress, what are people saying about that?

SCHNEIDER: Well, that's really not clear yet. They like the idea of prescription drug benefits, but they're not certain that the benefits in this bill are generous enough. Here is something that people are agreed on: that the new Medicare bill is a Republican plan. By 2-1, people say this is Bush's bill, not the Democrats'. If people like the bill, the president gets credit. If people don't like him, he gets blamed.

WOODRUFF: And, finally, Bill, on gay rights, we've had a couple of developments recently: a Supreme Court decision, deciding to permit gay marriages. What are people saying about gay rights?

SCHNEIDER: Well, as we reported last week, support for gay rights has been growing over the years. But most Americans, 55 percent, are opposed to same-sex marriage. Still, support for the idea has been slowly growing.

You can see that only 27 percent thought same-sex marriages should be legal in 1996. By 2000, it was up to 34. And now it's 39 percent. If the Supreme Court follows public opinion, as it certainly did by decriminalizing gay sex last week, then, you know, gay marriage may be only a matter of time -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And looking across the border to Canada, where they've already said yes.


WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Still ahead: Could things get any worse politically for California's governor, Gray Davis? We'll have the latest on the state's budget fiasco.

Plus: Can any Democrat give President Bush a run for his money? We'll talk about -- more about campaign dollars and Howard Dean's bonanza.

And later:


C. GEPHARDT: It was extremely painful. I thought, there's no way I can tell my parents, given that my father is in a very prominent political position.


WOODRUFF: Dick Gephardt's daughter, Chrissy, on the secret that is now out and how it may affect her dad's run for the White House.


WOODRUFF: California's new fiscal year begins at midnight. And there's still no progress to report on efforts to cover the state's staggering $38 billion deficit. Democratic Governor Gray Davis needs Republican support in order to pass a budget. But Republicans are refusing to go along with a proposed tax increase. Also complicating the situation: the GOP-backed recall effort against Davis, which could force a new election later this year.

INSIDE POLITICS returns in 60 seconds.


WOODRUFF: With me now to talk more about the second-quarter fund-raising period and what the dollar signs say about the various presidential candidates: political analyst Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" and reporter Jill Lawrence. She joins me now from the studios at "USA Today."

Jill, to you first.

You wrote about this fund-raising today. What does this mean for Howard Dean?

JILL LAWRENCE, "USA TODAY": Well, I don't think there's any longer any question about whether he's going to be a major player in this nomination race. He could manage to top the field in fund- raising this quarter. And that's quite a feat for a guy who's running as an anti-Washington insurgent.

So if there's only so much space in the top tier, as one campaign aide said, then this should change the dynamic considerably when we find out the numbers.

WOODRUFF: So, Ron, does that make him the front-runner? And, if so, what does it mean for anybody else?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don't think it makes him the front-runner. I think he clearly is the candidate who has had the most momentum in the first half of 2003. He seems to be the only one whose trend line is clearly pointing up.

But if you look at it from the broader perspective, I think this is a race without a front-runner. It's a race that, in some ways, is getting more even as it goes along. No one is really pulling away. Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman have to watch these numbers. If they come in low, they're going to be -- especially on the Lieberman case -- some questions about their viability moving forward.

But, overall, no one has really established any kind of decisive advantage.

WOODRUFF: Jill, is Lieberman in a precarious situation right now?

LAWRENCE: Well, every analyst I've spoken to thinks so. And it just seems like there is Democratic money out there. It's just not going overwhelmingly to him or even to him to the point that you'd expect, given the fact that he's the best-known candidate in the race and was on a national ticket.

So I think, for him and for some of these other candidates, the excuses may be running out. First, it was don't: Judge me by the first quarter. Judge me by the second. And now it's: Well, maybe you should judge me by the third quarter. But it's getting late because September is when the heavy spending needs to start, since the contest starts so soon next year.

WOODRUFF: Ron, what is your take on Lieberman and what he needs to do now?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think Lieberman clearly needs to show some financial viability. As some of his aides are saying, he may come in as high as five. He'd be close to Kerry -- I'm sorry -- close to Edwards and Gephardt, in that case, probably pretty good.

If he's well below them, he is going to face some questions, Judy, because he's a little bit out of sync with the mood of the Democratic electorate. Right now, there's a big hunger among Democratic activists for someone who will really take it to Bush. That's why you're seeing Dean ascend so quickly. Lieberman is somewhat more of a general election candidate. He's talking about reaching out to people in both parties.

That isn't the message right now that people in Democratic Party, the activists, seem to want to hear. And so he's having sort of a tough time connecting. And you see that reflected, to some extent, in the fund-raising numbers.

WOODRUFF: And, Jill, back again on Howard Dean, what is he saying that is raking the money in the way it is?

LAWRENCE: Well, there's -- I just recently talked to a party chairman who said: He's tapping into anger. We don't know if it will last. But he's certainly bringing our party faithful right up out of their seats. And he's doing it by not only attacking the president. He's going after his fellow Democrats for not showing enough backbone.

And he's using the old Paul Wellstone line about: I'm from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. So he's -- first, he's been spared some of the compromises that the others have had to make on votes, because he's not in Congress. And he's been using this outsider status and also his status as a chief executive, former governor of Vermont, to just really ram home the difference between him and people who are part of the Beltway culture. And so people are responding to that big time, obviously.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Ron, any of these candidates likely to drop out in the months to come?

BROWNSTEIN: Not right away. But if the financial numbers don't improve for some of those top-tier candidates, particularly Lieberman, there will be those vultures circling.

WOODRUFF: OK. On that grim note, Ron Brownstein, Jill Lawrence, it's good to see both of you. Thanks very much, as we watch these numbers.

More news about campaign cash in our Monday "Campaign News Daily." The Federal Election Commission has authorized two big payouts to the major political parties. The FEC has approved $14.6 million for both the Republican and the Democratic parties to help cover the costs of their nominating conventions. The money comes from a $3 checkoff box that appears on federal tax returns.

Former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader says he is seriously considering the '04 presidential race. Nader tells "USA Today" the Democrats are -- quote -- "incapable of defending our country against the Bush marauders." He also said that the Democrats have, in his words, cowered, surrendered or divided themselves.

Talk show host Jerry Springer continues his public deliberation over a possible run for the Senate from Ohio. Over the weekend, Springer told a Young Democrats group that he would be an incredible voice in the Senate because, in his words, the media will cover me every single day.

Still ahead: Which presidential candidate would best serve gay voters? It's a question that hits close to home in Dick Gephardt's family. His daughter, Chrissy, shares her coming-out story when we return.


WOODRUFF: It could be a political asset in some circles, a handicap in others. But, first and foremost, the fact that presidential candidate Dick Gephardt has a daughter who happens to be a lesbian is a family matter.

I spoke with Chrissy Gephardt about making her sexual orientation public, how it affected her dad and his politics.


REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: This is Christine. She's 13. And we (INAUDIBLE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's later, 17 years later.

(on camera): Your story is a deeply personal story.

(voice-over): Chrissy Gephardt is going public two years after coming out to her family as a lesbian.

C. GEPHARDT: It took an entire year for me to really come to the realization that I wasn't who I thought I was. And I think that just coming to that realization on your own, just to yourself, is hard enough, let alone coming out to your family and your friends.

WOODRUFF: Chrissy Gephardt had been married for four years when she came to grips with her homosexuality.

(on camera): As you thought about sharing this with your parents, how hard was that?

C. GEPHARDT: It was extremely painful. I thought, there's no way I can tell my parents, given that my father is in a very prominent political position. There's no way that I could tell my family. And I thought, I'm just either going to have to either make this go away or I'm just going to have to hide it and pretend and never tell them.

WOODRUFF: And what made you decide, ultimately, that you had to tell them or that you wanted to tell them?

C. GEPHARDT: Well, I decided I couldn't live that way anymore. And it just became too painful. I at first thought, they're going to send me off to an island or say that they only have two children. But, obviously, that didn't happen. Not only did they accept me, but they accepted my partner, Amy. And it was really sort of a surreal experience, actually.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Chrissy Gephardt is now working to rally gay voters around her father's bid for the White House. She says Dick Gephardt has always been a staunch supporter of gay rights.

C. GEPHARDT: He has never changed. He was good on it before. So just the fact that I've come out now, the only difference is that now he's got someone living in his home who's gay.

WOODRUFF: And she bristles at the suggestion that Howard Dean has the better platform on gay issues.

C. GEPHARDT: I think that's an important role for me, is to sort of dispel that myth. If you look at the two of their stances on gay issues, they're identical.

WOODRUFF: Chrissy Gephardt hasn't been able to convince her father to support the idea of gay marriage, although she says she's working on it.

C. GEPHARDT: I think, at some point, he'll come around to it. I really do.

WOODRUFF: In the meantime, she's hitting the hustings, defending her father.

(on camera): There are critics out there saying your father has, in some ways, used your family, your brother, his experience with cancer when he was a little boy, your own experience, people who are saying, maybe he's even exploiting his family to humanize himself. What do you say to those people?

C. GEPHARDT: I would say, my father is in no way exploiting his family. He's just telling the truth about who we are and the experiences we've had. And, if anything, I think it humanizes my father, because he's been through a lot of the same trials and tribulations as other American people.


WOODRUFF: Chrissy Gephardt, the daughter of presidential candidate Dick Gephardt.

Coming up next, we'll go live to Wall Street for an eye on your money. And later: the political money game. Are big bucks taking the little people out of the campaign process? Our Bruce Morton weighs in.




WOODRUFF: Most political candidates say raising campaign cash is one of their least favorite activities. But most also say they don't have a choice.

Our Bruce Morton reports, there are proposals that would end the cycle of fund-raising. Just don't look for those ideas to be adopted any time soon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm probably not going to cash it. I'm just -- it pleases me.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: The Democratic Party just announced that this quarter was the biggest quarter.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): American politics is awash in money, big bucks. It's like Joel Grey's song in "Cabaret."


LIZA MINNELLI & JOEL GREY (singing): Money makes the world go round. It makes the world go round.


MORTON: Last time, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Bush campaign raised $193 million, Gore $183 million, never mind Senate and House races. This time, they'll all raise more. Are they all for sale, for rent?

DAVID BRODER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Money tends to follow positions, rather than determine positions, but people certainly are distrustful of the way in which politicians now seem to be going around constantly with their hands out, saying, put more cash in my pocket.

MORTON: Politicians don't all like it either. Patricia Schroeder spent 12 terms in the House, hated working the phone.

PATRICIA SCHROEDER, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: It's really an ugly process. You really feel like you're shaking people down. Or at least I felt like it was just a massive shakedown.

MORTON: Alternative systems? Sure. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Without roots, Labor have blown all over the place.


MORTON: In Britain, the TV networks give the parties party elections broadcasts, but they're not allowed to buy any TV ads. They spend on other things, but it's a fraction of what U.S. campaigns spend. And the system here is stacked against challengers. Money flows more readily to incumbents.

BRODER: If we could proceed a certain level of communications capital to challengers by low-cost television or free mailings, I think that would be a big improvement in the system.

MORTON: Will that happen? Not likely.


MINNELLI & GREY (singing): Money, money, money, money, money, money.


MORTON: Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Turning it from mother's milk into something else.

Well, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thanks for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.



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