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Bush, Kerry Saving Best For Last?; Christopher Reeve, Stem-Cell Research, and the Election; McCain's Role in the Election

Aired October 12, 2004 - 15:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm on my way to Arizona for the final debate.

ANNOUNCER: The run-up to the duel in the desert. Could Bush or Kerry be saving their best for last?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John McCain and I have a proposal.

ANNOUNCER: Both presidential candidates are eager to drop his name and they may do it again in McCain country tomorrow night. We'll revisit the maverick Republican's role in this campaign.

CHRISTOPHER REEVE, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: What politicians have to do is just imagine what it is like to be somebody else.

ANNOUNCER: Christopher Reeve's legacy. In death, as in life, will he help make stem-cell research a campaign issue?


Now, live from Tempe, Arizona, site of the final presidential debate, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us here in Tempe, Arizona, fifth largest city and home to Arizona State University and the Arizona Sun Devils.

On this campus tomorrow night, George W. Bush and John Kerry conclude their debate triple-header, the last major event before Election Day, now exactly three weeks away. President Bush has a campaign event here in Arizona later this hour.

Once again, he is using the day before the debate to test his attack lines. In Colorado earlier today, the president spent most of his time attacking John Kerry on domestic issues, the subject of tomorrow night's face-off here in Tempe.

Our White House correspondent Dana Bash is traveling with the president.



DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Colorado Springs, the president is introduced for the first time on the trail by one of his daughters before taking the podium to warm up for his final face-off with John Kerry.

G. BUSH: Those debates have highlighted the clear differences between the senator and me on issues ranging from jobs, taxes, to healthcare, to the war on terror. Much as he's tried to obscure it, on issue after issue, my opponent has shown why he earned his ranking as the most liberal member of the United States Senate.

BASH: A central Bush message of the day is healthcare, and the attack line is a familiar one, that John Kerry has a costly, big government-plan.

A new Bush ad:

NARRATOR: One-point five trillion dollars, rationing, less access, fewer choices, long waits, and Washington bureaucrats, not your doctor, make final decisions on your health.

BASH: Kerry aides shot back, health costs have spiked and millions have lost coverage on the president's watch.

Bush aides do recognize the last debate on domestic issues will be a fight on John Kerry's turf. On healthcare, for example, the president trails the senator by 19 percent, according to CNN/"USA Today's" latest poll. The president spent two days campaigning in Colorado, which should be solid Bush country. He won here by more than 8 percent in 2000. It's gone Republican nine out of the last 11 elections, but an exploding Hispanic population tending to vote Democrat and job loss help make Colorado a neck-and-neck race.

And the Bush campaign has another concern, a ballot initiative for Colorado's nine electoral votes to be split based on the popular vote instead of winner-take-all.

If Colorado's electoral votes were split in 2000, Al Gore would have won three of them and he would have become president.

Dana Bash, CNN, Colorado Springs, Colorado.


WOODRUFF: Thank you, Dana.

Well, John Kerry is keeping with his practice of staying out of the public eye on debates. He's getting a little help here at Arizona State. That may help Kerry keep his focus on the showdown ahead.

But as CNN's Ed Henry reports, Kerry is at least somewhat distracted by America's pastime.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Kerry is holed up in his New Mexico hotel, huddling with aides to gear up for Wednesday's showdown with President Bush. With Kerry off the stump, his running mate did the talking at a stop in Colorado.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John Kerry's going to win that debate tomorrow. And one of the reasons he's going to win is because George Bush is out of touch.

HENRY: Kerry had planned to head to Arizona tonight to be in place for that debate, but he decided to stay in Santa Fe instead because of a heated rivalry, not Bush vs. Kerry, but the Red Sox vs. the Yankees. The Red Sox fan was afraid of missing game one of the American League championship series if he was on a plane to Phoenix.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: The next president of the United States.

HENRY: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has been behind closed doors with Kerry this week. He says the Red Sox fixation shows the senator is not worried about this debate.

RICHARDSON: Senator Kerry is very relaxed. I've seen him before when he's a little tense and jumpy. He's very much at peace. He's confident. He feels the debates have gone well. He's looking forward to the Boston Red Sox winning.

HENRY: After what they believe were victories in the first two debates, team Kerry is confident heading into the final contest, which focuses on Kerry's turf, domestic issues.

RICHARDSON: The third debate, he needs to avoid making a big mistake, which he won't do because he's a very skilled debater. What he needs to do is stay on message, be strong and it will be three for three.


HENRY (on camera): The Kerry campaign is trying to ratchet up expectations for the president. Kerry advisor Joe Lockhart told reporters today he can't think of a single incumbent who has lost three debates and still managed to win the election, obviously, the Kerry camp trying to put as much pressure on the president as possible, saying he really needs to come up big tomorrow night, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Forgive me if you've already answered this in your report, Ed Henry. I haven't been able to hear every word, but my question is, you've got George W. Bush out on the stump today, John Kerry laying low. Is his campaign not worried that they're missing an opportunity to get their message out today?

HENRY: There has been some speculation, is Kerry making a mistake? Should he be out there on the stump?

I think I can tell you from talking to the Kerry camp, they're very confident. He did well in the first two debates. He wants to go through the same routine for the third one. He's very confident, sticking to that very same plan. And they say they're very happy having surrogates go out there defending him on that nuisance question on terrorism. And they say if the nuisance question comes up in this debate, he's very confident he can handle it. He will talk about terrorism. He will talk about homeland security in this debate.

Even though it's on domestic issues, obviously, there are some national security issues like terrorism that cross over into the domestic area. They say he'll be ready, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ed Henry in Santa Fe, the state next door -- Ed, thanks very much.

Well, we turn our attention from Kerry and Edwards to Republican Dick Cheney in our "Campaign News Daily." The vice president is making stops today in three different showdown states. He began the day in Iowa, where he once again hammered Kerry for his use of the word nuisance in a discussion of terrorism with "The New York Times" magazine. Cheney later held a town hall in Milwaukee before heading to a rally scheduled next hour in Minnesota.

Three new polls offer positive news for both Bush and Kerry. A Quinnipiac survey shows Kerry leading Bush by two points in the back- and-forth battle for Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes. Nationwide, the latest tracking poll by ABC news gives Bush a four-point lead over Kerry, 50 percent to 46 percent. A separate nationwide survey, though, this one by CBS News, gives Bush a three-point lead, 48 percent to 45 percent, Ralph Nader picking up 2 percent.

Here in Arizona, the Bush-Kerry race is no longer as close as it once appeared to be.


WOODRUFF: Thanks for the help.

Up next, the political scene in this state heading into the final presidential debate. I'll talk with Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano and her former Republican rival Matt Salmon.

Also ahead, what did Bush and Kerry do in their last debate that they should do differently this time around?

And will the death of actor and activist Christopher Reeve make a difference in the race for the White House?

With 21 days until the election, exactly three weeks, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: With me and friends now to talk about tomorrow night's debate and the battle for Arizona's 10 electoral votes is Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) WOODRUFF: The crowd has been yelling, go, Janet, go.


WOODRUFF: Let's talk, though, about the polls, Governor Napolitano. The last poll is showing John Kerry behind something like 10 points in this state. The Kerry campaign not running television ads here now. Has the Kerry campaign given up on Arizona?

NAPOLITANO: I don't think so. I think this campaign has moved from the air to the ground, and there are literally thousands of volunteers out canvassing, working on getting out the vote.

We have a big vote-by-mail project. That will be half the voters have already voted, actually, and then the other half on Election Day.

WOODRUFF: But why is John Kerry having difficulty in this state? You have got a Democratic governor, you.


WOODRUFF: What's going on here?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think Senator Kerry is still in a way introducing himself to Arizona.

This has been historically a Republican state. It's still on the cusp of being Republican or Democratic. But I think, as Kerry comes in tomorrow night, people keep seeing him. They're impressed with him in the debates. And then the rallies thereafter, I think we'll see energy.

WOODRUFF: But you say he's still introducing himself. He's been running since the 1st of this year.

NAPOLITANO: That's right. But...

WOODRUFF: What's not been getting through?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think, for people in Washington, he's been running since the beginning of the year, but for people in Arizona, I think it's really been since Labor Day that voters, particularly undecided voters, have begun focusing on the candidates, what they're saying and what they'll do for them.

WOODRUFF: What are the voters in this state interested in? What are the issues they're going to be looking for from both of these candidates tomorrow night to talk about?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think they're going to be looking for who can be a strong leader. I think they're going to be -- they're concerned about the Iraq situation.

We just had another death of a soldier from Arizona. We've had a lot of fatalities from Arizona in the war in Iraq. The issues, healthcare, economy, jobs are resonating in Arizona, as they're resonating across the rest of the country.

But for Arizona, one issue that hasn't been discussed yet in the debates that needs to be discussed is immigration.

WOODRUFF: And what do you want to hear from these candidates? What do the people want to hear from these candidates?

NAPOLITANO: What we want to hear is that Washington, D.C. is not going to take a backseat on immigration reform. They're going to take this on, because Arizona is the border state bearing the brunt of our illegal immigration problem right now.

WOODRUFF: All right, there are what -- you were telling me about -- you expect between 15 and 20 percent of the vote on November 2 may be Hispanic, Latino.

NAPOLITANO: It is hard to predict.

WOODRUFF: What are you seeing among Latino voters right now?

NAPOLITANO: I'm seeing higher mobilization than ever before. I'm seeing both campaigns campaigning in the Spanish-language press very heavily. I think we'll see a higher Latino turnout than we have ever had before and that could turn the race.

WOODRUFF: But, again, John Kerry campaign's not running any ads in this state. I'm told even the Democratic National Committee is not running ads here. That smells like a state that they've given up on.

NAPOLITANO: Well, all I could say is, I've been out campaigning. Everybody's been out campaigning. I was down in the southern part of the state yesterday. There's a lot of energy, a lot of interest. This state is going to come down to the wire.

WOODRUFF: And what is going to make it -- is it purely a matter of getting out the vote or is it still largely a matter of the message that John Kerry can across?

NAPOLITANO: A lot of it's getting out the vote. And one of the things, it will be interesting to see, when this election is said and done, how the polls have tracked the enormous number of new registrants in states like Arizona, registrants who aren't in any likely voter polls.

These are the new ones and there's literally tens of thousands of them in Arizona. And we'll see how that cuts.

WOODRUFF: How do you know that they're going to cut -- or do you know that they're going to cut Democratic?

NAPOLITANO: Well, we think many of them, if not most of them, will because they were recruited by the Democrats, signed up with the Democrats and are voting with the Democrats.

WOODRUFF: So do you think the polls could be wrong? NAPOLITANO: I think there's a possibility there may be. And I think in rapidly growing states like Arizona, I think the polls may not be catching up with where the electorate actually is.

WOODRUFF: Governor Janet Napolitano, very good to see you.

NAPOLITANO: Good to see you.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.


WOODRUFF: She's hosting, co-hosting an after-debate party tomorrow night with John McCain.

NAPOLITANO: That's right. That's right.

WOODRUFF: So, in this state, anyway, there is some bipartisan activity.

NAPOLITANO: We're all Arizonans.

WOODRUFF: OK. Governor, thank you very much.

NAPOLITANO: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. OK, Governor Napolitano.

Up next, we're going to have a Republican response. I'll talk with former Republican Congressman Matt Salmon about the Bush campaign strategy for winning the debate and for winning Arizona.


WOODRUFF: We are at Arizona State University in Tempe, the site of tomorrow night's debate.

We just heard from the Democratic governor of this state, Janet Napolitano.

For the Republican point of view now, I'm joined here by Matt Salmon. He's a former Republican congressman and a member of the Bush-Cheney campaign steering committee here in the state.

All right, we seem to be hearing a lot of shouts for Kerry out there. Where's the Bush-Cheney crowd at this campus? You just told me, you went to Arizona State.

MATT SALMON, BUSH-CHENEY '04: That's right. That's right. This is a wonderful school.

I think the Bush-Cheney people are out there talking to folks on the street. This is a very, very strong campaign here in Arizona for President Bush. I believe he's going to win Arizona by quite a margin. The most recent poll showed him up about 14 points. And I think that Arizona is kind of the home of American conservative politics. This is Barry Goldwater country. And we're very, very pro- Bush.

WOODRUFF: Well, we heard that -- and I should say there are Bush-Cheney signs behind you. So there are Bush-Cheney people here.


WOODRUFF: Congressman, Governor Napolitano herself acknowledged a minute ago this is traditionally a Republican state. But she said also the polls in a year like this year, when there's so much volatility, they may not be measuring these newest voter registrants, who may be voting Democratic. How can you be sure this is a state that is going to go Bush?

SALMON: Well, I don't think you can ever be sure until the election comes, but I really do believe in my gut, as I've talked to different people, that President Bush is connecting because of the message. It's a message of prosperity. It's a message of less government control of our lives. And it's a message of consistency.

He has proven that he's an able leader, that he's competent, that he's going to provide security for this country. And it's interesting. I was just giving a speech yesterday. And a woman came up to me and she said, I'm a liberal Democrat. I've never voted Republican in my whole life. She was in her 50s. And she said, I'm voting for President Bush. And it's on one issue. i believe he's going to protect our country and he's going to win that war on terrorism. That's it.

WOODRUFF: So you want the votes of the liberals as well?


SALMON: Oh, absolutely. We'll take any votes we can get.

The president has proven that he's a man of strength, he knows how to lead, and I really believe that that's connecting with people.

WOODRUFF: In our latest polls, Congressman Salmon, we've seen, however, that John Kerry on the domestic issues that we're told are going to dominate tomorrow night's debate, John Kerry is doing better, whether it's stem cell, whether it's healthcare, whether it's -- even on the question of the environment, John Kerry is ahead. So how can President Bush turn that to his favor?

SALMON: I think that President Bush has got a record of strength when it comes to domestic policy.

The job situation here in Arizona is very, very good. And the situation with the education, with his Leave No Child Behind, has had phenomenal results. It provides accountability in education. It's something that a lot of parents have been demanding for a long, long time.

This is a president that's kind of broken the mold as far as stereotypes. And he has reached across the big divide of American politics. And I think he's really done a wonderful job, especially on domestic issues.

WOODRUFF: The Latino vote in this state less than it is in neighboring New Mexico, but still, what, 15 percent?

SALMON: Very substantial. Very substantial.

WOODRUFF: Or perhaps more.

There was a study done just a few ago. The Willie Velasquez Institute, of likely voters in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado has John Kerry up by 20 points among these Hispanic voters. What does that say to you?

SALMON: Well, I think what it says to me, first of all, is that I'm not all sure that those poll results are accurate.

When I talk to Hispanic families, they're concerned about jobs for their children. They're concerned about security, the same things that everybody else is concerned about, and traditional family values issues that I think Bush clearly has the strength on over Kerry.

This is -- you talk to Hispanic folks in Arizona. They're very, very conservative, especially on the social issues. And I think, when they go into that voting booth, most of the Hispanics in this state are going to pull the lever for George Bush.

WOODRUFF: In the last analysis in terms of registration, a lot of new registration, the governor was just saying. How do you know that is going to work in the president's favor?

SALMON: Well, you know, a lot of the registration is because people are concerned about what's happening not just in America, but the world at large.

I've got to believe that the No. 1 issue on just about everybody's mind is security. And President Bush clearly has the edge on that one.

WOODRUFF: Matt Salmon, former congressman, active in the Bush- Cheney campaign in the state of Arizona, very good to see you.

SALMON: It's my pleasure. Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for letting us come to your alma mater.

SALMON: That's right.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

SALMON: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, Arizona, whatever else it may be, is McCain country. And besides the presidential candidates, this state's senior senator is arguably the most important person in the presidential campaign.

Next up, a closer look at John McCain's role in the race for the White House.

Plus, it is one of the wildest Senate races in the country. We'll take a look at the fight in Illinois between the outspoken Alan Keyes and Democratic up-and-comer Barack Obama.



WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up in 90 minutes, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, with the supply just half of what it should be, the government has announced a plan for distributing flu vaccine. We'll have details.

U.S. and Iraqi forces step up the fight against Iraqi insurgents. There were airstrikes in Fallujah and mosques were stormed in Ramadi.

And a 60-year-old woman is being hailed as a hero after a life- and-death struggle with an Australian crocodile.

All those stories, much more, coming up "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS," 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Now back to JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Getting ready for tomorrow night's debate, Senator Kerry hunkers down in neighboring New Mexico, preparing for the final campaign showdown, President Bush staying out on the trail, stumping here in Arizona and in a now competitive Colorado.

Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff, live from the campus of Arizona State University, the site of tomorrow night's final presidential debate.


WOODRUFF: And you can see, there is some excitement, with just a about a day to go before the debate.

With three weeks to go before Election Day, the battle goes on in the showdown states. And in some of those states, so-called down ballot races are expected to have an effect on the presidential race.

Chuck Todd is with me now from Washington. As you know, he's the editor-in-chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced daily by "The National Journal."

Chuck, thanks very much for being with me. First of all, has the playing field narrowed at all in these so-called showdown states going into this final debate tomorrow night?

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE HOTLINE: Absolutely. In talks that I've had with people on both sides of the -- on both campaigns, it appears we're down to eight states that they both agree upon.

There's the big four, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, that have been on the battleground, worth some of the most of the electoral votes of the other eight, then there's these smaller eight states, which is Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Colorado. Those are the eight that appear to be the last ones that are moving. This is where most of the visits, candidate visits are going between the four principals, Kerry, Edwards, Bush and Cheney, and where a majority of the new advertising is going.

WOODRUFF: Chuck, one state you're leaving out is Pennsylvania. The polls are very close there. Why not include that one?

TODD: Well, I'll tell you, in the conversations I've had, I mean, polls have been very close, but they've been very consistent. And that is that John Kerry always seems to perform about two or three points better in Pennsylvania than he does nationally. So when the polls are tied nationally, John Kerry always seems to have a two or three or sometimes a four or five-point lead in Pennsylvania.

Even the Republicans that I've talked to concede that Pennsylvania, they could still win it, but they're also going to win those other states first. And so getting to 270 -- and this is the math here -- it's all about getting to 270 -- to get to 270, first they need to focus on those other eight states and then Pennsylvania. It doesn't mean that both campaigns are going to stop spending money in Pennsylvania, but don't be surprised if you see the candidates spend a little less actual face time in Pennsylvania.

WOODRUFF: Now Chuck, we know that some of those states, of those eight states, have pretty close, certainly hotly-contested Senate races going on. How could those Senate races affect the presidential race, or would they?

TODD: Well, there's two states I think that they could, and at least it's -- both presidential campaigns are counting on it. In Florida, look, the White House spent a lot of time and a lot of arm- twisting getting Mel Martinez, the Republican, President Bush's former HUD secretary, to run in that race.

He won the primary. He's about even in the polls with the Democrat there, Betty Castor. The Republicans are hoping that Mel Martinez not only helps to drive up the Republican base Cuban vote in south Florida, but also lures over some of the non-Cuban Hispanic voters that are in the central part of the state that are normally more Democratic voters than they are Republican voters, and hoping that somehow Martinez can bring them over to not just vote for Martinez, but also remember to vote Republican one notch up on the ticket.

Then there's Colorado. There, that's a case where John Kerry is banking on the Democratic nominee there, Ken Salazar, getting a boost in the Latino vote there in the pueblo area and in farther south in the state that gets -- sees an increase in Latinos showing up to the polls in Colorado who are basically 65-35 Democratic voters. That when they vote for Salazar, they'll show up to vote for Salazar, then they'll show up and vote in the same numbers for John Kerry, and that that might be enough to tilt Colorado.

WOODRUFF: Now Chuck, separately, are there states where these down-ballot races actually could hurt the presidential candidate?

TODD: Well, I think two states stand out. One on the Republican side is New Hampshire. The Republican governor there, Craig Benson. You know, in New Hampshire they still have two-year terms. So they have to run every two years.

He's having some problems. He's in a very tough race. He's been unpopular. He's got a lot of -- gets a lot of media criticism. I've talked to a lot of Republicans who believe he's been a drag a little bit on President Bush.

Look, he's going to have a hard enough time winning New Hampshire because of John Kerry's sort of adopted -- you know, home state being right next door and all that stuff that he doesn't need this added drag.

For the Democrats, New Jersey is a bit of -- is a state that shouldn't be sort of in this even expanded playing ground. But clearly the race tightened up after the whole Jim McGreevey fiasco in the way -- not only just resigning, but in the way he's resigned, the way he's dragged this out.

Democrats, in general, the party is not very popular in the state. The Kerry people believe it's not going to have that much of an effect, but look, the facts are the facts. Polls have tightened in that state ever since the McGreevey announcement.

WOODRUFF: Chuck Todd, nobody in the media is watching it any closer than you are. Chuck, thanks very much.

TODD: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing, is produced every day by "The National Journal." You can go online to for subscription information.

In Illinois, the Senate race between Republican Alan Keyes and Democrat Barack Obama is historic because both candidate are African- American. But what's getting attention isn't history. It's controversy; namely, some of the provocative things that Keyes has said since his late entry into the race. Some Republicans are so taken aback by the remarks they're trying not to talk about the race at all.

Here's CNN's Keith Oppenheim.


KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A gathering of Republican women in Chicago where there's support for major GOP candidates except one.

(on camera): But can we ask you quickly about the Keyes race?

JUDY BAAR TOPINKA, CHAIRWOMAN, ILLINOIS REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, I think you ought to talk to the folks that supported him and nominated him and sponsored him.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): That's Judy Baar Topinka, the party's Illinois chairman, ducking questions about Alan Keyes. What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a race that's going real well, and I don't know why a lot of people would want to discuss it right now.

OPPENHEIM: That could be an understatement. When Alan Keyes burst on the scene here two months ago, Barack Obama was way ahead in the polls. Keyes wasn't timid, attacking Obama for his support for abortion rights.

ALAN KEYES (R), ILLINOIS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has voted to behave in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved.

OPPENHEIM: That was one bombshell. There were others.

Keyes referred to Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter Mary as a selfish hedonist, and referred to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley as a troll.

BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: The more the voters of Illinois see that kind of politics, the more turned off I think they get.

OPPENHEIM: Barack Obama is playing it cool...

(on camera): ... but his staff is taking advantage of all this, encouraging the media to attend specific Keyes events to report on the latest. In Alan Keyes' defense, some Republicans have said with little time left controversy at least gets him headlines.

DICK SIMPSON, POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, controversy is the right strategy. It's just that it's the wrong controversy. What he's saying is causing voters to not vote for him rather than to vote for him.

OPPENHEIM: Keyes insists he is connecting.

KEYES: I think that a lot of people here were responding, in fact, to the message that I was delivering, particularly the message of moral priority, the message of restoration for family life.

OPPENHEIM: But with polls putting him a whopping 40 points behind Obama, what some Republicans here fear may need restoration is their state party after November.

Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Chicago.


WOODRUFF: Thank you, Keith.

Well, back here in Arizona, tomorrow's debate will give Bush and Kerry a third and final chance to outline their differences. It also offers perhaps the best example of where Bush and Kerry share a similar goal: their very public efforts to link themselves to this state's maverick GOP senator, John McCain.


(voice-over): In the heat of a noisy campaign, it can be hard for a voice to break through. Not this voice.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We live in difficult times.

WOODRUFF: John McCain pulled off an unusual feat this year. He somehow managed to become MVP for both George W. Bush and John Kerry.

MCCAIN: Thanks, President George W. Bush.

WOODRUFF: Though the Arizona Republican has made his endorsement clear...

MCCAIN: It's of the utmost urgency they we re-elect George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

WOODRUFF: ... both candidates count him as an ally, hoping some of his luster, that aura of strength, resolve and integrity, will rub off. Need proof? Look no further than the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we couldn't trust John Kerry, then how could we possibly trust him now?

WOODRUFF: McCain strongly denounced the ads, calling on the Bush campaign to repudiate them as well. His criticism got lots of attention and proved a boon to the Democrat. So what did the president do?

G. BUSH: I hope my opponent joins me in saying -- condemning these activities of the 527s. It's -- I think they're bad for the system. That's why I signed the bill, McCain-Feingold.

WOODRUFF: He recruited McCain to crusade with him against independent expenditure groups of all stripes, an issue dear to the senator's heart. The move gave Bush some much-needed cover in the thorny political situation.

MCCAIN: I am supporting George Bush's reelection and we have a very good relationship.

WOODRUFF: The McCain-Bush alliance is an odd one. The men have never been close. The wounds of the 2000 Republican primary were slow to heal. But this year McCain has been a diligent surrogate for the man who beat him, though he has said his old friend John Kerry would make...

MCCAIN: I have every reason to believe that John Kerry would be a good president of the United States. WOODRUFF: All of this has raised the question, what does John McCain want? He's not ruled out another run for president in '08 as a Republican. Remarkable for someone Democrat John Kerry considered for his running mate in 2004.


(on camera): You can't come to Arizona without talking about John McCain.

We are on the campus of Arizona State, as you can hear. More on the debate and the expectations straight ahead. I'll talk with two veteran debate watchers about the strategies to look for in the third and final face-off.

Also ahead, rocking the vote for John Kerry. The headliners converge on one stage as the Vote for Change tour nears an end.


WOODRUFF: It's Arizona State University hosting us this day before the debate.

The news of the death of actor and political activist Christopher Reeve over the weekend has increased attention on one controversial issue. Bruce Morton takes a look at how it could affect the presidential campaign.


REEVE: ... attempt to make adults...

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In life, Christopher Reeve was a tireless fighter for all kinds of research into paralysis, but particularly for embryonic stem-cell research because it's controversial.

REEVE: Well, unfortunately, we have no federal public policy now. And that -- that is something that's very disappointing to all of us, to certainly many of us in the category of people living with diseases and disabilities.

MORTON: He's gone now. His fight?

TRICIA BROOKS, REEVE PARALYSIS FOUNDATION: I think just from watching the past 24 hours there is no doubt that his death has immediately impacted the debate.

MORTON: Here's where is stands. President Bush supports research on some existing stem-cell lines, but opposes using or destroying new embryos for research.

G. BUSH: To destroy life to save life is -- it's one of the real ethical dilemmas that we face.

MORTON: John Kerry would go further, allowing research for new embryos, which Bush prohibits.

MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: I see lives are at stake, and it's time for leadership.

MORTON: A CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll taken before Reeve's death showed 55 percent backing more expansive funding of embryonic stem- cell research, 38 percent supporting the current limits, or no federal funding at all. Will his death change that?

BROOKS: I think that it impacts the debate because we all looked to Chris to be someone who was determined to walk again and was going to walk again. Seeing that his dream of getting out of his chair did not come to fruition, I think we're all that much more empowered to ensure that the research comes to fruition as quickly as possible, so the research actually is able to help people in our lifetime.

MORTON (on camera): On the other hand, the opposition of embryonic stem-cell research is fervent, and it comes from the religious right, the very heart of this president's political base.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bruce.

Another half-hour to go of our campaign coverage from Tempe, Arizona. Still ahead, the immigration issue. Will it come up in tomorrow night's debate? Lou Dobbs weighs in on that and gives us a check of the markets.

And does Arnold Schwarzenegger like to hang out with President Bush? Some candid comments from the California governor ahead.


WOODRUFF: As the financial markets are just about to close on Wall Street, it's time for "The Dobbs Report." Joining me now from New York, Lou Dobbs.

Hi, Lou.


Oil prices today settling lower, easing some investor nerves and helping the stock market stage a late-day comeback. But earlier in the day oil briefly crossed $54 a barrel for the first time ever that amid ongoing unrest in Nigeria and uncertainty of course and heightened tensions in the Middle East.

At the end of the day crude oil futures finished down more than $1 settling at $52.51. Many traders however saying until inventories rise, oil prices will remain relatively high. The retreat in oil prices helped the major stock indexes bounce back from early losses with the final trade still being counted at this hour. The Dow Jones Industrials are down just about three points. Shares of Johnson and Johnson up $1.45 on the day. Its quarterly profits jumping more than 10 percent.

The Nasdaq, its change. Quarterly results from tech industry leaders such as Intel and Yahoo are due out any minute now.

Even though oil prices today fell extremely high fuel costs are causing huge problems for an already troubled airline industry. United and U.S. Airways are already in bankruptcy and one or more other major carriers may soon join them. Just today, US Airways got a much needed boost.

Two of the company's lenders and a government agency agreed to extend the terms of a billion dollar financing deal. That means this country's seventh-largest carrier won't be forced to liquidate at least a while. But as part of the deal U.S. Air must win labor concessions from its unions putting new pressure on the carrier to get the bankruptcy court to impose emergency pay and benefit cuts on its unionized workers.

Meanwhile a key law that protects travelers from being stranded if their airline goes out of business will expire next month. Congress adjourned last week without extending the three-year-old legislation.

Coming up tonight here on CNN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" we continue our series "Driven To Run." We're focusing on ordinary Americans who became so frustrated with Washington that they decided to run for office for the first time ever.

Tonight we introduce to Steve Brozak, a recently retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps who is now running for a New Jersey congressional seat. The reason, he doesn't like what he sees as poor planning in Washington and a lack of support for our men and women in uniform.


STEVE BROZAK, N.J. CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: If you tell someone that they're going to be in a country for 12 months, then you better make sure that they're in a country for 12 months. If you then tell them that they have to do another three months and then another three months after that, that's lying to them.


DOBBS: Also tonight I'll be joined by Colorado's Governor Bill Owens. He'll be discussing an attempt in his state to reform the electoral college, a move he doesn't support.

And personal freedom versus our national security. Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties will be my guest. She's against new provisions for driver's license legislation in Congress. We'll take a look at the accuracy of polls and America's fascination with polls. I'll be talking with pollster John Zogby. Back to you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Lou, one issue that is important to Arizona voters is immigration. It's not an issue that we have heard a lot about from the two presidential candidates. But could it cut one way or another in this election?

DOBBS: I believe it certainly could, Judy. You're in state in which they have Proposition 200. Just about 70 percent of all Americans polled nationally want to see stricter immigration laws, enforcement of our laws and heightened border security.

"TIME" magazine reported a month ago three million illegal aliens will cross into this country and neither the president nor Senator Kerry have taken a strong position on this issue. And it will be very interesting to see what we hear there in Tempe from the two presidential candidates.

WOODRUFF: All right. Lou Dobbs, thank you very much for "The Dobbs Report." The third half of INSIDE POLITICS begins right now.


ANNOUNCER: The presidential candidates and your pocketbook. How are the economy and taxes playing in the polls on the eve of the final Bush/Kerry debate?

The showdown before the debate. Top Bush and Kerry campaign strategists take on the issues and one another.

Vandalism before the vote. One campaign points a finger at a powerful ally of the other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But this type of violence is the first time I have ever seen it in 20 years being involved in politics.


ANNOUNCER: Now live from Tempe, Arizona, site of the final presidential debate, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS coming to you today from Arizona State University, home of the Sun Devils where President Bush and Senator Kerry will be the big men on campus tomorrow night. Their final 90-minute debate is designed to hit voters close to home addressing domestic issues and economic policy.

Given that subject matter, does one candidate have a clear advantage in tomorrow's debate? Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has been looking through the latest poll numbers.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): President Bush has a problem. His job approval rating has been going down. According to the latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, before the debate started, 54 percent of Americans approved of the way the president was handling his job.

After the first debate, the president's job approval was down to 50. After the second debate, 47. Presidents who have won reelection, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton have averaged 63 percent job approval around election time. No president for the past 50 years has been reelected with a job rating below 50.

The problem isn't just President Bush's debate performance. While Bush continues to draw higher marks than Kerry on Iraq and on terrorism, the economy is becoming more of a problem for the president.

A month ago people were split over whether the economy was getting better or worse. Now slightly more say it is getting worse. With a final debate focusing on domestic issues, Bush should be on the defensive, right? Not entirely. John Kerry's got a tax problem. The Democrat says he'll raise taxes only for people making more than $200,000 a year.

KERRY: I suspect there are only three people here who will be affected. The president, me and Charlie, I'm sorry, you, too.

SCHNEIDER: We asked people if Kerry is elected do you think your taxes would go up? Nearly half said yes. Where do they get that idea?

G. BUSH: Of course he's going raise your taxes. He's proposed $2.2 trillion in new spending. How are you going to pay for it?

SCHNEIDER: Most people earning over $50,000 a year think their taxes will go up if Kerry wins. Nearly 40 percent of people making less than $20,000 believe Kerry will raise their taxes. It is the one domestic issue where Bush has been making headway. Voters now give Bush the edge over Kerry on taxes.


(on camera): But not on honesty and trustworthiness. More and more Americans believe President Bush deliberately misled the public about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Fewer than a third felt that way last year. Now it's nearly half.

WOODRUFF: So Bill, where do you see the percentage of voters who could still change their mind? We have been hearing all year that there aren't many of them. But clearly there is some change going on. How do you see it?

SCHNEIDER: There have to be some because, look, the polls have been shifting. Things have changed rather markedly in the past month. My guess is while only 2 percent or 3 percent say they are genuinely, totally undecided right now, you've got maybe 15 percent of the voters maybe closer to 20 who have made up their minds but could change their minds even if they tell you they have made up their minds. So there is some flexibility out there. That's why the polls keep changing.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

As we have been telling you President Bush is here in Arizona this day for a campaign event in Paradise Valley. The president has been focusing today on the subject matter of tomorrow night's debate, domestic and economic policy hitting Senator Kerry particularly hard on healthcare and taxes. But he also got in a few shots on Iraq charging that Kerry lacks consistency and credibility. Kerry had no public events scheduled today. He is holed up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the state next door preparing for tomorrow night.

But his campaign is unleashing a new ad on healthcare, an indirect response to Bush's attack today. In the ad Kerry speaks to the camera and accuses President Bush of standing between America and lower prescription drug costs.

Right now let's bring in senior strategists from both presidential campaigns. Tad Devine with the Kerry camp, he's here with me in Tempe and Matthew Dowd with the Bush camp, he is in Arlington, Virginia.

Matthew Dowd, let me come to you first. As Bill Schneider just said, the president's approval rating has taken about a seven-point drop since the first debate. Is this something of concern to your campaign?

MATTHEW DOWD, BUSH CAMPAIGN SR. STRATEGIST: No. We're not overly concerned. We planned this campaign under the idea that this race was going to be close all wait until the end. We had always assumed it would be a two or three-point race.

When we were down seven or eight points, we said it would be a two or three-point race. That's where it is. You have a multitude of polls out today. Some show us three or four up, some show the race even, some sort of couple down. This is going to be a close race all the way until the end.

WOODRUFF: At the same time, Tad Devine, John Kerry is seen as winning the first two debates in many polls. But it's still a horserace. Could it be that voters see him as the better debater but not the right man to be president?

TAD DEVINE, KERRY CAMPAIGN SR. STRATEGIST: No, Judy. I think John Kerry is in historically strong shape. I mean, to have a president of the United States at this late date with a job approval under 50, with the horserace number under 50, it is an indication of the deep trouble the president is in. And I thinks it's because the American people are telling us they want a new president.

In the first two debates, they saw that new president -- someone could speak powerfully to their concerns, to the issues they care deeply about. And hopefully we'll see that again tomorrow night.

WOODRUFF: Matt Dowd, how do you answer that?

DOWD: Well, I think fundamentally this is going to be a race that is a choice. And I think what you see even in the Gallup poll, in your poll, that when you ask on the important issues, who you trust more? Who do you trust more to deal with Iraq? The public trusts the president more. Who do you trust more in the war on terror? The public trusts the president more.

Even on the economy, which has been a signature issue of the Kerry campaign, it's almost dead even. So, I think still, fundamentally, this is a race where the public's going to decide who has better plan, the better vision on these issues. And right now, on the two of the three biggest issues -- we have an advantage on the other one -- it's basically tied.

DEVINE: I think -- I remember in the spring when Matt was saying the president's job approval was the most important number. Well, here we are in the middle of October. The president's job approval in the Gallup poll is 47.

I mean, the president's in trouble. That's obvious. The question is whether or not we can consolidate the vote in the battleground states. I think what's so impressive in all the public polling is not just John Kerry's horserace performance, but the fact that we're doing better in the battlegrounds. That's the president's problem.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk about another part of these polls, Matthew Dowd, and that is when voters are asked who would do a better job on a number of domestic issues, whether it is healthcare, environment, stem-cell research, John Kerry in some of these is as much as 20 points ahead of George W. Bush.

Does this leave the president at a disadvantage in this debate tomorrow night?

DOWD: Well, I think John Kerry has a huge advantage in this debate going forward tomorrow night. He -- obviously standing behind a podium, he does very well. He did very well in the first debate. I think he's got a big advantage.

But I think we're looking forward to -- the president's looking forward to talking about his policies on healthcare -- which is stopping lawsuits and letting people having their own control versus a big government healthcare program that costs $1.5 trillion -- program and dealing with these issues in a common sense practical way. And those differences, I think, will come true.

But definitely John Kerry has an advantage in this debate. And you know, we're looking forward to presenting a contrasting vision to his big government vision, and I think the public will respond to that.

WOODRUFF: So, he's building up expectations for John Kerry, Tad Devine.

DEVINE: Well, at least he's not calling him Cicero anymore. So, you know, listen, I think the American people have seen these two men on the stage. The president obviously didn't do well at all in the first debate. He did better in the second debate.

But we're going to have, tomorrow night, an opportunity to -- for these two candidates not just to show their style, but their substance. There are big difference between George Bush and John Kerry on the issues, and that's what the American people want to hear about. WOODRUFF: Well, Tad Devine, speaking of big differences, there's one comment that John Kerry made in the last few days in that "New York Times" magazine article where he talked about getting terrorism back to the level of a nuisance.

The vice president is going after this with a vengeance today. He's citing terrorists attacks over the last 20 years. He said is any one of them at a level that would you call a nuisance? How do you answer him?

DEVINE: Maybe the vice president should Brent Scowcroft, the president's father's national security advisor, who also described it in the same terms and said we could aspire to that.

Listen, John Kerry believes we can win the war on terror. That's the big difference he has with George Bush. The president revealed weeks ago that he thought perhaps we couldn't win it. He said we can't win it. But John Kerry thinks when we win it, we can reduce it to the manageable level, not where it is right now.

And until we have a president who can put this country in strong alliances, bring in allies to share the burden, and follow a different approach -- not be distracted, as this president is in Iraq -- we won't have the chance to get the war on terror where we need it to be.

WOODRUFF: Matthew Dowd?

DOWD: Well, I mean, he can bring up whoever else, but this race is about the principles involved. And it's John Kerry and what he believes in the war on terror and George Bush and what he believes. The American public has seen George Bush, they trust him on the war on terror. They know he's going to take it to them. They know he's going to fight it whatever it takes.

I think John Kerry's differences on that is that he believe it's a law enforcement action -- that's what he said. He now thinks it was nuisance in the '90s when the USS Cole was attacked, when the World Trade Center was bombed the first time. And he wants to take it back to a time like that.

And even more profound was Richard Holbrook, who was his national security advisor, said it's not really a war. That's more of a metaphor. It's like the war on poverty. And I think if you want a president that's going to take it to the terrorists and do it day in and day out, or somebody else that thinks you just go out and arrest them, then you have a fundamental choice in this campaign.

WOODRUFF: Wish we could keep it up. We love to talk to both of you. We'll have to do it in the next few days. Tad Devine with the Kerry campaign, Matthew Dowd with the Bush campaign. Gentlemen, thank you, both. We appreciate it.

DOWD: Thanks, Judy. Take care.

WOODRUFF: Coming up, are some supporters of both the Bush and Kerry campaigns taking their rivalry a damaging step too far? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: CNN has just learned that the U.S. tried twice to rescue the two Americans and one British citizen recently held hostage in Iraq. They were held by the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi network.

For more on all this, let's go quickly to our Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Judy. CNN has learned that, on two separate occasions, rescue operations were launched in Baghdad in an attempt to rescue two Americans and one British hostage held by the Abu Zarqawi network.

But in both cases, when the personnel arrived at the location, they did find any hostages. It's unclear whether the intelligence was faulty or whether the people had simply moved before U.S. Military forces and others got there.

Again, sources telling CNN, according to an official with direct knowledge of the operations, there were two separate attempts. The first one came when all three hostages were still alive. The second attempt came after the first American hostage, Eugene Armstrong, had been killed, but they were still two hostages alive.

But again, in both cases, based on intelligence, they went to an area in Baghdad, a location to try to affect rescue, but they were unsuccessful because they didn't find anyone at the locations.

And again, it's not clear in either case whether the hostages were actually at those locations. What this does reflect is that the U.S. was making a desperate effort to try to find and rescue the hostages during the time of their captivity. As one official told CNN, a lot of people spent a lot of sleepless nights trying to find them -- Judy?

WOODRUFF: And as we know, all three of those being held were later beheaded. Jamie McIntyre, thanks very much for that last-minute information that's come in to Jamie and to CNN.

Well, we have a question we're going to try to deal with in the next segment, and that is: Are some supporters of the two presidential candidates taking their advocacy too far? We'll have that in just a moment.


WOODRUFF: We're here on the campus of Arizona State University.

We want to tell you about a story that has just come to us from Washington. Minnesota Democratic Senator Mark Dayton says he is planning to close his office in the Russell Senate Office Building through Election Day for security reasons.

In a statement Dayton was prepared to release, he cited a top secret intelligence report that he said made him fear for the safety of his staff. He said -- it said that some of Dayton's staff would work out of his Minnesota office while Congress is in recess. Dayton's statement did not elaborate on the alleged threat.

Senior law enforcement officials tell CNN they don't know of any specific or credible information that would have prompted Dayton to take such action.

With the election just three weeks away, emotions are running high in both parties. But our Kathleen Koch reports that there is concern that enthusiasm may be inspiring some to go too far.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Oregon, Kerry- Edwards signs destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care for that.

KOCH: In Maryland, Bush-Cheney signs defaced and burned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I looked out, and there was a big fireball in the middle of my yard. It was terrifying.

KOCH: And in Tennessee, police believe someone drove by and fired a bullet through the front door of the Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters.

Petty things you experience, but this type of violence, first time I've ever seen it in 20 years being involved in politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sign that we had before that was like maybe a three by seven, we're just going to order a bigger one.

KOCH: In Louisiana, an arson investigation after someone burned signs and sprayed graffiti on a Kerry-Edwards campaign office. Authorities say Norfolk, Virginia's Kerry-Edwards headquarters was targeted by vandals, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This election will be decided by issues and not by intimidation such as this.

KOCH: Earlier this month, a union protest about overtime pay at Bush-Cheney offices in Orlando, Florida, ended up with two men hurt and one protester charged with assault. National Campaign Chairman Marc Racicot sent a letter to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney sent saying the protests, quote, "have created a threatening and intimidating atmosphere abhorrent to our democratic process."

MARC RACICOT, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Even though they have the right to speak, and we respect that, at the end of the day, they have to respect everyone in the process, including those they may not agree with.

KOCH: The AFL-CIO wouldn't respond on camera, but a spokesman said the demonstrators intended to be peaceful and that it is, quote, "an irresponsible accusation" to link what it called free speech protests with, quote, "violence or voter intimidation."

It's not clear what the intent was when SUVs in an Oregon neighborhood were sprayed with anti-Bush graffiti.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just shake my head in disbelief that somebody feels that that's the way they would get their political message across.

KOCH (on camera): No one knows if there is more vandalism now than in past election years or if high political passions are to blame.

(voice-over): Random or politically motivated, those impacted insist it won't change their beliefs or their votes.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Kathleen, thanks very much. We are on a college campus, but you know, long ago college hijinks have returned to the forefront. A tough Texas House race now includes tales of streaking on campus.


WOODRUFF: Well, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was the star of the show, as we know, at the Republican convention. But he says he's also friends with John Kerry.

"The Los Angeles Times" reports Schwarzenegger recently spoke with members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Schwarzenegger is quoted as saying that while he believes Bush is the better candidate for president, he and the president are not what he called, quote, "hanging out pals".

One of the nation's toughest Congressional races now includes tales of -- get hold of this -- college streaking. Democrats supporting 13-term Texas Congressman Martin Frost are circulating 30- year-old newspaper articles about a streaking incident at Southwest Texas State University. Frost's opponent, four-term Republican Sessions, apparently took part in the stunt, which his campaign calls, quote, "the immature action of an 18-year-old college freshman."

Sessions wrote a column after the last Super Bowl condemning the halftime show "wardrobe incident" involving singer Janet Jackson. No comment here.

That's it for "INSIDE POLITICS." Thanks for being with us at Arizona State. I'm Judy Woodruff.

"CROSSFIRE," Tucker and Paul, right now.


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