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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Do Newspaper Presidential Endorsements Matter?; Battle for Colorado; Social Security and the Election; Colorado's Amendment 36
Aired October 18, 2004 - 14:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Sparring over security: John Kerry says George Bush must face the truth on Iraq.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The truth is beginning to come out, and it's beginning to catch up with him. And on November 2nd, it will catch up with him.
ANNOUNCER: The president in New Jersey, invoking memories of 9/11 to hit Kerry on terror.
GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The war on terror -- there's no place for confusion and no substitute for victory.
ANNOUNCER: And black and white: Who's winning the race for endorsements, and does it matter anyway?
Rocky Mountain highs and lows: Will the closer-than-expected race in Colorado lead to problems on Election Day?
Now, live from the CNN Election Express in Boulder, Colorado, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us here in Colorado, which is proving to be more of a presidential battleground this year than many had predicted.
We are at the beautiful University of Colorado campus at Boulder. And like so many college campuses, many students here appear to be fired up about this election -- now just two weeks and one day away. A new Colorado poll of likely voters suggests the often-changing race here has widen again, with Bush now leading Kerry by five points.
Early voting began here today in Colorado and several other states, including Florida, where some problems are being reported, mostly computer glitches.
John Kerry is urging Florida voters to take advantage of early voting to help prevent a repeat of the 2000 presidential standoff. The Democrat is hopscotching across the State of Florida today, and CNN's Frank Buckley is traveling with him. Hello, Frank.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy.
Yeah, Senator Kerry in Tampa Bay, Florida, today to deliver a speech on healthcare policy -- one of a series of speeches that aides have called closing arguments leading up to Election Day in a couple of weeks. The senator essentially doing a couple of things in these speeches: criticizing President Bush on a particular issue or policy of the day, and then offering his own plan, his own proposals for what he would do if he is elected president.
Senator Kerry speaking right now here at the Performing Arts Center on the issue of healthcare. That's the primary topic. But he's also criticizing President Bush on Iraq today. The senator picking up on a "Washington Post" article today that the former top commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, complained of dire supply shortages in the winter of 2003 in a letter that he sent to the Pentagon. Senator Kerry using the article to press his argument that President Bush has misled Americans on Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: The day after General Sanchez wrote his letter, George Bush went out and told the American people our troops were properly equipped. Despite the president's arrogant boasting that he has done everything right in Iraq and that he's made no mistakes, the truth is beginning to catch up with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCKLEY: The Kerry campaign also picking up on this theme in an ad it released today. It's called Bush's mess. It criticizes President Bush on Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror, talking about the frequent number of attacks on American troops in Iraq and criticizes President Bush for allowing Osama bin Laden to get away in Afghanistan, saying it was President Bush's policies that allowed that to happen.
The Bush campaign coming back saying that this is once again another situation in which Senator Kerry is grasping at headlines and the senator is being hypocritical, given his vote against funding the troops the $87 billion in post-war Iraq.
So, Iraq not going away, but meanwhile here in Florida, Senator Kerry talking about healthcare policy and trying to encourage voters to get out to vote on this early voting day. Earlier today, helping in the get out the vote effort himself, escorting some senior citizens into a van and saying, Judy, that best to get out and vote early today so we don't have to stay up so late on November 2nd -- Judy?
WOODRUFF: All right. Very quickly, tell us what the mood is in the Kerry camp? Are they confident? Are they nervous? What?
BUCKLEY: Well, you know, some of the national polling suggests that President Bush has made a surge. Some polling showing that President Bush is ahead significantly. Kerry campaign officials say that they feel very comfortable with where they are right now, where the race is right now. They point to their own internal polling, and they suggest that their polling -- specifically in the battleground states, the 15 states where they believe this election is going to make a difference -- they say that they are ahead in those states and, in some cases, beyond the margin of error. So, they feel very comfortable right now.
WOODRUFF: All right, Frank Buckley, traveling with John Kerry in Florida. Thank you, Frank.
Well, President Bush took his campaign to New Jersey today to send a double-edged message to Kerry about the war on terror and the state of the race on that traditionally Democratic turf. A new poll of likely New Jersey voters suggests that is race is a dead heat in the Garden State.
Our White House correspondent Dana Bash is traveling with the president. Hello, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy.
And President Bush made a quip as he started his speech that just ended a short while ago, saying that he understands people here in New Jersey would be quite surprised to see a Republican president campaigning here as late as October, but certainly it was a carefully calculated move by the Bush campaign to have the president come to this state to shift today's theme and focus back to the war on terrorism.
It is, the polls show, why the president is doing so much better here in new jersey, because of the importance of the fight against terrorism for this state, which lost about 700 people on September 11th.
Now, the president used his speech, which is what the campaign called a significant speech, to really give some blistering attacks against John Kerry. Some of the themes that we have heard many, many times on the campaign trail sort of all rolled into one, essentially saying that John Kerry would make America weaker because his view of fighting terrorism is to do it on the defense rather than offense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Senator Kerry's approach would permit a response only after America is hit. This kind of September the 10th attitude is no way to protect our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, the president also used this speech to, once again, tie Iraq and the war in Iraq to terrorism, saying that right now it is still the central front, he believes, in the war on terrorism. And that Senator Kerry, of course, as we heard many times from him, from President Bush, is a flip-flopper and somebody who does not really believe that -- first of all, that the allies, that many allies are actually helping there, but also somebody who has, as he said, a view of Iraq as protests and defeatism. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: My opponent has a different outlook. While America does the hard work of fighting terror and spreading freedom, he has chosen the easy path of protest and defeatism. He refuses to acknowledge progress or praise the growing Democratic spirit in Iraq. He has not made democracy a priority of his foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, the Kerry campaign, as you can imagine, Judy, they say that the president is misrepresenting what he has said and what his record is. And they say, in fact, John Edwards, who is speaking in Florida today, said that what the president is doing by coming to New Jersey is really playing on the politics of fear, something we're hearing from both sides today.
Now, Judy, one more thing, on New Jersey, of course, the Bush campaign admits that by coming to New Jersey they're essentially trying to taunt the Kerry campaign, perhaps try to get them to spend money in a place where they normally wouldn't. Kerry aides are saying that that's not going to happen.
But regardless this is sort of a twofer for the Bush campaign thinks for them, because we are in southern New Jersey, and this of course is a Philadelphia media market. And this plays to the suburbs of Philadelphia, and that is going to determine likely what happens in Pennsylvania, which, of course, we know very well is a battleground state -- Judy?
WOODRUFF: It is a twofer in that part of the state. All right, Dana, thank you very much.
Meantime, the Bush campaign is unleashing a new ad to press its message that Kerry would not be tough enough on terrorists. That's what we just heard the president saying. The spot cites some past votes by Kerry and Democrats in Congress on security issues, and it ends with a tagline, "John Kerry and his liberal allies: Are they a risk we can afford to take?" The ad begins airing today on national cable and in select local markets.
President Bush has regained his edge over Senator Kerry in our latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll -- you just heard Frank referring to it a minute ago. The survey taken after the third and final debate shows Bush eight points ahead of Kerry among likely voters nationwide. Among registered voters, Bush has a three-point lead.
We've averaged together our poll with four other surveys released in event days. Bush leads Kerry 50 percent to 45 percent among likely voters in that poll of polls. Now, that essentially puts the race back where it was in September before the first debate, when Bush lead Kerry 49 percent to 44 percent in the poll of polls. The gains that Kerry made as a result of his widely praised debate performances appear to have faded.
Let's talk more about the polls and presidential race with our political analyst Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times." Hi, Ron. How should we be reading these poll numbers?
RON BROWNSTEIN, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, I think you're right to be averaging the polls, because they are so many. And they are a little bit discordant right now. Something important has happened. I think if you look at all of these polls, wherever they started, President Bush has gained a few points in almost any of them over the last few days. The key variable from his point of view is whether these polls put him over 50 or under 50, I think in support and job approval.
Historically where the incumbent is on the eve of the election is probably a better predictor of what actually happens than the spread between the incumbent and the challenger. The reason is most voters undecided until the very end tend to break for the challenger so the challenger often finishes higher in these final poll numbers and the incumbent a little lower.
Now, if you are John Kerry, the thing you've got to worry about is regardless of whether it was a Democratic convention in July or these debates now in September and October, even after moments in which he is basically receiving good reviews from his performance from the public, he is still unable to establish a lead over President Bush. That's one thing that is consistent in all of these polls.
WOODRUFF: Ron, just to get back to what you were saying about the approval numbers, why is that something that tends to not change in the final days of an election for an incumbent?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, the job approval number is less volatile than the horserace. Attitudes about the -- in the presidential race when you're asking people to compare the challenger and the incumbent tend to flop around a little bit to use the word of the day because people have pretty shallow impressions of the challenger and new information can move them toward him or against him rather quickly.
Views of the incumbent are more lived in in effect for three-and- a-half years, almost four years now, so they change more slowly. Historically they have been a very good indicator. In the last 52 years, the history of modern Gallup polling we've had five incumbents with an approval rating over 50 percent. They all won reelection. Three under 50 percent, they all lost reelection.
Your Gallup poll has President Bush back over 50 in approval. The "TIME," "Newsweek" and Zogby polls in the last few days have him just under approval. This is really a situation where you are on the nice edge in this race. Some positive trends for President Bush in the horserace. But still looking at approval numbers that give heartburn to some Republican consultants.
WOODRUFF: Ron, at the late stages of the campaign like this, what does it take to change these numbers dramatically? We have the debates behind us. What would be a factor that would turn this thing around in some dramatic fashion?
BROWNSTEIN: That's a really good question. I think John Kerry -- I was asking that to some of the John Kerry people today. If, in fact, President Bush is still ahead what would cause some of those undecided voters to move the other way? Now, the Bush campaign says, look, they have had eight months of intense information about both of these candidates. If they haven't moved to John Kerry by now they won't. The Kerry campaign takes a more traditional analysis.
If you look at some of these polls, the last few voters who are undecided, tend to be as is often the case, negative on the performance of the incumbent. In the Zogby poll, for instance, there were two to one negative on the job approval for President Bush.
And the assumption on the Democratic side is that these voters will in the end follow the historic pattern and break toward Kerry. They are not deciding yet simply because they don't have to decide yet. The voters who tend to be left are the ones that by and large pay less attention, follow the news less closely, and are less engaged in this than the partisans.
They are hoping for the historic tie that will bring them a little closer. Again, if President Bush is above 50 that becomes kind of moot. They have got to see numbers in which he is held under 50 to believe that they have a chance in winning this. Some of the polls give him that optimism right now. Others for the first time since early October don't.
WOODRUFF: All right. Ron Brownstein, looking very, very closely at those numbers. Ron, thank you very much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: The Bush and Kerry camps collide when we return. Dueling campaign strategist Matthew Dowd and Tad Devine. We'll take on the polls and issues and probably one another.
The political landscape here in Colorado and the prospect of problems on election day.
And it's never too early to think about the 2008 race for the White House. With just 15 days until the 2004 election. This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: Two weeks from tomorrow the nation goes to the polls so what are the candidates focused on as they head into the homestretch? For some insight we're joined by Bush campaign senior strategist Matthew Dowd and Kerry campaign senior strategist Tad Devine. Tad Devine, to you first, with the debates behind us, the polls seem to be moving in President Bush's favor. What happened to that lift that John Kerry got from the debate?
TAD DEVINE, KERRY CAMPAIGN SR. STRATEGIST: Well, Judy, I don't know if I agree that the polls are moving in the president's favor. We have seen a lot of polls moving around in recent days. I think what John Kerry did in the course of those debates was establish himself as a very strong candidate for president. Someone who is the president this country is looking for that is prepared to take this nation in a new direction.
There are a lot of polls out there kind of all over the place. As I see, the race is very tight. It's going to be tight to the end. I think that's something Matt and I have been seeing for months now.
I think if you are the president of the United States and you're not in a safe place right now, a couple of weeks for the election with a high job approval, with a high horserace, with a high right track number, all of the internal indicators being in your favor I think you're in trouble.
The president is in trouble that's why he gave such a speech to -- the kind of speech that he gave today just a relentless attack against John Kerry. I think that's what we'll see for the next two weeks.
WOODRUFF: Matthew Dowd picking up on that and on what Ron Brownstein is saying about the approval numbers. Is it disturbing at all to you to see that the president's approval rating is hovering right under or right at 50 percent in these polls?
MATTHEW DOWD, BUSH CAMPAIGN SR. STRATEGIST: Your last poll that came out yesterday had our approval at 51 percent. If what Ron says is true that means we're going to end up with 51 percent of the vote which is about a three or four point victory which is what we said from the very beginning.
These polls really are not fluctuating that much. We're either a couple of points ahead or eight points ahead. You were right earlier, to point out, take all these polls, average them together, we have a four or five point lead. We had a four or five point lead going into the debate.
So, this will be a close race but in a close race we have a slight advantage and in a race like this, challengers have always had to be ahead after the debates were over. Every challenger that has won in history has been ahead. John Kerry is behind and it puts him in a difficult spot.
WOODRUFF: Tad Devine, you were saying that the president has come out with some tough rhetoric. In fact, John Kerry has come out in the last few days and gotten tough -- gotten pretty tough with the president, even neutral observers are saying some of what he is saying is over the top, when he talks about the flu vaccine problem, when he talks about the draft, and Social Security. Is this a sign that your campaign is worried?
DEVINE: No, it isn't, Judy. I think it's a sign that the president is making a lot of mistakes. It was the president of the United States who said in "The New York Times" that his plan for the second term is to privatize Social Security.
It's the president of the United States who has some responsibility for the public health of this nation and who, even though his administration has known for three years there would be a problem for the flu vaccine, chose to turn his back on this. It's the president of the United States who, through his policies in Iraq and through the deployment of our troops overseas, has put our country in a position where we need help in terms of the military.
And right now, all of these issues are real issue. We see people responding to them all across the country. I mean, I think it's incredible that you can't get a flu shot in America. I mean, it's unbelievable. And of course, the president doesn't accept responsibility. He doesn't accept responsibility for anything.
WOODRUFF: Matthew Dowd?
DOWD: I mean, of course, Tad goes outrageous and said these outrageous things. I think the campaigns today are a reflection of the candidates. The Kerry campaign picks up the newspaper, picks up a magazine, and thinks of a new attack on a different topic every day.
Every day since March 3rd, we've said this race is about two things: it's about the war on terror and about the economy and domestic issues. And we have presented the choice that's available to the American public.
The candidates reflect that. The president stayed consistent on that. I think that's what you see in this campaign. And I think what you see from the Kerry campaign, they are trying to get traction again. They know that they didn't get a lead coming out of the debates, which is what they wanted. And so, they are trying to come up with anything they possibly can to attack the president on.
WOODRUFF: Matthew Dowd, at the same time in the last days, weeks, the president has been making, again, what neutral observers are saying are over-the-top charges. Today he's talking about John Kerry in a before September 11th mentality. Is there -- aren't there distortions going on on both sides here?
DOWD: Well, the only distortions I see are the blaming the president for the fact that we don't have flu vaccines in the country or blaming the president for something he never said even though a reporter said he said it. The president wasn't reported as saying that. It was from two or three persons down the road. And this reporter has been questioned on a number of things in the past.
I think what you see in this race is somebody that says, listen, there's differences in this. There's a pre-9/11 view and a post-9/11 view of the world. The president has a post-9/11 view of the world.
WOODRUFF: Tad Devine, real quick answer here.
DEVINE: Judy, I think this is just -- sure. It's more denial from the Bush campaign. "The New York Times" is standing by its story. And the president should accept some responsibility for the public health. I mean, you know, this is an important responsibility of this administration, to care for the public health. And you can't get a flu shot in America.
I think something's wrong. I know he accepts responsibility for nothing. Maybe before the election, he will accept responsibility for something, anything.
WOODRUFF: OK, the charges are flying back and forth. Tad Devine, Matthew Dowd, good to see you both.
DEVINE: Take care, Judy.
DOWD: See you.
WOODRUFF: Talk to you again, often between now and the campaign.
Well, we have heard from the campaigns just now. What are the polls saying? We're going to talk more about that. Surveys from two showdown states offer positive news for both Bush and Kerry. New numbers from the Pacific northwest and New England when we return.
WOODRUFF: We are here at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a beautiful campus on a beautiful fall day. Some compassionate folks on both sides of this political divide.
Well, there are some new polls in two showdown states that give both George W. Bush and John Kerry reason for optimism. In Oregon, Bush has opened a five-point lead among likely voters according to a new survey by Riley Research Associates. Bush lost the state by less than one percentage point four years ago.
In New Hampshire, a state Bush narrowly won in 2000, a new Research 2000 poll finds Kerry leading Bush by four points, 49 percent to 45 percent. Ralph Nader is also on that ballot in the Granite State. He's picking up two percent.
Newspapers across the country are making their endorsements in the presidential contest. But do such endorsements make a difference in the race for the White House? We'll take a look when we return.
Plus, the pulse of the campus. What do students here at the University of Colorado say about the campaign? We'll ask them.
But first, live to Wall Street and our Rhonda Schaffler. Hi, Rhonda.
RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy. Crude oil prices really cooling off today, and that helped turn around the stock market. The Dow is off about 90 points earlier, but has since come back and is moving higher by 19. And the Nasdaq is up about one percent.
Tech investigators will have an eye on IBM's results coming out after the closing bell. 3M continues to be a weak spot, though, for the Dow. It's off two percent after coming up short with its third quarter numbers and warnings of results down the road.
Another stock that continues to get hammered, Marsh & McLennan. It's shares are down another 11 percent today. Marsh is the insurance broker at the center of a probe by New York's attorney general. It has now dropped 44 percent since last Thursday.
That's all the latest news from Wall Street. JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS continues in just a moment.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Coming up in about 90 minutes, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, in its latest move to subdue insurgent attacks, Iraq says it will extend the weapons for cash program in Sadr City and Baghdad to the entire country.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, says insurgent attacks in Iraq are aimed at influencing the U.S. presidential election because, he says, the insurgents want to defeat President Bush. We'll get analysis from the former defense secretary, William Cohen.
Plus, the latest on the flu vaccine shortage here in the United States.
All those stories, much more, coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."
Now back to JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS in Colorado.
WOODRUFF: President Bush goes after Senator Kerry on the subject of terrorism. Bush made his comments in New Jersey, a state that his campaign would love to steal from the Democrats. Kerry is spending his day in Florida attacking the president on Iraq and on health care.
Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff, live from the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. We'll have much more on the tight race here in Colorado in just a few minutes.
But first, as we enter the last two weeks of this campaign, editorial boards at many of the nation's newspapers are taking sides in the race for the White House. Some of the endorsements are not surprising, although a few are raising eyebrows.
Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" checks the papers and asks if these endorsements really matter on Election Day.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES" (voice-over): When "The Des Moines Register" endorsed John Edwards in the Iowa caucuses it boosted him to a second-place finish behind John Kerry, and ultimately to the vice presidential nomination. But that was a party race in one state.
How much impact do newspaper endorsements have in a presidential campaign? The honest answer is a rather limited one, as Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of "The Washington Post," is the first to acknowledge.
FRED HIATT, "WASHINGTON POST": The national endorsement is not first and foremost in my mind something that we're going to tell a reader, oh, yes, you should go vote for John Kerry and somebody -- or George Bush -- and somebody that hadn't decided is going to get up and go do what we tell them to do. This is one time when best of all possible worlds isn't available to us usually. There's a choice of A or B.
KURTZ: Owners and publishers play a major role in these decisions, and reporters no role. But if newspaper endorsements don't change many minds, they provide what might be called a trickle down effect. They help shape the debates among opinion leaders and TV pundits. And candidates sometimes cite them in ads.
For the moment John Kerry has pulled ahead in the endorsement race, 45 to 30, according to "Editor and Publisher." And in terms of circulation, he has a three to one lead. On Sunday, Kerry got the nod from "The New York Times" and "Boston Globe" -- no surprise there -- and "Miami Herald." Kerry already had the backing of "The Philadelphia Inquirer," "Detroit Free Press," "St. Louis Post- Dispatch," "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Portland Oregonian" and both Seattle newspapers.
"The New York Times" said Kerry had a strong moral core, but most of the editorial was about how Bush's presidency has been disastrous after turning over the government to the radical right. The president won a big one Sunday at the "Chicago Tribune," which hailed his bolder struggle against terrorism and the rogue governments that backed them, while saying Kerry has lost his way.
Bush also has the backing of "The Arizona Republic," "Dallas Morning News," "Las Vegas Review Journal" and the "Manchester Union Leader," which opposed his father's re-nomination back in '92.
Familiarity it seems can breed contempt. The "Lowell Massachusetts Sun," in what was once Kerry's hometown, is backing Bush. While near the presidential ranch, the Crawford newspaper, "The Lone State Iconoclast," is in Kerry's camp.
And some editorial boards just can't make up their minds. "The Tampa Tribune" has backed all but one Republican presidential candidate for the last 50 years, but now says it would be unimaginable to back Bush. And after an achingly-difficult decision, is sitting this one out.
There could be other surprises. "The Washington Post" usually backs Democratic presidential candidates. But in 1988, the editors didn't much like Michael Dukakis and made no endorsement. And "The Post" did strongly support Bush on the Iraq war.
(on camera): The key issue here is intensity. There are full- throttle (ph) endorsements and those that say, well, our candidate's got plenty of problems, but he's better than the other guy. What Bush and Kerry need is editorial enthusiasm. In a tight race, very headline helps.
Howard Kurtz, CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Howard.
And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," two names often mentioned as GOP hopefuls in 2008 are dismissing talks that they will be candidates for the White House. Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the president's brother, and Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, both said over the weekend they have no presidential ambitions.
Bush told ABC flatly, "I'm not going to run for president in 2008." Romney, who made his comments in Iowa, by the way, said simply, "I see myself as governor of Massachusetts."
In Florida, there are more legal developments related to the upcoming presidential vote. The state Supreme Court today ruled that Floridians who cast provisional ballots at the wrong precinct are not entitled to have their vote counted.
Also today, a trial got underway in Fort Lauderdale in a lawsuit filed by a Democratic congressman. Robert Wexler wants paper printouts to be required for all touch-screen ballot machines.
Former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore blasted George W. Bush today in a speech to members of the liberal group moveon.org. Gore took aim at the president's policy in Iraq, as well as what he called the Bush ideology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what rightfully belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Al Gore speaking in Washington today.
Well here in Colorado, where we are on this Monday, rapid growth and demographic changes are threatening to upset the traditional political equation. As of now, the state is leaning toward President Bush in the latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll. Fifty-one percent of likely state voters say they back the president, while 45 percent say they are voting for Senator Kerry.
Our Joe Johns has more on the range of factors that could influence the battle for Colorado.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a recipe for a Rocky Mountain recount, an overwhelmed election system, a dead heat presidential race, party operatives swarming the state, lawyers right behind. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be an incredible number of glitches. The system is simply not going to work due to the volume, much less anybody playing games.
JOHNS: Early this year, Colorado appeared to be solid Bush country, with 180,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. The seasons have changed and so have the numbers. Go to a town like Golden, home of Coors beer and GOP Senate candidate Pete Coors, and it's still hard to find a Democrat on the street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush.
JOHNS (on camera): Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I don't like Kerry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to vote for W.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why? I think we have to stay the course with what George is doing.
JOHNS (voice-over): But elsewhere in Colorado the Republican edge has eroded. Election officials reported a stunning 300,000 new voters registering this year, most of them Independents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our men are dying, our women are dying. We spent too much money on people that hate us and loathe us and want us out of their country. And he's not telling us about the truth about what is going on in Iraq.
JOHNS: The Democratic surge is a reflection of a big cultural change in Colorado. The dominance of traditional conservative views has been eroded by a new wave of migration, young chasing high-tech jobs and the state's natural beauty and not tied to either party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's a beautiful state and the climate is great and there were job opportunities.
JOHNS (on camera): Communities like this one, Highlands Ranch, one of the new western boomtowns, are at the center of a population shift that is changing the politics of Colorado in unpredictable ways.
(voice-over): Another factor adding to the unpredictability, the U.S. Senate race. When Republican Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell decided not to run for reelection, politics became as wild as the old West.
Colorado's Democratic attorney general, Ken Salazar, jumped in to run against Pete Coors. Salazar is a Hispanic and a moderate who appeals to Independents. He is drawing record support from the state's huge Hispanic population, support that might help John Kerry if they vote the party line.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colorado is really a classic high-growth state. So, we have a lot of younger voters. A lot of Hispanic voters have joined the roles.
The voters that have come here are not attached to the -- the older political culture, which was more conservative and more Republican. They are up for grabs.
JOHNS: And there's one more wild card, a ballot initiative organized by a small group of activists that would take Colorado's nine electoral votes and split them up according to the popular vote, instead of the current winner-takes-all system. If approved, it would take effective immediately. And if the national race is as close as 2000, the runner-up here could pick off just enough electoral college votes to ascend to the presidency.
Joe Johns, CNN, Denver.
WOODRUFF: Joe Johns looking at the state of play here in Colorado.
Up next, I will talk with two members of Congress from this state, Representative Diana Degette of Colorado and Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado. He's a Republican, she's a Democrat.
We'll be right back.
WOODRUFF: Here in Colorado, you can hear them cheering. The current political climate is highly charged. We are at the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
There is a tight Senate race going on, and the state could have a major influence on the presidential election. We're joined now by two members of Colorado's congressional delegation, Democrat Diana Degette, she's here with me in Boulder; Republican Tom Tancredo, he's in Denver.
Congresswoman Degette, to you first. Is it -- we know that President Bush is ahead in the polls here a little bit. Who is going to win this state?
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Well, it's neck and neck. It's been neck and neck for -- since we can remember. It's a battleground state.
I think it's a ground battle right now. Whoever can get out their ground troops, that is who is going to win. And right now I feel great about the way the Democrats are doing that.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Tancredo, a prediction?
REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: The president is going -- his numbers are going to increase. They are going to get better as time goes by, as was mentioned earlier. He's up today in the most recent polls. You know, this whole idea of Colorado as a battleground state, I'm really questioning who makes that decision, who really says, yes, that's the case. You know, we may not be beet red here, but we're definitely hot pink.
There's about 180,000 more -- 190,000 more Democrats -- more Republicans registered than Democrats. I think it's going to be a Republican year here all the way around. And certainly including for the president.
WOODRUFF: Well, I don't know if it's indicative, but Congresswoman Degette is wearing pink today.
DEGETTE: That's right.
WOODRUFF: Let's talk quickly about the Senate race. I see some Salazar signs back there. Is it Ken Salazar or Pete Coors in the Senate race?
DEGETTE: Well, the Salazar-Coors race is also neck-and-neck. It's going to be get out the vote.
I hope all of the Republicans listen to Tom Tancredo and just sit at home in their complacency and don't vote. The Democrats are jazzed up. There's at least 135,000 newly registered voters. We think most of them are Democrats. We think the polls have been all over the place this year, and it really is the ground war in the next two weeks.
WOODRUFF: If you've got that many new registered voters, Congressman Tancredo, how does that affect that Senate race?
TANCREDO: Well, that is a -- the Senate race is probably going to be closer than anything else. And it will go, I think, more in line of what happens at the presidential level.
As the president's numbers increase in Colorado, so will Mr. Coors' numbers increase in Colorado. And that one, it's a harder one to call, that's for sure. But the reality is, yes, there's been a lot of registration.
We don't know, as Diana says, that these are all Democrats. I don't think they really are. I mean, I think a significant portion are Republicans.
We are looking at younger people voting Republican and registering Republican in a far greater percentage than they ever were before. So, yes, we're getting a lot of voters. They are not all Democrats.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, what are the top issues on the minds of voters?
DEGETTE: Oh, the top issues are the same issues everywhere: national security, the economy and jobs. Here in Colorado, the environment is a very important issue. All of these are issues that, of course, the Democrats feel like Bush deserves an "F" and Kerry will lead us into a greater America.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Tancredo?
TANCREDO: Well, it's certainly true that -- I agree with Diana on the issues. But you know what trumps everything for almost everybody? That is national security.
Do you feel safer? Will you feel safer with a President Kerry than a President Bush? The answer is no. And I think Colorado will shout that out come November 2nd.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about this ballot initiative to change Colorado's electoral vote. Instead of being winner take all, it would be divided according to who got the most votes. What's going to happen to that? And should it pass?
DEGETTE: I don't know what will happen to it. I think we need to have a national debate on the electoral college.
I don't like the idea of Colorado being the only state to pass that. People say, well, if Bush wins, then Kerry would get some electoral votes. But of course, I'm hoping that Kerry will win Colorado and get all the electoral votes.
WOODRUFF: I guess at this point it's just Maine and Nebraska that have this kind of division.
Congressman Salazar (sic), how do you see it? What is going to happen to Proposition 36?
TANCREDO: Wrong congressman. Wrong congressman. This is Congressman Tancredo.
At any rate, the fact is that is going down like a sinking rock right now. I mean, it is -- and it is going to go down pretty bad. And every -- I think every single newspaper in the state has editorialized against it.
It is a lot of mischief being made by Democratic operatives, especially in California, hoping that they can -- trying to pick out a state where they think they can come in with some money, where it is not as expensive in the media market to get involved. Where there is -- it's pretty close in terms of the last election and where they can think is going to be close in this one. But really, it's a purpose, it's simply to make mischief by Democratic operatives.
Nobody in the state is supporting -- even the Democratic Party has become ambivalent. There isn't even a Democratic member. I'm glad to say Diana -- hear her say she is not supporting it anymore. I think the only paper I heard of that's supporting this is the "Boston Globe."
WOODRUFF: Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo -- I got it right. Congressman, thank you very much.
TANCREDO: Thank you. WOODRUFF: And Democratic Congresswoman Diana Degette.
It's good to see both of you. Thank you for letting us come visit the wonderful state of Colorado. Thank you very much. Good to see both of you.
DEGETTE: You, too.
WOODRUFF: Well, Democrats have won the latest round in the ongoing battle over redistricting in Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court today ordered a lower court to take another look at a plan that could give Republicans six more seats and a firmer hold on their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The decision won't affect the November elections, but any GOP gains could be wiped out if the plan ultimately is deemed unconstitutional. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was admonished recently by the House Ethics Committee for getting too involved in the case.
Social Security and the presidential race: both sides trying to capitalize on the issue. But where do they really stand? We'll take a look after the break.
WOODRUFF: A little enthusiasm. We like it here on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Well, while President Bush and Senator John Kerry zip across some crucial battleground states, the number two men, Dick Cheney and John Edwards, are on the road as well. The vice president met with community leaders in Charleston, West Virginia, this morning. And then he took part in a town hall meeting in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where he praised the Bush administration's handling of homeland security.
On Senator Edwards' schedule today stops in Florida and Pennsylvania. At a town hall meeting this morning in Fort Myers, Edwards accused President Bush of exploiting the 9/11 attacks for personal gain.
John Kerry has bounced pounced on a controversial quote from President Bush on Social Security, a quote published over the weekend. Our Jeanne Meserve has a closer look at the Social Security issue.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Boomers will bust Social Security, and the ever-combustible issue is burning hot. "The New York Times" magazine quotes President Bush as telling a group of supporters, "I'm going to come out strong after my swearing in with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing Social Security." The Bush campaign disputes the accuracy of the quote, but the Kerry campaign pounced. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth is coming out. George Bush has finally admitted that he tends to privatize Social Security in a second term.
MESERVE: Though a Bush campaign official says the president has never used the term "privatization," he has talked about the concept of partial privatization repeatedly.
BUSH: I believe that younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and put it in a personal savings account because I understand that they need to get better rates of return.
MESERVE: On the stump, Kerry tosses around statistics on the impact of the president's plan.
KERRY: The Congressional Budget Office, which is bipartisan, said that the president's plan will mean a 25 to 45 percent cut in benefits. It blows a $2 trillion hole in Social Security.
MESERVE: We went to the CBO. On the $2 trillion hole in the deficit...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The number's a plausible number. It's not our calculation.
MESERVE: As to the 25 to 45 percent benefit cut, it could be that high or much less, depending on factors, including how close you are to retirement age and how much money you make.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not untrue, but it is very selective.
MESERVE: Kerry ignores the president's assurances that he will not cut benefits for retirees or those near retirement. And what would the Democratic candidate do to address the looming crisis?
KERRY: I will never privatize Social Security. I'll never cut the benefits. And I won't raise the retirement age.
MESERVE: That, economists say, leaves Kerry with very narrow options of either raising taxes or borrowing a lot of money.
Neither candidate has spelled out the nitty-gritty specifics of their Social Security solution. And experts say that means neither man has completely leveled with the American electorate.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Well, we've been telling you we are on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Joining me now, two students who know something about the politics here on campus.
Travis Leiker is president of the College Democrats, Krista Poch is chairman -- chairwoman of the College Republicans.
Krista, to you first. What is the -- how much enthusiasm is there this year among students?
KRISTA POCH, CHAIRWOMAN, COLLEGE REPUBLICANS: There's a lot of enthusiasm. It's amazing. Both on the left and the right. The left may, they have a few more numbers here on Boulder campus, but it's amazing, and it's pretty contentious, too.
WOODRUFF: How contentious is it, Travis?
TRAVIS LEIKER, PRESIDENT, COLLEGE DEMOCRATS: Incredibly contentious. I mean, we have so many issues facing the student population, whether it be a woman's right to choose or the war in Iraq. And I would argue with Chairman Poch that the motivation and the enthusiasm on the left is much, much higher for us, rather than for...
WOODRUFF: Do you actually get into arguments and heated discussions?
POCH: We do a bit in class. It's not -- it's not personal attacks, but there are some very heated debates. We kind of have a -- the College Democrats and the College Republicans have had a serious of debates on campus, and those have been actually a lot of fun. And they're very, you know -- very low key, but...
LEIKER: But on a personal level, we get along really, really well.
POCH: Oh, yes.
WOODRUFF: Well, that's what we like to believe. We like to think that.
Just quickly, who is going to win, do you think, in the state of Colorado, Kerry or Bush?
LEIKER: Oh, Kerry, hands down. All nine electoral college votes.
WOODRUFF: Why did I expect you -- and Krista?
POCH: And of course, Bush, because, you know, historically it's a conservative state. So...
LEIKER: But it is changing to a Democratic state, blue state on November 2nd.
POCH: That's just Boulder.
WOODRUFF: All right. That's what they've been chanting. OK.
Travis Leiker is head of the College Democrats.
WOODRUFF: He's from Colorado. Krista Poch, she's head of the Republicans. And you're from Minnesota.
WOODRUFF: OK. It's great to talk to...
LEIKER: Another blue state.
POCH: A blue state.
WOODRUFF: It's great to talk to both of you. Thank you.
POCH: Thank you.
LEIKER: Thank you very much.
WOODRUFF: Well, we have much more ahead on presidential politics here in Colorado in the final half-hour of our on-campus coverage in Boulder. Could this state prove to be Floridaesque on Election Day? That, and two famous early voters tell us their not so surprising choice for president when we come back.
WOODRUFF: As the markets close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Lou Dobbs in New York for another installment of "The Dobbs Report." Hello, Lou.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Hi, Judy. Oil prices today dropping sharply. That news coming after OPEC said its production in September was the highest in 25 years. A barrel of crude oil down $1.26 today just below $54 a barrel.
That, however, will give little immediate relief to consumers. AAA says the average price of a gallon of gasoline has topped in fact $2 nearing the record high. That decline in oil prices did help lift stock prices as you see there.
This live picture of the board at the New York Exchange. The Dow Jones Industrials up 22.64. Even though 3M a Dow component fell sharply today. The Nasdaq is more than a percent higher on the day. 3M reporting its third quarter earnings up 17 percent but that missed Wall Street targets. 3M makes a broad line of consumer, industrial and health care products and some investors consider its results to be a good indicator of the overall health of the economy.
Meanwhile investors awaiting third quarter results from IBM. Those will be coming out shortly.
And now to a topic that we cover often on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," the subject tonight is outsourcing. A study by a government commission on the impact of outsourcing jobs to China confirms much of what we have been reporting for nearly two years. The numbers in this report are simply stunning.
The pace of jobs shifting to China has accelerated over the past three years. The commission expects another 100,000 jobs to move to China this year alone. But the commission expects more than 400,000 jobs to be sent overseas this year. That's double the number sent in 2001. Many of these jobs are being lost to Mexico, to India, and other Asian countries.
Coming up at 6:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" democracy at risk. We take a look at the biggest issues facing states and voters in this election. We investigate the increase in electronic voting and the vulnerability of the systems. Right now the country lacks a national standard for e-voting. Because of that there's growing concern we'll see even larger voter problems this year than at any time during the 2000 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROFESSOR AVI RUBIN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: We're just going to have a big controversy on our hands. I think that both parties are gearing up their teams of lawyers and I heard that some of the lawsuits have already been filed before any votes have been cast on the machines. It was just a terrible idea to move ahead with paperless electronic voting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The professor is right. Lawsuits have already been filed. More expected almost every day leading up to the election.
Also tonight, critics call him a potential spoiler. But his supporters say he is simply giving American voters what we all deserve. A real choice. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is my guest tonight.
And "Broken Borders" our special report tonight takes us to Temecula, California. We'll show you that town's efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.
And the Latino vote could be the difference in the outcome of this year's presidential election. "Latina" Magazine's editor Betty Cortina is our guest. Now back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Lou, you do have Ralph Nader on your program tonight. I know you have given some thought to the effect that he may have on this campaign.
DOBBS: His effect as you know, Judy, very well will be somewhat muted because the number of states where his signatures to put him on the ballot have been invalidated but in point of fact in nearly 30 states he could have at least a small impact. The problem is that Ralph Nader is talking about some very important issues that both of the party candidates, the principal candidates are not talking about, the influence of corporate America.
The fact that we need a lot of work in this country on environmental matters. He's bringing all these issues and more and focusing on trade for example. But he's been relegated to third party, diminished third party status.
WOODRUFF: If it is close, he could have an affect. Lou Dobbs, he'll be talking to Ralph Nader.
We'll be talking to Ralph Nader on your show, 6:00 Eastern. Thank you very much, Lou. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: So many polls -- but do they tell the same story?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it will be close. We have always seen the polls up, we've seen the polls down.
ANNOUNCER: We'll sift through the latest numbers in the race for the White House.
BUSH: I know it might surprise some to see a Republican presidential candidate in New Jersey in late October. The reason why I'm here, with your help we'll carry the state of New Jersey.
ANNOUNCER: President Bush stomps in New Jersey. Al Gore won big there. But is the Garden State now in play?
Colorado confusion. Could a little known initiative that would split the state's electoral votes alter the presidential contest?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...that makes the candidates come to us and talk.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from the CNN Election Express in Boulder, Colorado, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. The presidential candidates may be in the east today but we're out west at the University of Colorado at Boulder to get the lay of the land in one of several states that just may prove to be wild cards in the 2004 election. With just 15 days before the vote, there's been another round of presidential polls. As usual, our Bill Schneider has been crunching the numbers. Hi, Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The polls are shifting. Five national polls have been taken since the third and final debate last week. The CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows George W. Bush leading John Kerry by eight percentage points among likely voters. The "Newsweek" poll has Bush ahead by six. The latest ABC News/"Washington Post" tracking poll has Bush up by four. "Investor's Business Daily" also has Bush ahead by four. The "TIME" magazine poll shows a dead heat, 48-48.
Average the five polls and you get our poll of polls. It shows Bush 50 percent, Kerry 45 percent. That's a gain for Bush since last week's poll of polls which showed Bush just one point ahead. The end of the debates is a signal to many voters. Time to decide. What is moving many of them to Bush? Bush's gains have been strongest among three groups according to the CNN/"USA Today/Gallup poll. Voters under 50 where Bush has gained 12 points in the past week and now has a strong lead. Urban voters where Bush gained ten points and low income voters where Bush is now getting nearly half the vote.
Why are younger, poorer and more urban voters who can be relied on to favor the Democrat moving toward Bush? The answer in a word, terrorism.
BUSH: The choice we face in this election, the first presidential election since September 11. Our nation will defeat this threat.
SCHNEIDER: A week ago Bush had a 14-point lead over Kerry on who can better handle terrorism. His lead is now 25 points. Younger voters, many of whom are parents, tend to be very worried about terrorism. Urban and low income voters feel vulnerable because they live in large cities.
Among voters under 50, Bush's advantage on terrorism grew by 10 points. Among urban voters who saw Kerry as better on terrorism a week ago, Bush now has the lead as he does among low income voters. Republicans want to make this the 9/11 election. That may be happening.
(on camera): Younger, urban, and lower income voters traditionally favor Democrats on issues like jobs and health care. Kerry has a chance to win them back. How? By convincing them he's just as strong as Bush on terrorism and by getting them to focus on other issues, as well -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Bill, John Kerry was widely seen as winning the debates. Did that make any difference at all?
SCHNEIDER: The people we interviewed said he won all three debates by 42 to 36, I think it was -- or 42 to 30 they thought that Kerry won that last debate. So, why aren't they voting for him?
Well, about 22 percent of the voters say that they have no opinion about who won the debates. They didn't watch, or they didn't -- weren't moved one way or the other. And that constituency, more than one in five voters, is voting better than two to one for President Bush.
WOODRUFF: Very interesting. So, watching the debate made some difference. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.
President Bush and Senator Kerry are engaged in another long distance skirmish over national security this day. In Florida today, Kerry cited a leaked letter to the Pentagon from a general complaining of a lack of equipment in Iraq. Kerry said it's a sign that the truth about the Iraq war is beginning to catch up with the president. Bush, in turn, accused Kerry of having a dangerous pre-September 11th view of the world. Bush spoke in New Jersey, a state that is no longer appears to be a shoe-in for Kerry.
The president promised supporters in new Jersey that he would win the state on November 2nd. Is he being overly optimistic, or is New Jersey truly in play? Here's CNN's Jason Carroll.
BUSH: Oh, I know it might surprise some to see a Republican presidential candidate in New Jersey in late October.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What is surprising is how well the president seems to be doing in New Jersey. He addressed the issue that could be the reason why some in this traditionally Democratic state are leaning Republican.
BUSH: The war on terror -- there's no place for confusion and no substitute for victory.
CARROLL: The war on terror hits close to home here. Seven hundred victims of the terrorists attacks were from New Jersey. Some residents, like this man who voted for Al Gore in the last election, are undecided this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was at the Trade Center on 9/11. And I think it's affecting people and a little bit skewing the vote.
CARROLL: Polls show Bush has been gaining ground on Senator John Kerry in the past few weeks in New Jersey. One release Monday puts the race at a dead heat.
When asked in the poll what issue was most important, 44 percent said national security and the war on terror. Despite the polls, Democrats say the president's trip to south Jersey is really about the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think President Bush is trying to get a twofer by coming to south Jersey where he knows he's going to get Philadelphia television coverage. I don't really think it is showing an indication that they think New Jersey is in play.
CARROLL: But Republicans say the state is in play.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), FMR. MAYOR OF NEW YORK: They're not fighting in any of our states. We're fighting in their states.
CARROLL: But some pollsters say Kerry should win this state. A Bush presence this late adds pressure on Kerry.
MAURICE CARROLL, DIR. QUINNIPIAC POLL: At the least, the Bush visit ought to make the Kerry people work a little harder.
CARROLL (on camera): Senator Kerry has already been to New Jersey -- once during the campaign -- twice for Senator Edwards. Despite the polls, the campaign says there are no plans for Kerry to revisit before the election.
Jason Carroll, CNN, Hoboken, New Jersey.
WOODRUFF: Aren't those Rockies beautiful? Sorry about the audio problem just a moment ago.
You know, here in Colorado, a controversial proposal to amend the way the state awards its electoral votes to a presidential candidate is on the ballot. The latest poll numbers show that the amendment trails among likely voters by 14 points. But among registered voters, the margin is smaller. And if the amendment passes, it could have a major effect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is some information on the upcoming elections. This is on Amendment 36 -- one person, one vote.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): This is the story of the little amendment that could -- could renew a state's faith in democracy, or could plunge the entire nation into a post-election chaos of Floridian proportion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are tired of the system that we have. We want our votes to count.
WOODRUFF: Amendment 36 would do away with Colorado's winner- take-all system of awarding electoral votes. The state's nine electors would be divided among candidates based on the percentage of the popular vote they receive. Progressive populism, or...
ERIC SONDERMANN, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: It's a stupid idea.
WOODRUFF: Political consultant Eric Sondermann is leader of the opposition -- Coloradans for (sic) a Really Stupid Idea.
SONDERMANN: The idea for one state unilaterally disarming itself and voluntarily withdrawing from meaningful participation in the electoral college strikes us as foolish.
WOODRUFF: In all likelihood, he says, both major party candidates would scoop up four votes each, leaving them competing for just one lonely elector. Not exactly a huge prize. And Colorado's clout would be gone with the wind.
Still, why should one state's conundrum idea matter to the nation? Well, if Amendment 36 passes, it would take effect in this election. So, if election night's a squeaker and in the 13th hour Colorado divvies up its nine votes, lawyers here could be very busy, something on the order of Florida 2000. National reporters are already in a tizzy. But Coloradans don't seem all that interested. They're focused on dollars and cents ballot issues -- Amendment 35 to hike the tobacco tax; Amendment 37, a renewable energy measure.
But for Thaddeus Venar, who will play you anything as long as...
THADDEUS VENAR: It sounds really gorgeous.
WOODRUFF: ... Amendment 36 is a high note in a political process he sees as a succession of lows.
VENAR: It'll take clout away from Colorado, yes. But it will also cause a landslide. There will be other states that will do this, because the people don't like the electoral college.
WOODRUFF: Others temper idealism with realism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A winner take all is better. That makes the candidates come to us and talk. So, I'm probably going to go that way.
WOODRUFF: Sounding a different chord in a campaign lacking in harmony.
(on camera): That's the story here in Colorado.
Well, you know, Maine and Nebraska already use a system allowing for split electoral votes, but their formula is slightly different from the one being proposed in Colorado. In those states each congressional district carries one electoral vote.
There is still a lot more to say about the vote here in Colorado. Up next we're going to talk about the final days of this fall spectacular with a reporter who knows Colorado politics inside out.
WOODRUFF: For more insight into how the race is playing out in this battleground state of Colorado, we're joined by Dan Meyers, who is the national editor for "The Denver Post." You've got a little chorus behind you. Thank you for coming out to talk to me. How does the presidential race in this state stand right now?
DAN MEYERS, "DENVER POST": The polls are all over the map. Some polls have Bush up by even double digits. Others have them almost dead even. There's a poll out today that shows the president up by four or five percentage points. But the margin of error is almost the same so it is really hard to tell. We'll have a poll out in the middle of this week. So, we're eagerly waiting to see our results, too.
WOODRUFF: What is it several hundred thousand new voters have been registered since the last presidential election? What affect will that have?
MEYERS: Nobody knows. We're trying to figure it out. It is kind of scary actually how many of those are legitimate registrations. There have been a lot of voter fraud issues. We found thousands of felons who had been registered. They're not supposed to be able to vote so they're trying to sort that out. Are the new voters Republicans or Democrats? We're trying to sort that out. It remains to be seen how that will play.
WOODRUFF: What about in the Senate race here? How is that shaping up between Salazar the Democrat and the Coors the Republican?
MEYERS: It looks very close. The polls again show a very tight race on that. Salazar is a centrist Democrat who has won statewide election twice and carried a great majority of the state's counties. So, he's a very formidable opponent for Pete Coors but Pete Coors gives his name to the auditorium that you're in front of and he has a very popular beer here so not to underestimate that.
WOODRUFF: So, that one is close.
MEYERS: I think so.
WOODRUFF: A little earlier -- doubling back to the presidential race, why does Kerry even have a shot here? This was a state that was considered reliably Republican for a long time.
MEYERS: I think even Kerry is trying to figure that out. It should have been a Republican leaning state but the big issue in Colorado to understand is that about a third of the electorate is Independent. Republicans and Democrats and Independents split about a third, a third, a third, with Republicans with an edge.
If the Independents go Democratic which they could, then it's a very volatile state. The other issue briefly is that Salazar may pull in a larger Hispanic vote than usual and that could help Kerry.
WOODRUFF: One more to answer. Yes or no on the electoral vote proposition? What do you think?
MEYERS: Will it pass?
MEYERS: I don't know. I think -- I have to tell you the polls are against it right now. And no major Democratic leaders have come out in support of it and the Republicans have pretty organized opposition.
WOODRUFF: Not pinning him down. Dan Myers of the "Denver Post." Thank you so much for coming over to talk to me today. We appreciate it.
Former president Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush cast their ballots. So, who did they vote for? See if you can guess when we return. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WOODRUFF: We mentioned at the top of the show that early voting started today in Florida and here in Colorado. It is also underway today in Arkansas and in Texas where former president George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush cast their ballots. And no surprise upon leaving a polling station in Houston, the former president and first lady said they were honored to vote for their son.
Well, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS this Monday at the University of Colorado at Boulder and thanks to all the CNN staff who are making this show possible, keeping the sun out of my eyes. I'm Judy Woodruff.
"CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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