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CNNs Bill Press and Tucker Carlson in the "Spin Room"

November 1, 2000
6 p.m. EST

(CNN) CNN's political analysts Bill Press and Tucker Carlson "spin" the political news of the day.

Chat Moderator: Welcome back to CNN's Spin Room, Bill Press!

Bill Press: Good evening, everybody. This is the warm-up to the Spin Room.
So, get your e-mails in as soon as possible. And don't forget to offer us your nominations for spin of the day.

Question from GoreWillLose: Do you think Al Gore's only chance at winning this election is going to be to go negative in these last few days?

Bill Press: No, I don't think either one will go negative because it will backfire.
Too bad, I don't think this campaign has been nasty enough.

Question from Slagg: Why do the pundits keep saying this is a close race? Is it because the news people want to get people to keep watching?

Bill Press: It IS a close race, the closest since 1960. According to all the polls, it is a statistical dead heat. Anything could happen.

Question from Andy: What's the latest on the Electoral College numbers among likely voters and what are the swing states?

Bill Press: The latest electoral numbers I saw put it at about 220 each, and you need 270 to win. Now, some people are already talking about the possibility that one could win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote. And there are also predictions that the Electoral College could end up in a tie, in which case the House elects the next president. Who says it's not a close race?

Question from Dylan: Why doesn't either candidate address the basic problems brought up in Ralph Nader's new ad? They pick easy issues.

Bill Press: Bush won't attack Nader, because he wants Nader to do well. Gore is having surrogates attack Nader, and I think some of their arguments are starting to sink home. My guess is that a lot of so-called Nader voters will get cold feet at the last minute, not wanting to hand the nation over to "Dubya."

Question from Adam: Was it a mistake for Joe Lieberman not to give up his Senate seat?

Bill Press: No, I don't think so. After all, Gore may not win. And Lieberman wants to stay in the Senate rather than practice law. I don't believe that one seat will determine the future of the Senate. It will be close, but not that close.

Question from LionsDen: Will the Democrats boost in the Missouri Senate race following Carnahan's death tip the state to Gore?

Bill Press: It could very well. It looks like Mel Carnahan, even deceased, will beat John Ashcroft. Imagine the embarrassment of losing to a dead man! Those who vote for Carnahan will vote for Gore.

Question from Apathetic: Do you think that because the Republicans have effectively claimed the centrist position in America, it will force the Democrats LEFT in 2004?

Bill Press: That's what Nader wants; that's why he's running, and he's wrong. I hate to admit it, being a lefty, but if the Democratic Party abandons the middle, it will lose, lose, lose. Plus, I disagree that the GOP Party has moved to the center. They're still far right wing. George Bush just pretends to be otherwise. Take it from me, former California Democratic chairman. Bush will NOT carry California.

Question from DeathNova: Do you believe that Bush will carry California as a result of his last minute campaigning, as well as Nader stealing Democratic votes?

Bill Press: There is no way California will vote for an anti-choice, pro-gun, pro-oil candidate for president. Bush is everything California is not.

Question from Scott: Mr. Press, where do you think Florida will swing? Will Jeb Bush pull it out for his brother?

Bill Press: Jeb Bush can't pull it out for his brother. George has to win Florida on his own, and I don't think he will. The senior vote in Florida is key, and seniors don't trust Bush on Social Security or prescription drugs.

Question from Billybob: Why is the race so close?

Bill Press: I think it's so close because neither candidate has done a good job of closing the sale. Bush is likeable, but weak on the issues. Gore is stiff, but strong on the issues. Voters can't make up their minds what they want -- a nice guy or an effective guy. I go for experience. I don't have to love him; I just want to make sure he can do the job.

Question from Truth: Why does Nader attack Al Gore much more than Bush?

Bill Press: You always hurt the ones you love. Plus, Nader is pd that the Democratic Party - i.e., Clinton and Gore - haven't done EVERYTHING he has asked them to. For people like Nader, you can never be good enough. They drive me CRAZY!

Comment from Gatorjim: It seems to me both Gore and Bush are forgetting about the lower-income Americans.

Bill Press: You're right, there is not much discussion about lower-income Americans - except that both have provisions for assisting them in their tax plans - because their record of voter turnout is so low. Seniors vote most, so they get most of the attention.

Question from Vince1: With the economy seemingly sliding, are there any Democrats hoping George W. will win so we could have another one-term Bush?

Bill Press: No, that's too far-fetched. Plus, the economy is NOT sliding. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported today that, based on the power of the Dow and the history of the Dow, the market says that GORE will be elected.

Question from Billybob: Why haven't the Democrats brought up the fact that the "real Republican Party" is Lott and Armey, etc., etc.

Bill Press: I don't know. Once in a while you hear it, but not often. And notice how George Bush has distanced himself from Armey, Lott and DeLay. Hillary says it best: a vote for Bush is a vote for Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Dan Burton and all that mean crowd on Capitol Hill.

Comment from Rcowboy: I feel that the Democrats have not moved to the center, rather they just say what is needed to get elected and then continue with the left agenda. The only reason that some middle-of-the-road issues got approved is due to a split government.

Bill Press: Sorry, you are wrong. Welfare reform is definitely a centrist issue - on which liberals like me are strongly opposed. Same with other things Clinton has done, like the stupid don't-ask, don't-tell policy. Clinton governs more like a moderate Republican than a liberal Democrat.

Question from Gatorjim: Mr. Press, what do both candidates need to do to CLOSE the sale?

Bill Press: That's a good question, but deserving a long answer, which we don't have time for. Here's my best quick shot: Gore has to convince people that, while they may not like his style, he's the only one with the qualifications for the job. Bush has to convince people his inexperience doesn't matter. Hell surround himself with good people, and hes basically a good guy - unlike DeLay, Armey, etc. - so they can trust him. Tough job for both. SPIN OF THE DAY? Get your nominations in now!

Question from Brian: The average of the major tracking polls shows Bush with a six-point lead. Stuart Rothenberg termed that type of lead as comfortable. Aren't you really kidding yourself that the race is tight?

Bill Press: You're kidding yourself if you think it's NOT close. Stuart may have been citing one poll, but there are many polls, and most of them show it within two or three votes. Certainly neither candidate is taking it for granted nor coasting to the finish line.

Question from LaDiva-CNN: Mr. Press, however, if elected, do you see Mr. Bush allying with the Armey-DeLay faction?

Bill Press: Absolutely. Bush is one of them. They're all from Texas, remember?
Bush is a lot more conservative than he pretends to be. In fact, because he is so inexperienced, they will CONTROL him and his agenda.

Question from Vince1: Doesn't it seem that the split government we have has been successful because they balance the extreme elements in both parties?

Bill Press: I actually think a split government IS a good idea. So, since it looks like the Senate will stay Republican, we should elect a Democrat to the White House.

Question from Diane: Where are Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell? Is the public being deceived into thinking the religious right is no longer interested in this election?

Bill Press: The religious right is VERY much interested in this election. They are working full time for Bush; they're just keeping it quiet because they know they turn people off. And Bush is promising them the moon but not telling anybody.

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Bill Press.

Bill Press: Got to go, folks. See you in the Spin Room!

Election 2000

Chat Moderator: Welcome back to CNN's Spin Room, Tucker Carlson.

Tucker Carlson: Glad to be here. Thanks

Question from Kgarguilo: Would it ever be possible for people to realize how mathematically meaningless polls are when the race is close? All you know is that the race is close. Period.

Tucker Carlson: That's true, except when one candidate leads consistently. There is no margin of error on Election Day. I don't know. When are we?

Question from Dylan: Why doesn't either candidate address the basic problems brought up in Ralph Nader's new ad? They pick easy issues.

Tucker Carlson: Of course Nader picks easy issues. He's not going to win, so there's nothing at stake, nothing for him to lose.

Question from Concerned: Mr. Carlson, what is your position on the quality of leadership each candidate can provide and why?

Tucker Carlson: It's impossible to predict the issues a president will face, so character and temperament matter. Honesty is important. So is calm in crisis. I'd also like to think the president is a decent person.

Question from CFA: How is the escalation of violence in the Mideast going to affect this election?

Tucker Carlson: It has not had any obvious effect so far, and unless something very dramatic happens, it probably won't. Which is weird, I agree.

Question from LaDiva-CNN: Mr. Carlson, there's speculation that in a very close electoral race, there could be a problem regarding Mr. Cheney. He may have claimed a Texas homestead exemption and not met Wyoming residency requirements. Will it be a close enough race to be concerned about this?

Tucker Carlson: I don't know if that is true. Even if it is, it's hard to see how it would move votes.

Question from Treesab: Which candidate's Social Security plan has a better chance of passing through the House and Senate, and which would give me more money for retirement -- Bush's private investing or Gore's plan to match personal savings?

Tucker Carlson: Depends how you expect the market will do. The president who works best with Congress -- pretty evenly divided -- will get his plan through -- or parts of it.

Question from Vince: How can Bush say he is for smaller government when he promises to spend more money on just about every issue that comes up?

Tucker Carlson: Great question. It's hard to make both arguments at the same time, as he has. I think it has worked for Bush because he is asking voters to contrast him with Gore, who will certainly increase the size of government.

Question from JustBrowsing: Will the final days see a shift to character credibility rather than the issues being the focus of both campaigns?

Tucker Carlson: These are the final days. Bush's message won't change. Who knows what Gore will do?

Question from Wheels: The economy is showing "cracks" in its long-standing façade. If things begin to go negative in terms of the economy, do you think it could be a late campaign issue?

Tucker Carlson: It takes months for a downturn to become obvious. It will not be an issue.

Question from Clickvic: Regardless of which party wins, do you think this election will bring an end to soft money?

Tucker Carlson: I hope not. I love soft money.

Question from MsWrite: Is the race as close as they say it is, or is that propaganda from the left-leaning media to get the Democratic vote out?

Tucker Carlson: Even the evil media doesn't control the polls, which I think are accurate. But things tend to break one way in the last three days. I predict Bush will win by three points or more.

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Tucker Carlson.

Tucker Carlson: Thanks so much. See you on the Spin Room.

Bill Press and Tucker Carlson joined the chat via telephone from Washington, D.C. The above is an edited transcript of that chat, which took place on Wednesday, November 1, 2000.

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