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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP



HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN



JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,


ELEANOR CLIFT AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL



TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2000


BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 22-23, 2000



.STX



 


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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: "To Veep or not To Veep."



GOVERNOR GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX): (From videotape.) But I have no lists, and I won't for a while.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the governor, denying that he has a list of vice presidential running mates. Don't worry, he is not in denial. He really does have a list. So does Al Gore. A smart vice presidential choice can tip the balance, and they know it, especially if election 2000 is close and dirty. And all signs point to, yes, it will be such.



So in this year's selection process, key factors will be painstakingly weighed:



One, succession. A vice president must be someone who can easily assume command, if necessary, and so presents himself to the electorate.



Two, geography. Picking someone from an electoral-rich and highly competitive state, a so-called battleground state, can sway voters who live there. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Illinois are battlegrounds.



Three, ideology. A running mate that is further to the right or further to the left of the presidential candidate can balance the ticket for maximum voter appeal.



Four. Military service. A running mate with it is a plus, especially for the future commander-in-chief, who has zero armed services experience.



Five. Age. Older, to counterbalance the presidential candidate's younger age or vice versa, and thus pulling voters across the spectrum. Also, older, stereotypically, means wise. Younger means "with it."



Six. Race. For targeting ethnic or racial voting blocs.



Seven. Gender. A woman running mate helps win female votes.



Eight. Religion. A Catholic on the ticket pulls in Catholic voters, a Jew, Jewish voters. Of course, the downside is that anti-Catholics and anti-Semites are also activated.



Keeping in mind these criteria, here are five potential Republican vice presidential candidates, names listed in order of frequency of media mention: John McCain; Tom Ridge, Pennsylvania governor; Christine Todd Whitman, New Jersey governor; Colin Powell; Elizabeth Dole. Question: These are the five most-mentioned potential Republican vice presidential candidates. Start with John McCain, Michael Barone.



MR. BARONE: Well, John, the fact is, John McCain says he's not going to do it and I'd take him at his word. He misses one of the chief qualifications, which is "does not go off reservation."



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, do you feel that way about -- do we all feel that way about John McCain?



MS. CLIFT: He lacks even one subservient gene, which you have to have to be a vice president. (Laughter.) And Colin Powell is not going to do it; he's enjoying private life way too much.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Way too much. What about Tom Ridge, and -- do you have thoughts on Tom Ridge? I ask you, Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: I do. Tom Ridge is a very impressive man. He comes from a key state, Pennsylvania, that could go either way. He is choice on abortion, although moderately so, and that may be a problem, it may not be. He would be a very strong candidate. He comes from blue collar, he's got a Vietnam war record and he's a wonderful guy. I think he would grow on the American public.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you have touched on a very sensitive point, and let's take a little closer look at it, and that is Tom Ridge's view on abortion. He's a Catholic, but he's for free choice, is that correct?



MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, but he contains it a little bit.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, take a look at what's on the screen now with regard to the conditions that he lays down for abortion: No partial birth abortion; he would support a ban on such. Parental consent needed by minors who seek an abortion; waiting periods are needed, a 24-hour waiting period, after women are informed about the risks of abortion and the probable gestation age of the fetus; and finally, no taxpayer funding. Do you think that that collection of conditions nuances his position to the point where George Bush could comfortably select Tom Ridge?



MR. O'DONNELL: I think it could. But the thing about this list, John, this five, these are the winning choices. If Bush picks any one of these people, Elizabeth Dole, especially Colin Powell, whom he should obviously be begging, he's really in a position to win on the basis of choosing his vice presidential choice because it will move him somewhat to the left of where he is now, at least in image terms.



MS. CLIFT: Well --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's take a little closer look at Colin Powell, can we? And take into consideration he's a very unlikely candidate.



MS. CLIFT: Right.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, he presumably would pull some of the black population. That's about 13 percent of the country and 8 percent of those votes, but he is also not universally regarded highly by blacks because he's a Republican. So we figure he -- that nets out to about 3.5 or 4 percent vote from the blacks. But does he also muddle an already ideologically confused ticket? This is what I'm reading from the source. Powell is a classic liberal; his liberalism will cause G.W. to lose more GOP conservative voters to Buchanan than he brings with African American votes. (Cross talk.) So that Powell -- Powell is arguably a plus. What do you think of that logic?



MR. O'DONNELL: Colin Powell makes it a landslide for George W. Bush. There would be lines -- long lines of people eager to vote for Colin Powell.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with that?



MR. BLANKLEY: Well, right now he has about a 76/6 approval/ disapproval rating, so he's one of the most admired men in the country. The danger --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So he's a universal plus.



MR. BLANKLEY: The danger for George W. is that he could get overshadowed by his vice presidential nominee.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see him as -- Powell as a universal plus?



MR. BARONE: I see Powell as a universal plus, but Mrs. Powell, Alma Powell, apparently has stamped her foot down and said that, you know, that she's against his running, she feels her husband has served his country and endured risk and peril --



MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I'd take Colin Powell --



MR. BARONE: -- sufficiently, at that, and she doesn't want him to run, and I'd take him at his word.



MS. CLIFT: I'd take Colin Powell at his word. He's not going to be number two to George W. Bush, but he might be interested in secretary of State or secretary of Defense, and if they can get that commitment from him, he'll be campaigning as a future member of the Cabinet with Bush.



MR. BARONE: He'll come out in campaign ads.



MS. CLIFT: Right.



MR. BLANKLEY: Don't underestimate the value of McCain on the ticket. I have seen polling. The congressional Republicans have done polling that shows him a very strong appeal. And even though he said he doesn't want to, he would be a very strong choice.



MR. O'DONNELL: McCain's a winning choice for Bush, absolutely. And this idea that McCain is a renegade is a very new thing. He has been a very agreeable guy in the Senate for most of his career and not a troublesome chairman, in any way, to the leadership. He knows how to be a number two.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he gets along well with his peers?



MR. O'DONNELL: Absolutely. In that job --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you explain the fact that 38 out of 42 voted for, or chose to support, Governor Bush, even though they know very little bit about Bush and they know a lot about McCain?



MR. O'DONNELL: That happens all the time. They were going with the best-financed candidate. You had two senators by the way, run against Bill Clinton for the nomination in '92, and they might have gotten four endorsements from senators along the way.



MS. CLIFT: Yeah. I must say --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know the comments of people like Senator Bennett of Utah, who is regarded universally I think, as a man of restraint --



MR. O'DONNELL: He is.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and wisdom; do yo know about this remarks to McCain from the Senate floor, saying, "Why are you charging me with corruption because I accept campaign funding?"



MR. BARONE: John? John, I think --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you recall -- are you aware --



MR. O'DONNELL: Oh, that was not a particularly strange moment from --



MS. CLIFT: Right.



MR. BARONE: John, I think he is a guy that goes off the reservation. And I think you are going to have three or four news cycles between a convention pick of John McCain and a November general election in which the news cycle --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before --



MR. BARONE: -- (inaudible) -- the disagreement between --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- before we move out, I want to talk about Elizabeth Dole. What about her pluses and minuses? And is she --



MS. CLIFT: If a gender gap open up, between now and the convention and polls show that she moves five or six points, she'll be on the ticket. Otherwise, I don't see personal chemistry between Bush and Dole.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who are her core supporters, Republican women? Does it go beyond that?



MR. BLANKLEY: Yes. She has independents and Democrats.



MS. CLIFT: Well, she is an establishment candidate, yes.



MR. BLANKLEY: She has a similar profile to the McCain supporters.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does her lackluster primary showing rule her out?



MR. BARONE: Well, she didn't even make it to the primary season. She quit before the primaries.



MR. BLANKLEY: It doesn't rule her out. But you always want to have had a good campaign season. She did not have a particularly good season.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michael has correctly pointed out that she didn't make the primaries.



MR. : (Inaudible.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's say campaign showing. All right?



MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- in a vice presidential --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Five more frequent Republican mentions: John Kasich, retiring Ohio representative; Chris Cox, California representative; Fred Thompson, Tennessee senator; George Pataki, New York governor; Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin governor. Which of these mentions is realistic, I ask you, Lawrence?



MR. O'DONNELL: I don't think any of them are realistic. I don't think they can help Governor Bush in any way in this campaign. I think the first five is the real group, with also the possibility of someone like Pete Domenici, a senior member of the Senate, who is very steady and would be a great debater. But I don't think any of these guys.



MS. CLIFT: Well, I disagree.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chris Cox's name -- Chris Cox of California's name is mentioned frequently, Eleanor. Do you think that's a --



MS. CLIFT: I actually think that Chris Cox would be a fascinating choice, and he would not go for the geographical slot because I don't believe Bush is going to even contest California. But he's young, he's smart, he is technology-oriented. And I think he could capture the country's attention.



I also think John Kasich is getting more real. Bush likes him; there is good chemistry. He has got a lot -- (laughs) -- of energy --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He is Catholic.



MS. CLIFT: -- sometimes too much.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He is Catholic.



MS. CLIFT: And Ohio --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He is solid with the conservatives.



MS. CLIFT: -- right -- and Ohio is a battleground state, and it's going to come down to who can bring you some of these serious states.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he look like he could take over, however?



MR. BARONE: Does he look like he -- well, I think one of the problems is John Kasich has a very young-looking persona.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.



MR. BARONE: He was born -- he is 50 years old this year. He looks much younger than that. That was one of Day Quayle's --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see him as a solid -- is he a solid net-plus?



MR. BARONE: I think you have also got a problem there, does he have foreign-policy experience? Chris Cox, who is the author of the bipartisan unanimous Cox report, has somewhat more.



MR. BLANKLEY: Well, but Kasich is very well informed on defense issues. You know, from the budget point of view that he has focused over the years, he has more knowledge on the defense, which inevitably gets him into foreign policy because you have to know what kind of weapons to use. So he has that qualification.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Senator Thompson -- Fred Thompson's gravitas so evident that it might put into eclipse what is George Bush's situation?



MR. BARONE: Well, not if he campaigns the way he did, in 1994, in the red pickup truck that he drove throughout Tennessee. I'd like to see the pickup truck cut back --



MR. O'DONNELL: Remember, Senator Thompson -- a first-term senator -- he is a senator of no accomplishments, so far. George W. Bush's problem is that he needs on the number-two spot, someone who is of very large accomplishment.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct. Also --



MR. O'DONNELL: And his resume is too thin.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, Thompson was very active in his support of John McCain.



What about Pataki? I am very surprised that you, Michael, who have some insight into this, don't realize that he would be a great play, ideologically, for Bush. Both are soul mates, as far as ideology is concerned. It makes New York competitive. He is well-known to the media. He has no skeletons. He makes great sense as a veep selection.



MR. BARONE: He overlapped with George W. Bush. Yeah, but the fact is he has engaged in pretty rough tactics as the head of the New York Republican Party. We saw some of that during the primary season when he tried to --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That shows he has edge. (Laughter.)



MR. BARONE: The fact is, John, none of these people is ideal. What both parties would like is a Hispanic woman from a Great Lakes state with a big family and foreign policy experience -- (laughter) --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.



MR. BARONE: -- and she's not -- if she's listening, she should write to the Republican or Democratic National Committee. They are looking for you.



MR. BLANKLEY: So there's one big fact about Pataki. He's not going to deliver New York to the Republican ticket.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't know that.



(Cross talk.)



MR. O'DONNELL: And Pataki --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please.



(Cross talk.)



MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If Rudy runs strong, that will help Pataki, and Pataki will only help Rudy.



MS. CLIFT: But Rudy's not running strong. (Laughs.)



MR. BLANKLEY: If New York goes Republican, it's going to be a Republican landslide.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, still more Republican mentions. John Ashcroft, Missouri senator; John Engler, Michigan governor; Connie Mack, retiring Florida senator; Dick Cheney, former secretary of Defense; Frank Keating, Oklahoma governor. Which of these mentions is realistic, I ask you, Tony?



MR. BLANKLEY: Well, there's some -- Keating is a very impressive guy. He comes from Oklahoma, a relatively small state. He's a very -- he's a charming fellow, he's very smart, he's the head of the Republican governors.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's -- what geographic diversifications does Frank Keating, whom I personally admire, bring? Will you please tell me?



MR. BLANKLEY: Well, not a lot, I mean, Oklahoma is like the --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he known nationally?



MR. BLANKLEY: A little bit, but I'm sure his name is relatively known. He's had some visibility over the last couple of years, but is not yet a known figure.



Connie Mack, by the way, who is retiring from the Senate; now, Florida, and presumably Bush doesn't need Florida, but Connie Mack is a very appealing guy and I think he would make a nice mix in a stylistic way with Bush.



MS. CLIFT: And they could talk baseball together.



MR. BLANKLEY: Which is the American pastime.



MR. O'DONNELL: Dick Cheney brings you the experience that the ticket needs, though, John. Dick Cheney brings you the foreign policy experience and the defense experience that the ticket needs.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about health?



MR. BARONE: His health has been fine.



MR. O'DONNELL: His health is adequate for these purposes.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A little heart disease there?



MR. O'DONNELL: Well, Bill Bradley's problem --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that the Bradley -- is that the Bradley difficulty?



MR. O'DONNELL: But it's also the President Bush problem. It's not that serious.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think it hurt Bradley?



MR. BLANKLEY (?): Yes.



(Cross talk.)



MR. O'DONNELL: It did hurt Bradley on the campaign, but --



MS. CLIFT: I don't think that Cheney is --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So that is a problem.



MS. CLIFT: Dick Cheney's success --



(Cross talk.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, now, Connie Mack is a solid choice, but he's unexciting. Who else is there? Let's move on. I'm tired of the Republicans. (Laughter.)



Democrats! Running mates for Gore.



MS. CLIFT: Okay.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here are five potential Democratic vice presidential candidates, names listed in order of frequency of media mention: Bob Graham, Florida senator; Dick Durbin, Illinois senator; Dianne Feinstein, California senator; Bill Richardson, Energy senator -- Energy secretary; Evan Bayh, Indiana senator. Question: these are the five most-mentioned Democrat vice presidential candidates. Start with Bob Graham. Michael Barone?



MR. BARONE: Well, he's a very smart guy. Al Gore is at least making a feint at carrying, or try to carry, Florida, which is not totally implausible. Polls show that with Graham he'd have it, and Graham gets you out of this Clinton fatigue problem. He's a guy with total integrity and widely respected for that and personal probity, which Al Gore needs a little help in that side.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A modest -- Graham is a modest gain, at most, and Bush does not need --



MR. BARONE: A very able man.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- excuse me, Gore does not need Graham to carry --



MS. CLIFT: I think -- I think Graham is psychological warfare at this point. I don't think he's a real choice. I think Bill Richardson is on the short list. He's got a range of government experience; he even managed to extract a hostage from Saddam Hussein. He's got foreign policy knowledge. If gas prices go up too high this summer, that's not good.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dick Durbin, I ask you, Lawrence, is too liberal and he shifts the center of gravity of the ticket too much to the left, true or false?



MR. O'DONNELL: Well, he's not particularly dynamic, either. All the smart money is on Evan Bayh, the number five name on that list, including, some of the other people on the short list strongly believe that it's going to be Evan Bayh.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Bayh is a terrific person and I've interviewed him on my other incisive and, in fact, if you don't mind my saying so, brilliant show, "One on One." However -- however, my question is, what does he bring geographically?




MR. BLANKLEY: Well, he brings Indiana, which --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Indiana.



MR. BLANKLEY: -- which is a state that Democrats otherwise have very little chance of winning, but he also was a very successful tax cutter as a Democratic governor of that state. He has a great deal of experience to bring to the ticket. He doesn't bring you anything on foreign policy, which is --



(Cross talk.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Indiana is -- Indiana is off limits for the Democrats, really.



MS. CLIFT: I think Evan Bayh is somebody Al Gore would like to have as a governing partner. I think he doesn't bring Indiana, which is a Republican state, and it takes a Democratic seat out of the Senate.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about --



(Cross talk.)



MR. O'DONNELL: There's a Democratic -- there's a Democratic governor to replace that senator.



MS. CLIFT: Only if -- only if Gore -- (cross talk) -- only if Gore is in a strong position going into that convention can he pick someone who is a virtually -- clone of himself.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clearly, the most likely veep choice is Bill Richardson. He helps Gore terrifically in the Southwest, isn't that true?



MR. BARONE: Well, John -- John --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's Hispanic. He's Hispanic.



MR. BLANKLEY: Half. He's half Hispanic, which is probably his strong point, and he's got a lot of experience. I want to go back to Evan Bayh. I think that Gore is going to pick something, try to make a dramatic choice, not a bland choice, and that works against someone like Bayh, who is an excellent person for the job, but I just think Gore is going to want to go with someone like a Feinstein or something.



MS. CLIFT: We should also point out -- we should also point out the Republicans go first, and Al Gore has the luxury of --



(Cross talk.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. More Democratic possibilities. Bill Bradley; Joe Lieberman, Connecticut senator; Gray Davis, California governor; Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland lieutenant governor; George Mitchell, former Maine senator and majority leader. Question: Which of these mentions is realistic? I ask you, Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: Well, I don't think any of them are going to be on the list. George Mitchell would be a very good choice, as would Bill Bradley, but I don't think they're going to make the list, John. Again, I think Evan Bayh is the front runner, and then there are some others that are on the short list, but none of these.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm amazed that you did not mention Gray Davis, the wonderful governor of California.



MR. O'DONNELL: He just won the governorship of California. He's raised a tremendous amount --



MR. BARONE: Gray Davis has said very strongly that he doesn't want the job, and I must say I take him at his word. He's proved to be, as Lawrence said, a very successful governor, a very --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm sorry, I don't take him at his word. I don't take him at his word. I think it's a reasonable "out" in case he's not -- you know, typical --



MR. BARONE: I think Gray Davis has decided he wants --



MR. O'DONNELL: It doesn't help the party to remove Gray Davis from the governorship of California.



MR. BLANKLEY: I'll tell you one that I think is interesting in that list, and it's Joe Lieberman, because given that you've got a character problem with the Clinton-Gore connection, you've got Lieberman as the first one to step out as a Democrat and condemn morally Clinton's conduct. And if Gore judges he needs that kind of -- (inaudible), Lieberman would be the --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Gore needs an electoral lock on California, and Davis delivers it to him.



MS. CLIFT: No. He's got an electoral lock on California without Gray Davis. Connecticut actually is a swing state, and Lieberman would be the first Jewish person on a major ticket.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend?



MS. CLIFT: She's a rising star in the party.



MR. BARONE: But the idea of a --



MS. CLIFT: Let me finish, please!



MR. : (Inaudible.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish!



MS. CLIFT: She's the young Kennedy and the clean Kennedy, and she's got a bright political future. But she's only a lieutenant governor, and she is open to charges she's not credentialed.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the same problem that I mentioned earlier in another connection, she pulls the center of gravity too much to the left; or does she? I ask you.



MR. O'DONNELL: She would pull it a little too much to the left. It's an unwise choice at this stage.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's a good, solid liberal. Is she a dull campaigner? I hear she is.



MR. BARONE: Well, the fact is she's an interesting, intelligent person, and on some issues, of crime and things, she's not necessarily on the left, but --



MS. CLIFT: And she's tough on crime. She's not --



MR. BARONE: -- the idea of a lieutenant governor --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're way over, way over. We've been just blathering here.



MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughter.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, still more Democratic mentions. Bob Kerrey retiring Nebraska senator; Jim Hunt, North Carolina governor; Russ Feingold, Wisconsin senator; Franklin Raines, former OMB director and current Fannie Mae CEO, a black American; Dennis Archer, Detroit, Michigan, mayor. Question: Which of these mentions is realistic? I ask you, Lawrence O'Donnell.



MR. O'DONNELL: Bob Kerrey is very realistic. He is on the short list. You don't lose your Democratic senator, because he will be leaving the Senate anyway. So he's the most realistic on that list.



MR. BLANKLEY: He's the only realistic one on that list.



MR. O'DONNELL: And by the way, he gives you that position of having not been -- as Lieberman, you know, not supportive of Clinton --



MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Kerrey is very much not a Clinton guy and would be a very impressive -- Republicans would fear a Kerrey nomination.



MR. BARONE: John, I think Jim Hunt, the governor of North Carolina, has been a very effective governor. He would add a sort of more moderate anchor to the ticket. His personal life --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's not a well-known national figure.



MR. BARONE: You become one if you become vice president, and I think that he's got --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony told you that Gore's going to pick somebody exciting. (Laughter.)



MR. BARONE: Let me throw one other name into the mix because you talked about --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You heard it here!



MR. BARONE: -- Richardson for the Hispanic nomination; I think a better shot for an Hispanic would be Congressman Bob Menendez of New Jersey. He never had breakfast with Monica Lewinsky, the away that Bill Richardson did. He's not associated with higher gas prices. And he's a politically --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about Dennis Archer? A dramatic choice, Dennis Archer? Any scandals in that administration?



MR. BARONE: No scandals. He's been a very good mayor.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not him personally, but what about that city and that administration?


MR. BARONE: He has done a good job in Detroit and really helped the city come back. The question is whether he is ready for national prime time. He's an able man. I don't know if he --



MS. CLIFT: Nobody on that last list of five is realistic, but since we're talking sort of unrealistically, how about Bob Rubin? He's been mentioned, as well. If you want to underscore the claim on the economy, why not?



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bob Rubin. Boy, there's a real flame-thrower for you, huh? (Laughter.) Electricity.



MS. CLIFT: I'd put my money in --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Raw electricity, right there.



Exit: Who will be the Democratic and Republican running mates? I ask you, Michael Barone.



MR. BARONE: Well, I'd say Dick Cheney and Bob Menendez, two real long-shots.



MS. CLIFT: Oh, I'll go for Tom Ridge and Secretary Richardson.



MR. BLANKLEY: Guessing, McCain and Bayh.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain and Bayh. McCain?! You don't think McCain's too much of a loose cannon for George Bush?



MR. BLANKLEY: If he's a winner, he's usable.



MR. O'DONNELL: I agree on Bayh for the Democrats, and I think McCain is very possible, but I think I will bet on Ridge at this point.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the Republican side, a governor, New York, George Pataki. On the Democratic side, a governor, Gray Davis, California.



When we come back, what is the overriding consideration in choosing a Veep?



(Announcements.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: What's the overriding consideration in choosing a Veep? Michael Barone?



MR. BARONE: That he or she does not go off the reservation in the campaign or the administration.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: That he or she is credible standby equipment, would make a believable president. Secondly, it's a cold-blooded exercise: Who helps you win? But credibility first.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These are close answers, but they're not exact.



MR. BLANKLEY: The best answer is the same as for a doctor: Do no harm. Think of Quayle. Think of Ferraro. Think of Nixon in '52. Just pick someone who won't hurt you.



MR. O'DONNELL: The vice presidential debate is essentially a one-hour debate. That's the entire campaign for the vice president, and so the debating strength will be the most importantly weighed --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Actually, the correct answer is Tony's answer. Politician, do no harm. A vice presidential choice, if erroneous, can drag down a campaign.



We'll be right back with predictions.



(Announcements.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Michael?



MR. BARONE: Bill Clinton will pardon himself, already has, and bring it out if and when he's indicted after he leaves office.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's going to pardon himself?



MR. BARONE: Sure.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.) Well, I'll be on the other side of that. He won't pardon himself.



But my real prediction is that Congress will pass normal trade relations with China.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?



MS. CLIFT: Really. (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very audacious.



MR. BLANKLEY: Republicans will pass minor gun control.



MR. O'DONNELL: The Republican tax bill, if it passes the Congress, will not eliminate the marriage penalty.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For two weeks in May, six of the nine planets of our solar system will be in alignment. Many predict a catastrophic shift in he polarity of the Earth, wiping out most of mankind. I predict this catastrophe will not occur. (Laughter.)



MS. CLIFT: (Laughing.) Right.



MR. BLANKLEY: Thank God.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Happy Easter. Bye-bye!



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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Brutalizing or uplifting?



Is capital punishment deepening a divide between Europe and the United States? At first glance, no, but a closer look reveals the fissures are evident and deep. All over Europe the U.S. program of capital punishment is seen as blood lust, rather than justice.



Italian clothier Benetton has used American death-row inmates as poster boys, pleading their case to the global theater.



German candy maker Haribo is being heavily lobbied to pull all commercial interests out of the U.S. until convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal receives a stay of execution.



Texas is a particular sore spot for activists, and American assurance from that quarter does nothing to relieve their capital punishment angst.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX): (From videotape.) Because I'm confident that every person that has been put to death in Texas under my watch has been guilty of the crime charged.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The capital punishment issue is clearly back; e.g., Pat Robertson, to everyone's surprise, has come out against it, and so has Governor George Ryan of Illinois.



Question: Is the death penalty brutalizing or uplifting? I ask you, Eleanor Clift.



MS. CLIFT: I'm not in favor of the death penalty, and I think it is a brutalizing concept in this country. And I think the world does look at us as society awash in guns, can't give our citizens health care, and we summarily execute too many people, particularly minority and poor people.



But I don't see a single national politician, other than Mario Cuomo -- and he's not in office -- who is willing to oppose the death penalty.



But with crime rates falling, people are beginning to examine death row statistics, and the very courageous governor in Illinois has called a moratorium. So the country's shifting a little on the issue.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The case for retention of capital punishment was made in passing by Alan Keyes. This is a modification of his views: It's uplifting because it affirms the value of human life. Without the death penalty, the message we send is that the lives of victims are less important than those of their killers. With the death penalty we declare that victims' lives are at least as valuable as those of their killers.



MR. O'DONNELL: I'll take the moral authority of the pope over Alan Keyes any day.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which pope?



MR. O'DONNELL: The current pope and all the previous ones --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The previous popes all defended it.



MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah, well --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Every one of them.



MR. O'DONNELL: Well, this pope is the one I'm taking my guidance from on this subject, over --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's your favorite pope?



MR. O'DONNELL: Favorite pope on this subject --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you written to him to tell him that?



MR. O'DONNELL: -- on this subject, over Alan Keyes, absolutely.



MR. BARONE: The pope's waiting, John.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- do either of you think that the Europeans are really getting unnecessarily supercilious about capital punishment, or is it justified?



MR. BARONE: Well, it's not the first time --



MR. BLANKLEY: No, I think they're being for themselves necessarily supercilious. They love to be supercilious and look down their moral noses at us. I don't think we have any apologies. We've never had an Auschwitz in this country, we've never had ethnic cleansing in this country, so we don't need any lectures from the Europeans on morality. We've maintained a very civil government and society for 200 years.



MR. BARONE: John?



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.



MR. BARONE: As an opponent of the death penalty, nonetheless I do not think that it is a brutal or out-of-bounds opinion. I think it's something that reasonable and decent people can believe in. Most Americans do. We didn't send our Jews to our gas ovens of Auschwitz the way the Europeans did.



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