MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: New York; shame is back.

ANNE PAYTON BRYANT (Victim of Central Park attack.) (From videotape.) When I hit the pavement, I just felt like all of a sudden I was descended upon; down all around me, chanting, screaming, yanking.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At least 24 women were attacked by a wilding mob of 20 to 50 men. After last Sunday's New York Puerto Rican Day parade, they were robbed, stripped and sexually abused in varying numbers, ways and degrees. What did the police do to respond? Only two men were arrested that day.

ANNE PAYTON BRYANT (Victim of Central Park attack.) (From videotape.) I see this tape; and how could a police officer ignore me? How could you ignore me? How could you?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: New Yorkers may be expecting too much from their "thin blue line" if they want them to charge into a rampaging crowd. The New York police well recall the public pillorying they got in the Amadou Diallo case and other police shootings. To stop a big, drunken mob takes force. But if a New York policeman uses force, especially against a minority, in the current politically charged environment, he or she can expect to face an investigation, public character attacks and even murder charges.

If shots have to be fired and someone dies, First Lady Hillary Clinton will be among the first, you can be sure, to point an accusing finger at Rudy Giuliani. Remember in the Diallo case how she used the word "murder" before a single juror had been called?

FIRST LADY HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) (In progress) -- tragic murder of Mr. Diallo.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And let's not forget that the Central Park horror last Sunday was Puerto Rican National Day and that Mrs. Clinton has already politicized police and community relations when it comes to Puerto Rican voters, especially through the White House pardons for Puerto Rican terrorist bombers who killed, among others, New York City police.

That's what a lot of people are thinking and saying in and out of New York. The police are damned if they do and damned if they don't. On the wilding, the numbers are changing by the hour. Forty-four women have now come forward saying they were attacked or stripped or groped or all three. Ten people have been arrested. As many as 60 men may have taken part as attackers. An NYPD official is quoted as saying, in effect, that the police were under orders not to get into altercations with minorities at the Puerto Rican Day parade because it could lead to a negative photo op with Al Sharpton on the sidelines ready to exploit any hint of excessive police force.

Question: Is this a likely directive to have been given to the NYPD? I ask you, Michael.

MR. BARONE: Well, is it a likely directive? I should think not, and I certainly hope it wasn't given out in those terms. The fact is that you weren't talking there about people watching a parade and perhaps shouting; you were talking about something that obviously looks like criminal violence, and it is criminal violence. And, you know, I think that -- remember, Rudy Giuliani is not a Senate candidate anymore. He is a person who has in the past sharply defended his police officers when they've come under unjustified attack by demagogues like Al Sharpton, who is currently defaulting on a libel judgment that he owes to a policeman upstate as a result of a civil action brought there.


MS. CLIFT: First of all, there is no moral equivalency between police officers refusing to wade into a crowd, when they are being begged for help, and pumping 41 bullets into an unarmed man.

Secondly, not all police refused to help. Some did help. And I think there is an investigation, appropriately, under way in the New York City Police Department. And they are responding very aggressively now, arresting a lot of people. And New York Governor Pataki is going to propose legislation that makes gang assaults a more serious felony than individual assaults.


MS. CLIFT: So they are responding.


MS. CLIFT: But you can't exonerate the police here, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well the French couple did, and one other couple did?

MS. CLIFT: All the police are not guilty, but some are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the point is that the police are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

MR. BLANKLEY: But no, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what they're -- that's -- their thinking.

MR. BLANKLEY: Now let me make a point. This is a sad event. We don't know what all the facts are. Obviously, if there was nonfeasance by a police officer, that will have to be dealt with.

But I saw, when I was a young prosecutor in Los Angeles, the L.A. Police Department politicized by politicians, by groups that were demanding lawsuits against them all. I mean, it ruined one of the best departments in the country, and I see this beginning to happen in New York again. And once City Hall starts running the -- and the lawyers start ruining a police department, it will take a generation to make it back again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James Warren.

MR. WARREN: All the facts aren't in on this. There is some evidence, including that French woman who was in town, that there was some sterling performance by some of the cops.

But as far as this business of the directive on high, I think that may be folderol. Twenty-eight cops anonymously interviewed by the New York Daily News, last week, said unequivocally there was no clear directive. And I think as telling -- it's just maybe a coincidence -- but the United States Civil Rights Commission, on Friday, concluded that the New York Police Force is guilty of racial profiling and there is disproportionate arrests --

MR. BARONE: That is a political --

MR. WARREN: -- of Puerto Ricans and blacks.

MR. BARONE: -- effort to let Hillary --

MR. BLANKLEY: That's exactly the kind --

MR. BARONE: -- to let Hillary --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- of political attack on a police department that brings the moralization down in a department.

MS. CLIFT: The notion that lawsuits --

MR. BARONE: And they're doing it just for the shabby candidacy of this woman who wants to be president and wants to use New York as a stepping stone.

MS. CLIFT: Ah well, wait a second.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I get back to the ethics? I want to --

MS. CLIFT: Before we start name-calling and calling various candidacies "shabby," I would like to point out that people who bring lawsuits, when they are mistreated by a police department, that's one way that you can respond, and that's in the great American democratic --

MR. BARONE: If they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to make a final point with regard to how the police handled the St. Patrick's Day Parade and how they handled Caribbean Day. This is a quote from a veteran cop: "The most strictly enforced parade in the police department is the St. Patrick's Day Parade. There you can't sip a beer in the doorway of a bar. But at the Caribbean Day Parade, you can smoke a joint on the street, and they won't touch you because the politicians are afraid of a backlash."

MR. WARREN: There is no logic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That goes to the point I made earlier, which you seem to contradict.

MR. WARREN: And I'll undermine again. There is no doubt there is a perception on the part of a lot of those cops of a double-standard. There is a perception that they now have to back off, if it's a Puerto-Rican Day Parade or a Caribbean festival.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, is it only a perception?

MR. WARREN: But one might that a lot of that, I think, is a result, a result of self-inflicted wounds by those police officers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A quick point?

MR. BLANKLEY: I was going to say, it's not just a perception. I think it's a -- policemen are very realistic. They understand the reality --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: If the attackers had been all white, would the police response have been more decisive and quicker, yes or no? Quickly, Michael Barone?

MR. BARONE: Well, I don't know how many of the attackers were of whatever race or ethnic background. I suspect that if they had all been identifiably Greenwich, Connecticut, kids, they would have been -- faster by the cops.

MS. CLIFT: They probably would have been collared off for a night in jail to teach them a lesson. But this was not a gentle little frat party gone awry. This was something a lot more serious, and I think the police department recognizes that now, belatedly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: This was an ugly event. They should have been tough. I think if it had been white people, they probably would have been. My strong hunch is there was a minority component; they held back out of a little nervousness.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (In acknowledgment.)

MR. WARREN: Likely not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony is correct.

Okay. Last week we asked, "Which version of Al Gore makes for a more formidable presidential candidate?" Get this: 69 percent say the old wooden Gore -- (laughter) -- would have had a better chance. Only 31 percent say the new warm and fuzzy, sunny Gore has no advantage. (Chuckles.)

When we come back, catastrophic Los Alamos security lapse; should Bill Richardson be canned?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Korean summitry.

(Theme song from TV series "MASH" is played.)

"I was watching South Korea television until last night. I saw how excited the South Koreans were, especially those with family in the North, and North Korean defectors. Some were even crying."

"Some Europeans say that I am reclusive, that this is the first time I've appeared in public. In fact, I've been to China and Indonesia. I've made many secret visits abroad. How can people claim that I'm reclusive?"

That's the 58-year-old leader of Communist North Korea, Kim Jong Il, self-parodying his reputation for being a hermit, quote, "secret visits abroad," unquote. The son of 45-year dictator Kim Il Sung, the "Great Leader," it was Kim Jong Il's first-ever worldwide TV appearance. The occasion? This week's historic summit between North and South Korea.

In 1950, Korea fell into a civil war after decades of Japanese oppression -- the North backed by the Communists, and the South backed by the U.S. The three-year conflict left 2 million Koreans dead and 34,000 U.S. troops killed.

This week, for the first time since the 1945 partition, South Korean leader Kim Dae Jung traveled to North Korea's Communist capital of Pyongyang. There, surprisingly, the North Korean leader greeted him at the airport in person, smiling, relaxed.

The three-day summit produced a promising agreement. One, reduce tensions between North and South Korea, especially through cultural and tourist exchanges. Two, reunite families. Three, cooperate commercially to rebuild infrastructure and trade. Four, work for reunification. And more, Kim Jong Il agreed to a summit in South Korea's capital city, Seoul -- this from a leader who has left his country only three times in his life, and has over 1.1 million North Korean troops massed on South Korea's border.

Question: The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il, has been portrayed by politicians, panelists on this set, and the press generally, as a mysterious, crackpot dictator, and a real life playboy who endlessly watches TV Westerns and seduces Western women. He now appears normal, he appears personable. Is there a lesson here for all of us in the United States to stop demonizing our foes, whether they be Fidel Castro -- as you habitually do, Barone; Muammar Qadhafi, Slobodan Milosevic -- Eleanor, don't jump out of your seat; or Saddam Hussein?

I ask you, Michael.

MR. BARONE: Well, gosh, John, I'm glad you weren't here when Hitler and Stalin were around. Were we misunderstanding those characters? I mean the key word in your sentence was "appears" to be a rational person.

This is a very hopeful meeting. It promises that we -- it doesn't promise, it suggests that we might be on the way towards a peace in South Korea. A lot more work needs to be done. They are developing those missiles, they are developing nuclear arms in ways that our intelligence cannot penetrate.

We still don't know what's in this man's mind or how long he'll last.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Kim Jong Il, the leader we've just been talking about, North Korea, is feigning rationality and is feigning normalcy?

I ask you.

MR. WARREN: This quest of yours for the inner child in all of these tyrants worldwide is very impressive -- I feel like I'm on "Oprah" here -- quite good.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Chuckles.)

MR. WARREN: Plus, don't they have any barbers in Korea? It looks like sort of Asian Don King.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, he's a cool cat, isn't he, with that hair cut?

MR. WARREN: But the fact is, I think the overriding reality here, though, is an economic one. This is a country that is starving, and I think time is running out on the sort of repression, outrageous repression, that they have been exacting on their population.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are divining here? You see my point, though, on demonizing leaders? It makes this impossible to effect any kind of progressive diplomacy and of course it feeds the propaganda of the government machine.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think we need to look to the strategic intentions of a country, not to the personality of its leaders, and the big question now is, Is this a tactical move in order to gain some Western economic aid, or is it a strategic shift by North Korea? We don't know yet. It's only been a couple of days. And if it is a strategic shift, then it has implications down the line for our withdrawal of troops, which means that we and China may have a diplomatic duel 10, 15 years out, over the dominance in South Asia.

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, he certainly does have Earth tones down pat. (Laughter.) And second, he is a film buff, and he has created for himself a starring role in a drama here that maybe he can write a happy ending to. It is a failed state. His people are starving. He needs to do something, and China has been the midwife in bringing the two Kims together.

MR. BLANKLEY (?): Absolutely. Absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: And the good news for this country is, maybe we don't have to have those 37,000 troops --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you -- are you suspicious, still? You're a little skeptical, aren't you?

MS. CLIFT: No. I think it's a wonderful, exhilarating first step, for not only that country, but the world. But let's see if they deliver on it. There's a long way to go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The economy reflects its pseudo-sophisticated cynicism here. It says, "Despite the week's smiles for the cameras, the northern Mr. Kim's intentions are still unknown. He talks the language of reunification, but his overriding aim is to keep himself and his cronies in power," et cetera, et cetera. That's in the lead. It's an interesting article.

Exit: If North and South Korea are now embarked on reconciliation and reunification and peace is in the air, why on Earth do we want to build a technologically dubious missile shield, at great expense, to protect ourselves from Kim Il Jong and his military? I ask you, Michael. Exit question.

MR. BARONE: The answer is that we definitely need it. We know they're building these weapons. We don't know his intentions, we don't know who will replace him or when.

MS. CLIFT: Because it's a political issue, and it slows the momentum, and I'd keep my eye on --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What slows the momentum?

MS. CLIFT: The rapprochement in Korea slows the momentum for missile defense.


MS. CLIFT: I'd keep my eye on President Putin in Russia, who is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is going to visit Pyongyang.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly, and who doesn't want this missile defense system.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And note that --

MR. BARONE: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And note that Kim Jong Il is going to visit Seoul.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Look, the real question is, given the unknowns in the future, why, if we have the ability to protect ourselves, we wouldn't do it?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you favor going forward?

MR. BLANKLEY: Absolutely.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At slam-bang pace?

MR. BLANKLEY: $60 billion? Quick as we can spend it.

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.) (Chuckles.)

MR. WARREN: The missile shield is a ludicrous idea, and ultimately we should not fear some long-range missile coming into Hoboken, New Jersey, from North Korea.

MR. BLANKLEY: But there's no reason to giggle! There's lots of things to worry about.

MR. WARREN: But the real danger is short-range missiles going from North Korea to the South.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have faith in Kim Jong Il, right?

MR. BARONE: They showed the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You feel that -- you're less skeptical than these cynics.

MR. BARONE: In August of 1998, after General Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "Hey, we've got no problem with these missiles," they launched a missile several thousand miles.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is keep building the missile.

Issue three: Remember the Alamos!

JOHN BROWNE (Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory): (From videotape.) Throughout the government, secret data is no longer accounted for in this country, period. I don't care what agency you go into, there is no accountability for secret data.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the director of Los Alamos National Laboratory trying to explain to the U.S. Senate the latest security breach at the nuclear facility. Two computer hard drives missing. Drives that contain the most sensitive nuclear technology secrets the U.S. possesses -- the actual, working designs of nuclear weapons.

The computer hard drives belonged to NEST, N-E-S-T, the Nuclear Emergency Search Team. Under the Department of Energy, NEST computer drives contain information on how to disarm every nuclear weapon type in the U.S. nuclear stockpile, including data on the Russian, French and Chinese nuclear weapons systems. Specifically, the drives tell how to disarm a weapon taken illicitly from the stockpile and set to detonate in a domestic terrorist or international terrorist or foreign sabotage scenario.

The FBI wasn't brought into investigate until June 4th, almost a month after the discovery that the drives were missing. It won't be an easy job for the FBI, not only because the trail is cold, but also because NEST employees number over 800 -- a core unit augmented by experts in the world of weapons design from throughout government and academia.

Senators at the hearings were shocked to learn that for someone to remove secret materials from Los Alamos' vaults, there isn't even a sign-out sheet required.

Question: How much money would these hard drives be worth to a foreign intelligence service, whether that's orthodox or terrorist? Do you want to speculate?

MR. WARREN: Well, far more than they can get from Regis Philbin. Maybe they could go onto and find out what the going rate is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a figure! Is it tens of millions?

MR. WARREN: Oh, at least -- in the wrong hands. This is why this security breach is a total mess. In the wrong hands, the dangers are crystal clear. They could just write a check for whatever --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Catastrophic?

MR. WARREN: Potentially.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think really.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but it's highly unlikely that this ended up in the wrong hands. It looks like these incompetent employees just misplaced it. And it's ridiculous. It's easier to get nuclear secrets than it is to get a book out of the library.


MS. CLIFT: And that's outrageous. But I -- you know, I think they're going to find them --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you feel comfortable with what Eleanor had to say?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't feel comfortable with it. I don't know what the price for what they'd pay for it, but we'd pay the price in thousands of deaths in the wrong hands.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Richardson resign? Yes or no. One word.



MR. BLANKLEY: No, of course not.



Issue four: Who wants to be a White House heir?

(Music from TV show "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" is played.)

The contestants: Al Gore, George Bush. There are few lifelines in this game, and the stakes are high. This week's voter consensus is that Bush is ahead 46.6 percent over Gore's 38.9 percent -- a 7.7 percent margin favoring Bush. And Gore's unfavorability is as high as ever, if not higher -- 48 percent.

Why has Gore's campaign stalled? One, the resignation Thursday of Tony Coelho, chairman, currently under investigation by the Department of Justice. His replacement, William Daley, secretary of Commerce. Two, the alleged cover-up of the 1996 Clinton-Gore fund-raising scandal, with the publication of the FBI director's finger-pointing memo. Three, the "slum lord" accusations over Gore's neglect of his leased, decrepit Tennessee house. Clinton's diplomatic forays and international soirees may also be stealing Gore's thunder. That could hurt.

Bush is keeping a low profile and hanging out with dad. Despite Gore's numerous makeovers, polls show 50 percent of the American public see Bush as a strong and decisive leader, as opposed to Gore at only 30 percent. Considering America's strong economy, Gore should be way ahead in the presidential race, but Bush leads.

My question: Should we take at face value Tony Coelho's resignation for health reasons?

Tony Blankley?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. And last month on this show I predicted a senior person was going to leave.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, you did, and I commend you for that.

MR. BLANKLEY: And, you know, because the word was around that he might go. And so no, this is not a health reason, this is a political reason.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he is generally ill and he's hospitalized. And you can't run a campaign if you've got a serious illness that he does. Having said that, he did a terrific job throughout the primary. But the campaign has been drifting.

MR. BARONE: Well, it's not just drifting, it's been wobbling around! (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Well, Gore has relinquished a lot of ground to Bush --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, drifting implies movement, does it not? Is there movement in Gore's campaign?

MR. BARONE: One of the problems here has been the negativity of the tone of the campaign for a long time. This is a year when Americans are looking for a candidate who is consensus-minded. Al Gore is confrontation-minded. He goes after George Bush on the same day and says he's a "Cold warrior" and he's an isolationist. That's material for "Saturday Night Live," not material for a successful campaign.

MR. WARREN: Well, might I just say --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You come from Chicago, okay, and Bill Daley, who is secretary of Commerce, is replacing Tony Coelho. Now, Bill Daley is a charming fellow, correct? Tell us a little bit about Bill Daley.

MR. WARREN: Fifty-one years old. Son of one of the great political dynasties in this country. Obviously a Democrat, a pretty moderate Democrat. Much less of an ego than Coelho, probably more conciliatory. Hoping that he might be a better manager. Even though I will stick with the stated claim as to why Coelho is getting out, that it's for health reasons.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he does have inflammation of the intestines, and he also has --

MR. WARREN: I can't believe you would be so awash in cynicism as Tony, as to believe there is an ulterior motive.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he is also facing a $300,000 rap, and what he did with that over in Portugal, and whether he used that properly and so forth.

MR. WARREN: Correct.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he's a nice fellow.

MR. WARREN: And Daley's a very shrewd, smart guy, did a pretty good job under fairly difficult circumstances, the Commerce Department.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pretty good? Pretty good? He helped the president with NAFTA. He also got PNTR.

MR. WARREN: But again, he also had a pretty easy act to follow, in some way, given the mess that was still around from Ron Brown. He depoliticized --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How big a plus?

MR. WARREN: -- a lot of trade missions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How big a plus? How big a plus?

MR. WARREN: Oh, I think a good plus. But we also overrate the role of a campaign manager.

MS. CLIFT: Daley comes without baggage, and that's a good thing. But Al Gore has to look within himself to find the inner candidate for the fall.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Michael?

MR. BARONE: California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, once a rising Republican star, will be forced out of office.


MS. CLIFT: The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will reject the Miami relatives' plea for a rehearing of the Elian Gonzalez case.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When will that happen?

MS. CLIFT: Shortly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. I mean -- excuse me; Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Trouble is not over yet in the Gore campaign. There's a dispute going between the black woman who is the campaign manager being looked over --

MS. CLIFT: Donna Brazile is her name.

MR. BLANKLEY: Donna Brazile, looked over, and so now we've got sort of quota problems going on inside the Gore campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting. But she's a good trooper. She'll handle that well.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible) -- been muttering.

MR. WARREN: The Republicans are blowing a big chance in Nebraska with the retirement of Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, and they will lose to former Governor Democrat Ben Nelson the Senate seat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow. With several variables operating, I predict that the price of gasoline will average out $1.50 per gallon across the nation through Labor Day.

Next week: Will Gary Graham be executed in Texas, or will Governor Bush call for a stay? Capital punishment; does the penalty fit the crime?

Happy Father's Day. Bye-bye.




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue five: Daley to the rescue.

Secretary of Commerce William Daley has replaced Tony Coelho in the campaign of Vice President Gore. You have spoken about him with some aplomb. I'd like to know whether there is further aplomb on the set. Do you know Bill Daley at all?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know him personally, no; only by reputation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I happen to think that he is a major asset to this campaign for a number of reasons: Number one, he has got great lines into the Democratic National Committee, which believe it or not, I don't think exist to the extent that tcampaign for a number of reasons: Number one, he has got great lines into the Democratic National Committee, which believe it or not, I don't think exist to the extent that they do with Bill Daley now being on board in the Gore Campaign.

Secondly, he has got great lines into the White House. That helps, both for reasons of machinery and also because the president could conceivably play some kind of a limited role in that campaign.

Daley has great intuition as a politician; it's genetic with him. His father's career and his brother's career, et cetera. So I see him as a major plus reorganizing that campaign, which is badly needed. Do you agree?

MS. CLIFT: Well, when will you be issuing your endorsement for Vice President Gore? (Chuckles.) That was quite glowing.

Yes, Daley is a major asset.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think, as a fact, he would be a great vice presidential choice for Gore. Is there any possibility of that?

MR. WARREN: No, no way. No way. No.

MS. CLIFT: He's been taken out of that contest.

MR. BARONE: He doesn't want to leave Chicago, John. This is -- the Daleys have always considered Chicago to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, look --

MR. BLANKLEY: He has a great reputation.

MR. BARONE: -- the place you want to be, and he'd be out of town.

MR. BLANKLEY: He has a great reputation. A couple of little problems. One, coming in late in the game, just before convention time, which is where he'll --

MR. BARONE: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he's not too late?

MR. BLANKLEY: Not too late, but it's late. And I mean, you know, both parties are deep into their convention planning already. And the other is he has never had experience at running a national campaign. He's run the Midwest part of the Clinton Campaign in '92. But he does have a good reputation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got one negative. What is it?

MR. BARONE: One negative? The labor unions don't like him because he led the support for the lobbying for NAFTA and for permanent normal trade relations with China and so forth.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. And who has already spoken against him from the labor unions?

MR. BARONE: Well, it'd be -- they had some --

MR. WARREN: Hoffa.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James Hoffa.

MR. BARONE: (Inaudible) -- James Hoffa of the Teamsters Union, who is ostentatiously saying he may not --

MR. WARREN: Now --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The other good thing about him is --

MR. BARONE: That's going to be a problem. He's got -- but you're right; he has got good political instincts --

MS. CLIFT: Yes --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not to put too fine a point on this, but he's also clean. That matters in today's society, doesn't it, huh?

MR. WARREN: Well, check -- there is a lot of dispute over an insurance exam that he passed, and maybe somebody else took for him many years ago. Check the check the background on that.

MR. BARONE: He was about 23 years old at the time.

MR. WARREN: However, let me -- I might just say, despite the articulate nature of your homage to Mr. Daley -- (laughter) -- the fact is, I think, particularly here in Washington -- I think we accentuate needlessly the role of a lot of these functionaries. The problem with the Gore campaign, to the extent they exist, can be found by Al Gore looking into a mirror.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that -- the polls show that 50 percent of the American people think that Bush is a stronger leader than Gore.

MS. CLIFT: You know, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Gore comes in at 30 percent. Doesn't that surprise you, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I want to put this in perspective.

President Bush was 18 points behind Michael Dukakis at a similar point in the 1988 campaign. Vice presidents have a terrible time emerging from the shadow of a larger-than-life president. And Bill Clinton, for all his flaws, John, is larger than life. And I don't think Al Gore really comes into focus to the broader public until the convention.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I think -- you know, reciting the 1988 precedent is sort of like referring back to Truman; every losing campaign looks at Truman. And now, you know, the Gore people are saying: "Oh, well, look. Bush took a while to recover." It's getting later and later, and he is not recovering yet.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. We all agree that seven points behind, Gore can readily close the gap, correct?

MR. BARONE: Oh, of course that's possible.

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely. (Laughs.)

MR. BARONE: Sure. There is no question.

I think that, you know, his wandering around on a number of different stands on issues -- last week he took his third position on Social Security over the last two years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's wrong with that? I like multiple positions.

MR. BARONE: Well, it's too -- (end of audio).