JIM LEHRER: And one last time to Paul Gigot and Tom Oliphant. Paul, things got a little bit rough. To whose advantage?
PAUL GIGOT: Well, it's hard to tell, and I guess we won't know until Tuesday, Jim. But I think to Senator Bradley's advantage at least that he could rally some of his supporters by showing he got up off the mat and fight. A lot of them were, and I've talked to a lot of them, felt that Senator Bradley had been too much of a conscientious objector in this and had too high-minded a view of politics. 'I want to change politics, therefore I can't engage in rough debate.'
He said, 'You know, I'm willing to elbow in basketball, but politics should be better than that.' I see politics being -- ought to be more ferocious because the stakes are a heck of a lot higher in politics than they are in a basketball game. But that's that Kennedy School seminar view of politics, that Senator Bradley has, so I think a lot of us say, 'OK, fine, you're mixing it up,' and that probably helped him.
JIM LEHRER: But, Tom, he essentially called Gore a liar, about three or four times, just in those excerpts.
TOM OLIPHANT: Actually, you know, it's interesting you should say -- and this will buttress Paul's point, I think -- right after the debate, Bradley made a very rare appearance with us in the filing center where it was held, where he did use the 'l' word, I think reflecting even during the debate his unwillingness to go that extra yard and really look like a club fighter. But as of this hour there is no evidence that the public reaction to this has been anything more than yuck, no evidence that the landscape has changed.
Here's why: I think the problem is that a process, campaign tactics debate like this is about the candidate. It's Bradley making it about him almost as if he were a victim of something horrible. He's not presenting a message that is about the voter, and what's going to happen to the voter if he's elected president. And I think that's why going into the final weekend he is still losing support.
PAUL GIGOT: One thing that he didn't do is link the issue of ethics and trust and scandal to outcomes that affect people's lives, to Democratic priorities that didn't pass. 'You didn't get campaign finance reform because of that scandal, because of the Buddhist temples, because of no controlling legal authority. China policy is a mess because of the scandals. We didn't get national health insurance because of the scandals, because of the ethics.' He never has made that connection where it really meets people and affects their lives.
TOM OLIPHANT: This is what John McCain does. The reason that you don't get the kind of tax cut that really benefits the people who can use one is because of the special interests. The real reason you don't get a patients bill of lights is because of the special interest lawyers and the special interest insurance companies. There's a direct nexus between the insurgency and the cause. I think the problem with the Bradley candidacy, which I think was on vivid display last night, is that it's too much insurgency and not enough cause.
JIM LEHRER: And you don't think this is having any effect at all -- because this is the new Bradley, you know, everybody readmits themselves at least a little bit once in a while.
TOM OLIPHANT: Aggression is attitude, and I don't think primaries or elections swing on that. Bradley's problem both is within groups that consider themselves normal Democrats, and increasingly it's with this new group of people that lives in New Hampshire -- now genuine independents, particularly in the southern part of the state, who are turned off by this kind of stuff. So it's very hard to see the connection between the tactic last night and some political goal.
JIM LEHRER: What about Gore, how did he handle himself last night?
PAUL GIGOT: I think you saw the tactical agility of the Gore campaign last night in one respect. In Iowa he ran a campaign aimed at the Democratic base, Medicare, Social Security, education. In New Hampshire, he turned around and he used welfare to get at the independents that Tom is talking about. He knows he has Bradley beaten in New Hampshire among core Democrats. He's now using that welfare reform vote by Bill Bradley, fairly certainly, because he did vote against it. It's very smart, and it shows that that campaign really can turn on a dime, and Al Gore knows what he's doing.
JIM LEHRER: And if course the big contrast between the Republicans and the Democrats -- all the Republicans are trying to show how pro-life they are, and the Democrats are trying to show how pro-choice they are. So at least we know what an issue is going to be in November. Thank you both very much.