May 12, 2000
Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot talk about the China -WTO trade fight and other matters political.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, Shields and Gigot with analysis of the China trade fight and other matters political. That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot.
Well, Mark, the president was also out in the Midwest stumping for this China trade bill. Do they have the votes yet in the House to pass it?
|Predicting normal trade relations with China|
MARK SHIELDS: They don't. Both sides say they don't have the votes. But, Margaret, you heard from Kwame's piece. You have on one side of this, you have the president of the United States, the vice president of the United States, majority party in Congress, the fierce backing of the American business community, the press establishment of the country, the foreign policy establishment of the country. On the other side you have got some religious groups, a divided labor movement and human rights people. And you needed 150 Republicans from the House and 70 Democrats. And I would say right now don't bet against there being 220.
MARGARET WARNER: How do you see the prospects?
PAUL GIGOT: I see it the same way. They don't have the votes yet but these big clashes tend not to have the votes until the end because a lot of people don't want to vote unless they really have to -- to declare themselves because there's hot feelings -- passions on either side. This is going to pass because the president wants it and that noted friend of his, bosom buddy Tom Delay, the Republican whip, the isolationist as the president called him a couple of years back, wants to pass this. And he is working very hard to help the president pass this bill. And it's like just about every significant thing that this president has passed since 1994, it's going to be done with majority Republican votes. Not a single member of the Democratic house leadership -- not one -- is in favor of this bill.
|Giuliani undermining his Senate campaign|
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Let's turn to the New York Senate race and Rudy Giuliani's rather remarkable week. What did you make of his very public revelations about his marital problems?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, first of all, Margaret, on most issues, whether it's China trade or nuclear non-proliferation, most people are reluctant to express themselves because they don't really identify with it as information experts. This is one where people feel totally comfortable. I mean everybody knows somebody whose marriage is breaking up, who has another woman in his life, who has just got word he's got the disease that killed his father. I mean everybody knows that. They have opinions. And they have a reaction. New Yorkers feel, whether they're naturalized or native born, they feel it is their constitutional, innate right to have opinions on anything they want. They've expressed them. I think that Rudy Giuliani's candidacy is toast. It's history.
MARGARET WARNER: Recap briefly because I didn't, for non-New Yorkers. Just very briefly. One, a couple of weeks ago he announced he had prostate cancer.
MARK SHIELDS: Rudy Giuliani revealed he had prostate cancer, a disease that killed his father and he would have to determine the treatment and decide upon that. He got a great wave of sympathy. In the course of that wave of sympathy, he revealed that there was another woman in his life who had given him great comfort and great consolation and then that seemed to be -- New Yorkers seemed to accept that -- what New Yorkers rebelled against, interestingly -- not the allegedly adulterous relationship that this married father of two has, but the fact that when he's announced this past week in a public press gathering that he was going to seek a legal separation from his wife, he had not informed his wife, and almost mandated, almost guaranteed she would come back with a hurt and totally proportional response.
And I guess maybe he didn't understand that, in which she charged this is not the first time this happened. She had tried to keep the marriage together and there had been a previous one which had been alleged and which he denied. And if that sounds like another political figure we know, then so be it.
PAUL GIGOT: Brilliant summary by the way.
MARGARET WARNER: Very succinct.
PAUL GIGOT: I'm glad you asked him do that. I think it is so hard at the human level to see how Rudy Giuliani can endure this. I know politicians of this stature tend to have an extra chromosome that they can endure things most people can't, they can endure abuse and scrutiny. But, man, he has got a marriage to put together, he's got a wife who's angry, he's got a new girlfriend he cares a lot about and he was very human in expressing that. He has children to reassure and he has got a Senate race that the world is going to be looking at to focus on.
The decision that Mark talked about to go out and say I'm getting a legal separation without informing his wife is the bad judgment that shows maybe you've got a lot of other things on your mind that don't allow you to focus on what you need to be focusing on. So most of the Republicans in the state think that he's going to have to drop out. He's a tough guy. Maybe he is going to go at it and still do it. But it's going to be difficult.
MARGARET WARNER: But you wrote today that you said he might be doing himself and Republicans a favor if he didn't run.
PAUL GIGOT: I think in terms of himself. He has all this stuff to think about. I've never been sure he wants to be a Senator per se. He's got an executive mindset. He loves to give orders. He is not the collegial type for the Senate. I think the governorship might suit him better in a couple of years once he -- if he can settle all this out of his personal life. George Pataki, on the other hand would be -- the governor, two-term, second term governor of New York, would be, at this stage, I think, a more formidable candidate against the first lady. He has the kind of personality that could get along in the Senate. And if he wins, he has ambitions for the White House. If he wins, he is automatically a national figure and could raise his stature quite a bit.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think this would amount to Giuliani -- to baggage for Giuliani if he decides to go forward?
MARK SHIELDS: Oh, yeah. I think, Margaret, the idea of seeking treatment for cancer -- for prostate cancer -- and any kind of cancer is a stress in your life -- I just think it's such a risk. And I think because of Mrs. Giuliani's statement about the former communications chief is going to open himself up to questions. After she left his staff, she received $150,000 a year job with the New York Tourist and Convention Bureau at the mayor's behest or with his backing.
Just one thing on George Pataki; I've been around politics so long, I can tell you what every governor goes through. Everybody says the guy would be great. I talked to Democrats in New York today who think Pataki be far and away the strongest candidate the Republicans could offer. But every governor faces enormous pressure not to run for the Senate. Where does it come from? It comes from hisown people. Governors build bridges. Governors build roads, they build hospitals, they build colleges, they make judges and they have thousands of appointees. Senators don't; they have two dozen people on this staff. You can be sure he is under enormous pressure from everyone near him not to run.
|Bush is scoring votes with key voter blocs|
MARGARET WARNER: Let's go to the main event, the presidential race. Bush first. What kind of week did the governor have this week?
PAUL GIGOT: I think he had a good week. He got out of the McCain event, the great summit, the ultimate meeting --
MARGARET WARNER: Long awaited.
PAUL GIGOT: -- long awaited, way over-hyped event. He got out of it what he wanted which was a photo op and the magic word endorse, six times -- maybe under duress but John McCain uttered it and that's what he wanted out of it and John McCain got what he wanted too -- he got to show he is going to be a loyal Republican, campaign for Bush. He is winking at his buddies in the press corps saying, you know I really don't mean this all that much. It wasn't a terribly warm event but a step forward for Bush.
MARGARET WARNER: Can McCain really deliver anything to George w. Bush? I mean is his appeal transferable, worth much to Bush?
MARK SHIELDS: That's two different questions. Can McCain deliver anybody? McCain's constituency is a Midwestern and Catholic constituency. Those are two groups up for grabs and are pivotal in this election. Even today in the Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll, he is getting 23 percent. This is a man who has been off the political radar for the past two months, against Bush and Gore. So he can't deliver, no, but he can provide a sense of credential. I think that John McCain wants Al Gore to lose. I don't think there's a question whether he wants George Bush to win. And I think that's a legitimate question.
PAUL GIGOT: I think Margaret there is a problem in this the way -- I think the press corps has been looking at the hole instead of the doughnut. The bigger story if you ask me in part is Bill Bradley has been doing extremely well in uncontested primaries. I mean in Nebraska he got 27 percent of the Democratic vote against Gore and West Virginia 18 percent. Last week in North Carolina he got 19 percent.
MARGARET WARNER: None of this has been reported.
PAUL GIGOT: McCain meanwhile is getting 15, 13 and 11 -- doing much less well. What this says to me is that George Bush is doing much better consolidating his base right now at this stage than Gore is doing consolidating his base. This is the real -- this is the bigger story. And why Gore has a bigger problem.
MARK SHIELDS: I don't think there's any argument that George Bush has done a better job thus far of consolidating his base. But to look at today's numbers as something that is chiseled in granite, they really aren't. We don't have a turned on, engaged electorate. I would say this. The Republicans in the year 2000 are comparable to the Democrats in the year 1992. After 1992, recall, the Democrats lost the White House three times in a row. They weren't going to ask Bill Clinton any questions, where he had gone ideologically, what he was doing when he was out. A new democrat.
MARGARET WARNER: They wanted to win.
MARK SHIELDS: They wanted to win. The right-wing of the Republican party is asking George Bush nothing. He's a compassionate conservative. Bill Clinton is a new Democrat. Don't ask what it means, he is cutting down the angle on the Democrats on everything from health care to Medicare and these were issues that in a Republican primary he would have been scrutinized and criticized and maybe chastised for, but now, son of a gun, he is not only doing it, he's ahead in the polls. Who are we?
MARGARET WARNER: One of most amazing thing in these national polls and I agree with Mark that they are not determinative in a bigger sense, but that Gore was losing badly not only among men, but among married women, a group that -- the soccer moms that Clinton got. One is that valid and how do you explain it?
PAUL GIGOT: Well, it's true -- it's appearing in every poll, 21 points among married voters and the LA Times poll -- the Bush advantage over Gore. That's amazing. Dole just barely carried married women. Bush is up something like 19 percent points among married women. The marriage gap, not the gender gap, is the bigger story. I relate it to a couple of things. One is the predominance of the moral values issue. It's the number one issue on the battleground, the number one thing on people's minds and that tends to be what people who have children care an awful lot about is the moral climate of the country. Bill Clinton has not set the best moral example. There are a lot of voters who would like to see a better moral example set. I think there is a lot of Clinton fatigue built into that concern and that affects parents' voting.
I would back this up with one other thing. Gore is really losing right now badly in the whole southern tier of the country, the socially most conservative part of the country; he's losing in West Virginia by nine points, which Mike Dukakis carried. He is losing in Louisiana by 11 points, which Bill Clinton won twice. He is losing by 10 in North Carolina. That's the most culturally conservative part of the country and the moral values issues is part of it.
MARK SHIELDS: Let me just say I think moral values are people talk about it, they're concerned about it. They've been embarrassed and through a painful period. But any party that thinks it can play that issue, I think is being very, very self-deceptive and delusionary. We've just seen what moral values were going to do in New York. Mrs. Clinton was a member of a dysfunctional marriage, obviously it was going to hurt her. We saw how something turns on a dime. We saw the speaker of the House, the former speaker of the house testified he was conducting an illicit relationship with a staff member while condemning the president of the same thing. There is the danger of hypocrisy. I'm not saying -- certainly not in Governor Bush's case but when a party assumes that white cloak, that mantle of righteousness, boy, I'll tell you, the slightest speck of mud that appears upon it can be devastating.
And it's not the way -- I think George Bush is running a smarter campaign running on issues that are of concern to people where they feel a president can make a difference. And I think that's where he has neutralized Gore's support. The other thing -- he did make one small mistake this week and that was at the McCain press conference where he was given the chance to distance himself from Pat Robertson, that Pat Robertson said John McCain was unacceptable, couldn't be trusted, was untrustworthy, dangerous as a vice presidential nominee. His chance to stand up there and say Pat Robertson has been a good friend. He is wrong on this one; John McCain is a great man. He didn't do it.
MARGARET WARNER: Have to leave it there. Thanks.