News Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation, Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader. How will they affect Campaign 2000? It is two weeks now before the start of the convention season, and George W. Bush and Al Gore are ratcheting up the political rhetoric. But here's what's worrying the professionals in both camps: Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and the Reform Party's Pat Buchanan.
The question is, can Nader draw enough votes from Gore to throw the election to Bush, or will Buchanan take enough votes from Bush to elect Gore?
Today, we'll talk to both. Gloria Borger will be here as always, and I'll have a final word on some best sellers. But first, Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader on Face The Nation.
And we start this morning with the always colorful, sometimes controversial Pat Buchanan. Let's start with the news. There are reports coming out of Camp David this morning, the Palestinians seem somewhat optimistic about reaching a peace settlement. The Israelis don't seem quite so optimistic.
But against this background, there are calls up on Capitol Hill and apparently both sides have been talking to senators and congressmen up there, the White House has had communications with people up there, and they're getting the impression that there's going to be an enormous price tag here.
People are throwing around figures like $15 billion maybe to relocate borders and help the Israeli military. There's even one figure of perhaps $40 billion in reparations that might have to be paid to the Palestinians or that they may be asking that much. It has raised questions on Capitol Hill, Mr. Buchanan, that perhaps this administration in an election year is just trying to buy an agreement. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Pat Buchanan, Reform Party presidential candidate: Well, certainly if there's an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, we would welcome it. But if this agreement is bought with some gigantic bribe at the expense of the American taxpayers to give Bill Clinton a Nobel Prize as his legacy, I think the Americans really ought to reject it. If we get peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, both sides should be able to really draw down their military forces when you get peace. But I've seen figures as high as $100 billion and more for peace in the Middle East and I don't believe the Americans should take their budget surplus and give it away in foreign aid. We give the Israelis $3 billion a year, and we've done that ever since Camp David in 1978, and I think we ought to be phasing out foreign aid.
Schieffer: Well, there's going to have to be something, they're - the two sides are going to need some financial help it seems to me to make this work. Where would you draw the line?
Buchanan: Well, the point is why would the Israelis need more military equipment if they have peace with the Palestinians? Whwould they need more arms if it's a peace agreement? Now, I don't think the United States should be required to pay a dime. I mean, these folks presumably, when you get some kind of agreement like this, it is a far better situation for both sides, and let them go back to the works of
Schieffer: So, you're saying here, if they can't get an agreement without money, don't give them anything? No money here?
Buchanan: Oh listen, I would not - first, I don't believe we should bully the Israelis or the Palestinians into any agreement they disagree with. And secondly, we certainly should not bribe them into an agreement that they disagree with using American tax dollars for that bribery.
Gloria Borger, U.S. News & World Report: Mr. Buchanan, let's talk a little politics now.
Borger: Some have said that getting you out of the Republican Party has actually been a boon for George W. Bush; that he is now able to move to the center. He doesn't have to worry about you at his convention, and that in fact your leaving the Republican Party has been a good thing. How do you respond to that?
Borger: These are Republicans, by the way, saying this.
Buchanan: Well, there's no doubt that Mr. Bush is moving leftward. I agree with that, and both parties have become Xerox copies of each other. If you read Steve Moore also in The Washington Post, both parties have become big government parties in Washington. The Republican Congress hasn't cut a single program in four years. The Department of Education's been increased by 33 percent. The whole - the social budget by 12 percent in two years. We have two parties that are Xerox copies of each other. That's why I'm running, to give the American people an authentic choice. You mentioned foreign aid. We will shut down foreign aid and we will bring the troops home from Europe. We will defend America's borders. We will not expand NAFTA and GATT, we will get this country out of the WTO. Both of the other two parties are on the other side of those issues. We want to give the American people a real choice.
Borger: But you're polling two percent in the polls, Mr. Buchanan, with all due respect. So why is it that your message is not resonatedÂ…?
Buchanan: For a simple reason. I have not been in the - really in the national news for the reason I've been going all over this country building this party. Last week, we were in Vermont. We built a Reform Party, put it together. It didn't exist. We have to get it on the ballot. Look, if I'm at two percent in the fall, there's no doubt we're not going to have that much influence of an influence on this election. But every time I've run, we've started low and almost beat the president of the United States in New Hampshire in 1992. We beat Bob Dole in 1996, almost took the nomination then. We're goin to ignite the country, we believe, once we get the nomination. And I believe we'll get into those debates and make it a three-way race.
Schieffer: Let's talk about you say you're the person who could bring a difference. Let's talk about a couple of things that have happened lately and get your take on it.
We saw again this week an example of what some people say was excessive police brutality. This time up in Philadelphia. Pictures taken from a helicopter about that. We seem to be hearing more and more about things like this. I think of the incidents in New York in Central Park.
Are you worried that there's some sort of disconnect here between the law enforcement in this country and just common citizens? And if you were president, what would you think about that and what would you do about it?
Buchanan: I think, Bob, these are basically local issues. In Philadelphia, this individual, I believe, stole a car and shot a police officer and seized his gun. He's a thug and a criminal. And when the police officers, black and white, got a hold of him, they pummeled him for 30 seconds. Probably shouldn't have done that. That ought to be investigated.
But what bothers me more than anything is every time there's some failing by the police in what they do, this gets enormous emphasis from the national media. I think this is unfair to the police officers. How many times have police officers died in the line of duty and it gets no attention nationally? In any kind of conflict, in the war against crime, there's friendly fire. There's sometimes casualties that take place that we don't want to see.
In police work, which is very tough, mistakes are made. But I think we really ought to back America's police. We've had a real decline in crime in this country in the last 10 years, to the point where innocent citizens are safer than they've ever been. And that we ought to get a little bit of focus on.
Schieffer: Should the Justice Department look into something like this?
Buchanan: No, I don't see any reason why the Justice Department should look into this. I don't see any reason why Philadelphia can't be trusted to investigate the incident themselves.
Borger: Mr. Buchanan, you told Phil Jones of CBS News, that if you could actually get into these debates that you would have a real impact on this race. That's what you're saying today. What makes you think that if you're running at two percent now, they've set a 15 percent threshold, that you are going to get into these debates?
Buchanan: Who set those thresholds? Frank Fahrenkopf and Paul Kirk. Excuse me, that's like Sam Donaldson and Tim Russert saying you ought not to be on the air in Washington, D.C. until you reach a threshold set by ABC and NBC. The point is, if I had the same money as the other candidates, and we had the same air time, this would be a fully competitive race. I believe that. e have shown that before.
Borger: Well, Al Gore said today that he takes no position on whether you should be in these debates. Why do you think Al Gore thinks it might be a good idea that you participate?
Buchanan: No, I don't think he does. If I were Al Gore, I would think I wouldn't want to be with George Bush alone myself. And if I were Mr. Bush, I would want Buchanan and Nader in the debates, if I wanted any debates. That's what I would think.
Schieffer; George Bush said this morning on This Week that he would not rule out a pro-choice running mate. Do you think he can get away with that?
Buchanan: I think Mr. Bush is blowing smoke. I don't think he is going to appoint a pro-Bush - I mean, excuse me a pro-abortion running mate. I think he would have an explosion at his convention. I don't think he has the nerve to do it. My guess is he will appoint a pro-life running mate. I think Mr. Ridge and Mr. Pataki certainly are really not in the running.
Schieffer: Let me ask you about another issue. This week the Republican Congress passed a bill to eliminate what they call the death tax, what other people call the estate tax, inheritance taxes that people pay when they die. Do you have a position on that?
Buchanan: I certainly do, Bob. Look, let's take what I earn and what you earn. We pay 40 percent on every dime we earn. Then we pay 40 percent on dividends and interest when we put into a savings account. And then the federal government as a federal grave robber comes in and takes 55 percent of it if you and I and our wives die, rather than let us give it to our nieces or nephews or children. To me, these death taxes are federal grave robber taxes. They ought to be eliminated. Mr. Clinton ought to sign that bill on this coming week, and frankly, the death taxes, they only provide one percent plus of federal revenues.
Schieffer: He says that he would veto it, President Buchanan says he would sign the bill.
Buchanan: I would not only sign it, I would get rid of it entirely in one year, because it's only one percent of federal revenue.
Borger: Mr. Buchanan, very quickly, there's another candidate in this race, Ralph Nader, whom we're going to hear from after you, who is actually polling better than you are.
Buchanan: Right now, yes.
Borger: Absolutely. He's at somewhere between six and nine percent nationally. Should Al Gore worry about Ralph Nader?
Buchanan: Well, he probably should. Ralph is someone who's an individual who has spent his whole life serving causes beyond himself and outside himself. I've got great respect for him. We worked together in NAFTA and GATT. I think he's going to attract a lot of folks who are authentic liberals and who believe that Clinton-Gore have basically sold them out to run to the center to get as many votes as they can. I think he should be wrried.
Schieffer: Do you think he could be the factor that hands the race to George Bush?
Buchanan: Answer to - look, the premise of the question is all the votes in America belong to Gore or Bush and Ralph and I are poachers and thieves because we're coming in and taking something that belongs to them. The votes of the American people belong to them. If they vote for Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan, that's who their votes belong to.
Schieffer: What's it going to be like watching the Republican party on television, the convention? This is the first one you haven't been there?
Buchanan: No, it will be a lot more boring without Pat Buchanan. I think even they would agree with that.
Schieffer: All right. I think you're probably right. When we come back, we'll talk to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. Thank you, Mr. Buchanan.
SCHIEFFER: And joining us now from Omaha, Nebraska, the candidate of the Green Party, Ralph Nader, who I must say is making a surprising show thus far, at least to me. We were talking just before the broadcast began with Mr. Nader. Tell us again a couple of poll numbers from some of the key states that you're now getting.
Nader: Well, the Reuters poll in New York state has been nine percent. There have been polls - nine percent in California, seven or eight percent in Oregon, eight percent in Michigan, nine percent in my home state of Connecticut, eight percent in Massachusetts, and it's close to 10 percent, I understand, in Wisconsin. And about seven percent or higher nationwide.
Schieffer: Well, I think that is the reason that we continue to hear from people in the Gore campaign, at least behind the scenes, that they are worried about you siphoning away votes from Al Gore that you could actually throw the election to George Bush. Does it concern you that you would become a spoiler like that, Mr. Nader?
Nader: No, I don't think you can spoil a political system that's spoiled to the core. And I wouldn't be running if I was worried about either taking votes away from Al Gore or George Bush. Nobody's entitled to votes. We all have to earn our votes. I might say that in many ways Al Gore is siphoning votes from Al Gore, as David Letterman said the other day.
Schieffer: Well, if push came to shove, and you had to vote for George Bush or Al Gore, who would you vote for?
Nader: I wouldn't vote for either.
Schieffer: Well, I understand that you, at some point, have said that you would vote for George Bush. Is that correct?
Nader: Oh, no, not at all. George W. Bush is basically a conglomerate political corporation running for president. He has a terrible record when it comes to children, consumers, pollution control in Texas, access to the courts, and I think all that's going to come out. He has had a free ride for a number of months. I tink there's going to be much more focus by Al Gore and others on his record.
Schieffer: You're saying you would not vote for either, if you were forced to?
Borger: Mr. Nader, you have also said, and I'm quoting you here that Al Gore is a "coward from top to bottom." What do you mean by that?
Nader: Well, I've read Al Gore's book that came out in 1992 on the environment. He was very critical of the internal combustion engine as a principal threat to global environment. He and Mr. Clinton have not proposed any fuel efficiency standards for motor vehicles for seven and a half years. No Reagan or Bush administration could have done worse than that.
In fact, they established a $1 billion taxpayer subsidy to GM, Ford and Chrysler to research a clean engine supposedly, and there hasn't even been a prototype engine. He hasn't spoken out for solar energy. He runs away from legalizing the growth of a great plant called industrial hemp that can reduce our imports of oil, food, fiber, amplify income. It is terrific for the environment. He has taken a dive on pesticides.
As senator, he would have opposed WTO and NAFTA because of its damaging effects on the environment. Instead, he supported it. He needs to really look at himself and ask who he is. He's a plastic politician and I think a lot of people see that.
Mr. Nader, this country as you well know is in the middle of a technological revolution. Yet, you are someone who doesn't own a television set, whom we're told doesn't even use a computer. How can you convince the American voter that you are the right person to deal with these issues of technology, lead them in through to the next century since you're somebody who is clearly not very involved in using these things?
Nader: Well, I do have a black and white television set, Gloria.
Borger: That doesn't count.
Nader: But - because I look at the uses of technology. And, for example, most members of Congress always talk about the information highway and how important it is to connect to the Internet and their web sites. They all have web sites. Guess what? Not one of them puts their voting record on their web site in retrievable understandable informationÂ…
Borger: What about issuesÂ…
Nader: For millions of votes to learn about.
Borger: But what issues of privacy, for example, which are going to be so important in the next 10 to 20 years? How can you talk about those issues when you're not familiar with them personally?
Schieffer: Let's tal a little bit about the news coming out of Camp David today. You just heard Pat Buchanan when I asked him what did he think about reports that there may be an enormous amount of money that the administration will ask for to help seal this deal if indeed there can be one. What's your take on that?
Nader: I think there are rumors, Bob. We really don't know what's going on, and just to speculate on rumors, there seems to be some effort to get a variety of countries to put some money down in order to build an infrastructure in health and education and try to stabilize the situation after a peace agreement. But otherwise it's just total rumors.
Schieffer: But, I mean, the idea that this may cost the American taxpayers in the end. Do you think a Middle East peace agreement would be worth a substantial cost to the American taxpayer?
Nader: I don't think it's necessary. I think if we scale down some of our military aid to countries in the world, often dictators that may use it against us, we'll have a lot more money for combating global infectious diseases, education, clean drinking water, children protection. We should be doing that anyway and it's good for the world, it's good for us. A lot of these situations like tuberculosis, malaria are coming towards this country in drug resistant form. It's demilitarizing foreign policy.
Schieffer: The Republican Congress passed a bill this week to repeal the estate tax. President Buchanan, if he becomes president, said he would sign that legislation. The current president says he'd repeal it. What would you do? - or veto it, I'm sorry.
Nader: I'd veto it, too, and I think President Clinton is right to say that. This estate tax exempts about 99 percent of all estates now are exempted. For example, you can go up to $670,000 in your estate if you're marriedÂ…so forth with an estate tax lawyer, it can go further. The estate tax now is a tax on the super rich, and it's basically a couple thousand estates that contribute most of the $25 billion that come into the coffers. That $25 billion can be used for important and serious purposes rather than to further spoil the descendants of the super rich. Veto that bill.
Borger: Mr. Nader, there's been a lot of talk this week that Al Gore is considering naming Dick Gephardt, the House minority leader as his running mate. As you know, Mr. Gephardt enjoys a great deal of support from labor. If he did that, would that cut into your labor support?
Nader: No, I don't think he's going to choose Dick Gephardt because I don't think Dick Gephardt wants to be a vice presidential nominee. I think he wants to be speaker of the House. And if we get millions of votes, as I'm sure we're going to, for this Green Party presidential candidacy, a lot of people, not seeing any Green Party candidates running for the House because there's less than 10 percent of them in this new emerging party, hey're going to vote for the Democratic member or the Democratic challenger - and that will help Dick Gephardt get control of the House of Representatives.
I met with Dick Gephardt over a month ago, and I didn't detect he was all that displeased with the kind of votes we're going to bring out, especially non-voters, young voters, people who have been disenchanted. We are trying to bring more voters into the process. Ninety million Americans didn't vote in the last presidential election. That's over 50 percent.
Schieffer: Let me ask you about one other issue in the news and that is this enormous settlement that a jury awarded to the plaintiffs in this case that had been brought against the big tobacco companies. George Bush said this morning that while he was concerned about tobacco being an unhealthy and unsafe product, he was really worried about all these lawsuits and the impact that they were having. Do you feel sorry for the tobacco companies on this, Ralph?
Nader: I feel sorry for the millions of Americans who were addicted at young ages - 10, 12, 14 - over the years, by the tobacco industry's marketing practices who are now diseased. That's who we should be sorry for. As a very brilliant Herblock cartoon pointed out in The Washington Post recently, I never look at any punitive damage award until it is appealed, and then you'll see what the courts, right through the appeals process, come down to. But punitive damages are designed to punish criminally negligent or worse behavior by corporations and the tobacco companies fit that bill.
Schieffer: What would you be satisfied - what percentage of the vote do you think that is actually possible for to you get in the general election?
Nader: Well, I think it's possible to win, Bob. I think a four-way race with all of us getting on the three debates, where 50 to 70 million Americans who will be watching, throws this election into an exciting four-way race instead of a debate between the drab and the dreary. Remember, I just met Jesse Ventura, governor of Minnesota, and he was at nine to 10 percent before he got on the debates, and he got on the debates and he won. And we're very excited by the tens of thousands of people who are logging into our web site - votenater.org - to help this campaign.
Schieffer: We got to stop it. Thank you so much, Mr. Nader.
Nader: Thank you.
Schieffer: Be back with a final word in just a minute, thank you.
Schieffer: Did you ever wonder if people always read the books that are on the bestseller list? Well, it turns out The New York Times wondered, too, did some checking with publishers and book sellers and discovered that yes, they believe scores of books that sell well probably never get read. They figure the new translation of Beowulf is a prime candidate for that category.
But what caught my eye in a article this week is that people in the book business said one of the old time champion bestsellers that never got read was Steven Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Remember the sensation it caused in the 80s? It purported to be about Einstein's theory of relativity and it was a remarkable achievement in that Hawking wrote it while in the advanced stages of Lou Gehrig's disease.
Perhaps most remarkable, it sold nine million copies. Deservedly, he made the cover of the news magazines. On the strength of rave reviews, I bought it and proceeded to struggle with it for months. I'd read it, give up, then see another rave review and start it again. Finally, I got to the last page. But here's my question. Does that count as having read it if I still have no idea what it was about? I don't think so.
Which is why I found The New York Times article so reassuring. All these years I thought it was just me. Thank you, New York Times.
And thank you. See you in next week.