Sunday's <i>FTN</i> Transcript


Schieffer: Today on Face The Nation, from the state capital in Des Moines, Iowa, an exclusive interview with Bill Bradley. He's behind in the polls here in Iowa, and this week his campaign was rocked when he revealed he'd had several recent incidences of heart palpitations. How is his health? How does he expect to do in the caucuses? And what difference will that make in New Hampshire next week? All questions for Bill Bradley.

Then we'll talk about the rest of the week's events with veteran political reporter, Dan Balz, of The Washington Post.

Gloria Borger will be here and I'll have a final word on how wind warnings are already up on the campaign trail.

But first, Bill Bradley on Face The Nation.

Announcer: Face The Nation, with CBS News chief Washington correspondent, Bob Schieffer. And now from CBS News in Des Moines, Bob Schieffer.

Schieffer: Good morning again from one of the nicest places in Iowa - the law library at the state capital here.

Joining us from Cedar Rapids, Senator Bill Bradley.

Senator, welcome. And I must say this is really a case of good news and bad news for the Bradley campaign, it seems to me. Because the good news - and I'm sure this is your favorite part of The Des Moines Register today - a very forceful editorial endorsing your candidacy. It says, among other things, that you provide a compelling vision and fundamental decency. And in "The Register's" view anyway, that gives you the edge.

But unfortunately there's more to the paper than the editorial page. Here on the front page it says: Gore and Bush are way ahead now. And it goes on to say that in the newest poll that you're now back to almost 30 points behind Governor Bush.

I hate to start out by asking why haven't you done better, but what's happened here, Senator?

Bradley: Well, I think we're up against entrenched power. I've said that all along in the whole campaign. I mean, anytime somebody has the president of the United States' backing because he was loyal to the president, loyal to his return. Anytime you have someone who has the Democratic National Committee leadership and most of the big Democratic fund-raisers and the leadership of organized labor and arrives on Air Force Two, that is entrenched power. And we knew from the very beginning that we were up against entrenched power.

We've laid out, in the course of this campaign - reaching out to the people of Iowa. It's been a wonderful experience for me. And yesterday I was on the road in Iowa. We had over 1,000 people along the road. There's a lot of enthusiasm out there for the candidacy. I think we've come a long way from beginning a campaign where I wasn't known by anybody in Iowa, and I think that this is the first step of several steps in a journey.

Schieffer: I have to ask you about this business about these incidences of these heart palpitations. When you first announced this last year tat you'd one of these, you pointed out that millions of Americans have the same thing, that it really was not a serious matter. But then the other day, you announced that, well, you've had seven of them, as I understand it, that you know about. Four of them in the last month - an average of once a week. You can go back and check, and they happened either right before or right after some of the debates here. It does raise the question: Is this stress related? And would this be a factor should you win the presidency? For, after all, certainly the presidency is a lot more stressful than running for president, it seems to me.

Bradley: Bob, the answer's no. I mean, President George Bush had the same condition. It's an irregular heartbeat. Millions of Americans have it. And nobody really knows what triggers it. And I think that I've found out a couple of things that might have triggered it. I was drinking cream soda that has caffeine in it, and that tends from time to time to trigger it. But this is a process of going along, it doesn't interfere with my campaign, my schedule. It doesn't interfere with my enthusiasm for the job nor my ability to do the job, and so I look at it as a nuisance, and that's about all.

Schieffer: Well, now, you didn't volunteer this information when - you revealed these latest incidences in answer to a question. I would ask you: How are you going to handle this in the future?

Bradley: Well, Bob, any time that I require medical attention, the press will know immediately, any time that there's any procedure that's needed. But you don't reveal if your heart goes into irregular beat for a two-hour period, and what I'm going to do is reveal it whenever there is any medical attention required. I think that's the only reasonable way to proceed.

I think that if you were in a position where you were going to say, Well, it went out for two hours, it's back in. That to me isn't news. What's new is if I have any medical attention required.

Borger: Senator, let's say that you don't win here in Iowa. Some polls in New Hampshire already have you behind about 3 to 10 points. Are you going to continue this campaign right on through?

Bradley: Yes, I am, Gloria. I mean, this campaign - for the duration. And I'm in it for a very specific reason. I think we're at a time of unprecedented prosperity in this country, and the real question is: What are we going to do with this prosperity? And I have a very clear idea of what I think we should do to strengthen our social fabric and to move our country to the next level of economic growth in the midst of this time of technological change and globalization.

And I argue that we now need to have access to affordable quality health care for all Americans in this country, that we need to eliminate child poverty in America, we need a deeper level of racial unity, we need campaign finance reform, we need to help working Americans and we need common-ense gun control.

And I'm laying that out there very specifically. And I say to the people of the country that if we can't do these things now when we're in this tremendous prosperity, when can we do them? And I'll be laying that out over the course of the campaign. And just as I think that the people at "The Des Moines Register" understood what I was talking about, my hope is that more and more Americans will hear it as well over the course of the campaign.

Borger: Senator, though, at some point - you know, some Democrats are saying it's not good to have these two Democrats going at each other, and at some point Al Gore may say to you, Senator Bradley, it's time to hang it up for the good of the party. What would you do then?

Bradley: Well, you know, Gloria, I think that competition is good. It's as American as apple pie. And I think whichever one of us emerges from this primary will be better because of the competition.

And you have to keep in mind that Iowa's the first step, New Hampshire's the second, and then you go on to essentially a national primary on March 7th. And I intend to take my case to the people.

You've got to remember, I'm running an insurgent campaign. And as an insurgent campaign, I think we're doing well. I mean, this week I got the endorsement of the governor of Oregon and the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina. And today in California, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo will be endorsing my candidacy. We have full delegate slates in difficult states to field them, in Pennsylvania and New York, and today in California they'll be thousands of people who are going to caucuses.

You know, the campaign is moving ahead. We've raised as much money as the vice president. And you know, I mark it a real step of progress that in New Hampshire the other day there were New York Knicks and Boston Celtics campaigning for the same person.

Schieffer: Senator, let me just make sure I understand what you're saying here. You're saying that even should you lose Iowa and New Hampshire, you're going to stay in the race, at least as far as the big primaries in California and New York in March.

Bradley: That's true, Bob. I'm doing it because I think we're at this particular time in our country's history when I think that I have a, kind of, unique position to be able to lead the country. I wouldn't have done this if I didn't think that my leadership matched the national moment.

In particular, I look at the state of our economy. It's very good. But the question is: Who's on the point to see where the country's going and can get the country ready for where it's going? And if you look at my whole history in the United States Senate on economic matters, I've always been able to move a little bit ahead of where everybody else was headed.

For example, in the early 1980s, I proposed ways that we could eliminate the budget deficit. That was not followed, but we wouldn't have had the budget deficit othe 1980s if people had voted as I did.

From 1982 to 1986 I pushed for tax reform. People said it couldn't happen. It did happen. And for 12 years, from 1984 to really 1995, I pushed for the Uruguay round, I was involved in those trade negotiations from the very beginning, and also the whole effort on NAFTA.

So I look at this and I say, you know, we're at a particular time in our country's history and people have to understand that we're headed to a new time and we need a new kind of leadership to deal with this new time, and I think I can offer that. That's why I'm running in the first place, and that's certainly why I'll continue the race.

Schieffer: Let me ask you this question, though. You said yesterday that Iowa's a very difficult state to penetrate. Obviously your message - however good or bad it is - does not seem to be catching on here. Do you think that it is policy that's being rejected by these voters? Or is it something else?

Bradley: No, I actually think that Iowa is a very difficult state to penetrate. I was not known by anyone when I started in Iowa. There are multiple media markets in Iowa. There are long distances between place to place. And so I believe that we actually are doing well.

Keep in mind that the historic high for an insurgent in Iowa was Ted Kennedy in 1980 when he had 31 percent. So we're out there making the case, and I think we're developing a lot of enthusiasm among people, and I consider that a success and the first step in this journey.

Borger: Are you going to match that 31 percent that Senator Kennedy had? He said yesterday - I was out campaigning with him - and he said, you know, "When I got that 31 percent, nobody said that was a victory."

Bradley: But he stayed in through the convention, if you recall, and he did stay in through the convention...

Borger: Are you going to stay in till the...

Bradley: He did stay in through the convention because he believed that anything was possible, and indeed he won New York. So what I'm going to do...

Borger: Are you going to stay in till the convention?

Bradley: Well, I hope that we're going to have major wins down the road and we'll be able to move on to the convention, no question about that.

Borger: You have been involved in a pretty rough campaign here. Senator Gore - Vice President Gore's done a lot of negative campaigning against you. Do you consider yourself a victim of that in any way?

Bradley: Well, you know, I'm a big boy, I know how politics as usual is practiced, and that's precisely what's going on. Attack ads and negative attacks, that's basically what politics is about. It has been about for over a decade in this country, and I think that's why voter participation is dropping.

I don't think politics has to be that way. I think you can tell people what you're for and not trash your opponent. You're can tell people what you're for and le them know where you want to take the country and get their support.

Borger: But haven't you - haven't you done your own negative campaigning? You've been raising issues that the vice president voted on - say, tobacco - 15 years ago? Haven't you become a different kind of candidate as a result of his campaign?

Bradley: Not at all, Gloria. I understand the point of your question and, you know, some days are better than other days. But the whole thrust of this campaign has been on positive - I haven't run any negative ads on television, and according to the Associated Press, Washington Post, The Des Moines Register, the vice president has had two ads that are misleading.

And the reality is that this is a real test for all of us to see if we can make our politics better, to see if we can engage people to come back into the process because they have something to believe in, to have - to get to an election day when the choices are between two candidates that you esteem - not between two candidates, one of whom you can barely tolerate.

And I think that that ultimately is what my effort is about, it's a reaching out to the American people in a different way to try to engage them in this process and let them know that they are absolutely critical in not only the outcome of the election but in our ability to chart a future in this new economy.

And I think that, in course of the campaign, there have been very encouraging moments. We're going to continue that process.

If you want politics as usual, I'm not the guy. But if you want to have a step forward, if you want to reduce attack ads, special interest money, if you want to reduce partisanship and a kind of negative campaigning, then I think I am the person.

Schieffer: Senator, let me ask you this, then. Basically what you're saying here this morning, as you concede, that you haven't been able to penetrate and you really are having a little trouble getting your message across here in Iowa. What will you do different in New Hampshire? Is it a better state for you to start with? Will you change tactics? What happens after this?

Bradley: Well, the point is, Bob, that New Hampshire is a different state. Every state's a different state. New Hampshire's smaller, fewer media markets, a state in which I was well-known before I came to New Hampshire, so there are differences. But I'm going to continue to talk about the things that I think are important to the country. Let me just give you an example. Sometimes there are moments in politics that are centering moments, that remind you of why you're in politics. And the other day in New Hampshire a woman named Kathy Perry (ph) told me her story. She and her husband have four kids, they both work, they don't have health insurance, and she took her teenage son with a strep throat to the doctor. He was diagnosed, given a prescription, and as she was leaving, she was writing out the check to pay for tha office visit because she doesn't have any health insurance. And her son looked at her and said, "Mom, I'm sorry." And she said, "Why are you sorry?" And he said, "I'm sorry I got sick."

Well, no child in America should have to apologize because they got sick. And that reminded me of why a health care program that I've laid out to guarantee all children access to health care, to guarantee them health care and access for all adults in this country, allowing them to join a federal system that is a system that also insures congressman and senators is why I'm in this race.

I'm in this race to help the Kathy Perrys of this country, to focus attention on them - not on tactics, not on procedure, not on who's up or down today, but on the lives of real people in this country who can have those lives improved with far-sighted public policy that is willing to be bold, that is not just simply nibbling around the edges, but is willing to do bold and lead at a time where we have an unprecedented opportunity.

Schieffer: Senator, I think that's a very good place to leave this. We want to wish you the very best as you approach, on this final weekend, the caucuses here in Iowa and also down the campaign trail. Thanks for being with us this morning.

We'll be back with a roundtable discussion of the rest of the week's news from the campaign trail in just a minute. Thank you.


Schieffer: Well, to talk about the Iowa caucuses and the rest of the week's political news, we're joined by our friend Dan Balz of The Washington Post - the political writer for the Post.

I must say, Dan, that I thought Senator Bradley today was more animated and in a sense more interesting than you often see him. He had some very tough questions to answer. It's never easy to be asked, "Why are you so doing so poorly?" But I was rather impressed with his answers today.

Balz: I thought one of the interesting things was, it seemed to me he gave us a clue as to where he may be heading when we go to New Hampshire. He's got a problem that he has to deal with it at this point. He faces a big loss here, and then the question is: What does he do with his campaign at that point?

He sounded as though he is heading in the direction that he has always wanted to be, which is the above-the-fray candidate rather than going directly at Al Gore. I think that's a choice he's going to have to make over the next couple of days is, how he wants to conduct himself. And the clues today suggested he doesn't want to go directly on the attack. We'll see if he's forced to do that.

Schieffer: Gloria, do you take him at his word when he says he's hanging in right to the conventions, now? Most of us have thought, because he has the money to do so, that he would at least hang around until we get to these big primaries in Texas and California and New York. But do you think he'd go all the way?

Borger: I don't know, but think a lot of Democratic Party leaders are hanging on to their chairs saying, "No, no, don't do that," because, of course, Bradley running to the left of Gore does not help the vice president in a general election contest, and they're sort of hoping that this fight can get over with pretty quickly. The longer he hangs in the worse it is for the Democrats.

Schieffer: In the same way that Pat Buchanan hung around against George W. Bush's father all the way to the convention in Houston. I think most people would say that was not a good thing for George Bush.

Balz: The Democrats cannot afford a long protracted bitter primary contest.

Schieffer: Let's talk a little bit about the other side of the thing. Two big polls - I mean, "The Des Moines Register" has a big poll out today. It shows George W. Bush way ahead here in Iowa. Every expectation now is that it's going to be pretty close in New Hampshire. John McCain will be contesting there. What do you see happening for George W. Bush?

Balz: Well, I think the question here is how strong Steve Forbes is. He's assumed - we all assume he'll get second place. The question is, is it a strong enough second place to make him a force in the New Hampshire race? So far he's not been; it's been a two-man contest up there between Bush and McCain.

If Forbes is a force in New Hampshire, then the question is, will it hurt Bush or McCain. Both those camps have differing views of what a strong Steve Forbes will mean, but I think that's the dynamic people will be looking for coming out of Monday night.

Schieffer: What is good for Steve Forbes here?

Borger: Well, that I don't really know. And I think - I think what's good for Steve Forbes is double digits, some kind of double- digit showing.

Balz: I think he's got to outperform the poll numbers. He's at about 20 percent in the polls. As far as he can go beyond that, every step of that will help him. If he's at 25 or 28 or 30, that would be a much stronger finish and that could put him into the mix in New Hampshire.

Schieffer: What about this whole question of abortion? Forbes, Gary Bauer, they've been trying to push Bush out to say he'll do more than just what he has done so far on abortion. After all, he is a pro-life candidate and he makes no excuses for that. But because he says he won't use abortion as a litmus test to appoint federal judges, they're trying to say that they're not - he's not as conservative as they are. Does this help or hurt George Bush?

Balz: Well, in the long run I'm not sure it's going to make a big difference. It reflects, in part, the Iowa Republican Party, which is a more conservative party certainly than the New Hampshire Republican Party.

George Bush is trying to do two things: One is to reaffirm that he is strongly pro-life without doing it in a way that scares a lot of people who don't agree with him, so he's trying to play both a primar game to solidify conservatives and at the same time not frighten general election voters.

Schieffer: But isn't it good for him to have these fellows over there being - in a sense taking a more conservative view once he gets to the general election?

Borger: Right, because that way he can, sort of, position himself as a more centrist candidate.

Another interesting thing about George Bush is that he is now positioning himself as the outsider in this race. He has been portrayed as the establishment Republican. Now he's campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire saying: I am the outsider in this race, not John McCain. John McCain doesn't have a really big tax cut because he believes that Washington won't spend your money, and I believe Washington will spend your money - just like Ronald Reagan did. So those are the two things: conservative and outsider.

Schieffer: What about John McCain?

Balz: John McCain is still a big factor. He has a very decent chance of winning New Hampshire.

At this point there's some polling that suggest the race is moving a little bit towards Bush, but this will be a very interesting week in New Hampshire, and John McCain could well win it if he can get that campaign rolling.

Schieffer: If John McCain loses in New Hampshire, is he done?

Balz: No, he's not done. They'll go on to South Carolina because McCain has spent a lot of time and a lot of money there. I think South Carolina is likely to be the decisive race in the Republican contest.

Schieffer: In - on that side of it.

Schieffer: Dan, thank you very much for being here.

I'll be back in just a minute with some final thoughts.


Schieffer: Finally today, every campaign produces a memorable line or a phrase. Remember Ike's "peace and prosperity"; Jimmy Carter's "I'll never lie to you"; Walter Mondale's "Where's the beef?"; Ronald Reagan's "There you go again"?

Well, it's early yet, but here are my favorites from the campaign trail here in Iowa so far.

Leading in the category for most unexpected campaign pledge: Orrin Hatch for saying, "If elected, I'll be the best friend chiropractors ever had in the White House."

George Bush is leading in the Yogi Berra sentence-structure division with his explanation of how the end of the Cold War has made it hard to know your enemy. As he put it, and we quote directly, "When I was coming up, we knew exactly who 'they' were. It was 'us' versus 'them,' and it was clear who the 'them' was. Today we're not so sure who the 'they' are, but we know they're there."

And finally the clear leader in the why-pass-up-a-chance-to-get- really-verbose division to Al Gore, who, when asked about his challenge from Bill Bradley really said, and we quote, "Competition is a healthy thing. It's enabled me to dig deep, fill my sails with the winds of competition, put my keel deeper into the water."

Well, it can get prtty deep out here and it gets pretty windy, too. But to be honest, I'm still not sure who the "them" is or where the "they" are. Maybe I should call a chiropractor.

Next week we'll be in New Hampshire interviewing George Bush.

That's it from Iowa.

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