Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush yesterday posted victories in the first voting of the 2000 presidential campaign, the Iowa caucuses, and quickly turned their attention to the next contest in New Hampshire. [includes rush transcript]
Gore picked up a large gap over rival Bill Bradley, and Bush faced stiff competition from second-place finisher Steve Forbes.
On the Republican side, with more than 95 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Bush has 41 percent of the vote, while Forbes has 30 percent. Alan Keyes has a solid third-place showing with 14 percent.
Trailing the three is conservative activist Gary Bauer at nine percent and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch at one percent. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who skipped Iowa to focus on New Hampshire, pulled five percent of the vote. The Iowa results gave Keyes’ campaign a needed boost. He hadn’t climbed out of the single digits in any pre-caucus polls, but his fiery oratory drew increasingly large crowds in the final days.
- Chris Jones, Keyes 2000 national field director.
- Jill June from Planned Parenthood in Iowa.
- Stewart Stevens, media strategist for the Bush campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Democrat Al Gore and Republican Governor George W. Bush yesterday posted victories in the first voting of the 2000 presidential campaign, the Iowa caucuses, and quickly turned their attention to the next contest in New Hampshire. Gore picked up a large gap over rival Bill Bradley, and Bush faced stiff competition from second-place finisher Steve Forbes.
On the Republican side, with more than 95 percent of Iowa’s precincts reporting, Bush has 41 percent of the vote, Forbes has 30. Alan Keyes has a solid third-place showing with 14 percent. Trailing the three is conservative activist Gary Bauer at nine percent and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch at one percent. Senator John McCain of Arizona, who skipped Iowa to focus on New Hampshire, pulled five percent of the vote. The Iowa results gave Keyes’ campaign a needed boost. He hadn’t climbed out of the single digits in any pre-Caucus polls, but his fiery oratory drew increasingly large crowds in the final days.
We’re joined right now by Chris [Jones]. He is Keyes’ 2000 national field director, and he joins us on the telephone from Iowa.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
CHRIS JONES: Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to be with you. Can you just start off by telling us your reaction to this strong third-place finish for Alan Keyes?
CHRIS JONES: Well, we’re not surprised, but we’re very, very pleased. We worked very hard here. Lots of reports were bandied about about how the Keyes organization could only use that term loosely in this state and how he was sort of setting the prairie on fire with his oratory and things. But I’ve got to tell you, I think our organization was significantly better than we were given credit for, and the sort of decentralized, grassroots campaign that’s the hallmark of the Keyes organization really came through for us last night.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us what a motivational speaker is? Alan Keyes, that’s what he calls himself.
CHRIS JONES: It’s impossible to describe to people who have not heard Dr. Keyes speak the impact that his oratory has. But I’m not sure that it’s the oratory, necessarily, that is reaching people. I think it’s the way that he can clearly, concisely and concretely explain even very difficult political concepts. He makes the political process simple. He reduces the debate to its essence and delivers his position in a concise and very easy-to-understand manner. I believe that’s extremely appealing in these days of cuts in marginal tax rates and investment programs at such and such a percentage interest over such and such a percentage of time to a number of years, those sorts of things, that are so hard for the American people to follow and so hard in fact for anybody but certified public accountants to keep up with. It’s very refreshing to hear somebody say what we need to do is we need to eliminate the whole stinking thing altogether, and Dr. Keyes says that on a number of occasions. I think that’s very appealing.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Chris Jones. He is the Keyes 2000 national field director. Does Alan Keyes feel that he is putting pressure on George W. Bush on issues, for example, around abortion?
CHRIS JONES: I think he clearly is. There is no question that George W. Bush’s position on abortion has been significantly affected, in fairness, not only by Dr. Alan Keyes, but also by Gary Bauer and by Steve Forbes on the right. He has definitely had to cover his base, and that there’s some evidence from last night’s results that he has not done a very good job of that. He was expecting to do significantly better than he did, regardless of what his pundits will spin things as this morning. This was not a good result for him. He was not expecting to be challenged this strongly. And to see Dr. Keyes emerge in third place was, I think, extremely disturbing to the Bush campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Chris Jones, we’re also joined by Jill June, who is the head of Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa in Des Moines. Jill June, you held a news conference yesterday morning, and hardly anyone came.
JILL JUNE: Well, that’s right. We’re pretty disappointed and frustrated insofar as the candidates out here in Iowa have given us an unrelenting barrage of anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-family statements in free and paid media, and yet — and bashed us by name, and yet still we find it very difficult to get our message out and some balance to the story. Iowa is a predominantly pro-choice state, but you wouldn’t know it from all the TV commercials they’ve been playing out here.
AMY GOODMAN: It seems that abortion has become a major issue in Iowa. And this weekend, Texas Governor George Bush was asked more extensively about it, so much so that it led him to cancel his daily news conference with the press. I think this is not an issue he has wanted to address very much. But the social conservatives have certainly pushed him into that position. And he ended up saying he supported the Republicans’ support of a human life amendment in the Republican platform. What exactly does this say, Jill June?
JILL JUNE: Well, you know, Governor Bush has been an artful dodger, and while I’m very frightened by the rhetoric that comes out of Dr. Keyes and some of the other extremist candidates, I am at the same time grateful to them for flushing out the real beliefs of George W. Bush. He does support and has supported in the past an amendment to the Constitution that would deny women, even in cases of rape and incest, access to an abortion. You know, to us, this is unthinkable to have our rights ripped away from us and to have women so severely discriminated against.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by a Bush representative, a media spokesperson for Texas Governor George Bush. He’s just arrived in New Hampshire, where Vice President — or, Texas Governor Bush also just arrived. He comes from a group called Media Mavericks, and we welcome you to Democracy Now!, as well.
STEWART STEVENS: Thanks very much.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you start off by just telling us about Texas Governor George Bush’s victory yesterday? It looks like around, what, more than 40 percent of the vote in Iowa.
STEWART STEVENS: Yeah, I mean, it’s very difficult, in a crowded field like this, to win by a very large margin. No one had ever received more than 37 percent of the vote. So, to win with 41 percent of the vote is a tremendous victory. Iowa is an interesting test of both organization and message for a campaign in retail politics. It’s a state that takes its role in this whole process very seriously and a state where a lot of candidates have been campaigning really almost nonstop for the past three or four years. And Governor Bush got a late start into the race. He came to Iowa to announce his candidacy in June. So he sort of started from behind on an organizational level, because literally the first time he had been in the state was June. And to be able to overcome that and still win with the largest margin, and also in a crowded field, and also to receive the highest margin, was a good night for us.
AMY GOODMAN: But it seems the biggest winner was the no vote. Very few people — I mean, I think in the history of the Iowa caucuses, one of the least number of people came out — the least number of people came out to vote.
STEWART STEVENS: I actually don’t know about that. I don’t know the final totals on both sides who ended up voting. This is a very curious process. It’s really almost an extension of a New England town meeting concept. You don’t go to a polling place and place a card in a machine. You actually meet in basements of churches and YMCAs and meet and discuss candidates with your neighbors, and then you vote. It’s very much a grassroots, quintessential sort of expression of democracy. And it always has a smaller turnout than a general election would have.
JILL JUNE: If I might jump in, I’ve been —
AMY GOODMAN: Jill June of Planned Parenthood.
JILL JUNE: I’ve been attending precinct caucuses here in Iowa for the last 20 years, and I like to refer to the caucuses as front-room politics.
STEWART STEVENS: That’s a good way to put it.
JILL JUNE: I grew up in a city where the candidates were picked in the back room, the proverbial smoke-filled back room. And in Iowa, these are in the front rooms of the schools and the churches and the neighborhoods of Iowa, where everyone is welcome to participate, and the process is entirely open.
Another thing I would like to throw in here is the numbers that the Republicans are throwing out this morning — 41 percent of this, 14 percent of that — that is of the Republicans that came to the Republican caucuses. That is not of all of Iowa. George Bush did not get one Democratic vote last night; he only got votes from Republicans. I just think that’s a part of the story that needs to emerge, that we’re only talking about a narrow sliver of Republican stalwart.
AMY GOODMAN: Isn’t it true that in most states, it’s only Republicans who can vote in Republican primaries or caucuses, and Democrats in Democratic —
STEWART STEVENS: You know, it varies in every state. We’re here in New Hampshire, where independents can vote in either party, which is always an interesting exercise. And there’s a real battle for independent votes, which we think that we’re going to win here in New Hampshire.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go to this issue of abortion that Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer have certainly brought to the fore. Also, Steve Forbes seems to have undergone a remarkable conversion, where in the last campaign he was — some even described him as pro-choice, and now fiercely anti-choice. But where does that leave George Bush? He has now ended his daily news conferences because he doesn’t want to be addressing this issue of abortion so much, but did come out this weekend and say that he supported the human life amendment. Steve Stewart sic?
STEWART STEVENS: That’s actually not a new position. His position on this has been very consistent. He’s pro-life, with exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother. That’s the position that he held before he ran for governor, as he ran for governor, and his position he’s held as governor. And it’s been one that he’s very consistent on. Of course, while simultaneously supporting the Republican Party’s plank on abortion, which does not include those exceptions. It’s been sort of interesting to watch Sam Donaldson take him apart on national TV trying to explain exactly how he can hold these two conflicting points of view.
JILL JUNE: Well, I would certainly agree with that. I mean, you almost feel sorry for poor Governor Bush, because he’s damned if he does and he’s damned if he doesn’t. He seems to want to straddle the line about whether women are going to be protected and provided care under cases of rape and incest. Meanwhile, the rest of us can, you know, just drop off the edge of the earth if an unintended pregnancy occurs. So he has — his message has not been made clear at all.
STEWART STEVENS: I think the key there is that you almost feel sorry for Governor Bush.
JILL JUNE: I’ll tell you who I did feel sorry for was Senator Hatch. He walked into a crowded room yesterday, where all the media was in, and people turned and looked at him, and then people turned and looked away. And he never surfaced whatsoever in Iowa.
STEWART STEVENS: I’m from Utah, actually, and I have to tell you that I still get a chance to cast a vote for Orrin Hatch, and I will do that. He’s still running for senator in Utah, and I think he has served the state well and, I think, shown why he’s such an effective member of Congress. He is, however, not presidential material, clearly.
JILL JUNE: Yes, that’s certainly true.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined on the phone by Stewart Stevens, media strategist for the Bush campaign, just flew into New Hampshire, because that’s where the next battleground is. Jill June is with us from Planned Parenthood in Iowa. Certainly abortion has become a front burner issue, as George Bush has sort of been forced to go back and forth on the issue, though he’s made very clear where he stands, that he’s not changed position and does support a human life amendment. I’d like to get exactly what that is clarified. And we’re joined by Chris Jones, Keyes 2000 national field director. Yes, Alan Keyes had a strong third-place finish at 13 percent in Iowa and heads to New Hampshire now.
When we come back from our break, we’ll address some other issues, as well, then be speaking with a Bill Bradley spokesperson. And we’ll then go down to South America, talk about the Ecuadoran coup that took place over the last few days. You’re listening to Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. Our guests, Stewart Stevens, media strategist for the Bush campaign, now in New Hampshire; Jill June of Planned Parenthood in Iowa; Alan Keyes’ spokesperson, Chris Jones, of the Keyes 2000 campaign, he’s the national field director.
Jill June, would you explain the human life amendment again?
JILL JUNE: Well, it would amend the U.S. Constitution to declare abortion illegal. The only exception that I am aware of that has been endorsed throughout the years since this idea was developed is the life of the woman. And of course abortion is going to be a major issue in front of the electorate this year and every year that it’s raised and threatened as a right for women. We’ve had this right for over 27 years now, and we are not going to stand still to have it be ripped away from us.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Stewart Stevens, the Texas governor, possibly president of the United States, wants to change the Constitution to make abortion illegal?
STEWART STEVENS: His position has been very consistent here, and I think that one of the — he’s in favor — he’s a pro-life candidate with the exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother.
AMY GOODMAN: But the human life amendment does not make those exceptions.
STEWART STEVENS: I think the most hopeful aspect, I think, of this election is that we’ll be able to talk about issues in a different way than we have in the past. There’s been a tremendous polarization on all sides, not just on this issue, but on all issues, be it on education, even something as mundane but important as taxes. What we hope is that in this election, it could be a different kind of dialogue that goes on between the candidates and the American people and a different tone involved in our politics. And I would hope, whoever the Democratic nominee is and whoever the Republican nominee is, that this sort of dialogue, rather than the sort of acrimonious polarization that’s going on, can occur. And I think that that’s a tone that —
AMY GOODMAN: But just let me just clarify —- let me just clarify that point, when you say that he has talked about exceptions of rape and incest when it comes to the issue of abortion, the human life amendment does not make those kind of exceptions, and he has endorsed it. So he is for the full -—
STEWART STEVENS: I think that when we go through this campaign, everyone is going to get a good look at both candidates in their —- as people, as how they stand on a wide variety of issues. What’s interesting is, when you look at -—
AMY GOODMAN: But let me just — I just do want to clarify that point, because I think a lot of people are interested in it, from the right to the left. He has endorsed an amendment that does not include exceptions for rape or incest and would make abortion illegal.
STEWART STEVENS: His position on this — his position on this issue is something —- he recognizes that this is an issue that many people disagree on. His position is that he is pro-life, with the exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother. And I think what’s interesting is that -—
JILL JUNE: His position is a highly contradictory one, then. And, you know, I think we’re getting —
STEWART STEVENS: If I could just finish — one second, please, I’m sorry. What I think is interesting is that he has governed a large, diverse, very complicated, complex state in Texas and has been able to bring people together on a number of issues that are exceedingly perplexing to people, like education reform, where there are a number of good-hearted people that have different views on how to go about this.
AMY GOODMAN: But I do want — I just — I do want to pin you down on this, because it is such a critical issue. The human life amendment does not allow for that kind of diversity of opinion.
STEWART STEVENS: I’m going to give you Governor Bush’s position, and we can continue to go back and forth, but —
AMY GOODMAN: But I’m just saying that the human life amendment is a very strong stand, does not allow for that kind of diversity of opinion. It’s —
JILL JUNE: And I think we’re being, you know, treated to, once again, as we have in Iowa over the course of the last few months, from the slippery, evasive, artful dodging, and it really is quite sickening to hear that the question will not be answered. What we did hear, almost on the day that Mr. Bush arrived here in Iowa, was that he would support the defunding of Planned Parenthood and other organizations that risk their own money, stand and speak about the importance of abortions as a health protection for women. We operate a whole system of rural clinics where women get pap smears here in Iowa that have no health insurance, and he would shut down these clinics because he is so insistent that abortion can’t even be discussed in a publicly funded clinic. So, we are very clear on where the Governor stands, and he stands against women.
STEWART STEVENS: Oh, I think that’s an absolutely absurd statement. And really —- and really -—
JILL JUNE: Well, he supports the gag rule [inaudible] —
STEWART STEVENS: It’s such a — and a statement —- can I just finish, please? I think a statement like that is actually a deeply condescending statement, because I think that one can -—
JILL JUNE: Your candidate supports the gag rule.
STEWART STEVENS: To make these sort of broad accusations really serves no purpose at all.
JILL JUNE: It was published in the newspaper that he supports the gag rule.
STEWART STEVENS: And it’s the worst kind of polarization of politics. I think, look, we’re at the beginning of a process here. We just had the first election of a lot of elections in a process that’s going to culminate with both parties nominating candidates, and those candidates going through a process throughout the summer and the fall where people are going to be able to look at the candidates, get a really good sense of who they are. Most people aren’t focused —
JILL JUNE: Let me ask you why he supports restricting doctors and nurses from even discussing the word “abortion” in front of women? Why does he support that?
STEWART STEVENS: I think that when you see in a state like Texas, where overwhelmingly women have supported Governor Bush, they have had a good look at his record, a good sense of who he is as a person, a good sense of the totality of what he stands for in his record, and I think that process is just beginning. And I think that —
JILL JUNE: Please answer my question.
STEWART STEVENS: Really, there’s no purpose to be served with this sort of silly name calling here.
JILL JUNE: I wasn’t calling names. I’m asking why he has taken the position to defund public clinics where doctors and nurses are prohibited from even uttering the word “abortion” in front of women? Why does he take that position, if he does not condemn, outright and thoroughly, access to abortion in America?
STEWART STEVENS: I think that —
JILL JUNE: Why does he have that position? And we could not get those questions answered in Iowa, either.
AMY GOODMAN: Stewart Stevens?
STEWART STEVENS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: I think the — you know, what’s interesting, in just listening to the conversation, is that the candidates are really rarely pinned down and asked specifically about issues. There’s the broad brushstrokes, as you were saying, Stewart Stevens. You know, the candidate is all-inclusive, and this is for many candidates. But when you actually talk about stands and support of positions, this is —- you know, this is what people around the country want to hear, is specifically what would happen -—
STEWART STEVENS: Actually, actually, I have to say that, you know, when you actually get out there on the road with all these candidates — and not just Governor Bush, I think it’s true of all these candidates, I think it’s true of even someone like Vice President Gore, who has changed the way he’s campaigning — there is a surprising amount, at least in this stage of this campaign, of retail politics that are going on. If you go out there and you actually follow these people around, and they go into these small towns, they’re asked all kinds of questions, and they’re asked by regular citizens, and they engage in a dialogue on this. I mean, it happens, literally, you know, 10, 20, 30, 40 times a day, depending on what kind of schedule. And it’s —- people, I think, in these states, particularly where there’s a lot of retail politics, are really getting a sense of who they are. And that’s -—
JILL JUNE: And that’s why it’s so important to us to have these positions clarified. You know, the rhetoric and the spin and the evasive answers and the slippery slopes are not satisfying to women who stand out before the candidates, knowing that our rights are in jeopardy. We want real answers, and we cannot get them from the Bush campaign.
STEWART STEVENS: I think this is going to be a long campaign, and I think that people, by the end of the campaign, are hopefully going to get a very good sense of how these people stand on all sorts of issues. I mean, you’ve had more —
JILL JUNE: Well, we won’t [inaudible] —
AMY GOODMAN: Stewart Stevens and Jill June, I wanted to go to one other issue, but before we do, I wanted to give Chris Jones one last chance to get in here, and ask if you feel satisfied that Vice President Bush, who will probably be the Republican candidate, failing unforeseen circumstances, satisfies you in his support of the human life amendment?
CHRIS JONES: I don’t think Governor Bush satisfies anybody in his support of the human life amendment. One of our guests said a little bit ago that she congratulated the social conservatives for ferreting out Governor Bush’s real opinion on this issue, and I have to say you give us far too much credit. I don’t think we’ve ever heard Governor Bush’s real position on this issue. I think he’s a wonderful guy. I think he’s a very genuine human being, and I personally like the guy a great deal. I don’t think he should be president of the United States, and I think there’s a growing consensus that this is not an outstanding candidate on the Republican side. He is not capable of articulating the position and defending the human life amendment against determined opposition from the Democratic side. I think if the Republicans nominate him, he will be defeated in November.
AMY GOODMAN: Another quick question has to do with Elian Gonzalez. I was very surprised to see Alan Keyes in one of the debates saying that he supported Elian Gonzalez returning to Cuba, because family values trumped political ideology. Is that still his position, Chris Jones?
CHRIS JONES: Let’s clarify that. That is not what Alan Keyes believes. That’s not what he said. What he said was that if we could determine what the true nature of the claim on this child by his father is, if we could determine on free soil what his father actually wants to have happen, a thing which is not possible in the communist dictatorship, if this man can come to the Unites States and be able to make a free statement of what it is that he wishes to have done with his son, then yes, I think at that point we need to look at the familial relationship and say that that is more important than considerations of law. But that is not going to happen as long as Elian’s father remains in Cuba. And as we have seen, I think, demonstrated as clearly as it can be demonstrated, Fidel Castro is not going to let Elian Gonzalez’s father out of the country under any circumstances. And until that happens, absolutely the child remains in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Gosh, that isn’t what I heard Alan Keyes saying. He said he differed from the other candidates and that ultimately he supported him being reunited with his father. But, Stewart Stevens, the position of Governor Bush?
STEWART STEVENS: It’s my understanding that his position is that he believes that the father should be allowed to come to the United States, and the decision based after the father has had a chance to experience freedom here in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: And then I wanted to ask a question of Stewart Stevens, spokesperson for George Bush, that has been going on throughout the week in the frenzy of the Iowa caucuses, and that is, almost every weekday night there has been someone executed in the state of Texas. Last night, as the Governor was getting ready to accept the big victory in Iowa, back in Huntsville, Texas, another person was being killed by the state. Last night it was Billy Hughes; a few days ago a mentally ill man, Larry Robison. Is this a concern to you? Tonight is one of the five people in this country — two in Texas, three in Virginia — who in these two months are being executed, who committed crimes as juveniles below the age of 18. How is Governor Bush both running for president and making these life-and-death decisions on each of these men?
STEWART STEVENS: Well, actually, I think the process of going through with the final steps of the death penalty in Texas is one that, as you know, takes years. It requires the parole board to — the recommendation that a governor can make here is a very limited range of options. It’s my understanding — and I could be wrong on this, because I’m certainly not an expert on this — and I’m actually not a spokesperson for the campaign; I’m a media person — and in that sense, I could be confused on this. But it’s my understanding that the parole board has to make a recommendation and turn to the governor and request a delay of execution, that the only role that the governor can play is to delay while a case is being considered. But Governor Bush, like most Americans, does support the death penalty in certain cases.
AMY GOODMAN: How, though, does he make decisions on each of these men?
STEWART STEVENS: Is that a philosophical question or a —
AMY GOODMAN: Well, each man at the end —
STEWART STEVENS: — or a mechanical one, in the sense of what is the review for this?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, the mechanical one, at the very end, when the last-minute request to the governor —
STEWART STEVENS: That’s something I really can’t speak to. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know the actual details of the process in Texas. I can’t really speak to that.
AMY GOODMAN: He also obviously appoints each member of the clemency board, so he can tell them what he thinks in each case.
STEWART STEVENS: Again, it’s a subject about which I’m not that informed, the actual process in Texas.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, then, the last question has to do with, I think, a serious cynicism that is all over this land, and it’s about money in politics, and it’s true with the Democrats, and it’s true with the Republicans. And some might look at what happened last night and say, “Well, it’s pretty straightforward: the men with the most money win.” And that is George Bush on the Republican side and Vice President Gore on the Democratic side. What’s your response to that?
STEWART STEVENS: Actually, that’s not entirely the case, and it’s kind of refreshing. I think that the person who spent the most money, by about a two-to-one margin, in Iowa was Steve Forbes. I think he had a good night. I think the amount of money that he was able to spend, both in his television commercials and just his basic ground operation, paid off for him. But I think the Keyes campaign spent less money than just about anybody in the race, and they had a very good night. So, that was one of the factors, that even though there were candidates who had spent — been able to spend more time in Iowa than Governor Bush, because he’s both being a governor, and he’s also running a national campaign, and we were outspent by Steve Forbes, to still be able to win by a double-digit margin was very gratifying. And of course, here in New Hampshire, you have a case where there really — you reach a point of minimum yield: a dollar is expended very fast. And you’re going to see, I think, this last week of the campaign be decided, as it’s been for 25 years in New Hampshire, really on retail politics.
JILL JUNE: Well, of course, no one spent less money in Iowa —
AMY GOODMAN: Jill June of Planned Parenthood?
JILL JUNE: — than Senator McCain and Senator Hatch, and they were at the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. I think that most people in Iowa — as a matter of fact, it was talked about at my caucus last night — were so relieved at the Supreme Court ruling yesterday, which clarified for our thinking that money isn’t speech, money is property. And when property and wealth is transferred into campaigns, it enables the candidates to get work done and get organizations put together that candidates can’t do without that kind of property. And so, to me, it was the dawning of a new day to think that the people will matter more in politics than the money for a change.
AMY GOODMAN: At the same time, the Iowa caucuses took place yesterday just before the Supreme Court cleared the way for new campaign finance restrictions, by ruling states do have the right to limit contributions to candidates. What is Governor Bush’s response to that, Stewart Stevens?
STEWART STEVENS: To the Supreme Court ruling?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes.
STEWART STEVENS: Actually, I have not had a chance to get his opinion on that. You know, he has supported, as have the majority of Republicans in Congress, a series of reforms. I think, you know, campaign financing is one of these perplexing questions that seems at first glance there should be easy answers to. But it is proven consistently to be something that has more challenges and more difficulties to solve than a lot of issues. There are a number of people that support public financing, and yet there are a number of people that say, “I don’t want my tax dollars to go to a candidate whom I don’t support, whom I disagree with terrifically.” You have a disagreement even among those who support campaign finance reform. In the case of Senator McCain, he does not support public funding; Senator Bradley does. In the case of Governor Bush, he does oppose — he would like the banning of soft money, but he would like it so that it’s consistently — levels the playing field.
AMY GOODMAN: He would support the ban of soft money?
STEWART STEVENS: Yes, he supports ban of soft money from both —- but he thinks it needs to [inaudible] -—
AMY GOODMAN: And yet he has not even accepted any kind of cap, just is raising unlimited amounts of money.
STEWART STEVENS: Actually, that’s one of the great misconceptions of politics, you know? When you’re running for president or you’re running for the U.S. Senate, any federal office, you’re limited to the thousand-dollar limit that was set back in the '70s. Everyone has that same limit. I mean, Vice President Gore has the same limit as Alan Keyes. There’s been a lot of discussion amongst campaign reform advocates that that is an unusually or unrealistically low level now, because it was set in the ’70s and it's never been raised.
I think that one of the strengths of the Bush campaign is the fact that it has the largest number of donors to its campaign, and that just means that there’s simply more citizens around the country, all of whom are limited by the thousand dollars — the most they can give is a thousand dollars — who have donated to the campaign. I don’t have the exact figure of what our average donation is, but it was interesting to note that our average donor was lower than Senator McCain’s was. That’s not a mysterious or a complicated question. It just means that more people are supporting your campaign around the country than anyone else’s, and that’s a gratifying thing.
AMY GOODMAN: Or a number of people with a great deal more money. And then, of course, there’s the issue of bundling, where corporations have a lot of the people that work for them. And George Bush is most known for this, the issue of bundling, and these corporations get lots of people to give that cap of a thousand dollars to a certain candidate. But we have to wrap up the discussion right here, and I hope to have you on again to continue to talk about George Bush, and we’ll be talking with the other candidates’ representatives tomorrow. We hope to speak with a representative of Bill Bradley as well as a representative of Vice President Al Gore tomorrow, as everyone heads to New Hampshire. We’ve been talking with Stewart Stevens, who is a media strategist for Texas Governor George Bush. He’s in New Hampshire, as well. Jill June of Planned Parenthood in Greater Iowa. And Chris Jones from Keyes 2000, he is the national field director of the Alan Keyes campaign.