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In the Crossfire

What's behind the missing disk?

A computer disk containing a detailed presentation on the outlook for the Republican Party in the 2002 elections was apparently found in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., and has been circulating on Capitol Hill.

Democrats argue that the detailed presentation was prepared using taxpayer dollars, which they say is an inappropriate use of funds to benefit the GOP. "Crossfire" hosts Robert Novak and Paul Begala went one-on-one over the once-confidential disk.

BEGALA: We call this segment "Round 6," because this is the round that Bob and I get to climb in the ring, no guests, no script.

Bob, I want to come back to this secret computer disk that was found in Lafayette Square, [White House adviser] Karl Rove's secret political strategy, and ask you, what is behind this? This is the last thing on Karl Rove's strategy -- in this observation, let me put it up here on the screen, he quotes a hero of mine and a great friend of mine, one of the great Democrats in Congress, Charlie Rangel. He says: "Representative Charles Rangel (D), Harlem, drew cheers when he hailed Clinton as "the last elected president of the United States," and said, "It is our job to say we're not getting over Florida."

Now, that's interesting to me in a couple of things. First, you always return to the scene of the crime, Florida, and second, why pick on Charlie Rangel and identify him as Harlem? He represents a part of New York. It's D-New York, it's the convention. Why do you think they did that?

NOVAK: I'll tell you why. Charlie Rangel is a friend of George W. Bush. He's been very helpful to him. And they wanted to show that if a friend could be as nasty as that, think what the [Crossfire co-host James] Carvilles and the Begalas are going to say about him.

It isn't racist. Let me tell you something, I can tell you that Karl Rove thinks it's a disgrace that Republicans got 9 percent of the African-American vote in the last election, and he believes it's a moral obligation, a moral obligation to go after the black vote in America. I know you don't want the Republicans to.

And let me show you something else. 2002, Bush outreach, is growing the vote with Latinos, in the suburbs, especially women, Catholics and union members, and they want to improve with African- American members, and not just -- they know it's going to be a slow process, but they want to do better with African-American numbers. So don't accuse them of playing the race card.

BEGALA: I didn't accuse them of anything. I'm curious. I will accuse them of playing the race card in Texas right now. ... Sen. Phil Gramm and others, gave speeches that appealed directly to racial division. He said the Democratic ticket is led by Tony Sanchez -- Tony Sanchez is a Mexican-American. Ron Kirk, who is running for Senate, is an African-American, and Phil Gramm stood up and others in their party and called it "the racial quota ticket." Now, that's outrageous, isn't it?

NOVAK: Well, you're just playing the race card, because you don't -- you want to keep that 90 percent of the black vote, and you're desperate to keep it, because if Democrats didn't have that, they'd really be in trouble.

BEGALA: But the Republicans will never get it when they divide people on race the way that Phil Gramm did in Texas this week. Shame on him.

NOVAK: Okay.




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