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George W. Bush Arrives in Philadelphia; Clinton Jabs Anger Both Governor and President BushAired August 2, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Live pictures from inside the convention hall here in Philadelphia. The Republican convention under way. This is its third day. Today, the news was that George W. Bush arrived in this city. He pressed on with his bid to make the most of this first day here and to promote Dick Cheney's speech tonight.
Our Jonathan Karl is covering the Bush campaign.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fanfare for the man of the hour -- a triumphant George W. Bush hit Philadelphia to be greeted by a who else? A lookalike of Ben Franklin. Next at an event geared to Hispanics, Bush's most famous nephew presented himself as a spokesman of the Latino community.
GEORGE P. BUSH, GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH'S NEPHEW: Are you guys excited about elected a president who represents the diversity of our society. Who we can count on to change the Republican Party so that it starts to represent our views, and our faces and our diversity?
KARL: Bush was joined on the stage by John McCain, their first joint appearance in three months, and only their second since the primaries.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is a living example of duty, honor and country. And, senator, I can't wait to campaign with you all across the country. There is a better day for America. There is a better day for all.
JIM NICHOLSON, RNC CHAIRMAN: The next vice president of the United States. Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, and the next president of the United States, George W. Bush and his wife, Laura.
KARL: At a $10 million gala fund-raiser for the Republican National Committee, Bush talked about Dick Cheney's convention speech tonight.
GOV. BUSH: This man is a man of enormous integrity, great depth, solid judgment. He is really fun to be around. I care for him a lot. America's going to care for him. I'm proud to call him friend, and this great land is going to be proud to him call him "Mr. Vice President." Top Republicans are billing Cheney's speech, in part, as a "compare and contrast" speech, presenting the conventions most direct and pointed criticisms of the Democrats. Cheney is also expected to talk about his experience serving Republican presidents going back to the 1970s, and about the qualities of leadership he saw in those presidents and now sees in Governor Bush.
KARL: Well, I'm here at First Union Center, where unfortunately, they have just turned the lights out on us. But just a few moments ago here, Governor Bush took his first look at convention center, went up to the podium, had a look in the teleprompter, got a feel for the place. He spent about 40 minutes here taking a look at the place where he will be giving his acceptance speech tomorrow night. Of course, tonight's night dedicated to Dick Cheney. And, as we reported, convention officials, are saying that Dick Cheney's speech will be some of the most pointed and direct criticism of Democrats.
CNN has just obtained, from those officials, excerpts of that speech. I'll read one of them where he takes on the Clinton-Gore administration. He says -- quote -- "What are we to make of the past eight years? I look at them and see opportunities squandered. The wheel has turned, and it is time for them to go" -- that from Dick Cheney's speech that he'll be giving tonight. An unprecedented moment -- this is the first time in history that a vice presidential nominee has had his own night for his acceptance speech.
Now, what Bush officials are saying is that is a symbol, an indication that he will be a very central player as this campaign moves forward,
Bernie, back to you.
SHAW: Jonathan Karl, thanks very much.
Joining us now, the chief strategist for Governor Bush's campaign, Karl Rove.
Karl Rove, Jon Karl just quoted from Dick Cheney's speech coming up tonight, accusing the Clinton-Gore administration of having, over the past eight years, squandered opportunities -- example?
KARL ROVE, BUSH SENIOR STRATEGIST: Social Security, where there was a bipartisan commission that proposed reforms that this administration ignored -- a bipartisan commission on prescription drugs which this commission -- which this administration opposed -- bipartisan commission on reform of Medicare, which this administration opposed -- a bipartisan consensus that America's military needed to be strengthened, which this administration opposed -- and perhaps most troubling of all, the achievement gap between students in poor areas of our country and students in rich areas of our country.
The achievement gap, nationwide, has not closed over the last seven years. It has closed in some states, and the states leading the way in closing the achievement gap between students in rich and poor areas is Texas, under Governor George W. Bush.
SHAW: Now, Karl Rove, strategically, what is Dick Cheney's assignment tonight at this podium behind us?
ROVE: Well, it's the assignment of anybody who is speaking here during these four days, which is to help advance the Bush agenda, to talk about the positive and optimistic agenda which Governor Bush is laying out for the American people, the five big issues the governor is addressing. He also, though, has a unique opportunity to share the perspective that he has had, serving in the administrations of three officials -- or three presidents, excuse me -- as a chief of staff to Gerald Ford...
ROVE: ... and a congressman under Ronald Reagan, and as secretary of defense to President Bush.
SHAW: And, from this podium tonight, will Dick Cheney discuss those House votes that have become such fodder for his critics?
ROVE: Well, no, he won't. And the reason is because they are faint fodder at best. Let me give you one example. Democrats are attacking Dick Cheney for supposedly voting against Head Start. He voted against increasing the Head Start spending one time. Well, later on, he proposed cost savings in other programs that would allow for a 16 percent increase in Head Start funding. He voted for that 16 percent increase in Head Start funding. Guess who voted against it?
ROVE: Al Gore...
SHAW: Al Gore.
ROVE: ... Al Gore -- then a Congressman from Tennessee. So, these are -- this is a distortion of his record. American people know it. He doesn't need to spend valuable time, prime-time tonight, talking about it. That's left for minions like me to defend.
SHAW: You calling yourself a minion, that is fascinating.
ROVE: I'm a minion
SHAW: What do your overnight tracking polls tell you about how your convention is being received?
ROVE: Well, the Battleground Poll says that -- last night, I think the track -- the two-day track -- was a 13-point advantage for the Bush campaign. We've got a couple more nights to go. We'll see how it all plays out.
SHAW: Stand by, please. My colleague, Jeff Greenfield, has a question -- Jeff. GREENFIELD: One question, Karl, because I think it's going to be the question for the next four months. You have got the best economy in history by most people's recommendation or recollection. You've got social indicators all going in the right direction: crime, divorce, abortion. What -- an incumbent party has never been turned out of office in such a circumstance. The last time it even happened was '68 with this economy when we had a war.
What's the case? Why do they have to go?
ROVE: Well, there are two reasons -- there are three reasons, big reasons, actually. First of all, we need to change the tone in Washington. We need to restore dignity and honor to the White House. The American people are sick and tired of what they've seen over the last seven years in Washington, with the high partisanship and the daily attacks.
Second of all, yes, we are in a time of great prosperity. America ought to use that time to do hard things. We ought to reform Social Security. We ought to reform Medicare. We ought to reform education. We ought to strengthen our military. And we ought to do something to confront the suffering and poverty that remains in our country. And this administration had seven years to address those problems and squandered the opportunities to do so.
And finally, on the economy, people understand and have given Governor Bush, in the polls, a lead on the question of who can better continue America's prosperity, because Governor Bush understands where that prosperity comes from. It comes from hard-working entrepreneurs and risk-takers and working people. This administration doesn't get it. This administration believes that prosperity comes from them.
In New York -- in a speech before the New York Historical Society not too long ago -- Al Gore, when asked, said American people were working hard in 1991, but it didn't matter. What mattered: We gave them the tools. This administration that believes that it created prosperity -- the American people know they created prosperity.
SHAW: Before you leave, the convention ends tomorrow night at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time. Governor Bush will have addressed the party here. And delegates will begin to go home. What is your campaign going to do about President Clinton's attacks on Governor Bush?
ROVE: Well, I wish there was a way we could encourage him to attack him more. Because every time Governor Bush is attacked by President Clinton, it reminds the American people of why they want to change Washington. It diminishes Al Gore. And, frankly, it diminishes the office of the presidency that's been entrusted to this man. This is not the appropriate behavior to make these kind of cheesy political attacks that President Clinton is launching here in the final months of his administration.
SHAW: Karl, one more question, please, a very important money question: How much money, soft and hard money, will it take in your judgment to beat Vice President Al Gore? ROVE: Oh, hard to say. I mean, we're going to receive a check from the U.S. Treasury. We hope that the Republican National Committee is able to raise the requisite hard money that they're allowed by law to give us in addition to that. We're not going to outspend the opposition, between and unions and the Democratic National Committee and liberal groups like the National Abortion Rights Action League and the Sierra Club. We are not going to be able to outspend it. We just need to get enough money to spend it wisely to get our message out.
SHAW: Karl Rove, chief strategist for Governor Bush's campaign. Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS.
And Judy and I will be back with more from Philadelphia and the Republican Convention.
WOODRUFF: Joining us now to talk more about Dick Cheney and his record, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Dick Cheney's home state of Wyoming, and Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who is in Las Vegas.
Senators, thank you both for joining us.
ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: It's a pleasure.
WOODRUFF: Senator Reid, you probably, you may have just heard Karl Rove tell Bernie that Dick Cheney's votes are in the past. They are not all that significant anymore. Are Democrats making too big of a deal out of the way that Dick Cheney voted out in the 1980s?
SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: Well I think we need a window to the future, not a window to the past. And I think that is what Dick Cheney brings to this ticket: the past, the past of deficits. We had never-ending deficits. We had debt. We had, of course, recession. And that is the legacy we have been trying to overcome in the last few years. And that is what President Clinton has been trying to do with his 1993 budget, which passed without a single Republican vote.
And I think that if you look at Dick Cheney's voting record, that is something that we have to be concerned about. Because, remember, a vice president has the right to break a tie. And Al Gore broke a tie and set us in 1993 on the road of economic recovery. We passed that budget without a single Republican vote in the House or in the Senate.
WOODRUFF: Senator Simpson, is Dick Cheney a window to the past?
SIMPSON: No, and Harry, you were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Harry and I both were whips of that organization. Dick Cheney is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met in public life. Window to the past -- the trouble that Democrats will have with Dick Cheney, whatever -- however they come at him, tooth and fang -- and they're sure doing it -- is the fact that Dick Cheney will handle all those things himself. He doesn't need surrogates. He will go on every program. And he will explain every vote in a very lucid way. And I know him. I have never seen anyone more balanced, more with an internal gyroscope of how to do things and do them right. He brings a window of stability. And it's two people who like to make things work. Harry was like that. I like to make things work. You have got two people finally -- after all of the whining and moaning and bitching that has been going on like: How come Congress doesn't work? And why they don't talk to each other? Well, hire on George Bush and Dick Cheney and watch it work.
WOODRUFF: Senator Reid, in fact, some of the criticism coming from Democrats on Dick Cheney's record -- on some abortion votes -- those votes were -- in fact, Al Gore voted exactly the same way Dick Cheney did, when it came to opposing federal funding for abortion, opposing exceptions and so forth.
REID: Of course, Alan Simpson is one my favorite people I have served with in government at any time. So Alan, it's good to hear your voice, to see you.
SIMPSON: It sure is.
REID: But the fact of the matter is, to look at Dick Cheney's record, you need to look at what Newt Gingrich said. Newt Gingrich is quoted as saying, after he was chosen as vice president, that: His record is even more conservative than mine. Well, I think someone voting against the Department of Education, not once but numerous times, against the Older Americans act, to, as a I said, to abolish the Department Education, to vote against clean water.
Those of us in the West, we want clean water. Cheney, even though he is from the West, voted against clean water on more than one occasion. This is not a record -- you know, he is a nice guy. I liked him. I served with him -- wonderful man. But we can't just abandon this record. We have got to look at it, because he is going to have the opportunity in the United States Senate on very, very crucial issues to break a tie vote.
WOODRUFF: What about that, Senator Simpson, on these specific votes?
SIMPSON: Dick Cheney can't wait for this kind of garble, because Al Gore has the most cluttered background of votes. The night at the Apollo Theater, when he took on Bill Bradley -- and a very outrageous performance in my mind -- in his hip pocket, Al Gore had got five votes where he voted to prevent the IRS from taking away the tax exemption on the segregated colleges. He voted against Dellums and Rangel and all the rest, and stood there that night in a bald-faced lie and pulled that off. That's our guy.
WOODRUFF: Senator, but we are talking about Dick Cheney. And what about
SIMPSON: Well, I would like to talk about Al Gore, too.
WOODRUFF: I know you would, Senator.
WOODRUFF: But in terms of his votes against -- to abolish the Department of Education, against the Clean Water Act.
SIMPSON: Well, go look at the votes and then know that we come from a state called an extractive industry state, where they suddenly put into the Clean Water Act that you had to find fungi or fungi -- or whatever you want to call it -- in a certain water source. And they had pineapple. We don't have any pineapples in Wyoming. And this is the kind of stuff that you get to digging.
And Dick Cheney will answer every one of these absurdities: clean water, clean air. We live on coal.
REID: Hey, Judy?
SIMPSON: We live on coal, and we have extractive surface mine coal. We put all the dirt back in the right holes. We try to do it right.
WOODRUFF: Senator, you are from...
WOODRUFF: Go ahead.
WOODRUFF: You are from a Western state too. Go ahead.
REID: Alan Simpson is the best. I mean, here we are talking about pineapples and clean water. The fact is that we don't have to be talking about extractive states. We extract about as much as any state. We lead the nation in gold mining. But the fact is, we still like clean matter. We still like the Older Americans Act. We like the Department of Education.
SIMPSON: Well, Harry.
REID: These are not things that can be explained by the fact that you are from a Western state. These are core issues. They affect the American people.
SIMPSON: Harry, go look at role call vote and see -- that is what they were up to in those years. All of the Republicans were up to that kind of stuff. It wasn't an isolated thing. What's new? That's it.
REID: No, Alan, Alan, all due respect, as I have already said, you are one of my favorites.
SIMPSON: Now, here comes the zinger.
REID: The fact is, on many of these votes, he was a dist -- most of the Republicans voted the other way. But he was one of 27.
SIMPSON: Harry, when you have an operation in your party run by Donna Brazile which is called the Slaughter House to look for votes on...
REID: All right.
SIMPSON: That is what she called it -- and said that these look like gentle people, but they are killers, that is a hell of an operation. What a sweet bunch that is.
WOODRUFF: We're going to -- gentlemen, we -- I know how much you two respect each other. And you could go on for hours. And we wish you could. But we are going to have to stop here.
Senator Simpson, Senator Reid.
SIMPSON: I'll call you, Harry.
WOODRUFF: We thank you both for joining us.
REID: Thank you.
SIMPSON: Thank you.
SHAW: Judy, the interview you just did is one of the prime reasons I love INSIDE POLITICS. Oh my goodness!
And, when INSIDE POLITICS returns, the expected highlights, hour by hour, when Republican conventioneers get back to business in this hall this evening.
SHAW: At the last word, convention-planners are still planning to have some sort of tribute to former president Gerald R. Ford, who remains hospitalized here in Philadelphia after suffering at least one, and possibly two small strokes. The convention schedule may change a bit once the session begins in less than two hours, but the main events are likely to stay on track.
Here's a look at Wednesday, August 2nd, the third day of the Republican National Convention. Minutes after the start, 7:30 local time, recently retired NFL quarterback Steve Young takes the snap and delivers the invocation. In the 8:00 hour, the spotlight shifts from the famous to the mainstream. Kim Jennings becomes the latest to lend her story to underscore a GOP theme. As a single mother juggling work and college, she'll discuss the need for tax relief.
That's one of the topics under the night's theme: prosperity with a purpose, keeping America prosperous and protecting retirement security. In the 9:00 hour...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arizona cast its 30 votes for Governor George W. Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: The rolling roll call, which began Monday, is expected to nudge the Bush ticket over the top. In the following hour, 10:00, the focus tightens to the second half of the Bush-Cheney ticket. Vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney will receive his official nomination, then deliver his acceptance speech. That will come in the final minutes of the convention's third night, Wednesday, August 2nd.
Now, we turn to our Bill Schneider with some tips for convention watchers. Here we are, night three. What do we look for?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The big moment, of course, will be Dick Cheney's acceptance speech. Is this guy ready for prime time? Well, he has been, as you know, White House chief of staff, congressman, cabinet secretary, CEO of an energy company, but he's never ran for national office, and that is in a league by itself.
Some other figures with impressive credentials have stumbled in that arena: John Glenn, the astronaut, when he ran for president, Ross Perot, I suppose Donald Trump. But you know, Cheney was picked because of his quality of authority, and maturity, and most of all, civility. But having those qualities is one thing and being able to communicate them effectively to a national audience, that's something else.
SHAW: Civility? Do you think this will be the kind of vice presidential speech that one comes to expect?
SCHNEIDER: Well you know, it could be. Here's some examples of vice presidential speeches that we've already come to expect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1992)
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No the American's spirit isn't gone, but we vow here tonight that in November, George Bush and Dan Quayle will be history.
GORE: I'm not saying they're bad people, but their approach to governing this country has badly failed. They have taxed the many to enrich the few, and it is time for them to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1992)
DAN QUAYLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And he can't fight for the traditional family because his supporters in Hollywood and the media elite won't let him.
(CHEERING) QUAYLE: My friends, my friends, Bill Clinton, and the special interest will never run America, because we won't let them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: The vice president is supposed to be the attack dog, but you know, this is also supposed to be a different kind of convention, with no attack politics.
President Clinton's critical comments about Governor Bush may have been intended to goad Republicans into going on the attack. Then the Democrat could say, see, it's the same old slash-and-burn Republicans. You know, it's amazing, the names Al Gore and Bill Clinton have hardly come up at all on this convention. Well, if anybody is going to take them on, Cheney is the one who's supposed to do it tonight.
SHAW: How will he possibly deal with his congressional voting record?
SCHNEIDER: Well you know, Cheney is a moderate and reasonable fellow, but his voting is very extreme -- against reauthorization of the Clean Water Act, against the Department of Education, against a ban on armor-piercing bullets, and of course against the resolution that called for Nelson Mandela's release. Now what can Cheney do? What are his choices? He can defend his record. He can say at least he's consistent, while Al Gore is shifty. He can backtrack. In fact, Cheney has already said that while he would defend his votes at time, times have changed and he might not vote the same way today. Or he could just ignore his voting record -- that's what Karl Rove said he expects him to do -- and say, this campaign is about the future, it's not about the past. You know, if the ban starts playing, don't stop thinking about tomorrow, we'll take that as a hint.
SHAW: OK, thank you, Bill Schneider -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right.
SCHNEIDER: And just ahead, Al Gore relaxes as his boss goes on the offensive.
Chris Black has the story.
WOODRUFF: Messages by some leaders, some Democrats, in the aftermath of former President Gerald Ford, who experienced at least one miner stroke and who is still in the hospital here in Philadelphia.
The Republicans are in the spotlight this week, and Vice President Al Gore is on vacation in North Carolina. But his party is not taking a break from its efforts to derail the momentum of George W. Bush.
Chris Black reports.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the Republican National Convention follows its script, many Democrats are gleeful that they've managed to distract the star of the show. The nation's top Democrat, President Bill Clinton, is said to be acting on his own, lobbing barbs at the Republican candidate like this one.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The message of the Bush campaign is just that. I mean, how bad could I be? I've been governor of the Texas, my daddy was president, I owned a baseball team.
BLACK: The presidential taunts drew George W. Bush and his father, former President Bush, into a testy tit-for-tat exchange. Even the candidate's mother, Barbara Bush, is getting into the game, questioning Al Gore's ability to restore respect to the presidency.
BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Well, it would be very difficult, I think, for some of the things that he's done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That he, Al Gore, has done?
BARBARA BUSH: Yes. And now we're getting ballistic.
BLACK: Some senior Gore aides would prefer closer ties between the White House and Gore campaign, and better control over Mr. Clinton's public statement. But they also say the presidential attacks have worked to the Gore's advantage this week, by pushing George W. Bush off of his positive convention message.
MARK FABIANI, GORE DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Now President Clinton said I think what a lot of people in this country are starting to wonder about, and that is, how can George W. Bush expect be elected president on simply a smile and empty photo opportunities around the country.
BLACK: The involvement of the senior Bushes also underscores the newest Gore campaign theme, that Bush and Dick Cheney represent the old guard, and Al Gore the new.
And meanwhile, a multimillion-dollar TV ad blitz sponsored by the Democratic National Committee is delivered a pointed Democratic message in 17 battleground states. Each day, the Democrats roll out a new ad, either attacking Bush or highlighting differences between the two candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC AD)
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Al Gore has taken on big polluters to protect our air and water. The Bush plan, in Texas he appointed a chemical company lobbyist to enforce environmental laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: The ads are running at time more Americans are watching reruns on broadcast television than Republican convention coverage, according to nightly Nielsen ratings.
In North Carolina, Gore campaign aides say the vacationing vice president is relaxed and ready to make his decision on a running mate, a decision he will announce next Tuesday in Tennessee.
(on camera): Gore campaign aides are debating the best way to get the maximum political benefit from the vice presidential announcement, in order to deliver a positive message about the Democratic ticket.
Chris Black, CNN, Richfield Beach, North Carolina.
SHAW: Joining us now, Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine and Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard."
Tucker, are the Democrats succeeding in taking the gloss of this convention?
TUCKER CARLSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know if they're successful, but it's certainly a good time to do it. I mean, you know, people are paying attention to the extent that they do. And I think that the only problem here is that it kind of reinforces the message that the Bush people want to send out, which is, you know, Al Gore's meaning that he attacks us, and we don't fight back because we're above that, and so it gives them an opportunity to show, you know -- to just tell, I mean, the Gore people are in contrast to their owned blind-to-mountain-climber niceness.
SHAW: And conversely, what about the Republicans pumping out their story to you?
T. CARLSON: I mean, well, it's been amazing. And the question is, does it work? And I suppose that we'll find that out in a couple of months. But if it does, I mean, it is -- you know, people are saying this is all completely phony, and in some sense, that's true, but of course in politics, of course phoniness is also real, and so if turns out to be an effective strategy, I mean, I imagine, you know, I guess every convention will have blind mountain climbers. I mean, it will be a lesson for political science people to study.
MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: There will only be blind mountain climbers if it works, because each successive convention has become more filled with these kind of skits as opposed to anything real happening, because it's seemed to work the last few conventions. So I don't think we're going to see less of it; I think we're going to see more of it, if there could possibly be more.
SHAW: Well, Margaret, are the Democrats having some success in stealing some of the thunder? M. CARLSON: Well, they get criticized -- traditionally, you're not supposed to say anything while the other guy is having his party, and they are. But I think they've stolen a little bit -- what happened is that actually George Bush Sr. taken up his son has stolen some of the limelight in that Clinton said something and now Bush is in the position of having his dad defend him, which I think is the exact opposite of the script. This is happening outside the convention.
And early on when the Bush people polled, they found out stay away from the sense of entitlement, which the father brings. Now, they're off-script because the father is actually taking up and fighting's his son's battle. And to that extent, the Democrats have set off -- set that off and that's been good. I think the Democrats win that fight.
T. CARLSON: But it's not just -- I don't think it's just a father-son dynamic here. I think for people who like politics it's very frustrating to watch this convention. So there's this kind of this shadow convention, the real shadow convention, taking place outside this colloquy kind of between President Bush and President Clinton, where each one sort of jumps into it.
I talked to Carville this morning, and he was -- James Carville. And you know, part of this, of course, was spin, because he doesn't speak without it. But on the other hand, I think part of it is genuine. He was saying, gee, you know where is the fighting, where's the strife, what's politics without beating up the other guy? And I think it just, ooh, it makes people tense to watch this.
SHAW: But is that kind of involvement necessary at this convention?
T. CARLSON: Oh, it's not necessary, but I think there's a certain kind of person who just can't control himself watching this, you know, the endless parade of happy talk. I'm not criticizing it. But a certain kind of person who's very interested in politics is driven crazy by that.
SHAW: Does that make your flesh crawl, Margaret?
M. CARLSON: Well, I was looking for something to happen on the floor, a fist-fight, anything...
... you know, Oklahoma versus Texas. And so this little fight on the side here is quite -- is quite interesting to watch.
But the real show, actually, I mean, the convention is a bunch of skits kind of glommed together. It's a backdrop for -- the real shadow convention is the fund-raisers that are going on, even just right outside here, and you know, the Union Pacific railway cars and everything else.
I mean, the opulence of it is at a level I've never seen before. And remember, a few years ago when the charities said we're not going to have these lavish balls anywhere, because we don't make any money we're putting so much into it. I wonder how you can have this many shrimp the size of elephants and this much champaign, and you know...
T. CARLSON: Oh! Oh!
M. CARLSON: ... they're having...
T. CARLSON: How can you come out against big shrimp and champagne? I mean, this is like the insanity of campaign finance reform.
M. CARLSON: We -- we're at the role of wretched excess here. I don't think they can be making any money, Tucker...
T. CARLSON: Wretched excess. This is like the only relief. This is wonderful that they're doing this. This is probably the only service that corporate America does to the people who come here.
You're against big shrimp?
I mean, this is like -- I hope all of American's watching. This is the essence of campaign finance reform.
M. CARLSON: Soft money, no more shrimp.
SHAW: Yes, but starting next week, we'll be in Los -- Los Angeles. Do you think the Democrats are going to be running around in sackcloth?
M. CARLSON: I think they're going to be doing...
T. CARLSON: Oh, I hope not.
M. CARLSON: ... exactly the same thing, and the level of, you know, money being spent, raising money is now at -- at a level we could have never imagined before.
Tomorrow, there's a golf tournament in which a corporation has bought each of the 18 holes. There's the Chevron hole, the Halliburton hole...
T. CARLSON: Amen.
M. CARLSON: ... the AT&T hole.
T. CARLSON: And hopefully there will be big shrimp there.
Anybody who's against that is on the wrong track, as far as I'm concerned.
SHAW: Margaret Carlson, Tucker Carlson, thanks very much.
T. CARLSON: Thanks.
SHAW: And up next, Jeff Greenfield with some thoughts on politics and getting the public's attention.
WOODRUFF: Joining us now with some thoughts about politics and American, my colleague Jeff Greenfield -- Jeff.
GREENFIELD: Well, you know, with all the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments about the public's indifference to politics, I've come with a solution, a very simple four-point plan to kindle America's interest. One, launch a massive divisive war, start drafting hundreds of thousands of young men and women to fight it. Set fire to a few dozen campuses while you're at it. Two, reignite racial conflict: Set fire to a few dozen American cities. Three, plunge the federal government into a scandal -- it may be legal, it may be sexual -- that raises the real possibility of a constitutional crisis. Four, plunge the American economy into a tailspin, jack up the price of fuel, food and housing, throw a few million people out of work. There I promise you is the recipe for a whole lot of interest in our political process.
Do want the deal? Of course you don't.
One of the big reasons the public isn't engaged in politics is that it doesn't think it has to be. There's no war, there are more jobs, almost no inflation, less crime. Yes, there's a danger here: If the wheel of history turns and we need to reconnect with civic life, we may find ourselves out of practice.
But whether we like it or not, the public now is like the 8-year- old kid who never spoke a word. And one day, he comes down to breakfast and he says, "You know, mom, the oatmeal's cold." The mom says, "How come you never said anything before?" And the kids says, "You know, up to now everything's been fine."
For the public, the oatmeal's nice and warm right now.
WOODRUFF: But does that mean, for the sake of argument, that people shouldn't be interested?
GREENFIELD: They should have some connection to civic life, but we have to understand, I think, that there is an objective reason. When people don't feel the government holds their lives in their hands, that their own financial future is relatively secure, they're going to back off from politics, and we have to remember that.
WOODRUFF: All right.
GREENFIELD: Even on INSIDE POLITICS, we have to remember that.
WOODRUFF: That's right.
WOODRUFF: Thanks for the reminder.
SHAW: Well, that's all for this convention edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Judy, Jeff and I, and the rest of the CNN team will be back in one hour as we head into night No. 3 of this Republican convention.
WOODRUFF: We will also continue to keep you updated on the condition of former President Ford. I'm Judy Woodruff.
SHAW: I'm Bernard Shaw.
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