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Are the Democrats Playing Hypocrites with Playboy?

Aired August 11, 2000 - 7:30 p.m. ET


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Live from the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, a special edition of CROSSFIRE.

Tonight, if Al Gore has such a problem with the Democratic fund- raiser at the Playboy mansion, why did he accept thousands of dollars from the Hefner's?

ANNOUNCER: Live from Los Angeles, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press. On the right, Robert Novak. In the CROSSFIRE, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, a Gore supporter, and in Pensacola, Florida, Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, a Bush supporter.

PRESS: Good evening, welcome to CROSSFIRE, live from Los Angeles.

Well, we know where the Democratic convention is going to be held. Right here, in the Staples Center. The big question tonight is, where will the Loretta Sanchez fund raiser be held? Sanchez, Orange County congressman, still wants to hold it as planned at the Playboy mansion. But Democratic National chairman Joe Andrew says, if she does, she'll be kicked out as co-chair of the party and banned from speaking to the convention next week. The Gore campaign agrees, insisting the Playboy mansion doesn't fit the party's image. Since when? Even though the Democrats have accepted tens in thousands of dollars in contributions from Hugh Hefner and his daughter, Christie.

Attempting to put still another embarrassment behind the party, President Clinton apologized again yesterday for the Monica Lewinsky affair. People should blame him for his personal behavior, Clinton told a group of ministers, and not take it out on Al Gore. Both Clinton and wife, Hillary, speak to delegates Monday night, which has Republicans worried, not about what he might say, but about how many might be watching. GOP chair Jim Nicholson has written the networks, begging them not to give Democrats more TV time than Republicans received in Philadelphia. Ain't that a shame.

Well, we told you L.A. was going to be exciting. The convention hasn't even started yet, and already, there's lots to fight about -- Bob.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Congresswoman Waters, honestly and truly, isn't the Democratic National Committee over-reacting to a fund-raiser at the Playboy mansion? When Bill Press was a politician, he used to have them there all the time.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't remember Bill Press having fund-raisers there. Let me just say this, I think it was a poor choice, that Loretta Sanchez should not have brought that much attention on herself doing it there. I come from a time and place where it was at one time the symbol of womanizing. It was the symbol that the feminist community really fought against.

However, having said that, you're absolutely right, the Democratic Party does not have the right to say to Loretta Sanchez, you may not speak, and you will lose your co-chairmanship. It's not fair. I think it is heavy-handed, and I don't like it.

NOVAK: Congresswoman, you know much more about the Democrats than I do, so I think -- I'd like to ask you to be truthful on something, that I really don't understand, and a statement made by the DNC chairman Joe Andrew.

Let's take a look at it.


JOE ANDREW, DNC CHAIRMAN: It may not be a comparable site, but then again, nothing is comparable to the Playboy mansion. That's the very point, we don't want a sight that's comparable to the Playboy mission.


NOVAK: What does that mean? I don't quite understand this. They say they don't a new sight for Mrs. Sanchez that is comparable to the Playboy mansion. What does that mean, do you know?

WATERS: I don't know, but I do know this -- the Republicans have bent over backwards to try to make us out to be people without morals, to try and say we don't have values. They've worked overtime at trying to paint us as something that the American public does not want, and so we do have to take action, and we do to make it clear that we are certainly Democrats with morals, and that we are family people, and we have good values. And sometimes, some of us reach a little bit too far to try and prove it, because you guys are beating us up all the time.

NOVAK: Well, you know, I have heard the Democrats just attacking the Republicans for being Holy Joes or Holy Josephines for years, and suddenly, we get a really Holy Joe, Senator Joe Lieberman, talking about religion all the time, and the spokesperson for the Playboy Enterprises, the world-famous Cindy Rakowitz, "Gee, isn't this is a coincidence that Lieberman was just appointed as his" -- meaning Gore's -- "and all of a sudden, there is this extreme fundamentalism. This is something we would expect from Robertson," unquote.

NOVAK: So isn't this all a plan by the Democrats to bring in an Orthodox Jew on the ticket. We have Maxine Waters talking about family values. And they're pounding on Loretta Sanchez. It's all a plan, isn't it? WATERS: Maxine Waters is a grandmother with grandchildren, raised two children, strong family woman. We don't go around wearing it on our shoulder, and telling everybody, look at me, look at me, I'm a family person, as Republicans have done.

NOVAK: Aren't you doing that now? Aren't you wearing it on your shoulder?

WATERS: Absolutely not. And I would not do it, except what you just said.

So let me just say this, yes, there are attempts to try and talk more about religion. There is religion creep on both sides of the aisle. The Republicans have been doing it for years. And let me tell you, African-Americans certainly have no problem talking about religion. I said to someone the other day, for the most part, we were born with a Bible in our hand. So it's not matter of now we are doing what you have been doing all along; it's a matter of making it clear, and saying to folks, yes, we have religious values also.

PRESS: Maxine, Congresswoman Waters, I'm sorry. I have to confess to you, that when I was running for office in California, I did have a fund-raiser at the Playboy mansion, and I'd have another one tomorrow.

Congressman Scarborough, good evening, thank you for joining us.

REP. JOE SCARBOROUGH (R), FLORIDA: This sounds like fun.

PRESS: I wanted to Playboy mansion issue aside right now, Congressman. I've got two tickets for Tuesday's night fund-raiser. Do you want to be my guest?

SCARBOROUGH: Absolutely not, because Democrats are radical extremists, and all the things Maxine said we try to paint -- Now this is amazing. Maxine Waters has given us the Democratic platform for 2000. I wrote it down. "It was born with a Bible in our hands," instead of "Born in the USA."

And the other one was "Democrats with morals." I mean, this comes from the party who over the past two years, the presidential spokesman's ridiculed Ken Starr for being a born-again Christian and for singing hymns in his morning jog. If a presidential spokesman called Southern Baptists extremist and agents of hate, I'm telling you, in Nashville, I expected them to sing "Holy, Holy, Holy." So something is up, and I don't know what it is, but it is bizarre. It's the only word you can say.

But I'm glad that Maxine Waters is a Democrat with morals, and I'm thinking that maybe when we get back to Washington, Maxine, you, me and Pat Robertson can sit down for breakfast, and we'll let you pray.

WATERS: I don't know if I want to have breakfast with you. That's taking it a little bit too far. However...


SCARBOROUGH: You're new and improved.

PRESS: Let her respond please -- go ahead.

WATERS: As I've said, time and time again, Republicans have chosen to just wrap themselves in the flag and the Bible, and talk about it, talk about it, all the time. We are family people. What we have not done is try and insert it into the politics at every angle, every inch of the way.

SCARBOROUGH: Right. But over the past six years, though, I have heard the term "right-wing religious fanatic" used probably a thousand times, used toward me and others that came in 1994.

WATERS: That's a pretty accurate description.

SCARBOROUGH: OK, so there, you're demonizing again. And yet you didn't say, oh, right-wing religious hypocrite. It was attacking actually the belief, right-wing religious fanatic. You can't have it both ways.

PRESS: All right, Congressman Scarborough, let me ask you about if you think the Democrats have an image problem. I was in Philadelphia. I ran into you up there a couple of times. The song that we heard mostly from the podium in Philadelphia, because Bush is reaching out to Latinos, is "Living La Vida Loca."

OK, I happened to look at the lyrics of "Living La Vida Loca." I just want to read you just a couple lines here Congressman Scarborough. "She's got a new addiction for every day and night. She'll make you take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain. She'll make you live her crazy life, but she'll take away your pain, like a bullet to your brain."

I want to ask you, did George Bush know the lyrics to this song before he said play it every night at the convention?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, I'll tell you, if he did, that would surprise me, because Tipper Gore would want to ban it. Actually, the song that mostly sung was a song that I wrote, and I'm sure you were dancing, too. "Together in America," baby, red, white and blue.

PRESS: No, "Living La Vida Loca," she'll make you take your clothes off.

SCARBOROUGH: I actually never heard that song, but you seem obsessed about this. But this doesn't surprise me, as a man who used to raise money at the Hefner mansion.

NOVAK: Congresswoman Waters, one of my favorite things is when President Clinton talks about his outrageous behavior, hasn't done about it in a long time, did it yesterday.

Let's just look at something he said, which I think was really striking. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He doesn't get enough credit for what we did together that is good, and surely, no fair-minded person would blame him for any mistake that I made.


NOVAK: He's talking about Al Gore. He's separating Al Gore him from his terrible behavior. Would you like to see in this Staples Center for Monday night a president not to say that to a bunch of ministers, but to the whole world, say Al Gore is not responsible for my immorality?

WATERS: Well, you know, the president will say what he wants to say, and I'm


NOVAK: What would you like


WATERS: Let me just say this. You guys have worked very hard at trying to assign to Al Gore Bill Clinton's mistakes. When you do that we have to defend ourselves. You can't do that. You shouldn't do that. And because you have done that and you have done it so well, it's all right for the president to say: No, that's wrong. Don't try to make Al Gore responsible for the mistakes that I'm -- you know, that's what a good man would stand up and do. And that's what he's doing.

NOVAK: Congresswoman, you choose not to say whether you wanted him to say that on the floor. But let me say this: You know, the White House is saying: This has nothing to do with the convention. This had nothing to do with the double-digit lead by George Bush. This has nothing to do with people really tired of immorality. Isn't this an attempt by a very clever politician to get Al Gore out from under his mistakes?

WATERS: Well, let me tell you, you guys have been running around for weeks, and George Bush has been saying: I'm going to bring about morality back to the White House. I'm going to bring back good old values, all of that code-wording, all of that code-discussion that you've been doing. We have to make it clear to the American public: Don't do this. Don't allow yourselves to be tricked and fooled by the words that you're hearing assigning to Al Gore something you shouldn't do.

NOVAK: You know what you just told me?

WATERS: So, if Bill Clinton chooses to say that openly, that's his to do.

NOVAK: It means you're hurting, doesn't it? It means you're really hurting on this issue? WATERS: No, no, no.

SCARBOROUGH: But you know, Al Gore though....

WATERS: We are not hurting, but we don't like to see the American public tricked.

NOVAK: All right, Congressman Scarborough.

PRESS: Congressman Scarborough.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, you know, Al Gore, though, you know, I agree, let's not tie him together. But let's just judge Al Gore by what he's done and his own missed opportunities. He had a chance to condemn the president. He now tells us that he did. But right after the president was impeached, he got out there, and remembered, he banged his fists and called him the greatest president in the history of the country. He has also missed opportunities this past week and the past few months.

I mean, the guy has come out against a marriage-penalty tax relief, He's come out against death-tax relief. He's come out against education reform. He's comes out against Medicare reform. He's come out against Social Security reform. He has a thousand missed opportunities. And so, I say let's judge him by that. And let's not look at Bill Clinton's scandals. Let's look at the scandal where he lied to the FBI under deposition, where he went to the fund raiser in the Buddhist temple, where he illegally raised money from his office in the White House.


SCARBOROUGH: This guy has enough stuff. Let's judge him by his own faults.

NOVAK: OK, we're going to have to take a break. And when we come back, we will inquire as to whether the broadcast television networks are going to be -- shocking -- unfair, prejudiced against the Republicans when they cover the Democratic Convention next week.


NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE, live from Los Angeles.

The broadcast networks won't give the Democratic National Convention all that much air time, but it probably will get a lot more than was given the Republicans last week. The networks ignored Laura Bush when she opened the GOP Convention. They may cover Hillary Rodham Clinton when she opens for the Democrats Monday night. Republican leaders say that's unfair. Network execs say it's just sound news judgment.

We will get impartial judgments from two members of Congress, Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, who is here in our convention booth and Joe Scarborough, Republican of Florida, who is back home in Pensacola -- Bill. PRESS: Congressman, I can't believe all this whining by Jim Nicholson, who wrote this letter and he told the networks not one minute more -- I mean, as if he thinks that, you know, somebody else died and left him God.

But let me ask you this, Congressman, wouldn't you have to agree, I mean, Bill Clinton is still the president of the United States, that the last convention speech of Bill Clinton is more interesting than a retread speech by Colin Powell in Philadelphia two weeks ago?

SCARBOROUGH: I would say that Colin Powell and what Colin Powell says and thinks is going to shape the first half of the 21st century a heck of a lot more than what Bill Clinton says in his farewell speech. I will also say this: It's inexcusable they cut Laura Bush the way they did. And the thing that -- you watch -- the story to watch to show just how biased and unfair the networks are is the story of Ken Lucas, who has said today he is not going to endorse Al Gore.

I will guarantee you, if a Republican had said they would not support him, that they would abstain from supporting George W. Bush, Dan Rather, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and everybody, they would buy this guy his own sweet.

PRESS: Now, wait a minute. Let me ask you this. Look, if the Democrats happen to come up with a more newsworthy convention and a more exciting convention, you don't blame the networks, Joe. You blame the Republican operatives, right? They blew it in Philadelphia. Nobody wanted to cover that conference because nothing went on.

SCARBOROUGH: You were the -- you know what? You know why nobody wanted to cover that convention?

PRESS: Nothing happened.

SCARBOROUGH: Because there was not Republican dissension, because you don't have people like Ken Lucas that are going to get beaten up. And you don't have people like Loretta Sanchez, who is being beaten up, just like when Govern Casey wanted to speak, what, back in '92, he wasn't allowed to because he didn't go by this strict, rigid, left-wing ideology.

PRESS: Nothing to do with it, Joe, nothing.

SCARBOROUGH: No, it has everything to do with it. The news didn't cover dissension then. You watch, they won't cover Ken Lucas the way they cover dissent on the Republican side, because they are extraordinarily biased. You're laughing. It's laughable that you're laughing.

NOVAK: Congresswoman Waters...


NOVAK: ... look me in the eye...

WATERS: Yes. NOVAK: ... and tell me the American people are more interested in hearing from Bill Clinton than from Colin Powell. Tell me that.

WATERS: Oh, I certainly am.



WATERS: No, look directly at me. I certainly am.

NOVAK: How about the American people? Do you think the American people -- they have been listen to this guy talk endlessly for eight years and general Powell is the most admired American person -- do you really think they would rather hear from Bill Clinton than...

WATERS: Absolutely. This man has been a president who has been controversial, but remarkable. He's done a great job for this economy, he's engaged a lot of American people in politics and government, and he's got something to say. And we want to hear it...

NOVAK: Congress...

SCARBOROUGH: He did nothing for the economy.

WATERS: ... and I don't think that his message should be blunted or cut short. I think the American people do want to hear the farewell speech of Bill Clinton.

NOVAK: Isn't it...

SCARBOROUGH: The only...

NOVAK: Isn't it...

SCARBOROUGH: The only thing Bill Clinton did for the economy is with the help of Maxine Waters and the tie-breaking vote of Al Gore passed the largest tax increase ever onto Americans. That is the -- that was his only vision for driving down the deficit, the biggest tax increase and it never would have passed...

NOVAK: Congresswoman...

SCARBOROUGH: ... without Al Gore's vote.

SCARBOROUGH: One at a time now, one at a time.

NOVAK: Congresswoman Waters...

PRESS: We say that.

NOVAK: Congresswoman Waters...


NOVAK: ... as a very able politician... WATERS: Yes.

NOVAK: ... Democratic politician who wants Al Gore to win, you would really like to get the Clintons out of here as quickly as possible, let Al Gore get on the stage, let the people recover from their Clinton fatigue.

WATERS: I know you don't care more about my party than I do, and I know that you're not so worried that Al Gore is not going to get his time at this convention. You're trying again to intimidate, first, the networks so they will do less coverage. And you're also trying to drive a wedge between the two most able individuals this country has ever seen. And so...

NOVAK: Ever seen? Ever seen?

WATERS: And let me just say this...

PRESS: Congress...

WATERS: Let me just say this. Don't you worry about our convention. We will handle ourselves, and we'll do it quite well.

PRESS: Congressman Scarborough, we have just about a minute. I've got one quick question for you. Coming out of Philadelphia, there were clearly two themes the Republicans wanted to stress. One is tie Bill Clinton's scandals to Al Gore, and the other, say we're the party of family values. Now Joe Lieberman is the vice presidential nominee for the Democrats -- checkmate Joe Scarborough. You're out of issues, right?

SCARBOROUGH: The message the Republicans got out of Philadelphia was that we were united, that Al Gore has been part of a team that has had missed opportunity out of missed opportunity...

PRESS: And Joe Lieberman answers that, right?

SCARBOROUGH: ... and that we are united, not divided.

Well, I'll tell you what, just like Sanchez and Lucas are divided from Gore, Lieberman's divided from Gore. Because all the things that Maxine and Gore have been fighting against over the past eight years Lieberman supports, like missile defense and...

PRESS: All right.

SCARBOROUGH: ... he's against partial birth abortion and all these other things. I'm telling you, they're so divided, this is going to be the most fun...

PRESS: Time's up.

SCARBOROUGH: ... since 1968.

PRESS: Time's up, Congressman. They're joined at the hip now, like it or not. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, great to have you in the studio. Congressman Joe Scarborough, come on out here, join the fun, Joe. We'll take you to the Playboy Mansion.

SCARBOROUGH: I'm coming. I'm coming to see Maxine.

PRESS: All right. Bob Novak...

WATERS: All right, good to see you.

PRESS: Bob Novak and I will wrap things up with our closing comments, coming up.


NOVAK: Bill, I bow to nobody in my admiration for the dexterity of the Democratic Party, the world's oldest political party. After having a serial philanderer as president, after condemning moral values they get an Orthodox Jew on the ticket and they're all holy Joes now, saying, don't set foot in the Playboy Mansion, although we'll take Hefner's money. They're wonderful.

PRESS: But you know, Bob, the difference between Republicans and Democrats, Democrats know how to walk and chew gum at the same time. We can bring Bill Clinton in here, honor him, and then bring Joe Lieberman in here and launch them on to victory in November, Bob. You watch it. It's exciting.

NOVAK: It's wonderful.

PRESS: From the left, I'm Bill Press. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak.

Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.



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