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CNN CROSSFIRE

What Is Rudy Giuliani's Legacy?; Political Stories You Might Have Missed Since September 11

Aired December 28, 2001 - 19:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, MAYOR, NEW YORK: Although I'd have to leave you as a mayor soon, I'll resume the much honorable title of citizen. A citizen of New York, and citizen of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Tonight, a fond farewell, but just how much more Rudy Giuliani have we missed?

Plus, the political stories you might have missed since September 11.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press. On the right, Tucker Carlson. In the crossfire, in New York, Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, and Republican Congressman Peter King. And later, Democratic strategist Bob Shrum and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.

CARLSON: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. The world's most famous mayor steps down. After eight years, Rudy Giuliani is "Person of the Year." And as of Monday, officially out of politics. He ruffled feathers to the end. Just yesterday, Giuliani inflamed a new controversy by suggesting that the site of the World Trade Centers should be devoted to a memorial, rather than new office buildings. The incoming mayor disagrees. And it won't be the last argument Rudy sparks.

Just what is Giuliani's legacy? A newly vibrant New York, some say. Racial polarization, contend others. The history of the Giuliani years is just being written. The debate begins tonight.

Winding up a three-day run is guest host on the left his evening, Paul Begala.

Reverend Al Sharpton, welcome. You're looking very fit, I have to say. Now I know you don't -- well, you look great. I know you don't like Rudy Giuliani. You complain that he's hard to get along with, that he has a temper, that he's an ornery person, that he lashes out, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. To which I say, who cares? The city is far...

AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Well, I don't care about...

CARLSON: ... hold on. The city is far safer than it was eight years ago. When he came in, there was a deficit. Now there is a surplus of a billion dollars. He's turned the city around. Isn't that the proof that he was an effective, excellent mayor?

SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I don't care about his personality. I don't how he behaves. I don't have a relationship with him. What I cared about, and continue to be concerned about is his policies. One, certainly the city is safer. The nation is safer. Certainly during a time that the economy and the nation was stronger, we had a surplus economy in the city. We have in the state. We had it in the nation.

The question is how you spent the surplus. During the surplus years, education did not benefit under Giuliani. During those years of plenty, we still had unemployment that is now higher in New York than it was when he took office. Homelessness is on an increase. So he leaves a city that is, in many ways, on its way back to real problems, because Giuliani helped to ride a wave that was going on nationally.

Then added to that, here's a man that polarized the city. He didn't use black officials for 2.5 years until his second term.

CARLSON: Well, first of all, and I know you'll agree with this, that black officials, as well as black citizens of New York are, on average, safer and richer than they were when he started. But I would also say there are 700,000 fewer people on welfare than there were eight years ago in New York City. There are 250,000 more jobs than there were 2 years ago.

There are many cities in this country. And not one of them has benefited as much as New York has. Giuliani has nothing to do with that?

SHARPTON: Well first of all, I would day, again, that much of what happened -- when you talk about the crime reduction, that had started under Dave Dinkins. You can't say Giuliani did it. Giuliani administered the city during times of plenty, that happened nationwide.

But at the same time, he caused great pain for parts of the city, for leased community relations, the fact that he dealt with polarization, the fact that education is still a major problem. We have as much problems in public education, which is the real basis of any city, with him going out as we had coming in.

President Bush says that it's time to deal with education as a priority in this country. Let's talk about the fact that in New York, Rudy Giuliani has not been able to move education anywhere near excellence in eight years during a surplus tax. Public health.

(CROSSTALK)

So yes, there are some victors. It would be irrational to say that he didn't have some victory. But clearly, he didn't do what he should have.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: They didn't defeat the union. That's a problem, as you know.

PAUL BEGALA, GUEST CO-HOST: I want to bring Congressman Peter King into this. He's also joining us from New York.

Congressman King, thank you for joining us, sir.

Back when I was working for President Clinton in the White House, you were one of the few Republicans who stood up to the right wing lynch mob and opposed his impeachment. Here's why this matters with Rudy Giuliani. Because at that time, people said to you and they said to me that Clinton's problems in his marriage would make it impossible for him to be a moral leader in a time of crisis.

Now Rudy Giuliani had much publicized troubles of his own. Did that keep him from being a moral leader on September 11, congressman?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: No, not at all. And I never thought it would. I didn't think it really impacted on Bill Clinton. It didn't impact on Rudy Giuliani. And I have to disagree with Al Sharpton. The fact is anybody living, almost anybody living in New York realizes this city is far better off than it was eight years ago.

Crime is down. Welfare is down. Unemployment is down. Jobs are up certainly from eight years ago. And actually, more money was spent on Rudy Giuliani when the increase was greater under Giuliani than it was under Dave Dinkins.

And again, yes, crime went down in the country. Yes, economy improved in the country. But no city had the rate of increase as far as jobs, as far as income. No city had a declining crime the way New York City did. Rudy has to get credit for that. He was a tough guy in tough times and he did the job.

BEGALA: Well, he was that. And in fact, I, like many Democrats, have criticized him on this and that in the past, but September 11 really was a remarkable moment. And I want to talk about something that I think highlights the September 11 performance by Rudy Giuliani. And that is when the crisis struck, he went down to ground zero and he even risked his life.

And many thoughtful commentators, including my friend Tucker Carlson, have pointed out in writing, Tucker did a column in "New York" magazine that pointed out that George W. Bush didn't do the same thing. He was out of the District. And he didn't come home for 10 hours, 10 hours when all the planes were accounted for. And he gave us some cock and bull story about Air Force one being under attack.

KING: No.

BEGALA: Didn't Rudy's raw courage show George W. Bush how to lead? KING: First of all, we have two different issues. Yes, Rudy did a great job, but to try to attack George Bush for not coming back, the Secret Service didn't want him to come back. I don't think any reasonable person's going to criticize him for that. You were in the White House.

BEGALA: Did you believe that story about Air Force One, because I didn't? Did you believe that story?

KING: No, what I believe is the White House did get a threat on Air Force One. It may not have been true, but they did get a real threat. In fact, just in "Newsweek" this week, they talk about how the military come in and said that a threat did come in about Air Force One. Somebody had the code for Air Force One. They were concerned. So I think -- nobody knew what was happening at that time.

But the reality is two days later, three days later, George Bush was in New York at ground zero. And even though I'm a friend of Bill Clinton, the reality is, when the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993, Bill Clinton never came to the World Trade Center at all. George Bush was down there at ground zero three days later. He's provided tremendous leadership for the country. And Rudy Giuliani really, I think, showed his inner spirit when he really rallied the city, showed his guts, and brought the city back.

I mean, God forbid if somebody else had been there, rather than Giuliani on September 11, I doubt if the city would have come back as quickly as it did, nor would the country have been inspired the way it was.

SHARPTON: Well...

CARLSON: Wait, Al Sharpton. Let ask you a quick question here. You constantly -- you've gotten a lot of mileage out of attacking Rudy Giuliani as some sort of reactionary right winger, who's insensitive on racial matters.

But if you pay any attention to Rudy Giuliani, you know it's not true. I just want to read you just a quote from his -- the speech he just gave as he leaves the office of mayor.

He says, "I remember after the attack on the World Trade Center, I just -- it came very naturally for me to say to people don't single out, don't engage in group blame. Don't blame the World Trade Center attacks on Arab Americans."

This is a guy who essentially is a compassionate conservative. In fact, in many ways, he's not for boycotting Korean stores, but he's pro-choice. He's pro-gay. I mean, his politics aren't that far from yours. He's a moderate Democrat by most standards. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that he impedes your political progress? You don't like him for that, it's not a political thing.

SHARPTON: If Rudy Giuliani had showed that compassion for eight years, we probably would have had a different opinion of him. The reason it became such a story that he showed compassion is because he did not show it for eight years. And I think he did show it there. And the rarity of it stunned many of us.

I think he rose to the occasion on September 11. But he didn't for almost eight years. And I think he should be commended. I also think that Anthony Williams in Washington, D.C. did a great job. And I think that he ought to be recognized, not only for what he did September 11 in rallying the people in the District of Columbia, that the national media has ignored him.

The anthrax attacks that happened afterward, he rallied. So I don't think we should take anything away from Giuliani or Anthony Williams. But at the same time, you cannot take five weeks and say that because of that, we should forget eight years of insensitivity. And I live in New York. I mean, in all due respect to Congressman King, he doesn't live in the city.

CARLSON: And you are the only person there who doesn't say he a good job.

SHARPTON: He's giving an outside opinion. I would even venture to say tonight, congressman, you're an outside agitator.

BEGALA: Congressman King, let me bring you back here, you outside agitator. Rudy Giuliani did a little agitating of his own yesterday. In his farewell address, he staked out a very strong position that says the site of the World Trade Center attack should not be developed commercially. We should not return jobs and office buildings there, but instead put a soaring, sweeping, beautiful monument there that he said will memorialize those many tragic deaths and bring in more tourists. Wasn't that a hell of a thing to dump in the lap of Mike Bloomberg, the new mayor?

KING: First of all, let me say to Al Sharpton, if he calls me an agitator, I'll plead guilty, because if anyone can define it, it's Al.

But seriously, you know, as far as the World Trade Center site, my own feelings for what it's worth, is I think there should be a very significant memorial there. But I would also like to see some development, to show that we are not in any way defeated, that we are able to come back. So I would see a combination of the two. And my opinion doesn't count.

As far as Mike Bloomberg, I think he has to get used to the fact that Rudy Giuliani is going to continue to speak out. He's going to continue to be heard. And also let me just say, as far as the human element of Rudy Giuliani, I think one of the reasons Rudy is saying this now, as opposed to several months ago when he did want to have more development at the World Trade Center, is he has been totally consumed by funerals, by death.

I've been to a small number of funerals with Rudy, nothing near what he has gone. And I just see the impact it's had on him, what it's done to him. So I think his feelings yesterday were really an expression of his inner self, a way of answering the tremendous grief that he's gone through with these families, with these men, and women who were killed. And no one has done more as far as trying to rally the city, and at the same time, show respect for those who were deceased. As far as Mike Bloomberg, yes, he may get a little upset now and then, but he also has to realize Rudy is the guy who elected him.

CARLSON: Now Al Sharpton...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yes, you've got to agree with Rudy on the memorial. You're not against the memorial, are you?

SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I'm not against a memorial. All of us were touched by that. In fact, one of the young people that lost their mother there lived in our home. So I certainly think anyone in their right mind would rally around some type of memorial.

The question is whether it is what he outlined. And I think this is again vintage Rudy. He's his own worst enemy. At the peak of everyone saluting him for doing a good job at September 11, he tries to use that to change the city charter to extend his term as mayor. Then he tries to convince the candidates for mayor to give him three months. Now the two days before he leaves office, he wants to dump on the new mayor, a man of his own party, who he endorsed projects that he could have privately sat with him.

It's like I just have to have my own way. It's not good enough to leave with "Time" man of the year. I have to pull my will. That's not fair.

CARLSON: Al Sharpton, I think you secretly admire him. Thanks very much for coming in. Congressman Pete King, we appreciate. Thank you both.

When we come back, we'll tell what you Paula Jones has been up to over the past year and other tidbits you may have missed in the fog of war. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. I'm Paul Begala sitting in on the left.

War is hell or so they say, but it's been especially hellish on the political press. Stories that would have been page one, from major scandals to minor gaffes, have all been relegated to the back pages during this war against the evildoers.

So tonight, as part of CROSSFIRE'S continuing effort to keep you fully abreast of all the political news we present, stories you might have missed because of the war.

Joining us to cover all the news we feel like talking about, two veteran political strategists. Democrat Bob Shrum and Republican Alex Castellanos. Mr. Castellanos, as promised. Story one, that should have been page one throughout this fall, is the fall of Enron. Think of the connections here, the Bush Enron scandal.

George W. Bush, his single greatest patron has been Enron. He invited its CEO, Ken Lay, to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. He's gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars from Enron. He has staffed his government with Enron refugees. Even his chief economics adviser is an economics adviser for Enron.

And now, we see Enron collapsing in what looks like the worst stock fraud scandal in American history. Are Republicans going to call for an independent investigation or do you trust Ashcroft to investigate Bush?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, Paul, I think you've discovered another Begala-Gate type scandal here, clearly.

BEGALA: It's big, big, big, big.

CASTELLANOS: Now is this the only conspiracy theory the aliens brought you for Christmas? Is this right up there with the grassy knoll? Look, Enron's a company that has spread money around. Democrats and Republicans, like a lot of major corporations do.

BEGALA: Or horse hockey.

CASTELLANOS: Ben and Johnson, they've had Democratic representatives all over town. Do you think we should investigate those guys, too?

BEGALA: We should investigate the following. The chairman and CEO of Enron, Mr. Ken Lay, he of the Lincoln bedroom stay-overs with George W. Bush called the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the FERC, who regulates his company, and threatened his job. Said to him if you change your position on electrical deregulation, I'll tell George to reappoint you. The man, Curtis Abair, had enough integrity to tell him no. So Bush fired him and put his own toady in there. That's a scandal.

CASTELLANOS: And Paul, if you can't sell this though, I think you can get Oliver Stone working on the movie and maybe do something with that.

BEGALA: $93 billion...

CASTELLANOS: It's a big American company.

BEGALA: 21,000 people out of work.

CASTELLANOS: A big American company.

BEGALA: People losing their life savings. And Republicans position is ha, ha, call (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CASTELLANOS: No, a big American company was mismanaged, went under. If people did something wrong, they should go to jail. Under this administration, they will. If you want to talk about economic malfeasance, let's talk about Democrats in Congress, still spending too much taxing too much, and...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's a whole other show. I can't wait to do that show.

Bob Shrum, thanks for joining us. He lied about an affair. That was the line one heard for months, years from Democrats who supported the president at the time, Bill Clinton. Gary Condit didn't even lie about an affair. He hasn't been convicted of anything. He didn't commit perjury. He didn't have his law license yanked. We don't know that he did anything wrong legally. And yet, Democrats run from him like he'd been convicted of murder. Isn't the real difference here, he has no power, whereas the President had power and Democrats worship at the alter if power? And that's why they defended President Clinton?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Democrats worship at the altar of power?

CARLSON: Yes.

SHRUM: And Republicans are flee and go -- Republicans are for the powerless. This is a whole new doctrine I never heard before.

CARLSON: Well, here I am.

SHRUM: I know, I know. But defending Gary, you're not really defending Gary Condit.

CARLSON: I'm wondering why you're not.

SHRUM: I'm not defending Gary Condit because I don't think the guy should run for re-election. I don't think he's going to get nominated. And I don't think he's going to get elected.

And I don't think we ever would have heard of him. I don't think he'd ever done anything serious in the Congress in all the time he was there, except for this tragedy. So I just don't see it. I don't see it as an important story.

And if we're here talking about stories that would have gotten a lot more attention, then I guess this would have gotten a lot more attention from Fox News and "The Washington Times," but I'm sure glad we are not paying a lot more attention to it.

CARLSON: But it's deeply revealing of the motivation, I think, of a lot of prominent Democrats. Why aren't they supporting him? He's a life long Democrat. He's never done anything to the Democratic party.

SHRUM: I can't speak for other people. For myself, I just think the guy shouldn't be running. I mean, it's just -- as a matter of common decency, he shouldn't be running. This poor woman is gone. No one knows where she is. The investigation is still underway. He'd be better off and we'd be better off if he just walked away and got out of politics.

BEGALA: We're almost running out of time. So I'm going to move to the next topic, which is another matter of common decency, as Bob Shrum just said. Someone is trying to murder Tom Daschle. The Senate Democratic leader was a victim of an anthrax mailing that could have killed him, but for the work of law enforcement officials who intercepted it.

Given that, do you think it was right for our Vice President of the United States to go on "MEET THE PRESS" and to condone an advertisement that tries to link Tom Daschle to Saddam Hussein, knowing that someone out there is trying to kill him, maybe a right winger like a Tim McVeigh-type. Wasn't that the craziest thing you'd ever seen?

Come on, that was the sleaziest thing. You don't condone trying to fire up right wingers when someone is trying to murder our Senate majority leader?

CARLSON: Huh?

CASTELLANOS: This is somehow -- I thought this was terrorism. Somehow this is all about Tom Daschle? Is that what's going on? They sent it to NBC as well. I'm shocked that somehow...

BEGALA: This demonization of Daschle...

CASTELLANOS: ...you're self-centered, that somehow this is Tom Daschle.

BEGALA: You're not going to stand up to that sleaze, are you Alan? You think that's OK?

CASTELLANOS: The man who stopped progress, the shut down, the Senate shut down, the Daschle shut down, has paralyzed economic progress in this country. One man, Tom Daschle, has shut down the United States Senate. Pass an economic stimulus bill in the House, who shuts it down? Daschle.

Why is this man standing in the way of getting anything done right now when we've got to get the economy going again? 70 percent of jobs created in the decade of the '90s were created by who? Working women in America. Stopping this package right now is anti- soccer mom, anti-diner mom, anti-working mom. That's Tom Daschle.

SHRUM: Yes, well, the truth is most of the money went to people making 70 million dollars a year, not to the 70 percent of working women who created jobs. Tax cuts don't help working women.

Look, Bush could have gotten the stimulus package very easily. Could have been a compromise. Look what he's done on education by working with Senator Kennedy. They've gotten a remarkably good education bill. But what happened was Republicans in the House passed this on a very narrow partisan vote. Bush is afraid to get into the same problem his father had in 1992, offending the right wing. So he won't sit down, won't work out a reasonable deal that could be compromised.

CARLSON: Bob Shrum really quickly here. Paula Jones, I'm happy to report, has remarried. She's moved on. Bill Clinton meanwhile is having...

SHRUM: But haven't.

CARLSON: I have not. Absolutely, I have not. And neither has Bill Clinton. More tragically, isn't it unseemly that he's trying to spin his legacy? It's like spinning your epitaph. Shouldn't he just let it alone?

SHRUM: No, I tell you what I think is unseemly. I think it is unseemly that in a time when there has been a remarkable degree of bipartisan support, which I think is very genuine, from what the President is doing overseas and we're taking on terrorism, that there are all these leaked stories from anonymous high government sources attacking the Clinton administration on the subject of terrorism.

The record is pretty clear that the administration did absolutely everything it could. And one of the things I find the most interesting...

CARLSON: Nobody believes that.

SHRUM: ...because there's a propaganda campaign going on which is very, very unfair and is very directed at Clinton, because you guys have always hated him.

CARLSON: It's totally fair and everyone knows it.

CASTELLANOS: It was always nothing but politics. It was never about government. And it was all about...

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: This is a man who's been disbarred by the Supreme Court.

BEGALA: We can have you back to trash the former president.

CARLSON: Let's do a show on it. I agree with that.

BEGALA: Thank you both very much.

And when CROSSFIRE returns though, we're going to go back because we're going to read some viewer e-mail. We chose e-mail because it can't contain anthrax. So stay with us and we'll get your loaded missives when CROSSFIRE returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back. It's time now for a segment we call "Fire Back." The idea? You send us hostile e-mail. We rebut it.

We begin with Dan who writes in to say, "Tucker and other Republicans reveal how shallow minded they are, when they always resort to Clinton bashing. And they always do." Indeed Dan, we always will, as long as I draw breath. And my one regret is that there's not more time in the day to Clinton bash. Not only is it fun, but he so, so deserves it. Look forward to more.

BEGALA: Dan is actually my e-mail nickname name. This one is from Doug. "Paul, when will you eat crow? You said that Enron was big for the Republicans. And we find that the Democrats were getting money from them. Apologize to the viewers and to the president now. Admit you were partisan and wrong."

Well, Doug, fat chance. Enron gave $100,000 to the Democratic Senate Committee. Do you know what the Democrats did with it? They gave it to Enron's workers. Why doesn't Enron's CEO do the same thing or maybe the Republicans like George Bush, who got millions from them. I'd like to see them do that.

CARLSON: You know, a couple years ago, I was on an airplane. And I sat next to a guy who spun some Kennedy assassination theories for me on a long flight from Washington to L.A. And you remind me exactly of him. It's a conspiracy theory.

BEGALA: You will hide and wait.

CARLSON: And now to Steve. This is addressed to me. "Tucker, constantly interrupting and talking over folks is a favorite tactic of the far right, done deliberately to drown out the Democrats message, and also because they're so intolerant of other views, they cannot act like adults and let an opposing view be heard."

I think that's a perfect description of many Democratic members of Congress. But I would also say in my defense, when you sit across from Paul Begala, it's hard not to just leap right in there. Moreover, it's something of a moral duty. When you hear something going on about Enron or Atlantis or the secrets of Stonehenge, you just have to jump in and interrupt. And I beg your pardon if it's a breach of etiquette, but it's just -- it's important to resist.

BEGALA: Someone will have to call our president and explain to him what Stonehenge and...

CARLSON: Why don't you tell us? You're the conspiracy guy.

BEGALA: Right about here, Mr. President. Here's one more from Walter. "I think it's positively idiotic to have Paul Begala take off his cowboy boots or to have a little old lady X-ray her high heels because of this American Airlines incident. This just creates what I would call security static that obscures the real danger signs." From Walter.

Well, Walter, aesthetics aside, taking off the old cowboy boot, you're doing a -- see, I don't I can quite get a shot of them. There they are. I think if it's necessary for security, by God, strip and let them...

CARLSON: Really? I'm not sure that security, even national security, would warrant or excuse your taking off your cowboy boots. I say, in all earnestness, not just to Walter but to viewers around the globe, let's keep Paul Begala's shoes on. It's the least we can do.

And with that.

BEGALA: With that, we thank you for a terrific week. Tucker, thank you for being here with me.

CARLSON: Thank you, Paul.

BEGALA: And from the left and greetings to my Longhorns tonight in the Holiday Bowl. I am Paul Begala. Good-night from CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again next week for another week of CROSSFIRE. Happy New Year!

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