CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About CNN.com Preferences
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
TRANSCRIPTS
Return to Transcripts main page

CNN CROSSFIRE

Dick Armey Reflects on His Career in Congress; Louisiana Senate Race Still a Tight One

Aired December 5, 2002 - 19:00   ET

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

ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE: On the left: James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right: Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
He wrote the contract with America to the House majority leader's post and didn't mind stepping on Democrats' toes along the way. Before he rides off into the Texas sunset, Dick Armey steps into the CROSSFIRE

From the Big Easy to the Bayou, they're having a hot time in the Pelican State.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the good of everybody in Louisiana, Suzie Terrell needs to be the next United States senator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNER: Can the Democrats hang on to a Senate seat that hasn't been Republican since reconstruction?

We're also sparring with one of boxing's most recognizable legends.

Ahead on CROSSFIRE.

From the George Washington University: James Carville and Tucker Carlson.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Tonight's lineup is a real knockout. In one corner, boxing promoter Don King. In another, outgoing House Majority Leader Dick Armey. And in between rounds we'll check in with Candy Crowley, who is covering the United States Senate race down in my home state, Louisiana. So let's get ring the bell and get started with round one of our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Ring that bell. You want to know something utterly pathetic? The Congressional Budget Office has revised its estimate for what the national deficit will look like a decade from now. Last August, the CBO said the government would run deficits through 2005 then slowly accumulate $1 trillion surplus by 2012. Forget it. A new estimate sees bigger and bigger deficits all the way, turning that $1 trillion surplus into almost $3 trillion of red ink. The Bush administration is blaming the recession they can't get us out of. They're blaming the war on terrorism they can't seem to win.

It's obvious the real culprits are those Bush tax cuts everybody told him we couldn't afford when he ran for president. And now we have proof we can't afford it. He wants to make them permanent. You know what? This guy inherited a $5.6 trillion surplus and blew it all in taking us $3 trillion back in debt. Tucker he can really...

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: James, I could point out that the recession started before he got there. The war on terrorism is expensive. Democrats supported the tax cut. But I want to say, your party ran on what you just said in this midterm and got killed.

CARVILLE: No they didn't. They ran on -- they all voted for the tax cut that got killed.

CARLSON: They all got killed.

People often point out that Senator Strom Thurmond is old. But how old is he? As Andy Ferguson put it in "The Weekly Standard," the year Strom Thurmond was born Tolstoy was working on a new novel. The first world series had just been played. Henry Ford was raising capital to start the Ford Motor Company.

Strom Thurmond is old enough to remember willing the votes of civil war veterans. Old enough to have run against Harry Truman for president. Old enough to be Bob Dole's father. As of today, Strom Thurmond is 100 years old.

Over the past century, he's been a high school teacher, a judge and a governor. Winning the Bronze Star for heroism on D-day. He married not one, but two former Miss South Carolinas. He served a total of 47 years four months in the U.S. Senate. A record not likely to be broken.

He made some mistakes, but he's lived long enough to apologize for them. He's headed back to South Carolina this month for good. Washington will miss him. Happy birthday, Senator.

CARVILLE: Happy birthday from me, too. You get to 100, even I'm not going to criticize.

CARLSON: Amen. That's the spirit.

CARVILLE: Washington's new blanket of snow may look nice, but here and in countless cities around the nation, winter means misery for poor people who can't afford to pay their heating bills. So the temperature's dropping and natural gas prices rising. Guess what the president, giving political cronies big bonuses Bush is going to do about it? Take away the money poor people need to stay warm.

The Bush administration wants to cut $300 million from the federal program that helps needy families pay their energy bills. By one estimate, that leaves 438,000 more American families out in the cold. Back when I was a boy, the church in St. Gabriel (ph) parish in Louisiana, we had a word for this. It's called a sin, a mortal sin.

The kind of sin people go to hell for. Well, at least the Republicans can have their convention in a warm place.

CARLSON: Thank you. Thank you Reverend James for that sermon. You should note, facts might get in the way of your sermonizing. But the Bush administration is attempting to bring the fund down to the level the Clinton administration had it at a year and a half ago. And, in fact, no money is going to be taken away from people's heating bills.

CARVILLE: 438,000 people will go cold while they're giving their political cronies...

CARLSON: That's actually just not true.

CARVILLE: It is true.

CARLSON: You've got to read beyond the junk.

CARVILLE: No, I won't read beyond the junk, because it's 438,000.

CARLSON: The election is over. Congress has recessed. Americans are Christmas shopping. What's a Democratic senator to do with all the free time? Run for president, of course.

John Kerry of Massachusetts has filed the papers to form an exploratory committee and told Don Imus, this morning, "I want to run. I intend to run."

He's not alone. Joe Lieberman is running by sitting down to dinner and cocktails in private conversations with people who raise big money. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina has been using a NATO junket as an excuse to introduce himself to bewildered European leaders.

Forgetting anyone? Actually a lot of Democrats would like to forget Al Gore, and they may soon be able to. So far, Al Gore's comeback hasn't. Even his friends have noticed, as one put it recently, "He's on a book tour and people aren't even buying his books. Maybe it tells him something." Or maybe it doesn't.

CARVILLE: What friend said that?

CARLSON: What friend said that? A friend who didn't want to be quoted by name in the "New York Post" this morning.

CARVILLE: Oh. So, in other words it's not -- we don't know who it is. The "New York Post." Rupert Murdoch...

CARLSON: You know what, it could have been you, pal, because you and every other Democrat... CARVILLE: Right. Now that we see you all make (ph) up. Now we have an anonymous Rupert Murdochs.

CARLSON: You don't want him to run anymore than I do.

CARVILLE: You have anonymous Rupert Murdochs.

Two of the biggest names in the news business are feuding. In a syndicated column last week, Bill O'Reilly of the Fox News channel attacked Public Broadcasting's Bill Moyers. O'Reilly accused Moyers of "profiting from taxpayer money," by keeping the proceeds of videotapes for some of the programs he does at PBS.

Moyers brought an ad yesterday in New York's "Daily News" explaining that he raises his own money for his programs. And in cases where PBS does contribute, they get distribution rights. Moyers accused O'Reilly of making a "vicious personal attack."

On his Fox program last night, O'Reilly replied, he has nothing personally or journalistically against Moyers. No. He only thinks he's, "profiting from taxpayers' money." Does that sound like straight talk to you, Tucker?

CARLSON: This is one of those arguments I'd be happy to see both sighs eat each other. Except for Bill Moyers is exquisitely unappealing as a public figure. The most thin-skinned, sanctimonious person in the world. And to think that his show or shows subsidized by me and you makes me a little sick to my stomach.

CARVILLE: A lot of the shows on NPR, which I listen to all the time, are subsidized.

CARLSON: NPR is a lot different than PBS.

CARVILLE: I go to the art studio, the National Gallery of Art; it's subsidized by us.

CARLSON: I agree. But Bill Moyers is not in the National Gallery of Art.

CARVILLE: So what? All I'm saying is that, if you tell a guy he's profiting from taxpayers' money and say I don't have anything journalistic against him, obviously the guy has something journalistic against him. He just ought to call him a profiteer.

CARLSON: So what's the point, that Bill O' Reilly said something done? There's...

CARVILLE: Well I didn't say -- just what he said wasn't it.

CARLSON: It was a tough midterm election for all Democrats, but it was particularly painful for Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont, who last year traded his party affiliation for a better committee assignment. It was a good deal for a while, while Democrats controlled the Senate. It's not such a good thing now. But Jeffords is handling his grief well. Next week, he's flying to Paris to recuperate and you're paying for it. According to "Roll Call," Jeffords is leaving on a taxpayer funded junket to Europe to study transportation technology. In other words, to ride the subway, sample some wine, sniff some cheese, eat snails, important research.

That's the official explanation. Friends suspect that Jeffords is actually leaving in search of people who like him. Like Jerry Lewis, he's a lot more popular in France.

CARVILLE: So...

CARLSON: He is.

CARVILLE: Go. Like no Republican ever went on a junket.

CARLSON: No, no.

CARVILLE: This is the first time this has ever happened in the history of the world, that a congressman or senator went overseas.

CARLSON: But his travel budget is about to be yanked by the Republicans. He wants to get last one trip. It's just all so small time and cheesy. Go back to Vermont.

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) NEWS ALERT.

CARLSON: For nearly 20 years, when congressional Democrats had nightmares, he figured prominently in them. In a minute, we'll ask departing House Majority Leader Dick Armey whose dreams he'll be haunting next.

Later, the man who changed the face of boxing, not to mention its hairdo. Also a visit to the land of jambalaya, crawfish pie and a Republican U.S. senator incoming. We'll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back. Way back in 1984, a college economics professor from Texas ran for Congress, promising to fight for a flat tax. Alas, he never got it. But he did pretty well otherwise.

In 1994, Representative Dick Armey helped write the contract with America, spurring a Republican takeover of the House and propelling Armey into the post of House Majority Leader. This year, after 18 years in Congress, he voluntarily decided to give it all up. But not before making one more appearance on CROSSFIRE. Please welcome House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Congressman, how are you doing? First, I'll give you a chance to clear up some of the brouhaha over the Eli Lilly provision in the homeland security bill with reference to a vaccination they had. I want to show you something that appeared in a column in today's "Wall Street Journal," and take it from there and give you a chance to...

"On November 15, House GOP Leader Dick Armey said, 'It was something the White House wanted.' But less than two weeks later, he said it was done, 'with no prodding from the pharmaceutical industry or the White House." Which one is the correct one?

REP. RICHARD ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: First, you know, I'm really not quite sure. There are a lot of us that wanted that in.

CARVILLE: OK.

ARMEY: I had listened for months to people worrying about whether or not we'd have vaccinations. So I researched it. And in1998, Teddy Kennedy brought a provision that would make it possible to get vaccines. The trial lawyers had been skirting around that. I worked with Senator Frist. I had the advice of the White House. And we worked out the...

CARVILLE: I understand. But did the White House put it in?

ARMEY: There were members of the White House that wanted it. Well, you know, you really have to say it was my bill, I wrote it, I put it in. But I put it out in consultation with Senator Frist, the most well-respected doctor in Congress and the White House.

CARVILLE: But the White House put it in, though. Because when you said, "it was something the White House wanted," that was true?

ARMEY: Well, it is true.

CARVILLE: It is true? The White House wanted this provision? OK. But then you said no prodding from the pharmaceutical industry or the White House. They just wanted it but they didn't prod you?

ARMEY: Well, that's right. I mean they agreed that the proposition was necessary. Now this is very important. One of the criticisms of this thing that bothers me is that it has nothing to do with homeland security. It does, in fact, have to do with us having the vaccinations that we need to protect us from the kind of insidious forces that would be brought against us. And...

CARLSON: I'm just curious, and I don't want to spend the whole show on it. How did it get in there? Was it like the immaculate conception? Or you put it in or you dropped it in?

ARMEY: I put it in.

CARVILLE: All right. I just wanted to...

ARMEY: And I never said that's not. The point is, I have had no conversation with Eli Lilly.

CARVILLE: OK.

ARMEY: It was about the vaccinations. It was about getting...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: OK, that's good.

ARMEY: And I consulted with the White House.

CARVILLE: And this is something they wanted to put in.

CARLSON: OK. Congressman Armey...

ARMEY: And, by the way, the rest of that editorial is magnificent. I hope you read it.

CARVILLE: I will.

CARLSON: James reads the front page of the "Wall Street Journal" every morning. To go back seven years...

ARMEY: Seven years?

CARLSON: ... you had such a poignant trip back in time this afternoon. Take a look at what Washington looked like when you first entered the majority in 1995. "The Hill" newspaper listing your fundamental reforms you hoped to get done. Enacting a flat tax, ending farm subsidies, eliminating the federal role in welfare, implementing school choice, abolishing the Department of Education, enacting tough crime prevention, immigration control laws supporting free trade.

Now you could quibble about a couple of those, but the vast majority, seven years later, not done.

ARMEY: Yeah. Abolishing the Department of Education was some editorial assertion. I've never argued for that. But that's otherwise a fairly accurate list and a pretty good list. And most of which is done. The flat tax isn't the law yet, but I'm not done yet.

CARLSON: But farm subsidies. I mean we're nowhere near getting rid...

ARMEY: No. We had a giant step forward; I believe it was in '96 when we had freedom to farm. I always laugh. I said we've been drinking a lot of back slider's (ph) wine on that one. And farm policy is not where I would like it to be.

But welfare reform, I'm very proud of what we've accomplished and what it has meant in the lives of real people in America with that. We now have much more progress towards free trade and a freer world, more open world of trade. So an awful lot of what we've set out to do.

CARLSON: But as almost a rhetorical matter, Republicans are embarrassed of this kind -- by and large embarrassed, you are not -- but many Republicans are embarrassed of this kind of rhetoric. I still love it. ARMEY: What kind of rhetoric?

CARLSON: Well, you know, abolish all farm subsidies. I mean you can't even get Republicans to say ethanol is a bad idea a lot of the time.

ARMEY: I have said ethanol's a bad idea consistently since its conception. In fact, my point is, ethanol is so dumb even the Russians wouldn't try it.

CARLSON: They drink it.

ARMEY: But still, nevertheless, you know I laugh about the agriculture wars. I was in the wars when the country wasn't cool. We started the agriculture wars in 1990. It was the Armey-Frank coalition. And we really set the stage in terms of the debate and the understanding for what was the freedom to farm act, and that did make a big progress. Like I say, it slid back now, and I hope we can restore us to where we were.

CARVILLE: Let me just clear up one other thing. We got this from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I appreciate your candor on this. Senator Collins -- and I want to show you, because -- her and Senator Snowe had a different kind of view of this thing.

ARMEY: You're back on that again?

CARLSON: Right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they have a firm commitment to rewrite these provisions. Talking about that, to modify them to our satisfaction, Congressman DeLay said he didn't agree to anything other than take a look. Who is right? Senator Collins or...

ARMEY: Well, you know, here's a case where you don't have to -- remember, I am retiring at this point.

CARVILLE: I understand. It's not up to you, but you were there. It's your provision.

ARMEY: No, remember, at this time, just about everybody's out of town but me.

CARVILLE: OK.

ARMEY: I had no conversation with either of the senators. As a matter of fact, I was, indeed myself at home watching that vote in the Senate.

CARVILLE: OK.

ARMEY: I know there were negotiations that related to that. But I don't know who. From the press, I understand that Trent Lott and the two senators from Maine and Senator Collins talked. Whether or not they talked to the speaker and Tom, I do not know. I've not talked to either the speaker or Tom.

CARVILLE: But it's your provision. I mean, you're very much... ARMEY: It is my provision, and my advice to the nation will be, don't take it out. Don't deprive the American people of the necessary inoculations that they need to keep -- maintain a sense of safety. Once again, if you read the entire "Wall Street Journal" today, the threat, the -- of this is far greater. It is not great in the minds of anybody that's in medicine.

CARLSON: But before we go on...

ARMEY: It's only great in the minds of trial lawyers who want to make money.

CARLSON: And they are evil, we agree on that. Amen. But listen, I just want to get back to the Department of Education.

ARMEY: You want to get back...

CARLSON: Well, I do, and I'll tell you why. You said you were never in favor of abolishing it. Some Republicans were in favor of abolishing it. I'm in favor of abolishing it; I think it's a marvelous idea.

But the bottom line is that now you see democratic ads in election season using it as a cudgel with which to beat Republicans. It was for abolishing the Department of Education.

ARMEY: Well I know that.

CARLSON: But it's true. But the point is, it's no longer fashionable to make statements like, let's get rid of this or any other federal agency. Why?

ARMEY: It is not fashionable to make statements like that. Now, do we want to reform the Department of Education? Do we want to make it more effective and more accountable?

We've had a lot of research and study done about the manner in which this agency wastes money, spends money ineffectively and inefficiently. We need to. This is our objective. It is very important.

I consider this a moral responsibility to this great nation. We're the richest nation in the world. There is absolutely no excuse for us having anything less than the best public school system in the world. And the Department of Education, unhappily, makes very little contribution to that and may be, as it functions today, hindering that objective, that American objective.

CARLSON: It does employ a lot of people.

ARMEY: It does employ a lot of people. But education is for the children. And that's where we've got to get our focus better.

CARVILLE: I'll bite my tongue in the interest of time.

CARLSON: In the interest of time. We're going to take a quick commercial break. In a minute, we'll ask Dick Armey what the Republicans in Congress can possibly do without him. Later, we'll add some Cajun political spice to the show and perhaps another Republican to the United States Senate. And then the man who took the hard road to glory and is arranging for others to follow.

We'll explain that. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Welcome back. The world has changed dramatically during the 18 years that Congressman Armey has served in the Congress of the United States. He came during Ronald Reagan's morning in America campaign. He's leaving with a warning about what he calls the awful, dangerous seduction of sacrificing freedom for safety in the war on terrorism. Congressman Armey is in the CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: Congressman Armey, you are -- it's not exactly clear what you'll be doing full-time when you leave, apparently, but part- time, at least, you may be working with the ACLU. A, is that true? And B, do you have some reservations about working with a group like that?

ARMEY: Well, the ACLU and I have been working together on these very important issues of our personal liberties and our personal privacy. They will remain committed to that. They are, incidentally, committed to a lot of things that I think are wrong. But they're committed to our personal liberties.

I will remain committed to that. We will both be speaking on behalf of the personal liberties of the American people, and that would make a natural collaboration for us. But I would not, at this point, project a formal contractual relationship between myself and the ACLU.

CARLSON: What do you think? You often hear liberals and some conservatives -- I guess you're among them -- say that some of the so- called reforms put in place since 9/11 have, in fact, reduced the individual liberties of Americans. Tell us what you think the worst offenders are.

ARMEY: Well, we've worked very hard on that. And I worked on both the Patriot Act and homeland bill. We got rid of tips, this neighbors spying on neighbors program. And we've stopped the national ID card.

We still have, we're still fighting, even in D.C. against these awful red light cameras and snoopy things.

CARLSON: Amen. Good for you.

ARMEY: But we've protected our Internet access on this carnivore basis the best we could. And what we did was we put in the sunset provisions for a lot of these that said, in effect, your authority will only be continued in the future if you use it responsibly and subject yourself to responsible congressional oversight. We have to protect the -- you know the old line is, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

It's our job in Congress to be vigilant. We must have an oversight over the agency. We give them the authorities that they think they need to keep us safe. But they must use them responsibly. And it's going to be...

CARVILLE: Benjamin Franklin said that people that are willing to sacrifice liberty in the interest of security end up with neither.

ARMEY: That's exactly right.

CARVILLE: Let me -- this is something, and I want you to talk about this, because this provokes something. I have to drive the George Washington Parkway. And, as I remember, I wasn't prepared for this, but I remember you got in a controversy with the park police about these cameras that catch people speeding. What was the final resolution of that? Because people out there looking at this show, that's something that they're faced with all the time.

ARMEY: Well, I think we managed to get the federal park police to stop using them. But the city of D.C. are using the spy cameras, and they're using them, and they're not mincing any words about it. I noticed in the paper the other day, it's a revenue deal.

CARVILLE: I understand. But what if they catch you going through a red light, why -- doesn't the city of D.C. have an interest in getting people to stop at these lights?

ARMEY: Well, absolutely. But you don't have an interest in having people panic over the spy camera, slam on their brakes and get hit from behind. If you go to places like Mesa (ph), Arizona, and San Diego, they have a documented experience that, in fact, you make the intersection more dangerous with a red light, as opposed to the simple thing of extending the time of the amber for a little bit longer, giving people a chance to see it, anticipate it, and stop in a proper, manageable fashion. The red light camera is about raising money. It's not about traffic safety.

CARVILLE: Suppose the technology -- and maybe it does now -- you have a radar gun, it clocks you going fast, it takes a picture of your license plate and sends you a ticket. Would that cause you great consternation?

ARMEY: That doesn't bothers me. If I'm speeding down the road, an officer of the law stops me, he sees me, he can confirm who I am. And we have a transaction related to that. If you take a picture of my car, send it to my house six months later, five weeks later, I'm off in Europe for a month vacation, then I come back to find out not only do I have this, but I have a notice from the court saying I'm delinquent in my appearance and my son was driving the car all along.

CARLSON: But you've spent a month in Europe, so you're grateful anyway.

(CROSSTALK)

ARMEY: It is the oldest thing in there, the right to face your accuser.

CARLSON: Amen. Now speaking of accusers, I know you're leaving on a happy note after 18 years. But I did see a statement a couple of months ago, in September, from Congressman Martin Frost and Congresswoman Nita Lowy of New York about you that struck me as uncommonly bitter and cruel. Here it is.

"Seldom has the Congress become a better institution due to the departure of a member of the House leadership. However, it has become clear that the House would become a more civil and decent institution the day Dick Armey retires." That's awfully mean. Tell us the story behind that.

ARMEY: It was an uncharacteristic moment for Martin. He's really not that kind of a vicious person. He was having a bad day. I think he was sort of prodded by a reporter trying to get a story. But Martin's a gentle soul and he's a kind person, and I'm sure he doesn't mean anything quite that mean.

CARLSON: What are the personal problems you're alluding to that you think would make him...

ARMEY: Well, I don't know. But, I mean, you've had a bad day. James, you must have had a bad day.

CARVILLE: Oh god. I had a bad day in November, a bad hair day.

CARLSON: Is there anybody in Congress who you don't respect as a legislator?

ARMEY: No.

CARLSON: You can tell us now that you're leaving.

ARMEY: No. I think the members of Congress are a marvelous group of people, and I enjoyed my relationship on both sides. And one of the privileges I had as majority leader was to be able to work with people from both sides of the aisle, to help them get their legislation to the floor. And I did that with a great deal of satisfaction. Republicans and Democrats alike.

Admittedly, more Republicans than Democrats. But, we helped one another and we worked well together. And I don't have a person, I have a bad feeling (ph).

CARVILLE: A colleague from your side of the aisle, while we're here, and that's Congressman DeLay, who said that he would not send his daughters to Texas A&M because they were actually having sex there. And then he put in a provision in the Homeland Security bill to give Texas A&M money, which it's a fine institution. But why should Texas A&M get my money if it can't get Tom DeLay's daughters? If it's not good enough for his daughters, why is it good enough for my money?

ARMEY: Well, first of all, Tom offered that amendment in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), which was televised on the day we did it. And, by the way, it covered -- I think there were 30 qualifying universities across the nation for that language...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: We're going to end on that.

ARMEY: I have always said to my wife -- just the other night I said, "I take that man too seriously."

CARVILLE: You really do. After 18 years, even I'm going to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: Congressman Dick Armey, thanks very much for joining us. I hope you'll come back. Thanks.

One of the giants of television sports and news has passed away tonight. Details next, as Connie Chung brings us a CNN NEWS ALERT. And then we'll head for Louisiana. Will the Republicans have reason to party come Saturday night? We'll find out.

And, he's got another knockout card ready for boxing fans. We'll talk fighting and more with promoter Don King. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: For most incumbents getting reelected is the big easy, but not so in Louisiana this season. In a moment Senator Mary Landrieu's uphill and we presume loosing battle for reelection. And then a man who has never shied away from trouble, but learned to roll with the punches. We'll tell you who that is.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University in Foggy Bottom in beautiful downtown Washington, D.C.

Come Saturday, all eyes will be on my home state of Louisiana when incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is in a fight for her political life. The Republicans have thrown everything but a New Orleans Saints linebacker into their effort to unseat her.

CNN's senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is following the last days of the campaign from Houma, Louisiana in beautiful Terrebonne Parish.

CARLSON: Candy, it's Tucker. If you can see me, a week ago CNN was reporting the incumbent Senator Landrieu up 14 points. Now, if anything, it looks like she's at a disadvantage. What happened?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think a lot of things happened, but I would caution that everyone in Louisiana, and I will add that I feel a little funny talking about Louisiana politics to James.

But let's set that aside and tell you that everyone here thinks that the polls -- it's very hard to tell whether the polls actually presage what's going to happen. It's like any other race, even if it's in a state with some very colorful politics, this all comes down to who can get their vote out. And that's what they're sort of busy doing.

CARVILLE: Candy, the sugar industry is huge in Louisiana. The Bush administration wouldn't dare do anything so dishonest and sleazy as already have a dealer import more Mexican sugar in the United States and wait until after the election to do that, would they?

CROWLEY: Well, let me tell you that Mary Landrieu as you may know, already has an ad out saying that there in a Mexican paper there was talk of a secret deal about bringing Mexican sugar in, which clearly would not be good news for jobs in Louisiana.

I can tell you that Suzy Terrell has said, Look, I called the U.S. Trade rep today. He said there is not deal, secret or otherwise. There are ongoing negotiations.

NAFTA, they point out James, was -- negotiations began in the Clinton administration, but there is no secret deal at the minute -- at the moment.

What's interesting to me is the sort of heat of this back and forth about sugar. It just shows you how close this race is.

CARVILLE: Right, I understand. But if they actually did increase the amount of sugar, that would be a sleazy, despicable, lying thing for this administration to do, wouldn't it? And every journalist should criticize it.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Whatever you say, James.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: No, but, Candy, truly, I mean there's really no chance that Susie Terrell is going to lose this, is there? I mean, if you were betting, you would never bet on the incumbent senator, would you?

CROWLEY: Look, I can tell you that they're very -- they're pretty cautious in the Terrell campaign. And they say, Look, we know that the Landrieu campaign is calling around and saying that they're going to lose, but we think that this is pretty translucent.

They're going to try to set it up that if in fact Landrieu does win, it will look like a big defeat for George Bush.

I don't think anybody can call this race. I really don't. I think anything can happen because there's sort of two opposing things here. Will people come out because they want to show George Bush that indeed they support him, or will they come out because they want to show George Bush that the mid-term elections were not just a blanket approval for him?

CARLSON: OK.

Candy Crowley, best assignment in journalism, in Louisiana. Thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

CARVILLE: It's the best state in the Union.

CARLSON: See you.

CROWLEY: Bye.

CARLSON: Next from the battle of bayou to ringside seats to the hard road to glory. Don King steps into the CROSSFIRE. Please don't miss it.

We'll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Don King's Web site claims he's the world's greatest promoter. And it's hard to disagree. If you don't have to follow the fight game to know, the names he had are Mohammed Ali, George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson. But instead of making the list any longer, let's get to the main event.

Stepping into the CROSSFIRE is chairman and founder of Don King Productions is Don King himself.

(APPLAUSE)

DON KING, DON KING PRODUCTIONS: Hey, Tucker...

CARLSON: Mr. King, good to see you.

KING: James.

CARVILLE: OK.

KING: I'm in the CROSSFIRE.

CARVILLE: All right, you're on the CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: I must say, you are a stylish guy. I'm impressed.

KING: Thank you.

CARLSON: Now tell me, James and I were just talking that we both like boxing. We were talking about this in the commercial break.

Mike Tyson -- two questions. First of all, every one is down on Tyson, you maybe more than most even. Why? And second, what happened to Mike Tyson who had so much problems?

KING: Well, first of all, let me correct you. I'm not down on Mike Tyson. I think that Mike Tyson is down on himself. And I think that he is a guy -- this -- what I call myself and him, urchins of the ghetto. And he chooses a path that's the wrong path to take.

But I think that he's a great fighter, he's a great human being. I love the guy and I'm sorry to see him go into such a state by listening to others.

CARLSON: Really. Well, we have this quote from the Daily Record, June 5th. Here's what you said about Mike Tyson. Doesn't sound like something you'd say about someone you love.

"Mike Tyson could be a poster boy for the Klu Klux Klan. He's the embodiment, he personifies so that he can be ad for them to say, `See that I told you,' and everyone laughs like it's funny."

That's pretty rough.

KING: Well, that's pretty true. You must understand that Mike Tyson embodies what the Klan was trying to do, that we are lazy, lethargic. We can't rise to the occasion, and we all lie, cheat and steal. This is the stereotyped image that they had of African Americans throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th century. And it lingers on today from the scars of slavery.

And when he acts that way, where he would insult women, bite off ears, do things that they said all along, then it makes it look like it's true that those who are the extreme rightists -- that would the haters and the dividers of our country -- it looks like what they're saying has some credibility. He could have been the poster boy for the Klu Klux Klan.

CARVILLE: You know I'm a fight fan. I saw you at the fight you promoted...

KING: Yes, yes, yes.

CARVILLE: ... between John Reyes (ph) and Craig Johnson.

KING: IT's so great to see you, James.

CARVILLE: OK, good to see you too.

KING: Yes, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: As a fight fan, I am -- I'm two things. I'm a Roman Catholic and I'm a fight fan. And the day we get rid of Cardinal Law and Mike Tyson the better it's going to be for my church and my sport. So...

KING: Here, here. CARVILLE: ... one of the things that -- we're talking about several things -- one of the things that people don't know, Colonel Bob Sheridan (ph) who is the famous great boxing announcer, told me that you're a mathematical genius.

KING: Well, he's very kind. But you know that he worked with Colonel Sheridan. You know I had that distinct honor and privilege. Mr. Carville has been on broadcast air for me.

CARVILLE: Right.

KING: It makes me feel good all over to be an American that can boast that and as colonel has did over 700 world title fights.

CARVILLE: But how fast can you calculate numbers. I'm told that you're the best there is. Is that true?

KING: Well, he's being very kind.

CARVILLE: Other people have told me that.

KING: He's being very kind. You know, I try to do the best I can with what I have to work with. And this is about what it...

CARVILLE: Let me ask you just one more thing and then I'm going to turn over Tucker (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Yes.

CARVILLE: Are we going to see a lot of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Lennox Lewis fight sometime?

KING: You may. You may see that because that would be us fighting on Saturday. But the big fight is the world series that I'm having of chairmanship boxing, the hard road to glory.

And we call it the hard road to glory because it defines just want Tucker was saying of how difficult it is for African American, but yet, those who persevere and that continue to work in this great nation called America, they survive and they succeed.

And that's what makes the difference when you see the Theo Gibsons (ph), you see these Arthur Ashes, you see that these people that -- you see with all of these things, the problems impaired and stopped their progress they still continue to persevere in spite of not because of.

CARLSON: Don...

KING: A hard road to glory, Tucker.

CARVILLE: I serve on...

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: ... I serve on -- no, I want to be serious here. I serve on the board of the Retired Boxers Association with Alex Ramos (ph), and we love boxing. But we know it causes severe damage to people. You know that and I know that. The Retired Boxers have a tough go.

Would you be willing to lead a thing of all the boxing promoters to take a percent of the gross, a small percentage of the gross and put it aside to help these retired fighters who have severe neurological problems, have -- a lot of them of them are lovely people but uneducated. Is there something that you and I and other people can do to help these old fighters that have been forgotten by everybody?

KING: Well, I certainly do -- I certainly would be an advocate of that, but I'd like to also say I'd like to be an advocate for helping all of the underprivileged, the poor, the downtrodden and denied. It don't have to be boxers. It's those in this country that are suffering.

But I would say, we would take that small amount; you have that. Now in addition to that, let us have that let us help the aging, let us help the homeless, let us help the jobless. Let us help them all, so let us contribute those of us who are fortunate enough, let us work for those who are less fortunate.

CARLSON: Outstanding. I'm just personally interested. How much do you think you've made over the years promoting fighting?

KING: Oh, I don't know. You know, if you can count your money, you ain't got none.

And so you don't put it in money. You understand what I mean. You put in terms of what good -- what good have you done...

CARLSON: That's interesting.

KING: ... and what you've done in America.

If you cast your bread upon the water and you have faith, you'll get back cash. If you don't have faith, you'll get soggy bread.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: OK, thank you, reverend.

CARVILLE: What's the...

CARLSON: Well, tell me this, you said, you essentially implied that Mike Tyson has become a freak show, biting people's ears and stuff. For freak show, you really can't beat Tanya Harding as a boxer.

(LAUGHTER)

Do you think that's good for the sport?

KING: Well, I didn't say those words. Now you have a very -- you have a very sophisticated knack of taking semantics and taking them over the cliff, so to speak.

CARLSON: Well, I appreciate that.

KING: Well, you know and I have applaud you for that...

CARLSON: What do you think about Tonya Harding? I mean, is this...

KING: Well, I think Tonya Harding is a wonderful American. I mean, she went astray. But would not the Lord Jesus say bring that -- if one sheep is astray from the flock, would not bring it back into the fold?

CARLSON: Bring it back into the ring.

KING: To the flock, you know, what I mean.

CARLSON: Should she be in the ring?

KING: Well, actually listen ladies are boxing and they're doing very well at it, you know what I mean. So you've got a lot of ladies that are really terrific. And you can't discriminate against the ladies. They've got a right -- that's what freedom is. Freedom is choice. And to have the choice to do whatever you want to do, to do it and you respect that right.

CARLSON: This choice is about beating each other up, that's what you're saying.

KING: No, it's about them having the choice to decide what they want to do.

CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

OK, all right.

KING: That's what this country stands for.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Whoa, don't let my flag go down with you. Putting it back on.

CARVILLE: Pound for pound, who is the best fighter in the world today?

KING: Roy Jones.

CARVILLE: Roy Jones.

KING: Roy Jones is what I call a superman. He is the guy that is everyone -- he is so superior to all of his colleagues and in his weight category that when people begin to think that he was a coward, that he would fight (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that he wouldn't fight nobody. But Roy Jones -- he represented us in Korea in the Olympics and he was the... CARVILLE: No chance that you represent him, that he's one of...

KING: No, I'm representing him, but I'm going to represent him on this fight.

CARVILLE: And you've got John Reyes. He's fighting...

KING: John Reyes from Chelsea (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CARVILLE: Fine guy, good (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KING: ... one of the greatest in the world. And he's the first Latino Hispanic heavyweight champion in history. And so Roy Jones is taking him on. And I think that Roy Jones is Superman.

CARVILLE: What's the date of the fight?

KING: That's going to be March the 1st on...

CARVILLE: Going to be available on Pay-Per-View say if I want to watch it, can I put money down and give my (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Oh, yes, and you know...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You are so cheap.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: It would Pay-Per-View and you can see it with Wally Barr (ph) and Ken Kundent (ph) who is his general. Wally Barr is Marcus Aurelius. He's the man that when he had Caesar Perone, he had him from Asia, from the Far East, everybody...

CARVILLE: Tucker and I...

KING: ... Caesar's Rome...

CARVILLE: ... want to go can we get some good tickets?

KING: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Wally Barr, one of the great visions of our day .

CARVILLE: If we want to go to the fight, could we get...

KING: Hail, Caesar, hail Caesar, Wally Barr.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Don King, ladies and gentlemen. You were terrific. Thank you.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(CROSSTALK) (APPLAUSE)

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) heavyweight championship series.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: It's going to be hard to top that, but we'll attempt to with our "Fireback" segment. We'll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. And now it's your turn to take a shot at us because Don King and us been taking shots at each other -- verbal and anything else they got there.

What have be got up here tonight? "Boxing hasn't just been given a black eye. It's down for the count. Tanya Harding in the ring is the final straw." Jeanne Wood (ph), San Antonio, Texas.

CARLSON: It will come back. I sort of agree with you, but it will come back. People have been boxing for thousands of years.

CARVILLE: Well, it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CARLSON: Tanya Harding, that's pretty low.

CARVILLE: Let me tell you, I'm a fight fan. There are great, great fighters out there.

CARLSON: Yes, there are.

CARVILLE: Tanya Harding is not one of them...

CARLSON: She's not one of them.

CARVILLE: But there are a lot of...

CARLSON: She's armed though.

CARVILLE: Yes...

CARLSON: Next up, Robert Moon (ph) of Cincinnati writes, "Liberals side with criminals, frivolous lawsuits and still whine about Gore's failure to steal the election. Democrats lost because of what they stand for. No strategy can fix that."

Robert Moon, political consultant in Cincinnati.

CARVILLE: There you go.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Old Robert Moon is on the moon. There you go. What have you got, who what can you say?

"James, if you have -- you have converted my wife from no political aspirations to a firm believer in the Democratic Party." Walt Lazz (ph), Cordova (ph), Tennessee.

Well, Walt, we'll take them one at a time now.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: You're an evangelist, James. You've got to go abroad.

Thomas Storch (ph) of St. Louis writes, "Tucker, you're not have as bumbling as the Canadians and I bet you can sing twice as well as Barbara Streisand. Still you're weakness is out there and James and Paul will find it."

Somehow, I feel I'm being mocked, James.

CARVILLE: Belt a couple of notes...

CARLSON: Belt a couple of notes.

CARVILLE: Yes, let's go here. "People..."

CARLSON: "Feelings" -- no, I can't. I can't do it on television. I wish I could.

Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Adrie Jarrah (ph), and I'm from Ann Arbor, Michigan. And I had a question. Do you think professional athletes have a moral responsibility to be politically and socially active?

CARVILLE: Ah, I don't know if they have a moral responsibility, but I think it would nice if they did, and I think there have been a lot of courageous professional athletes who have. And but you know, if...

CARLSON: Well, flip it around. Do political activists have a moral obligation to be a great athletes? No, of course not.

CARVILLE: I don't say...

CARLSON: Electricians have an obligation to be great plumbers -- no. It would...

CARVILLE: I think it would be good if they used their celebrity to advance some kind of thing, but they don't have a moral obligation to do it.

CARLSON: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Robert King from Anchorage, Alaska. And I'm wondering if we do have a war in Iraq, and it happens to go bad, do you see a Democrat in the White House in 2004? CARVILLE: It's not going to go bad. It's a nation of 15 million people. We -- very little I can assure you, we're not going to lose to Iraq. It won't go bad. Now what really could go bad is if they try to go in there without international law, is we could really be vilified and hated around the world, and we could have a collapse of international law, which would not be a good thing.

CARLSON: I think it would be bad. I think the president has staked a lot in this endeavor, and if it goes bad, he's on trouble.

Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is Phil Frances (ph) from Several (ph), Tennessee. Who is the bigger threat, Al Qaida or Saddam Hussein?

CARVILLE: Easily Al Qaida, we already know that.

CARLSON: I think every one agrees with that, but simply because there's a rapist on the loose doesn't mean you ignore the armed robber.

Right?

CARVILLE: But we know that...

CARLSON: Respond to two threats at the same time, it is possible.

CARVILLE: The rapist is raped.

From the left, I'm James Carville, good night for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night, Friday night, for more CROSSFIRE.

"CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins right now. Have a great night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



Senate Race Still a Tight One>

© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.