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CNN CROSSFIRE

Louisiana Senate Candidates Barnstorm State As Campaign Draws to a Close

Aired December 6, 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. In the CROSSFIRE tonight: the unemployment rate hits six percent and two members of the Bush administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's fair to say that president looks at the economy as a matter that is bigger than any one person or any one expert.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Or any one president? And can he fix things before the 2004 election? And speaking of elections, it's getting pretty rough down on the bayou.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Mary Landrieu, Louisiana's most liberal senator, ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: What do we really know about Suzie? A paid lobbyist for a foreign drug company while on the New Orleans City Council.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: A live update on a lively race. Plus, the strategists and spin doctors.

Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

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

(APPLAUSE)

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Tonight, two members of the Bush economic team get thrown overboard. Suppose they'll get bonuses anyhow?

We'll also head down to Louisiana, where the U.S. Senate race appears headed to a photo finish. But first, out of the starting gate, the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill resigned today. About an hour later, so did the president's chief economic adviser and architect of his economic plan, Larry Lindsey. It wasn't a coincidence they were both shown the door.

A White house source says O'Neill was too reticent about Mr. Bush's call up for an economic growth package. O'Neill also committed the sin of publicly expressing doubts about the wisdom of the president's tax cuts.

Lindsey's departure, according to officials, is collateral damage from the shakeup. Treasury Secretary O'Neill is a genuine and nice man. He is also truthful and competent. After all, he used to run Alcoa Aluminum.

But sometimes people like that just don't fit into Washington culture. His and Lindsey's departure, on top of SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt's resignation a few weeks ago, just goes to show you that Democrats have been right all along. George W. Bush doesn't have a clue about how to run the economy.

(APPLAUSE)

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: I guess it's obvious that that's not a serious critique. But no president runs the economy. At its best, he can preside over an economy. He can damage an economy.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you one thing, Bill Clinton and Bob (ph) O'Neill and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) did a pretty good job.

CARLSON: That's ludicrous, James.

CARVILLE: If nobody can do anything, why is he admitting a colossal failure by firing the three top people there?

CARLSON: You can't even explain how they did it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I can. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) deficits, greater investment, freer trades.

CARLSON: Whatever that means.

CARVILLE: Competent people. How about that? You want the answer? You got it.

CARLSON: More slogans. And speaking of slogans, in less than 24 hours Iraq will release documents formerly pretending that it does not have chemical or biological weapons. The Bush administration will catalog the lies. Iraq will come that much closer to regime change. But that is not Saddam Hussein's only problem. He may also get thrown out of the Olympics. A London-based human rights group has filed a complaint with the International Olympic Committee, charging that Iraq is too barbaric to compete with other countries. In addition to standard weight and locker rooms, the Iraqi Olympic program also maintains a torture chamber and its own prison. Both are run by Saddam Hussein's oldest son, Ude (ph). Athletes who lose visit both.

Not long ago, members of the unsuccessful Iraqi track team were forced to crawl on hot asphalt. At least one was thrown off a bridge. Even by liberal international standards, behavior like this is considered unsportsman-like. So Saddam Hussein may get bounced out of the Olympics, which means no Iraqi luge team. Get used to it.

CARVILLE: I'm devastated. You see, what they need to do is find some of these political dissidents. I bet you they can run real fast.

CARLSON: They are quick. They want the baton.

CARVILLE: I'm telling you. They'll be glad.

Senator John McCain and the Bush administration don't seem to be getting along well these days,. According to "The Washington Post, " McCain yesterday accused the Bush administration of breaking a written promise -- they've broken all the oral promises, why shouldn't they break the written one -- to speedily appoint a Democrat to the Federal Election Commission.

Ellen Weintraub's (ph) appointment was announced today, but the damage may be done. "The Post" said McCain blames the delay on what he sees as the administration's orchestrated and systematic effort to undermine campaign finance reform. McCain, who is going to be chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee soon, passed the word that he will assume all future assurances and promises by the administration will quite possibly be insincere. No, senator, they won't possibly be insincere, they will all be insincere.

CARLSON: So the charges that the Bush administration hasn't appointed a Democrat to the FEC, but they did appoint a Democrat to the FEC. So...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: They were foot dragging. The charge was that they were foot dragging.

CARLSON: So they didn't do it two days ago, they did it yesterday. So the day makes all the difference. I understand.

CARVILLE: They were foot dragging.

CARLSON: It's a pretty serious crime.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: It also goes to appointees that they were going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Senator McCain is a fine man. You sit here and be an honest man and say Senator McCain thinks that George Bush is a truth teller. You can't say that.

CARLSON: Actually, James, I am a fan of Senator McCain's. His personal feelings about George W. Bush are beyond my purview, as you know, and my interest.

CARVILLE: Right, but you know what they are.

CARLSON: OK.

CARVILLE: He, like a lot of people, knows it's the most lying administration in history.

CARLSON: Hush.

Earlier this week, former President Bill Clinton gave a much- hailed speech in which he laid out a vision for the Democratic Party's foreign policy. "Iraq," he said, "is important, but eliminating terrorism must come first." Well it wasn't until this morning that anyone laughed.

In a devastating editorial entitled "Mr. Clinton Forgets," "The Washington Post" described the former president's new position as not simply, "characteristically calculated and weasly (ph)," but also the precise opposite of what he used to claim to believe.

Four years ago, only four years ago, Clinton called Iraq a rogue state allied with terrorists, and he warned of dire consequences if the U.S. failed to disarm Saddam. Of course, under Clinton, the United States failed to do anything at all about Iraq. Now that the Bush administration has decided to clean up the mess, he snipes from the sidelines, which is pretty bold even for Bill Clinton.

CARVILLE: You know, the truth of the matter is, Tucker, you might...

CARLSON: That's the truth of the matter, actually.

CARVILLE: ... be the only person that anywhere (ph) cares what "The Washington Post" says.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: They make an excellent point. Attack the newspaper, but it's true.

CARVILLE: It turned into a third-rate newspaper with a mealy mouth editorial policy.

CARLSON: Actually, that's a true editorial and you know it.

CARVILLE: No, I don't. I know this, if Bill Clinton would have been president, al Qaeda would be in a lot more trouble then they are today.

CARLSON: U.N. inspections lasted for two years and they did nothing about it. CARVILLE: Why did the Bush administration fight an investigation into this? Because they...

CARLSON: More conspiracies. Good luck, James.

CARVILLE: When Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday, one of the party guests was Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. According to ABC News, Lott told everyone, "I want to say this about when Strom Thurmond ran for president. We voted for him. We were proud of it, and if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have all these problems all over these years either."

When Strom Thurmond ran for president it was 1948. It was because of a split within the Democratic Party on civil rights. President Harry Truman and the Democrats were for them; Strom Thurmond was against it. It was pretty ugly.

But to his credit, Strom Thurmond grew in wisdom and changed his views. It sounds like the same can't be said for other folks, Trent Lott, who has ties to a segregation-based organization. And I just want to know one thing, what is it about segregation that so fascinates you conservatives?

CARLSON: I must say, James, as you know, segregation was created and maintained by Democrats, by your heroes in your state.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Strom Thurmond -- what is it that makes -- why do all of you conservatives like segregation? Why do you want to return to it?

CARLSON: I must say, James, as someone who grew up in a segregated place, as you did, that's just about...

CARVILLE: What is it about it that Trent Lott likes about segregation?

CARLSON: That's so dumb that I'm not even going to respond to it.

CARVILLE: No it's not. Why do conservatives like racial segregation?

CARLSON: Look, pal, you're a little guilty because you grew up with segregation...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I'm not guilty about the way I grew up. I don't feel guilty at all about the way I grew up.

CARLSON: You ought to be. All right.

The world is a little grayer tonight, and not just because of the weather. Long time Providence mayor Vincent Buddy Cianci reported to prison today in New Jersey, where he'll serve the next five years in a cinderblock room with 11 other felons. Cianci first came to national prominence in the early 1980s, when he beat his estranged wife's boyfriend senseless with a fireplace log and then urinated on him.

Convicted of assault, Cianci became a talk show host on the radio then ran again for mayor. He won and went on to transform Providence from an aging industrial hulk to an aging industrial hulk with excellent shopping and good restaurants. He also took bribes, hence the prison term.

Cianci was said to be serene as he arrived at the federal correction institution at Fort Dix today. Guards there confiscated his last remaining possessions: a pack of cigarettes and a novel. Good lucky, Buddy. Join us on CROSSFIRE when you get out.

CARVILLE: Don't forget to bring the spaghetti sauce. He makes his own spaghetti sauce. Good spaghetti sauce. I feel sorry for him. I know him. He's a friend of mine. And I know it's a difficult time for him. And I'm not going to kick a man when he's down.

CARLSON: It usually is when you go to prison. Just don't fool with his estranged wife.

Job openings on the president's economic team. Who will fill the void? We'll have some nominations.

Then, it's a month late, but the Louisiana Senate race is shaping up like the rest of the midterm elections, a disaster for Democrats. We'll be back with gloating in a little bit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and White House Chief Economic Adviser Larry Lindsey tendered their resignations today. Not only were those resignations accepted, administration sources tell CNN both men were asked to leave. What does it mean?

In the CROSSFIRE, New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel, who joins us from our New York bureau. With us here in Washington is the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, California Republican Congressman David Dreier.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Congressman Dreier, let's listen to what President Bush's top spokesman, Ari Fleischer, talking about Bush's economic plan here. It's a graphic, OK? Can you see that?

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: That's not a graphic. It's very graphic, but it is not a graphic.

CARVILLE: "Does he (President Bush) have in mind a specific solution to the economy?" Mr. Fleischer: "No, the president does not." Could you illuminate the president maybe and give him some ideas? He's out of them now.

DREIER: James, the president is a strong proponent of a bold economic plan which is going to be reducing taxes. And he believes very -- he believes it's very important for us to focus on job growth as well as productivity. And that's exactly what these two people who have left have been working on.

And frankly, if you look at the fact that "The Washington Post," on October 5, described the tax bill that we already passed as being fortuitously well timed, you've got to realize that now we're going to go even further. And I think we need to work on an issue like capital gains with a prospective plan. And you know what, the president is going to be supportive of those kinds of things.

CARVILLE: But let's see how well the tax -- let's go to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Let's just see how brilliant this economic policy is working. Let's just take the day that these were passed. Can we see that, please.

Here we go. He signed it on June 7, 2001. The Dow Jones was at 11090. It is now at 8645. Unemployment rate was 4.6. Now it's six percent.

I'm going to tell you this, Congressman, it ain't working. High tariffs and high deficits don't work.

DREIER: Wait a second. Now, James, did anything happen after June 7 of 2001?

CARVILLE: Yeah. September 11.

DREIER: Now I happen to remember September 11, and that's one of the reasons...

CARVILLE: We have bounded back. That didn't cause the unemployment rate to move.

DREIER: Wait a second. We know very well that the downturn began at the end of the Clinton administration. And to your credit, you don't constantly call it -- as Begala does -- the Bush downturn or the Bush deficit. The fact is, we inherited it.

And, if you look at September 11, that's the reason that we've got to do what we can. We all acknowledge that we need to take more steps...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Mr. Rangel, Democrats -- and I think you're the best at this -- have been good and effective, fairly effective at criticizing the Bush administration, but maybe not as good at coming up with reasonable serious solutions on their own. But don't take my word for it. Listen to what Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina said about your party.

He said, "We need a unified party position on the economy. We've got a crybaby position -- all we do is whine." That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, first of all, you would think that on a day that unemployment has gone up to six percent, and that we now have 8.5 million Americans without jobs, many have lost their pension funds, without health benefits, that instead of just throwing overboard his economic team, that he'd be coming with a plan.

Now Dave Dreier has a lot of imagination, but as long as he's been in the House, he has never brought the Bush economic plan to the floor. I'm on the Ways and Means Committee. We've never seen it.

It just seems to me that at a time that, at a time that a million people are going to have their unemployment compensation expire three days after Christmas, and what is Dreier talking about? Tax cuts. We're on the brink of war...

DREIER: What we need to do is put into place a plan which is going to encourage economic growth. That is the key. You know that and I know that.

RANGEL: What plan? Has Bush got a plan?

DREIER: And the most responsible way to do that is to have a prospective capital tax gains reduction. That's going to encourage economic growth. That is going to get people back into the market, that's going to generate revenues to the Treasury to deal with the unemployment benefits that you're talking about, with prescription drugs, and a wide range of other concerns that we've got.

RANGEL: David, you make up these plans as you go along. The real plan has to come...

DREIER: We've been working on it for a long time, Charlie.

RANGEL: You're working on it, but you work on it in the back room. You haven't brought to it the House. We don't know about a plan.

You just keep talking about tax cuts for the rich. You have no plans at all for the stimulus. You want to make permanent -- you want to make permanent tax cuts ten years from now. Every governor in the country just said that they're going into deeper deficits. They're depending on the federal government, and we're going broke.

CARLSON: Wait. Mr. Rangel, hold on. It's not simply David Dreier who is saying this. Do you remember Alan Greenspan? He's the one Democrats used to spend so much time adoring. Well listen to what Alan Greenspan said about the tax cuts. Here's what he said.

"It would probably be unwise to unwind the long-term tax cut" -- what you're suggesting -- "because it is already built into the system. There are potential adverse consequences, which I don't think are desirable." Alan Greenspan...

RANGEL: First of all, I didn't say unwind the tax cut. I said not make it permanent. And I'm not suggesting... CARLSON: What's the difference?

RANGEL: There's a heck of a difference. We're talking about -- give me a break.

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: We're talking about ten years from now. The second thing I'm saying is that, with all of the unemployment, with the crisis that we're facing, don't give me Greenspan and Dreier. Give me someone from the White House with a plan. The only plan he has is tax...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: My temptation right now is to bust out laughing, and I'll tell you why. You guys are talking about a capital gains tax cut. I don't know how to tell you this, Congressman, but there ain't nobody got any capital gains out there. The Nasdaq is down 80 points. The Dow is down one-third.

What are you talking about? Live in the real world. People have lost their savings.

DREIER: I'm talking about a creative tax cut, which is going to encourage people to get back into the market. I'm talking about a prospective capital gains tax...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I'm saying (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Do you have gains in the Nasdaq? Tell us what you're doing.

CARLSON: Let him answer.

DREIER: We also need to deal with capital losses as well. But you know what, we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) encourage growth with a responsible cut. And you know, you've got to know, James, more than half the American people are members of the investor class. They're invested today. And, yes, there are a lot of losses that have been suffered out there. But there are some people who have gains and other assets. And I think we need to...

CARVILLE: Who?

DREIER: ... have a perspective...

CARVILLE: Who? Do you really believe people are making money on their investments now? Are you all that out of touch?

DREIER: Some people are.

CARVILLE: What about my losses?

DREIER: Well one of the things we want to do is we want to increase the deductibility for your losses, too. We want to move beyond the $3,000 level. Those are the kinds of things -- OK, we need to generate revenues to the Treasury to deal with a lot of the issues. Paying for the war on terrorism, dealing with prescription drugs. We need to have the revenues to do that. Economic growth is the only way to get that done.

CARLSON: Charlie Rangel, I hear you laughing there. Now, wait, hold on, James. You have James laughing, you have Mr. Dreier giving actual ideas. I want you, Mr. Rangel, if you don't mind, tell us the three things that you think would get the economy moving long term, meaning beyond this winter. Say over the next five years. What are the three discreet ideas you'd bring if you were treasury secretary?

RANGEL: The first thing that I would do is to have someone that would be able to talk to the American people and the Congress, and tell the president that Republicans and Democrats will have to work together, because there's no Republican solution, no Democratic solution. We both have to come forward with a compromise.

DREIER: We're doing that, Charlie. You know that we're working...

RANGEL: Would you be quiet?

DREIER: Yes, sir.

RANGEL: The second thing I would do would be able to say that when we find 40 million people in ten years going into the Social Security program, going into Medicare, this is not the time to make permanent tax cuts. But everything that we should put on the table, including given a stimulus to the working people that would get out there, that would spend the money on food and clothing.

And the other thing I would say is that we've got to have shared sacrifice. If the president is so dedicated to having a preemptive strike against Iraq, it should be shared and we should make certain that we have a draft and everyone is going to participate.

CARLSON: Oh, wait a second. I'm sorry, I asked you for three discrete ideas. You said they need better PR, we need some sort of stimulus and we need a draft. I mean -- what are the economic ideas over the next five years?

RANGEL: Well, the economic ideas are going to be that we're all going to share in this and that it's not just going to be giving tax cuts to the rich and expecting the poor to go off and fight the wars and not to have anything in terms of knowing that Social Security, Medicare, prescription drugs, not one of these things have been done.

CARVILLE: We got to go to break. And we're all dying for our capital gains tax cuts, because we've all made so much money under this administration.

CARLSON: I'm dying to hear a single idea, just one. In a minute, we'll ask our guests who should be the next treasury secretary. We have some nominations of our own and we'll tell you about them. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

The U.S. unemployment rate hit six percent this week, and then it went a little higher, as Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and the president's chief economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, were asked to resign. In the CROSSFIRE, New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel and California Republican Congressman David Dreier.

CARLSON: All right, Congressman Rangel, trying to get specific ideas out of you. Couldn't do that. Can I get specific...

RANGEL: I tried to give them to you.

CARLSON: I know, but it didn't work. The draft is not necessarily an economic plan.

RANGEL: Well, I just wanted to throw that in there to let you know if we're going to war and we got to have a tax cut policy, that we need to take into consideration all of these things. You know, it's not who's going to be named to replace them. Does the president give us a sense of fairness with the sacrifice that our country is making?

DREIER: Charlie, Tucker wants to ask you a question.

CARLSON: But the very -- right. But he does have to appoint a treasury secretary. And I'd like to know who you think he ought to appoint?

RANGEL: I'm concerned with the plan and not the man. And so it doesn't really make any difference who it is. It is abundantly clear that O'Neill couldn't get along with the White House or the Republicans. But he never had a plan except for tax cuts. We Democrats want to work with somebody, anybody that we can cooperate...

DREIER: Charlie, you have made a great point here in focusing on the future rather than simply focusing on personalities here. And I think that's a very good positive development on your part there, Charlie. Because...

RANGEL: It's not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on me. There is no room for me to kick O'Neill around. Republicans have done a great job at it.

DREIER: Let me just tell you something. These -- Paul O'Neill and Larry Lindsey are dedicated public servants. They stepped forward. And it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that after a midterm election there are changes made.

RANGEL: You kicked them overboard and you know it. Come on.

DREIER: We're happy to have you involved in an economic growth plan. And I will tell you, there are a lot of names out there that people are talking about. CARVILLE: If anybody mentions it, this is a $20 bill. I'll give it to you. Just throw out some names. And if you get one of them right, you get $20. Give us three.

DREIER: Well, I'll tell you, Jerry Parsky (ph), my fellow Californian is one name. John Taylor (ph), whose son is here with me.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: If it's right you get it.

DREIER: How's that?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: What about Senator John Breaux, Congressman? What do you think of that? Would he be...

RANGEL: I am so serious that I really think the substance of the plan is far more important than the personality. And that was one of the things. I think that O'Neill was a very bright man, but he could not communicate to us exactly which direction he wanted to take the country.

CARVILLE: How do you expect O'Neill to communicate, when Ari Fleischer tells us the president doesn't have an economic plan? Why blame O'Neill?

CARLSON: And that's why we need somebody who can communicate.

CARVILLE: It's the error (ph) not the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: Wait, hold on. May I suggest someone who not only has the firmest possible grasp on international finance, but also the ability to communicate back to the American people. I want both of your takes on this. I'm nominating Lou Dobbs of CNN. A veteran broadcaster.

CARVILLE: Actually, I misspoke. It was the Indian (ph) not (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

RANGEL: I wish somebody would...

DREIER: There are plenty of names out there. My former colleague in the House, Bill Archer, is another name that's mentioned. I think that there are a lot of very...

CARVILLE: Charlie, if you get one of them right you get 20 bucks.

DREIER: I'm still waiting for it.

CARVILLE: When he appoints somebody. You can't get it by just (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Charlie, you got any other?

RANGEL: The country's going down the economic tubes. We got more and more people unemployed. I think we deserve better than to be talking about a name. The president should be doing something for these people now before they lose their homes, lose their kids and school.

DREIER: I mean as Tucker pointed out, Charlie, we're offering the ideas and the proposals here, and you really haven't thrown anything out.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I know the economic policy in this administration has been high deficits and high tariffs. If we go back to the Clinton policy of lower deficits and lower tariffs, who could fill that thing?

DREIER: That is absolute baloney, James.

CARVILLE: That's what they're know for, high deficits and high tariffs.

DREIER: Let me just say something. We had a Republican Congress during that period of time, and also we've got to realize those two points that we made. The downturn began...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: One at a time. One at a time.

CARVILLE: ... legislation since World War II was passed. That was the Clinton budget in 1993, that if more than anything else...

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER: It had nothing to do with the economic growth. It was the Reagan tax cuts in the 1980s. You know darn well...

CARVILLE: Oh, come on. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said in my life. When that passed, every one of you guys said it was going to be a failure, this would never work. It was the most explosive growth we've ever had.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: OK, hold on. Mr. Rangel, we're almost out of time. Quickly, give me one quality you think the new treasury secretary ought to have. What's the most important personal quality this guy can have?

RANGEL: The ability to come up with a plan and to communicate it to the Congress and the American people.

CARLSON: OK. Charlie Rangel in New York, thank you very much. David Dreier here in Washington, thank you.

Coming up, a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) actress goes before a judge. Details next in a CNN "News Alert." And then, we'll head down to Louisiana, where the last Senate race of the season is underway and looking promising. We'll be right back.

(NEWS ALERT)

CARLSON: Next up, an update on the last day of the Louisiana Senate race. We'll also talk with two of the strategists which helped make the Landrieu/Terrell contest wonderfully cruel and savage. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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.

Tomorrow's election day in Louisiana. Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and her Republican challenger, Suzanne Terrell, are making their last-minute campaign stops. And behind the scenes both sides are gearing up to knock on doors and get the voters to the polls.

CNN's Candy Crowley is taking it all in and joins us from the place where, by the way, I used to teach school in Louisiana, St. James, La., in St. James Parish, which is right next to Batley (ph), La., where one James Carville was the junior high science teacher in the school year of 69-70.

CARLSON: Oh, my gosh. Home to many satisfied students, doubtless.

Candy, tell me, this sugar conspiracy story that Democrats are talking about, based apparently on a Mexican newspaper column that there's -- the Bush Administration's working on behalf of Suzie Terrell.

Is this getting any traction? Is this a big part of the race at this point, this story?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly is what Mary Landrieu is talking about. Whether or not it's gaining traction in the polls, it's sort of hard to tell. It's kind of emblematic.

What Landrieu's trying to do is sort of make it symbolic of, look, we have to have someone who will stand up to a Republican president when we need them to on behalf of Louisiana.

So it's another way to sort of get at, oh, sure she'll side with George Bush all the time, but I'm for Louisiana. So it's kind of -- that's what it's sort of symbolic of.

CARVILLE: Just out of curiosity, because you said both sides are going to be working real hard to get the vote out. What's the weather forecast? What kind of day we look like we're going to have down home tomorrow?

CROWLEY: Beautiful, as far as I know. It's chilly. I mean, we've got the cold, but I don't think it's chilly as compared to Washington and New York. But it's -- it's, you know, 40s, 50s but sunny.

CARVILLE: So weather won't be a factor in turnout tomorrow. It will be sunny on both sides of the field, as we say in Louisiana?

CROWLEY: Right. The other factor is -- go ahead.

CARLSON: I know you don't like to predict outcomes, but what's the general sense there? In other words, who's going to win?

CROWLEY: Well, let's see, if you ask Suzanne Terrell, she'll tell you that she will. And you can ask Mary Landrieu and she'll tell you she will.

Look, honestly, the polls have been two points. Landrieu was up the last time we looked, but that's well within the margin of error. It's so hard to tell.

You all know what turnout is about. And if you can excite your voters enough and get them to the polls, you know, the victory belongs to the guy whose people show up.

And what, certainly, the Republican side is hoping is that George Bush, having come into the state and also sending his dad and today Karen Hughes was here. They sort of leveled the -- brought up the level of excitement and it will bring out Republicans.

Obviously, what Mary Landrieu is hoping is that very same thing will bring out Democrats.

CARLSON: OK. Well, we're excited about it.

CARVILLE: And I'm excited that you're stomping around my home grounds down there. And I bet I can tell you the family that owns that sugar thing. It's the Grandier family, because they own everything in St. James Parish.

CROWLEY: Oh, really? Well, they were wanting us to move, so if we get in trouble, I'll call you.

CARVILLE: Throw James' name around.

Candy Crowley, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

Coming up in our "Fireback" segment, our viewers weigh in on who should be the next treasury secretary. We think you'll be impressed by some of the nominations.

But next, who are the people responsible for the last Senate race of the year? Strategists from both parties join us in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back.

They battle over sugar, jobs, abortion, the Boy Scouts and how their views reflect George Bush's priorities. Before we find out what the Louisiana voters think, let's ask a couple campaign strategists if the candidates are connecting.

Joining us from New Orleans is Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

Here in Washington is Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.

CARVILLE: Let's go to this sugar issue here. I mean, the inference is that "Reforma," which is a Mexican newspaper -- somehow or another we can't trust Mexican newspapers. I know "Reforma" well; it's a fine newspaper.

But let's go to Louisiana and Jackie Theriot, chairman of the Thibidaux-based Sugar Cane League. Quote, "We had a pretty good relationship with the U.S. trade representative until about two weeks ago when we asked to look at some of the documents traded back and forth. And were told that we'd be able to examine them in the USTA office when the time is right."

Now, this is my question, Alex: Senator McCain says this administration can't be trusted. I know they can't be trusted. Why would anybody in Louisiana trust this administration when it says it hadn't agreed to bring more sugar into the state at the expense of Louisiana sugar growers?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: James, I'm shocked that you don't trust the Bush Administration.

CARVILLE: I don't. John McCain doesn't. Why would I, after all these deficits.

CASTELLANOS: The fact is that Suzie Terrell's done more to advance the interests of Louisiana sugar growers in two weeks than Mary Landrieu has done in two years.

CARVILLE: Like what?

CASTELLANOS: She talked about this to the trade representative today. She's talked to the White House. She's talked with the president about it personally.

And on top of that, for the past two years, what's Mary Landrieu done? She's not worked with this administration, she's fought it. Blocked it on Homeland Security, voted against the president's tax cuts 24 times.

No wonder she doesn't know what's going on. If she did, she'd know that the trade representative said there's no secret deal. It's a Mary myth.

CARVILLE: Why can't Jackie Theriot get in there? What is the problem here? Well, listen -- Why is it that the AP report -- this is not -- somehow or another, it's y'alls position that Mexicans can't be trusted. I find them to be very honest people.

CASTELLANOS: I don't know why you all trust that.

CARLSON: That's an outrageous and stupid thing to say. Mexican newspapers are pretty bad. Doesn't mean Mexicans are bad people.

CASTELLANOS: Has he been eating that spicy Cajun food?

CARVILLE: I've been down there in Mexico and the "Reforma," it's a damn good newspaper.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: OK, Donna Brazile, I think all candidates are allowed to change their minds, grow in office, whatever, come to different points of nuance. However, Mary Landrieu's statements on abortion really are lies.

Let me tell you what I'm talking about.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Are you sure you're not talking about Suzie Terrell, who's changed her position four times in four weeks? Come on, Carlton. She's changed her position four times in four weeks?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: James, hush.

Last year Mary Landrieu sends out a fund-raising letter. This is exactly what it said, quote, "I want to defend the reproductive rights of all women. Throughout my public career, which began more than 20 years ago in the Louisiana legislature, I've been a consistent supporter. I'm proud that both the National Abortion Rights Action League and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America have acknowledged my support of reproductive choice with current 'scorecard' ratings of 80 percent and 90 percent respectively."

That's what she said last year, she's pro-abortion. Fine.

Then, last month, here's what she...

BRAZILE: There's a big difference between being pro-choice and pro-abortion. Mary is pro-choice on this issue.

CARLSON: Is she, Donna? Is she, Donna?

BRAZILE: ... This is a fundamental right; and a woman that's with child will abide in her faith (ph), and let me tell you, in this election they've done more to question Mary's than any election I've ever seen in my life...

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: She's pro-choice. She's not pro-abortion.

CARLSON: If I can just interrupt you for one second. This is the answer she gave last month to the Louisiana Catholic Conference when they gave her a question. This is her answer. She pledged, quote, "to support federal legislation that respects human life from the moment of conception to the of death." That is not a so-called pro-choice or pro-abortion position. That's an anti-abortion position. And that was her position. And that's a lie, isn't it?

BRAZILE: No, it's not. Mary Landrieu has been very consistent in her support for a woman's right to choose.

However, she's not pro-abortion. Mary Landrieu has come out against late term abortions. She's not received the support of NARAL in this election (UNINTELLIGIBLE). She's run as an independent moderate Democrat.

And let me tell you, James, there's a new recipe in Louisiana: 300 tons of Mexican sugar, a sweet deal that they are going to announce after the election, stir in $15 million worth of lies and distort Mary's record, and then you add a little ounce of right wing extremism and what you get, you beat up Mary Landrieu.

But she's going to win tomorrow because she is someone Louisiana knows they will put first.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Can you take us through Terrell's different positions on this issue, please?

CASTELLANOS: I can take you through Mary's.

CARVILLE: I'm asking about Suzie Terrell's.

BRAZILE: I can take you through Suzie's, because I'm sure she's changing it tonight.

CASTELLANOS: She said -- Mary Landrieu said in a debate just this past week she is as pro-life as anybody.

This is the same Mary Landrieu, June 30, year 2000 votes -- there's a vote on the Senate floor. We're going to prohibit using taxpayer's money to distribute the morning after pill in schools without parents consent.

Breaux said common sense, good idea. He votes to prohibit it. Landrieu votes to cancel his vote.

CARVILLE: Did you think that she might be saying that I'm personally as pro-life as anybody, but I wouldn't tell somebody what to do?

CASTELLANOS: Except when it comes time to vote?

CARVILLE: No, I'm saying -- you can be against abortion but I wouldn't stop somebody else -- it's a very consistent -- a very consistent position to say I would choose not to have an abortion but I am not going to stop you from having one.

CARLSON: I wouldn't choose segregation, but I'm going to vote for it anyway.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: She will not allow a woman to go to jail. You always want to impose everything on everybody else.

CARLSON: Absolutely.

CARVILLE: There's medication for that.

CARLSON: I agree with you.

CARVILLE: You ought to take it.

CARLSON: Donna Brazile, I'm amazed by the number of Republicans who have come in on behalf of Suzie Terrell.

BRAZILE: It's been overkill, by the way.

CARLSON: It may be, but...

BRAZILE: Can't they find a Republican in Louisiana who supports Suzie Terrell?

CARLSON: I can find a Democrat...

BRAZILE: They've had to import more Republicans in the last two weeks than I've seen in my entire life.

CARVILLE: They've got a Republican government to support.

CARLSON: Have you heard that there -- this ad that apparently shows that there is in fact a Democrat on the side of Mary Landrieu.

Listen to this ad that makes the point that at least one Democrat does support Senator Landrieu. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Hi. Remember me?

Bubba here. You know I miss Washington, but there's a woman in the Senate I can always count on, my Washington Hollywood friends think she's great.

Hillary, heck no. I'm talking about Mary Landrieu. Mary Landrieu voted over 120 times for higher taxes. She even voted to keep the Clinton tax on social security benefits, one of my personal favorites.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON: So the point here, Donna, is that any reminder that Mary Landrieu is in fact a Democrat is bad for her in the end, isn't it? BRAZILE: That's not true. Look, she's been campaigning nonstop with John Breaux at her sides, Chris John and William Jefferson, who is the congressman from the city of New Orleans. She's been campaigning with local mayors and sheriffs and police.

And those are -- these are Louisianaians, because she's decided to put Louisianans first. And that is why I'm down back home in Louisiana right where, like James, where I grew up.

CARVILLE: I know -- One thing, too, about Louisiana is you use somebody's voice, use their voice. Everything about this spot was a lie, up to and including some Clinton impersonator.

If you can't get a -- Why do you all like lies so much? What is it about -- why do you want to attack Mexicans? What is it that so fascinates you?

BRAZILE: Because they don't talk about issues, it's just lie, lie.

CARLSON: I don't know, James. I look to you. I look to you for tips.

CARVILLE: You know what? You don't need me, because if this administration tells more lies in a week than the Clinton Administration told in eight years.

CARLSON: Is that right? I think you beat the administration.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: And they're telling lies about this sugar thing down there in Louisiana.

BRAZILE: It's a policy of lies and distortion.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Donna Brazile, can I ask you a question before we go way back to Huey Long, what do you think is going to be the outcome tomorrow? Tell me. I want to get you on record, Donna Brazile, telling me how much you think Senator Landrieu's going to win by tomorrow. So give it to us.

BRAZILE: Look, Mary understands how to win with just one extra vote, so I think she's going to win by more than 2 percentage points.

CARLSON: One vote?

BRAZILE: We'll take one. I have over 500 dozen. We'll take the 500 we didn't get in Florida.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: I'm sorry, but did he say let someone answer?

CARVILLE: Let her answer the question.

BRAZILE: I think Senator Landrieu will do very well. I think Suzie Terrell's -- Suzanne had momentum; it stopped a couple days ago. I think Mary will win by two and Democrats will once again show that we can be competitive in the Deep South.

CARLSON: Alex, what do you think's going to happen?

CASTELLANOS: I think this is still a very tough race. Suzie's the underdog.

This is a state that's 1 million more votes Democrat than Republican, 57 percent Democrat and 23 Republicans. I think we've closed the gap, Suzie Terrell.

Mary Landrieu is just so out of touch, so extremely different than most people in Louisiana that I think Suzie has a very good shot to win this thing. But I agree it's going to be very tight.

BRAZILE: But Alex, you should come and see Mary's rally. She has hundreds of people. Suzie had 18, ten who came from her staff.

CASTELLANOS: She'd have to. They're from the Democratic Senatorial Committee.

BRAZILE: These are home grown Louisianaians eating jambalaya.

CARVILLE: They have people coming from out of state to campaign for Suzie Terrell in Louisiana. She can't even get the governor to campaign with her.

BRAZILE: We'll find out on Monday what happens, actually tomorrow.

CARLSON: Thank you very much, Donna Brazile, in New Orleans. Thanks for joining us, Alex. Thank you very much.

We'll go to "Fireback" in a minute, but as we go to break there's an event tonight in Washington where the former President Bush, 41, is receiving an award at the National Defense University. In attendance, Dick Cheney, Brent Scowkroft, General Norman Schwarzkopf. The emcee is CNN's own Paula Zahn.

There she is.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: The former president on that trip reflected, on that fateful day, his service to the country and how that would ultimately shape his presidency.

We are together again tonight to celebrate patriotism, to recognize the National Defense University Foundation and, most of all, to honor our distinguished accomplishments of our 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Well, we're back to CROSSFIRE.

We've gone from an economic policy that's gone sour to a Louisiana Senate race that's gone sweet with the sugar industry.

Now we heat it up with "Fireback," your favorite part.

"I am so glad to hear that Al Gore's suggestion for Bush to start over with his economic team has been heeded. At least someone with presidential ideas and a feel for the place is around the advise the president," Virginia Barnett, Dallas Texas.

You're right, Virginia. Maybe Bush would be smart enough to take more advice if the real winner of the 2000 election.

CARLSON: I thought he was in China taking money from the communist government.

OK. Where is Al Gore, by the way?

David Kopka of Dix Hills, New York, writes, "Hey, James, now that Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has resigned, I think Bush should appoint you as the new secretary. Maybe you can wave your magic wand for us and show us all how one man is supposed to fix a depressed economy."

You know, Charlie Rangel tonight.

CARVILLE: All we've got to do is reinstate the policy of the Clinton administration. Fiscal discipline. Put first rate people in there. Expand American trade and jobs and invest in education and they'll do it. It can be done, you know. There's a real plan there.

"I guess it is 'Still the Economy, Stupid.' I would not be surprised if Larry Lindsey and Paul O'Neill walk away with a 'Bush Bonus' for doing nothing for the American people," Kenneth Barnes, Omaha, Neb.

That's what they want. They want to give payoffs to their political appointees. They want to give tax cuts to their contributors, and they don't want to extend unemployment benefits for 700,000 people, which are going to run out after Christmas.

CARLSON: You literally have no idea, no idea what to do with the economy.

CARVILLE: That's a sin. That's a sin. Not a penny.

CARLSON: Reinstate the draft. Kind of like it.

Bob Shea from Tampa writes, apparently about my clothing, "It's time to start drug testing at CROSSFIRE. Plaid jackets and polka dot ties! What's next, Nehru jackets and paisley shirts?"

Actually, I kind of like Nehru jackets and paisley shirts. I'd wear those.

CARVILLE: What is that color necktie you got on there?

CARLSON: Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Roberta Clawthorne (ph), Shreveport, La. Has Mary Landrieu's support of the president and her obvious attempt to sound like a Republican hurt her for the election tomorrow?

CARVILLE: I don't think so. I think she supported Bush like 74 percent of the time, which is a little too much for my taste. But I guess she voted the way that she thought she should vote. And I think she'll prevail tomorrow.

CARLSON: Well, I guess if you want to vote for Republican, you just go ahead and vote for the Republicans. So it's probably not too good of a strategy.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. My name is Stuart Albertson (ph) from New Orleans, La.

Should the Bush Administration replace Paul O'Neill with a Democrat so they'll have somebody to blame in 2004?

CARLSON: I know someone to blame, but people -- this is a glib part of the question. But people are actually talking about Senator John Breaux of Louisiana.

CARVILLE: Well, I'll tell you what, couldn't do -- we don't need to change the treasury secretary. We need to change this president. We've got to get an idea. We need somebody in charge that has a policy and knows a little.

CARLSON: I think you tried that before. It was shut down at the ballot box. It's called democracy.

CARVILLE: In 2000, Al Gore won the election. He won Florida and he won the popular vote.

CARLSON: That's right. He's president. I totally forgot.

CARVILLE: From the left, I'm James Carville. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right I'm Tucker Carlson. Have a wonderful weekend.

"CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" is next. See you Monday.

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



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