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CNN CROSSFIRE

Interview with, Ed Gillespie, Loretta Sanchez

Aired May 8, 2003 - 16:30   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE, is he headed for a happy landing in 2004 or will the economy put him in the unemployment line?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I continually remind people that I want something strong enough so people can work.

ANNOUNCER: And which U.S. Senator is preparing to join the Dixie Chicks?

Today, on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. The economy's in the ditch, Iraq is a mess, his grand triumphal landing on that aircraft carrier's turned into a national joke and the Republicans lying that President Bush is flying high and his reelection is a mere formality. Keep on thinking it, guys. Keep on thinking it.

In the meantime, we're joined in the CROSSFIRE with Republican Strategist "Easy" Ed Gillespie and Democratic Congressman, the beautiful, talented and brilliant Loretta Sanchez from the great state of California.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Congresswoman Sanchez, just to see if I have this right, the president lands on the USS Roosevelt (sic), the ship comes in exactly when it's supposed to come in, the Navy says it doesn't cost any extra money to fly him out there. The Democrats are complaining about this, meanwhile saying nothing about the economy, nothing about how to build Iraq, but focusing on this dumb photo op. Aren't you wasting your time in a way that's pathetic and contemptible?

REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D-CA), ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: Well first of all it did cost additional monies. I mean we had Karl -- not only that, but we have Karl Rove on the same plane and he should have never been on there.

But you know, this just points to a glaring gap of what the Bush rhetoric is versus the reality. He has said that there were -- he's put us into a war, he's cut taxes for the rich, he has spent no money on Homeland Security. Where all of his -- everything that he has said has been about we need to go to the war to get these hundreds of tons of WMD. My Bush plan is going to create jobs. It hasn't. I'm going to spend on Homeland Security. He's spent less than 5 percent of discretionary income. His budget reflects no help on that. There's a real big credibility gap.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I actually think that the commander in chief, whoever he has, has any right to visit any military installation that they want to.

But that being the case, why did the White House, like everything else, lie about it? Do you have any explanation of why they lied?

ED GILLESPIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: What'd they lie about?

CARVILLE: They said they had to take the jet because it was too far off shore for a helicopter, which is just a bold-faced lie.

The fact is the president landed on the Abraham Lincoln and he inspired those troops...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: .. why'd he lie about it?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: They said that the reason he took the plane was it was too far out for a helicopter, which was a bold-faced lie.

GILLESPIE: I'm sorry, Jim. I don't know enough about it. I know that...

(CROSSTALK)

GILLESPIE: I will tell you this. The fact is I think that what the president did on the Abraham Lincoln was a display of presidential charisma and a speech that laid out a vision for America that I think inspired this whole country...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... use that in a commercial?

GILLESPIE: I don't know if they will or not. I think it's...

CARVILLE: Well than you don't mind if...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Loretta Sanchez, at the moment this happened, I heard Democrats and Democrats were quoted in the paper as saying this is a great picture. It shows the president as strong and decisive, it shows him at the end of this winning war. I'm jealous.

Isn't it more than a bit disingenuous for Democrats the next day to start complaining about a picture they clearly envy?

SANCHEZ: Look, it was clearly a great PR strategy. You know, my problem is what's behind that? He is -- he inherited a strong military and he used it with a vengeance. But military strength is based on economic strength. And when we look at the economic picture, that's where he hasn't delivered. And that's what any Democratic nominee has to talk about and work on for the next 18 months.

CARLSON: I'm so glad you brought that up, because it's going to be a sort of a difficult conversation for Democrats based on a poll that came out today. It's a CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll and it asked the question: "In whom do you have more confidence on the economy?" Who do you think does a better job managing the economy? Bush, 51 percent. You can look up on the screen. Democrats, 39 percent. He's beating you by 12 points on what you consider your signature issue. This is terrible news for you, isn't it?

SANCHEZ: You know, his father lost on the economy.

CARLSON: He's not his father.

SANCHEZ: And in the same way he was way ahead at this time in the ballgame. What happens in the next 12 months with respect to the economy is what is going to get Bush.

And why? Because America will begin to realize what this guy is doing. He said tax cuts would make more jobs. We lost about over 300,000 just in this past month in the United States. Unemployment is already at 6 percent and going up. People have no unemployment benefits. That's a problem for these people who are being laid off.

He said that he would make us secure with homeland security. His budget has no money in there for that. There's a credibility gap at this time.

CARLSON: That's simply not true.

CARVILLE: You got a estimate here on what you think the deficit will be for this fiscal year?

GILLESPIE: James, I haven't seen a projection, but I'll tell you this. I think what we have to understand is that surpluses don't create economic growth. Economic growth creates surpluses.

CARVILLE: Can we do kind of a Bill Bennett thing here and make a bet? Not $8 million but I bet you that it's higher than $450 billion this year. Do you want to bet me? That just kind of make me bet lunch at the Palm.

GILLESPIE: That's fine. I'll take you.

CARVILLE: Not $8 million, not $500 at the slot machine, but maybe lunch at the Palm if it be $450 billion (ph). GILLESPIE: I'll take you up on the bet.

CARVILLE: You got it. All right. We'll have a good time.

CARLSON: Congresswoman, you said a moment ago without explaining why -- you said it was somehow wrong that Karl Rove, the president's adviser, was in the plane when it landed on the aircraft carrier.

I wonder if you could ask answer this question. Mr. Rove went up to New Hampshire recently, was at an event, drew a larger crowd -- more people went to see Karl Rove than went to see Senator Edwards or Congressman Gephardt, both of whom are running for president. Why do you think that is? Kind of sad, isn't it?

SANCHEZ: Well, because we've all grown up watch being the "Wizard of Oz." I mean, we loved the Oz, but we want to pull back the curtain and see who really pulls those levers. That's why he got a crowd.

CARLSON: So what you're saying he's more interesting than your two leading presidential candidates, not including Al Sharpton?

SANCHEZ: He puts the words in Bush's mouth. He sets up the aircraft carrier. This guy is a political genius.

CARVILLE: Let me ask you something. Do you have any reason to explain why the Dixie Chicks outdrew President Bush? Does that mean that people -- does that mean that people are more interested in the Dixie Chicks? I mean, what kind of an asinine thing is this to say Karl Rove drew a bigger crowd than one of nine Democrats?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: What do the Dixie Chicks have to do with it?

CARVILLE: The idea that you say more people go to a football game than go watch a presidential appearance. What does it mean? It's just one of these innocuous things that you all bring up that's absolutely meaningless.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It's the idea that's somehow it's illegitimate for Karl Rove, who's an employee of the executive branch of the federal government, to sort of appear in public. That's insane.

GILLESPIE: This is -- this is all Democrats have right now.

CARLSON: That's right.

GILLESPIE: Are these silly little distractions.

The president is trying to get an energy bill passed that would reduce our reliance on foreign oil. He's trying to get a jobs and growth package passed that would create a million new jobs. He's trying to reform a legal system in a way that is... (CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: How much more money are the coal companies going to get out of this energy bill. Just a rough -- just a rough figure.

(CROSSTALK)

GILLESPIE: All I know is...

CARVILLE: All you know?

GILLESPIE: ..how much consumers are going to save by having greater supply of energy.

CARVILLE: A $30 billion. As RNC chairman, will you refuse to accept contributions of people from corporations who benefit from this energy bill?

GILLESPIE: Well, first of all, I don't know if I'm going to be asked to serve as RNC chairman.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ...would you refuse contributions from people who were on the Dole in this energy bill?

GILLESPIE: There's nobody on the dole in this energy bill.

CARVILLE: Sure they are.

GILLESPIE: These companies try to provide energy to consumers at lower costs, and if we can reduce some of these antiquated policies to help them do that, we ought to.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yes or no -- do you think you're going to be RNC chairman, and do you want to be?

GILLESPIE: Tucker, I have no idea what the plans are for the election cycle.

Let me tell you something. If it would help elect this president and re-elect this president, which is the most important thing I think I could do for my children, I would slap bumper stickers on James' car. I would put up yard signs and I would stuff envelopes if that would help.

CARVILLE: If you do it, it will be the first time he was elected president.

CARLSON: And Congresswoman Sanchez, do you think he would be good?

SANCHEZ: He's a very good political guy.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Thank you, Congresswoman. Thank you, Ed Gillespie, future chairman, we hope.

GILLESPIE: Thank you.

CARLSON: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Just ahead, the "CROSSFIRE Political Alert." Which country music fans or Democratic senator's constituents think about her choice for an upcoming fundraiser.

Plus, a truly annoying plea for religious political correctness and a curbing of free speech. We'll explain when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Our prayers have been answered. It's time for the best little political briefing in television, our "CROSSFIRE Political Alert."

I've never been shy about telling loudmouth preachers like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham where to get off. But now the president of the National Association of Evangelicals is calling on them and other fundamentalist firebrands to knock it off about Islam being an evil religion and other inflammatory nonsense.

Believe it or not, Muslims don't like hearing evangelical minister that are concerned that Falwell and company's insensitive remarks could spark riots, endanger Christian workers and make missionary efforts harder. Jesus said blessed are the peace makers, not the warmongers.

CARLSON: It's just interesting to me -- Islamic extremists kill thousands of Americans and yet somehow, the left seems to think that Jerry Falwell is the real threat to world peace.

CARVILLE: Let me tell you something...

CARLSON: Look, I'm not defending Jerry Falwell, but I do think there needs to be soul searching in the Islamic world about why...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: There are many adherents to the Islamic faith that are peaceful, decent, hard working people.

CARLSON: Of course. That goes without saying.

CARVILLE: He said Islam was an evil religion. That is the most outrageous thing that I've ever heard in my life.

There are people -- look, Germany was a Christian nation. They killed 6 million people. CARLSON: And there was...

CARVILLE: What does that mean?

CARLSON: And there was

CARVILLE: He said Islam was an evil religion. That's the most outrageous thing I've ever heard in my life. Germany was a Christian nation. They killed 6 million people. So, what does that mean?

CARLSON: And there is something very wrong with the way Islam is being practiced in parts of the world today.

CARVILLE: I agree.

CARLSON: And Islamic world needs to think deeply about what the problem.

CARVILLE: They should not be held accountable for what these jerk do. I love many Islamic people.

CARLSON: Who doesn't?

Weeks after they infuriated fans by attacking President Bush on foreign soil, the Dixie Chick have officially entered politics. Next month the band is appearing at a $1,000 a head Washington fund raiser for Senator Blanche Lincoln. Senator Lincoln's explanation, while she disagrees with what the Dixie Chicks said, she supports "the right of free speech," and because of that, it would be hypocritical if she had to cancel the event with the Dixie Chicks. In other words, supporting the first amendment requires supporting everyone who exercises the first amendment.

Does that mean David Duke and Marilyn Manson will be appearing at senator Lincoln's next fund raiser?

If not what exactly does it mean. We'll bring you the clarification when we get it from that scholar, Senator Blanch Lincoln.

CARVILLE: Wait a minute, this was scheduled before or after.

CARLSON: It was scheduled before. She said she can't cancel it because she...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: You know what Senator, don't cancel it because Tucker Carlson wants to suppress speech in the United States. They're singers, who cares what their political opinion is.

CARLSON: I agree with that.

CARVILLE: And you want to shut every body up and we're not going to shut up, and we're going to criticize this president and this... (CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: We are going to criticize people who say Islam is an evil religion.

CARLSON: I support it a little more strongly than you which is why I don't shout people down on television.

CARVILLE: Everybody knows school vouchers (UNINTELLIGIBLE) right, wrong?

"The New York Times" reported a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) study of vouchers at best is inconclusive and at worst misleading. In August of 2000 Harvard professor Paul Peterson released a study saying school vouchers significantly improved test scores among black children recently. Other academics looked at the raw data and came to a different conclusion. It's scary how many Republicans are ready to change American education because of a single study that is now meaningless. Although one of the biggest proponents of that is Bill Bennett, because it's now clear their a losing deck.

CARLSON: I don't know. I mean, vouchers haven't been tried enough to have many studies, but so they put idea that poor children, not just rich people but the poor ought to have a choice of schools. I know the teachers' unions and other Democratic lobbies are against it. But I think it makes some sense.

CARVILLE: Who else is against it, voters. Every time they put it on the ballot, it loses. It lost in Michigan and California.

Look, they don't work and people don't want them. Other than that's a brilliant idea.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: James, that's such a talking point, they haven't been tried and I do think the poor ought to have options. They're stuck in schools...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: it's a tragedy. I think the Democratic party ought to respond.

CARVILLE: If you want to impose your anti-free speech view on people and don't want voters to decide.

CARLSON: I my anti-free speech view.

Shouting people down is anti-free speech. As we noted here before, Al Sharpton is not simply a grass roots American folk hero, he's also the perfect Democrat. It's impossible to find a single issue on which Sharpton and the Democratic party disagree. When Al Sharpton speaks he speaks for the party that spawned him, the Democratic. Today, Sharpton, announced that he plans to register 1.3 million new voters by next January, it's yet another chapter in his long history of public service. Why, then, does the elite rich leadership of the Democratic party continue to hate, denigrate and undermine the Al Sharpton for president campaign? Who knows, maybe they have a problem with diversity. Sounds like they do.

And I know, you're going to bring up Rick Santorum.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Rick Santorum is number three ranking Republican in the Senate. He personifies the Republican party today. He personifies modern American conservatism.

CARLSON: It's not working.

CARVILLE: He's a guy who hates gay people. I don't hate anybody. I love Islamic people, I love gay people, I love everybody. I'm not against people because of what they are.

CARLSON: It's a show about love. One of our viewers joins the debate about how to make the CROSSFIRE bell more effective and dangerous. It's crueler than yesterday's suggestion. So, stay tuned we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for our "Fireback" segment. We have a full e-mail bag this afternoon.

First up, Vincent Beinacchio of Medford, New York, writes, "The Democratic party is calling President Bush's visit to the USS Lincoln shameless. Is this the same Democratic party that turned Senator Wellstone's memorial into a political pep rally?

Vincent, it is, indeed, the same party. Pot calling the kettle black.

CARVILLE: I don't disagree about it, but they lie about it, like they lie about everything else. I think they lied about it, like they lie about everything else. Why make Bush a special fight suit to go to the carrier. From what I hear from most Republicans, he can split the sea and walk on water. I wish unemployed people in America and the people who lost all their money in the stock market think that, but they don't.

CARLSON: Next up, Don Anderson of Kingston, Ontario from Canada, a foreign country to the north writes, "Tucker, show them you mean business. Instead of a bell get a landmine."

Pretty violent group up there in Canada, aren't they?

Bellicose Canadians.

CARVILLE: People want to outlaw land mines. CARLSON: Not in Canada, though. Tough people.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: "James, I love your new time slot. Thanks to the Bush economy, I am unemployed so I'm home at 1:30 to watch. I hope when we elect a Democrat in 2004 you will move to a later time, since I am sure I'll get a job then." Mark Aschemeyer, Rocklin, California.

I tell you, I love this new time slot too, because I get to see more of Maddy and Emma and Mary.

CARLSON: Amen. We have a question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lisa Lenon (ph), Marshfield Massachusetts, is the Bush right wing or the liberal wing of the Democratic party the delectable wing?

CARVILLE: In terms of the Democrats, I think that what we need is alternatives. I'm glad to see Senator Lieberman has come out with a really big, good idea on relying on foreign oil. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Congressman Gephardt has a great idea on health care. I think people look at the Democratic party for big ideas, not an ideological wing but something to do about the country.

CARLSON: The problem is most Democrat is are liberal enough to be elected by their own primary voters but too liberal for a general election.

Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Balki Rabichristen (ph), Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Is the Bush White house getting cocky and overconfident about their chances in 2004, especially post Iraq?

CARLSON: I mean, that is a novice's mistake is to get cocky and blow your lead. And I think they're probably way too sophisticated to allow that to happen. I doubt they will.

CARVILLE: They're not sophisticated. They're a pack of liars. And yes, they are over confident.

From the left, I'm James Carville.

OK. From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow afternoon for another addition of CROSSFIRE.

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