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Schwarzenegger for Governor of California?

Aired June 10, 2003 - 16:30   ET


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

In the CROSSFIRE, if California's ready for total recall, will the last action hero turn into the running man?

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR: I terminate problems. That's the bottom line.

ANNOUNCER: And it's Johnny's birthday. Get out your checkbooks. Let's celebrate again.

Plus, selling books or sour grapes?



ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Robert Novak.


Today, we're going Hollywood, and California voters might be doing it, too. Can you imagine an Republican actor as California governor? Well, let's do something original.

First, here comes the best political briefing in television. Our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

CNN has confirmed that the Bush administration wants to bring four-star General Peter Schoomaker out of retirement to be on his chiefs of staff.

He'd replace General Eric Shinseki who got in trouble for the Iraq -- for saying Iraq -- well, it would take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to occupy the country. Too bad he was right.

Maybe the new guy will be a better liar for the Bush team. General Shinseki was just too honest.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: You know what would really be nice? If you could pronounce his name right. CARVILLE: All right.

NOVAK: His name is Shinseki.

CARVILLE: Shinseki. OK.

NOVAK: Actually, the thing...

CARVILLE: The one...

NOVAK: The thing...


CARVILLE: ... said it was 200,000 troops...

NOVAK: The thing I like...

CARVILLE: ... as opposed -- as opposed to Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld lying through their teeth.

NOVAK: And the thing I would like, James, is...


NOVAK: ... to see General Shinseki run -- he's from Hawaii.


NOVAK: He's a protege of Senator Inoue who's up this year. He's too old to run again. He shouldn't run. Shinseki ought to run.

And you know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see Senator Shinseki question Don Rumsfeld. That would be a lot of fun.

CARVILLE: I would -- I would love to see that.

NOVAK: Wouldn't that be fun?

CARVILLE: I want to -- but I -- even White -- the guy that fired him as Secretary of Army -- because they just told the truth, it was going to take 200,000 people to occupy. That would be...

NOVAK: That may be it. That may be it.

CARVILLE: You know what Iraq is? It's the -- it's Arabic words for Vietnam.

NOVAK: Oh, that's not Vietnam. Let's not -- let's not...

CARVILLE: Quagmire.

NOVAK: Let's not exaggerate.

The Senate yesterday confirmed Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff as a judge on the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia by a vote of 88 to 1. Guess who cast the only no vote? None other than Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Since Chertoff was confirmed, all -- with praise from almost every other Republican and Democrat, why did Hillary vote no? She didn't say, but everybody knows why. Chertoff was chief counsel of the Senate investigation of the Clinton's Whitewater shenanigans.

That's vindictive. Hillary Clinton is a vindictive person, a failing that may keep her out of the White House permanently.

CARVILLE: You know...


CARVILLE: You know, I've always thought that people who hated gay people really had a kind of confused sexual identity. I think all you Hillary haters really have a secret crush on her because...


CARVILLE: ... and I -- you know, I think -- it's that you just sit there and you just wonder, gee, if I could just be around this great woman, and you're so angry about your own feelings. The people that hate gay people are so angry about their own thing, is that they lash out at the very -- at gay people. That's what...


CARVILLE: ... Hillary haters are. You all really are crazy about her.

NOVAK: I didn't know...

CARVILLE: I figured it out.

NOVAK: I didn't -- James, I didn't know...


NOVAK: Wait a minute. Just a minute. Let me say a word. I didn't know you had a psychiatric degree.

CARVILLE: I do. I know...

NOVAK: ... because...


CARVILLE: ... you, Bob.

NOVAK: ... I knew you were a psychiatric taste, but I didn't think you had a...

CARVILLE: I know. I know. Even the most...

NOVAK: I've got a question for you. Do you think -- do you think it was a smart thing for her to cast this vindictive vote against...

CARVILLE: Absolutely because...


CARVILLE: I'll tell you why. Because he was a misogynist. He was mean to the women that went up there.

NOVAK: Oh! Why didn't...


CARVILLE: ... against the law, and they found out nothing about Whitewater.

NOVAK: Why didn't -- why didn't you...

CARVILLE: They spent $70 million on nothing.

NOVAK: Why didn't he...

CARVILLE: Chertoff is a political hack.

NOVAK: Why didn't...

CARVILLE: He was a political hack when he started, he's a political hack now, and I don't care where he goes.

NOVAK: Why didn't...

CARVILLE: And you love Hillary, Bob. Dream about her. Dream about Hillary.

NOVAK: Can I say something?

CARVILLE: Dream about her.

NOVAK: Why didn't the other women in the -- why didn't the other women Senators vote against...

CARVILLE: I have no idea. I'm glad she voted against him. I want you to dream about Hillary tonight.


NOVAK: That's a nightmare. That's not a dream.

CARVILLE: Bush's dad sent the record for a one-year budget deficit when he went to $290 billion in the red in 1992.

You know what they say. Like father, like son. The Congressional Budget Office now predicts this year's federal budget will break the record. The CBO says it will exceed $400 billion. That's wrong. It's going to exceed $500 billion.

Just wait until it gets worse. By the -- by this -- when this incompetent crew gets done breaking the bank with their ignorant tax cut, the budget deficit will be half-a-trillion-dollar range, probably more, and then there's next year.

NOVAK: The problem...

CARVILLE: These are stupid...

NOVAK: The problem...

CARVILLE: This is a stupid...

NOVAK: Actually...

CARVILLE: ... economics policy.

NOVAK: ... adjusted for inflation and adjusted for the cost, it isn't really that much. I'll tell you...

CARVILLE: Adjusted? Adjusted B.S.

NOVAK: Wait. Wait a minute.

CARVILLE: Adjusted for a Republican lie.

NOVAK: Damn it! Let me say something.

CARVILLE: Adjusted for all your lies.

NOVAK: And what I'm -- what I'm going to tell you is -- it isn't the problem with the deficit. It's something you could never understand. It's that the government is too big, all those Clinton spending programs, and the Republicans should have cut them back, and they just haven't done it. That's what's really a shame.

CARVILLE: Why did Clinton have a $5.6-trillion surplus when...

NOVAK: That's the...

CARVILLE: ... this clown has run up...

NOVAK: That's the business cycle.

CARVILLE: ... a $500-billion deficit.

NOVAK: Today...


CARVILLE: ... there. They know that.

NOVAK: Today is the 50th birthday of Johnny Edwards. That's the birth certificate name of Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, one of nine Democrats running for president. He's pointing at number 50, 50-candle cakes, $50 campaign check, joining the AARP to show that the baby-faced senator is a big boy now. But, despite tons of money from fellow trial lawyers, Edwards isn't doing so hot. In an interview with the newspaper "Roll Call," another candidate, former Senator Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, commented, "I am beating him all over the country with 1 percent of his money," end quote.

Johnny, they hardly know you.

CARVILLE: You know what? I -- so are we going to attack the guy for what's on his birth certificate? Because -- is there some -- something else that you could think of to attack people on that...

NOVAK: Yes, yes.

CARVILLE: His name is Johnny. Oh, you can't vote for him. His name is Johnny.

NOVAK: I think that...

CARVILLE: That's -- I mean what an ignorant attack on somebody...

NOVAK: I'll...

CARVILLE: ... and, if you can't think of something better than that, man, don't think of nothing.

NOVAK: I'll explain it.


NOVAK: I'll explain it to you because people who try to hide their true identity, you wonder about them.

CARVILLE: Well, I'll tell you what. When you want to hide an identity, you just put it on a birth certificate. No one ever thinks to look there.


NOVAK: There's breaking news in the case of baseball player Sammy Sosa's appeal of his corked bat suspension. We'll hear from Sosa live coming up on CNN.

Meanwhile, out West, Gray Davis has the lowest approval ratings of any California governor in the last 55 years. So now he may be subject to recall. And Arnold Schwarzenegger may just be the candidate. The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, for governor in the CROSSFIRE next.



NOVAK: OK. We're going to -- we're going to -- That was Sammy Sosa apologizing for umpf time, and let's take a break now. Thank you.


CARVILLE: Welcome back.

If you ever doubted Republicans before, let's just look at Florida -- or California. They're busy trying to gather enough signatures to recall Democratic Governor Gray Davis, even though voters reelected him only last November. Due to a quirk in California's laws, voters could pick a new governor the same day as the recall election.

And there's talk that actor Arnold Schwarzenegger will let his name go on the ballot. In the issue the "Esquire" -- in this issue of "Esquire," Arnold says, quote, "Yes, I would love to be governor of California. If the state needs me and there's no one I think is better, then I'll run." So we'll see a total recall in California.

We're going to put the mess in California in the CROSSFIRE with California Democratic Party campaign adviser Bob Mulholland who joins us from Sacrament and Republican Governor Pete Wilson's former speechwriter Bill Whalen. He joins us from Palo Alto where he's a fellow at the Stanford University's Hoover Institution.


NOVAK: Mr. Mulholland, I want to start off by showing the audience a couple of polls.

The Field poll, famous California statewide poll, gives Governor Davis an approval rating of 24 percent. That's about what Nixon had just before he was forced out of office.

And then the Gallup poll shows the favorability rating of Arnold Schwarzenegger as 72 percent.

Isn't -- isn't -- aren't we looking at the recall of Davis and the election of Schwarzenegger as a real possibility?


One is Governor Davis, as James pointed out a little while ago, was reelected by the voters. The only poll that mattered was last November.

Second point is that Darrell Issa, the Republican congress member, is the one spending the money for this recall, and I doubt if Darrell Issa, the Republican, is going to wake up one morning and say, you know what, I've -- I put this recall on the ballot. Assuming he does -- I don't know if it will qualify, but let me get out of the way of Arnold.

No, I think the Republicans have several candidates going to run, and, as far as Arnold, you know, in match-up polls that have been done in California, he doesn't do as well as people say or as well as his public relations people say. He's got a long way to go to win the Republican Party.

CARVILLE: Mr. Whalan, what do you think is the source of his popularity -- his pro-choice position on abortion, his pro-gun control position, or his pro-gay adoption position? Which of those three do you think is really popping through to these Republicans in California?

BILL WHALEN, RESEARCH FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: You asked a loaded question. He's a popular man because he's a very likable character, James. He's an all-American...

CARVILLE: Of those there that he supports...

WHALEN: ... success story.

CARVILLE: ... abortion rights, being for gun control, or being for gay adoption.

WHALEN: James, I'll just tell you again what I said before. He's...

CARVILLE: What's the most popular among California Republicans?

WHALEN: He's a popular man in California because he is an American success story.

CARVILLE: Will he take a no new tax pledge?

WHALEN: Don't know. You'd have to ask the man yourself, James.


NOVAK: Mr. Mulholland, I remember very well in 1966 that the Democrats were so happy that this movie actor, who had never run for any office -- he was a B movie actor who'd been doing a lot of hack jobs on television -- named Ronald Reagan, was going to get the nomination, and it would be easy for a veteran guy like Pat Brown to beat him. Sometimes you -- what you wish for you get.

Isn't this -- isn't it possible that Schwarzenegger in Tinseltown and in the movie state could be a hell of a candidate?

MULHOLLAND: Well, he might be for the television cameras, but, as James pointed out, as some of those issues -- most Republicans don't know about him, and, as I keep repeating, as most of the polls done in California -- he -- Schwarzenegger already has 38-percent unfavorable. He's never run for any office out here, and that -- and, Bob, that happened in the 20th century. This is the 21st century.

And, again, there is no united Republican Party out here. In fact, they lost every race last year. The California Republican Party has not put one dime into this recall. Darryl Issa is a Republican, and I can guarantee you Darrell Issa is already doing the research on Arnold Schwarzenegger to...

NOVAK: But I don't -- I don't want to get into the details, but isn't it a fact that almost anybody can get on -- if this recall gets a sufficient -- almost anybody can get on the ballot?

MULHOLLAND: Yes, just pay about 50 bucks, and you file. So there could be three or four Republicans.

CARVILLE: Mr. Whalen, there's an injustice here. Davis is running this deficit. They want to recall him. Bush is running a $500-billion yearly deficit, according to the Treasury Department, putting the country $44 trillion in debt. What -- why would anybody be for him? He's a bigger liar than Davis was?

WHALEN: The problem Gray Davis has is one of incompetence, James. You know, people who don't -- who aren't familiar with California make a misperception. They try to liken recall to impeachment.

One of the funny things about this recall procedure is that the language in the constitution -- the California State constitution is terribly vague when it comes to this. Incompetence -- the voters' dislike of the candidate is all that really is required to recall someone.

NOVAK: Mr. Mulholland, the Democrats won with Gray Davis by 5- percentage points over a very flawed candidate, Bill Simon, by just smearing the hell of out of him, just a tremendously viscous negative campaign. Are you getting ready to run the same kind of negative campaign over any and all of the Republican candidates, including the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger?

MULHOLLAND: Well, as one who served in Vietnam, you learn early, if they're firing at you, fire back. Hey, Ronald Reagan was only reelected by 7 points in his second term as governor. He went on to be two-term president. And, as far as Arnold, Darrell Issa will do most of the research on him.

And absolutely any Republican who attacks our Governor Davis, who served in Vietnam, been in public officer for 20 years, and was reelected last time -- and he gets attacked by any one of these bums, we're going to go after him.

WHALEN: Yes, but, you know, here -- herein lies the problem with California politics, guys. There are 22-million Californians who are voting age in the state -- who are eligible to vote. About seven million participated in the last fall's gubernatorial race.

That means 15-million people took a pass on it, in part because it's so negative, it's back and forth between Republicans, and this is what makes Schwarzenegger's potential candidacy interesting. He could rejuvenate people. He could get them interested in the Democratic process again.

NOVAK: OK. We're going to have to break. Wolf Blitzer has the headlines after the break, and we'll find out which former CEO is heading to prison.

And then, it's "Rapidfire," which goes even faster than Governor Gray Davis' second term. And we'll find out if our audience is ready to vote for Arnold.


CARVILLE: It's time for "Rapidfire." Short questions, short answers, and no recalls.

We're talking with California Democratic Party Campaign Adviser Bob Mulholland and Hoover Institute Research Fellow Bill Whalen.

NOVAK: OK. Mr. Mulholland, are you afraid that if Arnold Schwarzenegger runs that a bunch of Kennedys will come in to campaign for him?



CARVILLE: Mr. Whalen, do you think Mr. Schwarzenegger gets as many questions about his Democratic wife as I get about my Republican wife?

WHALEN: Absolutely.

NOVAK: OK, Mr. Mulholland. You -- are you getting ready to -- just in case Governor Davis gets recalled, are you getting ready to prime Senator Dianne Feinstein to run for governor in this special election?


CARVILLE: Mr. Whalen, name quickly three qualifications that Arnold Schwarzenegger has to be governor of California?

WHALEN: Successful businessman, understands the immigrant dream to come to America, and he cares about California's future.

NOVAK: Is -- would you say that if -- if -- if Governor Davis is recalled, who is the probable Democratic choice for governor?

MULHOLLAND: Our candidate...

WHALEN: Well...

MULHOLLAND: Our candidate is Governor Davis. He got reelected. He's on the ballot. If there is a recall, we'll be backing him a hundred percent, and we will beat the recall.

CARVILLE: Mr. Whalen, what -- in your view, what percentage chance does this recall have to get enough signatures to be put on the ballot?

WHALEN: A scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it about an 8 out of 10 right now.

NOVAK: Isn't it -- isn't it a fact that all these liberals positions that Mr. Schwarzenegger has makes him a very attractive candidate to Democrats in the state?

MULHOLLAND: Very few because the Democrats understand what this is about, a power grab by some disgruntled Republicans, and a lot of Republicans will not like Arnold.

NOVAK: Bob Mulholland, thank you very much.


NOVAK: Bill Whalen, thank you.

WHALEN: Thank you.

NOVAK: It's time for today's audience -- "Ask the Audience" questions.

If you're in our studio audience, pull out your voting devices. Pull them out. And tell us, would you vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor? Vote one for, yes, even Arnold would make a better governor than Gray Davis, or vote two for, no, you don't want Arnold, the Terminator, in the governor's mansion.

We'll have the results right after the break.

And, also, one of our viewers fires back a solution to the growing energy shortage, and it has something to do with James Carville. Stick around and find out.


NOVAK: "Fireback." The audience reaction question: Would you vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger for president? In the red -- for governor, not president. For governor. In the red, the Republicans, yes, 80 to 20. The Democrats, in the blue, no, 80 to 20.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you I -- we don't have a whole lot of swing voters in our CROSSFIRE audience, do we? We have some committed ideologues out there.

NOVAK: OK. Joy of Sunnyvale, California, says, "I hope the people of California will not jump from the frying pan into the fire by recalling Governor Davis with the Terminator. What makes him a better fit to fix our budget mess? Where is his government experience?"

Joy, he has exactly the same amount of government experience as Ronald Reagan did, and he was one of the great governors in the history of California.

CARVILLE: In defense of Reagan, Reagan was interested in politics. He was head of the Screen Actors' Guild. He'd been commenting on -- I mean I think Arnold Schwarzenegger's a nice guy, I like him a lot, but -- who knows? We'll see.

"Arnold isn't California dreamin'. He's California trippin'. How does the Terminator plan to deal with the state debt, blow it up?" Charles Laster, Fulton, Kentucky.

Well, if he does it like Bush, if he just ignores it -- big enough to blow up?

NOVAK: OK. Jerry Colvin of Wagener, South Carolina, says, "I bet Bush finds weapons of mass destruction in a country the size of California in less time than it took for Hillary to find Rose Law firm billing records in her living room."

Jerry, you got that exactly right.

CARVILLE: All right.

"James, surely you can make better use of the hot air you put out. You could make a large dent in the energy shortage by being the leading force behind the wind energy."

You know what?

NOVAK: Great idea.

CARVILLE: And they could use that to get some more lights and look for those weapons of mass destruction. Let me see if there's any under here. You got -- watch out, boy. There's some mustard gas under there.

NOVAK: Question -- question from the audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, my name is Bill (ph) from Raleigh, North Carolina, and I'm curious to know how does Arnold Schwarzenegger compares with Jesse Ventura.

NOVAK: Jesse Ventura. Well, I think he'll -- he would be probably as good a governor as Jesse was. You know what? The State of Minnesota survived, didn't it?

CARVILLE: But Jesse didn't survive. He didn't even run for reelection. I mean I just -- survival is -- I think people in California are looking for something a little more than survival, but I...

NOVAK: I think they'll buy survival in California right now any day.

Go ahead. A question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. My name is Robert Karis (ph) from Herndon, Virginia. I just wanted to know how responsible President Bush's policies are for Governor Davis's problems in California?

NOVAK: Are you from -- do you work for the CIA out there?


(LAUGHTER) NOVAK: I don't -- I don't know. I think -- I think the -- his -- the president's tax-cut policies are going to create a terrific upsurge in investment and prosperity in the country.

CARVILLE: Yes, wow. Sure. Go right ahead.

NOVAK: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. Ii, I'm Jason Maninger (ph) from Plymouth, Michigan. I was just wondering what you gentlemen believe will happen to President Bush if the large quantity of WMDs he promised us does not turn up?

NOVAK: Probably get reelected.

CARVILLE: Yes. You know what? I think -- I think the bigger problem he has is his occupation, and I think that eventually the American people are going to turn more and more to -- that we're stuck with 200,000 people in a country that really don't want us there.

From the left, I'm James Carville. And that it's from CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.


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