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Interview With Jerry Springer

Aired June 12, 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, today it was country loving. Can Jerry Springer go to country serving, serving in the United States Senate?

And guess who's up the most in the polls? His and her numbers. Today on CROSSFIRE.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington university, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.


PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE, everybody. You're going to be so glad you paid your cable bill this month, because today Jerry Springer takes a break from shows with topics like enraged lovers, naughty girls and I'm leaving you for a hermaphrodite to talk about the possibility of leaving his show and running for the United States Senate.

Hold on to your chairs, though, because before we get to Mr. Springer, we will begin, as we always do, with the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE Political Alert.

Democratic Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin has offered an amendment to the military construction bill that would restore $1 billion President Bush is trying to cut from the military housing budget. The money would go for more and better homes, barracks, child care centers and schools for the heroic men and women of our armed services.

Now, President Bush and the Republicans oppose the Obey amendment because the money comes from asking people making $1 million a year to accept a tax cut of $83,000 instead of $88,000. Sadly, I'm afraid some Americans may conclude that some Republicans find it easier to ask our fighting forces to sacrifice their lives than ask millionaires to sacrifice a few dollars.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: First of all, everything about that Political Alert was misleading. First of all, the president didn't cut anything. Second, it wasn't a billion, it was $947 million. Third, this is not the place, the military construction subcommittee to debate tax policy.

That's for Ways and Means, it has nothing to do with the president, it has nothing to do with taxes. If you were against the tax cut, fight that out in the appropriate committee.

BEGALA: If you support our military -- no, it's a legitimate amendment...

CARLSON: It's totally illegitimate.

BEGALA: ... to say that we can ask those millionaires in this country to kick in a few bucks so that our troops are sleeping in decent barracks and their kids go to decent school.

CARLSON: That's not how laws are made. That's not how Congress works.

BEGALA: Yes, that's exactly how laws are made. It was a germane amendment. The Republicans should have passed it.

CARLSON: It's completely absurd (ph).

BEGALA: They opposed it. They have sick priorities.

CARLSON: Those of you at home who understand Congress know how dumb that is.

BEGALA: I actually worked in the Congress.

CARLSON: Speaking of Congress, reality TV came to Capitol Hill yesterday, when 14 members of Congress found themselves stuck for more than half an hour in an elevator. The wait of the congressmen averaged out at more than 200 pounds a piece, causing the car to sag and the doors to lock automatically.

The bipartisan group passed the time by telling jokes to keep claustrophobia at bay. According to "Roll Call," it was Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, Democrat presidential candidate and committed vegan who arranged for a rescue, remaining on the phone valiantly until help arrived.

There are at least two morals to the story. One, maybe Congress should stop lecturing the rest of us about being unhealthy couch potatoes, and, two, Dennis Kucinich is the natural leader of the Democratic Party. If he can do it in an elevator, he can do it in America. Kucinich, 2004.

We need a vegan for president. I think he sums up -- it could be Sharpton-Kucinich 2004.

BEGALA: That's the ticket?

CARLSON: He's winning me over.

BEGALA: Are you a vegan?

CARLSON: I am not a vegan. But I think your party ought to be represented by one, because it's so perfect.

BEGALA: With all those Republican wind bags in there the thing would just float from all the hot air, I guess. They're weighted down by all that oil money. That just kind of balances it out. That's why it got stuck.

CARLSON: Paul, why is it that you patronize and sort of dismiss Dennis Kucinich, who is a very serious person? He's the perfect Democrat. He and Al Sharpton?

BEGALA: He's a lovely man. He comes on this program, I enjoy having him here.

CARLSON: Amen. I hope he wins the nomination. He is perfect.

BEGALA: I'll tell you what, he's got a lot more on the ball than -- I won't say who, but the president of a large country in North America.

Even before her terrific new book, "Living History," came out, Hillary Clinton was the most admired woman in America in the latest Gallup survey. And she's only going up from there.

The newest CNN-"USA Today" Gallup Poll shows a 10-point increase in Senator Clinton's approval rating and a similar jump in her husband's popularity. Clinton nostalgia, anyone?

Meanwhile, fans of President George W. Bush reminded us that he, too, has written a book. It is number 40,361 on the best seller list. The president is thinking about following up his autobiography with a book about his claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. You'll find it in the bookstores under fiction.

CARLSON: It's always about polls, isn't it? I mean, who cares?

BEGALA: The country loves Hillary.

CARLSON: Actually, I'm not even anti-Hillary.

BEGALA: You're sweet on her. That's what I hear.

CARLSON: I am not.

BEGALA: You know what it is? She's a babe.

CARLSON: I'm an objective observer. And I think she's right up there with, I don't know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He's accomplished a lot more than she has.

BEGALA: She's a babe. She's a total babe.

CARLSON: OK. Now she's a total babe. But as the senator, she's been, you know, maybe a little bit below average. She hasn't really done anything.

It's sort of weird. I mean, I'm not against her. I don't hate her or anything.

BEGALA: But you are going to eat your shoes when she sells a million copies of her book.

CARLSON: If she sells a million copies, I will eat them.

BEGALA: Two shoes for two million?

CARLSON: Two shoes for two million.


CARLSON: Five shoes for five.

The latest review of Hillary Clinton's book, speaking of, comes from someone who knows her best, political consultant Dick Morris, a close adviser to both Clintons for 20 years. In an open letter to his former friend, Senator Clinton, published by "National Review," Morris sets the record straight about why he ended his relationship with the Clintons.

In May of 1990, Morris alleges, "Bill Clinton tried to beat me up after an argument." "He ran after me, tackled me, threw me to the floor of the kitchen in the mansion"-- that would be the governor's mansion -- "and cooked his fist back to punch me. You, Mrs. Clinton, grabbed his arm and yelled at him to stop and get control of himself and pulled him off of me."

Wow. People say Hillary Clinton is a strong woman. Apparently we never knew how strong.

You know, it just gets more sordid. I mean, it's like the more you know, the more, ooh.

BEGALA: I was Bill Clinton's political consultant for many years. I can attest to you he never punched me, nor had he run after me. I could outrun.

If dick Morris can't outrun Bill Clinton, he needs to get in shape. I mean Dick needs to get out there and hit the track. He's not the fastest guy in the world.


CARLSON: After Clinton tried to beat him up, she said, "He only does that to people he loves." Ooh. Now, I'm not a shrink, Paul, but come on.

BEGALA: Well, you know what? He only loves you, Tucker.

CARLSON: Oh, is that true?

BEGALA: I can't wait for him to come on this show.

CARLSON: Restraining order, baby.

BEGALA: Get some track shoes. Once you eat your loafers, we'll get you some track shoes. Maybe you can outrun him when he comes on.

CARLSON: Creepy. Next, he can teach even the Clintons a thing or two about scandals, but maybe not about wrestling. Trash TV talk show host Jerry Springer formed an exploratory committee to run for the United States Senate this week.

Are Ohio voters ready to send him to Washington? We'll ask the man himself in his first national interview since the news broke. You'll see him here live on CROSSFIRE coming up. We'll be right back.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It is no secret that TV talk show host Jerry Springer has been thinking about entering the Ohio Democratic primary of the United States Senate. If he wins that, he would challenge the state's Republican Senator, George Voinovich, in the 2004 elections.

But what you may not know is that he has interest and expertise besides his show topics, issues like "threesomes with my sister," or his topic today, "country loving." See, before he revolutionized daytime TV, Jerry Springer served five terms on the Cincinnati City Council and one term as Cincinnati's mayor.

This week, Springer formed an exploratory committee and set up a Web site to test voter support for a possible Senate campaign. Now he's taking the next logical step, the step every serious candidate takes, the step into the CROSSFIRE. Please welcome Jerry Springer.


CARLSON: Jerry, thanks for joining us. I want to tell you my concern. You're just dipping your toe in the water and already members of the Democratic Party, elitist members, are doing to you what they've tried to do to Al Sharpton. They're mocking you.

Fred Woodhouse (ph), spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee: "We hope the party could do better than Jerry Springer." Tom Daschle: "Jerry Springer wouldn't be my first choice. I think we can do a lot better than that."

And Joe Lieberman a couple of years ago said you're the pits. "Jerry Springer is the pits. He's the worst. He has no redeeming value."

Why are the elitists in your party trying to marginalize you as they've tried to do with Al Sharpton?

JERRY SPRINGER, TALK SHOW HOST: Yes. In fairness, all those quotes are at least six or seven months old. So...

CARLSON: An attack against you personally. Why?

SPRINGER: Yes. Well, because, let's be honest. If all you knew about me was my show, well why would anyone consider me for the United States Senate? I understand that. So what I have to see is whether or not I can break through the clutter of the show and all the political baggage that it carries and to be heard on the issues. You know, if I articulate a point of view that really relates to just regular ordinary Americans and the people of Ohio, then I'll be successful. If I'm not able to do that, if all I'm able to do is talk about the show, then I'm not going to be successful, and that's the way it ought to be. So I'm willing to test that.

BEGALA: Actually, let's test it right now, Jerry. Today's show, which was broadcast nationwide, was entitled "Country Loving." I'm going to show the audience a clip of it today, and you'll see this in attack ads if you run for the Senate.


BEGALA: And I want to know how you respond to it. Here's what happened on your show today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kiss it, baby. Bring it on down here, big boy.


BEGALA: Now that's a far cry from the filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate, Jerry. How are you going to answer this kind of an ad?

SPRINGER: Well, I'll tell you. First of all, I didn't get to see it because I don't have a screen here. But I assume it was just a wonderful show. Here's the point.

BEGALA: Well, it was a young woman showing us more than we wanted to see of the south end when she's heading north.

SPRINGER: Here's the point. We can talk all we want about the show. And, you know, some people obviously love it. That's why it's been on for 13 years.

Some people hate it. That's why god gave us remote control. You like the show, you watch it; you don't like the show, you don't watch it.

But no matter how much we discuss the show, nothing about the show is relevant to what's affecting the people of Ohio and the people of America right now in terms of whether or not we can keep our schools open.

Let me tell you this. My show didn't shut down one school in Ohio. It didn't close one plant. It didn't force anyone to have to go without medical insurance.

I mean, the fact of the matter is that it had nothing to do with whether or not we go into Iraq, whether we find weapons of mass destruction, what are we going to do about the federal budget. The American people get one chance every two or four years to decide the direction of this country on important policy matters that affect their lives and the lives of their families.

Why would you throw out that one opportunity to have your voice expressed by a debate over a silly talk show? I mean, that's the point. In other words -- no, if Senator Voinovich is happy with the record of Ohio in the past four, eight, 10 years that he's been in charge, as governor and now as a U.S. Senator, then he'll be able to defend that record.

If he's not able to do defend the record, you bet he's going to be talking about my show, he's going to be talking about me. Anything to divert attention away from the issues that really count in people's lives.

CARLSON: Wait a second, Jerry. I mean, part of what you say is true. But the issues aren't limited to legislative ones. I mean, the character and the record of the people running also matters, which goes to my question.

SPRINGER: You want too talk character? You tell...

CARLSON: Hold on. I you to answer my question. Hold on.


CARLSON: This is from the "Cincinnati Inquirer." It raises an interesting point. "Springer is a walking contradiction, says the newspaper. He gets from place to place in a private jet and chauffeured limousines to give speeches to crying the elitism of American government."

Now, you're a rich man, and yet you're asking the public, poor people, ordinary people to pay for your campaign. You're soliciting money on your Web site. Why don't you pay for it yourself? Why ask the little guy to pay for it?

SPRINGER: Well, that's a fair question. First of all, I'm doing very well, and I'm very appreciative of that. But I have lived in this country in every income level that exists.

I started out with nothing. Much of my family was exterminated in the Holocaust. We came over to America. We had nothing. And now all of a sudden I live this ridiculously privileged life because of my silly talk show.

I recognize that. But I also notice something else. It wasn't until I became wealthy that I realized that virtually all the laws and all the policies of this administration and our government protect the interests of people like me.

That's wrong. Someone has to be fighting and speaking just for ordinary hard-working Americans that don't have all the breaks.

CARLSON: But wait a second. You're not answering my question, with all due respect. SPRINGER: And I'm prepared to do that. Because, you now what? I'll answer it.

I cannot afford personally -- I can't afford personally to pay for a whole campaign. Do you understand how much money is going to be spent against me? I'm the worst nightmare of this administration. The right wing will throw everything against me.

I understand that. But what we're talking about is fighting for regular, ordinary Americans. And this campaign shouldn't be me purchasing a seat. This campaign ought to be about millions and millions of Americans who just want their voice heard as well.

Because the truth is, regular, ordinary Americans aren't part of the public debate. When we talk about tax cuts, it's never for middle and low-income Americans, it's always for the wealthier people. When Senator Voinovich can come forth and say, you know what, we're going to have to tighten our belts. These are tough economic times.

What I would ask him, and what I would ask the administration is what programs in your life have to be cut? Are you going to have to go without doctors? Are your kids going to have to go or grandchildren going to have to go without decent schools?

It's always middle and low-income America that is asked to foot the bill, and they don't get the breaks that the wealthy get. That ought to change.


BEGALA: Jerry, let me jump in and ask you this, though. Everybody can take pot shots at the tawdry topics on your show. But recently here in Washington, Rick Santorum, the number three leader of the Senate Republicans, gave an interview where he talked about his own particular obsession with what he called man on dog sex. Now, has even the Jerry Springer show ever sunk to man on dog sex the way that Rick Santorum and the Republicans do?

SPRINGER: No, I think we had at one time I married my horse, but that was about it.

CARLSON: All right. Jerry Springer, we're going to take a quick break and we'll be back in just a minute for a "RapidFire" segment. Just ahead, Wolf Blitzer will check the headlines, which today include the death of a renowned television journalist, as well as an Oscar- winning actor.

And then it's "RapidFire", where the questions fly faster than chairs on the "Jerry Springer Show" and no security. You won't want to miss a moment of it. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for "RapidFire", the fastest question-and-answer session in television. Our guest in Cincinnati is talk show host, aspiring U.S. senator and committed Democrat, Jerry Springer.

BEGALA: Jerry, in the previous segment, Tucker was giving you some grief about the income you make from your show. You're one of the great beneficiaries as a rich person from the Bush tax cut for the rich. Would you vote to repeal it anyway?

SPRINGER: Absolutely. What am I getting a tax cut for? You know, take the money that you give me a tax cut for and make sure that we adequately fund our schools, make sure all Americans have health insurance. That's what you ought to be doing.


CARLSON: And Jerry, speaking of what you ought to be doing, if you're elected to the U.S. Senate, will you attempt to make incest legal?



SPRINGER: I'd come out against that.

BEGALA: Would you support a -- you opposed the war in Iraq, but now we're there. Should we stay or should we go? Do you support a lengthy occupation or a U.S. withdrawal?

SPRINGER: Well, that's a good question. And I wouldn't have all the details on that. I do believe we never should have gone in the first place.

At this point, we have to make sure it doesn't become more of a mess than it currently is. So an immediate withdrawal would make no sense at all. We've created -- it's like we took a baseball bat to a beehive. We slammed them now. Now it's going crazy all over the place.

So I don't know that we could immediately withdraw. But I think we have to figure out a way so that we do not keep extending this American empire because we're paying the cost of it.

CARLSON: Do you agree with President Bush's decision to isolate Yasser Arafat in favor of Abu Mazen?

SPRINGER: At this point, I don't think anyone ought to be isolated. At this point, you've got to bring everybody to the table. Because if you're only talking to two of the parties and there's a third one involved, then you'll continue to have the kind of mess that we're now having.

BEGALA: Jerry, hang on with us. We're going to take one more quick break. We'll be right back with you.

When we come back, Jerry is going to answer some of your questions in our "Fireback" segment. A first, I think, for CROSSFIRE. One of our viewers has a few other job ideas for Jerry that he'll share with him next. Stay with us.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. "Fireback" is the time where you get to fire back at our host. But today -- and today only, because we have such a special guest -- you fire back at our guest.

He is Jerry Springer. Perhaps the candidate for the U.S. Senate from Ohio. Jerry, thanks for sticking with us.


BEGALA: Marty Wiexel in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, writes to you "I don't care to view Jerry Springer's show, but I would listen carefully to his ideas and views. On second thought, some of the characters in this administration might do very well as performers on his show."

CARLSON: All right. Next up, Jerry, we have a second e-mail for you from Mark Steenburg of Sacramento, who writes "I think Jerry Springer would make a great senator. Also, how about Dr. Ruth as surgeon general, Donahue as defense secretary, Dr. Laura as attorney general and Tucker as head of FDA? He could show where shoe leather fits into the food pyramid."

He also recommends Oprah for president. Do you think there's room for other talk show hosts to run the country?

SPRINGER: Well, you know, they'd have to make their own judgments. Certainly we don't just have to have lifelong politicians.

Let's be honest. These career politicians have been running our country for years. And these last few years, I don't think we can simply look at them and say, boy, they're great just because they've been in politics forever.

You know we need -- I wouldn't want to have a whole United States Senate of me. That would be awful. But shouldn't at least one United States senator be someone who reflects views of, you know, just middle or low-income America?

I mean, you know, let's have at least one voice that is outside the box that isn't part of Washington, that isn't part of the elite, that isn't part of trying to fit into the club. You know, I think I'd have an effective voice.

CARLSON: Jerry, we have a voice just like that here in our studio.

BEGALA: Let's take this young lady's question for you. You have a question for senator-to-be Springer?

NOEL BATES: Good afternoon, Mr. Springer. My name is Noel Bates (ph), and I'm from Miami, Florida.

SPRINGER: Hi. Nice to talk to you. BATES: And my question for you is, as an individual who has promoted scandals in order to make a living from stuff, how do you plan to uphold American integrity in the government?

SPRINGER: Yes, well, I would never suggest that I would promote scandals. I mean, ,--my show is about outrageous people and people involved in outrageous situations. And I defy anyone to say that the people on my show are not outrageous.

They are. That's the point of the show. If I was hired to do a show about the 10 most wanted murderers in America, then that's what that show would be about. But that wouldn't mean I'm promoting murder.

Or if I do a show about basketball, that doesn't mean I believe the best thing in the world is basketball, it's just something people enjoy watching. So I don't think it has anything to do with what's happening in our government.

The show is the show. It's entertainment.

CARLSON: Jerry, I'm going to have to cut you off there. I want to get in one more question before we're out of time -- yes, sir?

SCOTT: Hi, Jerry. Scott from Cincinnati, Ohio.

SPRINGER: Hey, Scott.

SCOTT: Do you anticipate being able to bring the same energy and creativity to the U.S. Senate that you brought to Cincinnati politics?

SPRINGER: Yes, I would hope so. I think I was a pretty good mayor of Cincinnati. And I think I would be a very good United States senator if I decide to run.

I've got to get through the clutter of the show. I understand that. But if I can, I really think I would be a good United States senator.

I'm not afraid. I think I really would speak out what's on my mind and represent the interests of just ordinary hard-working Americans. I think I'd be pretty good at it.

CARLSON: Jerry Springer, you represent your party well, and we appreciate it. Thank you very much.

BEGALA: And if you want to know more about Jerry's news, I think the Web site, Jerry, is, is that right?


BEGALA: From the left, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow, Friday, for yet more CROSSFIRE. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT

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