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CNN CROSSFIRE

Bogged Down in Baghdad?; Is General Wesley Clark a Democrat?

Aired July 7, 2003 - 16:30   ET

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

(VIDEO GAP)
KEN ADELMAN, DEFENSE POLICY BOARD: ... for those years against Saddam Hussein and match it against the actions, they don't fit at all.

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: You and I both know this president never questioned one person, never had any interest in what would happen in the occupation.

ADELMAN: I don't know that at all.

CARVILLE: He did whatever your friends at the Pentagon told him to do. And that's why we're stuck over here and these kids are being shot at. And you know that and I know that.

ADELMAN: As long as he made the right decision, I don't...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: As long as he does what your friends tell him to do, he's fine.

(CROSSTALK)

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: If I can just interrupt the soliloquies for a second, now, Joe, there is an absolutely valid, I think, important debate about where we go forward in Iraq. But I think even you'll concede that most of the debate we're hearing now is political in nature.

It's election season. Democrats feel like they're going to use this to put one of their own in the White House. In light of that, listen to what Joe Lieberman wrote today in "The Washington Post" -- quote -- "Unlike some in my party, who continue to question our use of force in Iraq, I have not wavered in my belief in the justice of the war we fought," that being the war in Iraq.

Where do you think, ultimately, the Democratic position as a party position will shake out on this, that the war was justified or unjustified?

JOE CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: I think it's way too early to tell. But I think you're wrong in depicting this as a Democrat- Republican issue. There are lots of Republicans deeply concerned about this. If you saw John Warner from the Armed Services Committee yesterday on "Meet the Press" -- sorry; it's on a different station -- he was waffling on what he was going to do about this, trying to protect the president, but very worried.

(CROSSTALK)

CIRINCIONE: No, a lot of time in Iraq.

And Lugar, Senator Lugar, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a die-hard conservative Republican, impeccable credentials, says, we have to get rid of this idea that we're going to stay in Iraq for as long as we need to get the job and not a day sooner. Let's get real with the American people, tell them what we're up against.

And what we're up against is a mess. This is turning into a disaster. This is not a political issue. This is a national security issue.

CARLSON: Well, we're almost out of time. Mr. Adelman, I'm going to give you a very quick rejoinder to that.

ADELMAN: All right.

The rejoinder is, you have to grade on the curve here, Joe.

(CROSSTALK)

ADELMAN: Iraq today is so much better than Iraq has been for the last 50 years. I think Americans should be extremely proud that we give those kids in jail a life ahead of them and that we're not filling up those mass graves.

CARLSON: I'm sorry, but, on that hopeful note, we're going to have to end right there.

ADELMAN: It is hopeful.

CARLSON: It is hopeful.

CARVILLE: Is there a weapon of mass destruction under here somewhere, huh?

CARLSON: Ken Adelman, Joe Cirincione, thank you both very much.

James, thank you.

CARVILLE: I was just looking to help you find them.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: In just a minute, we'll get a check of the hour's top stories, including the latest on the arrest of NBA star Kobe Bryant. We're standing by for a press conference. And CNN will bring it to you live.

And then, in "Rapid Fire": Is the Democratic Party desperate enough to draft a general who may not even be a Democrat himself? We'll talk to one man who may have the answer next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to "CROSSFIRE."

It's time for the quickest question-and-answer session in television. That, of course, is "Rapid Fire."

As you heard in "JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS," leader of the draft-Wesley Clark movement, such as it is, are rallying across the nation tonight, hoping their man is, A, a Democrat, and B, can be convinced to save their party from nominating Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or even American folk hero Al Sharpton.

With us is John Hlinko. He's co-founder of the Web site DraftWesleyClark.com.

JOHN HLINKO, DRAFTWESLEYCLARK.COM: Thank you.

CARVILLE: The question all America is asking, is Wesley Clark a Democrat or a Republican?

HLINKO: Well, I think it's a great question, but I think the answer...

CARVILLE: What's the answer? I know what the question is. Just tell me the answer.

HLINKO: I'm just complimenting you. It's a heck of a question.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

HLINKO: But I think, in terms of the answer, the real answer is that we're looking at the man here. We're not looking at the party. We're looking at someone who we want to be the president

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: John, wait a second.

HLINKO: To be the uniter, not a divider.

CARLSON: If the guy can't come up with all -- we all like Wesley Clark, of course, General Clark. But if he cannot be straightforward enough to tell us what his party registration is, why would you vote for a guy like that?

HLINKO: Well, you've got to understand, the movement we have right now is uniting Republicans, Democrats, Greens, libertarians, you name it. And these are people who are voting for a man. They're not looking for a party. They're saying, out of 200 million people...

(APPLAUSE)

HLINKO: Thank you. Who is the best qualified to lead? That's what they're looking for.

CARVILLE: Well, then, will he run as an independent or a Democrat?

HLINKO: You'll have to ask him for certain. I'm hoping he runs as a Democrat myself, but I'm really more interested in the man himself than the party.

CARLSON: Well, gee, John, you've got nine Democratic nominees. They're all kind of pathetic, as I think you're admitting. But are they that pathetic, that you need a 10th?

HLINKO: Well, I think the thing is, we've got nine great -- we've got several great candidates out there. But the reality is, do we want just great? Do we want just people we're satisfied with, or do we want the best?

CARLSON: You want better than Joe Lieberman?

(CROSSTALK)

HLINKO: I want the No. 1 in the country.

CARVILLE: He talks about pathetic. What, does Wesley Clark think that George Bush is a towering intellect and figure in modern American history? Or is he running because he thinks this country needs a change from the idiotic tax-cut, war direction, the only two things he can think of?

HLINKO: I could tell you what I think. But as far as what General Clark thinks, you've got to ask him. But all I'm saying is, Rhodes scholar, supreme commander of NATO, not bad qualifications, all around.

CARLSON: OK, well, I hope you convince him to run, and, when you do, you're his campaign manager. And I hope you beat Carol Moseley Braun.

John Hlinko, thanks very much.

(CROSSTALK)

HLINKO: Cool. Thank you very much for having me. A pleasure.

CARLSON: It's time for quiz our audience with a question about U.S. history. General Wesley Clark graduated first in his class from the U.S. military academy at West Point. We want to know how many U.S. presidents graduated from West Point. Pull out your audience voting devices and press one if you think no U.S. presidents went through that school. Press two if you think two U.S. presidents were West Point graduates. Press three if you think four West Point alumni made it to the White House. We'll have the answer for you in just a moment. Plus, in "Fireback," one of you wants me to eat something other than my shoe. And don't forget, the upcoming press conference on Kobe Bryant's arrest is just moments way. CNN will bring it to you live.

Stick around. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to "CROSSFIRE." Time for "Fireback."

But first, the results of our audience history quiz in which we asked, how many presidents graduated West Point, zero, two or four? The correct answer is, in fact, two; 71 percent of our audience got that right. And those two are -- who are they? The two presidents who graduated West Point are U.S. Grant and General Eisenhower. Fantastic.

CARVILLE: Well, I think Grant must have learned how to drink when he was there.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yes, 71 percent.

CARVILLE: That's pretty good. We got a smart audience here.

CARLSON: One of America's great universities.

OK. Speaking of smart audience, first up:

CARVILLE: "The president" -- this is for you -- "The president should heed the words..."

CARLSON: OK. David Varao from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, where I was this very morning, in fact: "The president should heed the words of former President Roosevelt to speak softly but carry a big stick. It only enforces those around the world who hate the USA when the president exudes such arrogance."

Well, there's someone who needs a history lesson. There was probably no more arrogant president in American history than Teddy Roosevelt, who actually sent destroyers to various countries because they made him mad.

CARVILLE: There you go? He never said, "Bring them on," did he?

"So, when is the Bush administration going to use Operation Fix Our Economy? I guess they haven't thought of that one yet, huh? They seem to have an operation for everything else but that," Richard in Orlando, Florida.

Actually, they don't. They don't have one for health care. They don't have one for education. They don't have one for the environment. They don't have one for the budget deficit. They don't have one for anything. They've got a reelection. CARLSON: But let's look at the Democratic ideas on the economy. Oh, there aren't any.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Leonia Gardner of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, writes: "To my surprise, I saw that my 16-year-old daughter had 'Living History' by Hillary Rodham Clinton on her desk in her room." Oh, shiver, shiver. "When I asked her where she got it, she told me that, while she and her boyfriend were driving, they spotted the book on the road. Could it be that someone tossed it out of the car window?"

I think it could be.

CARVILLE: Well, let's put it this way. If everybody that bought it tossed it, there would be a lot of them out there, Tucker.

"I would like to suggest a good alternative to Tucker eating his shoes might be to have James take off one of his socks at the beginning of the show and let Tucker do the entire show with James' sock in his mouth instead."

The problem with Tucker is not what he puts in his mouth. It's what comes out of it, all this right-wing diatribe, pro-Rick Santorum, hate everybody, etcetera, etcetera, kind of B.S.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Look at that. Isn't that a pretty sock?

CARLSON: OK, James, your prescription needs refilling.

CARVILLE: Man, I'll tell you what. That's a good-smelling sock.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: How you doing?

CARLSON: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim from Freeport, Maine.

CARVILLE: Hey, Jim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're involved in Afghanistan, Iraq. Liberia might be next. My question is, what will we do if there's a crisis in North Korea?

CARLSON: That's an excellent question. And that's one of the reasons that critics from the right were forever hounding the Clinton administration to keep the military capable of fighting a multifront war. And it's still a concern now.

CARVILLE: You see, these guys have been -- they stole the election over 2 1/2 years ago and they still can't get over the fact that Bill Clinton was actually elected. From the left, I'm James Carville. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow 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 www.fdch.com



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