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Will Hillary Clinton Run For President?; Gary Coleman Speaks Out

Aired August 29, 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: It's Labor Day weekend, but no holiday on the campaign trail. Can anyone beat President Bush? And is a certain senator thinking of giving it a try?

Plus, we'll ask candidate Gary Coleman why California needs a different governor -- today on CROSSFIRE.



ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Tucker Carlson.



It's been another bad week in Iraq, another bad week in talks with North Korea, another bad week in the environment, another bad week for the deficit. Want some good news? It's Labor Day weekend. So we're only one year away from the start of George W. Bush's last campaign.


CARVILLE: We'll talk presidential politics, right after we bring you the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Today in Iraq, more signs the president's policy is a colossal failure. A massive car bomb outside a mosque killed a major Shiite religious leader and as many as 75 other people. So much for the peace and prosperity that America's war with Iraq was supposed to bring. Meanwhile, so much attention is on the quagmire in Iraq, not too many folks are talking about the other failed occupation they're running in Afghanistan.

Today's "Wall Street Journal" further bolsters my contention that the man behind our failed plans, Paul Wolfowitz, has got to be fired. They cite a report in Afghanistan that says the Pentagon was so intent on -- quote -- "no nation building" -- unquote -- that postwar plans grew from needs in the field, rather than any concept or vision in Washington, D.C.

What left-leaning, Barbra Streisand supported institution came up with this critique? None other than the Army War College.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: It's -- I actually am totally willing to buy that conclusion. It shows how blinded you are by partisan hatred, that you can't see why that happened.



CARLSON: And it happened simply because there was an imminent threat in Afghanistan -- I don't think even you would contest that -- that needed to be dealt with immediately. And that's why there was an oversight in the part of nation building.

CARVILLE: No. And they were against them because they didn't want to any nation building. You didn't have an immediate threat in Iraq. In fact, you had no threat in Iraq. And they had no plan to deal with it.

CARLSON: Pick a country.



CARVILLE: I don't want to be partisan. We lied to get in the war, no vision to get us out of it. The Army War College said there was no planning in the Pentagon for post-reconstruction in Afghanistan either.




From country to country, we skip around, and now back to our own country. Howard Dean is the Yale-educated former governor of yuppie kingdom of Vermont. There's nothing necessarily wrong with a resume like this, though, for a Democratic presidential candidate, it's lacking in what is sometimes referred to as authenticity. Howard Dean does not have a ton of street cred, and he knows it.

This may explain why Dean showed up at an NAACP event a few months back decked out in kente cloth, until someone told him to take it off and he did. It definitely explains a Dean event in New York City's Bryant Park. Bryant Park used to be a slum. Now, thanks to Major Giuliani, it is clean, in fact, even lovely. This is good for New Yorkers, but it's bad for a presidential campaign desperately in search of authenticity.

Dean's solution, hire a graffiti artist to spray-paint the background for that authentic urban feel.


CARLSON: Get it? Authenticity means poverty, squalor and tons of graffiti. That's the Howard Dean view, anyway. That's the view from Vermont.

CARVILLE: Well, I guess we can...


CARLSON: Can you imagine?

CARVILLE: I guess we can accuse the man of having an overaggressive advance person, at least the -- like that never happened before.


CARVILLE: Wait a minute. Bush, to be authentic, made everybody take their neckties off.

CARLSON: Yes, that's phony. I agree. I would never defend that.


CARVILLE: I agree. I agree it was phony. So Howard Dean, don't vote for him. He has too aggressive an advance guy.

CARLSON: No. But, like, come on.

CARVILLE: He'll cure the deficit and get us out of war. But his advance men are too far out there.


CARLSON: Really? You think Howard Dean would keep America safe? I don't think you believe that. No, I don't think you believe that.


CARVILLE: I think he will keep us a lot safer than Bush has.

I've made no secret of the fact that I think the mendacity of the Bush administration is beyond compare. No longer do you have to take my word for it. This month's issue of "The Washington Monthly" has put together a panel of experts to study American presidents, the last four, responsible for telling the biggest lies.

They looked at Clinton's lying about sex, Reagan's lying about arms for hostages and welfare claims, George H.W. Bush's request that we read his lips. But they concluded that George W. Bush blew them all out of the water with his lies about deficits, tax cuts and weapons of mass destruction. George W. Bush should be proud. There's finally a measure which he's No. 1. (APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: It's -- it's interesting. The emotional investment that liberals put into proving that someone else in America lies as much as Bill Clinton did is remarkable.


CARVILLE: No, we're not saying he lies near as much. We're saying he lies a lot more, a lot more.


CARLSON: Oh, yes, he's a liar, too. He's a liar, too. Other people lie, too.


CARVILLE: Clinton lied about sex. He lied about war and money. What do you think about it, America? You care more about sex or more about war and money? I like sex.


CARLSON: It's "The Washington Monthly." James, come on. It's a great magazine, but it's liberal magazine. I like the magazine, but it's a liberal magazine.


CARVILLE: You ought to get this. You can go online.


CARLSON: Shout me down.

And "National Review" thinks Clinton lied more. That means absolutely nothing, as you know. But it's so embarrassing, I'll stop beating up on you and move on to next topic.

CARVILLE: Move on. There we are.

CARLSON: No way to defend that.


CARLSON: In the post-Schwarzenegger era, no serious political candidate will dare run for office in the state of California without at least one public sex scandal in his or her past.


CARLSON: A history a group sex is likely to be almost mandatory. Thanks to Arnold, the rules have changed. No Gray Davises need apply.

With this in mind, Britney Spears was clearly laying a predicate for a gubernatorial bid at the MTV Awards last night.


CARLSON: For those of you who may have missed the show, Spears was joined on stage by fellow singer Madonna, who greeted her with a passionate open-mouthed kiss. It was, needless to say, a ratings bonanza. It was also the unofficial kickoff of the Spears 2012 campaign. That's the strategy, anyway.

Of course, if attitudes change between now and then, Spears can always claim she was never living her life to run for governor. It's worked for Arnold.

CARVILLE: Where -- can we see this?

CARLSON: You want to play that again, James?

CARVILLE: Yes, let's play it. I want to see it, yes. Can we show it to me? Do we have some slow-mo there?


CARVILLE: Let's see here. Uh-oh. Whoa. Stop. Hold it.


CARVILLE: I'll tell you what. I'd vote for her.


CARVILLE: I think if she wants -- she's from Kentwood, Louisiana.


CARLSON: You know, James...

CARVILLE: I'm for her, man.

CARLSON: On the female bisexuality ticket?

CARVILLE: Yes. For her or Madonna. Is she going to run with Madonna?


CARLSON: So to speak.

CARVILLE: So to speak. There you go.


CARLSON: See, I think it probably -- I think it probably would help her in the state of California. She's got a future.

Coming up: the question that just won't go away. Will the junior senator from New York run for president next year? A new report says she's been thinking about it. Is she the only one who can save the sadly dispirited Democratic Party? We'll debate all of that next.




CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

All across America, news executives' hearts are all a'flutter over a Richard Reeves column that says, shortly after Labor Day, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her advisers are going to discuss whether she should run for president in 2004. Never mind that she's repeatedly said she won't run. And she said it again today. Who are you going to believe, Senator Clinton herself or some columnist?

But we have to talk about her so we can talk about other Democrats and the man almost any of them could beat, President George W. Bush.

In the CROSSFIRE today are Republican strategist and former Congresswoman Susan Molinari of the great state of New York, and Democratic strategist and my dear friend Peter Fenn.


CARLSON: Peter Fenn, I have no idea whether Mrs. Clinton will run or not. I would assume not. It's probably pretty late with Sharpton in the race, not a lot of room for her politically anyway.

But the interesting thing to me is that Democrats -- it's not just the media interested in Mrs. Clinton. It's Democrats who are desperately attached in a pretty unhealthy way to both Clintons. And I'm wondering if the Democratic interest in Mrs. Clinton doesn't say a lot about the weakness of the other nine -- 10 with Wesley Clark -- candidates.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We're attaching ourselves to the Clinton, who created 22 million new jobs, who brought crime to its lowest level in 25 years. You mean those Clintons?

CARLSON: No, they're godlike figures. I'll give you that.



CARLSON: No, no, but, seriously, address my question. You've got nine other candidates. Some of them are serious people. Lieberman and Kerry, they're senators.

FENN: Actually, I think this is a conspiracy from Karl Rove, and so that you guys can raise money for the Bush -- as if you need any more money for the Bush-for-president campaign.

Look, Hillary Clinton may be a presidential candidate in the future. She categorically has taken herself out of this race about eight times. I think Richard Reeves is spending too much time in the Hamptons. And he ought to maybe come back into reality. Come on in. Come on in.

CARVILLE: Susan, let me give you a chance to respond to what Peter said. And I know you've probably got some opinions on that.


SUSAN MOLINARI (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, the last time I was having tea with Mrs. Clinton...


MOLINARI: But the buzz is -- people in this town are talking, because that's what we do, particularly here in August, is that what the rumor is, is that Mrs. Clinton has said historically, right, that, if Bush were to drop below 50 percent, that she would then consider entering the race.

And the truth is, it is not too late for her. It probably would be too late for anybody else. But I dare say, she has an ability to raise money quickly and put together a political team, if she wanted to. No one's talked about the fact, however, is there a buzz that's going out there because potentially she may be lining herself up to be the first female vice president?

CARVILLE: Maybe so.

Actually, he is below 50 in public polls, in recent private polls I've seen. What does this president need to do to turn it around, so it won't be the third consecutive time that a Bush has lost?


CARVILLE: No, the "Newsweek" poll has his reelect at 44. We just got out of the field with a poll for -- it has him under 50. But what does he need to do turn it around, so it won't be the third consecutive time that a Bush has led the Republican Party to a presidential defeat?

MOLINARI: Well, listen, the Bushes have served this country very well through very difficult times. They've been tremendous leaders.

CARVILLE: But the country, they voted against him in '92 and in 2000. And so will they vote -- what does he need to do to turn it around in 2004?


MOLINARI: It's always nice when the college kids are back in town here. Look, obviously, they're going to do what he's continuing to do, fighting the war on terrorism, strengthening our defenses, making sure that Americans are safer, and jump-starting the economy, which every economist, while they're talking about the deficit, projects that we're going to be able to deal with this, because the economy is finally starting to rock and roll because of these tax cuts.


CARLSON: Peter Fenn, before we get on to the tax cut, I want to talk about the real story.

FENN: Let me respond to that.


FENN: I'll get it in. I'll get it in.

CARLSON: That's right. Thanks, Peter. I appreciate that, answering my question.

The real story is Howard Dean, really, come out of


CARLSON: No, no, truly. This guy really could be the nominee -- I'll tell you why.

FENN: Why is Howard Dean so popular right now? Howard Dean is so popular, precisely because George Bush has taken this country down the chute.


FENN: He is the only president -- and we know this -- who is going to lose jobs in the past 50 years. There's no way he's going to create jobs in this country. He's got a $500 billion deficit coming down the line. These tax cuts have done nothing to stimulate this



CARLSON: If he gets the nomination, Howard Dean, it's going to be terrible for the Democratic Party. Please admit on the air you know that that's true.


MOLINARI: The fact that he has sort have had this catapult is going to totally demean the other candidates that are out there.


FENN: Yes, but who's answering this question?


FENN: Listen, I have a feeling that it may be that any one of these candidates can defeat George W. Bush next year, any one of them. Well, let's off a few of them, but the major candidates I'm talking about.

MOLINARI: Who are the major candidates these days?

FENN: But I will agree with you. Does Howard Dean make me personally nervous as a general election candidate? I have to tell you, he does.

CARLSON: Thank you.

FENN: He does at this point. I'll will tell you that.

CARLSON: Thank you for admitting that. I appreciate that.

FENN: I'm honest.


MOLINARI: Show over.

FENN: Show over.


CARVILLE: Let's say that Dean, one of the reasons that he might be doing well is because he said that this administration lied to get us into a war that they had no plan to get us out of.


CARVILLE: And, of course, he's 100 percent right. So is it unusual that there would be -- on the question of that, we now know for a fact that they lied to get us in this war. We now know for a fact that they had no plan to get us out.

MOLINARI: Just because you're a co-host does not mean that you can make these statements that say that the president of the United States lied to get us into war. Of course not.


FENN: Whoops, he didn't tell the truth.

CARVILLE: OK. He was mendacious about it. I shouldn't say that. You're right. He didn't -- he fibbed to get us into a war.


CARVILLE: I apologize. I shouldn't have used the L word. He fibbed.

(APPLAUSE) MOLINARI: Both the United Nations and the United States Congress actually voted on a resolution to potentially go to war before the whole 13 words scandal.


MOLINARI: This was not an issue.

CARVILLE: I thought they'd pull back. I thought they'd pull back.


MOLINARI: So this was not an issue.

CARVILLE: I understand that.


MOLINARI: The American people and the United States Senate and the U.N. said, after resolution after resolution, if you don't let our inspectors in, if you continue to...


CARVILLE: But we went to war and the inspectors were in.

I'm just saying, we now know that they made up stuff to get us in this war. We now know that they had no plan for the occupation. Would you join me in calling for Mr. Wolfowitz's resignation?

MOLINARI: I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore.


CARVILLE: He didn't make us stuff to get us into war?

MOLINARI: No, he did not make us stuff to get us into war.


MOLINARI: Your friend Tony Blair is still standing behind the assumption of the 12 words that we're talking about. And that is the only thing.

You now look at


FENN: Look at her Italian


FENN: ... out now, James. Susan, but Susan...

(CROSSTALK) MOLINARI: When you start looking at what the situation was in Iraq, you still say that this is unjustifiable. You still say that we don't belong there. You still say that stabilizing the Middle East and getting


CARLSON: Let me just make one point.


CARVILLE: This is not stable.


FENN: The notion -- I think their expectations -- but Susan...


MOLINARI: ... release the tapes of 9/11. The fact that we can look and say, we should not be going after every terrorist dictator...


CARLSON: Peter, let me cut you off and ask you this question, a political question. I'd love to refight the war Iraq, but this is insane. So instead, let me ask you this question.


CARLSON: The question is this. Do you find it interesting that Howard Dean is so down on the Democratic...

FENN: He's back on Howard Dean again.


CARLSON: He may be the nominee. It's a big deal, Peter. Wake up.


CARLSON: Do you think it's a big deal? He's attacking your party. Why is he getting traction by attacking the Democratic Party?

FENN: Here we are right now in a war where, after Top Gun lands, after he puts on his nice tight-fitting flight suit...

CARLSON: You liked that, didn't you?

FENN: Yes, I loved it. And you know something? More people have died since he said the war was over. This is the question.


FENN: He didn't have nuclear weapons. He didn't have chemical weapons set to go against the troops. This was not an immediate threat. But all right, is he a bad guy? Should we get rid of him at some point? Sure.


CARLSON: Now it's the commercial break that's an immediate threat. I'm sorry. We've got to take it. I'm hearing imminent threat in my ear over and over again, a commercial break. I'm so sorry.

FENN: I can't answer your question.

MOLINARI: They'll have you back on. They'll have you back on.

CARLSON: Well, write to Peter Fenn at home.

Susan Molinari, Peter Fenn, thank you both very much. We appreciate it. Thank you.


CARVILLE: ... found those nuclear weapons.


CARLSON: Coming up after the news headlines: A famous actor is forsaking his career in Hollywood to seek the governor's office in California. You may know him as Arnold, but not the one who was doing porn magazine interviews in the 1970s. He was playing Arnold Drummond on "Diff'rent Strokes" -- candidate Gary Coleman in the CROSSFIRE.

Don't go away. We'll be right back.




CARLSON: Welcome back.

In our never-ending quest to keep you informed about all the thousands of people currently running for governor of California, we've invited an actor who is forsaking his career and promises to be a different kind of governor.

From Los Angeles today, Gary Coleman steps into the CROSSFIRE.


CARVILLE: Good afternoon. Gary, welcome to the show.


CARVILLE: I can't think of one thing, one qualification that Arnold Schwarzenegger has to be governor any more than you do. Can you think of some qualifications you might have more than Arnold Schwarzenegger?

COLEMAN: Well, I can certainly say that we're both very passionate. We're both very tenacious. We're both very concerned about the state of affairs in the state of California.

And I believe that, even though I do have a slim chance of winning, I do believe I have some great ideas. And that's why I'm going to stay in until October 7.

CARLSON: Mr. Coleman, we asked almost virtually the same question that James just asked Arianna Huffington, one of your fellow candidates. I want to respond what she said in return.

Here's Arianna Huffington on you.



ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I want Gary Coleman on my lap during the debate, OK?

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Well, don't we all. But...



CARLSON: Mr. Coleman, I want you to respond to that just on a gut level. Tell us how you feel about being spoken about that way. And two, why do you think she dismisses you out of hand and not Arnold Schwarzenegger?

COLEMAN: Well, first, you're going to have to tell me what she said, because I didn't understand a word she just said.


CARVILLE: Neither did I.

CARLSON: Well, then, I'm not sure I can translate either.

More generally, why do you think -- I mean, to James' question, why do you think people dismiss you, while taking Arnold Schwarzenegger seriously? You're both actors.

COLEMAN: Oh, you know what? OK, now I know.

I had a reporter ask me that same question a couple days ago. You know what it is? It's the height. It's his presence.


COLEMAN: He's an adult-sized superstar male that's very attractive to young people, old people, middle-aged people. He has a presence of seriousness. And that's something kind of hard to overcome.

But you know what? I don't worry about that, because, between my presentation of my ideas and my Web site, I'm pretty sure someone will eventually take me serious, because...



CARVILLE: In Washington parlance here, we're trying to throw you some softballs. So get ready for this one, because I'm going to throw you one.

COLEMAN: OK. OK. Go ahead.

CARVILLE: Tell us about your ideas. Give us three of them and why you'd be good for California.

COLEMAN: OK. Here you go.

OK, lower sales tax, lower property tax, lower income tax. And my whole theme is geared toward the common man, those people who make $24,000 or less, because it seems like those people are always ignored and forgotten.

The next thing, I would double the VLF. I wouldn't triple it, because that's just murderously painful. I would also hike up the VLF on that third and fourth car that people seem to be gluttonous with automobiles out here. I'd have a gas tax. I would institute some kind of program that includes windmill power and solar power, because those sources of energy seem to be ignored in a state that's got sunshine and wind. So...


CARLSON: OK, if I can just stop you for a second.


CARLSON: So you're for cutting some taxes, but raising a bunch of others. And you're for wind and solar. Why wouldn't you be a Davis man? What's wrong with Gray Davis? That sounds like a Davis position to me.

COLEMAN: Well, what's right with Gray Davis?

He allowed power companies to come in and hold the state hostage for money. I take that very, very personal. I don't think anyone deserves the job of running a state or running a country if you're going to allow people to tell you what you're going to do for them.

CARLSON: That's an excellent point.


CARLSON: Well, Gary Coleman, we really are grateful that you came and joined us this afternoon on CROSSFIRE.


COLEMAN: Thank you.

CARLSON: Thank you. Good luck in your campaign. We'll be following it, Gary Coleman from Los Angeles.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

CARVILLE: Never let anybody say we didn't throw a softball or two up there.

CARLSON: Amen. We can do that.

Next, our viewers fire back their views on the California recall, as well as the presidential race. As always, they're cruel and savage. You won't want to miss it for that reason.

Speaking of things you won't want to miss, be certain to join us on Monday for a special two-hour Labor Day edition "CROSSFIRE GOES INSIDE POLITICS." That's at 3:00 Eastern. You'll be drinking beer in your backyard, but not us. Judy Woodruff will join Paul Begala and me right here on the set for plenty of campaign interviews and debates.

We'll be right back.



CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. What a show we had tonight, Susan Molinari and Peter Fenn arguing politics and then Gary Coleman telling us what he's going to do as governor of California.

And now to "Fireback" and


CARLSON: Can't beat that.

CARVILLE: Can't beat that, huh?

Here we go. "James" -- all right, that's me -- "Republicans like actors because they will act like they're governing while working for big business" -- Phil Earhart, Nashville, Tennessee.


CARVILLE: No, they actually run government for big business. But that's a good point.

CARLSON: That is the oldest -- they thought of that in 1937. It was a great talking point.

Major Jim Low of Davenport, Florida, writes: "It's great to have James Carville back on CROSSFIRE. Alas, it's a shame you can't mute him."


CARVILLE: All right. Well...

CARLSON: It's funny, Major Jim. We've been looking for the button.

CARVILLE: We've been looking for the button. There it is.


CARLSON: And not yet. Looking for the mute button, not been able to find it yet.

All right, a question from the audience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats, over the last four years, have lost control of all three branches of government. What do they need to do in 2004 to defeat Bush?

CARLSON: I think they need to prove they're serious about national security.


CARLSON: ... to have to overcome is, will they protect America?

CARVILLE: They need to beat him by more than they did in 2000.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. My name's Lisa. I'm from Long Island, New York.

We are involved in two wars that are very drawn-out, that are controversial. We don't know where it's going. The economy is very bad. How is it that we are not able to have a Democratic candidate that's going to win the presidential election?

CARLSON: Because none of the Democrats running seem to have any idea what they're running for. They don't like Bush. Howard Dean is succeeding because people -- they hate Bush.


CARLSON: Democrats hate Bush. But that's not a platform. That's a gut reaction.

(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: No. I've been around presidential politics for a while. That's what we always say in August before the election year. We're going to have some great candidates before it's over.

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

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Once again, don't forget our special Monday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, "CROSSFIRE GOES INSIDE POLITICS." Judy Woodruff will join Paul Begala and me for two full hours of campaign coverage and debate.


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