CNN CAPITAL GANG
North Korea To Pronounce Itself A Nuclear Power; President Bush, Iraq Test Of War On Terror; Zogby Poll Shows Dean 21 Points Ahead Of Pack
Aired August 30, 2003 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AL HUNT, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG.
I'm Al Hunt, with Kate O'Beirne, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson. Our guest is House Democratic Whip Steney Hoyer of Maryland.
Steney, it's great to have you here.
STENEY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE DEMOCRATIC WHIP: Great to be here, Al, as always.
HUNT: The six-nation Beijing conference on Korea was shocked by North Korea by announcing plans to declare itself a nuclear power and perhaps begin testing. Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Jong Il said North Korea has the means to deliver these weapons. In response, the State Department reiterated the position it had pronounced only a day earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILIP REEKER, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: We are there to focus on the complete verifiable and irreversible elimination of the nuclear weapons program in North Korea for the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which everybody agrees is in everybody's interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Kate, is this now a serious threat?
KATE O'BEIRNE, CAPITAL GANG: North Korea as a nuclear power is a serious threat, which it of course is not just to its neighbors but because of the role North Korea we know plays in proliferating nuclear weapons. North Korea and Iran are now working closely together. Yes, Al, it's a serious threat.
They're sounding particularly belligerent now, the North Koreans, because they want to up the size of the bribe. They're hoping the rest of us will be willing to pay them in exchange for the kind of phony promises they made 10 years ago.
MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Well, they say you know, "We are now a nuclear state," as if soon they are going to have a state flower and a state bird. It's scoring propaganda points, too, because there were the talks going on. And no one expected any more out of the talks than maybe a second date, which is, you know, more talks.
The North Koreans seem to be very thin skinned. And if they're not talking directly with the United States they feel disrespected. And then, you know, just say something else. But it is, it's a terrible problem, and the Bush administration has decided not to be blackmailed. And so I think this rhetoric is just going to keep going. But a starving country is not going to set off a nuclear device.
HUNT: Thin skinned dictator who is insecure and has a nuclear weapon. Bob, that scares me a little bit.
ROBERT NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Well, you're scared easily.
HUNT: I know I am.
NOVAK: I know that. You're scared of a lot of things. But, as a matter of fact, the -- you talk about being blackmailed. We don't have any option on this.
Eventually, they're going to give North Korea some of the blackmail they want because the alternative is to attack North Korea. And there might be some people, some hard-liners scattered through this administration who want to, but President Bush is not going to do that.
Deputy Secretary of State Armitage this week, if you listen to his press conference -- and he doesn't speak out of line -- he just said that a military option against North Korea is not on the table, it's not going to happen. And he was very dismissive of former CIA director Jim Woolsey, who in the paper had written an op-ed saying it was going to happen.
CARLSON: Right, saying we could win in 30 days.
HUNT: Steny, do you agree that that's off the table, military options?
HOYER: I don't think it ought to be off the table, but I think as a practical matter it is off the table, unlike rhetorically it ought to be off the table. The problem here is you asked is it now a danger. It has been a danger.
North Korea is one of the most inscrutable countries on the face of the earth and one of the most paranoid. And unfortunately, when we lump them together with Iraq and Iran and then we attack Iraq, it's not surprise that a paranoid nation was going to get more paranoid. This is one of the most dangerous situations confronting the international community today.
The good news is that China is engaged; Russia somewhat engaged. Obviously, Korea and South Korea and Japan. We need to pursue those negotiations.
I think Bob is probably correct. Whether you call it blackmail or reaching an accommodation, we're going to have to pursue something in return for what is not an option for us. We need to demand and assure that they're non-nuclear nation.
HUNT: Let me ask Kate a question. Kate, I agree that Iraq is better off not having Saddam Hussein there. But the rationale for going in was he possessed weapons of mass destruction and he exported terrorism, both somewhat iffy right now. There is no question that North Korea is an exporter of terrorism, far more than Iraq. There's no question that if they don't have nuclear weapons they're on the verge of having nuclear weapons.
If the Bush doctrine first enunciated at West Point preemptive strikes means anything, why not take out North Korea?
O'BEIRNE: Well, because they're different situations in ways you didn't elaborate.
O'BEIRNE: They haven't been so aggressive with respect to their neighbors as has Iraq in recent memory. And they are...
HUNT: Blowing a plane out of the sky, that's pretty aggressive.
O'BEIRNE: And we have South Korea sitting right there, extremely vulnerable to, what, a million-man army on the part of North Korea even if they elected not to use the weapons we now know they have. Look, it seems to me they are never going to agree to a worthwhile verification regime because the evil dust pot currently in North Korea believes he needs these weapons and wants these weapons.
NOVAK: I hate to be on the same side as Al, or you, Kate, you know that. But not been nice to their neighbors? I mean, first place, the war I was in they invaded Korea a long time ago.
O'BEIRNE: I said recently, Bob.
NOVAK: Well, that's recent to me. And the other thing is they kidnapped and abducted Japanese people, probably murdered them. They had dug tunnels in South Korea. Ever been in one of those tunnels that they dug? I've been in them.
They're a terrible country. And this...
O'BEIRNE: We agree.
NOVAK: The rhetorical flourish that people at the White House were so self satisfied with the 'axis of evil' was a huge mistake.
CARLSON: And what we don't want to articulate is that once you have a nuclear weapon then our hands our tied. You know they had to assume that Iraq didn't. That's the dichotomy. You can't really -- I mean, only Jim Woolsey thinks we can win a war against North Korea in 30 to 60 days and absorb those kinds of... (CROSSTALK)
O'BEIRNE: It's a reminder of why Iraq couldn't get a nuclear weapon and it was so concerned about Iran is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
HUNT: Let me get Steny in here. Steny, after two-and-a-half years of saying the Clinton policy was a disaster, isn't the Bush White House moving into the Clinton policy in North Korea now?
HOYER: It's going to do it, and that's what Bob was talking about being blackmail. You can call it what you want. As a practical matter -- that's why I said rhetorically force may be an option, but as a practical matter, the risks in that region of the world are extraordinarily great and nobody's going to take them.
NOVAK: Would you...
HOYER: So as a practical matter I think that's what they're going to do, that's what they're going to have to do, and that's why the Clinton administration (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
NOVAK: You could win this war in 60 days, but...
HOYER: But the price you'll pay will be extraordinary.
CARLSON: And all those American troops gone.
HUNT: That is the last word; a scary one it is.
Steny Hoyer and the gang will be back with the president on Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Welcome back. President Bush declared that Iraq is a test for the U.S. war against terrorism.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Building a free and peaceful Iraq will require a substantial commitment of time and resources. And it will yield a substantially safer and more secure America and the world. I'll work with the Congress to make sure we provide the resources to do the work of freedom and security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: The president also listed the benefits for the U.S. from the change of regime in Baghdad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I'm absolutely confident when we stay the course a strong ally of the United States or any country which loves freedom will emerge. It will have a positive effect in a region which is harbored and educated in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) terrorists. The long-term interests of the United States of America depend on this country doing what's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: The latest CNN-"USA Today" Gallup Poll shows Americans by nearly two to one say fighting in Iraq was worthwhile. But a majority believes President Bush does not have a clear plan for handling Iraq.
Margaret, is the country behind the president when he says we're in for a long struggle in Iraq?
CARLSON: We're behind him on a short struggle. Long struggle, I think it depends if Americans see any progress. So far, there's been nothing but a lack of progress and the administration seeming to say, well, we expected this, or looting is good, or we'll get to that later, and the country was a mess when we found it.
They had this idea of Iraq before we went in that may not be accurate, and an idea of Iraq now that may not be accurate. What remains to be done is to bring in other countries and the U.N. Although, since the administration has such contempt for it, it is going to be perhaps under circumstances that no one can agree to.
HUNT: But Kate O'Beirne, this week the administration if not a 180 was doing at least a 90 degree on bringing in the U.N. and bringing in other countries.
O'BEIRNE: I think they recognize other countries could be helpful. But if the U.N...
O'BEIRNE: If the U.N. wants to be helpful -- well, we tried to get them beforehand to help out and they simply wouldn't. It's not clear that they are looking to -- and the person of the U.N., France in particular -- be particularly helpful now. The U.N. and France this week was talking about how important it is to have Iraqis themselves begin taking responsibility, putting governance in the hands of the Iraqis, yet the U.N. has refused to recognize the Iraqi Governing Council.
Now that's the first step they ought to be willing to take to show that they actually do want to be helpful. They don't just want to come to Iraq in order to keep an eye on us as though we pose the biggest threat there. And progress has been made on lots of fronts.
HUNT: But Steny Hoyer, we talk about this governing council, this American (UNINTELLIGIBLE) governing council and we give them no responsibility and no authority. So how can Iraqis assume any kind of control if they don't have any authority?
HOYER: Let me go back to what the Americans said, Al. That they support the president in this effort, they think it was a good thing to do. And they don't think the president has a plan. He didn't have a plan. They had a plan to win the war; it was executed brilliantly and well. They had no plan to win the peace, unfortunately, and it has not been executed.
We need to do that. I agree with the president that failure in this regard is not an option. We cannot leave, should not leave, must not leave. On the other hand, we must have success, and that's going to be requiring multilateral involvement there.
And we're going to have to involve the Europeans and perhaps the United Nations. NATO certainly is an option. Many of us recommended that as an option initially. It was not followed.
Again, this president went for 10 months prior to 9/11 thinking that we could go it alone. And this administration is perceived as an administration that simply wants to go it alone, so we're having trouble getting people to help us. And it's in their interest to do so.
HUNT: Are you a multilateralist on this one, Bob?
NOVAK: Yes, I sure am. I have been from the start. But I would say this, that the question is whether the American people stay the course with the president. I think they have a very low tolerance for casualties; there's a limit to how long.
The other problem is we're into a presidential election and the Democrats are -- many of whom supported the president -- you're not one of those, but many who supported the president now are saying let's get out, let's give it up. They're just enraptured by the political benefit.
I would even say this. I hate to say this, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but there are people who were very eager to get into this war who can find nothing but undermining the president at this table now that we have a very tough situation (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
HOYER: Let me make a comment, though, because Howard Dean, who clearly did not support the president going there, has made the comment, we've got to be there, we've got to be successful. So I think...
HUNT: Oh, the Dean bandwagon, huh?
HOYER: Oh sure.
CARLSON: Only on (ph) CAPITAL GANG.
HUNT: Let me ask -- just give me a second, I want to ask Margaret -- Margaret, let me ask you a question. We talk about trying to internationalize the force there, putting the U.N. there. Why would that lessen the violence? Why wouldn't we have the same problems if you put a U.N. force in there or more international forces? CARLSON: Well, you know, the Carnegie Endowment said this week we had taken a state that wasn't a terrorist state and it may be becoming one because of our presence there. Remember, the Saudis did not want Americans in there. It is a source of great -- it inflames the fundamentalists in the Middle East.
So if you can get another face on it, that immediately should...
O'BEIRNE: Except they bombed the U.N. headquarters a week ago. They're as willing to kill Americans, Iraqis, as they are Swedes (ph).
CARLSON: Soft target.
HUNT: This Carlson-O'Beirne debate is the final word on this segment, but the CAPITAL GANG will be back. And next, is Arnold finally running a real campaign in California?
HUNT: Welcome back. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke out in a series of talk radio interviews. He attacked his principal Democratic rival in the California recall election, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. And finally took positions on some issues.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think that this election is all about recalling the governor and this administration. And I put, of course, Bustamante into that same pot because they all come from the same mold. I would not allow them to increase taxes because, I mean, what is the sense of increases taxes and punishing the people?
I do support domestic partnership.
SEAN HANNITY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: But not gay marriage?
SCHWARZENEGGER: No. I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE (D), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The voters of this state know that this is a serious matter. They're not going to be deciding by some kind of celebrity frenzy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Governor Gray Davis, while still fighting his recall, endorsed the lieutenant governor as the alternative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Cruz is my friend. He is a very capable person. His entry in the race I think will actually help me by bringing out more people to vote "no" on the recall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Bob, are the Democrats going to be able to save the governorship?
NOVAK: Well, they certainly think so. And the Republicans are worried. They feel that as Schwarzenegger has become more of a Republican he has become less attractive to non-Republican voters. It's a tremendous dilemma for him because he's got to get the Republican vote.
I was very much interested when Gray Davis saying that Cruz was his friend, because I don't know if he could pass a lie detector test on that. And the other question is saying that Latino voters coming in are going to vote "no" on recall and "yes" on Bustamante. If they want to get old Cruz in as governor, they better damn well vote "no" on recall, and they may just do that. I mean, they better vote "yes" on recall or they may just do that.
HUNT: Pretty good points, Steny. I mean, if you're a young Latino who is going to the polls in order to get the first Latino governor, why are you going to vote "no" on recall?
HOYER: Because as a growing segment of that population they want the political system to work. And they don't want people to stamp their feet and say, oh, I didn't like the result. I'm going to have an impeachment, I'm going to have a recall, I'm going to go to the Supreme Court, this, that and the other.
This is the same kind of tactic that we've been using. We had an election, Gray Davis was elected. Have the same problem in Nevada now, where they don't like the policies of the Republican governor. They want to -- conservatives want to recall him.
So you go and you say, no, I'm not for this process. I'm for democracy, I'm for the term that the governor was given. But, if in fact we have that happen, then I'm going to be for Cruz Bustamante, who is the lieutenant governor. If the governor is not serving, he ought to move up and he ought to be the governor.
HUNT: Kate, as we said, Arnold laid out some positions this week. Also, came out a 26-year-old interview that he had given in something called "Oui" magazine, where he talked about some of his youthful indiscretions, I suppose we could say. Which matters more to California voters?
O'BEIRNE: Well, this week the interview in "Oui" magazine about his interesting sexual exploits as a bodybuilder got more attention and did answer one question, it seems to me. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a Republican or a Democrat; he's a Kennedy. And no wonder he's comfortable among the Kennedy men.
I think what's very difficult to predict is, who has the energy? It began, the recall effort, among conservatives who were disenchanted with Governor Davis' criminal running of the state in Sacramento. (CROSSTALK)
O'BEIRNE: No, no, no -- reckless running of Sacramento. Democrats, of course, polls now show 40 percent of Democrats support the recall. But who is going to be motivated to show up?
Is there more energy on the side of keeping this broadly unpopular governor that gets you out to vote, or on the side of the people who want to see him go. And are conservatives now sort of of two minds given what the likely alternative might look like?
HUNT: One thing they had, they had tremendous media coverage. They've never had media coverage like this, which would tend to suggest it may be a higher turnout than would ordinarily be the case.
Your take on Arnold this week, Margaret?
CARLSON: Well, it used to be that the joke was three people around a television constituted a political rally in California. You just couldn't get much going out there, but the interest is there. And I fear that a celebrity would be able to kind of cruise to the -- C-R-U-I-S-E -- victory. But because of the media coverage, there's enough -- I mean, we're learning about Arnold's positions in many, many ways.
I mean, he did the, "When I was young and irresponsible I was young and irresponsible," kind of the Bush response. And he seems to have gotten through it. But he hasn't helped himself lately. And I don't think he has become a more serious person.
I think he's soft on taxes, Bob. I know you think he's hard. But when he was pushing that after school thing, he suggested that maybe taxes would have to be raised. And I don't think conservatives trust him on taxes. And after this interview obviously he is not the kind of conservative that even crazy Californians...
HUNT: Well, Bob, will he clear out the field?
NOVAK: I don't know. I mean, they want to get Senator McClintock out of there.
HUNT: He's the conservative.
NOVAK: He's the conservative and a very good man, by the way, on (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CARLSON: What kind of guy?
NOVAK: But it's very hard to get him out now. I don't think Tom is going to get out. But there are -- a lot of Republicans I talk to are going to vote for Schwarzenegger just because they feel -- to get a Republican.
But I'll tell you, a lot of... (CROSSTALK)
CARLSON: They're going to have to...
NOVAK: I'm not a Californian, but a lot of Californians think that this group sex is a good thing.
HUNT: Steny Hoyer...
HOYER: Do you think Warren Buffett is just winking and nodding when Schwarzenegger talks about his tax pledge?
NOVAK: Well, he looks like a fool.
NOVAK: Oh, I think Buffett looks like a fool. I think he comes in there and talks about raising the property tax. I mean, this is a guy who...
HOYER: But Schwarzenegger brought him in.
NOVAK: He's just an investor. He's a billionaire investor and suddenly people think he knows something about government.
HUNT: The best investor in our lifetime.
Steny, let me ask you this.
HOYER: As opposed to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is just an actor.
HUNT: Steny Hoyer, if we wake up on October 8 and Cruz Bustamante is the governor of California will you be pleased?
HOYER: Sure. I'll be pleased if there's a "no" on recall or Bustamante is the governor.
HUNT: Either way, you'll be happy.
HOYER: Those are the two results I think that are acceptable.
NOVAK: But this is not what Gray Davis wanted. Gray Davis wanted a clean...
HOYER: Of course not. He was forced in it.
O'BEIRNE: A lot of Republicans are beginning to wonder whether or not we should be pleased if you wake up and Cruz Bustamante is the governor. And I think that's going to impact how they vote on recall.
HOYER: I think Arnold still could win this thing, but the Arnold campaign, three and a half weeks ago it looked a lot better than it does today. He has an identity crisis. Is he a moderate, is he a conservative? Is he an Independent, is he a Republican?
NOVAK: I'll tell you what he is.
HOYER: Is he an insider, is he an outsider?
NOVAK: You know what he is?
NOVAK: He's a Pete Wilson Republican, and that ain't good.
HOYER: Well, the one thing you don't want is the presence of Pete Wilson there, the visible presence, because nothing energizes Democrats more than the immigration bashing (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
O'BEIRNE: That's just not true.
CARLSON: And if Hispanics are going to matter, you don't want to have Pete Wilson and you don't want to have "Hasta la Vista, Baby" as your...
HOYER: Hasta la vista reminds me, Margaret...
HUNT: We now have to go. Steny Hoyer, thanks.
HOYER: It's always great to be with you. Thanks.
HUNT: It is terrific, and we won't bring up Howard Dean again with you on the show.
HOYER: That's right.
HUNT: Thank you, Steny.
The CAPITAL GANG will be back on a second half. Our newsmaker of the week is Civil Rights pioneer Dorothy Height. Beyond the Beltway looks at the New Hampshire presidential primary with political reporter Kevin Landrigan. And our outrages of the week all after the latest news headlines.
HUNT: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Al Hunt, with Kate O'Beirne, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson. Our newsmaker of the week is Dorothy Height.
Dorothy Height: age 91; residence, Washington, D.C.; religion, United Methodist; BA and Masters in Education, New York University; director Center for Racial Justice 1965 to 1977; president National Council of Negro Women, 1957 to 1998; newly published memoir, "Open Wide the Freedom Gates."
Earlier this week, observing the 40th anniversary of the march on Washington that she helped organize, I sat down with Dorothy Height.
HUNT: On that stage that momentous day 40 years ago, did you have any sense of what an historic occasion it was?
DOROTHY HEIGHT, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NEGRO WOMEN: Well, it just felt like the most terrific, unusual, significant moment in America. But I had no idea it had the significance that it did.
HUNT: You were the only woman in that remarkable leadership coalition: Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, A. Phillip Randolph, Baird Ruston, Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins. Was Dr. King the dominant force in that group?
HEIGHT: I think he was the most eloquent speaker. Roy Wilkins really kind of chaired the group. There might have been some early competitiveness, but that certainly gave way to kind of a feeling of unity.
HUNT: But these were all incredibly strong-willed people. There must have been some tensions.
HEIGHT: Well, I think they were more -- at first they were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) differences and tactics.
HEIGHT: There were different concerns. And NAACP had gone through the courts. And as Dr. King used to say, now that we are marching we've made the NAACP look respectable.
HUNT: You did not speak that day. Baird Ruston basically said that no women were going to speak.
HEIGHT: The rationale was, well, of course there are women who are members of the NAACP and the unions and the synagogues and the churches and all of the organizations. And the group of women who tried to get a woman speaker said, "But we want a woman to speak for women." But we could not prevail.
But unlike the students, we decided that it wasn't worth destroying the whole effort. The purpose for which we were there was so great. But we met the next day and said after the march, what?
HUNT: So it served as a catalyst.
HEIGHT: It served as a catalyst. And I think that gave a new impetus to the whole women's movement.
HUNT: You've lived through 17 presidents. You've actually worked with a dozen presidents. Who was the best for black people?
HEIGHT: Well, I think if you really summed it all up, you would have to say because of where he was at that moment in history and how he took hold of it, that what Lyndon Johnson did made a great difference.
HUNT: Born in 1912, for the first half of your life lynching was permissible in parts of the United States and blacks were denied the most fundamental of rights: the right to vote. Yet the Civil Rights revolution, if you will, generated a remarkable peaceful revolution. Why was the Civil Rights revolution so peaceful?
HEIGHT: Because it is really based on a concept of non-violence. Violence provokes violence. And here we were, we were the victims since slavery. We had been victims of violence.
We had the leadership at that moment who will commit to the concept of non-violence. So to place -- we replaced hate with love.
HUNT: Dorothy Height, the prime stated objectives of that 1963 march were jobs for minorities and to address the high rate of poverty. Would Dr. King and the other organizers see 40 years of success or disappointment in those goals?
HEIGHT: I think he would be disappointed because, as you said, it was called the march on Washington for jobs and freedom. And I think he would be very disappointed to find that today the poor (UNINTELLIGIBLE) getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.
HUNT: Do you think we will achieve Dr. King's dream in the next 40 years?
HEIGHT: I have to believe that we will achieve it, because I believe that poverty can be eliminated. I believe that it's possible for us to achieve a society where everyone has a decent job and a home and an education and health.
HUNT: Bob, you are the only person here who covered that march on Washington. Your reflections, memories?
NOVAK: Well, the thing that we were -- we were not so much impressed by Dr. King's speech as the fact that it was non-violent. Everybody was terrified. There was a lot of violence in the Civil Rights movement; there was a lot of riots in years to come. And everybody was terrified this was going to be a very violent riot situation.
It wasn't. And everybody said, "Oh, thank god." These people were very well dressed, they were very nice. But the King speech was -- grew in the years. It wasn't taken that seriously at the time.
O'BEIRNE: It certainly has grown in the years. I mean, he made such a moral appeal to all of us. And happily, millions of Americans responded.
It's a shame the family now so controls seeing that speech. As you know, they charge and also took money for reprinting it, which is really a shame.
CARLSON: You know it was shown again and again this week. It keeps its power. And we don't have anybody giving inspirational oratory like that.
JFK a little bit. Reagan, "Tear down this wall." But it's absent in American politics.
HUNT: I think it was one of the great days in the history of America and one of the most memorable speeches any of us will ever hear. And I also want to say that Dorothy Height -- well, I am 61. And if I'm as sharp as Dorothy Height is at 91, I will be...
NOVAK: It will be nice if you're as sharp at 61.
HUNT: I'll be ecstatic.
CARLSON: Don't count on it.
HUNT: You're right.
Coming up, the CAPITAL GANG classic. President Bush and vacationing amid crisis 13 years ago.
HUNT: Welcome back.
Thirteen years ago this week, as the U.S. and Iraq moved toward war in the Persian Gulf, President Bush was at his summer home in Maine, driving a cigarette boat, while other key officials were also vacation. The CAPITAL GANG discussed this on August 25, 1990. Our guest was former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT BUCHANAN, CAPITAL GANG: Is President Bush properly preparing us for the blood, sweat and tears that could very well like ahead, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS, CAPITAL GANG: No. George Bush is not preparing Americans for blood, sweat, tears, or even discomfort. When a man dies, he wants to die for something important. It is a president's obligation to lay down the moral premise when you're asking brave Americans to risk their lives in the Persian Gulf.
JAMES SCHLESINGER, FMR. DEFENSE SECRETARY: He is not laying out why it is that we should be there. We need to understand the strategic goals of the administration.
NOVAK: I don't think these people are ready to go to war. If he is going to bring the nation to the brink of war, he should cancel his vacation. That may seem petty, but I think it's correct. HUNT: I'm not worried about these people being on vacation. He has not articulated any reason for us being there. It's not just so he can drive his cigarette boat and so Bob Novak can drive his gas- guzzler car.
BUCHANAN: We've got a huge crisis here. Why has not the president come back, called Congress into joint session, asked for what he wants?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Kate, 13 years later should it still be asked whether a war can be led while a president is on vacation?
O'BEIRNE: Al, in 1990, the former President Bush was criticized because he's up in Maine enjoying the ocean breezes while our poor troops are being shipped to the Arabian Desert. This president I think cleverly handled that. He is spending his vacation someplace every bit as hot and barren and unpleasant as the Iraqi desert.
CARLSON: You know what it is, it's the atmosphere...
CARLSON: Remember, I don't think you wanted Clinton vacationing because he was with the swells in Martha's Vineyard with the ocean breeze. If you want to be seen working, you have to go to a ranch. Reagan, Bush -- don't go to the ocean.
NOVAK: The problem was that the first president Bush, who had a real (UNINTELLIGIBLE) politically, he's running around on this motor boat when we're having a war for oil. I mean, can you think of a worst image? And then he says we have to -- he said at that time we have to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That's very important.
O'BEIRNE: Bob, the problem was you were stuck here in Washington in August and he wasn't. That was the problem.
CARLSON: Yes. That's like asking for a splash of Vermouth (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
HUNT: No. Listen, I think the one thing I'm not going to worry about is the president taking vacations. They need their vacations. I worry, Kate, however, a little bit about the policy.
Next on CAPITAL GANG, Beyond the Beltway looks at Howard Dean's amazing spurt in the New Hampshire primary with Kevin Landrigan of the "Nashua Telegraph."
HUNT: Welcome back. The Zogby Poll shows that former Vermont Governor Howard Dean now has a 21 point lead over Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, with the rest of the field lagging far behind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It's very, very early. We haven't done any television. Other campaigns have been on television and spent a lot of money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: In New Hampshire, the Dean campaign is running this television ad about children without health insurance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Washington politicians talk about the problem, but a governor named Howard Dean did something about it. And today, every child in Vermont has access to quality health care.
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we could do that in a small rural state and still balance the budget, we can do that for every American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Joining us now from Manchester, New Hampshire is Kevin Landrigan, political reporter for the "Nashua Telegraph". It's good to have you back, Kevin.
KEVIN LANDRIGAN, "NASHUA TELEGRAPH": Great to be with you, Al -- thank you.
HUNT: Kevin, let me ask you this: does Governor Dean have New Hampshire wrapped up?
LANDRIGAN: No, he really doesn't. I mean, four years ago we can remember a Rhodes Scholar and MBA all-star named Bill Bradley was giving Al Gore fits. He was up by as many as 15 points in New Hampshire in the summer. And you'll recall, too, Al, certainly, that this time four years ago George Bush seemed to be on his way to coasting to the nomination and then a guy named John McCain rocked his world here in New Hampshire.
So John Kerry is right about one thing. It is too early. And if we know one thing about New Hampshire, it's if the unexpected can happen it probably will.
NOVAK: Kevin, assuming that the 21-point gap is accurate at the moment as a snapshot, how do you -- you've been covering this closely. How did he get that kind of a lead over John Kerry, right next door in Massachusetts with so many Massachusetts people living in New Hampshire? LANDRIGAN: That's an excellent question, Bob. And I think it's a reflection of a guy, Howard Dean, who is on as big a roll as we've seen since NASCAR has come to New Hampshire. I mean, he spent over a year literally living here and really connected well with voters, and with a very blunt, straight talk message.
You'll remember with John McCain, that kind of appeal really is strong here in New Hampshire, particularly with Independent voters. He's making some gains there as well.
I think the Kerry campaign will agree that they sort of let him get out on his own for too long, that they didn't engage him early enough in this campaign. And I think now that Labor Day is coming and going, that's when you're going to see the race joined. I know Kerry is really looking forward to mixing it up with Howard Dean.
CARLSON: Kevin, Senator Kerry is going to announce a big surprise, that he's running for president in South Carolina. Is there any chance that Senator Kerry is going to write off New Hampshire or find a way to pre-explain it and make South Carolina the test of who is going to be president?
LANDRIGAN: You know, Margaret, he actually had planned originally to hold the announcement outside the USS Constitution in Charlestown, Mass, right of course in the heart of his own district. And some people talked to him. The consultants came up with South Carolina as an option.
And some were actually spinning in the "Boston Globe" that, well, John Kerry doesn't have to win New Hampshire, and he's running a national campaign. Well, the fact is John Kerry and Howard Dean have to win New Hampshire. Dick Gephardt has to win Iowa. John Edwards, if he's still around, has to win South Carolina. And no amount of wishing would make that not so.
HUNT: You're right, Kevin -- Kate.
O'BEIRNE: Kevin, unlike John McCain, who did so well in New Hampshire, Howard Dean is also contesting Iowa and doing pretty well in Iowa, according to the polls. Is there any evidence that some candidate in this field could benefit from the McCain 2000 strategy of just skipping Iowa and putting all the chips on the table in New Hampshire?
LANDRIGAN: You know, Kate, a couple of the candidates internally have kicked that around. I know some people associated with Joe Lieberman and even some associated with John Edwards have suggested doing that. And both of them have rejected that advice, at least to this point, feeling that the race for number two behind Gephardt at the very least is very much still wide open. And of course Kerry is really contending in Iowa as well.
So to this point we continue to see all the candidates competing hard in Iowa. But as you remember, McCain really made his "I'm bypassing Iowa" decision pretty late in the process. So there is still time for a Democrat to take that strategy. HUNT: Kevin, as Margaret said, John Kerry is going to formally announce this week. He's also going to do "Meet the Press" tomorrow. He strategized about that a lot, about how he may go after Howard Dean. There are going to be guns blazing, one of his aides told me.
What would you imagine would be the most effective attack on Howard Dean? How is a Vermont governor vulnerable in New Hampshire, if at all?
LANDRIGAN: Yes, it's not -- it's a great question and there's not an easy answer. And I think, as some have suggested, John Kerry's campaign people might have a twitch by now by trying to figure out, how are we going to undo this guy now that he's become something of a phenomenon. But we saw a little bit in his speech at the University of New Hampshire that John Kerry gave on Thursday.
He talked about recycled solutions from the Democratic Party; namely, being against all the Bush tax cuts. That the old ideas wouldn't work. And I think part of the approach is going to try to somehow cast Dean as an old-style liberal that can't win in a 50-50 moderate country that we now live in.
NOVAK: Kevin, we still have some other Democratic candidates besides Kerry and Dean, who are very serious, if nobody else is serious, serious about themselves. Certainly Gephardt, but also Lieberman and Edwards. As a reporter, what do you see them doing in New Hampshire? Do you see signs they're going to say, well, we've got to make our move someplace else and time spent in New Hampshire is time wasted?
LANDRIGAN: No. I think you're right about the question, Bob, that, as we saw in 1996, if you remember on the Republican side, where this guy with this red and black khaki shirt, Lamar Alexander, made a late move in New Hampshire and came in a very close third and almost contended seriously for the nomination because of it. I think we're going to see a surge by one of those candidates. I'm just not sure yet who it is.
You can make a case for all of them. I mean, Dick Gephardt right now, even the polls show he has the most committed support. He has the people. It's a small number, but they're definitely with him. And he's got some organizationally some terrific people working for him.
Joe Lieberman is trying to carry really the Paul Tsongas message of 1992 in the Democratic presidential primary that he carried against Bill Clinton; namely, that you can't be pro-business and anti the private sector. So he's talked about how to stimulate manufacturing job growth. And that's a possible way to get some support, particularly from moderates, if the economy continues to sour.
HUNT: Hey, Kevin, as always, you were informative and interesting. Please let's stay in touch. Thank you so much.
The GANG will be back with the outrages of the week.
HUNT: Now for the outrages of the week.
Nine years ago, GOP political consultant Don Sipple produced vicious anti-immigration ads for Pete Wilsons' shameful campaign. Six years ago, Sipple was forced out of another political campaign following publications of testimony from his first and second wife that he beat them. Three years ago, he was part of an insurance commissioner's scam in California.
Now the same Mr. Sipple resurfaces, making TV commercials for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Schwarzenegger campaign should be about this interesting candidate, not about redeeming reputations of unsavory characters.
NOVAK: For the sophisticates in Washington, there is a sense of the ridiculous over the Ten Commandments fight in Alabama. Chief Justice Roy Moore is made to appear a fool, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) against his own court, his own governor, his own party. But make no mistake about it, this is part of a calculated campaign to take god and religion out of the public square whenever the opportunity presents itself.
It all began with banning school prayer. And it will only with complete seculazation of our society.
CARLSON: Al, New York Stock Exchange CEO Richard Grasso was just paid $140 million, an obscene amount rubberstamped by a handpicked compensation committee. But particularly appalling for a regulator supposedly reigning in royal pay and perks on Wall Street. We're supposed to love the rich and wish them perpetual tax cuts, but stunts like Grasso's breed class warfare.
SEC Chair William Donaldson is said to be "concerned" about Grasso's pay-out. Let's hope he's actually appalled.
HUNT: Right on, Margaret -- Kate.
O'BEIRNE: Eight months after Congress mandated that airline pilots be allowed to carry guns, only about 150 out of 120,000 have been trained. The Transportation Security Administration opposed arming pilots and has stalled the 40,000 pilots who want to defend their cockpits as the last line of defense against hijacking. Only 50 are being trained a week at a single location only after elaborate redundant background checks and psychological testing.
Skies will be safer when pilots already armed with the largest of weapons can help to ensure that another hijacker never is.
HUNT: This is Al Hunt saying goodnight for the "CAPITAL GANG."
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Bush, Iraq Test Of War On Terror; Zogby Poll Shows Dean 21 Points Ahead Of Pack>