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California Recall Support Stalling?

Aired September 9, 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: There they go again.

LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE (D-CA), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: One of the biggest problems that we have in California today is this budget problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Part of the problem we face is how people are discouraged from voting.

ANNOUNCER: But they're debating without you-know-who again.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (I), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: This is some interruption from the back, but we'll continue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it is Mr. Schwarzenegger, he's had his chance.

ANNOUNCER: And the former baseball commissioner has just called himself out. Are California voters making up their minds or just getting tired of the whole thing? -- today on CROSSFIRE.



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



The candidates for California governor just finished a debate. The Democratic presidential candidates have one tonight. And here at CROSSFIRE, debates are always in season.

So let's get started with one of the best political briefings in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was on Capitol Hill today trying to explain the Bush administration's price tag for reconstructing Iraq and Afghanistan, the price tag that President Bush told us would be $87 billion next year. Today's "Washington Post" gives us the point of comparison. In 1991, our share of the cost for the first Persian Gulf War was $9 billion.

So let's do this MasterCard style. Fighting for Iraq the first time, $9 billion. Fighting in Iraq this time, $28 billion. Rebuilding Iraq this time, $87 billion. Actually having allies to share our burden, priceless.



TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Here's -- here's the difference, James. Our allies don't want to share the burden, because they were against the war in the first place. You say it is all the fault of Bush's bad diplomacy. But the fact is, they just didn't want to buy the product from day one. So it's not surprising they don't want to pay


CARLSON: ... now.

CARVILLE: ... good diplomacy, they would buy it. They bought it in Kosovo. They bought it in Iraq the first time, when Bush was president. They're not going to buy arrogance. They're not going to buy unilateralism. You can't be arrogant and get people to go with you.


CARLSON: Reducing it to a contest of personalities I think is a pretty gross oversimplification.


CARLSON: For their own reasons, they didn't want it. France has a massive Muslim population. No surprise they voted against the war.

CARVILLE: Well, why did they go the first time? Why did they lead the combat missions, supply missions in the Afghanistan war? They have been very helpful. They have Muslims in Afghanistan. I don't know how you tell you that.



CARLSON: I'll tell you, because they were completely different wars.


CARLSON: If politics is like high school -- and it is -- then a presidential primary is the equivalent of a fistfight behind the gym at recess. The toughest kid usually wins. This season, that kid is Howard Dean, the scrappy former Vermont governor who over the last two months has stolen Senator John Kerry's lunch money almost every single day.


CARLSON: Expect the bullying to continue tonight at a debate between the Democratic candidates at Morgan State University in Baltimore. As of this morning, Dean was already sticking his finger in Senator Kerry's chest -- quote -- "I wish he would say to my face what he says behind my back," the Vermont fireplug told the Associated Press. It ought to be a brawl.

Unfortunately, for Dean, the debate will be carried by the Fox News Channel. So not a single one of his supporters will be watching.


CARVILLE: I expect some of them might tune in, but it ought to be fun, you know?

CARLSON: You have got to give Howard Dean credit. I love the fact he has got no chance of winning. That makes it all the more appealing.

But the fact that he comes in there, this guy who nobody, including me, took seriously and just boxes around, spanks the rest of the guys, it kind of gives you a warm feeling inside.

CARVILLE: Well, I'll tell you one thing. The guy, he was right on a big thing. He was right that we should have never gotten into this idiotic war. And now we can't get out of it and don't know what the hell we're going to do.

CARLSON: Unlike the rest of them, I have to say, he had the guts to say that. I don't agree. But he had the guts to say that from the very beginning. And I hope he is rewarded by your party as a king, or something.



CARVILLE: We'll see.

For a long time, it was fashionable to the intellectual titans of the modern conservative movement, people such as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and AMCO (ph), because they insult the French with such phrases as cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Today, the chickens have come home to roost. The French newspaper "Le Figaro" has run an editorial with the headline "Saving Private Bush."

So now the French are taking pity on us. This is a remarkable turn of events. The administration used to take pride in standing alone. Now the president, the vice president and the secretary of state aren't standing at all. They're on their knees begging Europe for help.

CARLSON: That's such an unattractive visual image. I'm just going to go right past it.



CARLSON: But I don't think they're not begging Western Europe for help. They know they're not going to get -- we're not going to get anything from France. That's not a surprise. They want help from India and Turkey. And the question is, will they get it?


CARVILLE: Tucker, in the Clinton administration, they always talk about interns being on their knees. Now we got the president and the vice president and the secretary of state on their knees begging for help. And that's a real offense to this country.



CARLSON: That's so unattractive that I am just going to blow right past that, so to speak.




CARLSON: And say that the administration isn't dumb enough, James, to go to Western Europe. And I do think it is an interesting question. Will we be able to get any money from Turkey? They certainly should, all the trouble the last-minute changes in Turkish policy caused the United States. They owe us some money


CARVILLE: Excuse me. I just can't stop laughing right now.


CARLSON: OK. At this point, we're going to interrupt the debate in process to go to Judy Woodruff back at CNN in Washington for some breaking news -- Judy.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're going to take a commercial break. We'll keep you up to date on the tragedy in Jerusalem as it unfolds.

But next, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher join us to debate the downsizing of California's race governor.

We'll be right back.




CARVILLE: A brand new poll in California shows support for recalling Governor Gray Davis has stalled. It's at 55 percent. Even if the recall goes through, the Field poll shows Democratic Lieutenant Cruz Bustamante is leading the pack with 30 percent. The Republican vote is splintered. Arnold Schwarzenegger has 25 percent. Conservatives state Senator Todd McClintock has 13 percent.

Former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth took a look at his 5 percent in the poll and dropped out of the race today.

Stepping into the CROSSFIRE to debate the recall mess, from San Francisco, Democratic Mayor -- and one of my favorite mayors in my favorite city -- Willie Brown. And California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher joins us from Capitol Hill.


CARLSON: Mr. Mayor, judging from the recall numbers -- thanks for joining us, by the way.


CARLSON: Judging from the recall numbers, the race between Bustamante and Schwarzenegger and McClintock seems pretty open. But the recall that the question of whether or not to recall the governor, it looks bad for Gray Davis; 55 to 40 are the numbers, as you know. As a political analyst, what do you think Gray Davis can do to keep from getting bounced out of office? What would you recommend?

BROWN: Well, I think he has got to continue the effective use of town hall meetings, the only way Gray has been able to demonstrate that he is as human as any of the rest of us, that he feels just as we do, that he is as personable and can respond to the questions and explain the issues and his conduct. And he has been doing well with that; 55 is better than the 58 percent that he was about eight or nine days ago. So it's moving in the right direction.

The only question is, is there enough time?

CARLSON: So, in other words, your point is, he needs to continue to convince Californians that he is in fact a human being and not just a facsimile there of. Isn't that impossible?

BROWN: No, not impossible, because the replacements are no different from the replacement in that movie that Gene Hackman played in with the NFL. The minute you see the replacements and you compare the replacements to Gray Davis, immediately, you begin to have second thoughts about whether or not the recall should go forward.

CARVILLE: Congressman, in spite of our political differences, you have impressed me as a man that has never backed off from a fight. And I'm proud to say that my party, all nine of the candidates will be in Baltimore tonight for the debate. You must be uneasy supporting a man who is too cowardly to show up at debates and debate the issues when he wants to be governor of California?

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, Arnold's first event was in my home town, Huntington Beach. And I can assure you, he has been on numerous talk shows and numerous events where people have a chance to ask in-depth questions, which actually is actually more challenging than some of these debates that you are talking about.


CARVILLE: Well, Congressman, I'm not an expert in California, but Huntington Beach is not the toughest place in the world for a Republican candidate to go.

ROHRABACHER: Well, let me tell you, he has been all over the state. And everywhere he has been, he has been received by thousands and thousands of people.

But not only that, he has met with people and subjected himself to in-depth questioning and -- which is different than a debate. But he will be in a major debate, I think on the 24th of September.

CARLSON: Congressman, Mr. Mayor, I'm going to have to interrupt you both.

Quickly, we're going to back to Judy Woodruff for an update on the breaking news story out of Jerusalem, where there has been a bombing -- Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Tucker. We are starting to get more information about this apparent suicide bombing outside a cafe in west Jerusalem.

There are now said to be by Israeli Army Radio four dead. We're told at least 40 were injured. There is now an Associated Press report saying that Army Radio is reporting that a security guard at this cafe, the cafe Hillel, in a residential neighborhood, the German Colony, we're told, a strip with many restaurants and small shops.

In any event, a security guard stopped the bomber from entering the cafe, at which point the bomber blew himself up just outside. So we can only surmise that the death toll, the casualties, would have been much larger had this individual gotten inside and blown himself up in there.

These pictures have just come into CNN in the last few minutes. This happened perhaps 20 minutes ago. CNN was on the air with it within moments of when it happened. It is the second suicide bombing in Israel today, earlier today, a bombing in near Tel Aviv at an army base, outside an army base, at least eight reported dead there in that incident.

In this one, again, at least four now being reported dead and dozens, as many as 40 or more, injured in this neighborhood of cafes, restaurants, late at night, many young people. Again, the security guard stopped the bomber from getting inside -- more details as we get them.

And now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: Thanks, Judy.

There was a debate today among the many people running to replace Gray Davis as governor of California. We're debating who that should be, if anyone, with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Mr. Brown, Mr. Mayor, one of the tactics the governor of California, Gray Davis, is using in order to keep his job is a pretty aggressive pander, not simply to Latinos, but to illegal immigrants, whom he gave the privilege of having driver's licenses this week, a pretty appalling display. At the same time, he said this. And I want you to comment on it.

Gray Davis said -- quote -- to "The Sacramento Bee" -- "You shouldn't be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state." Now, presumably, many illegal immigrants can't pronounce the name of the state. Why would he make a remark ethnically tinged and insensitive as this one?

BROWN: I don't think he intended that remark to be taken seriously by anybody. It was in a comical setting. It was an opportunity for him to make a joke.

And, obviously, he should not have made that joke, because it's not -- you can't joke about the immigration issue, just like you should not -- you should not suggest that he is pandering when he signs what is a necessary tool. The business of having a driver's license gives you the opportunity to work, gives you the opportunity to do normal functions, like banking and other kinds of things. And, more importantly, it gets you on and off airplanes without any trouble. It seems to me....

CARLSON: Wait. Mr. Mayor, aren't these people who are breaking the law, though, by definition? They're here illegally. Why would you give people who are by definition breaking the law driver's licenses?

BROWN: I don't -- I don't think -- I don't think -- you have people who are waiting to be processed. You have people who are in many other categories. And so it's not a question of whether or not you want to give somebody something who is doing something illegal.

I don't want incompetent people driving on the highways in California, nor any other place in America. I don't want uninsured people doing that. And the reality is, you can acquire a bogus license whenever you choose to.


ROHRABACHER: We shouldn't be giving a driver's license to people so they can get on airplanes, for Pete's sakes. If they're here illegally, they shouldn't be getting on those airplanes. They should be heading home. That's the only airplane they should be getting on.

BROWN: Well, Dana, with all due respect, in the state of California when you run for public office, you ought to be prepared not to have a surrogate say that. You ought to show up yourself and say that. You shouldn't need the business of somebody giving you the questions...

ROHRABACHER: Arnold has made it very clear -- Arnold has made it very clear that he is opposed to giving driver's licenses


BROWN: Let me finish. Let me finish.

You ought to show up yourself, where your opponents have an opportunity to debate the issue with you.


BROWN: You shouldn't want the questions given in advance.

I would have finished first in every class that I have ever been in if I could get the information in advance. George Bush would love to debate with the information in advance. Why should anyone consider Arnold Schwarzenegger a serious candidate if all he can do is respond to a script prepared by somebody like you?

ROHRABACHER: OK, now he's asked -- now he's asked the question. Let's answer the question. The fact is, you're supporting a guy who bankrupted the state. We are still spending $50 million a day...


BROWN: If you won't consider anybody who bankrupts the state, how about what George W. Bush has done to the nation?


CARVILLE: Congressman, if I don't say something, I'm not going to get paid here.



ROHRABACHER: Let me answer. The answer to the question is, Gray Davis has screwed the state of California. The people of California know it. And he has his record. He's had his chance. They would rather have Arnold Schwarzenegger. There you go.

CARVILLE: I guess what the mayor is saying, if that's true, why is he scared to show up at a debate and say it? And why does he have people like you saying it?

ROHRABACHER: He's not scared to show up at a debate. There's a major debate on the 24th.

BROWN: Why does he want the questions in advance?


CARVILLE: Mayor, can I get in this? Can this shoe clerk get in this poker game?


CARVILLE: Congressman, I want to show you a very prominent Republican supporter that Arnold has picked up. And I'm going to read to you what he said.

"I'm a body builder. I do some pretty heavy weight lifting. I think the weight lifters of the world should unite. I think those guys in California could use a big bruiser who could knock some heads together. They're out of control out there" -- the Reverend Pat Robertson.



CARVILLE: How much -- how much do you think that this titan of the Republican Party is going to help Arnold Schwarzenegger with his endorsement, how Californians are going to respond to Reverend Robertson getting in the middle of their election?

ROHRABACHER: I think that we have got a wide range of support for Arnold Schwarzenegger, all the way from conservative Republicans like myself to a lot of liberal Republicans who have not been with the party before.

That's the greatest thing about Arnold. He is widening the base of the Republican Party. Otherwise, we don't have a chance in California.

CARLSON: OK. I'm sorry. We didn't even get to Gary Coleman. But, hopefully, we can next time.


CARLSON: Willie Brown, mayor of San Francisco, thank you very much. Dana Rohrabacher, congressman, Republican, from California, thank you. We appreciate it.



CARLSON: In a minute, we'll get an update on the breaking news out of Jerusalem, the bombing. And then it's time for "Fireback," where one of you has some fashion advice for our show, CROSSFIRE.

We'll be right back.



WOODRUFF: Just within the last hour, another suicide bombing in Israel, this time in Jerusalem.

In a neighborhood of shops and small cafes, it was closing time. Apparently, the bomber walked up to the cafe, but the security guard there stopped him from going inside. He blew himself up just outside, killing, apparently three, at least three. There are at least 40 said to be wounded, many bodies lying on the ground, these pictures coming in to CNN just in the last moments.

We are told this is -- this is a -- this is the second bombing in Israel today. Earlier today, in Tel Aviv, seven killed in a suicide bombing outside an army base. Again, tonight in Jerusalem, this is the scene, at least four dead -- and now back to CROSSFIRE.


CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Now time for you to have your say at us called "Fireback." And you'll be firing at us.

And Tucker will take it away now. Here we go. "The California recall is just another example of how the Republicans try to steal legal elections." That's J. Miller of Tacoma, Washington.


CARVILLE: Well, it's only the third time. They tried to steal the '96 election. They couldn't. And they stole the 2000 election. And now they're going after this one.

CARLSON: Yes, putting it up to a vote of the people, that sounds like theft to me.


CARLSON: Jerry Rivero of Phoenix writes: "By the way, Tucker, a good conservative shouldn't wear pink pants. But way to go on the Britney Spears interview."

There is a connection. Britney Spears digs pink pants.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you what. If pink pants get Britney Spears to kiss you, I'd wear them, huh?


CARVILLE: No, I wouldn't, Mary. I'm just teasing.

CARLSON: Do what it takes.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick from Pittsburgh Mass (ph).

This is a question for James. Although Hillary said she definitely will not run for president in 2004, at what point will she allow herself to be drafted into the race?

CARVILLE: I don't know. I guess if the wind got strong enough, it would pick her up. No, I don't know how they would get drafted.

From the left, I'm James Carville.


CARLSON: And from -- that's a great image, the wind.

From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow for another edition of CROSSFIRE.


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