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Bush and Schwarzenegger Under Fire

Aired October 3, 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: He has a leak, falling poll numbers, and, so far, no weapons of mass destruction. But the president remains confident he's on the right course.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world is a better place when we got rid of Saddam Hussein.

ANNOUNCER: His problems are a little different.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I will stay focused. I will always stay focused, because the fight continues.

ANNOUNCER: We're focused on politics, from coast to coast and in between -- today on CROSSFIRE.



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



It looks like both President Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rush Limbaugh have some explaining to do. And we'll be more than delighted to look at all the reasons why. In fact, maybe we can give them a few more distractions.

Here comes the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

In today's "New York Times," genius Paul Krugman points out that Joe Wilson is the latest example of the right wing's tactics of slime and defend. Wilson had dared to criticize the Bush administration. So the right-wing attack machine went into action. His wife's name was made public, even though she's a CIA operative. And Wilson has become the target of a character assassination campaign by the right- wing media, slime and defend. No one is being slimed more than Joe Wilson.

And the No. 1 slime in the world is "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page, which says he opposed the war on terrorism. He did not. He opposed the war in Iraq, as did as I and millions of other Americans.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: I don't know. Paul Krugman is such an angry, hate-filled little man. I can't believe how can sleep at night. I read his column, unfortunately, every time it comes out.

He's just -- he's quivering with anger. To point out that Joe Wilson is a partisan Democrat, I don't think that's a slime


CARVILLE: He gave money -- he President H.W. Bush's ambassador to Iraq, the most sensitive position probably in that administration.

CARLSON: That's absolutely right.

CARVILLE: He gave $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign.


CARVILLE: So what difference does it make?

CARLSON: James, you know as I well as I do, he's a partisan Democrat.


CARVILLE: He was right. When he pointed about the yellowcake, the White House acknowledged he was right. He was right on Niger. He's right by his party affiliation.

CARLSON: We don't know what he said about Niger, James.

CARVILLE: And he is right to defend his wife, the way that they're sliming her.


CARLSON: We don't know what Joe Wilson said about Niger or anything else, because we haven't seen the report that he gave to CIA when he returned.


CARLSON: So to say we know what said is simply not true. We don't.


CARLSON: OK. Is Senator Bob Graham of Florida still running for president? Well, it's an open question. News reports over the last 24 hours reported friends as saying, Graham is too broke and unpopular to continue.

Graham himself seems ready to soldier on. So what is happening? Well, one campaign aide tells the Associated Press that Graham himself has not yet -- quote -- "come to grips with the reality of how tough it will be to continue." In other words, it's over, and everyone knows it, but Bob Graham.


CARLSON: How depressing. By all accounts, Bob Graham is a decent man with a nice family. He has had what is, in many ways, an impressive career. Riding a doomed fifth-tier presidential campaign into the ground is an awfully humiliating way to leave public life. Bob Graham deserves better. So somebody tell Senator Graham to drop out now before the laughter starts.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you one thing that's not over. And that's my respect and friendship for Senator Graham.

CARLSON: Good for you.

CARVILLE: He is a great American. And a lot of people that run for president haven't succeeded. And if it turns out to be the case, it detracts nothing from his outstanding service as governor of Florida and United States senator.


CARLSON: But as a friend -- as a friend -- I'm not beating up on Bob Graham at all. I'm just saying, as a friend, you ought to go to him and say, Senator Graham, it's about to get embarrassing. You're on the cusp, and you ought to drop out honorably now and retire to Florida and enjoy your grandchildren and not humiliate yourself.


CARVILLE: I don't think you humiliate yourself when you got something to say and you run for president, even though you lose. Lots of people who run for president lose.

CARLSON: That's right.


CARVILLE: Ronald Reagan ran for president and lost, but he came back.

CARLSON: That's exactly right. But when you're running to win and you can't, that's embarrassing.

CARVILLE: There you go.

The new issue of "The Washington Monthly," one of the greatest publications, skewers a bunch of chicken hawks, top Republicans who haven't served in the military, but are more than eager to send American sons and daughters off to war. And there's President Bush, of course.

Don't let that carrier landing or alleged National Guard service fool you. Vice President Cheney, John Ashcroft, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Tom DeLay, who didn't serve either. Most of the people responsible for getting us into this debacle avoided service themselves. Not surprisingly, this whole thing was concocted by people in the classroom and enforced by a president who lacks any international curiosity or knowledge or even sense of history.


CARLSON: You know, James, I know that you're against -- I know that you're against women proffering their opinions on war because there are virtually no women in America who have been in combat. Therefore, I guess they're disqualified by your definition from commenting on war.

CARVILLE: I don't think...


CARLSON: Well, then, what's the point?

CARVILLE: I think the point is that the thing is a debacle. If it had been a successful, it was fine. Franklin Roosevelt, was crippled. He was one of the great wartime leaders of all time.


CARVILLE: But Franklin Roosevelt never led us into a debacle. And I think that, had there been, like Chuck Hagel said, the great Republican senator of Nebraska, is, the first person in Baghdad ought to be Richard Perle, because he's all for other people doing something and doesn't want to do it. And I agree with him.



CARLSON: I like Senator Hagel, but that's an incredibly low thing to say. You should evaluate someone's argument.



CARVILLE: The argument is now wrong, we know, because we're in a quagmire over that.

CARLSON: Then why are you attacking them personally?

CARVILLE: I'm not attacking them personally.

CARLSON: Yes, you were.

CARVILLE: I'm saying, if they got us in a quagmire, they ought to be attacked. It was horrible policy.


CARVILLE: Why don't -- somebody has to say it.

CARLSON: Then why don't you attack the policy and not the man?

Well, in stoner news tonight, a continuing feature here on CROSSFIRE, the government of Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has introduced legislation that would effectively decriminalize the use of marijuana. Well, the bill has met fierce resistance from prohibitionists and anti-drug forces. But Chretien, most of whose supporters apparently get high a lot, has remained steadfast.

In an interview with "The Winnipeg Free Press" this morning, the 69-year-old prime minister indicated that his support for the legislation is deeply personal -- quote -- "'I don't know what is marijuana," the prime minister said slowly, reaching for a bag of Doritos. "Perhaps I will try it when it no longer will be criminal. I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand" -- end quote, whatever that means.

In other words, Chretien, despite the way he speaks, claims that he does not currently spoke a ton of pot. Right.


CARVILLE: You know what?


CARLSON: You know what, James?

CARVILLE: That's a country and a prime minister with a sense of humor. I'll tell you that.

CARLSON: Well, if you lived in the frozen north and you had hockey and sled dogs and that's it, you'd smoke a lot of dope, too. I don't hold it against him.


CARLSON: I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

CARVILLE: I lived in hot and humid Louisiana, and I probably puffed on one or two in my life, too, to tell you the truth.


CARLSON: Well, there you go. I guess it's the temperature extremes. I have a lot of sympathy for Jean Chretien.

OK, as the California recall race enters its final days, does Arnold Schwarzenegger have the political muscle to overcome questions about his thoughts on Adolf Hitler, as well as his treatment of women? And the search for the leaker grows wider. What impact is the investigation having on the White House? We'll debate that when we return.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Well, it has been quite a week in politics. The CIA leak story went from nowhere to everywhere. The WMD hunt in Iraq turned up lots of intent, but no actual weapons so far. And Arnold Schwarzenegger has spent most of the last 24 hours talking about sexual harassment, his, and Adolf Hitler. That's not a good day.

In the CROSSFIRE to discuss all this and more, Democratic strategist Vic Kamber and Republican strategist Charlie Black.


CARVILLE: Charlie, Representative Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor and a congressman from California, had this to say about Arnold Schwarzenegger today: "To have a man who is aspiring to be governor of our largest state praise Hitler is something utterly contemptible" -- Tom Lantos, D, California.

What would you tell Congressman Lantos, Holocaust survivor?

CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, James, I'm not for Schwarzenegger. I'm not involved in that race. I'm neutral.

But if you read the whole "New York Times" story, way down in there, this guy Butler, who accused him, backed off and said, oh, I found another quote in which Schwarzenegger basically says, well, Hitler was a spellbinding speaker, but I don't like the things he used it for. So I don't know if he's guilty of this. I don't.

CARVILLE: Let me ask you, Charlie. We have Republican candidates groping behinds and talking about Nazis. We have Republican icons popping pills. We have treasonous people in the White House. We have a soaring deficit. We have war profiteers in Baghdad. We have troops that are unable to get supplied with basic needs, like Kevlar jackets. What is a God-fearing, patriotic, values- oriented Republican to think out there in the country when he watches this? I mean, what...


BLACK: Well -- well, they certainly -- they certainly think that Democrats like you ought to observe due process and not throw out unfounded allegations and charges that haven't been proven, which is the case on a lot of those things.


CARVILLE: We know somebody did it. We don't know who. I'm not accusing -- I'm saying it was done.

BLACK: Did which? Did which? Did which?

CARVILLE: We know that. We just don't know who.

BLACK: You brought up Hitler again. I think we just established that's probably not true. What are you talking about, the leak? Let me ask you this. How many Democrats...

CARVILLE: Well, I'm talking about the deficit. I'm talking about the war profiteers. I'm talking about the fact our troops can't get Kevlar jackets. I'm talking about -- I'm talking about everything that's happening. The Republican Party is disintegrating in front of our eyes.


CARLSON: Would just mind picking one really quick? I want to get Vic Kamber in here. It's a lot of charges.

BLACK: Well, in 1995, when Bob Torricelli, Senator Torricelli, leaked classified CIA information about Guatemala, how many Democrats stood up and asked for him to be investigated and disciplined? Answer, none. None.

CARVILLE: You know what? He didn't out a CIA agent, which is treason.


CARLSON: Vic Kamber, we had yesterday Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger in California basically revealed to have treated women in a pretty creepy way over the years, pretty specific examples.

He did a remarkable thing. I'm not a big Arnold supporter at all, actually. But I was amazed by his response, which was to say, yes, actually, I pretty much did do that, and I'm sorry that I did that.

He didn't deny it. He didn't attack the women who accused him as trailer trash or try to call them stalkers or send private eyes to harass it.



CARLSON: This is a serious question. He didn't attack his accusers. Do you think Democrats will take a cue from this when they're


KAMBER: I think the issue is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

First of all, he did deny the '75 article in "Oui." He didn't even remember it, with all the things he said. The only reason he didn't deny the recent publication is because it is recent. It's happened as recent as maybe yesterday, but certainly last three months, last six months, last six years, last several years.

And this Hitler thing, Charlie, I'm sorry. The idea that -- Arnold Schwarzenegger is obviously intellectually handicapped. He should be wearing a handicap thing on his forehead, to even suggest that Adolf Hitler had a quality, a good quality, to even suggest


CARLSON: Wait. We're all against Hitler.

KAMBER: Are we? Are we?

CARLSON: I think we are.

KAMBER: I'm not sure of that.


BLACK: I don't agree with it, but look at the quote.


CARVILLE: ... said he started outright.


CARLSON: Before we get into the Hitler business.


KAMBER: ... finding qualities of -- good thing with this man.


BLACK: I wouldn't have said it, but he did not endorse Hitler.


CARLSON: I want to ask you a question about the Paul Krugman column this morning, which got James so exercise.

I want to read you a quote from it. He says: "As long as the media were willing to let the story lie" -- that means Bob Novak's column about this leak about Mrs. Wilson -- "Bush didn't think this outrage required any action." Now, that's an outright lie. In fact, this story came to the surface again when this administration, the Bush administration, started an inquiry in it. CIA sent a letter to DOJ. The Bush administration brought this back to light.

KAMBER: Tucker, give me a break.

CARLSON: That's true.

KAMBER: This should be a special investigation. This should be a special prosecutor. It should be out of the Justice...


CARLSON: Is that true or not?

KAMBER: It's not true.

CARVILLE: The CIA did it on their own, because they were so outraged by it.


CARLSON: That's part of the Bush administration. I'm sorry to wake you up to that fact.

KAMBER: The CIA is an independent agency. It's not part of the Bush administration.

CARLSON: Oh, it's not?

KAMBER: No, it's not.

CARLSON: That would be news to them.


KAMBER: It is. It should be.

CARVILLE: Charlie, let me show you a graphic here. And I want to ask you to respond to something in it.

This is a CBS/"New York Times" poll. Does Bush have a clear plan in Iraq? Yes 29 percent, no 59 percent. Can I ask you something? What in the hell were those 29 percent thinking?


CARVILLE: These must be the dumbest people in the world.


BLACK: These -- no, these are -- James, these are people who have listened carefully to what Ambassador Bremer has said about the plan and about what's going on in Iraq when he was here in the country.

Let me tell you something. What you ought to -- CNN ought to interview some of these Democratic congressmen who recently came back from Iraq.

CARVILLE: What is our plan?

BLACK: Norm Dicks and Jim Marshall, who said there are good things going on in Iraq. The situation is improving.

CARVILLE: I'm sure they are.

BLACK: And, in a matter of time, the place will be secure, not the Republicans, the Democrats.

CARVILLE: Does any rational person think that these people have a plan? Paul Bremer said he didn't even read the plan when he went over there and threw it out. They don't have a plan.


BLACK: You're making an attack on Congressman Norm Dicks.


KAMBER: The world is a better world without Saddam Hussein. We all know that. At the cost of 400 or 500 American lives, at the cost of $200 billion, I'm not sure. Do they have water and toilets in Iraq today that maybe didn't have a month ago? I'm sure they do and they will. But at $200 billion, it's not worth it.


CARLSON: I'm sorry to interrupt.


CARLSON: But I want to get -- I want to get to someone else who's been facing some pretty vicious attacks. And that's Howard Dean, whose pin, you'll notice, I'm wearing proudly today, because Dean is...

KAMBER: I hope you'll vote for him, too.

CARLSON: Dean is bearing the brunt, is bearing the brunt of the wrath, the attacks of the corrupt liberal establishment.

I just want to read one. Dean had the chutzpah to suggest that maybe we could fix Social Security. He was slammed by Senator John Kerry this way -- quote -- "He," Dean, "is on the wrong side of seniors and working families."

Do you believe that, Vic Kamber, he's on the wrong side of seniors and working families?

KAMBER: I think whoever's in the lead in either party in a primary is going to be slammed by people in his party who want the job.

If I remember, one of Charlie's clients who was president of the United States called Ronald Reagan's politics voodoo economics. And he became...

CARLSON: He was attacking the policy.


KAMBER: No, he attacked the person's intellect. He attacked the person's intellect He attacked the person's policies. Same thing here. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: He's against old people? That's an outrageous charge.

CARVILLE: When President Bush ran, a veteran stood on the stage that President Bush was at and attacked John McCain's war record. Can you think of anything that's ever been said in a presidential campaign more despicable than that?

BLACK: It doesn't matter. Bush walked off the stage and repudiated the whole thing. He didn't know that was going to happen.


CARVILLE: It's right there.

BLACK: He did, too. Go do your homework on this stuff.

CARVILLE: We've got people like that? I have never heard of such a thing.

BLACK: Let me tell you something. If the American people -- why don't you put the poll number up there that shows that two-thirds of the American people trust the president's leadership in the war against terrorism? And, two, two-thirds of the people still say that it was a good thing to go into Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein.


BLACK: They do. They do.


CARVILLE: Charlie, in this poll, the majority of the people say it's not worth it.


CARLSON: Unfortunately, we've got to take a quick -- we've got to take a quick break. We haven't yet reached consensus. I feel like we're getting there, though.

The debate will continue in just a moment, when we return with "Rapid Fire," where we barely pause for breath. And right after the break, Miles O'Brien has the latest on the man in charge of building a police force in Iraq.

We'll be right back.




(APPLAUSE) CARVILLE: It's time for "Rapid Fire," where we ask questions even faster than the president's poll numbers drop.

Our guests are Republican strategist Charlie Black and Democratic strategist Vic Kamber.

CARLSON: Vic, Senator Bob Graham of Florida, out of money, kind of humiliating himself, it sounds like he may drop out. Should he drop out soon?

KAMBER: No. Why? He's got a message. He should give his message and let the voters decide. He may not make it there. He's got a distinguished career. I don't see why he shouldn't continue.

CARVILLE: Charlie, how much foreign money do you think will pour into Iraq to help us pay for these costs?

BLACK: Well, there will be some. I don't know how much. I'm not a budget expert, but there will be some. You've already got about 20 countries contributing troops over there. I think a lot of countries


CARVILLE: And who's paying for the troops? The countries are paying for them, or are we paying for them?

BLACK: I assume they're paying for them. I don't know.

CARVILLE: We're paying every nickel. Just so you know, we've got them over there. We're paying for them.


CARLSON: Now, Vic, as Charlie said, Congressman Norm Dicks of Washington did just return from Iraq. I won't read you the whole quote, but he essentially said things seem to be going much better than expected. Is he deranged, deluded or a secret Republican?

KAMBER: Better than what is expected?


CARLSON: He's pleased with the progress in Iraq. What's wrong with him?

KAMBER: There are several Democrats that I know have gone to Iraq, and they're pleased that they didn't get shot and they didn't get killed, like our troops are, and they're pleased that they got out.

And, yes, they're pleased that there's toilets and water and electricity in some places. If that's better than expected, I don't know. The bottom line is, we have no plan to get out. We have no national...

CARVILLE: Let me ask you this.

Charlie, Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Iraq had a nuclear weapons program, and, in fact Vice President Cheney said reconstituted nuclear weapons. In the Kay report, tell us about the overwhelming amount of evidence that showed Iraq's vast nuclear weapons program.

BLACK: Well, as a matter of fact, the Kay report does say that they were working on them. He said they spent billions of dollars on them.

CARVILLE: Doing what? Doing what? What did they say


CARVILLE: I'll tell you what the Kay report said exactly. He said rudimentary.

CARLSON: Wait. Wait. Wait. Let him respond.

BLACK: Iraq's WMD program spanned more than two decades and cost billions of dollars


CARVILLE: People are not stupid. This is not the 29 percent. I said nuclear.

CARLSON: You're not letting the man answer the question, James. You asked the question. Why don't let him answer it?


CARLSON: Now, Vic Kamber, I'm actually going to let you answer this question.


BLACK: Ask Bill Clinton if he was developing nuclear weapons. He said he was.

CARLSON: That's an excellent question.


CARLSON: Joe Lieberman says that Wes Clark, his journey to the Democratic Party is one not of conviction, but of convenience. Do you agree?

KAMBER: No. No. I think that Wesley Clark has made a decision. He wants to be a Democrat.

CARLSON: He was unfair, Lieberman?

KAMBER: Unfair? Why do you worry what Democrats say to each other all the time? CARLSON: Because I care about the level of dishonesty.

CARVILLE: Because you can't defend what Bush does. Where are the weapons of mass destruction?


CARLSON: OK, I'm afraid we're out of time.

Vic Kamber, Charlie Black, thank you both very much.



CARLSON: You've heard the stories about Arnold Schwarzenegger and women and his reported comments about Adolf Hitler. We want to know, if you lived in California -- and you may -- would these recent allegations influence your vote? We'll have the results right after the break.

Also, in "Fireback," one viewer, believe it or not, has finally found something good to say about California Governor Gray Davis. It wasn't easy. We'll have it for you live.

We'll be right back.



CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Time for "Fireback." But first, the results of our audience question, in which we asked, if you were a California voter, would you be bothered by the Adolf Hitler and sexual harassment scandals swirling around Arnold Schwarzenegger? And the answer is, yes, it would influence your vote, say only 21 percent of Republicans, mirrored by 58 percent of Democrats who would be bothered. And then the flip side, Republicans 79 percent unbothered, Democrats 42 percent. OK.

CARVILLE: Less bothered are the Republicans.

CARLSON: And now to "Fireback."

First up, from Andie Archer of Santa Barbara: "If there is one positive thing about Government Gray Davis of which California voters can be certain, it's that he probably doesn't have any sexual skeletons in his closet."



CARLSON: You know what? I think that's true. I believe that. (LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: "I'm so glad that inspectors have found 10,000 documents on Iraq weapons of mass destruction program. I sleep so much better knowing I'm safe from the imminent danger of 10,000 paper cuts" -- Dave, Hanover, Maryland.



CARVILLE: You know, let me just say this. They may find -- I thought there were weapons of mass destruction there. They may find them. If they do, as I thought in the beginning, it will be some halfway stuff. And I just think the whole thing was overblown. But they still may find them.


CARLSON: All right, Matt from Ottawa. That's in the foreign country to the north we call Canada. He writes: "With Arnold Schwarzenegger admitting to past sexual misconduct, can we expect to see President Clinton endorse him for governor?"


CARVILLE: He might come up and have some pot with the prime minister.

The last e-mail. Let's go quick. "Though outrageous and consistently dishonest, the acts of the Bush administration have been tempered by the interest in getting reelected. What will happen to this country if Bush wins a second term and has nothing to fear?" -- Covey MacGregor, Warren, Vermont.

Well, not much worse can happen to what he's done now.



CARLSON: OK, a question from our audience.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. My name is Robert. I'm from Mill Valley, California.

I was wondering what you thought that Governor Gray Davis had to do in the last week before the recall election to beat the recall.

CARLSON: Make a pact with Satan.


CARLSON: I think he did that before. Once you've allowed illegal aliens to get driver's licenses, you can't pander any more than that, it seems to me.

CARVILLE: Work hard, pray hard, and hope for the best.


CARLSON: Yes. I don't think it's going to happen anyway, though. I think he really is going to lose his job. I'm against the recall, but I must say, I do take some pleasure from afar watching it.

CARVILLE: Well, you said you were against it. You would vote no on the recall and yes for McClintock?

CARLSON: That's exactly right.

CARVILLE: All right.

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

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

Join us again next week, on Monday, for yet more CROSSFIRE.


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