CNN CAPITAL GANG
Memo Shows Secretary Rumsfeld's Concerns About War On Terror; Supreme Court Overturns Partial Birth Abortion Ban; Howard Dean Ad Attacks Fellow Running Mates, Bush Administration On Healthcare, Iraq
Aired October 25, 2003 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.
MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with the full CAPITAL GANG -- Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.
A leaked high-level memo by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld raised these points, quote: "We are having mixed results with al Qaeda, although we have put considerable pressure on them. Nonetheless, a great many remain at large. Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq, in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog," end quote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think that the memo served as a very useful vehicle for discussing with them important aspects of the global war on terror.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I think Secretary Rumsfeld's comments are an illustration of a concern that they have about the failure of their policies in Iraq so far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Meanwhile, Lieutenant General William Boykin, deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence, came under fire for his own comments about the war on terrorism, such as, quote, "We're a Christian nation, because our foundations and our roots are Judeo- Christian, and the enemy is a guy named Satan," end quote.
General Boykin's apology did not satisfy the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: I am recommending that this officer be detailed from his present position, a position that deals with the war on terrorism throughout the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, is Secretary Rumsfeld's house falling apart? KATE O'BEIRNE, CAPITAL GANG: Mark, I think with this memo, we're just seeing the latest example of Don Rumsfeld's management MO, that explains why after a remarkable career in Washington as a younger man he was such an extraordinarily successful CEO. He challenges his subordinates. He is impatient, he is demanding, he's asking questions the public wants asked, are we making bold enough moves, are we having success against al Qaeda, what about the madrassas that are training an endless -- seemingly endless supply of recruits.
Look, it's silly, speculation that this was intentionally leaked, this memo, is silly. It wasn't intentionally leaked. But Rumsfeld's aides are squabbling among themselves for credit for making it public, owing to their conviction that it shows their boss in a very good light and that it shows him asking the kinds of questions the public wants somebody asking.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, it may have shown their boss in a good light, it didn't show the president in a terribly good light, and all the bullish, upbeat, sort of Norman Vincent Peel (ph) positive thinking about Iraq.
MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Well, you wonder how big is the gap between the public rhetoric and the private assessments of how well we're doing. I mean, one of the Democratic candidates could have written that memo. And you know, Rumsfeld's appeal is that he's a straight talker, and he's still kind of jaunty, he comes into the press room and that noon briefing gets the highest ratings on cable, because he's a somewhat appealing character.
CARLSON: Other than CAPITAL GANG. But this belies the straight talk. Is this what he really thinks, as opposed to what, you know, the upbeat things that he does say? I mean, I like that he had the one definition of slog from the dictionary, which is aggressively fighting, and then somebody knew enough about Rumsfeld to bring a dictionary to the briefing and give the other definition, which is an uphill, slow kind of plodding effort.
ROBERT NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Which I think is what he meant.
SHIELDS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that's what he meant, yeah.
CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) slog memo.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, your assessment. Was this -- when anybody puts anything on paper in Washington, since the invention of Xerox machine, certainly, there is always the sheer risk it could be...
NOVAK: I am going to disagree with Kate in one respect. They intended to leak this. Absolutely. Memos from Rumsfeld are called snowflakes. Don't you know that phrase? They're called snowflakes, and a normal snowflake is signed "D.R." This was signed "Donald Rumsfeld." It was a formal thing. I think he wanted this out to show that he wasn't Bob McNamara of Vietnam days who really thought things were going well. He not only said they were going well, he thought so, but he wants to be no record as showing, got a lot of problems there.
Now, I think this was good for Rumsfeld. I think it was good for the president, Mark. I think it was good for the administration, and it gets away from all this silliness of, boy, isn't this just wonderful if only the press would report it.
SHIELDS: Well, that's been the tool now, it's been -- if the press would only report the good news, now we find out that Don Rumsfeld doesn't think there is good news.
AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Well, I agree with everything Bob Novak -- I'm sorry, go ahead.
NOVAK: I'm sorry, he didn't say there was no good news.
SHIELDS: Well, I mean, but he basically said, look, Afghanistan was not good, that we got out of there too quickly...
O'BEIRNE: He doesn't say that in the memo. He does not. He says we're going to win in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but there is a long road ahead of us.
SHIELDS: No, he said Afghanistan is not -- that we left Afghanistan, that we had not gotten the al Qaeda in Afghanistan, that we had not gotten the Taliban in Afghanistan, and he had said that, he had said that in the memo.
SHIELDS: Go ahead. Let's give Al...
HUNT: I agree with everything that Robert said, right up until the very end. I think it's a fascinating memo on a whole lot of different levels. I also agree that the Rumsfeld people leaked, at least that's what people I talk to suspect, and the problem is that it is very interesting, and it is very insightful, and it flies directly in the face of the claims that President Bush and others made. They say we are winning the war on terrorism, and Don Rumsfeld says in that memo, directly, we can't measure whether we're winning or not, so therefore people are making claims that Don Rumsfeld says they cannot make.
The other thing that I think is fascinating about this is I talked to a number of people on the Hill this week. Don Rumsfeld, this incredibly once-great political operative, has virtually no friends up there, no Democrats at all and surprisingly few Republicans. He never talks to Dick Lugar, even though Don Rumsfeld thinks he's running foreign policy in this administration. John Warner is not a huge fan of Don Rumsfeld right now. I mean, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) dismissed Warner on the General Boykin...
NOVAK: He's never had any friends. I've known him -- he's about my age, I've known him for 40 years. The reason he quit Congress, he couldn't get along with anybody there, he had a huge fight with Kissinger, he had a huge fight with (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That's Rumsfeld!
HUNT: ... forty years ago.
SHIELDS: Let me ask Margaret a question. One of the things that Don Rumsfeld says is that the religious clerics are recruiting these terrorists and so forth. Certainly helping in the recruitment has to be statements like that made by General Boykin, who basically said George Bush is president because God put him there, that this is -- we're on against Satan, and all the rest of it. I mean, operating on the premise that everything we say here is heard over there, I would think that might make recruitment a little bit easier.
CARLSON: And, you know, Rumsfeld said, oh, we need to look into this thing -- what kind of investigation do you need when there is the videotape of the remarks and the president has gone to great lengths to say this is not a war against Islam? It's just the opposite. And with the Satan business, he sounds like The Church Lady. Can I just mention that Rumsfeld is holding up a lot better than you are?
O'BEIRNE: George Bush within days of 9/11...
NOVAK: That wasn't nice.
O'BEIRNE: ... has called this a fight between good and evil and that is essentially what the general is also saying. And you know what, Margaret, a Democratic candidate...
CARLSON: They were terrorists, not evil Muslims...
O'BEIRNE: Those evil, evil radicals who subscribe to this radical Islam, those evil terrorists. Look, a Democratic candidate could not have written the Rumsfeld memo, because Democratic candidates have no plan for the war on terrorism. All they can do is complain and criticize George Bush, and what Rumsfeld is saying is let's look beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, and it doesn't contradict the fact that George Bush has been saying, we've got a long fight ahead of us.
NOVAK: I want to say something about General Boykin. General Boykin has to be castigated and attacked, because he's a Christian.
CARLSON: Oh, Bob, that's not true.
NOVAK: Can I talk while you're interrupting, please? I think it's unacceptable in this town to say of somebody who believes that the hand of God is connected with the selection of our leaders. I hear that in church sometimes, but for a general to say that, to say that Christian values, Judeo-Christian values are valuable, that is outrageous. And what -- I don't think they ought to just get rid of him, I think they ought to boil him in oil, he's so bad. HUNT: Oh, that is so silly. You pick generals because they're good. Lincoln didn't pick Grant because of his moral superiority. He picked him because he was a good general. What General Boykin said has nothing to do with his religion. It was just plain stupid. He played into bin Laden's hands.
CARLSON: And it's absolutely against the administration's position.
NOVAK: People like you and people in this community just hate a person who is that devout as General Boykin.
SHIELDS: That is such baloney. I mean, honest to God, you are Oscar Meyer, you really are when it comes to baloney. And I have to say this, Al, you're absolutely right about this guy.
SHIELDS: I mean, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), recruitment has died when you've got Jerry Falwell saying I think Mohammed was a terrorist, you've got Franklin Graham saying it's a very evil and wicked religion. Islam is, and reality is, that George Bush came out and said this is a peaceful religion and they love peace, and Pat Robertson attacked him. So I mean, you can have the bigots, you've got the bigots...
O'BEIRNE: They had no trouble recruiting pre-9/11 before anybody said any of those things...
NOVAK: I think all the screaming going on at this table indicates I'm right.
HUNT: I'm glad you've been so subdued, Robert.
CARLSON: I really want to scream, you're wrong.
SHIELDS: Bob, I've got to say one thing about you...
SHIELDS: But I'll wait until we go to break, I'll wait until we go to break because his family is watching. THE GANG of five will be back with a big win for anti-abortion forces.
ANNOUNCER: While serving in the Navy, Donald Rumsfeld won a championship in which sport? Was it, A, tennis; B, wrestling; C, bowling. We'll have the answer right after the break.
ANNOUNCER: Before the break, we asked: While serving in the Navy, Donald Rumsfeld won a championship in which sport? The answer is B, wrestling. SHIELDS: Welcome back. The Senate voted 64 to 34 to enact a ban on partial birth abortions, sending the measure to President Bush for his signature.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: This is a very sad day for the women of America. This Senate is about to pass a piece of legislation that for the first time in history bans a medical procedure without making any exception for the health of a woman.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: We have just outlawed a procedure that is barbaric, that is brutal, that is offensive to our moral sensibilities, and that is out of the mainstream of the ethical practice of medicine today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Bob, since the Supreme Court is expected to rule this law unconstitutional, is all of what we've seen simply symbolic?
NOVAK: No, it isn't, because, of course, we don't know what the court is going to do, it's a slightly different piece of legislation. But it shows a political trend that is running against the abortion forces. That you had this overwhelming vote, you had the Democratic leader of the Senate voting yes, you had Senator Lincoln of Arkansas, who's up for reelection, she says she's 95 percent pro-choice, she voted yes.
A lot of people are saying that this isn't just this bill on partial birth abortions, that this is an attack on Roe v. Wade. It is an attack on Roe v. Wade. They took affirmation of Roe v. Wade out of the bill, and the mask is not just off but it's coming off, and I'd say the anti-abortion people are on the move.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, when you look at this, the debate on abortion has been fascinating politically, beyond the ethical and moral considerations, which are great, but as long as we're talking about who's deciding, that is that the women in consultation with her conscience or a physician, the pro-choice side prevails in the argument, it seems. When it's what is being decided, in this case a gruesome procedure, that I mean, is really, I mean, most people just recoil from, I think the pro-life side prevails in this one.
HUNT: Yeah, I agree, Mark. I think that the Democrats or the pro-choice people have made a mistake in trying to draw a line on this issue. I think that the other side, the pro-life side, clearly won the debate from the very beginning, with the very term, partial birth abortion.
But I think Bob greatly exaggerates what's happened here. 1.3 million abortions a year. If this is as narrowly drawn as some of the proponents say, it will affect a couple of thousand. So it's just insignificant. If it's not, if it affects a lot more, than I think the court almost surely will throw it out. And Bob, I think maybe there is a danger for the pro-life forces. In focusing on this dreadful procedure that Mark described, I think implicit in that is that the others are not so offensive, but I think when the debate shifts to that, that's when I think the right-to-life side will be on the defensive.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.
O'BEIRNE: Well, it's certainly not insignificant for the babies who are going to be spared this gruesome death now. So it is a significant piece of legislation.
Fighting a ban on partial birth abortions I think has been very costly for the Democrats, and let's not forget that the majority of Senate Democrats, Barbara Boxer defends this procedure, it's been very costly because the public is so opposed to this procedure, for the reason you've stated too, Mark, it's been expensive for them. It gets the public focusing on the baby involved, facing in this case this gruesome death while half-born, rather than the abstract notion of choice. And as a result, I think, given this debate, we're not seeing the public evenly divided when they're asked to identify themselves as either pro-choice or pro-life. They're split down the middle.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.
CARLSON: Many more Democrats would have voted for this had they put in grievous health of the mother, by narrowing what had grown to be too big a loophole, just general health of mother. You know, most people are in the middle on abortion, they are not at either extreme. What happened with this was that this particular procedure offends even people who are pro-choice, and when Senator Tom Daschle had the perfect I think solution to this about a year ago.
He proposed a bill which would ban all post-viability abortions, which is somewhat earlier than the Roe v. Wade trimester, except for grievous health of mother, but Republicans didn't want that, because they didn't want to give up what is a winning issue for them.
O'BEIRNE: No, because...
SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret Carlson. Next on CAPITAL GANG, Howard Dean goes negative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For years, the politicians in Washington have talked about health insurance and the prescription drug benefit, and all you've got was talk, but in Vermont, we did it.
130,000 troops in Iraq, with no end in sight and a price tag that goes up daily. The best my opponents can do is ask questions today that they should have asked before they supported the war. I opposed the war from the start. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: These new negative ads by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean evoked protests by his opponents for the Democratic presidential nomination. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said, quote, "I'm sorry the governor has decided to have a negative advertising campaign," end quote. Retired General Wesley Clark said, quote, "I think it's ridiculous that we're spending time attacking each other," end quote.
Margaret, are these new negative ads a sign of nervousness and anxiety in the Dean campaign?
CARLSON: Well, they're hardly ridiculous when Dean gets a lot of free media for having gone negative first, just as we gave it to him just now. He may have peaked in Iowa. He's got this two-pronged campaign. In Iowa, he's neck and neck with Gephardt. He went to his 99th county this week.
SHIELDS: No more, that's it.
CARLSON: There's nowhere else to go but down.
HUNT: You start over.
CARLSON: You go back to number one.
But in New Hampshire, the latest poll is 40-17 Dean-Kerry.
SHIELDS: Dean over Kerry.
CARLSON: So you assume he's established his positives in New Hampshire, and now he's decided just to hammer away at Kerry and do away with him.
SHIELDS: As negative ads go, that was not really negative. Was it?
NOVAK: It was a pretty good ad. You get these two old pros, John Kerry and Wes Clark, all upset about it. It's very, very amusing. This is just an extension of Dean's campaign, where he says these other guys from Washington didn't do anything to provide health care, they voted for the war. They did vote, Kerry did vote for the war. Who knows what Dean's position on the war is.
SHIELDS: You mean Clark's.
NOVAK: I mean, Clark's position on the war is, and you know what Dean's is. So I think those were signs that his campaign is on track.
SHIELDS: On track, Kate O'Beirne? O'BEIRNE: I agree. I think these ads are the latest signs of the kind of smart campaign Howard Dean is running. Not only is he taking on I would say specifically Gephardt and Kerry for being Washington insiders and for flip-flopping on the war, but I think he's also telling liberal voters, primary voters, this is the kind of fight I am willing to wage against George Bush. I am going to be a tough guy, I am going to defend myself, and I'm going to go on the offensive against Bush, and that's what I think the Democratic base is looking for.
SHIELDS: Interesting message, Al Hunt.
HUNT: You know, I agree. I think first of all, they're not signs of any anxiety. It may be a bit of a preemptive strike, and it's from a guy who's got a lot of money. But I agree with Bob. I mean, these Cassandras in politics who say, oh, negative ads this early, isn't that terrible -- they're not very negative, and it's not very early if you have, you know, a whole lot of money.
But I think what's really striking, Mark, you and I attended a focus group up in Pennsylvania this week, of Peter Hart (ph), and it was Democrats and Republicans, but among the people who were likely to vote in Democratic primary, what really -- and they haven't formed their views yet -- but what really interests them are outsiders. I mean, this message that I'm not from Washington, I don't know how it's going to play for in the general, but it certainly plays well in the primaries.
SHIELDS: It's played well before, and historian Alan Ginsberg (ph) pointed out to me that this fellow is an anomaly, Howard Dean. He said, six months ago, he was at zero, seven months ago. Now he's the leader, and he said these guys understand, both Kerry and Gephardt, that if they don't stop him - they've never had anybody become the favorite in an election year, that compressed a period of time and which have started off at zero. And they've got to go after him.
HUNT: A front running insurgent.
SHIELDS: That's right, front running insurgent.
CARLSON: And Dean only has to worry that he hasn't peaked.
NOVAK: I was very amused that General Clark this week said that he -- he was only running fourth. He didn't think he could finish any better than fourth in New Hampshire, and then of course the week before he had gotten out of Iowa...
SHIELDS: Remember the great Notre Dame coach who said we're not going to -- Frank Gladen (ph), who says we will make the first down...
NOVAK: Well, I don't think it's any Frank -- I knew Frank Gladen (ph), and General Clark is no Frank Gladen (ph). I just wonder what General Clark, who is the favorite of the Park Avenue liberals in New York, I wonder where he's going to win.
CARLSON: Yes, everybody wants to pick their own state this time.
HUNT: I'm going to tell you this, I think anybody who finishes fourth in New Hampshire, it's bye-bye.
SHIELDS: But I will say this, Bob Novak has gone from talking -- being -- Wes Clark from being an old pro earlier...
NOVAK: I was being sarcastic.
SHIELDS: ... now to being the darling of Park Avenue liberals.
NOVAK: Yeah, I was trying to be sarcastic about the old pro thing.
SHIELDS: You are too clever and too subtle.
HUNT: Bob, you don't know a Park Avenue liberal who's ever met a general?
NOVAK: I know a couple, because I've talked to them.
SHIELDS: All right, last word, Al Hunt. Coming up in the second half of CAPITAL GANG, our "Newsmaker of the Week." He's Republican Senator John McCain or Arizona. Yeah! "Beyond the Beltway" looks at a tight and heated governor's race in Mississippi, with Jackson "Clarion Ledger" reporter Patrice Sawyer. Terrific. And our "Outrage of the Week." That's all after the latest news headlines.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.
SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with the full GANG -- Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson. Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.
John McCain. Age, 67. Residence, Phoenix, Arizona. Religion, Episcopalian. United States Naval Academy graduate, 1958. Twenty-two years as a U.S. Naval officer, including five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. United States House of Representatives, four years. U.S. Senate, 17 years. Author of best-selling memoirs, "Faith of my Fathers."
Earlier this week, our own Al Hunt spoke with Senator McCain in the offices of the Senate Commerce Committee, which Senator McCain chairs.
HUNT: If the Saddam-al Qaeda connection wasn't real, if the nuclear scare stories were bogus and if the weapons of mass destruction were being depleted, was there still a case for taking out Saddam?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Absolutely. First, the fact that his regime was as oppressive and repressive as it was. But perhaps more importantly, Saddam Hussein attempted to acquire weapons of mass destruction, used weapons of mass destruction, had them there in 1991 when we came in, in 1998, when President Clinton said we needed a regime change because he hadn't gotten rid of them.
If Saddam Hussein were in power today, we know one thing: He would be attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
HUNT: Well, then, Senator, if the policy was good, if the end result is good, does that mean it doesn't matter if the administration distorted or hyped or didn't tell us the truth?
MCCAIN: No. No. And in fact, there needs to be an in-depth review of the intelligence that led to statements made by highly respected people, the president, Colin Powell at the U.N. and others, and the problem with what happened is is we have another crisis over a country that's developing weapons of mass destruction - North Korea springs to mind, Iran, others -- then there will be a credibility problem unless the American people are assured that those kinds of mistakes are made again.
HUNT: You have any doubt that the intelligence was in part at least distorted and hyped by the Bush administration?
MCCAIN: There is no doubt that information was provided to the president of the United States, in my view which was not accurate.
HUNT: What's the window in Iraq to get it right?
MCCAIN: I was there in August, with a group of other members of Congress. I came back, and I said three to six months, we'll know whether we're going to win or not. We're now in October. Casualties are going up. Our U.S. generals are saying that sophistication of the attacks is increasing.
So I'm very worried, I'm very concerned, and I am disturbed that the administration hasn't sent more troops of certain kind, Special Forces, linguists, Marines et cetera, in there.
A large part of this will be how quickly we restore the basic public services to the Iraqi people.
HUNT: Secretary Rumsfeld, in a memo that was out this week to his top civilian and military people, he expressed doubts about whether we were winning the war on terrorism.
MCCAIN: There was a line in there that's a little disturbing, and that is "we don't have the metrics to judge whether we're succeeding or not." But it was a challenge to his subordinates, his key subordinates to come up with answers. I don't see anything wrong with that.
HUNT: Are we winning the war on terror? MCCAIN: I believe we are. I believe America is safer than it was on September 11. I think we have a long way to go.
HUNT: One final question on a domestic issue. Next week, you and Senator Lieberman will offer on the Senate floor a bill to cap the carbon dioxide emissions. White House says that will hurt the economy, it's unnecessary, let's do it voluntarily.
MCCAIN: Well, I believe climate change is real. Obviously, the White House does not. I believe that we need to act as quickly as possible to try to at least limit the growth of the greenhouses gasses that are clearly the result of human activity, and I believe that we are mortgaging our children's futures unless we started addressing this issue.
This is a very modest proposal. It basically allows a trading of greenhouse gas emissions that are -- by the industries that are responsible for it, and puts a very mild cap on it. The National Academy of Sciences says that it's real, and so does the large body of scientific opinion. It took seven years to get campaign finance reform. We will win on climate change. This country will, sooner or later, seriously address the issue of climate change.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is Senator McCain somehow suggesting that the CIA alone is responsible for the misinformation leading to the war, and the president had nothing to do with it?
HUNT: Mark, he's certainly critical of the intelligence pre-war, but he also said the ends do not justify the means, and I think he's increasingly critical of the way the administration is refusing to go along with any kind of investigation of what happened. And also, Senator McCain, who was a devout supporter of this war, still is, is very critical of the administration for what he thinks is I think deception in the post-war period.
NOVAK: Well, that isn't what he said, Al. And I know that you're very disappointed because you fell in love with him as a liberal in the 2000 campaign, because he said we're winning the war, the blame, he didn't put any blame on the president on this, he put it on the intelligence community, and he took a very positive position.
The only thing that should make you happy is that he bought into this nonsense on global warming.
O'BEIRNE: I'm pleased that Al is still talking to John McCain. I know that he's less popular with the media now that he strongly supports the president on Iraq, and he certainly seemed to be saying there that he does not accuse the White House, thinks that's nonsense, that the White House hyped the intelligence. And he says, John McCain says we are safer than we were on 9/11, we have a long way to go. That's what President Bush and Don Rumsfeld say.
SHIELDS: Oh, OK.
CARLSON: But the president is not critical of our -- of our progress post-war Iraq, and John McCain is. I just hope he never becomes a cabinet member, in that the Senate needs John McCain there as a countervailing force on all of these things.
CARLSON: Including global warming.
HUNT: Before Bob goes to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), he gets a chance to watch the tape because he obviously missed it the first time.
SHIELDS: I like John McCain because he's a man of faith.
Coming up in THE CAPITAL GANG Classic, the Supreme Court overturns a ban on partial birth abortion.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a five to four vote, declared unconstitutional statutes of 31 states that banned partial birth abortions. CAPITAL GANG discussed this on July 1, the year 2000. Our guest was Senate Democratic whip Harry Reid of Nevada.
NOVAK: This is like the Dred Scott decision. This is an outrageous decision, that is -- that took whole the abortion lobby's arguments and just put them into a legal opinion of the Supreme Court.
HUNT: Seven of the nine justices made quite clear that they would support any ban on this offensive late-term abortion procedure, partial birth abortion, if it limited to that and did not, as Nebraska law did, also jeopardize other. Seven of the justices made clear of that. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and protect the health of the woman. Now, you can get that victory or you can have the issue.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: No matter how you feel about the issue, the courts ruled and we're stuck with that. If we're looking at helping women, we shall go and look at (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Pay equity is something we need to worry about. I think we have to look at minimum wage.
O'BEIRNE: But (UNINTELLIGIBLE) abortionist. An abortionist himself decides, what is the safest way to kill this baby. So the only remedy is to have justices, who will recognize everybody who defends Roe v. Wade now, you've go to defend this brutal procedure. I think that's a problem for defendants of Roe v. Wade.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, wasn't Kate O'Beirne correct that the court was saying the abortion doctor is the sole judge of what technique is acceptable? HUNT: No, not quite. And also, if the choice is the state or a doctor and a woman, I would take the doctor and a woman in most cases. I also must say that it's been three and a half years since that decision and I haven't heard anyone since then, Bob, talk about Stephen Breyer in the same breath as Roger Taney of the Dred Scott decision.
NOVAK: Well, you don't deal with the same people I deal with, Al...
HUNT: That's true.
NOVAK: ... because I have heard people talk about him in worse terms. In fact, Roger Taney, sometimes people think he's having a bit of a recovery and a comeback, but as a matter of fact, it was a terrible decision, and maybe Sandra Day O'Connor would somehow see the light. And it was her vote that changed it.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, you didn't have anything to say on that show.
CARLSON: I was talking to the TV at home.
CARLSON: To get around Justice O'Connor, the Senate put a finding into the bill that partial birth abortion is never necessary to save the health of the mother, in hopes that that would do it. I don't know if it will or not. But they're cognizant of it.
O'BEIRNE: But if you want to trust doctors, as Al dose, it's the AMA's opinion. The AMA has said that this procedure, brutal procedure is never medically necessary. And the notion that the Constitution guarantees the right to kill a premature infant within inches of being fully born is a total outrage.
SHIELDS: OK, last word, Kate O'Beirne. Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the Mississippi governor's race with political reporter Patrice Sawyer.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, seeking a second term as a governor of Mississippi, attacked the record of his opponent, former Republican National Chairman Haley Barbour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COMMERCIAL)
NARRATOR: Washington lobbyist Haley Barbour helped Mexico steal Mississippi jobs, and tobacco companies poison our kids. And Washington lobbyist Haley Barbour worked for giant drug companies to stop prescription drug coverage for Mississippi seniors.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COMMERCIAL) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two years ago, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Haley Barbour was instrumental in securing the funding for research and development at the University (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Center. Those funds saved my life.
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SHIELDS: The candidates traded attacks at close range in a debate this week.
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HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISS. GOV. CANDIDATE: Somebody accused you of poisoning our children, you make the argument too, something that is that outrageous and is so far beyond the line...
GOV. RONNIE MUSGROVE (D), MISSISSIPPI: But it's in bounds, it's absolutely the truth, and it's Haley Barbour's public record.
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SHIELDS: Joining us now from Jackson, Mississippi is Patrice Sawyer, capital reporter for "The Clarion Ledger." Thank you for coming in, Patrice.
PATRICE SAWYER, THE CLARION LEDGER: Thank you.
SHIELDS: Thank you. What is the political fallout from Governor Musgrove's charge that Haley Barbour, among other things, has poisoned children and has supported advocacy of the tobacco companies?
SAWYER: I think it just added to voters' royal (ph) disgust with the negative campaigning that has taken place in the course of this election. I don't think they'd view it as anymore negative than any of the other ads both camps have put out.
NOVAK: Patrice, where is the sense there, with 10 days to go before the election, is it considered a toss-up, is it considered that one or the other of them have the edge?
SAWYER: I think Mr. Barbour himself has stated recently that he wished the election were held today, because he has, I guess according to his own polls, a slight edge over Governor Musgrove, and it is expected to be a very close race.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.
CARLSON: Patrice, Haley Barbour has done certain things that suggest he's writing off the African-American vote. He's on a white supremacist's Web site, he hasn't taken his picture off of it. He wears a Mississippi flag pin on his suit. And he's trying to link Ronnie Musgrove with the lieutenant governor's campaign, when they're not at all linked, and she's an African-America. Does he write that vote off?
SAWYER: No, I think he very much wants to get the vote of the African-American community in Mississippi. In fact, he stated early on in this campaign that he hopes to get more of the African-American vote than any Republican governor has ever received.
However, he seems to be sending mixed messages in some of those allegations that you pointed out.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.
O'BEIRNE: Patrice, Mississippi has been ranked just behind California for being in some real fiscal trouble. Any sign in Mississippi of California-like anger about the state's budget deficit or lost jobs?
SAWYER: I don't think so. I think jobs is an important issue in this campaign. In Mississippi, education is a major issue as well. I think there is some sentiment out there, there is some concern about the state of the budget, but it's not nearly to the scope of what had happened in California.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt.
HUNT: Patrice, let me pick up on -- follow up, rather, on Margaret's question. Former Governor William Winter, a Democrat, has accused Haley Barbour of playing the race card. There's a Barbour ad that links Musgrove to the Confederate emblem on the Mississippi state flag, which Democrats charge is a code word. Do you think that Haley Barbour can successfully play the race card in 2003, or is there any danger of that backfiring?
SAWYER: I think that he may have some success with energizing some of those voters who are very much in support of keeping the state flag, but being that the race is so close I don't think it's nearly enough. That state flag referendum passed by a two-to-one margin, and if he's trying to build on that coalition that fought against changing the state's flag, it's not doing as well as maybe it hopes.
SHIELDS: Patrice, in the national presidential race, the primaries, we've seen a decided anti-Washington sentiment sort of galvanizing among primary voters, sort of reflected in the outside candidacies of Howard Dean and Wes Clark. Is there any of that anti- Washington backlash toward Haley Barbour, for having been a longtime Washington lobbyist and major political player in Washington?
SAWYER: In Mississippi, President Bush is extremely popular. In fact, the state hasn't elected a Democratic president since Jimmy Carter. So by him linking himself with President Bush and other national Republicans, it helps with his core base of support, so I don't think that's as much of an issue here in Mississippi.
SHIELDS: OK. Bob Novak.
NOVAK: Of course, the Republicans who have been winning in this state for president, for senator, have been doing it by getting phenomenal totals with the white vote. How much of the white vote does Governor Musgrove have to get, do you think to be reelected? SAWYER: I think he has to get a sizable amount of white vote, which is, you know, part of the issue here, being a Democrat in Mississippi, in a state that's gradually turning more Republican, he has to get a significant amount of the white vote in order to be successful.
NOVAK: How much would you say? Can you make a percentage on that?
SAWYER: At least 2 to 3 -- at least two out of four white voters he needs to get.
CARLSON: Patrice, when you read about the debate, it sounds like it was just very -- that Haley Barbour was very aggressive, saying to Musgrove, Ronnie Musgrove, "look at me when you say that." Was it like that, or did it just read that way?
SAWYER: It was a very heated exchange. I think it occurred in the third debate. The same day they air -- the same day the commercial aired about accusing Haley Barbour of poisoning our children. He made a statement at the end of that debate, completely bashing Musgrove for even airing that ad. So he was very upset about it.
SHIELDS: OK. Patrice, I thank you so much for joining us. THE GANG will be back with "The Outrages of the Week."
SHIELDS: Now for "The Outrage of the Week." Before sending young Americans into combat, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton, urged Americans to answer whether they were, quote, "prepared for the sight of our most precious resource coming home in flag-draped caskets into Dover Air Force Base in Delaware," end quote.
Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton made that emotional trip to Dover to comfort the grieving families. But the Bush administration ducks the Dover test, by banning all press coverage of any of the 341 flag-draped caskets that have arrived from Iraq at Dover Air Force Base. It's called denial.
NOVAK: For the fifth straight year, U.S. senators voted to increase their own pay. Don't be taken in by the claim that the new $158,000 annual salary merely compensates for inflation. Cost of living increases over the last 40 years would have required only $140,000 to keep up, and this does not count immense fringe benefits, including bountiful health care and pensions.
Only 34 senators out 100, 20 Republicans, 14 Democrats, voted against feathering their own nest. They belong on an honor roll.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson. CARLSON: Mark, at first blush, a trust fund to compensate asbestos victims looks like a good idea. Quick compensation to the grievously injured and certainty to companies, until you see that it's the Bush administration's way to stiff workers and enrich corporations.
The perpetrators, not labor or employees, decide how much to put in. For instance, Halliburton has been charged with $4.2 billion in liability, but only has to pay $500,000 into the fund. That's a $3.6 billion windfall. Almost as lucrative a deal as Halliburton's no-bid contract in Iraq.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.
O'BEIRNE: California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown's nomination for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is opposed by liberal interest groups, including the Congressional Black Caucus. Brown is the daughter of sharecroppers who went to segregated schools in Alabama. She's the first African-American woman to serve on California's highest court, and got 76 percent of the vote in her last election.
Brown is the victim of racial profiling by liberals. It's clear that only black liberals need apply.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt.
HUNT: Mark, when I'm in southern Maryland, I love to shop at Wal-Mart. Customer service is exceptional at America's most profitable retailer. But we've learned recently that Wal-Mart doesn't provide adequate health care for many of its employees, and according to the government is knowingly hiring cheap illegal immigrants to maximize its profits. A great business success, Wal-Mart apparently needs to learn there's more to good citizenship than just the bottom line.
SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields, saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG. Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS," "A Flyboy's Story," George Herbert Walker Bush in World War II. At 9:00 p.m., "LARRY KING LIVE," Barbara Bush. And at 10:00 p.m., a look back at the volatile events of this week's sniper trial and the new twists expected ahead. Thank you for joining us.
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