The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


Democrats Memo Proposes To Take Political Advantage Of War In Iraq; Howard Dean's Comment About "Poor White Southerners" Puts Him In Hot Water; Republicans Gain Governorship Of Kentucky, Mississippi

Aired November 9, 2003 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.
MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson. Our guest is Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Good to have you back here, Richard.


SHIELDS: This week began and ended with U.S. helicopters shot down in Iraq with heavy loss of American life, bringing United States military deaths by hostile fire since the end of the conventional war to 155.

In Washington, Republicans revealed a staff memo to Senate Intelligence Committee Democratic Vice Chairman Jay Rockefeller, proposing a strategy, quote, "we can pull the trigger on an independent investigation of the administration's use of intelligence at any time. The best time to do so will probably be next year," end quote.


SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: We see this memorandum that outlines a political plan of attack in the Intelligence Committee.

SEN. JOHN ROCKEFELLER (D-WV), SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's very serious when that's leaked directly to the press, a private, internal memo only to me.


SHIELDS: President Bush and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona spoke out on Iraq.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) would embolden terrorists around the world. It increased dangers to the American people.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: In Iraq, we too often appear to be playing defense. The simple truth is that we do not have sufficient forces in Iraq to meet our military objectives.


SHIELDS: Margaret, is there in fact political advantage in the Iraq situation for the Democrats?

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Well, there is danger for the president, which could translate into advantage for Democrats. On the memo, it was not for publication. It may have only been a draft to Senator Rockefeller. He would not have made it public, and he would not have followed it, most likely. I mean, if it's on his hard drive and it leaks, I mean, I wouldn't want anybody to look at what's on my hard drive, and I wouldn't want to see what's on Bob Novak's hard drive.


CARLSON: But it wasn't for publication. But the other -- the other thing is that the economy may get better, and you know, the 7.2 economic growth, 126,000 jobs, maybe the two million that Bush promised will get created. But Bush in not wanting to make the mistake of his father on the economy, just not getting it, maybe making that mistake on Iraq, because he does not seem to acknowledge the loss of life and the terrible risks that the country continues to endure. He says every time something goes wrong, he said, oh, see how the progress we're making makes the other side so desperate.

SHIELDS: Is that the case, Bob Novak?

ROBERT NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: I am shocked, shocked by you, Margaret.


NOVAK: The same -- that it was terrible to leak that. That was a wonderful little glimpse into what we all know the Democrats are doing. And what it is there was a genuine nonpartisanship for years on the Intelligence Committee, and it has been broken under Jay Rockefeller. We just got that little piece there, and I am really surprised at Senator Rockefeller, coming out and saying, gee, isn't that terrible that this was leaked. And you're playing along with the same thing. Instead of defending it, or better still, attacking the staffer for putting it in there.

I think the Democrats are on a very sticky slope -- slippery slope I should say, when they are talking about using this war for their political benefit.

SHIELDS: I think in 1952, if I'm not mistaken, Dwight Eisenhower got elected president because of the stalemate and the quagmire in Korea. In 1968, Richard Nixon was helped enormously by the quagmire that was Vietnam. Fifty-four percent this week in the "USA"-CNN Gallup poll, which we didn't show here, 54 percent disapprove of the president's handling of Iraq.

SHELBY: Well, I believe that we can't cut and run. We've got to stay the course. I would like for things to be moving along a little faster and people taking control of the ground, everyone would, and I hate to see bodies coming back, like every American. And I know the president shares that. But I believe that -- also believe that we will take control of the ground, and we have to. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has assured us of that, and I'm on the Defense Appropriations Committee, I follow it. And I can tell you I believe it's not going to be an issue like the Democrats would like it to be.

SHIELDS: Al, one of the things John McCain did say in that speech, which wasn't included in our excerpt, and that is he rejects the analogy to Vietnam. He does say that lack of candor was the hallmark in both cases, and he sees lack of candor on the part of his own administration.

HUNT: Well, I think this would only be an advantage to Democrats if the current policies persist, because they are getting -- it's getting worse and worse and worse, I'm afraid, Dick. And I think both John McCain and Wes Clark, coming from different perspectives this week, laid out a much better alternative. You first of all have to try to give the Iraqis a better stake. In the short term, we need more forces over there. And we have to try to internationalize it, so much so America is not the great target. Whether it's through NATO or someplace else.

As for the memo, Bob, I happen to agree with you versus Margaret on the leaked memo. So what? Your memos are leaked all the time. They ought to leak, I don't mind. Jay Rockefeller's reaction is kind of silly. There are thousands of memos like that, I assure you, their Republican counterpart. The idea that this is just a Democratic problem is nonsense.

And the efforts of Lott and others to make a big deal about this little piddling thing is to try to really distract attention from big issues. Dick Cheney has said on the eve of war that Iraq has reconstituted nuclear weapons. That was untrue. President Bush said they were trying to get nuclear materials from Niger. That was untrue. Paul Wolfowitz said that Iraqi oil would pay for reconstruction. That was untrue. Don Rumsfeld savaged General Shinseki. That was untrue. Was this intelligence failures or were they deceiving us? That's the real question.

NOVAK: You know very well how much the Democrats want to use this issue. And...

HUNT: As Republicans do, too.

NOVAK: And I'll tell you this, Mark, as your hero, Senator McCain said, you can't compare this to Vietnam. If you were doing -- we don't have to -- we don't have 50,000 deaths here as we did in Vietnam or in Korea. And I'll tell you one similarity from Vietnam is that the -- that the answer by President Johnson continuously was, send more troops in, and we'll win this war. I don't know -- I think the experts in Iraq disagree with Senator McCain that more troops are needed.

SHIELDS: I don't know who the experts are, but John McCain did call for more troops.


SHIELDS: McCain did call for more troops, and if we're talking about expert voices, we have two. We have the president of the United States saying, "bring 'em on," and we have Senator Lott, one of the really great military figures of our time, saying if we have to we'll just mow the whole place down and see what happens. Now, there is a great piece of advice.

SHELBY: Well, I didn't hear that until you spoke it right then, but I believe that we've got to leave it to our leaders over there, and I think we will. And I don't believe a year from now that will be the issue of the day.

SHIELDS: You don't think Iraq will be the issue?

NOVAK: Do you know of any general over there who says, please send us more troops, do you?


NOVAK: Yeah.

SHIELDS: I don't know what General Abizaid is saying...

HUNT: Bob, they're sure as heck not going to go public is they did because Rumsfeld is, as he showed with General Shinseki, who he savaged maliciously and Shinseki has been proven right, so there is not a message over there to be candid and say we need more troops.

NOVAK: That was -- if they wanted more troops, then one of the greatest leaky places in America is the Pentagon. It would be leaked if they wanted more troops.

CARLSON: We definitely wanted more international help.


SHIELDS: We wanted more Turkish troops. We want more Turkish troops as of this week...


HUNT: Bob, I hope this wonderful rosy scenario you painted (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I hope that's right.

NOVAK: Wait a minute, wait a minute...

HUNT: I just...


NOVAK: Wait a minute, what rosy scenario did I paint?

HUNT: The one you just did.

NOVAK: I didn't paint any rosy scenarios. HUNT: Yes, you did.

NOVAK: I'm just giving you some facts, unlike the rest of the people around here.

HUNT: Well, I thought it was very rosy, Bob.

CARLSON: There may be not be 50,000 dead, but the president has not acknowledged sufficiently, the way Rumsfeld did in that memo, just how serious it is and just how tragic those deaths are.

SHELBY: I think every death is tragic.

SHIELDS: Last word, Richard Shelby. And Richard Shelby and THE GANG will be back with Howard Dean's flag flap.

ANNOUNCER: Here is your CAPITAL GANG trivia question of the week: Prior to heading the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Richard Shelby served as the top Republican on which other Senate committee? Was it A, Finance; B, Governmental Affairs; or C, Select Intelligence. We'll have the answer right after the break.


ANNOUNCER: Before the break, we asked, prior to heading the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Richard Shelby served as the top Republican on which other Senate committee? The answer is C, Select Intelligence.

SHIELDS: Welcome back. During CNN's Democratic presidential debate in Boston, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean was hit for appealing to people who display Confederate flag decals on their pickup trucks.


REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think you're a bigot, but I think that is insensitive, and I thing you ought to apologize to people for that.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I make no apologies for reaching out to poor white people.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me tell you the last thing we need in the South, is somebody like you coming down and telling us what we need to do.


SHIELDS: The next morning, Governor Dean changed his position.


DEAN: That was a painful reference for a number of people, and I regret that and I apologize for it.


SHIELDS: Later, Dean was endorsed by the Service Employees International Union, and today he rejected public financing for his presidential campaign.


DEAN: The unabashed actions of this president to undercut our democratic process, with floods of special interests money, has forced us to abandon a broken a system.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, has the Dean campaign hit a bump on this flag issue?

HUNT: Mark, I think the endorsement of the Service Employees Union, the largest union in the country is much more important. It's going to be followed (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by AFSCME. Six months ago, I don't think any of us thought that Howard Dean would be the nominee. Now, if he wins the Iowa caucuses, he may indeed be unstoppable.

I think what the flag issue does, though, is it raises, if you'll pardon the pun, a red flag for Dean in the general election. This is a guy who sometimes doesn't get nuances, just as he shouldn't have said we wanted an even-handed approach to the Middle East. There was a way to express that sentiment in a different way. He shouldn't have raised the Confederate flag issue, he should've said it in a different way. And he's awfully smart, but he's terribly stubborn, and sometimes too arrogant to quickly admit his mistakes.

He's right on the issue. Democrats need to appeal to these voters on economic grounds rather than race grounds, but he expressed it terribly.

SHIELDS: Richard Shelby, what Dean said was, "white folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals ought to be voting with us because their kids don't have health insurance either and their kids need better schools, too." Is there anything wrong with that?

SHELBY: Well, first of all, Howard Dean, he's been on a roll with the Democrats, but he doesn't know a lot about the South. He's trying to stereotype everyone in the South, it seems, that they drive a pickup truck and they have a Confederate flag. That's a long way. What he did, he tripped on his tongue and he picked up a piece of dynamite, political dynamite leaving with this.

The truth of the matter is, he's got a mountain to climb in the South. If he is the nominee, or any Democratic nominee. The Southern states, I believe, are again going to go for George W. Bush.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: This is political correctness gone mad. I mean, to take a national debate and spend so much time debating the whole question of the Confederate flag. It was a wrong -- and the other thing is, I was in Mississippi last week. I didn't see any flag decals on the road, I think. I used to see a lot of them in the '60s, I haven't seen any in many years. And what he should have said is we're trying to get the votes of the people who had gun racks, but that would get him in trouble with John Kerry on the NRA. So it's just terrible political correctness, that -- I agree with Al, I hate to tell you, Al...

HUNT: It's OK.

NOVAK: ... that the labor union endorsement is in the real world trumps all this nonsense about the Confederate flag.

SHELBY: But only for the Democratic...

NOVAK: For the nomination, right.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when a Northeastern liberal says it, it sounds snooty, and it's why the Democrats would benefit from having a Southerner, and that's why Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton succeeded, that they can speak to that group of people in the South that don't like elite Northeasterners.

You know, Dean did another thing this week which shows he's a little bit tone-deaf. In taking the campaign money and deciding that he doesn't want matching funds, he's violating his promise of a few months ago in which he said he wouldn't do that, and any Democrat that did that, it would be a huge issue. And it shouldn't be done.

And he should acknowledge that that's the case, instead of saying he's just surprised that Bush raised $200 million. He had no idea this could happen. Well, he's the only person in America who didn't think that would happen.

SHIELDS: I will say this, I think there was a purpose, I think it was organized. I know that Dick Gephardt and John Kerry and John Edwards, all -- their campaigns stuck together, they were joined by Al Sharpton. They were trying to deprive Governor Dean of the Service Employees International Union endorsement. What they were trying to do is to suggest that this guy perhaps would have trouble with black voters on this issue, on the Confederate flag issue. Service Employees International Union is only 57 percent white. It's 56 percent women. It's the most diverse union, the fastest growing union, biggest union in the AFL-CIO, biggest union in New Hampshire.

That's what was at work here. He was -- he did stumble, but they didn't prevail, and it gives his campaign an entire sense of diversity which he didn't have before. It's tough to accuse him of being a Volvo-driving, Chardonnay-sipping, "Masterpiece Theater"-watching liberal when he's got the Service Employees International Union funds (ph).

CARLSON: It gives him a ground gain in Iowa, which is crucial if he's going to beat Gephardt... SHIELDS: Well, AFSCME gives him a better ground gain. I mean, AFSCME is the biggest union in Iowa, and I think that's probably...

SHELBY: Probably takes some things away from Gephardt, wouldn't you think?

SHIELDS: I don't think Gephardt expected to get either of these two endorsements, because (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

NOVAK: I have to say something real quick, when -- and maybe you can explain it to me, you understand things like this...

SHIELDS: Sure. Yes, I do, Bob, yeah.

NOVAK: George Bush gets all these $1,000 and $2,000 contributions. They're special interests. But when Howard Dean gets them, it's a mass donation from the public. How is that -- how is that...

CARLSON: He doesn't get those, and he doesn't get big bungles of checks, which is what Republicans do.

NOVAK: Yes, he does.

SHELBY: Let me tell you what George W. Bush in Alabama, my home state, this past Monday. I bet you that over 95 percent of the checks were individual checks. A lot of people have no ax to grind, lobby for nothing, they're just supporting the Republican president.

HUNT: I'm going to educate Bob on that. Bob, what I want you to do this weekend, you just look at the size of the average contribution to George Bush and then look at the size of the average contribution to Howard Dean...

NOVAK: How about the number of contributions to the Republican Party are more diverse than those...


SHIELDS: I know more on the subject and I'm going to explain it to you, OK? Howard Dean has more contributors than George Bush. Howard Dean will have about four times as much match...


NOVAK: That's not special interests...

SHIELDS: $250 or less? I don't know.

NOVAK: Well, it's not special interests if you -- can I ask you a question?


NOVAK: That's not special interests. That's what my question is, when you have the damn left-wing labor unions pouring the money into him, that's not special interests?

SHIELDS: They're not pouring the money in, Bob. They can only give him $5,000. You know that, for goodness' sakes.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, what is the meaning of Republican gubernatorial victories this week? We'll ask Bob.



GOVERNOR-ELECT HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISSISSIPPI: Yes, we had a successful bipartisan, biracial campaign. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). My job is to be governor for all Mississippians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We campaigned on bringing new faces to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), new people of rock-solid value. People who had a history and reputation of getting things done.


SHIELDS: In Mississippi, former Republican National Chairman Haley Barbour defeated the Democratic incumbent governor. And in Kentucky, Congressman Ernie Fletcher became the first Republican elected governor in 36 years. Republicans retained of Virginia legislature, but in New Jersey Democrats broke a tie for control of the state senate.

And Democrat John Street was reelected mayor of Philadelphia.

Bob Novak, what are the off-year election signals? What should we know from last Tuesday?

NOVAK: The South is solid for the Republicans. Actually, Governor Musgrove, Democratic governor of Mississippi, did about as well as he did four years ago, but there was a huge turnout of white suburban voters. Not the rural voters, not the old-timers. There was a huge -- from the Memphis area, and the Jackson area are very big vote, and in Kentucky, where they ran against Ernie Fletcher against the Bush economic policy, it didn't work at all, because the economy is getting better. So I think this was very bad news for the Democrats.

SHIELDS: Richard.

SHELBY: It was a great week for the Republicans. Kentucky and Mississippi. And we've got to look to next Saturday, what's going to happen in Louisiana.

SHIELDS: Al, what does that mean about 2004?

HUNT: Very little. Almost nothing. Red states are redder, blue states are bluer. Mississippi and Kentucky would be off the boards even in a close race for the Democrats. They don't count on either one of those states. But I will say this, 12 years ago almost to the day, Harris Whafford (ph) won a special election in Pennsylvania, which was considered a harbinger for the presidential election a year later. There were no such harbingers this year.

SHIELDS: Harbingers for the special election for next year, because the issue of health care emerged from that race, right?

HUNT: It showed the weakness of the Bush administration.

CARLSON: No big issue emerged from this. Democrats tried to say it was anti-incumbent, that's the best light you can put on it. You know, the Democrats are going to have to give up the stereotype of the pickup truck and the gun rack and the inflammable Confederate flag if they're going to get back the South in any way, because it is a much more diverse group than that would have it, and they're not going to win without some of the South or at least the border states.

SHELBY: Next year, the Republicans are going to have a great opportunity in the South. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and maybe Louisiana. All Senate seats. Maybe.

SHIELDS: Maybe Louisiana? Do you know something we don't know?

SHELBY: No, we just hear a lot of rumors, but we've been hearing John Breaux is going to retire. Since I've know him -- he'll tell us if he is.

SHIELDS: I thought Billy Tauzin was the only retirement in Louisiana this year.

NOVAK: Margaret, you can't believe that there is any real chance for the Democrats in the South in the presidential race next year when Haley Barbour running against a guy who called himself a conservative gets well over 70 percent of the white vote. I mean, the Democrats are just out of luck in the South.

CARLSON: Well, he outspent him three to one.

NOVAK: No, he didn't outspend him three to one. That's nonsense.

CARLSON: Yes, he did.


HUNT: Kentucky is not on the Democratic priority list.

NOVAK: I agree with you, but she said -- she said that there's some chances of how to get back in the South. They're not going to get back in the South.

CARLSON: Well, Bill Clinton got back some of the South, and Jimmy Carter...


SHELBY: I believe this just confirms that the Republicans have really grown in the South, and we're going to continue to do that in the future. SHIELDS: Richard...

SHELBY: Thank you.

SHIELDS: Thank you very much for being with us.

THE CAPITAL GANG will be back. Coming up in the second half of CAPITAL GANG, Robert Novak is "On the Beat" in California. Always (ph) here, but he's on the beat. He's reporting on the Schwarzenegger transition. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the Louisiana race for governor, with Louisiana political writer John Maginnis. And our "Outrages of the Week." That's all after these latest news headlines.



SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson.

Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is about to take the oath as governor of California on November 17. Bob Novak was reporting in California. Bob.

NOVAK: Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his fast trip from Hollywood to Sacramento never spelled out what kind of governor he would be. I spent several days in California this week trying to find out.


NOVAK (voice-over): The first order of business would be repealing two acts that led to Democrat Gray Davis' removal as governor -- increasing the car tax and permitting illegal aliens to get driver's licenses. The Democratic-controlled legislature will vote repeal.

More revealing are Governor-elect Schwarzenegger's first appointments. The most important was selection as finance director of Donna Arduin, Florida Governor Jeb Bush's budget director, a budget cutter and a tax cutter.

Next, the governor-elect surprised everybody by naming former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan as secretary of education. He is certainly no conservative, but he is a bitter enemy of the California Teachers Association.

Schwarzenegger has named a former Reagan presidential staffer as cabinet secretary, and a Republican Orange County farmer as secretary of agriculture.

However, he is naming an environmental activist as secretary of environmental protection.


NOVAK: So the Terminator will govern from center right on fiscal policy, center left on the environment. That's no Reagan revolution, but it's a long way from Gray Davis.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is Arnold Schwarzenegger off to a good start?

HUNT: Yes, Mark, I think he is off to a good start. I happen to think the Riordan appointment is a terrific appointment. You just might be upset that this guy is not an ideologue and he cares about kids. Most of the other appointments are people with real experience in governance.

I am delighted, Bob, that he has someone with great compassion like Bonnie Reese (ph) at his right hand, longtime Arnold aide.

But I think the formulation of left/right is a little bit difficult, because sometimes they really are joined together. I think when you come to issues like education, and health, and mental health and police protection, you know, there are a lot of tough decisions ahead.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: You know, most of those people are strangers to him, because he is a stranger to government, except for Bonnie Reese (ph), who worked for uncle Ted Kennedy, and I think that's a good sign, in that she can reach out to all those groups and keep Maria Shriver in the mix, who, by the way, I think was totally instrumental in his election.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, seeing him with John Burton, the legendary Democratic leader of the state senate, I mean, how is that relationship working out?

NOVAK: Well, we did a mixed judgment on it.

SHIELDS: He was not close to Gray Davis.

NOVAK: No, he was not. John Burton, of course, is part of the whole problem in California. As his epitaph, he is in his last year because of term limits, he passed an employer mandate on health care, which is really bad for business in California, and he complained to one Republican that I know that he didn't like the idea of Schwarzenegger getting between the legislature and the public, as he said he's going to on using the initiative process in the primary next year to get some limits on spending and maybe some bond issues.

But Margaret, let me tell you, Bonnie Reese (ph) aside, this looks like -- on fiscal policy, not environment -- this looks like a much more Republican administration than a lot of Republicans had even hoped for.

CARLSON: Well, Riordan is awfully moderate.

SHIELDS: That's true. And I would say health care generally when does arrive is mandated, Bob. That's been my experience. It's very rate that voluntarily a major employer will say, I am going to get health insurance. NOVAK: Well, that's a horrible thing for the government to tell people exactly how they're supposed to spend their money. I mean, that's the whole liberal mind, is a dictatorship, is you tell people, you've got to spend so much money on health care, and I think that is really almost un-American.

SHIELDS: How about minimum wage, Bob? Same thing?

HUNT: You know, Mark, it's also interesting, though, if you read -- I've just read Lou Cannon's (ph) book on Ronald Reagan, who came in with a far more conservative cabinet, and yet that first year Ronald Reagan bowed to the realities of governance and did a lot of things which the right wing didn't like that really paved the way for his very successful governorship.

NOVAK: But I would say that the most important appointment that he (AUDIO GAP) a budget cutter and a tax cutter, and that's really important. And as far as Riordan goes, the CTA, California Teachers Association, member of his transition team, of Schwarzenegger's transition team, resigned in protest over the Riordan appointment, so he is not squishy soft on the teachers union.

HUNT: No, but he may be good for education, which is what really matters.

CARLSON: When the bond rating is going to go down from borrowing more money, we'll see how much of a tax cutter Arnold Schwarzenegger turns out to be.

SHIELDS: Well, he's got to somehow come up with a way to figure out what is going to happen. That car tax, I mean, once you repeal that, where are you going to get the money and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

NOVAK: You're going to have cuts. See, that's the whole thing. Is he going to have spending cuts as they've had in Alabama and other places, or is he going to go the way they've gone in Ohio and just say, gee, we'll let the bureaucrats go wild and we'll just raise taxes.

HUNT: Alabama is savaging things like mental health. I don't think Arnold will do that.


HUNT: That's a family trait. They really care about issues like that.

SHIELDS: Last word, Al Hunt. Coming up, THE CAPITAL GANG Classic. John McCain's 2000 change of pace and flip-flop on the Confederate flag.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. During the heated 2000 Republican presidential primary campaign in South Carolina, Senator John McCain did not engage in the dispute over the flying of the Confederate flag over the state capitol, but more than two months later, he did take a stance.


MCCAIN: I believe the flag should be removed from your capitol. I should have done this earlier, when an honest answer could have affected me personally.


SHIELDS: Your CAPITAL GANG discussed this on April 22, 2000. Our guest was former United States senator, Dale Bumpers, Democrat of Arkansas.


HUNT: I find it refreshing that a politician not only says I was wrong, but I did for politically motivated reasons.

NOVAK: It's too late, John. It's too late, after the election is over, after you have run, after you've been defeated, to go down there in a self-indulgent trip.

SHIELDS: I think any time somebody has the guts to say I was wrong -- it was the only scripted answer he had in the whole campaign, he was uncomfortable every time he ready it, and he admits that he was wrong.

O'BEIRNE: "The New York Times" announced it was a great display of political courage, belatedly but powerfully, the senator, you know, met our expectations.

DALE BUMPERS: I think he had to do it. I think it was eating his heart out. Now, the question is, you know, what if he had carried South Carolina? Or what if he had been the nominee by 15 delegates? Would he have made the same admission? That's a different thing.


SHIELDS: Bob, how would you compare John McCain's apology in 2000 to Howard Dean's three years later?

NOVAK: Of course, there are obvious differences. As Dale Bumpers said, there was no risk for McCain. He was out of it by that time. But the similarity of it is, both McCain and Howard Dean were suffocated by political correctness.

SHIELDS: Political correctness, Al?

HUNT: Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery in this country, and John McCain is the most authentic politician of our age.

CARLSON: It remains an awful reminder of that period of time. Howard Dean should watch that tape in a continuous loop to see how to apologize, because John McCain did it well.

SHIELDS: Has Texas Governor George W. Bush taken a position on the flag?

NOVAK: Texas Governor George W. Bush?

SHIELDS: When he was the nominee, did he take a position...

NOVAK: I don't think he -- I think the Confederate flag is still -- it's not a symbol of hatred, it's not a symbol of slavery. It's a symbol of a Southern tradition. A lot of Yankees have immigrated to the South, and a lot of old Southerners who have Confederate ancestors still like the Confederate flag.

HUNT: Wait, as someone who was born in the South, you've never lived a day of your life in the South. My grandmother was a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy, she worshipped Robert E. Lee. The whole cause of the Confederacy, as noble as the warriors were, the whole cause was slavery, and that cause was not noble, and it's an affront to African-Americans. And if you talk to some, you'd find that out, Bob Novak.

NOVAK: My great great grandchildren have -- my grandchildren have a great great great grandfather who died at Vicksburg, so don't give me that stuff...

HUNT: You've never lived a day of your life in the South.

NOVAK: I lived in Virginia.

SHIELDS: Is that it? That's it. Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the governor's race in the Bayou State, with John Maginnis of "The Louisiana Political Facts Weekly."


SHIELDS: Welcome back. This year's final election, the runoff for governor of Louisiana, will be held next Saturday. Republican Bobby Jindal, former president of the University of Louisiana system, faces the Democratic Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Blanco.


BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I am not a politician, but I am a problem solver, and Louisiana needs a problem solver.



NARRATOR: She's not a politician. She never was and never will be. She taught school, started a business, and raised six children, too.


SHIELDS: Since Republican Jindal was endorsed by the Democratic mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, this tracking poll by Market Research Institute shows a seven-point lead for Jindal over Blanco.

Joining us now from New Orleans is syndicated political columnist John Maginnis, publisher of the respected "Louisiana Political Facts Weekly." Thank you for coming in, John.


SHIELDS: John, did the New Orleans mayor's endorsement, which didn't mean much in the first runoff, give a certain momentum now to Republican Bobby Jindal?

MAGINNIS: Certainly it did. To start off the week, he gave him a good push, as much among white voters as among black voters, but particularly among the emerging black middle class that Mayor Nagin personifies. And it also sent out a signal to rank-and-file African- American voters. Most of them are going to vote for Kathleen Blanco, but this message and the endorsement by some other black leaders sends a message that Bobby Jindal is not really a threat to black voters in the way that David Duke was.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: What is the fact that Mr. Jindal is -- his -- his ethnic heritage is Indian, he's dark-skinned. What does that do with white voters in Louisiana and what does it do with black voters? Does it have any impact at all?

MAGINNIS: You know, it didn't really have the effect that a lot of people thought it would. There were predictions that Bobby Jindal would never get the so-called Bubba vote, but he carried some of the most conservative parishes in the primary.

I think in a way, it may have even been a plus for him, that and his age too, because it made him -- people paid attention to him, and wanted to say, listen to him. Conservatives liked what he said, and even a lot of more liberal people thought he would be a good government reformer, and gave him a pass on the social issues because there isn't really a whole lot that a governor can do about that.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Hey, John, given that the president went and campaigned in Mississippi and Kentucky, what are we to make of the fact that he hasn't gone in to campaign for Jindal, who actually worked in his administration?

MAGINNIS: Well, Bobby Jindal is not asking to. There was some concern down here after that U.S. Senate race last year, where there was so much involvement from Washington, negative ads and visits from the White House and other administration officials, caused a backlash among voters and probably helped Mary Landrieu to get elected. And I think Jindal and his advisers backed off for that reason, and probably worked to their benefit, because this issue over imported sugar from Central America has reared its ahead again in this election. The White House is negotiating to lift the tariffs on sugar, which would really wreck the Louisiana sugar industry, and it's causing a firestorm of protests here, so it's probably a good idea that the president not come walking into that. It probably wouldn't help Jindal if he did.


HUNT: John, Bobby Jindal stopped by my office a couple of months ago when he was in Washington. I've got to tell you, this was one of the most impressive young politicians I've ever seen in my life. He came across as a very moderately conservative sort of fellow. I read the accounts down there, and there are times he looks like more of a right-wing conservative. Do you see he would govern as a moderate conservative, or would he govern more to the right?

MAGINNIS: Well, he said he wouldn't push his social agenda. He adheres to the Catholic Church's position on abortion, of no abortions with no exceptions, but he said he wouldn't push that agenda. But he has been pretty outspoken on saying he wouldn't vote for any taxes, and Kathleen Blanco is almost as conservative as he is. She said she would only support tax increases as a very last resort.

It's an interesting election. They are the two most conservative candidates I've seen in a Louisiana runoff, mainly because the candidates that appealed more toward black voters split that vote, and we ended up with two conservatives.

SHIELDS: John, if Kathleen Blanco is to win, the Democratic formula historically has been, win at least 35 percent of the white vote and 90 percent of the African-American vote. How and from where does she get that 35 percent if she does get it?

MAGINNIS: Well, she is fairly conservative herself and she is pretty strong in Acadiana, and she's not that far off from the 35 percent mark. Her problem might be, even if she gets 85 or 90 percent of the black vote, there may not be that great of a turnout among African-American voters. And right now, there seems to be more excitement among Jindal supporters than there are among whites for Blanco or blacks too.

SHIELDS: OK. Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Louisiana had a Republican governor, Foster, for the last eight years. Is that a negative or a positive for Jindal? Has the governor done anything to help him, or is he standing back?

MAGINNIS: Well, the governor by endorsing him, gave him a good push out the door. I think Jindal handled his campaign from there. In the runoff, the governor had a few choice statements about Kathleen Blanco, saying her husband would probably be very powerful, so he -- you know, Bobby Jindal has been able to maintain a positive campaign, because he's had his friend, Governor Foster, out doing the hatchet work for him. And there is no coordination between the two, they say, and you can't coordinate Mike Foster. But he's been pretty effective on his own helping Jindal.

There is some people that don't like the association at all between Foster and Jindal. They think we've had enough of Mike Foster and don't want to see his favorite candidate win, but I think it did give Jindal a good support among the voters that he had to reach, those real conservative, rural conservative voters.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: John, given that David Duke made the runoff 12 years of, and how you have an Indian-American and a woman in the runoff, does this tell us anything about Louisiana?

MAGINNIS: Well, one thing I think it says that not all of David Duke's vote was race-based. A lot of it was a real conservative protest and a determination by some people not to vote for Edwin Edwards (ph). That said, I think it is significant that it's the first -- if Blanco is elected, she's be the first woman governor, and certainly Jindal, with his age -- but I think that this is a time when most people in Louisiana, they are focused on economic development and solving problems and they're less concerned about a person's background.


HUNT: John, one of the favorite guessing games in Washington is whether your senior senator, John Breaux, is going to run for reelection. Is he active in his campaign to try to help Ms. Blanco, and what role -- what does it tell us about next year for him?

MAGINNIS: Well, certainly John Breaux has always been a Democratic war horse, and he's helped every Democratic candidate. And he's been doing TV commercials for Kathleen Blanco, saying that she has the life experiences that she needs to be a governor, and he sent some of his aides down there to help here. So he is -- I don't know what that says about him or whether or not he'll run for office next year, but he's always been a loyal Democrat and a friend of Kathleen Blanco. He's doing the best for her now.

SHIELDS: John Maginnis, you are a terrific guest, and we're very grateful for you being with us. And we'll be back with "The Outrages of the Week."

MAGINNIS: Thank you.


SHIELDS: And now for "The Outrages of the Week." Now I understand why 200,000 United States veterans who are entitled by law to medical service were forced to wait from six months to more than two years to get so much as even an initial primary care appointment at the Veteran's Administration. The Bush Pentagon must have been running out of cash. Why? According to the General Accounting Office report, Pentagon credit cards were improperly used to buy 68,000 first class or business class airline tickets to high civilian appointees in the Defense Department who were not entitled to them, at the cost to taxpayers, including veterans, of $124 million. Happy Veteran's Day.

Bob Novak. NOVAK: CBS pulled a miniseries about Ronald and Nancy Reagan off its air, not because it was left-wing propaganda, but because of protests from conservatives. Let's review how the CBS suits performed. They permit the romance of the Reagans to be produced by Hollywood liberals who detest the former president and his wife and regard AIDS as America's number one issue. Forced to take it off CBS, the executives put it on their pay cable channel, Showtime. Pity the suckers who pay for Showtime under the illusion they were buying entertainment.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: More TV here. After Elizabeth Smart, whose parents could barely wait to get her a prime-time interview, has anyone been more exploited by the media than Jessica Lynch? First, the Pentagon hyped her capture, turning her into Rambo, and then over-dramatized her rescue. A writer and TV producers added a rape to her story, which she can't remember. Unlike Elizabeth Smart, who complained about not getting to play herself in the TV movie, Private Lynch has not gone Hollywood. Instead, she exposed the Pentagon and those producers for trying to make her into a marketable hero. For that, she is heroic.


HUNT: Mark, the Texas State Education Board, relying on a right- wing think tank, banned an acclaimed environmental book as too dangerous for Texas schoolchildren. The book said there is a consensus on global warming, which somehow is, quote, "anti- Christian." It advocated solar energy, which was, quote, "another form of flag-burning," end quote. And by noting that air travel's impact has an environmental cost, it makes, quote, "Osama bin Laden into a hero," end quote, because it discourages air travel.

I just hope these Texas school kids are protected from Galileo and his subversive notions that the Earth is not flat.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields, saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG. Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS": "Afghanistan on the Brink." At 9:00 p.m., "LARRY KING LIVE," country music star Wynonna Judd. And at 10:00 p.m., alpha women and how their marriages survive. Thank you for joining us.



In Iraq; Howard Dean's Comment About "Poor White Southerners" Puts Him In Hot Water; Republicans Gain Governorship Of Kentucky, Mississippi>

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.