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Dean Vs. Gephardt?

Aired November 25, 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: They aren't afraid to take on one another.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you're all over the lot on this issue.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he's a good guy, but his research folks need a little help.


ANNOUNCER: Will the Democratic race boil down to Dean vs. Gephardt?

Plus, we'll ask attorney Gloria Allred, should California take Michael Jackson's kids away?




ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Observers agree that presidential candidate Howard Dean is currently the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. But who will emerge as the anti-Dean alternative in the early primaries?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Well, it probably won't be a tired left-wing Washington insider who tried and failed to win the nomination in 1988. But, with the Democrats, you never know.

So we'll consider the possibility of Dean vs. Dick Gephardt right after this, the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Well, the good news is, it's been shaping up to be a terrible week for Democrats. First, the Republican-controlled Congress passed a Medicare bill that will dramatically and permanently increase the size and scope of the federal government. And if there's one thing Democrats don't care for, it's being beaten in the race to make government even more powerful and even less efficient.

Naturally, they hated the bill. And, as if that weren't enough, there's a second disaster. The economy improved. Numbers out today show the American economy grew at an amazing rate of 8.2 percent over the third quarter. That's the quickest pace since 1984. That's right, in nearly two decades, since Ronald Reagan was president.

This is good news for retailers, who are likely to have a very merry Christmas. And it's a welcome sign for the White House, which, all along, has argued the obvious, that tax cuts stimulate the economy, which, of course, they do. And here's the proof.

On the other hand, it's a nightmare for Democrat, who have pinned their hopes on depression, disease, and disaster. No doubt they're still praying for the other two.

BEGALA: Well, this is proof that deficit spending works. You can juice the economy in the near term, yes, but at what cost?

CARLSON: Yes, that's right.

BEGALA: You said since Reagan, which is instructive. Reagan juiced the economy the same way, $4 trillion in debt. Bush will beat that, $5 trillion in debt.

CARLSON: Actually...

BEGALA: You're going to have to pay it, your children, your grandchildren, so that Mr. Bush can juice the economy in the short term.


CARLSON: You're going to be amazed...



CARLSON: You're going to be amazed to discover that I don't even necessarily disagree with you. But that means, you ought to stick to your own point and criticize government spending when it's outrageous, like in this ludicrous bill passed yesterday in Congress.



BEGALA: It's tax cuts for the rich.

Well, the Senate today passed a bill that will increase the deficit by another $400 billion. That's billion with a B. And nearly every penny of that $400 billion of your money is going to go straight into the pockets of big pharmaceutical corporations, insurance companies and HMOs. Now, the Bush administration claims the bill will provide prescription drugs for Medicare recipients.

But experts say one out of four current Medicare recipients, three million seniors in all, who currently have drug coverage will lose theirs under the new law. The law also specifically prohibits the federal government from using its bulk purchasing power to lower the cost of medicine. And it outlaws the reimportation of American drugs from Canada, where they are cheaper.

President Bush is reportedly thrilled, and why not? Handing $400 billion to HMOs and pharmaceutical companies while screwing old people is what makes life worth living for a Republican.


CARLSON: You'll notice, Democrats always invariably attack the people in this society who create, who make things. And now it's drug companies. If it weren't for drug companies, disease would be uncontrolled, truly. That's one of the great things about America, our drug companies. They've whipped diseases around the world.


BEGALA: Why don't they sell the same medicine in America that they sell in Canada for the same price? Because Canada buys in bulk.



CARLSON: Actually, Paul, Paul, why do Canadians come to this country for their health care?

BEGALA: Why do we go to Canada to buy medicine?

CARLSON: We have the best health system



BEGALA: Because they're ripping us off. And now Bush is handing them $400 billion of our money. It's a ripoff.


CARLSON: Why are you beating up on the only -- the people who make this country great? It bizarre.

At least twice over the past few months, we here on CROSSFIRE have sent urgent warnings to the mental health community about a certain "New York Times" columnist, Paul Krugman. Krugman hates President Bush so much, so completely, so obsessively, that he can barely speak. And as readers of his column know, he long ago lost his ability to think clearly.

This man needs help and he needs it desperately right away. Well, help may be on the way. "Boston Globe" writer Alex Beam began his column this morning by suggesting that Krugman may have developed -- quote -- "a personality disorder." Krugman, Beam writes, is -- quote -- "completely crackers. His personal Web site is a nutty, score-settling tote board loaded with paranoid ravings." And, boy, is it.

Beam didn't write any of this to be cruel. He's hardly a right- winger. No, he wrote it in the spirit of compassion, as a kind of intervention. Let's hope it's enough to save Paul Krugman from himself.



BEGALA: I have no idea who Alex Beam is, but I know who Paul Krugman is. He's a distinguished


CARLSON: He's a joke.

BEGALA: Excuse me for talking while you're interrupting.

CARLSON: He's a joke, Paul.


BEGALA: Distinguished professor of economics at Princeton. Today, he wrote a column called "The Uncivil War" about how right- wingers try to personally attack people whose ideas they disagree with. Case in point, my friend Tucker attacks Paul Krugman personally because he can't match him on the battlefield of ideas, because he's a brilliant economist.


CARLSON: He's so obsessed. I'm willing to believe he's a great economist. I believe that he knows nothing about politics. He is so monomaniacal about this.


CARLSON: He blamed Bush for anti-Semitism in the Middle East. It was insane.

BEGALA: People, "The Great Unraveling," that's his book. People, buy it. Read. Judge for yourself.

CARLSON: Please.

BEGALA: Well, "The New York Daily News" and "The London Telegraph" have reported that President Bush brought five -- count them, five -- personal chefs with him on his recent trip to Buckingham Palace. Mr. Bush likes to pretend that he's a common man, by way of trust fund, elite boarding schools, Yale and Harvard. And, predictably, the White House denies the report. And I have to say, I have my doubts about it as well. But the White House press corps' unwillingness to chase down the truth about this story speaks volumes about how our media watchdogs have become sycophantic Bush lapdogs.

The press ran hundreds of stories claiming President Clinton delayed air travel to get a hair cut, even though FAA records showed that it was false. So why is the press afraid to chase down chef- gate? Well, because they're so cowed by George W. Bush, we can almost here them moo.


CARLSON: First off, I would say, it's time to get over the Clinton years. Thank God they're over.


BEGALA: No, it's the press corps. They're pathetic.

CARLSON: For you to attack the press, the one institution in America that actually tries to tell the truth


BEGALA: I thought the pharmaceuticals were the only good guys in the world.

CARLSON: Who try to tell the truth, in contrast to political people, who lie for a living, for you to attack the press is a total outrage.

BEGALA: They are cowards.

CARLSON: You know what, Paul?

BEGALA: Their job is to hold the president of the United States accountable. They cower under the table.



BEGALA: The British press has covered this very aggressively. I don't know if it's true or not.

CARLSON: You're holding up the British press against our press and saying it's better? You know nothing about the subject. That's an outrage. That's so dumb.


BEGALA: I only dealt with the White House press corps every day, Tucker. I think I know something about it. CARLSON: I've been in the press corps my whole life, and I can tell you, that's ludicrous.

BEGALA: Well, that's maybe why you reflexively defend their cowardice in the face of the Bush thugs.

CARLSON: Really? Because when people die in Afghanistan who are covering wars, a lot of the times, the press actually die at a higher rate than most -- than soldiers do. To call them cowards...


BEGALA: The ones that are here are scared of Bush. Some guys in Iraq, that means that the press covering Bush are


CARLSON: To call the press cowards I think is a completely unfair thing to say.


CARLSON: Well, two of the top Democratic Party candidates for president don't like each other very much. From debates to the campaign trail, Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt have been hammering each other, while trying to distance themselves from the rest of the field. We'll hear from a couple of their supporters just ahead.

And should Michael Jackson's kids be taken away from him? Attorney and talk show fixture Gloria Allred thinks so. She'll tell us why later. Boy, will she.

We'll be right back.



BEGALA: Welcome back.

At the most recent Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines, Congressman Dick Gephardt assailed Howard Dean, accusing the former Vermont governor of taking both sides on several issues. Now, polls show Dean and Gephardt are almost neck and neck in the Iowa caucuses. Is their insider vs. outsider battle a preview of the rest of the Democratic race?

In the CROSSFIRE to debate all of this, Dean supporter and Washington state Congressman Jim McDermott. He's in Seattle.


BEGALA: In Philadelphia, Gephardt supporter and New Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews.

Gentlemen, thank you both. (CROSSTALK)


CARLSON: Congressman McDermott, thanks for joining us.

Max Cleland, former senator, Democratic senator from Georgia, war hero, beloved by fellow Democrats, had this to say about your man, Howard Dean. I'm going to read it -- quote -- "We cannot afford to have a leader who weaseled out of going to Vietnam on a medical deferment for a bad back and wound up on the ski slopes of Aspen, like Howard Dean."

Respond to that, would you?

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Howard Dean showed up for his physical exam. He failed it, and that's the end of the story.

CARLSON: He went skiing. That's the end of the story.

MCDERMOTT: The fact that you can carry on a life and have been rejected by the military doesn't mean anything. I was a psychiatrist during the Vietnam War. And I rejected a lot of people who went on and lived other lives.

It's not something that you necessarily can't live in the rest of the world, but you can't serve in the military. So, if you want to look at...

BEGALA: Congressman Andrews...

MCDERMOTT: So, if you want to look at military stuff, let's look at the president of the United States, for heavens sakes. Where are his records of his attendance at the National Guard? Let's talk about


BEGALA: I want to bring Congressman Rob Andrews into this.

Congressman Andrews...


BEGALA: To bring you into the present in the war in Iraq, I want to show you a bit of videotape that Governor Dean is running in an ad attacking your man, Dick Gephardt, right now. Take a look.


NARRATOR: October, 2002, Dick Gephardt agrees to co-author the Iraq war resolution, giving George Bush the authority to go to war. A week later, with Gephardt's support, it passes Congress. Then, last month, Dick Gephardt votes to spend $87 billion more on Iraq. Howard Dean has a different view.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BEGALA: Now, Congressman Andrews, I know you support Gephardt, but is there a word of that that is false?

ANDREWS: What it should have said is that Howard Dean supports two different views, because he's been both for and against the war and for and against the $87 billion.

Last fall, Howard Dean said he would...


BEGALA: ... the war.

ANDREWS: Well, last fall, Howard Dean said he would have supported a resolution that Joe Biden and Dick Lugar put forward that's essentially the same thing he's accusing Dick Gephardt of supporting. So he was for it last fall and he's against it now. He was for the $87 billion a couple of weeks ago. Now he says he's against it. Howard is the multiple-choice candidate on the Iraq question.


CARLSON: OK, Mr. Andrews, let's talk about the man you're supporting, though, Dick Gephardt. Here's what Mr. Gephardt said about the Iowa caucuses.

He said -- I'm quoting now -- "This is the first inning. You've got to take care of the first inning before you go to the second inning." In other words, Iowa is key. And it should be, because he lives in a contiguous state.


CARLSON: Let me show you the latest poll out of Iowa, WHO-TV poll, among -- taken of likely caucus-goers: Howard Dean at 32 percent, Dick Gephardt at 22 percent. Leading by 10 points, Howard Dean is. Shouldn't Gephardt drop out of the race if he loses Iowa?

ANDREWS: George W. Bush wishes that he would.

The reality here is, "The Des Moines Register" poll, which is the most respected poll in Iowa, has Gephardt seven points ahead. That's where he'll be on caucus night.

BEGALA: Congressman McDermott


MCDERMOTT: The fact is...

BEGALA: OK, go ahead.,

MCDERMOTT: But the fact is that Dick Gephardt won Iowa in 1988 and Bill Clinton was president. If he doesn't win this, he's out of it. And if he does win it, there's no question whether he can win or not.


BEGALA: Well, I think you should know, Congressman McDermott and our audience


BEGALA: You should know first off, I did work for Dick Gephardt in '88 when he won Iowa. And I later worked for Bill Clinton in '92, four years later. They didn't run in the same year.

But, right now, Congressman McDermott, there's an ad Dick Gephardt is running attacking your guy. I want you to take a look at a brief snippet of that and ask for your response.


NARRATOR: Howard Dean's attacking Dick Gephardt for a position Dean took himself.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MODERATOR: Is that an up or down, yes or no, on the $87 billion per se?

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On the $87 billion for Iraq?


DEAN: We have no choice, but it has to be financed by getting rid of all the president's tax cuts.

I don't think this Iraq disagreement, frankly, rises to the level of a big campaign issue. I don't intend to make whether you voted for or against the supplemental appropriation a campaign issue.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Dick Gephardt. And I approved this message because leadership is about making tough decisions and sticking with them.


BEGALA: Congressman McDermott, your rebuttal. It seems that Mr. Gephardt thinks your candidate has taken both sides of the $87 billion funding issue.

MCDERMOTT: You could be against spending the $87 billion if it's taken out of Social Security and Medicare.

The question of what you do once you're in a war and you're up to your ears in it, you can't very well just walk away. The United Nations Charter says that we're responsible for rebuilding the country that we've destroyed. So there's real reason to be on both sides of this.

The president has put us in an impossible position. You can't deal with the domestic needs, because he's given it all away in tax breaks. And he's created a situation in Iraq that we cannot morally walk away from. So I really think that it's an impossible position the president's put us in. Mr. Dean will get us out of it. He knows how to balance the budget and gets done what needs to get done.

ANDREWS: Well, with all due respect, I think Governor Dean has put himself in an impossible position by being both for and against this and then accusing Dick Gephardt, who took a principled stand in favor of it, of flip-flopping.

I supported it, because I don't think we should abandon these young men and women who are over there. But, apparently, Howard Dean supported it on one hand, but not on the other. Being president means you have to make choices and decisions. And that's what Dick Gephardt did.

CARLSON: Now, Mr. Andrews, at this very moment, Howard Dean has about $12.5 million cash on hand. Dick Gephardt has less than $6 million, about 5.9. There was talk last week from the Kerry campaign that maybe the Dean campaign was getting most of its money from Republicans.

Do you think that's true, A? And, B, why is Dick Gephardt lagging so far behind Howard Dean in contributions?

ANDREWS: Oh, I don't think Howard Dean is getting his money from Republicans. And I think that, once Dick Gephardt wins the Iowa caucus -- and I think he'll also win in Michigan, probably South Carolina -- he'll raise more money.

The election is not about who is raising money. The election on our side is about who can beat George Bush. It is widely known that the guy that Karl Rove and George Bush do not want to run against is Dick Gephardt, because he's got a plan to create jobs. He's been consistent on foreign policy. He's an experienced leader. He's everything that George Bush is not.

BEGALA: Congressman McDermott, the other attack on your man, Dean, is the allegation that he supported the Republican plan to cut Medicare in 1995.

And, in fact, I've got a clip here from his hometown paper, "The Times Argus" of Montpellier, Vermont. Governor Dean also said he could defend the Republican approach to reducing Medicare costs. He said he supported requiring some Medicare recipients to pay a greater share of the cost of their medical services -- quote -- "I fully subscribe to the notion that we should reduce the Medicare growth rate from 10 percent to 7 percent or less, if possible."

That sounds to me like had he sided with the Republicans when they were trying to cut Medicare. And you, President Clinton, Congressman Andrews, and all the Democrats were on the other side.

MCDERMOTT: There are a lot of Democrats who think we should have a means test. So he's not alone in that. I disagree with him on that point. On the issue of slowing the growth, there are ways in which we need to slow the growth of Medicare, but it requires a strong Medicare program at the governmental level, not privatizing it. The president of the United States is trying to privatize it, saying, we'll give it to the private sector. Every time you give it to the private sector, it costs us more.

So, when you're talking about that, this is a governor who has to live with a balanced budget. He knows how to do it. He's done it. And he has probably made some cuts that you didn't want to do. In 1980, I was a state ways and means chairman. And I know


MCDERMOTT: It's hard.

BEGALA: I'm sorry. Congressman Jim McDermott, from Seattle, I want to thank you very much, Congressman McDermott, for joining us. Congressman Andrews, joining us from our Philadelphia bureau, he represents New Jersey in the United States Congress.


BEGALA: Thank you both very much, gentlemen.

Well, Michael Jackson, of course, is already in a whole lot of trouble. And now attorney Gloria Allred says the state should take his children away. We'll talk to her in just a moment.

But, first, Martin Savidge has the latest on a new round of explosions in Baghdad right after the break.



BEGALA: Formal charges in the child molestation case against pop superstar Michael Jackson will not be filed before mid-December, so says a source close to the investigation that CNN has contacted.

Jackson's attorney, Mark Geragos, will make a short statement to reporters in just about a half-an-hour. We look forward to that.

Meanwhile, prominent attorney Gloria Allred is asking California authorities to take custody of Jackson's children while the case proceeds.

She joins us now in the CROSSFIRE.

Gloria, thank you.

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Thank you. Hi, Paul. Hi, Tucker.

CARLSON: Gloria Allred, hey, thanks for joining us.

I want to read you a statement from Stuart Backerman. He's Michael Jackson's spokesman. Quote: "The outrageous allegations against Michael Jackson are false. Michael would never harm a child in any way. These scurrilous and totally unfounded allegations will be proven false in a courtroom."

True or false, it is true that they haven't been proved yet in a courtroom, and yet you're trying to take this guy's kids away from him. Shouldn't you wait until he's proved guilty?

ALLRED: No, Tucker. And I'll tell you why, because, in California, welfare and institutions codes states that, if a child is at substantial risk of sexual abuse by his or her parent, then the juvenile court, the dependency court, can take jurisdiction, which means the Department of Child Welfare Services can come in and remove the child and temporarily place the child elsewhere.

Here are the reasons why I believe that the child is -- or the children may be at substantial risk, because, first, 1993, allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Jackson against a child, secondly, his admission in February of this year that he sleeps with young children in his bed.

Third, the current allegations by the police and the district attorney of lewd and lascivious conduct against a child under the age of 14. And, fourth, the fact that it may have been that the incidents that are alleged in the pending criminal case may have occurred at Neverland, where his -- which is where his other children reside. It is not necessary, under California law, for there to have been a conviction of a crime or an acquittal or even the filing of a criminal case for child welfare workers to come in and temporarily remove the children, if they think there's a substantial risk of harm.


BEGALA: Ms. Allred, look, I'll defer to your expertise on California law. I went to law school in Texas. But, in most states, the precedents then, if you take away custody from a parent, the priority goes to other family members.

And so what are you going to do, like shift these kids to Tito, to Jermaine, LaToya? This is not exactly "Ozzie and Harriet."

ALLRED: Yes. Well, that would not be my decision. What would happen would be, child welfare workers would come in, remove the children. Then there would be an immediate hearing in which the court would then decide where the temporary placement should be, if there should be a temporary placement.

And the preference would be given to relatives. And so they would make that decision. Later, Mr. Jackson would have a trial. And then the department would have to show why it would be a detriment for the children to -- why the children should remain elsewhere. And then, if Mr. Jackson could come to some terms and conditions that would be suitable to the court, the court might, at some point, return the children to Mr. Jackson.

CARLSON: We're almost out of time. But, if you could more directly answer Paul's question, who do you think would be best, Tito, Jermaine, LaToya?

ALLRED: Yes, I think it's really for the court to decide.

But the important point is, these children are vulnerable. They are in need of protection. And there is this history of Mr. Jackson and his admissions about his relationship with children and sleeping with them. And I think, for their protection, they should be temporarily removed and let the court assume jurisdiction.

CARLSON: OK. OK. Gloria, I think I hear you saying Jermaine, but we'll clear that up next time you're on. Thanks so much for joining us.

ALLRED: Thank you. OK. Bye-bye.

CARLSON: Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, thanks.


CARLSON: Well, Republicans believe they have found a way to be make Democratic presidential debates even more entertaining, if you can imagine. Can I say B-I-N-G-O? We'll explain when we come back.

We'll be right back.



CARLSON: Welcome back.

Well, finally, there is a way to get through the barrage of Democratic presidential debates. And, yes, there are many more to come. First, buy malt liquor, a lot of it. Second, go to the Republican National Committee's Web site and find the link at the top for Democrat Debate Bingo. A few clicks later, you'll be printing out a bingo card featuring common Democratic slogans, promises, and talking points to listen for during the next debate.

Click refresh and you get a totally different card featuring some pretty scary Democratic faces.

BEGALA: What I do to get through Bush speeches is, I just count the fibs. I wait for him to say something about al Qaeda ties to Iraq or buying uranium in Iraq. And you can get to bingo real quick counting up the Bush fibs in one of his speeches.



CARLSON: Actually, Bush is a pretty bad speaker a lot of the time, but he really doesn't lie that much, actually. It's so weird that you say that.

(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: He's a terrible speaker, but he's a remarkably gifted fabricator.

CARLSON: He tells the truth most of the time.


BEGALA: He lies like I breath.

From the left, I'm Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

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

Join us tomorrow for yet more CROSSFIRE. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is right after this.

See you tomorrow.


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