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New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary Race

Aired January 24, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from New Hampshire, a special CAPITAL GANG: "America Votes."
MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to a special edition of THE CAPITAL GANG from Manchester, New Hampshire. I'm Mark Shields, with the full GANG: Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret Carlson.

Campaigning for Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, former Vermont very good Howard Dean tried to recover from the fallout of his speech following his defeat in the Iowa caucuses.


HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think a lot of people have had a lot of fun at my expense over the Iowa hooting and hollering, and that's justified.

I think the American people have seen that tape so many times, they actually don't think it's as bad as the inside-the-Beltway people think it is.


SHIELDS: While moderating his tone, Governor Dean still launched attacks upon his opponent and the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.


DEAN: Someone earlier made a remark about losing 500 soldiers and 2,200 wounded. Those soldiers were sent there by the vote of Senator Lieberman and Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards.

I think Alan Greenspan's become too political. We need a new chairman of the Federal Reserve.


SHIELDS: The Iowa victor, Senator John Kerry, came into New Hampshire denying that he is the new frontrunner.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I may be the underdog in this state. I have yet begun to fight.


SHIELDS: Bob, has Howard Dean made any progress in regaining the lead he formerly held here in New Hampshire?

BOB NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: I think he did a very bad job in trying to explain what his rant was in Des Moines Monday night, never really came to any kind of grips with it. It was humorless. I thought his performance on the -- with Diane Sawyer and his wife, trying to neutralize it, didn't work. And in trying to be nice, he comes out in that debate Thursday night and -- and trying to be nice, he can't help but accuse his three fellow Democrats, three senators, from votes that were responsible for the deaths of over 500 servicepeople. But this is such a good state for him -- any state he ought to win, it's this one -- that I think he has bottom, or at least, the polls indicate it, and isn't falling anymore. But it's a long way from regaining his 20- point lead.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, away from New Hampshire, but from the perspective of Harrisburg, what is your sense of Howard Dean's position?

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Bob is right. Dean doesn't do nice well. But his wife does nice very well, and I think he would have never done that performance on "Primetime Live" with Diane Sawyer if he hadn't been in the pickle he was in. And if -- and who wouldn't want Judy Dean to be their doctor? And so it made you think, Well, wouldn't that be something different and nice as a first lady?

But that being said, you know, Dean said, Listen, the tape showed over and over lost its impact. There was something about it whereby it didn't lose its impact, and it was, you know, at warp speed 'round the world, and it tapped into this sense of a temperament that we might not be comfortable with, too much free-floating anger.

So I'm not sure he has recovered, try as he might.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, your take.

AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: You know, I used to think that Howard Dean had a floor of about 30 percent. That's been a moving floor.

SHIELDS: Here in New Hampshire.

HUNT: Here in New Hampshire, after that Iowa experience. I now suspect it's around 20 percent. He's hit it. I think Bob's right. I don't think he's going to go down anymore, but I also don't think he's going to come up much. And I think he's probably stuck around there.

But you know, Mark, I've been around this state for the last five or six days, and I have never seen as many candidates draw as good and enthusiastic and as interested crowds. Bob and I were with General Clark the other night down in Derry. It was really, really quite a, you know, impressive evening. The other -- today John Edwards was in Rochester. There was an overflow crowd. Two hundred people had to be turned away. He had to have a second event. And I -- I hate to come on every Saturday night and tell you John Kerry just had one of the great events I've ever seen, but he skated today in a -- at the JFK ice arena here against some of the Boston Bruins and with some of the Boston Bruins...


HUNT: Yes. Yes, I think -- and it was just -- it was an event for blue-collar workers. It was a terrific event. This is a very, very strong field, whether you measure it by character, experience or intellect.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne's shaking her head...


SHIELDS: ... after Al's enthusiastic appraisal.

O'BEIRNE: Well, it strikes me that, you know, political activists, you know, on the liberal end of the spectrum like liberal candidates. But let the record show that Howard Dean cratered in Iowa before the Dr. Dean Mr. High Grant (ph) of Monday night. I think he lost his -- his chief asset. His chief asset was never the Internet. John Kerry on Monday carried Internet users, carried the young, carried the anti-war, carried newcomers. His chief asset had been the other "I," inevitability, the notion that Al Gore and Bill Bradley and so many others bought into that Howard Dean is the inevitable nominee. Now that he is no longer the inevitable nominee, why take a risk with Howard Dean when, if you liked him in the first place, John Kerry is perfectly acceptable and much less risky?

NOVAK: And he's very...

SHIELDS: Well, as the German general staff said at the battle of Stalingrad, timing is everything in politics. And Howard Dean did, I think history will report -- he peaked too soon. He peaked in August. And he got the covers of both magazines then. He had four months of intense scrutiny from his opponents, from the press. Right now, if John Kerry wins here on Tuesday, which I think most of us expect he will, in all likelihood, he won't be the first person in history not to be nominated who's won the Iowa and New Hampshire back to back. And for that reason, he's going to escape and elude the same kind of scrutiny from his adversaries that Dean got.

But let me just say one thing about Dean in passing. And that is, if Howard Dean does go down, let it be noted that he did something very important in politics, and that was after Bill Clinton's experience with the Democrats, when the Democrats had become almost as comfortable, Al, with corporate contributions as the Republicans have been historically -- the Pioneers and the Rangers and overnights at the White House -- Howard Dean showed that you could do it...

NOVAK: Oh, listen...

SHIELDS: ... without big money. And that -- that is a profound and important change and improvement. And America and politics...

NOVAK: Oh, that's... SHIELDS: ... owes him a debt for that.

NOVAK: That's so ridiculous!

SHIELDS: It is not ridiculous, Bob, if you understood it.

NOVAK: Can I -- can I...


SHIELDS: I'd prefer you make your argument and then let's let people characterize it, OK?

NOVAK: Well, I can characterize it any way I want to, Mark. And I would say it's ridiculous because he was a terrible candidate. I don't care how long he was going to peak -- unless he -- unless he peaked the day before the election, which is impossible, he would be in huge trouble. He's an undisciplined person! I mean, the idea of saying you need a new chairman of the Federal Reserve Board -- it was so irrelevant to anything that's going on. He hurt Al Hunt's feelings, too...

O'BEIRNE: And Mark...

NOVAK: ... because he's such a friend of Alan Greenspan. One thing you say about Kerry, he's very boring, but he is disciplined. He doesn't make mistakes.

O'BEIRNE: Mark, in a fundamental...


HUNT: ... boring. I disagree he's boring. I think John Kerry has really risen to a new level in the last couple weeks, and he's a very good speaker. He's not the stump speaker that John Edwards is. I don't think anybody is. But Kerry is -- Kerry is on a roll. When things are going well, you look better. But I think he -- I think he's become a good candidate.

O'BEIRNE: In a fundamental way, it seems to me, Howard Dean refutes the underlying case for campaign finance reform. He would have raised the most money in the previous year, had the most money in December of the previous year, and he might not pull off the nomination. So much for the overriding...

SHIELDS: Kate...

O'BEIRNE: ... importance of money in politics!

SHIELDS: Kate, I do know a little something about money and politics, and I'll tell you this. Everybody else followed the conventional routine, every one of them. And John -- other than the incumbent president of the United States. He outraised all of them.

O'BEIRNE: Right.

SHIELDS: And that is an amazing...

O'BEIRNE: He will be the first one...

SHIELDS: ... achievement, and that gives...

O'BEIRNE: ... though, who had the most money who won't get nominated.

SHIELDS: I don't care!

NOVAK: Now, look...

SHIELDS: It changed -- it changed the way we fund our politics. That is a lesson...

NOVAK: But Mark...

SHIELDS: ... and that's an inspiration.

NOVAK: But Mark, I know you're excited about that funding, but the American people don't look at it that way. They look at -- they look...


NOVAK: Just a minute! Let me finish my sentence.

HUNT: We cover politics.

NOVAK: Let me say that the American people look at -- at a person, what kind of president he's going to be. And that -- that is the wonderful thing about the primary system. They look at this guy and they say he is out to lunch! He is undisciplined. He shouldn't be president of the United States!

SHIELDS: Bob, you're missing my point. And I didn't realize you were vox populi. Last word for Margaret Carlson. Margaret?

CARLSON: I mean, Dean may be undisciplined, but he did do what Mark said he did. He brought new people into the party. He got young people excited again. He raised money without doing the special interests. And he was an exciting candidate who stood up to a very popular president. He has to be given credit for that. The anger that -- there was a free-floating sense to the anger he had, more anger than was needed for the task at hand. And by playing into that with that speech, I think he's scared off the people who were willing to take a chance with somebody they thought was an inevitable winner.

SHIELDS: OK. Margaret Carlson and the GANG of five will be back. Who's moving up in the Granite State?


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina tried to change the subject in Thursday's New Hampshire debate.


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's been no discussion about 35 million Americans who live in poverty every single day.


SHIELDS: At that debate, retired general Wesley Clark encountered tough questions, including whether court decisions permit abortions in the eighth and ninth month of pregnancy.


GEN. WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY (RET.), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A woman has a right to choose pre-viability and after viability, which is determined by a doctor, then that a woman's right to choose can be constrained by the states, but that the health of the mother must be protected.


SHIELDS: CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll tracking of New Hampshire last night showed a 12-point lead for Senator John Kerry over Howard Dean, with John Edwards and Wesley Clark still trailing.

Al Hunt, why has General Clark seemed to drop this week?

HUNT: Well, the source of much of General Clark's strength in New Hampshire was "anybody but Dean." These were people who wanted to win, and as of two weeks ago, the chief alternative was Wes Clark. And that, I think, explains in large part his ascension in the polls. Now there's at least one and maybe two others who are not named Howard Dean who also could be elected president, people think, in John Kerry and John Edwards.

I thought Dean -- I thought Clark, rather, had a very bad -- or a bad debate performance. He was wobbly. And yet at the same time, they -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he has become a much better performer. Bob and I saw him Friday night. The guy is really quite good. I'm not sure, however, though, that those dynamics can work in his favor any longer.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, your assessment.

O'BEIRNE: Yes, I agree with Al. Wes Clark was supposed to be the anti-Dean, and Dean wound up being the anti-Dean. If voters are nervous about the untested Howard Dean, why take a chance on Wes Clark? And I agree about his debate performance. Wes Clark only looks like a pleasant man. Wes Clark can be terribly nasty and makes outrageous charges that I think are -- the more they get scrutiny, the harder it is for him. He's really Dean with decorations, to a large extent. And given that old generals fade away, I think we might be watching Wes Clark fading away.

SHIELDS: Bob, is that your assessment? NOVAK: Yes, I think that -- that the people who listen to primaries -- I mean, who vote in primaries or watch the debates -- and I thought that was a terrible debate performance, one of the worst debate performances I've -- I have seen. He couldn't answer the questions. He was looking at his crib notes on abortion. He -- I mean, he -- he doesn't really have -- it's probably a subject he never thought about until a few weeks ago. He doesn't know what he really thinks, and somebody had written this out for him. I thought his questions -- his answers in why he's a Democrat have never been very satisfying.

So I agree with Al that he's turned into a good stump speaker, but that Friday night when we saw him, he didn't have -- last night, that was -- seems like a long time ago!


HUNT: It does, doesn't it.

NOVAK: He didn't have any -- he didn't have any -- he didn't take any questions. I just don't think he can -- he can move. I think he's a -- he's a bad candidate, and I don't think he's going anywhere.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, Wes Clark seems -- case seemed to be coming into New Hampshire from Iowa that Howard Dean -- this would be the last chance to stop him, and instead, he had somewhat of his military credentials politically neutralized by John Kerry and his Southern flank or Southern roots neutralized by the emergence of John Edwards. Was there anything else, in your judgment?

CARLSON: Well, I think Clark's moment has passed. Democrats were going to grade him on a curve as long as they needed him, and they didn't mind that, you know, his written and his pieces on where he stood on Iraq and what he had said before didn't square with what he said during the campaign, that he was terribly wrong on abortion. And then to dis John Kerry after -- pull rank on him after Kerry's golden moment with the Vietnam veteran whose life he saved -- what a bad, bad calculation from the general.

So you know, when he had the stage to himself in New Hampshire and he was the savior of Democrats who didn't want Dean, I think he could do no wrong for a while. And now all that has caught up with him.

SHIELDS: "New York Times" columnist David Brooks had an interesting observation. He said the debate really worked for John Kerry because the answers were limited to one minute.

O'BEIRNE: Right.

SHIELDS: I mean, after...

O'BEIRNE: A quick...

SHIELDS: ... after Kerry's sort of endless... O'BEIRNE: Mark...

SHIELDS: ... acceptance speech on Monday night...

O'BEIRNE: A quick...

SHIELDS: ... that really did work.

O'BEIRNE: A quick point about the debate. I just have to note how ridiculous it is that Dick Gephardt is no longer on the stage debating, but Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich still are, which is ridiculous. And secondly, I thought Joe Lieberman had the best night of all the candidates, but it's not going to matter because he's so out of step with the left wing of the Democratic Party.

HUNT: Let me just say this, Kate. I was terribly disappointed in Reverend Sharpton, who had a chance to say that his nominee for the Federal Reserve chairman was going to be Robert D. Novak. It would have cemented an alliance. I think Alan Greenspan ought to stay, but I think Sharpton might well appoint Robert Novak...

SHIELDS: Let me -- let me just...


SHIELDS: Let me just say, I think John Edwards in that taped point raised -- raised the standards and the direction of that debate more than any other candidate. I mean, it was just a sort of a...


SHIELDS: Did you know the capital of and the principal products of? And kind of...

NOVAK: Can I...

SHIELDS: ... "gotcha" questions. And John Edwards, I thought, said, This is what we ought to be talking about in a presidential campaign.

NOVAK: I thought that was one of the worst presidential debates I've ever seen...

SHIELDS: Well...

NOVAK: ... of all categories. And it was -- it was like a long Sunday talk show.

HUNT: Yes, you're right.

SHIELDS: OK. Well, Bob, you know long Sunday talk shows.

NOVAK: I do!


SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG: The president begins his reelection campaign with the State of the Union.



GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.


SHIELDS: President George W. Bush's State of the Union address proposed action sure to encounter opposition from Democrats.


BUSH: We must continue to give our homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot act.

The tax reductions you passed are set to expire.

Unless you act, Americans face a tax increase!

A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process.


SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, is there anything wrong with the president laying out his reelection platform in the State of the Union address?

CARLSON: Well, the Democratic candidates probably think so, as they slog through the snows of New Hampshire trying to grab TV time. But of course not. That's what presidents do, and it worked in '02 for -- for Bush, and it will probably, you know, work in '04, especially if he campaigns as commander-in-chief.

Now, he's got a couple of problems. One is the "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities," which found its way into the speech because he hasn't found weapons of mass destruction, is a mouthful that doesn't quite justify going to Iraq. And if there's civil war in Iraq because we try to turn over the government there too soon, before the election, these could be real problems for a commander-in-chief.

He also threw some red meat, but a "constitutional process" to make marriage between a man and a woman is not a constitutional amendment. And that may leave his right wing a little bit hungry.

SHIELDS: OK. Bob Novak?

NOVAK: I thought...

SHIELDS: You've seen a few State of the Union speeches.

NOVAK: I thought it was one of the least impressive of -- least State of the Union speeches, certainly the worst one that he's given from the standpoint of coherence and inspiration. It was a kind of a laundry list.


NOVAK: I just think they did a bad -- bad job on it. And I believe that the president did not satisfy -- he antagonized the Democrats, certainly, but he didn't satisfy the conservatives. As he said -- he was unclear on the gay marriage question. Talked about 4 percent cut -- 4 percent increase -- I'm sorry -- in discretionary...

SHIELDS: In spending.

NOVAK: ... spending. I think -- I don't think it's going to be 4 percent in the budget. It's going to be closer to 1 percent after the storm that that created. So I thought it was an inauspicious beginning for a reelection campaign, in my opinion.

SHIELDS: Well, I mean, Carlson and Novak are thumbs down. Kate, do you join that chorus?

O'BEIRNE: I thought the president seemed resolute and confident. I thought he seemed anxious and ready to get out there and defend his leadership. I think it's right. I think the -- Bob's right, conservatives preferred the first two thirds of the speech on foreign policy. I think he made a very effective use of Libya and their decision now to give up weapons of mass destruction.

In the latter part of the speech on the domestic side, conservatives aren't happy with the kind of government spending that's going on, but he did set up the gay marriage properly by explaining that it should not be unelected judges who force this down our throats. And I think John Kerry's going to have, in particular, a hard time. John Kerry now criticizes the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind and the war with Iraq, and he voted for all of them. So first he's going to have to run against himself before he takes on George Bush, who seems ready to defend every one of them.

SHIELDS: Good speech, bad speech, Al?

HUNT: Well, I thought it was a better political speech than Bob thought it was and Margaret thought it was. I thought it was a pretty good political speech. That's exactly what you do at this -- some of the content, I must say, sort of -- sort of perplexed me a little bit. I thought one of the most effective things he did was when he listed those 17 countries that are participating in Iraq, and he said there are 17 more. He neglected to tell us that we're picking up 75 or 80 percent of the tab (UNINTELLIGIBLE) providing 75 or 80 percent of the soldiers. I think that is the more relevant point.

And several other parts sort of confused me. Just a week earlier, we're talking about going to the moon and Mars as one of the great visionary acts of a second Bush administration, and instead of that, he talked about steroids for professional athletes. I just found that a little bit confusing. And I'm not quite sure we want to put sex in the Constitution.

SHIELDS: Well, somebody told the president that we've actually put a man on the moon, in 1969. I think -- was that it, Bob? I mean, why did he drop it?

NOVAK: A man on...

SHIELDS: On the moon, yes.

NOVAK: Yes, I remember that vaguely.

SHIELDS: But why did -- why did he drop it?

NOVAK: I -- the thing that he omitted that bothered me was -- was the Middle East, Israel. Not a word about the road map, and that's something we should be doing. So it made it look like he's in hock to Israel.

Let me say that I was delighted, however, with two things. One was permanent tax cuts. As long as he's for tax cuts, I can't be too critical.

HUNT: He can get away with anything!


NOVAK: That's right. And then I do -- I do believe that at least he made some progress toward a reform of the Social Security system through private accounts, indicating that he hasn't given that up.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, not a word about the Middle East, not a word about the environment.

CARLSON: No, because he's dirtying it. I don't think that he's got anything to brag about there. On the tax cuts, you know, he's giving people back their own money. He's giving people borrowed money and deficits as far as the eye can see. That's nothing to -- I know Bob loves it, no matter -- no matter what. And this "permission slip," when we mostly believe that the U.N. is -- would -- if we had the U.N. with us now in Iraq, wouldn't we be better off? I mean, he -- it was a clever line, this "permission slip," but certainly, having more allies of greater stature than we do, other than Britain, would be an awfully good thing.

SHIELDS: Last word Margaret Carlson. Coming up on the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG: Beyond New Hampshire, we'll look at the presidential -- the Missouri presidential primary, now minus Dick Gephardt, with Steve Kraske of "The Kansas City Star", a New Hampshire "comeback kid" "CAPITAL GANG Classic," and the "Outrages of the Week." But straight ahead, our own Al Hunt is "On the Beat," traveling New Hampshire with the John Edwards campaign.


ANNOUNCER: Live from New Hampshire, a special CAPITAL GANG: America Votes.

SHIELDS: Welcome to the second half of the special edition of THE CAPITAL GANG from Manchester, New Hampshire. I'm Mark Shields, with the full GANG -- Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret Carlson.

Al Hunt was "On the Beat" this week, with the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee John -- Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.


HUNT (voice-over): John Edwards, written of only weeks ago, as an inexperienced also-ran, hopes to parlay his stunning Iowa success with a similar surge in New Hampshire, before the contest moves to the South and West.

The 50-year-old freshman North Carolina senator is the best stump speaker in the field. Edwards' populist economic message resonates with primary voters like these factory employees in Concord the other day.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I've looked at what's happening around our country, I think we live in a country where there's still really two different Americas. One for all those families who get whatever need, never have to worry about a thing, everything's going to be fine. And then, there's one for you, you know, people who just work hard and struggle every day to be able to take care of their families, to pay their bills.

You and I, we can do something about this.

HUNT: Edwards is drawing enthusiastic crowds in New Hampshire. He won praise for his debate performance. And with only three days ago, he still trails the frontrunners.

But with his performance, many Democratic professionals now see John Edwards on the national ticket. If not the top slot this year, perhaps number two. If not 2004, perhaps 2008. If politicians were stocks, you'd place a buy order on John Edwards.


HUNT: The likely outcome? John Edwards will finish in the money in New Hampshire.

SHIELDS: Kate, with Senator Edwards running fourth in New Hampshire polls, can his Iowa magic still work in New Hampshire?

O'BEIRNE: Mark, first, that really was Iowa magic. I mean, he was never considered the frontrunner, which Kerry was a year ago. Thirty-three percent of the vote was really enormous for this newcomer. I suspect he could use a little more time here in New Hampshire to get to be known a little bit better, and of course, because I do think he has a broad appeal, as we saw in Iowa, and of course, he's been dividing his attention because he cares so much about South Carolina. But I think they are real possibilities.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, your take on John Edwards?

CARLSON: You know, he's always been good in a small room, a very appealing candidate, and by contrast to some of the others, the positive thing is a good thing for him to hear, especially in contrast to Dean.

I think the Iowa magic was a wonderful thing, but instead of getting all the free media that that surprising showing in Iowa, you know, the Dean scream took up all of the airtime. So that I think Edwards got less than he would have had that not happened.

And I think in the debate, while he was very good, the ball was frozen in that debate. Nobody was taking any big chances, and Dean was tamped down. So I don't know if there is enough time for Edwards.


NOVAK: I think John Edwards is the best stump speaker, and may be the best candidate, but this collapsed schedule (UNINTELLIGIBLE) against a newcomer. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) be better off. I think he's got a very steep climb toward that nomination.

SHIELDS: OK. Now, it's prediction time, kids. Put your egos and your money on the line. I want to know...

NOVAK: This is New Hampshire.

SHIELDS: This is New Hampshire, Bob. This is New Hampshire. We're in New Hampshire, we're predicting New Hampshire.

NOVAK: Kerry first, Dean second.

SHIELDS: Kerry first, Dean second. Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Kerry first. Bob is probably right about Dean, but maybe Edwards.

SHIELDS: Which? Edwards? Not maybe?

O'BEIRNE: Edwards.


HUNT: Kerry first, in the mid-30s. And Edwards will squeak by Dean to finish second. Reprise of Iowa.

SHIELDS: Wow. Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: So Edwards has got a medium-sized mo out of Iowa, so I think he comes in second and Kerry comes in first. SHIELDS: Well, I have to say, it's the only time in American political history in a multi-candidate field, with the same candidates to finish first and second in Iowa and New Hampshire. And it's going to happen in 2004 in New Hampshire, because John Kerry is going to win, and John Edwards is going to be second.

HUNT: Mark, is has the look of a November ticket.

SHIELDS: A November ticket, Kerry/Edwards, sounds like a model (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

O'BEIRNE: Boy, you are way ahead of yourselves.

SHIELDS: Coming up, we'll turn back time to 1992, and look at the comeback kid here in New Hampshire.



SHIELDS: Welcome back. In the week before the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary 12 years ago, the previous frontrunner, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, stumbled as he fought off draft evasion charges and complained about unfair treatment by the news media. Sounds familiar? Former Massachusetts senator, the late Paul Tsongas, was the heavy favorite here in New Hampshire.

Your CAPITAL GANG discussed this on February 15, 1992. Our guest was Democratic political strategist Mark Siegel.


HUNT: There are some indications that Clinton may be staging a comeback. Mark, you had just returned from New Hampshire. You're just -- hours ago. Has Clinton recovered enough to save his candidacy?

SHIELDS: Bill Clinton was discovered, first of all, by the party pros and by the press who found this rather remarkable, electable and sellable. And the electable tag was put on him before the voters put it on. Voters felt, my goodness, we finally found somebody with looks, brains, political skills, charm.

NOVAK: He is a terribly poor candidate, and I think what you're saying, Mark, is that there are a lot of Democrats who wish that he would have fallen and gone into a freefall instead of resurrect himself.

MARK SIEGEL, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CONSULTANT: He's probably going to lose primaries substantially, probably by about 10 points, and then there are 21 days in between New Hampshire and Super Tuesday, which is supposed to, quote, "resurrect him."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People forget that the New Hampshire primary is the president launcher. They tend to downplay Tsongas' possibilities because he's Greek and because he's from Massachusetts. I think if he has a substantial win, people will be willing to overlook that and they can...


SHIELDS: I never realized that being a Hellenophile was that much of a liability for Paul Tsongas, but Al, Bill Clinton did finish second in the New Hampshire primary and called himself the comeback kid. Was that an accurate self-appraisal?

HUNT: Mark, I was the editor of that draft story, which at the time appeared to devastate Bill Clinton. I don't know what was more remarkable, either his ability to come back or his ability to set a predicate to make him, to turn a second place finish in New Hampshire into a victory. Either way, it was a great triumph of Clinton at a time, a very tough time for him.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Well, I don't think we appreciated on that program 12 years ago how remarkable it was, Al. It was just fabulous. I remember James Carville, now my colleague on CNN's "CROSSFIRE..."

SHIELDS: And then a strategist, manager...

NOVAK: And then a strategist. And he told me that Clinton had been -- had been devastated by the media, he was a victim, that was a terrible thing, an injustice. And he pulled it off. It was an amazing thing. He finished second, beat the hell out of Bob Kerrey, went on to be nominated.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Mark, back then the pundits saw, as you did, the looks, the charm, the brains, the political skill. I don't think we appreciated that the lack of shame would always wind up being his most important asset.

SHIELDS: Margaret...


SHIELDS: Excuse me. Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Well, Mark, you know, Clinton became a national candidate as a result of those scandals, because he went on "60 Minutes," he became a household name. And has anybody ever been more resilient in public life than Bill Clinton? And by the way, Senator Hillary Clinton?

SHIELDS: Well, I predicted at the time, I said Bill Clinton was carrying more baggage than United Van Lines. There was no way he could be nominated, and that's why I'm still on this show, thanks to the charity of my colleagues.

That wraps up that segment. Coming up next, the appraisal of Missouri, now that Dick Gephardt has left the field. Steve Kraske of "The Kansas City Star," one of the superb political reporters in the nation.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. After finishing fourth in the Iowa caucuses, Congressman Dick Gephardt of St. Louis made an announcement in his home town.


REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: Today, my pursuit of the presidency has reached its end. I'm withdrawing as a candidate and returning to private life, after a long time in the warm light of public service.


SHIELDS: That suddenly opened up Missouri, the most populous of the next seven primary election states to vote on February 3. Will Congressman Dick Gephardt take sides?


GEPHARDT: I can't figure it out at this point. I've got enough in front of me. I'll figure it out maybe at some point.


SHIELDS: Joining us from Kansas City, Missouri is Steve Kraske, political correspondent for "The Kansas City Star." Thanks for coming back, Steve.


SHIELDS: Steve, does any of the Democratic candidates have an early edge in this open showdown in the show-me state?

KRASKE: Well, Mark, I think you have to give a small advantage to Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. Both of them have active volunteer networks operating the state, and they've had them there for several weeks.

But keep in mind, what's happened here in Missouri, no one expected. No one expected Dick Gephardt to be out of this race at this point, and you have activists and insiders scrambling at this point, trying to figure out who they're going to back, if they're going to endorse or not.

You know, keep in mind, there's only six days between this New Hampshire primary and what's going to happen here in Missouri, and it doesn't give anybody very much time to mount the kind of campaign that we've seen in New Hampshire, and to a lesser extent in South Carolina. And I guess what I'm saying is that I think this is going to be a campaign of momentum. Whoever comes out of New Hampshire in strong shape will probably do pretty well here in Missouri. I guess I'm referring to John Kerry. If he does well in South Carolina and New Hampshire, he'll do very well here in Missouri as well. SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: You think -- that's very interesting. Do you think that John Kerry, blue blood, New Englander, would really play well in mid- America, Missouri? Even if coming out of New Hampshire with a big edge, do you think that he -- and with not a chance to do much campaigning and get himself known in the highways and byways of Missouri, do you think he would really do well in your state, Steve?

KRASKE: Yeah, I think so. I mean, this is the most representative state in the country, as you know, Bob. We have the record as the best presidential bellwether of any state in the country. And if John Kerry is doing well next door in Iowa, he's doing well in New Hampshire and shooting up in the polls across the country, I would think he would do very well here. He's got some good people on the ground for him in Kansas City already. He's got a small network under way in St. Louis right now, Bob. I think he will play pretty well here if he's doing well in the rest of the country.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Steve, given how little time there is, if you don't come out of New Hampshire with a strong wind at your back as a candidate, is there any way a candidate could deploy resources in Missouri in that amount of time to make himself competitive?

KRASKE: I don't think so. There's only six days, as I said before, and the interesting thing out here is that there are a lot of Democrats, even people who vote regularly, who aren't aware there is a presidential primary coming up here in just a few days. A lot of folks are just unaware that Missouri has moved up on the calendar and is ready to go. So my guess is that, again, a campaign of momentum. If someone is doing well in New Hampshire, it will probably play very well here. And there just isn't time to make up ground as we've seen in other states like Iowa, where Kerry and Edwards were able to move up rather rapidly.


HUNT: Steve, Dick Gephardt, who went out with the same kind of high class that he served long in public office, said he wasn't going to endorse anyone. You know the Gephardt people, though. Is there any candidate that the Gephardt, that more of the Gephardt people seem to favor at this stage?

KRASKE: We've had some movement this week, Al, where a couple of key operatives in Missouri just announced on Friday they were going to work for John Edwards. Some talk of the Gephardt folks might be inclined to go with Edwards. But again, so far this week we've seen people really go off in a whole bunch of different directions. No real singular focus at this point. Because so many people were caught off guard by Dick Gephardt's very poor showing in Iowa. Everyone thought he would still playing well by Missouri. No campaigns have been here at all. Howard Dean's been here a couple of times, and that's about it.

But boy, this is a wide open state right now. People are going in all kinds of different directions right now.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Steve, Gephardt is deservedly well loved in Missouri, but endorsements, even by Tom Harkin, of Dean in Iowa, didn't help. Former president, Vice President Al Gore didn't seem to help Dean so far. So, is an endorsement by Gephardt in Missouri going to be different from those and really make a difference to a candidate?

KRASKE: You know, Margaret, it might be a little bit different here. You know, the campaign up in Iowa, where you had Gore and Harkin getting involved, you know, a lot of the voters up there were very engaged, they were following the campaign very closely. It's very different down here. Again, as I said, a lot of voters don't even -- aren't even aware this primary is coming up. So I think if someone like Gephardt would come out and make an endorsement, it might carry some weight here with some voters. They're going into a vacuum here, relatively speaking, compared to Iowa and New Hampshire. For someone of Gephardt's stature coming out saying, I want to go this way, it might carry some weight.

SHIELDS: Steve, Bob Novak made a reference to New England-bred blue bloods. I think, if I'm not mistaken, Missouri twice supported New England-bred blue bloods who went to Phillips Andover, graduated from Yale. Once in 1988, once in 2000, named Bush. But beyond that, just to clarify history, I just want to ask you, the television buy in Kansas City and St. Louis is a pretty expensive proposition.

KRASKE: Right.

SHIELDS: You get a lot of waste factor in both places. Has anybody either shown the will or the resources -- I know the Kerry campaign was taking a long look at it earlier this week. Anybody on the air now?

KRASKE: No one is up on the air here at this point. They are making contacts with the stations, are talking to them about what's available, but you're very much right, Mark. Buying TV in Missouri is a very inefficient proposition. You buy in Kansas City, half of your air spills over into Kansas; you buy in St. Louis, and half of it spills over into Illinois, and they're both very expensive markets. So it's going to be interesting to see how much money these campaigns want to dump in here.

Again, under the proposition, how much of an impact can they make in just a six-day campaign out here?

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Steve, you keep close touch with the Missouri politicians. Before Iowa, was there a feeling in Missouri -- of course, they were all for Dick Gephardt at that time -- but was there a feeling that Dean was going to be the person that was going to be the nominee and that's the way it would probably end up? Did you perceive that? KRASKE: Yeah, absolutely. A lot of folks here in Missouri thought Howard Dean was doing very well. I did too. And you saw a lot of interest in his campaign down here in Kansas City with these move-up (sic) meetings. One hundred, 200 people showing up on a Tuesday night to get behind Howard Dean and get behind his candidacy. Just no one else are making waves out here at all.

And it was interesting, here in Kansas City, Bob, because in western Missouri, Dick Gephardt might have been from Pennsylvania as far as a lot of people were concerned. He wasn't that well known here, at least by the average voter, and I thought for a long time that western Missouri was wide open to another campaign if they wanted to come in here and challenge Dick Gephardt. But that never turned out to happen.

SHIELDS: Steve Kraske, thank you very much for being with us. THE GANG will be back with our "Outrages of the Week."


SHIELDS: And now for "The Outrage of the Week." Before taking this nation to war, President George W. Bush said, quote, that "Iraq had," quote, "a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for and is capable of killing millions." End quote.

David Kay, the leader of the U.S. search for banned weapons, now concludes that Iraq was not engaged in any large-scale production of chemical or biological weapons, and that Iraq did not have such weapons stockpiled when the U.S. went to war against Iraq. This was either a failure of American intelligence, or the president misled the nation.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Not surprisingly, left-wing demagogue Michael Moore called President Bush "a deserter." Surprisingly, Moore did so while endorsing Wesley Clark for president, and the retired general did not contradict him. There are only unsubstantiated reports that Bush missed Air Force Reserve meetings years ago. Desertion, actually, is leaving military duty without intention to return, and is punishable by death.

General Clark knew that, but when asked, said, quote, "Michael Moore has the right to say whatever he feels about this." Clark is a political rookie, and politics does corrupt absolutely.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Mexico refuses to extradite its citizens who commit crimes in the United States and flee across the border if they face either the death penalty or life in prison. In Los Angeles County alone, 60 Mexican nationals who had been indicted or are wanted for murder have not been extradited. That's plenty outrageous.

But now, at the International Court at The Hague, Mexico is challenging American death sentences for its convicted killers on death rows. How is that for a good neighbor policy?


HUNT: Mark, the infamous Dick Morris accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of, quote, "using their negative researchers and detectives to savage," end quote, Howard Dean, eliminating him as a presidential hopeful.

Morris earlier said that Clintons wanted to destroy anyone who would stay in the way of Hillary's ascension into 2008. So why kill the weakest candidate? Or why would they push four-star General Wes Clark, as Morris alleges, into the race?

The one thing Dickie hasn't blamed the Clintons for is that hooker he got caught with while talking to the president.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark, Mel Gibson claimed his movie, "The Passion of the Christ," got the equivalent of two thumbs up from the pope, who reportedly said, "it is as it was."

This would be like the pope approving Morgan Freeman's depiction of God in "Bruce Almighty." Gibson lobbied the Vatican for a year to deflect criticism that he blamed Jews for the crucifixion in the movie. But isn't it blasphemous for the self-righteous Gibson to seek a "I laughed, I cried, better than 'Cats,'" out of the ailing holy father who has many more pressing concerns?

For that, Gibson gets two thumbs down.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields, saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG. Be sure to tune into CNN tomorrow, for full coverage from New Hampshire. At 10:00 a.m., "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JUDY WOODRUFF," and at noon, Senators John Edwards and Joe Lieberman join Wolf Blitzer on "LATE EDITION." And on Tuesday, CNN special, primary coverage kickoff at 8:00 p.m.

Thank you for joining us.



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