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New Hampshire Votes
Aired January 27, 2004 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE: Calling New Hampshire's voters, how about a little help?
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you can drag -- if you can find some of your friends, drag some friends there with you.
ANNOUNCER: It's primary day at last. Will New Hampshire drag down Howard Dean's campaign or revive it?
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We worked hard. We've got a great organization. And now it's up to the New Hampshire voters.
ANNOUNCER: And who is going to be heading south and west with a realistic shot at staying in the race?
WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we have a national campaign. We're in all the states. And we're getting stronger as we go.
ANNOUNCER: Today on a special edition of CROSSFIRE: "America Votes 2004."
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from the CNN Election Express in Manchester, James Carville, Paul Begala, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.
The CNN Election Express has pulled up to the Merrimack Restaurant on the Merrimack River, but not in Merrimack, but Manchester, New Hampshire. A lot of future presidents, including Bill Clinton, have stopped here on their way to winning the White House. By tonight, maybe we'll know who else's picture should go on the restaurant's political wall of fame.
All four of us are here to sing a little hash about the presidential campaign. But we'll start after the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." If John Kerry does win the Democratic nomination -- and that's a big if -- there's going to be one person in all of organized labor that will be the most powerful person within organized labor. And it's not going to be a name you've heard of. It's going to be Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters. The great firefighters provided early and key support to John Kerry and remained loyal through Kerry's trials and tribulations.
Sometimes, history rewards people who stick to their guns and their hoses.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: It's so perfect, though. It's so -- everyone likes firemen. I do, too. I guess Democrats are required to call them firefighters, which is a pretty awkward term.
CARLSON: But I have to say...
CARVILLE: What's wrong being a firefighter?
CARLSON: No, there's nothing wrong with firefighters.
CARLSON: Hold on. There's something so establishment about that. And I think, if Kerry is going to win -- and I think probably he could win -- he needs to learn a lesson from Howard Dean, which is, you need 20-year-olds organizing for you, not just...
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: But even...
NOVAK: Even anti-union guys like the firefighters. It's a natural.
CARVILLE: I would just say that here's a guy that came out. He was the only one came out early. I don't know if Kerry wins. Stuck by his guns. I think the guy deserves some credit. He's a loyal guy. That's all. I've got plenty of friends in organized labor. He's one of them. And they are firefighters. And there are women firefighters. And why would you call them firemen? Because they're not men -- there are women, too. And they fight fires.
CARVILLE: I think it's a great name.
CARLSON: Firemen sounds fine to me. I mean, I'm not caught up in the P.C. thing.
CARLSON: Well, this morning, the Wes Clark for president campaign fired off an e-mail boasting about the candidate's eight-vote victory in Dixville Notch, the tiny northern hamlet that votes first in the New Hampshire primary here.
Winning Dixville Notch is not a huge achievement. On the other hand, the flailing Clark campaign doesn't have much else to brag about. The only problem was, Clark's e-mail mangled the name of the town, spelling it D-I-C-K-S-ville. Ouch. It was more than a typo or even backhanded insult, though it was of course both. It was a metaphor for the Clark campaign, which has managed to be comically incompetent without being even a tiny bit funny.
After tonight, Clark's quest for higher ranks is likely to be over for good. That's good news for the traveling press, which will no longer be obligated to take him seriously. But it also provides important lessons for future presidential candidates. First, political experience matters. Second, ambition alone does not justify a national campaign. And third, and most important, it is worth spending just a moment of your time figuring out exactly what you believe before announce for president.
NOVAK: You know, I would -- I would like somebody to explain to me what General Clark was thinking of yesterday when he said he worked his way through West Point.
NOVAK: We're the people who pay all of the expenses for everybody at West Point, as we should. Was he -- is he nuts?
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: His hard work -- his hard work earned him an appointment to the military academy.
CARLSON: No, that's not the context.
BEGALA: He then worked for 35 years serving our country.
CARVILLE: I've been to West Point. Given their schedule, everybody who go there works their way through it. That ain't an easy place to go.
CARLSON: He said, his family was so poor, he had to work his way through.
BEGALA: They work their butts off.
CARLSON: But not because his family
BEGALA: He may not be a very good speller, but he's a great leader.
Well, now, ladies and gentlemen, the campaign really gets tough. Millions of dollars will be spent. Rumors will be spread. Deals will be cut. And why not? One of the most important prizes in the whole world is at stake. I'm talking, of course, about this year's Oscar race.
"Lord of the Rings" is the front-runner. All I know about is that it's not an American film and, if I wanted to see Hobbits, I'd go to a Dennis Kucinich rally. As for "Commander in Chief" -- or "Master and Commander," rather -- "Master and Commander" was also nominated. If I was interested in unspeakable acts on the high seas, I'd hang out on Donald Trump's yacht.
No, my underdog pick for the Oscar is "Seabiscuit," the heroic story of the original comeback kid. It is a secretly political movie, by the way, in high praise of FDR's New Deal. It celebrates the little guy, a great Democratic message. Seabiscuit, the horse that restored my faith in humanity.
NOVAK: Only you, Paul, could take a really good movie and a good book and turn it into political propaganda. You probably read the basketball scores and you say, boy, this is good for the Democrats.
BEGALA: Texas beat Texas Tech by one point. It's a sign that God is a Democrat, absolutely. Bobby Knight is a big Republican. He lost. Absolutely.
CARLSON: ... outrage for beating up on the poor little Dennis Kucinich supporters. They are great Americans.
BEGALA: They're Hobbits. They're lovely little people, but, I mean...
CARVILLE: Look, I think "Seabiscuit" is a hell of a movie. I think everybody likes a comeback story.
CARVILLE: That was a great book, a great movie.
CARVILLE: I think the little red may pull it out
Being front-runner is making John Kerry nearly as silly as Howard Dean. At Dartmouth last night, Senator Kerry said -- quote -- "Everybody always makes the mistake of looking South. Al Gore proved he could have been president of the United States without winning one Southern state, including his own" -- end quote.
Say what, Senator? The last I heard, Al Gore was not president, but was running around making ill-considered endorsements. Cheers for Kerry now come from 1,600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Republicans in the White House say, please, John, write off the South. It makes life so much easier for the GOP.
BEGALA: Why aren't we talking about the fact that George W. Bush has written off the West Coast and the East Coast? I mean, those are important regions of the country with more people than the south.
CARVILLE: I think what Senator Kerry -- I think what Senator Kerry was saying was, is that the South is part of the United States. And, as a Southerner, I wish we'd be treated not as a separate part of the country, but as part of the whole country. And I hope the Democrats nominate someone that understands that and not just
NOVAK: James, that isn't what he said. That isn't what he said. He wrote off the South.
CARVILLE: He did not say that.
CARLSON: For him to excuse Gore losing his own state, which was, even you'll admit, a complete embarrassment.
CARVILLE: How about Bush losing his own country?
CARLSON: Come on.
CARVILLE: Lose your own country.
NOVAK: Time -- time is running out for presidential hopefuls here in the Granite State. Just ahead, all four of us get a chance to weigh in, as New Hampshire voters decide which candidates would move on and which candidates may need to start packing to go home.
BEGALA: The CNN Election Express, which has been shuttling your humble hosts across the icy roads of New Hampshire here -- welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
We're now at the Merrimack restaurant here in New Hampshire. The polls will be open in this state for a few more hours. And for the candidates, tension is building, about as nervous as a porcupine in a balloon factory. Senators Kerry, Edwards and Lieberman, as well as Wesley Clark and Howard Dean, all made the rounds this morning to thank campaign workers and to try to persuade last-minute Granite State voters.
So, who has done the best job of connecting? Let's put it to our co-hosts.
Let me start, guys, with John Kerry. Here's a guy who was 32 points behind in his neighboring state, and now, in the last tracking poll, he leads. I mean, if he pulls it off here, it would be the greatest comeback in Democratic Party history.
NOVAK: But, you know, you know, John Kerry would have loved to have had the election on Tuesday, the day after Iowa.
NOVAK: He would have won in a huge landslide.
I mean, these people don't disagree on anything. It's like a Miss America contest. It's a beauty contest. And so the voters switch back and forth. Now, if they had had three weeks between Iowa and New Hampshire, as they used to have, I think Kerry would be in trouble.
CARLSON: I think that's right. And you don't -- I agree with you. It's an incredible comeback. Objectively it's amazing.
But you don't get the sense it has a lot to do directly with John Kerry. You don't get the sense people are coming out and saying, John Kerry, he's the greatest. You get the sense, a lot of people -- this may change -- but, right now, a lot of people are feeling, he's the sober -- sober alternative to Dean. He's the most -- he's the guy who can beat George W. Bush, but it doesn't seem to be based on him.
BEGALA: But, James, there's six other who could be alternatives to Dean. Why is Kerry taking off?
CARVILLE: Well, I think it's several things. No. 1 is, he did very well in Iowa. And I think No. 2 is, is that he's very experienced guy. I've been to his rallies. People told me -- people are walking six, seven, blocks to go to a political rally. Thousands of people are showing up. Obviously, somebody is excited about something out here.
And I also think that people are looking for a president that, A, can challenge Bush. Obviously, the Democrats want a change. And they see him as being able to match up very well. I think there's -- there's -- I've talked to these pollsters. He has got very high, very favorable ratings, higher than everybody else in the New Hampshire primary.
So I think he's -- he's done quite well so far. And I think, given if he is the nominee -- and that's not a -- that's not a certainty by a long shot -- I think he'll excite people pretty well in the general election, very well, in fact.
BEGALA: Yes, he's drawn good crowds here.
CARVILLE: Bigger than we drew with President Clinton.
CARVILLE: Bigger crowds than we got in '92.
BEGALA: Certainly of supporters. We had a lot of foreign press wondering around
CARLSON: Yes, but, still, there's Dean. And it looks like it could be over for him now or next week. That's certainly where it's trending.
But, at some point, people have got to decide, what was the Howard Dean phenomenon about? It wasn't simply drug-induced.
CARLSON: There were ideas -- no, truly. There were ideas behind him. Some of it was anti-Bush. Some of it was anti-Democratic Party.
CARVILLE: It was.
BEGALA: Some of it was anti-establishment from the Democrats, who did roll over on the tax cut for Bush and the war. Too many Democrats did. Dean tapped into that, but he didn't seem to have a second act.
Now, he -- look, he could win here. The polls are still open, OK? But it seems to me, in Iowa and here in New Hampshire, he still didn't have the second step.
BEGALA: I was right about the war, he says. I was right about the tax cut. But what do you do for
NOVAK: I wrote a column about him being the anti-Bush. And I got that from -- from the senior people in the Dean campaign. This was back in October and November, when he was the only guy who was really smashing Bush. Everybody got the message. They listened to him and Begala and Carville and they all started hitting Bush.
BEGALA: And it worked!
NOVAK: So he became -- he became less unique. He became...
NOVAK: I mean, they all -- they all attack him. Even Joe Lieberman attacks him.
CARVILLE: I think that, in some respects, Howard Dean is the bill payment coming due for a Democratic appeasement over the years, where Democrats think that, hey, these guys just came in. They went along with the war. They didn't fight back on the tax cuts. They didn't fight back on the environmental rape of the country, or whatever these people are doing.
They didn't fight back on the deficit. And this guy stood up and he said what I was thinking and he was saying the kinds of things that I wished the people in Washington said. And, therefore, the guy got out. He had something to say. He resonated out there with a lot of Democrats who were completely frustrated with the congressional wing of the Democratic Party. And that's just a fact.
CARLSON: But the one talking point, the one Dean talking point that actually is kind of true is when he gets up there and says, look, we need to bring new people into the party. If things remain the same, we lose. I don't see any other of the candidates having the ability he has had to bring new people in. Maybe they will get it. They don't seem to have it now.
They ought to study his campaign...
BEGALA: I think you're right.
CARLSON: ... and figure out what he did right.
BEGALA: Some of it has been techniques and tactics. And I think there's been too much coverage of that. That's fine that they used computers. I don't think that's what has been behind it. It's been, I think, his -- as Bob pointed out, his willingness to stand up to President Bush, to take on even his own party, when they have been co-opted by the Bush agenda.
CARLSON: Especially his own party. That's been the best part.
BEGALA: But then what do you do, then, when the others begin to co-opt that?? You got to have something else to say in a more positive
CARLSON: But how many of the others have stood up and said, actually, the Democratic Party is kind of corrupt?
BEGALA: It's not at all corrupt.
CARLSON: Well, of course it is.
BEGALA: We're not the ones meeting in secret with Enron and going to the Supreme Court to
CARVILLE: Let's get back.
There's two things that I've said consistently about Governor Dean.
NOVAK: OK. Let's...
CARVILLE: I just want to make this point. No. 1 is, is that I admire greatly what his campaign has accomplished. And you're right. People ought to study it. No. 2 is, I do have very serious reservations about him being our party's standard-bearer in November. And I've been outspoken about that.
CARVILLE: I respect his accomplishments.
NOVAK: The guy that they really have reservations about, though, as a result, really, of the last eight days is General Wesley Clark.
We have got to remember that, on the night of the Iowa caucuses, Clark was really a major contender here in New Hampshire for first place, for the nomination. They thought that this was a new guy who was going to bring different kind of people into the party. He has had one of the worst weeks in -- of any candidate I've ever seen over the years.
He was terrible in the debate on Thursday. And, James, what he did say in a short sound bit, he made two huge mistakes. He said, No. 1: I'm the only poor candidate in the field. That's not true. John Edwards came up from poverty. And then he said -- he made it very clear that he gave the impression he has worked his way through West Point.
Now, you say, well, he's just saying he worked hard. But that's the kind of silly stuff that people really don't like. I think he's been a terrible candidate. And he has lost about half his strength, according to the last tracking poll.
CARLSON: Well, you know, what happened is, people start paying to tension to him and it collapsed under the weight of its own ludicrousness.
BEGALA: Yes, but some of it is the vapidness of the press coverage.
CARLSON: Oh, please.
BEGALA: They run stories, as you have, about what sweater he wears.
We've got 510 men and some women killed in Iraq. He is a general. He says he has a plan to get us out of it. Why are people yapping about his argyle sweaters or whether he makes a gaffe in a debate? Let's talk about his ideas.
CARLSON: I know you love to blame the press.
His campaign put out that sweater story itself to humanize him, because they weren't doing well among female voters. Don't blame the press for something his strategists decided to
CARVILLE: Look, I think -- I think -- I think the problem he had was that his campaign was formed as -- in opposition to what seemed a steamroller Dean campaign.
CARLSON: Exactly. That's right.
CARVILLE: When the Dean campaign tripped, he kind of tripped with it.
The guy who is, I think, the most talented of the candidates out there, and certainly the most talented -- maybe the most talented stump speaker I've ever seen, is John Edwards. And I don't know if anybody out on the trail, regardless of what happens tonight in New Hampshire or down the road, John Edwards has helped himself as a national figure in the Democratic Party immeasurably
And Democrats are too quick to say -- I think he's going to lose because Democrats look at him and they say, he can't win. I think they're too quick to say that.
CARLSON: ... candidate than they realize.
NOVAK: One thing that John -- one thing that John Edwards says is, is that this is a country where people who are not rich like you, James, are treated badly.
NOVAK: And that is really not true. I think -- I think this is a country where people can get ahead.
I mean, even you, you didn't -- you weren't born a millionaire. You became a millionaire.
BEGALA: Even Rush Limbaugh
BEGALA: ... his maid, right? He paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course, she had to run drugs for
CARLSON: What does Rush Limbaugh have do with this?
NOVAK: Because he changed the subject. Can't you understand that?
CARVILLE: I don't think -- I don't think that John Edwards is saying that people can't -- John Edwards grew up in very modest means.
CARVILLE: And he's a multimillionaire.
NOVAK: What a great country.
CARVILLE: What John Edwards is saying is, there's two things of health care. There's health care for average people and there's health care for rich people. There's two sets of rules. There's a tax code where the rich people get all the tax breaks. (CROSSTALK)
NOVAK: That's because we don't have a socialist society.
BEGALA: One at a time.
CARVILLE: No, it's because we need to have a fair and more just society. John Edwards understands that. And that's why people are responding to him.
CARVILLE: That's why he has a great future in this party that wants to help ordinary Americans. This is about people who want to make it. The Republican Party is about people who have it made.
NOVAK: James, James...
CARLSON: I don't think he has a great future in your party, because I think he'll be crushed by the Democratic establishment, which is scurrying behind John Kerry.
CARVILLE: What in the hell is the Democratic establishment?
CARLSON: You know exactly -- you had dinner with them last night. Come on!
NOVAK: James, if there was anybody who should be against a socialist America, it's you.
CARVILLE: I am against a socialist America.
NOVAK: Because people aren't equal in this society. Thank God they're not treated equally.
BEGALA: They ought to be treated equally.
CARVILLE: I'm not against a socialist America, but I'm against -- a tolerant just America that offers opportunity to everybody.
And, by the way, do I -- get this camera on me. Do I look like the Democratic establishment?
(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Now, you're scaring me. So we're going to cut to a commercial break before James starts removing some of that clothing.
CARLSON: Just ahead, we will zero in on some of the best and the worst moves the candidates have made leading into today's New Hampshire primary.
NOVAK: The Oscar nominations came out today, but who has time to go to the movies? So, we're going to offer up our own nominations for the best or worst performances during the New Hampshire campaign.
I nominate Senator John Kerry playing hockey. It showed an effete, ultra liberal Easterner out there in one of the real blue- collar sports we have, ice hockey and playing with the Boston Bruins. Now, he made two goals. But the other players were -- the opposition players were under instructions not to hit him. They might hurt the senators. And the goals were phony.
This was the most fixed athletic event since the 1919 World Series.
NOVAK: And I will tell you that that was a great political operation, worthy of Paul Begala, a fixed hockey game.
CARLSON: You know what the worst part of it was? I've seen him play hockey before. And he doesn't normally play with a helmet or a face mask, which I strongly support. And he plays with a helmet in this. That was disappointing.
CARVILLE: Here's a guy that is probably one of the best athletes to ever run for president, won the Silver Star in the Vietnam, probably one of the bravest to serve in uniform during that conflict, and we're calling him effete.
And, by the way, he can skate like hell. It's so
CARVILLE: ... odd and funny that you right-wingers -- the fact that Kerry is so much better a man than Bush is driving you all crazy. He's a man.
CARLSON: Are you going to get to the Kerry-is-hunky thing again?
CARVILLE: Yes. He's a man.
CARLSON: Are you going to call him a hunky man?
CARVILLE: Oh, yes. He's a man.
CARVILLE: Wait. Did Bush show up for his?
BEGALA: Surely, Mr. Bush not show up for his.
BEGALA: Kerry was there.
CARVILLE: And did he win the Silver Star?
BEGALA: He did actually.
CARVILLE: All right, we're going to give out
CARVILLE: I tell you, he's a hell of a man.
I tell you, you know, the worst political move -- I gave Governor Dean last week in Iowa for the best political move, using the Internet. The worst, though, was his getting in and talking about Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and staying in an argument that he wasn't going to win. That fed a lot of doubts that Democrats already had about him. And he kept arguing about this.
He may well be right in the end about Saddam Hussein, but this is not the argument to make when you're running for president in a war that has brought nothing but bad news since the president appeared on that aircraft carrier. The capture of Saddam Hussein did make Americans feel better about a disastrous decision this president made.
CARLSON: Oh, I don't know totally disagree. I think his point that we shouldn't prejudge Osama bin Laden and be mean to Osama, as he put...
CARVILLE: Well, I said it's horrible.
CARLSON: I think that's actually really thoughtful point.
CARVILLE: I can defend -- well, not that.
BEGALA: Here's my nominee for best move, John Kerry shaking up his campaign and going to girl power, right? He already had Bob Shrum, Michael Meehan and Michael Whouley, three of the best men in the business. He brought in three of the best women, Jeanne Shaheen, the former governor of the state, Mary Beth Cahill, my former compadre from the Clinton White House, and Stephanie Cutter, Teddy Kennedy's press secretary.
It's the women who turned it around for John Kerry. And good for him to put his campaign in the hands of three of the best women in the business.
NOVAK: That's very politically correct. And I commend you.
CARVILLE: You know what? It is very correct and very accurate, Bob, very, very accurate, what he said. I love women. I love women and politics.
CARLSON: Yes, baby.
CARVILLE: Bring them on.
CARLSON: All right, James. He's losing control. I love it.
CARLSON: The best -- the best moment, which is also the worst moment of this whole campaign, was General Wesley Clark on "LARRY KING" the other night. Asked John Kerry's heroics in Vietnam, says: "He was merely a lieutenant. I was a general. I made all of the decisions."
That was the moment at which he really did pull back the mask and reveal a deeply, deeply eccentric person to America. And that was useful.
BEGALA: You should like an eccentric person, Tucker.
CARLSON: That's a little too eccentric, even for me.
CARLSON: Unfortunately, we are out of time. So, you think you know who is running for president in New Hampshire, do you? Well, you don't know the half of it. We've met them.
BEGALA: The New York lottery claims, all you need is a dollar and a dream.
Well, here in New Hampshire, if you want to run for president, all you need is $1,000 and a screw loose. In addition to the mainstream candidates, Kerry and Clark, Dean and Edwards, Lieberman and Kucinich, there is Caroline Killeen, the self-proclaimed hemp lady who promises to use her experience as a former nun to convince the pope to support legalizing marijuana.
Or, on the Republican side, there is Jim Taylor, who has dubbed his campaign, "one schmuck's presidential odyssey" -- unquote. No wonder my buddy Lou (ph) calls this state Zoo Hampshire this time of year.
NOVAK: But there's one great new candidate, well-known. Lyndon LaRouche is on the Democratic
CARLSON: And now that he's out of prison, he is tan, rested and ready. He is the perfect Democrat.
NOVAK: He might be an upset winner.
CARVILLE: John Kerry led all Democrats in an Auburn Hills School (ph) student vote today, got 151 votes.
CARLSON: But who won that race? George W. Bush won.
CARVILLE: Tucker, he did. But he didn't even come close to getting the Democratic total.
From the left, I'm James Carville.
BEGALA: And I'm Paul Begala.
CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.
NOVAK: And I am Robert Novak. Join us again next time again for another edition of CROSSFIRE.
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