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Democrats Getting Kerry-ed Away?

Aired January 28, 2004 - 16:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: Are the Democrats getting Kerry-ed away?



KERRY: I love Iowa, too.


ANNOUNCER: Will Democrats in the other 48 states love the idea of John Kerry as their nominee?

KERRY: And I hope, with your help, to love a lot of other states in the days to come.


ANNOUNCER: And can Howard Dean still bounce back?

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We really are going to win this nomination, aren't we?




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


TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. We are back in Washington.

Today is the first day of the rest of your presidential campaign. Is John Kerry's nomination now as much of a foregone conclusion as President George W. Bush's second term? That's our debate this afternoon. PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Well, of course, the folks who now say that John Kerry is a sure winner are the very same people who said he was a stone loser just three weeks ago. Keep that in mind.

But, no matter what the vagaries of polls, pundits and prognostications, one thing is certain in these changing and turbulent times. That is that the best political briefing in television starts our show, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

David Kay, President Bush's former chief weapons hunter, testified before Congress today. Dr. Kay has said that Iraq destroyed its weapons of mass destruction under the pressure of sanctions, inspections and bombing from the Clinton administration. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction when Mr. Bush attacked that country, none.

Even President Bush has now stopped asserting that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But, inexplicably, the president repeated his biggest fib, that Saddam Hussein posed -- and I'm quoting our president here -- quote -- "a grave and growing threat to the United States" -- unquote. Now, I never believed Saddam was a threat to us, even when he did have weapons, because we successfully contained him.

But to assert that he was a threat to us without weapons is lunacy. What was he going to do, illegally download music from Napster?



BEGALA: Make prank phone calls to the White House? Write an especially stinging op-ed in the "Baghdad Daily Bugle"?

Our president has lost his mind, Tucker.



CARLSON: Well, you know what, Paul? I do think your partisanship is blinding you to the real story.

It was reported this morning that the White House doesn't want to cast blame on the CIA or the intelligence community. Well, the intelligence community deserves a lot of blame. If it turns out that there were no WMD in Iraq, that's a huge fumble. That's a screw-up of -- of...


CARLSON: ... gigantic proportions.


BEGALA: Why would the president say Saddam was a threat if he didn't have weapons?

CARLSON: Wait a second.

BEGALA: Even if he didn't have weapons, he was a threat.


CARLSON: Everybody in the world believed he had weapons.


BEGALA: ... bad barber, bad personal hygiene?


CARLSON: We need to get to the bottom of why the intelligence community screwed up.

BEGALA: No, we need to know out why our president lied to us and sent 200,000 men to fight in a war we didn't have to fight.


CARLSON: See, you're missing the story because you're blinded by your dislike for Bush.

Well, one thing you can say about Howard Dean's second primary season defeat speech, it was a lot quieter than the first one.


CARLSON: There was no growling from the stage last night in New Hampshire, no fist-shaking, not a single primal scream, unfortunately.

The crowd cheered and stomped its feet, but Dean remained in nearly full control of himself, which, for him, is a remarkable feat. Instead of yelling out the names of the 50 states, Dean recited his stump speech. He endorsed wind and solar, worried about global warming, and, of course, relentlessly attacked George W. Bush.

One thing Howard Dean did not do was mention what had just happened. He never said the words John Kerry. He didn't utter a peep about the vote totals, which were embarrassing. He gave not a single indication that he'd just been blown out of the water by an embarrassing margin. If you hadn't seen the results on CNN, you would have assumed Howard Dean had won last night.

Come to think of it, that may have explained the cheering crowd. They had no idea Dean had lost. And they must have been pretty confused when they woke up this morning and saw the paper.

BEGALA: I -- I...

CARLSON: It was bizarre. It was Bizarro world.

BEGALA: Part of this is my fault, because I'm the guy who sent Clinton out to declare himself the comeback kid 12 years ago.

That made some sense, because he had a near-death experience and he was going on to his native South, where we believed he could win. And so I thought that that made good sense then. But it is a little silly. Even the fourth-place finisher last night stood up and declared, I'm a champion because I crushed Dennis Kucinich.


BEGALA: It's silly. And I started it.


CARLSON: You need to tip your hat to reality.

BEGALA: Well, I'm responsible and I'm sorry.

CARLSON: It's probably not the only thing you're responsible for, but that one I'm glad you're repenting.


CARLSON: Because it is embarrassing.

BEGALA: Well, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the current federal deficit will approach a half a trillion dollars for this year alone. And private sector analysts estimate that President Bush's tax cuts for the rich will add $5 trillion to the debt, money you, your children and grandchildren will essentially hand over to Dick Cheney, Kenny-boy Lay and the rest of the idle rich.

But Tom DeLay said that tax cuts have not added to the deficit at all. DeLay, the House moronic leader, told reporters...



BEGALA: Quote: "If we had not cut taxes, we would have less money than we have today." Get it? See, reducing taxes, which are the government's chief source of revenue, actually increases the government's revenue.

Now, by that logic, I guess the iceberg made the Titanic more seaworthy, cement shoes make fine swim fins, and parachutes ruin an otherwise fine jump. Now, look, some Democrats hate Tom DeLay, but I love him. I know, as long as he's around, I'll never be the stupidest guy in Washington.



BEGALA: So God bless Tom DeLay.

CARLSON: The idle rich. I don't know why it falls to me to defend the rich. But, actually, the rich give more to America than anyone else. They pay


BEGALA: Oh, they're so bloody generous. Oh, God.


CARLSON: Actually, Paul, that's a total crock. It is true. Rich people keep this country afloat. They pay for everything.

BEGALA: They are. They're the backbone of this country, not that lazy, good-for-nothing middle class.

CARLSON: You know what? Honestly, that's just an economic fact. And so if you're going to run around pointing



BEGALA: Our country is driven by the middle class. Our economy is driven by the middle class.

CARLSON: That's simply not true.

BEGALA: President Clinton targeted the middle-class economy. Boom. President Bush targets the rich. The economy tanks.


CARLSON: Beating up on the rich may be popular, but that's just -- just wrong.

OK. You'll never hear anyone else defend the rich, but what the heck. It's Wednesday. I'll try it.


CARLSON: Well, in case you missed the news, presidential candidate and confirmed vegan Dennis Kucinich reeled in a full 2 percent of the vote in New Hampshire yesterday. His followers are thrilled -- quote -- "Forget about the polls," his campaign manager enthused. "Regardless of the results tonight, let's keep living life from the inside out. Always remember, we're in this for the right reasons."

Well, winning, of course, is not one of those reasons.


CARLSON: As "The Manchester Union Leader" newspaper pointed out this week, Kucinich is just about as likely to become president of the United States as he is to date J.Lo.

Well, Kucinich himself considers these pretty good odds, dating wise, anyway. During an impromptu interview we conducted with the congressman this morning at the Southwest Airlines counter in Manchester, New Hampshire, the congressman had this to say when he was asked directly about his chances of dating Jennifer Lopez -- quote -- "Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh."


CARLSON: Well, Dennis Kucinich may be losing the campaign, but at least he's having a good time.

BEGALA: Now, let me see that Kucinich impression again.

CARLSON: Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh.


BEGALA: He is having a good time.

CARLSON: And this was at like 7:30 in the morning. If you can pull of a "heh, heh" at 7:30, you've got heart.

BEGALA: He is having a good time. He inspired Willie Nelson to write a great song about this travesty of the war. He has contributed a lot to the debate. He's not getting a lot of votes. But I admire...

CARLSON: I think the song was about hemp. I don't think it was about the war.

BEGALA: No, it's not at all. It's about -- it's about...

CARLSON: Well, I thought every Willie Nelson song was about hemp.


BEGALA: ... war in the Mideast.


BEGALA: But, no, God bless Dennis Kucinich. I'm glad you ran into him this morning.

CARLSON: Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh.


BEGALA: He sounds like Beavis and Butthead when he does that, not Dennis Kucinich.


BEGALA: Anyway, two states, two wins. So now, the pace picks up for John Kerry, as he tries to build on those victories, while Howard Dean tries to find a state where he can win. Their campaign supporters square off next.

And then later, good news seems to come at the strangest times if you're John Kerry. His wife will explain to you coming up.

Stay with us.




CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Well, for more than a year now, the Democratic presidential candidates have been resolutely focused on the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Now that both are behind us, sadly, will Democratic voters in the other 48 states be satisfied with John Kerry's solid, but pretty uninspiring candidacy? Will Missouri show Dr. Howard Dean the door? And will Wesley Clark find his Alamo in Arizona? There is still a campaign to talk about, for a week anyway.

Joining us to do that from Capitol Hill, California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, a Dean supporter and Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, who is a John Kerry man.


BEGALA: Thank you both for joining us.


BEGALA: Congresswoman Sanchez, Governor Dean, in the American Research Group poll on December 3, led John Kerry by 32 points in New Hampshire. And he lost by 13. That is a 45-point collapse. Now, if he can't win in New Hampshire, his neighboring state, where he led by 32 points, where will he win?

SANCHEZ: Well, you know, one of the things that Howard Dean has done is, he's been running a national campaign, ahead of all the rest of the candidates.

So we're going to see over the next few weeks places where he might be able to win, New Mexico, maybe Arizona. Missouri is up for grabs, with Dick Gephardt out of the race. And so what that means is that that person that has made organization, has gotten endorsements and has been working has a good possibility to win.

CARLSON: Congressman Ford, thanks for joining us.

There was a -- there was a fascinating poll today in "The New York Times." It asked voters in New Hampshire yesterday, why did you vote for these candidates? I want to put it up on the screen. You can't see it, but I'm going to read the salient points for you. Did you vote because you think the candidate can defeat George W. Bush in the fall? Forty-six percent of Kerry voters said that, only 19 percent of Dean voters.

Did you vote for your candidate because he agrees with you on major issues; 42 percent Dean -- 42 percent Kerry, 69 percent Dean. In other words, people who voted on the basis of ideas and beliefs voted for Dean. Those who voted for purely Machiavellian reasons, the lowest possible reasons, voted for John Kerry.

That's kind of embarrassing, isn't it?

REP. HAROLD FORD (D), TENNESSEE: Tucker, my friend -- and you are my friend -- only you would see those numbers that way.

CARLSON: Oh, come on, Congressman. Wake up and smell the numbers.

FORD: I think -- well, I think, the more people learn about John Kerry, the more they feel comfortable with him, the more supportive they are of his vision.

Two weeks ago, we were in a challenging, if not difficult, position in Iowa. Things turned around, because I think voters began to pay closer attention to the issues and the candidates. And, frankly, electability became far more of an important factor for many voters. And John Kerry wins, I think, on that front. I have great respect for Governor Dean and obviously respect and admiration and affection for my colleague here.

But I think, as time goes on and we see February 3 pass with those seven states, and John Kerry's campaign will be a national one. He's in Missouri today, will be in South Carolina tomorrow. I travel to Michigan tomorrow. This campaign will reach out to every voter, to every part of this country, every quarter, every neighborhood, every barrio and every ghetto in this country to say, we want your support, because we believe our vision is a better vision than the one we've seen in the White House for the last 3 1/2 years.


FORD: And I believe, if it's John Kerry, Loretta Sanchez and others will join forces with Democrats and ensure that we win in the fall.

BEGALA: I'm sorry to interrupt, Congressman Ford, but let me press the point that Tucker raised.

FORD: Sure.

BEGALA: And that is, voters who cared about issues, most seemed to go with Dean. And let me pick Dean's most important and powerful issues -- issue. And that is the use-of-force resolution on Iraq. David Kay is on Capitol Hill today telling your colleagues that Iraq had no weapons. No weapons means no threat. No threat means no war. Wasn't Howard Dean right about that resolution? And wasn't John Kerry wrong?

FORD: Well, we all know the resolution didn't authorize war. The resolution authorized the use of force. And I supported that resolution.


BEGALA: No, sir, it was a blank check for war. I read it.

FORD: Well, the president...

BEGALA: It was a blank check for Mr. Bush to wage war.

FORD: But, as you well know, Paul, you work for my friend and your boss, Bill Clinton. Every president has a right to defend the country. I don't make any bones about that vote. I think the nation is safer with Saddam Hussein in a prison, as opposed to in a spider hole.

Now, what we've learned is that the president didn't shoot us straight. And there were reasons why and we ought to fix those reasons. Evidently, our intelligence estimate was far off. John Kerry has a message and a plan to fix that. Up to this point -- and we heard the president a few nights ago -- after mentioning abstinence and steroid, the president didn't mention at all any steps that would be taken to fix the way the CIA works, to fix the way intelligence is gathered or even acted upon.

But the reality is that most of the voters who went to the polls in Iowa, even the ones where war the most important consideration, those opposed to it, John Kerry won in that category. The same is true in New Hampshire.

CARLSON: Well, that is an -- that is an excellent -- well, Congressman, you raise a really interesting point I want to throw to your colleague, Congressman Sanchez.

That is true, I want to read you a very devastating line from "The New York Times" this morning. And I'm quoting now. "Howard Dean has now failed twice decisively in the states where he's worked hardest, where the voters know him best, even among those who share his signature issue, opposition to the war in Iraq."

Even people who agreed with him didn't vote for him. What does that say about the lameness of his campaign, Congresswoman?

SANCHEZ: Well, I don't think -- I think his campaign has been a very good one.

I think that the reason that I have endorsed Dean and that I believe that he can win and I believe it's important for Democrats to beat Bush in November would be this. He has energized a group of people that haven't been in the political process. If we take a look at who has voted for him, who has come to the table, who we've been talking to, it's been young voters. It's been people who've said, I haven't voted for years.

And it's my belief that, if we run the same type of candidate with the same group of voters who have come to vote in the last elections, that the Democrats will not win the presidency. What we need to do is to enlarge the base of people who come to vote. And the only candidate that is doing that is Howard Dean. And that will show up, especially in places where the percentage of people who are young are bigger in the population.

That would be a place like Arizona, a place like New Mexico. So -- and I hope that it comes all the way to California on the 2nd of March, because there, you're going to see a real surge for Dean happening in California. Where California goes, we lead the rest of the nation.

BEGALA: Let me ask you about that. In Arizona and New Mexico, which you mentioned, one day, California, even before that, I believe, is Texas, all states with sizable Latino populations. Governor Dean speaks Spanish, pretty heavily accented, nerdy, Northeastern Spanish, but, still, pretty good Spanish.

Why -- I lost 20 bucks last night. I bet James Carville and Bob Franken of CNN 10 bucks each that the governor would use one of his signature lines, "Si se puede," right, which is Spanish for jelly doughnuts on me, I think. I'm buying jelly doughnuts for the house.


BEGALA: But why didn't he speak Spanish last night, if he's looking ahead to New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas?

SANCHEZ: You know, one of the things that Dean has done is that he has been out in New Mexico. He has been in California. He's been in Arizona. And he does speak Spanish, you know, not as well as -- with a heavy accent. But, hey, that's getting somewhere.

So I think he will be using that language. It's important to communicate to the Hispanic population. And I believe that there is a surge in Hispanics coming to vote. And, more importantly, one of the things that the governor has done is that he has enlisted the help of people like myself to come out and to help discuss with the community why Howard Dean is the right candidate to run against Bush, why it's important,, because of his health care initiatives, why it's important, because he was against this war.

And we now know, this war was the wrong thing to do. That's why we're losing people, we're dumping money in Iraq.


CARLSON: Congresswoman, I just want to bring in Mr. Ford really quick.

Congressman Ford, I'm a little surprised you're supporting John Kerry, not because he's not the front-runner, but because he has so dismissed Tennessee.


FORD: I was with him back in April. So it's been a while.

CARLSON: Then I wonder why you haven't had more influence on his views on Tennessee. He's said a number of times lately that it was really not a big deal that Al Gore didn't win his home state and your home state of Tennessee, that he doesn't need the South, that he can win without it. "Who cares about the South?" has essentially been his line.

Aren't you offended by that? And, more to the point, won't Southern voters and Tennessee voters be surprised to learn their states don't matter?

FORD: John Kerry will be in South Carolina the day after tomorrow. And we expect one of the prominent members of that congressional delegation will be with him, in addition to Senator Hollings. He'll spend time in Virginia and Tennessee. As you know, our primary is on February 10. John Kerry understands that this is a national race. And for him to be successful, you cannot afford to write off any state, regardless of how red it is or how orange it may be.

We believe we can compete, with three Purple Hearts, a Silver and a Bronze Star, someone who is a committed hunter, a defender of the Second Amendment, someone who believes firmly that -- that we should balance budgets, someone who believe that we should try new ways to educate kids if the traditional ways are not working. We're confident our message can carry and play and resonate with any voter anywhere in the country.

And if John Kerry believed what you just said, Tucker, I wouldn't be supporting him. But I can assure you, as a national co-chair of this campaign now for almost seven months, eight months now, John Kerry will be in Tennessee. He will be in Virginia. He will be in Missouri, will be in South Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, North Dakota, and all


BEGALA: I'm sorry to cut you off.

FORD: I'm starting to sound like Howard Dean. We'll be everywhere.



CARLSON: Yes, exactly.

FORD: We'll be everywhere.

BEGALA: We will continue with the Harold Ford travelogue in just a moment.


BEGALA: Both of you, keep -- keep your positions, please. We're going to have to take a quick break.

When we come back, we will put our guests in the "Rapid Fire." And we'll ask them whether John Kerry can run the table and win all of the remaining primaries.

And then, right after the break, Wolf Blitzer has the latest on plans for a U.S. military offensive against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to the live Washington audience, call 202-994-8CNN or e-mail us at Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.



BEGALA: Thank you, Mr. Blitzer. We look forward to your report at the top of the hour.

Time now here on CROSSFIRE for "Rapid Fire," where the questions come even faster than Bush administration excuses for making up stories about the war.



BEGALA: Well, in the CROSSFIRE from Capitol Hill are California Congresswoman and Howard Dean supporter Loretta Sanchez, along with Tennessee Democratic Congressman and John Kerry supporter Harold Ford.

CARLSON: Congresswoman Sanchez, in Governor Dean's long, extremely long speech last night, he never once mentioned the fact that he had lost. Do you think he knows that he lost, A?


CARLSON: And, if so, why didn't he mention it?

SANCHEZ: Well, I think he -- he deems himself a winner. We deem him a winner. And I think he will win this.

CARLSON: But, strictly speaking, he was a loser. Why didn't he say so?



BEGALA: Oh, there are no real losers. That's such a Republican concept.

Congressman Ford, you helped your friend Al Gore run the table in 2000, never been done before. I never think I'll ever see it again, but can John Kerry win all of the primaries? And, if not, where are you worried that he's going to lose? FORD: We're going state by state. Two weeks ago, we had problems with Iowa. We won. A week ago, we were down in New Hampshire and we won. So we're going to go state by state. And I feel good about it.

CARLSON: Congressman Sanchez, let's be honest. Howard Dean was destroyed by the Democratic establishment. Terry McAuliffe, the head of your party himself, has said, if he doesn't win next week, he ought to get out. Aren't you offended that your own party torpedoed its last hope, really, Howard Dean?

SANCHEZ: No, actually, I'm somewhat surprised that somebody who has really never run for an office, like Terry McAuliffe, would tell someone to stay in or stay out.

CARLSON: Exactly. Exactly.

SANCHEZ: I mean, I'm one of those candidates that believes we should run and we should run as many people as we want to run. And that's the why we get ideas and that's the way we get people to come into the Democratic Party.

CARLSON: Power to the people. Amen. All right.

BEGALA: Congressman -- Congressman Ford, are you going to advise John Kerry, if he gets the nomination, to look to Howard Dean as a running mate?

FORD: Let's get the nomination first. We've got a big day the 3rd and we've got a big day on the 10th.


BEGALA: Oh, I know, but nobody's watching. Don't worry. They're not watching this. Just between you and me, huh?

FORD: Your screen says Dean vs. Kerry, but this is really the Democrats for a better America. One of these candidates





SANCHEZ: And March 3. Don't forget March 3.

CARLSON: Yes, we won't.

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of California, up on March 3. Congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee...

SANCHEZ: We actually have it on the 2nd.


CARLSON: We'll celebrate on the 3rd. Thanks so much for joining us.

BEGALA: Yes, we'll be hung over on the 3rd.

CARLSON: Exactly right. Thank you very much.

BEGALA: Guys, thank you very much.

FORD: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thank you.

CARLSON: Well, John Kerry has been showered by good news in Iowa and New Hampshire. Next, his wife explains why election night returns may soon be sending him to the bathroom on a regular basis. It sounds vulgar. We'll explain when we get back.


CARLSON: Welcome back.

Well, fate catches up with you in strange places. According to his wife, here's how John Kerry found out he'd been declared the winner of the New Hampshire primary last night.


TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN KERRY: He was in the shower when finally, you know, it came along. So we nearly had a wet guy running around.


HEINZ KERRY: But he was very happy. It took a couple of seconds for it to dawn with him that it was done, done. But I was, of course, dressed, couldn't go in and get too close him. But last time in Iowa, he was shaving when I told him. So it seems to be a bathroom event.



CARLSON: OK, I just -- you know, we're a long way from picking a nominee. I just want to endorse Teresa Heinz Kerry right now for first lady, because I think she is fantastic.

BEGALA: I think she is fantastic. She's charming. She's brilliant. She's a great philanthropist. You're right. I love everybody, including Laura Bush, who is a great first lady. But Teresa Heinz, you're right, would be a terrific first lady.

CARLSON: This will not be the last time she's on our show, I suppose.

BEGALA: God bless her.

From the left, I am Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And I'm Tucker Carlson.

Join us again tomorrow for yet more CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now. Have a great night.


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