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Can Howard Dean Make a Comeback?

Aired January 29, 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: Howard Dean resumes his campaign, but can it ever take off again?

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to have to win eventually. But the question was, do we have to win on February 3? Of course, we want to, but we don't have to.

We're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington!

ANNOUNCER: Two losses and a staff shakeup later, what can Dean do?

Plus, we'll tell you what this mug shot has to do with South Carolina politics -- today on CROSSFIRE.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Tucker Carlson.



Howard Dean, M.D., is back on the campaign trail and trying desperately to stay on message. His message: I am the great and powerful Oz. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain or my continuing string of losses or my campaign's money problems. And the list goes on and on.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: For all practical purposes, is the race for the Democratic nomination already over? We'll debate it right after the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Our former chief weapons inspector, David Kay, was up on Capitol Hill yesterday answering some tough questions, questions like, why haven't we found any weapons, questions like, do you think they had any to begin with, question like, if there aren't any weapons why did we get in this stupid war in the first place? Because of this huge intelligence failure, Kay has joined and Democrats and Republicans like John McCain in calling for a independent probe of our Iraq intelligence.

There's only one group of people that doesn't want this looked into. And that's the Bush administration. This morning, Condoleezza Rice said that we need the facts to come out before we allow an independent investigation. So, let me add one more question. Isn't getting the facts out the point of an independent investigation?


CARLSON: You know what? This is one topic where partisanship actually hurts, hurts the country potentially.


CARLSON: I think that's true. There was a massive intelligence failure.


CARLSON: And to the degree the Bush administration doesn't admit it, that's terrible and they should admit it.


CARLSON: But everyone -- everyone recognizes, it was a huge screw-up worldwide, all intelligence agencies around this world. And we should get to the bottom of it as soon as possible.


CARVILLE: Well, why would Condoleezza -- why you said -- let's not have an investigation until we get all the facts? Again, I go back, how stupid can you be?

CARLSON: No, no, James...


CARVILLE: The reason you have an investigation is -- I know that's complicated.

CARLSON: There is an investigation going on right now.



CARVILLE: They're trying to stop it. They didn't want an investigation.


CARLSON: What do you mean they're trying to stop it?

CARVILLE: Of course they are.


CARLSON: Who do you think David Kay works for? He works for the Bush administration.

CARVILLE: Condoleezza Rice is all over the TV saying we don't need it.

CARLSON: Come on. That's


CARVILLE: He doesn't.

CARLSON: Well, on the campaign trail, Wesley Clark describes himself as -- quote -- "just a soldier" from Arkansas who has spent his life trying to help this country. Right. Well, in fact, as "The Washington Post" made clear in a devastating story this morning, Wesley Clark was, up until just very recently a corporate lobbyist who made millions shilling for defense contractors.

After getting fired by the Clinton administration's Defense Department, Clark wasted little time cashing in. He registered himself as a lobbyist, growing rich from sweetheart insider deals. In one case, Clark made $1 million in investment income using a no-risk loan from his corporate pals. He made hundred of thousands more simply by sitting on corporate boards.

In other words, until a few months ago, Wes Clark acted very much like the Washington parasites he now denounces from the stump. Of course, not long ago, Wes Clark was also a Republican who supported the war in Iraq and loved George W. Bush. The question is, who is Wes Clark? Well, we may never know, not that we'd want to.

CARVILLE: Well, I think it's appropriate that that...


CARVILLE: He was a lobbyist when he was a Republican. When he became a Democrat, he saw the light. And you got to -- you got to let everybody in.

CARLSON: This is a man...


CARVILLE: I got no problem with that.

CARLSON: This is a man who has the guts...

CARVILLE: When he...

CARLSON: ... to run for president without firm beliefs on anything.

CARVILLE: Well, I think he...

CARLSON: And it's insulting to the rest of us, frankly.

CARVILLE: I think -- no, you know what? I think people develop beliefs.

CARLSON: In 20 months?


CARVILLE: I think that this man saw -- saw the direction was wrong and he wanted to come to the right church.

CARLSON: He saw an opportunity.

CARVILLE: Welcome -- welcome to the right church.


CARVILLE: I owe an apology to the dedicated employees of the State Department, Defense Department and the CIA. I have repeatedly said that we got into a war with no planning at all on how to get us out.

A story by James Fallows in this month's "Atlantic Monthly" shows there was a lot of planning done for postwar Iraq. In fact, the planning was stunning in detail and accuracy. The problem is that the people who did this planning were ignored, insulted and sometimes fired. So, the good people at the State Department and the CIA, I offer my sincere and humble apology.

And to Donald Rumsfeld, Paul D. Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, let me offer this recommendation. I'm not sure that the Uniform Code of Military justice applies to civilian employees, but, if it does, you guys should be court-martialed.

CARLSON: They should be -- how about executed?


CARVILLE: No, just court-martialed.


CARLSON: That's so -- that's just -- I'm going to ignore that.


CARVILLE: They ought be humiliated and run out of town for the fact that we have no plan


CARLSON: Literally, literally seconds ago, you were


CARVILLE: ... arrogant fools. Arrogant fools, is what they are. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)


CARLSON: You were arguing -- you were arguing -- before you started name-calling, you were making the point that the CIA and the intelligence agencies in this government screwed up in their analysis before the war. Now you're saying that they were right. Pick a position.

CARVILLE: I'm telling you -- I'm telling you -- I'm telling you that the Defense Department, the State Department and the CIA told these fools everything. They took General Shinseki and humiliated him.


CARVILLE: And he was right.

CARLSON: Actually...

CARVILLE: You people


CARLSON: As you know, they told him that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.


CARVILLE: They told them in the report all the problems they would have.

CARLSON: But they also thought there were weapons of mass destruction, and it turns out there weren't.

It also turns out that Howard Dean isn't so opposed to the establishment after all. Last night Dean and his campaign manager and undersecretary for cult management, Joe Trippi, parted ways. Dean replaced Trippi with a Washington lobbyist Roy Neel. Neel is a confidante of Al Gore's and the embodiment of the corrupt party structure Dean claims to hate.

In other words, it's no longer possible to pretend that the Howard Dean for president campaign is about something larger than Howard Dean's own personal ambition. That's depressing. Joe Trippi, meanwhile, is still in the news and will be for some time. The upcoming issue of "GQ" magazine contains a remarkable story in which Trippi concedes that he and Howard Dean don't really like each other very much.

Trippi also worries aloud to writer Lisa DePaulo (ph) about the candidate's pension for saying lunatic, reckless things in public. It's enough, he says, to keep him in headquarters as much as possible -- quote -- "When I leave, I'm terrified." Well, now is most of America. CARVILLE: You know, it's a shame. It's very sad that we have a Defense Department


CARLSON: What in the world are you talking about?

CARVILLE: We're talking about Joe Trippi.

CARLSON: Actually, actually, James...

CARVILLE: Joe Trippi never lied to get us into war and rejected good planners telling us the problems we would face.


CARLSON: When you can't come up with a counterargument...

CARVILLE: I'm not arguing about Joe Trippi.


CARLSON: ... you don't address it at all and you throw in non sequitur after non sequitur.


CARVILLE: Read this article, America. It will show you what big buffoons that we have running


CARLSON: I give up. If you won't engage the argument...


CARLSON: ... and throw up an "Atlantic" from last month...

CARVILLE: Very sad. Very sad. Very sad.


Well, there's a new man in charge of Howard Dean's campaign team, as we were attempting to explain mere moments ago. Next, will yesterday's shakeup reignite Howard Dean power or just send Howard Dean supporters running back to Santa Cruz?

That's our debate. We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: Get ahead of the CROSSFIRE. Sign up for CROSSFIRE's daily "Political Alert" e-mail. You'll get a preview of each day's show, plus an inside look at the day's political headlines. Just go to and sign up today.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Well, Dr. Howard Dean performed radical emergency surgery on his campaign team yesterday. Onetime Al Gore chief of staff Roy Neel is in, campaign manager Joe Trippi is out. The doctor's diagnosis -- quote -- "We are not going to revamp our message. We're not going to revamp our appeal to ordinary Americans."

Well, to debate what, if any, appeal that may be, we're joined from Detroit by Michigan Congresswoman and Dean supporter Carolyn Kilpatrick. And right here in Washington is Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.


CARVILLE: Congresswoman, Governor Dean said today that he's pulling back on the September (sic) 3 Democratic primaries. And one expects that he's not going to win any of those. In your home state of Michigan, if he loses Michigan, will you urge him to drop out of the race and support whoever the obvious nominee is?


It's too early for that. I think we have to go right through the state of -- right through March. All the big states come after Michigan. Michigan is the first big state. So absolutely not.


KILPATRICK: I think we'll know at the end of the month. And I'll be right with him. I believe that Governor Dean is the right person right now.

CARVILLE: I understand. But he doesn't -- so he doesn't even have to win -- when does he -- let me ask you this, does he even have to win a primary anywhere in America to stay in the race?

KILPATRICK: Oh, absolutely. I think he needs to win. He needs to be fighting in every single primary and wanting and hoping to win. And I think he's -- he's going to do just that.


CARVILLE: What date does he need to win one by? Can you just give us an idea when?

KILPATRICK: You know, as soon as possible. We want to win. We want to make sure that Americans know who Howard Dean is, a governor of 12 years. Every single child in his state has health insurance. He's a medical doctor. His wife's a medical doctor.

Health care is in shambles in this country. He's balanced the budgets for 12 years. He's controlled deficits. We want to get the message out of who Howard Dean is. Other people are talking about it. He's done it. We want our country back. And Howard Dean can get us there.

CARLSON: OK, Peter Fenn, the constipated, reactionary Democratic establishment in Washington has pretty much killed Howard Dean, but you can't kill his followers.

I want to read you a quote from Howard Dean that sort of says it all -- quote -- "If we don't win the nomination, where you these million and a half people, half a million on the Internet, where do you think they are going to go? I don't know where they're going to go. They're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician."

That's true, isn't it?

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, it's absolutely not true.

I think one of the things that we have seen in Iowa and New Hampshire and we're seeing all across this country is that Democrats want to win. The electability factor was the No. 1 factor in people's votes so far. And they're looking at now John Kerry. They may look at some others. But they're looking to win this race. And there's going to be incredible unity. I'm sure the congresswoman would agree.

KILPATRICK: Absolutely.

FENN: Tremendous unity amongst the Democrats as soon as they choose a nominee.


CARLSON: So what you're saying -- I think know exactly -- you're saying, then, rather than having a new sort of Democrat, with new, fresh ideas and approaches, you want -- I think you just said it -- a conventional Washington politician like John Kerry. That's the winning strategy, though.


FENN: I want a candidate who can win this race. I think right now


CARLSON: A conventional, old-style one.

FENN: No, old-style, my foot. Listen, look what happened. Who did -- all the old style politicians do?


CARLSON: Dukakis is


(LAUGHTER) FENN: You know, the most important endorsement in this whole campaign -- the most important endorsement in this whole campaign was not anybody that -- big names. It was James Rassmann, who was the Vietnam veteran who the -- who John Kerry saved his life. That's the most important endorsement that this guy's had. He'll do just fine in this campaign.

CARVILLE: Congresswoman, I want to go back to you, because there's -- there's some thought that perhaps Governor Dean will -- after it's obvious he's not going to get the nomination, will run some kind of a guerrilla campaign and perhaps even become part of some third-party movement. Would you discourage anything like that?


KILPATRICK: Absolutely. Absolutely. We're Democrats. We're Democrats. We're Democrats. We're a two-party system here in this country, major parties. We want to win as Democrats. We believe that we will. And, like the gentleman just said, we're going to come together, whoever that nominee is, and get behind him.

CARLSON: Well, then, Congresswoman..


CARLSON: Congresswoman, I'm sorry. I'm sorry to jump in.

CARVILLE: Go ahead, Tucker.

CARLSON: But I just want someone from the Dean campaign or who supports the Dean campaign to explain why Howard Dean can pay $20,000 a month to Carol Moseley Braun, but has decided for the next two weeks not to pay any of the junior staffers or any of the staffers who work for him, people making $500 a week answering phones. They're getting stiffed. She's getting 20 grand a month. Can you explain that?

KILPATRICK: Cannot explain that. I'm not in that discussion.

Governor Dean can make the decisions he needs to make. He has to pay his staff. We've got a lot of volunteers who are volunteering. The important thing here is that America gets out and listens. There's a lot of time the media shapes who's in charge, who's not, who's going to win, who's out, who's electable. The American people will decide this election.

And it's based on health care, jobs, environment, schools, and the drastic foreign policy that this president has taken us in. Those are the issues.


KILPATRICK: And, as soon as we can talk to the American people about them, Governor Dean and all of the


KILPATRICK: ... will make that America will make that case to the American people.,

FENN: Congresswoman, I'll tell you -- I'll tell you -- not to interrupt you, but I think Howard Dean has had a year to make his case. And he took it into the living rooms of Iowa and New Hampshire. And he couldn't convince those people.

I think we need a new candidate to -- to take the mantle. I respect you. I respect his candidacy. I respect what he did last year. But, you know, I think, to be honest with you, that his time has passed at this point.


CARVILLE: Let me...

KILPATRICK: It's just starting. Iowa and New Hampshire, I love them to death. They're not indicative of America.

There are 70 percent to 80 percent of the primaries coming after Michigan. We're a week away, and 80 percent of other people will be voting. It's too early. It's seven people in the field. Four are rising. And there will be one or two in the next couple months.


CARVILLE: Tucker speaks of -- and I hear this talk of Governor Dean and the corrupt Washington establishment. You've been a Democrat in Washington how long?

FENN: Too long maybe, huh, 30 years.



CARVILLE: Congresswoman, do you know anybody in the corrupt Democratic Washington establishment?

KILPATRICK: I don't know any of them. I don't know any of them. I don't know any corrupt ones, no.

CARLSON: Really, because I wanted to get your -- you know, I think I can answer that for you, Congresswoman.


FENN: Are we -- is it just the Democrats that are corrupt, huh, Tucker?

CARLSON: I want to...


CARLSON: Wait. Hold on a second.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: I want to give you an exact -- an example of the question James just asked.

The chairman of your party, Terry McAuliffe, has gone on television, in interviews with newspaper reporters in the last two days and said that Howard Dean, if he doesn't win a contest on February 3, has to get out. Do you think the American people, voters, are going to stand for being told what to think and how to vote by the chairman of your party? What do you agree with that?

KILPATRICK: I don't agree with the chairman of the party.

CARLSON: Yes, that's right.

KILPATRICK: I think he's making a case.

CARLSON: That's right. Amen.

KILPATRICK: I mean, he's the chairman and he can say that.

Two primaries, five primaries out of 50 states is not enough. Eighty percent of the people will vote after February 7. Let the process work. The cream will rise. And whoever the nominee is will be way better than the guy who is wrecking our economy, taking our jobs, castigating our health care system.

FENN: Right.

KILPATRICK: We've got a lot of work to do. And those men and women who are standing up for the nomination, stick with them, America. Listen to them. Pick one, and let's bring in the right one. I contend, it will be Howard Dean.

CARVILLE: This woman makes a lot of sense.

FENN: Yes.


CARVILLE: She's very smart, brilliant.

FENN: I couldn't -- I couldn't agree with you more, Congresswoman.

The trouble right now is that by pulling out, basically, of the primaries next week and not going on television, with having spent $41 million and being broke, I think Howard Dean is going to have trouble getting into Michigan and Washington state. This thing is...

KILPATRICK: The Dean campaign is not broke. We've raised good money.


KILPATRICK: Even since New Hampshire. We raised good money after Iowa. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Really?


KILPATRICK: So the Dean campaign -- contrary to "The Washington Post" and others, the Dean campaign is not broke. All companies go through metamorphosis in staffers.

CARLSON: Congresswoman, why aren't you paying the staff?

Excuse me, if the campaign has so much money, then why are you stiffing the staff, the people who are devoting their lives to Howard Dean? Why are they getting the short end here? Isn't that outrageous?

KILPATRICK: You know, I think all staff should be paid. We have people who are paid staff and those who are volunteers. And I think they should be paid.

And I'm sure the governor will address that issue. I just want to say that the money is still coming in. We've got a long way to go. Yes, the staff should be paid and paid forthwith. We need to work in all the primaries and we need to win some. I think, as this primary season plays out, Howard Dean, Dr. Howard Dean and Mrs. Dr. Howard Dean, health care, housing, jobs, education, we need a Democrat in the White House. We need to take our country back. Howard Dean is the man to do it.

CARVILLE: Peter, I want to show you a quote by a former Louisiana governor and current guest of the United States government, Edwin Edwards, something he said when he was running.

Can we who that other Peter? He said: "I could not lose unless I was caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy."


CARVILLE: Do you think that John Kerry now has attained the dead-girl/live-boy exalted status of a sure winner?


CARVILLE: I hope none of us -- as far as I know, Edwin Edwards was in the slammer and still is.

CARVILLE: I prefer to call him a guest of the United States government.

FENN: A guest of...


FENN: The important thing, I think, here is that the Democratic Party has gotten stronger because of this primary process. We are going to be facing George Bush in a very close election. Right now, Kerry is ahead of him by three points. Health care is going to be the issue, jobs, the economy.


FENN: And we're moving. And we're going to win this race.


Congresswoman, you are great. You are really great.

Peter, you're always great.



CARLSON: Thank you.

Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick, thanks so much for joining us. You are brave. Thank you. Good luck with the campaign.

KILPATRICK: Thank you very much.

CARLSON: Peter, a member of the Washington establishment and one of our favorite guests, Peter Fenn.


CARLSON: Thank you.


CARLSON: Well, next, speaking of democracy in action, we throw open the debate about Howard Dean and the future of the Democratic Party to our audience right after the break.

And then, Wolf Blitzer has the latest on another deadly day for the United States military, this time in Afghanistan.

We'll be right back.

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.



CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University in beautiful Foggy Bottom.

And just to show you that democracy is still alive and we're going to let some of our members of the studio audience ask some questions.

All right, you're up, young guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is Minish (ph). And I'm from Fremont, California.

CARVILLE: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question is, could a Kerry/Edwards ticket be the right match to beat Bush in November?

CARVILLE: Well, I think -- yes, I think it would be a strong ticket. The first poll taken after Iowa in "Newsweek" showed Senator Kerry 49-46 up on President Bush.

Look, this is going to be a very close election. I think that a ticket of Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards would offer the Democrats a very good alternative to the disastrous policies of this administration.

CARLSON: I think an Edwards/Kerry would probably be a little bit stronger. But, at some point, it seems to me, Kerry is going to need to put a Southerner on the ticket, since he's already explained that he doesn't need -- he doesn't need the South.

CARVILLE: I thought you were a -- I thought you were a Sharpton- Dean man.

CARLSON: Well, obviously, my heart is with Sharpton, but I'm trying to pull...


CARLSON: I'm trying to pull away my emotions here and deliver a cool analysis of the situation.

Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I'm Nancy (ph) from Sudbury, Massachusetts.

And my question to you is, doesn't dropping Joe Trippi risk alienating Dean's army of young, Internet-savvy volunteers?

CARLSON: That's exactly right. It's like, if Jim Jones leaves, who's going to follow? It's an excellent point you make. At Dean events, he was probably the most sought-after autographer in the whole place. People love Joe Trippi. Plus, he drank a case of Diet Pepsi every single day.



(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: Your point is, though, I think this is something that Dean -- Governor Dean has to be cognizant of, if you run as an outsider. And Joe Trippi became a kind of symbol -- justified or not, he became a symbol of that kind of movement. People had elevated him to cult or near-cult status.

And now they have come in and said, gee, we're going to have professional people from Washington take over the campaign. I don't know how that's going to sit with the kind of young, Internet-based


CARLSON: The body-piercers. It's going to be seen as a sellout by the body-piercers.

CARVILLE: You know what? They had some good people.


CARLSON: Yes, I like the body-piercers.

Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. I'm Harani (ph) from Tampa, Florida.

And my question was, how much does it matter which Democratic candidate is nominated, since Bush's chances of reelection are so strong?



CARLSON: I don't know. I mean, of course -- of course, it matters. My personal view is that any candidate from either party who gets the party nomination becomes transformed by the nomination. So someone who seems like kind of buffoonish, as soon as he becomes the nominee, he's seen in a different light.


CARVILLE: I know of no political professional who thinks President Bush is in a commanding position or is a cinch to be -- to win reelection. Most people that I talk to from both parties say it's 50/50 one way or the other.

CARLSON: Yes, Bush does have an advantage. But, you know, it's a pretty volatile situation politically. Look what just happened in Iowa and New Hampshire. Things could change.

CARVILLE: All right.


Well, the Godfather of soul is not feeling so good this afternoon. Next, we'll tell you what, if anything, his fortunes have to do with the campaign for president.

We'll connect the dots when we return.



CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Well, celebrity endorsements can be a two-edged sword. For instance, will Madonna's few admirers actually vote for Wesley Clark? Or will people who find her ridiculous and a little sad be scared into the arms of Dennis Kucinich? You see the dilemma. And so does Al Sharpton.

In South Carolina, Sharpton's campaign is running a commercial by famed celebrity ambulance chaser Johnnie Cochran. Is that an overall plus or is it a minus? Well, the same goes for Sharpton's endorsement from the godfather of soul himself, James Brown. As a singer, James Brown is a genius, but would you want him as secretary of the interior?


CARLSON: That's the question.

Now, I personally think that James Brown's arrest -- he comes out for Al Sharpton. He's going to help him in the primary coming up next week. All of the sudden, he's arrested. Coincidence?

I throw it to you, James Carville.

CARVILLE: Well, you've got to connect the dots.


CARVILLE: And the dots is, is that he's a great singer, has made an immeasurable contribution to the world of music. Johnnie Cochran is a hell of a lawyer. I just wouldn't characterize him as an ambulance chaser. I think he's an incredibly respected attorney.

CARLSON: That may be true. But now he is a personal injury lawyer with satellite offices around the country.

CARVILLE: So what?


CARLSON: And I think it actually destroys America.

CARVILLE: No, I think that they help the little people.

CARLSON: Really?

CARVILLE: Little people who are injured by these corporations.


CARLSON: Actually, they help themselves. That's why they have private planes.

CARVILLE: They're the people that brought this priest pedophilia scandal to light. They're the people that


CARLSON: So they did one good thing. They get rich.

CARVILLE: From the left I'm James Carville. Happy birthday, Christy (ph).

That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: Yes. And, from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Happy birthday, Christy, again, our producer.

Join us again next time for yet more CROSSFIRE.

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



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