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Dean's Last Stand?

Aired February 17, 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: John Kerry asks Wisconsin to move him on to the general election.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I look forward to this fight.

ANNOUNCER: Should Howard Dean and John Edwards keep fighting or does big labor have the right idea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, John Kerry has one quality I think all of us know. He can beat George Bush!



ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Robert Novak.



Today, we've got our eyes on a Democratic presidential primary out in Wisconsin.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: It looks like we'll have to endure another endless John Kerry victory speech and another round of calls for his opponents to give up. Should they give up? We'll get some answers right after the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

The Teamsters and 18 other labor unions who backed Dick Gephardt for president have shifted to John Kerry. Now, wait a minute. Didn't these unions, the so-called Alliance For Economic Justice, support Congressmen Gephardt over Senator Kerry because they were so different? Gephardt voted against NAFTA, Kerry for it. Gephardt voted against China trade, Kerry for it. Gephardt was against free trade, Kerry for it.

But Senator Kerry invited Teamsters boss Jim Hoffa into his home and convinced him he would change his ways once he was in the White House. It looks like Hoffa is just like the union chiefs he once belittled. When the Democratic Party says jump, he asks, how high?

CARVILLE: You know, I think speaks a lot for John Kerry, that they came to his side. He's for them on many, many other things, worker safety. The first thing this administration did is this repetitive injury thing that hurt working people. There's been an assault on working people everywhere. They cut programs that help them.

And I think it says a lot for the union movement , that it is mature enough to say, you know what? We disagree with this guy on a few things, but he's really good for our members and our country and a lot of other things, Bob.


NOVAK: Let me tell you a fact of life, is when...


NOVAK: It's, when union member goes into the polling booth, they don't care what Jim Hoffa says. A lot of them will vote for Bush. I guarantee it.


CARVILLE: Not very many. I guarantee



CARVILLE: Recently, Republican Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie accused John Kerry of saying one thing and doing another. If that sounds familiar, it's -- like a familiar refrain -- that's because it is.

This is what George W. Bush had to say about John McCain in the 2000 primaries -- quote -- "He's a man who says one thing and does another." And then running against Al Gore, he released an ad saying -- quote -- "Why does Al Gore say one thing when the truth is another?" Isn't -- this is all kind of ironic, because if there's anyone who has said one thing and done another, it's George W. Bush.


CARVILLE: After all, he said he would keep America out of debt. He said he would create job. He said he would not do nation building. He said we would find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

People quote me as saying, it's the economy, stupid. You know what? It's the president's hypocrisy, stupid.


NOVAK: Well, you know -- you know, James, you've just written another commercial, another advertisement for the campaign. (CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I'm getting sick of it. And I'll tell you something else. The American people are going to get tired of eight months of just pounding on the president. You may love it, but people get sick and tired of it.


CARVILLE: It's Ed Gillespie attacking John Kerry. I'm going to tell you, the president's hypocrisy is going to be at issue. This man has said more things and done other things than any five politicians in American history.


CARVILLE: And I think it's fair to call a man, his policies hypocrisy.

NOVAK: That's your theme.


CARVILLE: And that's what we're going to do...


CARVILLE: ... throughout this campaign. We're not taking it.

NOVAK: Senator -- Senator John Kerry, nearing the Democratic presidential nomination, wants to signify he is traveling the high road. He says he will not pursue the canard that George W. Bush was AWOL with the Alabama National Guard 32 years ago.

He has even asked nasty-mouthed Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe stop slandering the president on this. But McAuliffe just won't take orders from the party's new leaders. Do Democrats really believe that anybody will take this seriously, this variation of the old bad cop/good cop game? If the Democrats play this game, they should have to revisit the days when young John Kerry was attacking flag and country with "Hanoi" Jane Fonda.


CARVILLE: Well, let me tell you this right now. I'll attack George Bush every day, contrasting what he did by not going to National Guard duty in Alabama, by John Kerry winning the Silver Star and the Bronze star. And John Kerry don't own me. And he -- and just like the thugs on the right ain't going to shut me up, nobody in the Democratic Party is going to shut me up.


CARVILLE: I'm going to speak the truth.

(APPLAUSE) CARVILLE: And the truth is, John Kerry served this country with distinction.

NOVAK: Nobody -- nobody wants to shut you up, James.



CARVILLE: Because I was going to do it anyway.

NOVAK: Because you -- you cause more votes to go to the Republicans every time you open your mouth.




CARVILLE: And I'll keep opening it.

Today, "The New York Times" writes about a little tempest in the town of Alpine, Texas. Recently, a professor at the local university wrote an article in which he said that the residents of the entire area are -- and I quote -- "appallingly ignorant, irrational, anti- intellectual, and, well, just plain stupid" -- unquote.

He contended that he was -- quote -- "prepared to defend to death the proposition that this area of Texas is the proud home of some of the dumbest clods on the planet" -- end quote. Now, the residents are pretty upset about this. They have egged the professor's house, vandalized his car, even threatened his life. He says he never intended to consult them, but he's not going to apologize either.


CARVILLE: I think he doesn't need to apologize. I did a little research and found out that George W. Bush carried the county where Alpine, Texas, is by nearly 15 points. It goes to show you, stupid is as stupid votes.



NOVAK: You know, James, you think that anybody who votes Republican is stupid. And that just shows...

CARVILLE: No, some of them are just greedy.

NOVAK: Just a minute. Wait a minute. Let me talk.


NOVAK: And that just shows how stupid you are, because that's -- that's arrogant. It is obstinate.


NOVAK: And it isn't attractive James. You're better than that. Have a little respect for your fellow Americans.


CARVILLE: Some are just greedy. They want more pollution. They want less patriotism. They want more troops stuck in Iraq. They want more debt.

NOVAK: You know what they want more?

CARVILLE: They want more of this garbage that they're getting from this administration.


CARVILLE: And people that want Democratic want change, change, change, change.

NOVAK: They want more -- you know what the American...


NOVAK: You know what the American people want? They want freedom from professors like your hero down in Alpine, Texas.


NOVAK: It's on to Wisconsin -- it's on to Wisconsin for the Democratic presidential candidates. Will John Kerry continue to roll? And, if so, does this make Wisconsin Howard Dean's last stand?

And later, we'll share the results of a new study that lists the richest presidents ever. Who do you think is the richest president in the history of the United States? You might be surprised.


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.



CARVILLE: If preelection day polls were right, Wisconsin's going to be John Kerry's latest victory. Will it also be Howard Dean's last stand?

In the CROSSFIRE, Kerry campaign senior adviser Tad Devine, along with Dean media adviser Steve McMahon. NOVAK: Steve McMahon, on February 5, which wasn't that long ago, Howard Dean sent an e-mail to supporters. Your boss sent an e-mail, saying: "The entire race has come down to this. We must win Wisconsin. A win there will carry us to the big states of March 2 and narrow the field to two candidates. Anything less will put us out of the race."

But listen to what he said just the other day.



NOVAK: Let's listen to what he said. I thought we were going to listen to what he said.


NOVAK: Come on. Bring it on. Bring it on.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are writing stories, but they don't know what they're talking about. But they don't know what they're talking about. We're not dropping out after Tuesday, period, no matter what.


NOVAK: On one hand, he says they're going to pull out. And now he says, we're not going to do it, no matter what. What happened?

MCMAHON: I think what happened is, somebody took a calculation and determined that 75 percent of the votes the Democratic Party primary voters are going to cast in this nominating process hasn't been cast yet; 75 percent of the delegates haven't been selected.

To be honest with you, I think, at the time that e-mail went out, we were under the impression that the Senator Edwards might not be in Wisconsin. He's clearly there. He's clearly campaigning quite hard. Howard Dean indicated weeks ago that he wanted to get a head-to-head race with John Kerry, which is what Senator Edwards wants now as well. And it looks like maybe neither one of them is going to get it, at least not in the near term.

NOVAK: You just lost -- you just lost your national chairman. You don't have a schedule. You're out of this thing if you lose. Let's -- why don't -- why don't we just be frank? You can't effect any votes in Wisconsin at this hour.

MCMAHON: Well, listen, Bob, with all due respect, I'm not -- I'm not ready to let you declare the Democratic race for president over.


MCMAHON: I know you would like to do that, or even frankly the general election at this point; 75 percent of the votes haven't been cast and Howard thinks that people deserve a choice. And he intends to give it to them.

CARVILLE: The most negative politician in modern American history is George W. Bush. He ran against John McCain's patriotism, said he was for breast cancer. Assume that John Kerry is the nominee. Is he going to sit by and let these kind of vicious attacks come from this administration, or is he going respond, or is he going to let Mr. Novak and his cronies sit there and pound on him all day?


He will take a case against the president every step of the way. And I think, you know, and Democrats -- and this is important to Democrat, as you know, James. We want someone who is going to stand up and fight against the president, to point out the fact that we've lost three million jobs in this country, to point out the fact that the cost of health insurance has doubled since George Bush has become president. Two million people have lost health care.

The problems in this nation are enormous. John Kerry will not back down or give an inch on national security or any of these issues to President Bush.

NOVAK: You know, I'd like...


NOVAK: Tad, I'd like you to -- I'd like to read you an editorial from "The Washington Post," a great newspaper. I like it because its opinions are very good, and they run my column.


NOVAK: But in the editorial yesterday, they said, about your candidate, Kerry: "If he is to offer a credible alternative to Mr. Bush, he must explain how he would manage the real and dangerous challenges the United States now faces in Iraq, without the fuzzing."

Now, are you going to have a serious campaign...


NOVAK: ... or are you just going to listen to this balderdash from Carville?


DEVINE: Bob, we want a serious campaign on the issue. We think the real issues are the economy, health care, the security of this country, are something that should be debated by both of the major- party candidates.

And I will tell you, we welcome that fight. John Kerry has a very different view of the world. He thinks America is less secure when we alienate the rest of the world. He believes that America is less secure


NOVAK: But you haven't explained how you're going to be different.

DEVINE: Sure. Be very different.

Let me tell you, first of all, what about on taxes? John Kerry thinks middle-class families deserve tax relief. But the tax policies pursued by this president are creating a massive deficit and are drowning this economy.

And his -- and, by the way, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers of President Bush says it's the policy of the United States of America to export jobs? I'll tell you, if he were working for John Kerry, he would be fired the next day, fired.



CARVILLE: Let me just point out that "The Washington Post" supported the debacle and the lies and everything that's gone in Iraq. Fred Hiatt and that whole editorial page is just looking for an invitation to cocktail parties and be cool. There's the ones that helped get America in this mess. You figure something out.

Let me ask you a question. Do you foresee Dean teaming up with Ralph Nader or any third-party effort, assuming he's not



CARVILLE: Do you foresee him aligning with the Democratic Party and bringing about change to the policies of "The Washington Post" editorial page and George W. Bush and no jobs and skyrocketing deficits and quagmires in Iraq and everything else?

MCMAHON: He's said repeatedly that's he not going to do anything other than support the Democratic nominee.

He obviously hopes, still, that it's going to be him. If it's not going to be him, if it's going to be Senator Kerry or Senator Edwards, he's going to be out there doing everything he can to make sure that they're elected president, because he believes, as Senator Kerry does, that the loss of jobs, that the deficit, that health -- the health care crisis in this country deserve a president who is willing to address them.

And if it can't be Howard Dean, it's going to be either John Kerry or John Edwards and he'll be enthusiastically behind the nominee.

NOVAK: I want to ask you a question. You're an intellect, introspective person. I'm sure you think about things carefully...


NOVAK: ... unlike some people at this table. And -- I'm not talking about you, Tad.

DEVINE: Thank you, Bob.


NOVAK: I just wonder, do you ever wonder -- you were ahead everywhere. You were ahead in California, ahead in New York, ahead in Ohio. You were ahead nationally. You were just -- what did you do wrong? Do you ever think, my God, how could we have screwed this up?


MCMAHON: Well, obviously, obviously...


MCMAHON: Obviously, it's something we think about every single day.

Howard Dean was under a relentless barrage of negativity from his opponents, from the media, from third-party -- secret third-party groups that were running.

CARVILLE: From me.


MCMAHON: From James, from you. This is a show with the left and the right represented. And sometimes, when we'd tune in, we would find both of you attacking us. That wasn't just your show. It was a lot of shows. It was a lot of newspapers.

NOVAK: Why were you being attacked by us?

MCMAHON: It was secret third-party groups, Bob, that operated with contributions from secret third-party donors that weren't disclosed that


NOVAK: Nobody gave me any -- any contributions.

MCMAHON: But you just asked what happened. They got to attack Howard Dean with impunity. And over time, that has an impact.

And one of the reasons that Howard Dean is staying in this race for the time being, at least, is because he's seen and knows better than anybody what can happen when you're on top and six weeks later you're not. And so, you know, Senator Kerry is doing well today. And congratulations for that. But it's a long way to the nomination. It's a long way to July and the convention. And it's going to take 2,162 delegates or something. And Senator Kerry's a long way from that.

CARVILLE: It appears a long way. And, I mean, people have a right to run in this country, and, certainly, Governor Dean. By the way, I have never failed to say that he didn't make an enormous contribution to the party, or that you and Joe didn't do...

NOVAK: Oh, cut that out.




CARVILLE: I never failed to say it.

I want to go back to what kind of -- if Senator Kerry is the nominee, are we going to like try to get people back in the party or are we going to try to bring them into the campaign here? What is -- what's -- what's their attitude over at the Kerry campaign right now?

DEVINE: Well, I think the attitude is that we want to bring the Democratic Party together, that we want to invite every part of it to join this cause, that if people -- I've never seen the Democratic Party united so early behind a single concept, which is, we must get rid of President Bush.

And I think our campaign is going to be a very expansive one. We have tremendous people all across this country who want to participate in it. And they're going to be welcome to do so.

NOVAK: Do you think -- do you think, Tad, the American people are really going to tolerate a Carville campaign for eight months of getting rid of George W. Bush, where you have no ideas, where you have no plans? It's anti-Bush, anti-Bush. Do you really think that's going to be able to -- that the American people can stand that without regurgitating?

DEVINE: Bob, I think the tone and the tenor of this campaign is really in many ways going to be dictated by George Bush and the people around him.

If they want an exchange of ideas and a contest of ideas, John Kerry welcome it. We'd love to debate the real policies.


DEVINE: But if they're going to come at John Kerry the way they came at, for example


CARVILLE: Does anybody have any idea what the Bob Novak-George Bush "Washington Post" editorial page is to get us out of debt? Does the "Washington Post" editorial page of Bob Novak and George W. Bush have the foggiest idea how to get our kids out of Iraq? Of course they don't. We're in a quagmire. We need change in this country, significant change. Thank God for the Democrats.


NOVAK: I have a plan for getting out, but we're going to take a break.

And when we return, we'll put our guests in the "Rapid Fire" and ask whether Dr. Dean will soon be accepting patients once again.

And right after the break, Wolf Blitzer will have the latest on how the U.S. military is shifting its tactics in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

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: It's time for "Rapid Fire," where long answers get interrupted even sooner.

We're talking presidential politics with Dean media adviser Steve McMahon and Kerry campaign senior adviser Tad Devine.

NOVAK: Mr. McMahon, since Howard Dean's political career is coming to an end very shortly, do you think he will go back to the practice of medicine or maybe come back to Washington and be a lobbyist?

MCMAHON: He's not -- his political career isn't coming to an end anytime soon, Bob.


CARVILLE: Tad, just a guess. Will John Kerry a nominee pick -- assuming he is the nominee, which is an assumption -- will he pick a vice presidential nominee before the traditional time, right before the convention, or do you think he will wait until right before the convention?

DEVINE: I don't know, but maybe before.

CARVILLE: Maybe before.

NOVAK: Tad, did your candidate apologize to James Hoffa for voting against him on all these trade issues in order to get his endorsement?

DEVINE: No, and he didn't apologize for opposing labor on ANWR, where he led the fight to stop it, or for being for welfare reform, which he supported when Clinton was president, or for being for deficit reduction.

Listen, Bob, John Kerry is a moderate Democrat with a chest full of medals. And I know that's going to drive you guy nuts, but that's who you're going to run against, OK?


CARVILLE: At what -- at some point, Dr. Dean has to win a primary. Give us a kind of a date by which...

MCMAHON: You think?

CARVILLE: Yes, well, you know, it would be nice.

MCMAHON: Yes, at some point, he has to win a primary. But what he has to win is the nomination in July, which means he needs to have 2,160 delegates.

CARVILLE: But how are you going to get 2,160 delegates until you win one?


MCMAHON: Well, listen, we have proportional representation. We've got to win them late. We've got to win them late, James.


NOVAK: Steve, is Dr. Dean sorry that he didn't bring the other Dr. Dean, Judy, out on the stump sooner? She's a lot more attractive than he is.

MCMAHON: It would have been great to have her out, but she had things she -- patients and things she had to do in Vermont, including raise a child and stay home. And I thought you guys, you Republicans liked that, when wives and mothers stay at home with their families.



CARVILLE: Bob made fun of me yesterday, when I said that Teresa Heinz Kerry was not only a very wealthy woman, but was a very brilliant woman. Do you agree with me that she's a brilliant woman?

DEVINE: I couldn't agree any more.



NOVAK: If Kerry gets to be president, which of the bills that he voted for will he try to repeal first, NAFTA, Patriot Act or no children left behind? (LAUGHTER)

DEVINE: Well, he's got a solution on all of those, Bob.


NOVAK: Which will he repeal first?

DEVINE: Here's what he'll do, NAFTA, environmental safeguards, OK? We'll incorporate them going forward. No Child Left Behind, he'll fund it, instead of what the president did. He's run away from it, OK?


DEVINE: That's what he'll do.

NOVAK: Tad Devine, thank you. Steve McMahon, thank you.

In many cases, money and politics just go together. Who has been America's richest president? You will be surprised.

And where will John Kerry and his wife's pickle and ketchup fortune fall if we have to deal with him as president?




NOVAK: "Forbes" magazine says that, if John Kerry is elected, he would be the third richest U.S. president of all time. So who are numbers one and two? "Forbes" says, based on its calculations, George Washington, yes, was our richest president, based on his own fortune, big plantation and the fact that he married a wealthy widow.

Sound familiar? No. 2 on the list is John F. Kennedy. Kerry would bump down Presidents Andrew Jackson and Lyndon Johnson, meaning four of the top five richest presidents would be, yes, Democrats.


CARVILLE: You know what -- you know what Harry Truman said? If you want to live like a Republican, vote like a Democrat. If you want to create a good economy and a lot of wealth out there, have a responsible fiscal policy that the Democrats will bring, not just greedy Republicans.


NOVAK: As I tried to tell you, the best way for a Democrat to get rich is to marry a rich widow. And that -- that will do it.


CARVILLE: George Washington. Now Bob Novak attacks George Washington and Ms. Custis.

From the left, I'm James Carville. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak.

Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.


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