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Will Edwards Be Kerry's Running Mate? Colin Powell Urges President Ariside To Step Down; America Divided On How Government Should Handle Same-Sex Marriage

Aired February 28, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.
MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson. Our guest is Republican senator John Sununu of New Hampshire.

It's good to have you back, John.

SEN. JOHN SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: It's great to be here. Thank you.

SHIELDS: Thank you.

George W. Bush opened his reelection campaign.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Come November, the voters are going to have a very clear choice. It's a choice between keeping the tax relief that is moving the economy forward or putting the burden of higher taxes back on the American people.


SHIELDS: The president announced his position on gay marriage.


BUSH: If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president is talking about first amending the United States Constitution for a problem that does not exist.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is doing this because he's in trouble. He's trying to reach out to his base. He's playing politics with the Constitution of the United States.


SHIELDS: CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows adult Americans oppose gay marriage by 2-to-1, but they are evenly divided over whether the federal government or the state government should determine laws on gay marriage.

Margaret Carlson, is President Bush's position on gay marriage in 2004 a political plus or a political minus for him?

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Well, it's a plus the week that Rosie O'Donnell gets married and becomes the face of the issue.


CARLSON: It's a plus for him, but he doesn't need it. He's got his base anyway. They're not going to -- if this is your issue, you're not going to vote for a Democrat. And to make it an issue kind of diminishes the other issues that are important. Can you really be talking about gay marriage, which took up a big part of the debate the other night, when we still haven't found Osama bin Laden and we're supposed to be at war and we're after the terrorists and people are dying in Iraq?

And you know, maybe there could be a slight backlash in that people are more divided over whether the federal government should get involved in this and the Constitution should have marriages. Are we going to have birthdays in there? Are we going to have, you know, how you should have a wedding? The Constitution is no place for this, and people know it.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, in the past, both Mr. Bush and Vice President Cheney have repeatedly stated that this issue ought to be left to the states, and this is a turn-around. And the federal Defense of Marriage Act, in fact, does say the states are not required to recognize same-sex unions from any other state. So why now?

BOB NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Well, the supreme judicial court from your old state of Massachusetts has screwed it all up by its ruling. It'll go up to the U.S. Supreme Court, probably rule 5-to-4 in favor of gay marriage, and that's why a constitutional amendment is necessary.

You know, Margaret, I know the Republican base, the conservative base, a little better than you do. I hope you'll agree with me on that.


NOVAK: And the idea that he has the base is wrong. They're very -- they're not happy with President Bush. If he had not come out for this constitutional amendment, he would have had defections. And there's not total satisfaction because the president, by -- implicitly says he's in favor of some kind of an arrangement for gay civil unions. So I think -- I think this is very important, and the fact that I couldn't make head nor tail out of what Senator Kerry, the Democratic frontrunner, was saying in the debate on this whole issue -- I think he's confused about it -- indicate that the Democrats are upset because the American people are against gay marriage, and the homosexual lobby is very important in the -- in the Democratic Party.

CARLSON: And these people are going to vote for Kerry, these members of the base?

NOVAK: No, they won't vote. That's the option we have. You don't have to vote in this country.

SHIELDS: There was a time, John, when conservatives argued that things ought to be states' rights, local option, local preference. Here we have the nuclear response by the president. It's the ultimate national, federal answer or solution, a constitutional amendment. As a conservative, could you take that one?

SUNUNU: Bob's point is absolutely right. The court in Massachusetts has forced this to become a national issue. That's the concern the president's raising. He's trying to respond to that. It should be a state issue. That's what the Defense of Marriage Act attempted to do. And that is also why John Kerry is in such a touch position because he's saying, I think this should be a state issue, but the one chance he had to vote for legislation that says states should decide this issue, all we are concerned about at the federal level is that no state should be forced to have it decided for them by another state -- he took a pass. He voted no. And that's why it's a difficult position for him.

The president's dealt with this now because of what the courts have done, but at the end of the day, Margaret's also right, this is an election that's going to be determined by bigger issues -- national security, taxes, education, Social Security reform. And they'll drive the debate in November.


AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Well, a hundred days ago, when the Massachusetts court came up with its ruling, I think everyone agreed this was a bigger problem for the Democrats. Today I don't think people agree on that. I think it may be an equal problem for both sides, for a couple reasons. No. 1, what President Bush did was a raw political calculation. I don't think he believes this. I don't think he cares about it, frankly. And to enshrine sex in the Constitution for something you don't care about is really, you know, an unattractive step.

I don't agree with John. I don't think the Massachusetts court did anything except affect Massachusetts. I don't think it affects New Hampshire at all. And I think, thirdly, people find out the more -- whether you like or dislike it, the more you find this happens, it's no big issue. It doesn't threaten anybody. It really doesn't.

So I think this issue is a distraction, John, from the big issues of tax cuts and war and peace and other issues. It's a distraction for both sides. But my guess is it's not going to be -- you know, it's not going to tilt heavily one side or the other.

NOVAK: Can we -- can we give President Bush at least the credit for saying, when he says something, to have a presumption that he believes it, instead of insulting the president of the United States, saying, He doesn't believe in anything? HUNT: Well, now, wait a minute, Bob. Wait a minute. After -- after sitting here for eight years under Bill Clinton and listening to what you said about Bill Clinton and what he believed and didn't believe -- I'm sorry. I don't think Bush believes in this.

CARLSON: And I think it's the suspicion of people that maybe he's a closet tolerant on the issue that made him come out and do this now, when actually, the Supreme Court hasn't ruled. There's no threat at the moment.

NOVAK: They will rule, though.

SHIELDS: Well, I remember when he came out after not meeting with the Log Cabin Republicans, the Republican gay group, during the entire campaign in 2000 -- met with them in 2001 and came out and said, We had a wonderful discussion. I'm a better person for this meeting. And it seems to me that one of the great divisions in the conservative movement is between those who say being gay is a matter of choice or it's a -- you're born that way, I mean, because there's a strong theme in there that says you can change if you'll just, you know, pray hard enough and -- is that -- is that implicit in this amendment?


SUNUNU: No. It's not. I think it gets back to the fact of whether you feel that the state of California or the state of Florida or Massachusetts should define how you deal with marriage in the state of New Hampshire or any other state. Now, you may say, Well, it's not under threat now, but everyone knows that this is going to wind its way to the Supreme Court and...

CARLSON: But why jump the gun?


NOVAK: Let's jump the gun and prevent...


NOVAK: ... and prevent the -- the 5-to-4 liberal majority...

HUNT: Well, I also want to quickly say...

NOVAK: ... from deciding it.

HUNT: ... Mark, if the point is to protect the institution of marriage, let's add an amendment. Let's, for instance, make infidelity unconstitutional because that certainly threatens.

CARLSON: And divorce. Yes.

HUNT: You know. Exactly. Far more so than gay marriage.

CARLSON: And Britney Spears getting married in Las Vegas -- let's put that in there. SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret Carlson. John Sununu and THE GANG will be back, contrasting the two Johns in this Democratic race for president.

ANNOUNCER: Here's your CAPITAL GANG "Trivia Question of the Week." The most recent constitutional amendment was ratified in 1992. What was the subject, A, flag-burning; B, congressional salaries; or C, voting age? We'll have the answer right after the break.


ANNOUNCER: Before the break, we asked the most recent constitutional amendment was ratified in 1992. What was the subject? The answer is B, congressional salaries.

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Going into Super Tuesday's Democratic presidential primaries, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina tried to sharpen the contrast between himself and the frontrunner, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.


EDWARDS: I wasn't in the Congress when NAFTA was passed. He voted for it. But when I campaigned for the Senate, I campaigned against it.

KERRY: Just the other day in New York, in "The New York Times," he was quoted as saying to "The New York Times" that he thought NAFTA was important for our prosperity. Now he's claiming that he was against it.

EDWARDS: We're going to have to have a candidate who can appeal outside the Democratic Party.

KERRY: I won independents and Republicans in Iowa.

EDWARDS: There's a difference between the two of us. No more than that. I don't take Washington lobbyists's money.

KERRY: John has raised almost 50 percent of his money from one group of people in the United States of America.

LARRY KING, MODERATOR: Is that the trial lawyers?

O'BEIRNE: That's correct.


SHIELDS: Polls show Senator Kerry ahead of Senator Edwards in the Super-Tuesday states 3-to-1 in California, and by the same margin in New York. The Marist poll there shows nearly two thirds of the vote for Kerry. And in the South, native son John Edwards trails by 26 points in Georgia, according to an Insider Advantage poll.

Meanwhile, Ralph Nader declared his intentions.


RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: After careful thought and my desire to retire our supremely selected president, I've decided to run as an independent candidate for president.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, did John Edwards point up any telling differences between himself and John Kerry?

HUNT: Oh, boy, that was big stuff, Mark. We might have a little disagreement on a NAFTA bill that passed 10 years ago. Maybe I'd get a few more Republican votes and, you know, maybe we take a little bit of different money from different -- different sorts of lobbyists. That's really big stuff. Nothing on war and peace, nothing on North Korea, nothing on taxes. John Edwards did absolutely nothing to drive any wedge between himself and John Kerry selecting him as his running mate, which I think, if what I expect to happen next Tuesday, will be the only issue remaining. In order to stay alive, Edwards has to win at least one and probably two or three states next Tuesday, and it appears he's not going to do it.

SHIELDS: If John Edwards needs to win two states, Bob Novak, will he win two states?


SHIELDS: And did he fail with that debate?

NOVAK: Yes! He failed! He's not going to win the states. If he really wanted to win the states, he would have hit him aside the head, you know, really show that this is a bad guy, he's a big special interest fellow, do something! But he -- he's -- he wasn't interested in that.

Now, the problem with him getting on the ticket -- they want somebody on the ticket who brings something to the table, like the electoral votes of his state, and they have to be convinced that he would at least carry North Carolina. They're not convinced of that.

But this was a -- this was a sham debate, in my opinion.

SHIELDS: Sham debate? CNN doesn't put on sham debates, John Sununu!


SUNUNU: It wasn't a sham debate, but...

SHIELDS: Thank you, John.

SUNUNU: ... there aren't big differences between the candidates.

SHIELDS: Yes, you can't manufacture differences if there aren't...

SUNUNU: Edwards isn't going to bring anything to the table. I don't think he's going to be the vice presidential...

SHIELDS: You don't.

SUNUNU: No. He can't bring North Carolina. I don't think he can bring any other Southern state. At the end of the day, the vice presidential pick doesn't even matter that much.

But for me, what the debate showed is that John Kerry's going to have some big problems with issues like trade, where he has changed his position. I mean, he voted for every free trade agreement that came down the pike, and now he's trying to suggest that he really wasn't for them when he cast those votes. We all have heard the discussion about him moving back and forth on the Gulf war, voting against the first, voting for the second, and now being against -- supposedly against what he voted for in the past. These are the patterns, I think, that are going to affect John Kerry most once it becomes a one-on-one race, and it's going to happen very, very soon. It doesn't matter if Edwards wins one or two or even three primaries. He's going to lose New York. He's going to lose California. The race is, for all intents and purposes, over after Tuesday.

CARLSON: Yes, Edwards...

SHIELDS: Boy, I mean, a pretty definitive statement, Margaret.


SHIELDS: I mean, if John Edwards wins Ohio and Georgia, he's still not alive?

CARLSON: Well, you know, the Edwards surge came a little late in the game. The more people...

NOVAK: What surge?

CARLSON: Well, you know, if -- the more people who see Edwards, the better he does. He's very good. But with New York and California coming on March 2, Ohio and Georgia are dwarfed. And you know, it looks like the Democrats, for once, have united early and, you know, they all want -- they want to have Kerry because they want it over and they want to beat Bush, and so they're saying, We just don't even want to look at this other guy now.

You know, the debate wasn't a sham, but somebody, if not Terry McAuliffe, whoever's running the next debate -- is it "The LA Times" or CBS?

HUNT: "New York Times" and CNN.

CARLSON: You need to get Kucinich and Sharpton out of there...

NOVAK: They really can't -- they can't take them out.

CARLSON: ... because they're better performers because they have nothing to lose.

HUNT: They don't have the guts to, right?

NOVAK: What?

HUNT: They don't have the guts to...

NOVAK: They haven't got the guts to take them out...


SHIELDS: That's exactly right. But Edwards should have...

HUNT: Hey, Mark...

SHIELDS: Let me ask just quickly -- Al, say what you want, but Ralph Nader -- I mean, the argument was in 2000, There's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties. You know, Gore, Bush, whatever. That's a tougher argument to make in 2004, isn't it? And don't people see real differences between the two?

HUNT: I've been a great fan of Ralph Nader for years. He -- I think he threatens to become the Harold Stassen of the 21st century by running.

Let me just quickly say -- two quick points. No. 1, on the vice presidential thing -- a vice president hasn't -- on a winning ticket hasn't carried a state the presidential candidate wouldn't have carried otherwise since Lyndon Johnson in 1960. It's a non -- I agree with Bob. The Kerry people say that. It's a non-issue in picking a running mate.

The biggest break the Democrats got this week was Alan Greenspan talking about the need to address the severe budget deficit and trimming Social Security benefits. They would love to have that debate, trimming Social Security benefits versus tax cuts for the rich, or at least, not doing one until you do the other. That's a great debate for Democrats.


SUNUNU: I'll tell you, the Republicans, the president, I think, would also like to have that debate.

HUNT: Good. Let's have it. That's a great debate.

SUNUNU: And I think the Democrats probably will be forced to have that debate because the economy in November's going to be stronger than it is today. It will be a net plus for the Republicans. They're going to run away from the national security issue because of all of John Kerry's votes to gut national security...

CARLSON: When it comes out that...

SUNUNU: ... in his career, then they'll go for Social Security.

CARLSON: One trillion...

SUNUNU: And at the end of the day, it's a winner...

NOVAK: Oh, I've heard that...


CARLSON: ... one trillion dollars!

HUNT: As they say, bring it on.

NOVAK: Well, let me -- let me just -- let me just say...


SUNUNU: In Florida, the Republican -- the Democrats ran more Social Security ads than in any other state in the year 2000, and President Bush did disproportionately well among seniors in Florida.

SHIELDS: Margaret?

CARLSON: I was going to say...


CARLSON: Oh, you know -- Ralph Nader -- he hurt the Democrats last time. He's going to hurt himself this time. And saying that it was a "supremely decided election" that he wants to reverse, when it went to the Supreme Court because of Ralph Nader? I don't know.

SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret Carlson. Next on CAPITAL GANG, startling reports on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in America.



ROBERT BENNETT, NATIONAL REVIEW BOARD: Many bishops, certainly not all, breached their responsibilities as pastors, breached their responsibilities as shepherds of the flock and put their head in the sand.


SHIELDS: That indictment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in America was contained in two reports on sexual abuse, mostly of boys, but more than 4,000 priests.


BISHOP WILTON GREGORY, CONF. OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS: As far as it is humanly possible to know such things, I assure you that known offenders are not in the ministry.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SHIELDS: One report by academic researchers showed 4 percent of all priests were abusers. The second report was about causes and content.


BENNETT: And any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, did these reports indicate that the Catholic church has finally come to grips with this serious problem?

NOVAK: That was the message that Bishop Gregory tried to give, and he's just wrong. People don't believe that's the case. They don't believe that it's been -- that the problem has been cured at all. They believe there are bishops who are -- who ought to be removed. They believe that...

SHIELDS: Bishops?

NOVAK: Bishops -- the archbishop of Los Angeles, the archbishop of New York have not done a good job. They also believe -- a lot of people believe that there has to be more stringent screening of people for the seminaries. And of course, the report on causes and content, which said that 83 percent of -- or 82 percent of all these cases were homosexual priests -- and we're talking about teenage boys, we're not talking about children -- was buried in a lot of the papers this morning. But this came out from a citizens' group, which was not right-wing, was included as two of its key members two prominent Democrats, Bob Bennett and Leon Panetta. And so I believe that this -- this whole issue is still very troubling and continuing.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson?

CARLSON: You know, when you go to confession, you -- you say you've sinned and you enumerate your sins, and you are contrite and you do penance. And that's what has not happened, really, in the Catholic church. The attorney general of Massachusetts, an Irish Catholic, Thomas Reilly, said there are 4,000 criminals going unpunished, and that's the feeling you have, that the bishops covered up for them when it was going on and then -- and the problem kept occurring, and that they really haven't paid the price by being contrite and doing penance for the harm they did.

SHIELDS: John Sununu?

SUNUNU: Well, it's more than just being contrite and doing penance. They've got to use this now as a starting point to deal with some of the issues that Bob talked about, a better job of screening applicants for the seminary, putting in place some good, consistent, understandable systems for dealing with priests when there are allegations, and ensuring that the hierarchy, whether bishops or anyone else within the Catholic organization, responds in an appropriate way. And all of that is essential if you're going to get confidence back within the church, within the laity.

Last point is that this, I hope, will be the starting point of the laity having more say, a stronger voice, more influence in the day-to-day response to issues like this and to other controversial issues within the church.

SHIELDS: Before I go to you, Al, I'll just say one thing. I want to say, as a lay Catholic, that I think the job that these lay Catholics did, Bob Bennett and his colleagues and Leon Panetta and all 12 of them, was phenomenal. It's a thankless task. I mean, they anger both sides. They irritate both sides. And they did an enormously important and valuable job.

I think Bishop Gregory did a terrific job in leading them, and I -- there's one bishop that deserves enormous praise, and that's Bishop John Darcy (ph) of Fort Wayne, who was the auxiliary bishop of Boston, who blew the whistle on this 20 years ago in the archdiocese of Boston, and for that was shipped to Fort Wayne by the powers because he said, This is an outrage, and it's indefensible.

Go ahead, Al. Excuse me.

HUNT: Well, I mean, first of all, I'm the house Protestant. I want to, you know, acknowledge that to begin with.

SHIELDS: And a good one you are!

HUNT: But secondly, I agree with you. I think that the -- that Bishop Gregory deserves tremendous credit. I think for any institution to have a group like this to put out a report like that, they deserve credit for it.

I also think Bob Novak's right that this does not end it at all. You just had the bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts, who right after speaking on gay marriage, they -- the paper revealed the fact that he had been a -- apparently, a teenage boy molester in the '80s. So it doesn't go away.

There's one thing that I'm going to raise, though, that I think is a real difficulty. They say the problem -- we have to have better selection. But the problem is, if they had had perfect selection and they had not had any of those perverts in, they would have had a tremendous priest shortage, tremendous, which they already have in the -- in the American church. And I think, at some point, you're going to have to address the issue of women priests. You're going to have to address the issue of married priests. It's a supply-and-demand situation.

NOVAK: Oh, I think -- I think they're that getting some better quality -- from what I'm told, some better quality people coming in. But -- but John, you said the laity should have a better role. The thing I gather -- this is my reporting -- is that the hierarchy does not want the laity in this. They resent the review board. And so this is a real tension in the church.

CARLSON: You know, if you merge gay marriage and the crisis in the priesthood, you could have priests marrying and the problem would be solved.



SHIELDS: It's an interesting solution.


CARLSON: I just thought of it!

SHIELDS: John Sununu, thank you very much for being with us.

SUNUNU: Thank you.

SHIELDS: And there wasn't a good argument on behalf of the Republicans that you didn't make tonight. I want to thank you very much.


SHIELDS: Coming up on the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG -- for a centrist, for a centrist like yourself John -- "Pro or Con": Should the U.S. intervene in Haiti? "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the Ohio Democratic primary with political writer Joe Hallett. And our "Outrages of the Week." That's all after these latest news headlines.


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Back to CAP GANG in just a moment, but first the headlines. Palestinian witnesses say a missile from an Israeli helicopter was fired today at a car in Gaza City. Sources say four people, including a boy who was standing nearby, were killed. Fifteen others were wounded. Israel says the missile strike targeted senior members of the Islamic Jihad's military wing.

Security is tight in Karbala, Iraq for the first Ashoura feast since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government. The feast commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Hussein. An estimated 1.5 million Shiite Muslims are converging on the holy city.

As the turmoil in Haiti intensifies, the White House is urging Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to accept responsibility for the chaos. It says Aristide is largely to blame for the crisis. Earlier, the Haitian leader vowed to stay in power.

Those are the headlines. Now, back to THE CAPITAL GANG.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson.

Rebels who have overrun half of Haiti moved into the seat of power in the capital Port-au-Prince today. As the U.S. government suggested, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide should consider resigning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Whether or not he is able to effectively continue as president is something that he will have to examine.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: I find it odd now that the U.S. administration's position is that Aristide must go, because he is the stumbling block.


SHIELDS: President Aristide rejected calls to resign.


PRES. JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE, HAITI: We are eager to see an international force coming to Haiti, including a number of the police who are already in Haiti to disarm those terrorists.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: U.S. leadership means, in my view, deploying a security force, preferably multilaterally, before it's too late.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're also at the same time planning for a multinational force.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, should the United States intervene militarily in Haiti, pro or con, Al Hunt?

HUNT: Pro. Because we're going to have to do it at some point anyway. Hopefully, with Latin American international allies, so why not do it before the bloodshed escalates? Aristide is a bad leader, but he's an elected bad leader. His predecessors and the opposition are a bunch of thugs.

SHIELDS: Pro or con, Bob Novak?

NOVAK: Con. We ought to start having a little restraint over intervening all over the world. I think I've been consistent on that score, I believe. Don't you think so, Mark? I think we should be very restrained on where we intervene, and particularly to intervene as Charlie Rangel and the Congressional Black Caucus want, to -- you talk about thugs, this is the biggest thug of all. These are bloody people. I know a little bit about Haiti, and these are the worst of the thugs. They're worse than -- much worse than the people they replaced.

CARLSON: Well, it's too bad that Aristide has turned into...

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

NOVAK: Pro or con? CARLSON: Pro. It's too bad that Aristide has turned bad. But consistency can be the hobgoblin of a small mind, Bob, in that OK, the Haitians are going to wash up on the shores of a swing state, Florida. So the Bush administration will intervene, but they have to do it in an international way but -- and, by the way, be speaking to the French again, so that the French are helping us out there -- but we will, indeed, intervene.

SHIELDS: Pro. Aristide is guilty of using violence against his political opponents, and he's cruelly disappointed people who believe in democracy and the democratic process, but he is, Al's right, he is a democratically elected. The United States, after restoring democracy there in 1994, we have intervened, left after two years. We're still five years and eight years later, we're still in Kosovo and Bosnia, for goodness sakes. We're still in Japan and Germany 50 years later. I mean, if you're going to make democracy work, you've got to make an effort to make it work.

NOVAK: I'm probably the only person here who's ever been to Haiti and done any reporting there, and let me tell you, I am sick to my stomach when I hear all this -- this hand wringing about poor old Aristide turning bad. He was bad from the start. He was a thug from the start. He terrorized people. There is documentation of the atrocities committed by his goon squads, the Lavalas (ph). And you know, I know another guy who was elected by the people. You know who it was? Adolf Hitler was elected by the people. Election does not provide any sanctity, and the idea that we are going to bail this thug out because the Congressional Black Caucus wants it is just absolutely horrible.

HUNT: Well, if we talk about Adolf Hitler, then we can talk about some of the neo-Nazis down there, like Cedras, who were elected to anything. That's real goons. And let me tell you one more thing. I don't know if Terry McAuliffe was right or wrong when he said that George W. Bush was AWOL in National Guard; Chris Dodd is right when he says he's been AWOL on Latin America. We are paying a price because this administration, George Bush has totally ignored Latin America. It's been a repository for right-wing ideologues, and now we're paying the price now, with Haiti.

NOVAK: Well, since you're bringing up Latin America, Chris Dodd has been one of the problems in Latin America by supporting the communists in Nicaragua and all the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

SHIELDS: Chris Dodd has consistently supported democracy, Bob. Democracy. Democracy.

NOVAK: Oh, then why -- why has he been soft on Castro, who is the biggest anti-democrat in Latin America? Answer me that.

HUNT: I don't think he likes Castro at all. I think he says, as many conservatives do, like Congressman Flake of Arizona, that you have an embargo against Cuba that doesn't work.

NOVAK: Was Castro ever elected...

HUNT: No, a bad guy.

NOVAK: ... fairly elected?

HUNT: That's not what Chris Dodd would argue. Chris Dodd would argue that the embargo helps Castro.

NOVAK: Let's be honest, any lefty you like, whether he's elected or unelected, that's what we're talking about. We're not talking about democracy...

HUNT: Is there any example of Chris Dodd being against an elected right-winger in Latin America that you know of?


NOVAK: What about Manogad (ph), in Haiti? He wasn't for him. He was elected.

SHIELDS: Clean election, Bob. We're talking about fair, Bob, fair election.

NOVAK: Wait a minute, you think Aristide was a clean election?

SHIELDS: Yes, I do.

NOVAK: Oh, come on!

HUNT: Certified by Jimmy Carter.

SHIELDS: Jimmy Carter, I'll take Jimmy Carter...

NOVAK: That was one of the filthy elections.

SHIELDS: I'll take Jimmy Carter's reporting over any time.

CARLSON: Bob, Aristide...

SHIELDS: Coming up in THE CAPITAL GANG Classic, debating U.S. intervention in Haiti a decade ago. Stick around.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Nine and a half years ago, U.S. military intervention in Haiti ended military rule under General Raoul Cedras, and restored to power the elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Your CAPITAL GANG discussed this on October 5, 1994. Our guest was White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, is this not a new day for democracy and for Haiti?

NOVAK: It's a new day for Jean-Bertrand Aristide. There is no question that he and his crowd are back in power on American bayonets. The question is whether this is going to be a democracy or not is a long one.

HUNT: Loosen up, Bobby baby. You celebrate an American triumph. Feel good about America, will you? Here is a case, Mark, where a Latin American country, the people are cheering American soldiers as heroes. No lives were lost. A bunch of illegal thugs were thrown out of the country, and a legitimately democratic government was restored.

MONA CHAREN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This president that we have now reinstalled, at great cost to ourselves, is somebody who said about it, he said, I will return with the guns of the enemy. The enemy he was referring to is us.

DEE DEE MYERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Americans should feel good. We stood up for democracy, and we're going to help this poor, troubled little country move down that road.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, from the hindsight of 10 years, can you now admit that restoring democracy to Haiti was the appropriate use of United States power?

NOVAK: No, and I've never been so proud of something I said 10 -- nine and a half years ago. Sometimes I'm wrong, I was absolutely right there. We knew this was going to come out wrong, and to impose this government on the people of Haiti was a sin from the United States government. It was just an atrocity.

CARLSON: Bob, you're almost always proud of what you say in the Classic, because may I tell our viewers, you choose the Classics? But you know, Father Aristide, who was a great champion of the poor, went bad, and President Clinton at the time said, this is just the beginning. And unfortunately, the United States does not always stick with the countries it chooses to help.

HUNT: Don't let the perfect (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the good. It was the right thing to do. There have been, you know, probably thousands of lives that have been spared. Aristide is a bad guy, but those other thugs, goons are -- would have been much worse.

SHIELDS: You stick to what you said 10 years ago?

HUNT: I do, absolutely.

SHIELDS: You know, Al, you made sense then, and you make sense now. Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the presidential candidates taking the race to Ohio, the mother of presidents, with Joe Hallett of "The Columbus Dispatch."


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Ohio, a battleground in this year's government election, is the site of a key Democratic primary on Tuesday. The two leading candidates campaigned in the Buckeye State this past week.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, only ghosts work at the line at the Youngstown Sheet and Tube. And to walk by the rusting equipment is to witness the decline of manufacturing in America.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: George Bush is completely out of touch. I wish he'd spend one day, just one day in his whole presidency out here in the real world talking to real people.


SHIELDS: The American Research Group poll shows John Kerry with a 21-point lead in Ohio over John Edwards. Joining us from Columbus is Joe Hallett, the senior editor of "The Columbus Dispatch." Thank you for coming in, Joe.


SHIELDS: Joe, is it possible for John Edwards to close that gap in Ohio the same way he did in Wisconsin, against John Kerry?

HALLETT: It's possible but not likely. John Edwards is maybe the best retail politician I've ever seen. When he can go one on one with voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire and when he can have them for a long period of time in Wisconsin, he can sway those voters. But Ohio is not a retail state. Ohio is a TV advertising state. It's got seven media markets, and you've got to go on TV. He doesn't have a lot of time here. Both he and Edwards -- both he and Kerry have been in the state a number of times. Four days total; they'll be here on Monday.

But it looks like a wash. Edwards and Kerry are both doing about the same amount of TV advertising, and I don't think that Edwards will be able to close the gap.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Joe, as far as I know, Youngstown Sheet and Tube closed down in the '80s, and John Kerry is still talking about it as if it happened yesterday. Does that go over in Ohio? Is that an effective campaign over there?

HALLETT: Yeah, I think it is. Yeah, it did close down 25 years ago, and everybody missed that in the press. But the issue here is jobs. The state has lost about a quarter of a million jobs since 2001, 153,000 in the manufacturing sector. There seems to be a great deal of concern about personal security issues here, not national security, but a great deal of anxiety about jobs, about health care and health insurance, and people are nervous about that. So yes, when you can come to this state and talk about jobs, it goes over very well.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson. CARLSON: Joe, other than Clinton winning Ohio in '96, Ohio has been a very Republican state. And Bush won by, what, 4 percent over Gore. But a post-election survey said that there was an anti-Clinton vote in there. A vestige of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, among conservative voters in rural Ohio. What do you make -- is that 4 percent, or 3.5 percent vulnerable territory and can the Democrats get that in November?

HALLETT: I think so. It was 3.5 percent Bush beat Gore here in 2000. Bush starts, I think, in a lesser position than he did in 2000 because of not only the economy here, it's -- unemployment is up to 6 percent from 4 percent when he started as president -- but also because there are regions of the state, particularly Appalachia, that are chronic ticket splitters, and they vote the economy. They vote their pocketbooks. And their lot in life never seems to improve much. That was a 40,000 vote swing for -- for George Bush in the 2000 election. Those folks likely will swing back, because their economic situation never seems to improve much.

So I think Gore did everything he needed to do in the major urban areas. Bush won 72 of 88 counties here in 2000, outperformed the normal Republican in rural areas. But Clinton is not on the ballot. Those were chronic Clinton haters, and he's not going to be on the ballot this time.


HUNT: Joe, I think the Democrats are listening to you and reading you, because I believe that Ohio will be their prime takeover target in November, more than Florida. And let me ask you, if John Kerry, the presumptive nominee, is the nominee, does it make any difference in a state like Ohio whether he would pick, say, a John Edwards, or a Midwesterner like Evan Bayh?

HALLETT: I don't think Evan Bayh will make any difference. Nobody in Ohio knows him. John Edwards I think will go over very well in this state. People here like the way he has campaigned. And if there were an Ohio Democrat of any prominence -- John Glenn is 82, Hark Messenbaum (ph) is 86, this would be a natural state for a VP candidate. But there is none.

So if I were Kerry, I think I'd look to Missouri, or maybe Florida for a running mate, because I'm not sure Edwards gets him that much here, but it is an attractive ticket.

SHIELDS: Joe, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, they're talking about 272,000 jobs having left Ohio, and 166,000 manufacturing since December of 2000, and you can see the battleground being between the economically distressed voter, who is also in Ohio culturally and sort of religiously traditional. And there is the tension point. How much will the president's endorsement of a constitutional amendment on gay marriage help balance in his direction, his party's direction, and the Democrats as sort of the libertine party?

HALLETT: My prediction is not much in 2004. It would have in 2000, when the economy was very good here, and those secondary kind of wedge issues played well. Guns was a big issue in southeastern Ohio and central Ohio, where you have more moderate and conservative voters, including Democrats who are moderate and conservative. But with the economic situation here, the job loss, the angst over personal security and health care and so forth, those issues are going to come to the fore, and I just don't -- I mean, Bush will get the cultural conservatives anyway. I don't think it adds votes, and in fact it might get him into a little bit of trouble with the more moderate swing voters in the suburbs of Cleveland and Columbus and Toledo, Dayton, Cincinnati.

SHIELDS: OK. Joe Hallett, we thank you very much for being with us. You've been terrific. THE GANG will be back with our "Outrages of the Week."


SHIELDS: And now for "The Outrage of the Week."

At a time when official Washington chooses to overlook the obscene amounts of money spent to influence public policy, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and Virginia Republican Congressman Frank Wolf have the guts to blow the whistle on the ugly fact that four American Indian tribes, while many of their members are barely surviving, were somehow convinced to spend $45 million for lobbying and public relations to firms of two insiders who boast of their close relationship to House Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay. John McCain's hearings could finally turn over that ugly rock.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan ignited a firestorm by saying Social Security benefits should be trimmed. Correct. The outrage is Democrats responded by calling for income tax increases. Social Security is actually a Ponzi scheme that sooner or later has to be ducked (ph). Dr. Greenspan's proposal for a more realistic inflation adjustment was suggested many times by the late Senator Pat Moynihan. We also need voluntary private accounts for young workers, benefits based on need, and an end to the fiction that Social Security is an insurance plan.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark, the mayor of Washington sees no reason to fire officials at the D.C. water authority even though they sat on the awful truth that much of the city's water contains excessive, dangerous levels of lead. Too little too late they advised pregnant women and children under 6 to get filters, get tested and buy Perrier. Unreliable tests performed at schools let the water run 10 minutes before sampling. Can you imagine a second grader at a drinking fountain doing that? Washington is a beautiful city, but it has the leadership and infrastructure of Guadalajara.


HUNT: Ahmad Chalabi, the former Iraqi exile and accused embezzler provided the United States with hyped and fabricated intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. We thus fought a war and deposed a dictator on a phony premise. Adding to the outrage, Knight Ridder newspapers, whose great reporting on Iraq is unsurpassed, now reveal that Pentagon plans to still pay Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress $3 to $4 million this year for their, quote, "intelligence," end quote. American taxpayers are footing the bill for this rip-off artist.

SHIELDS: The average Social Security payment is $922 a month. Is that too much?

NOVAK: It's too much for me, and I shouldn't get any. My wife shouldn't get any. And ...

SHIELDS: On ability to pay.

NOVAK: Absolutely. On ability to pay. This whole system, it is a joke. It is not an insurance system. It's people, it's the Democratic politicians and Republican politicians who put out the fiction that this is an insurance system. It's absolutely a Ponzi scheme.

HUNT: I wish your conservative politicians had the same guts you have to talk about that to the voters. That would be interesting.

NOVAK: I'm not up for reelection.

HUNT: No, you're not.

SHIELDS: Boy, that's for sure.

This is Mark Shields saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG. Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS: The Mystery of Jesus." At 9:00 p.m., "LARRY KING WEEKEND." Television journalism's leading lady, Barbara Walters. And at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, is time running out for Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide? We'll have the latest on the uprising in Haiti.

Thank you for joining us.


President Ariside To Step Down; America Divided On How Government Should Handle Same-Sex Marriage>

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