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Picking the Kerry Ticket
Aired June 30, 2004 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE: He's one of the Democratic Party's most familiar faces.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: This campaign is not about me. It's about us.
ANNOUNCER: He's one of the Democratic Party's freshest faces. Will either of their faces be on the John Kerry ticket?
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's an important decision for him, for the Democratic Party, and more, importantly, for the country.
ANNOUNCER: Or will there be a surprise?
Today on CROSSFIRE.
ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Robert Novak.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.
You'd think that any Democrat would have loftier ambitions than going down in history as No. 2 on John Kerry's losing ticket. But, no, some people actually want that job.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Of course, Democrats are jockeying to join John Kerry because they know he will lead the Democratic ticket with the same courage he showed leading his men in Vietnam.
We'll survey some of the top prospects to replace Dick Cheney right after the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."
When it comes to the economy, President Bush says we never had it so good. John Kerry says we can do better. So who's right? Well, Mr. Bush is actually right when he says the economy is creating jobs this year, finally, after three years. But, as is so often the case, he's not telling us the whole truth.
In today's edition of "USA Today," the chief economist for Economy.com says the jobs being created today are largely lower-paying jobs. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the new jobs being created are lower-wage jobs. We have lost high-paying jobs in sectors like computers and manufacturing, but gaining them in places like restaurants and bars, where the pay is less the and benefits are often nonexistent.
America is in a wage and benefits recession. And George W. Bush is so out of touch, he wants to hang a banner up that says mission accomplished.
NOVAK: You know, Paul, you should be ashamed of yourself. "USA Today" should be ashamed of itself and Economy.com, whatever that is, should be ashamed of itself.
According to government figures, over 70 percent of the jobs, new jobs in May, are in high-paying fields. Real hourly wages are up 2.7 percent, and disposable income for the year is up 5 percent. You cannot talk away a good economy.
BEGALA: People are making today 1,600 bucks a year less than they were making when Bill Clinton was president. It's a big pay cut under Bush.
NOVAK: Disclosure of details in Jack Ryan's child custody suit, forcing him out of the Senate race in Illinois, have reached all the way to the presidential race. A voter in Iowa this week asked John Kerry whether he would release records of divorce proceedings from his first wife. "Absolutely not," he answered -- quote -- "It's none of anybody's business."
That's the same answer given to requests for public disclosure of his fabulously rich wife's tax returns. Absolutely not, even though Teresa Heinz Kerry's net worth has been upgraded to a billion -- that's B billion -- dollars. Full disclosure is well and good for Republicans, but not the Kerries of Beacon Hill and Nantucket.
BEGALA: John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry have released hundreds and hundreds of pages of disclosure, everything that the law requires and more. What you guys want to do is, you want to try to attack this man and his wife, just the way you attacked Bill Clinton's wife, just the way somebody attacked ambassador Joe Wilson's wife.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) BEGALA: Just like you guys always go after the wives. Leave Teresa Heinz alone. She's a great American patriot.
NOVAK: Let me give you just what I said factually before you went on your rant. I said that she has not put out her tax returns.
NOVAK: And they won't put out the divorce proceedings.
BEGALA: Because it's nobody's doggone business what happens in somebody's divorce.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BEGALA: Well, Vice President Cheney does not mingle with the masses much. When he's not misleading America into a war, the vice president likes to hunt with his fellow millionaires or go fishing with his fellow millionaires or go to black-tie fund-raisers with his fellow millionaires.
BEGALA: But Mr. Cheney actually went to a ball game last night with his fellow millionaires George Steinbrenner join Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Cheney spent most of the game in a secure if not undisclosed Yankee Stadium luxury skybox, far from the beer-swilling average Joes in the Bronx.
But his picture was put on the Jumbotron big screen during the seventh inning stretch, prompting lusty boos from thousands of middle- class fans at Yankee Stadium.
BEGALA: The Yankees hurriedly removed Mr. Cheney's image from the screen. No report yet on the vice president's response. But I've got to wonder if he told 40,000 Yankee fans that they can go F. themselves.
BEGALA: That's a bad sign.
NOVAK: You know, Paul, on the night that Cal Ripken broke his record, I was there.
BEGALA: So was I.
NOVAK: And Bill Clinton was there with his fellow millionaires in the box up there. And they put Bill Clinton's picture on the screen. And you know what happened? They booed.
BEGALA: I was there. I don't remember that at all.
NOVAK: Oh, I can show you -- wait a minute, I can show you the...
NOVAK: Because I looked it up, so I wasn't imagining it.
NOVAK: It's in the press. You have forgotten it, but they booed him because they always boo politicians.
BEGALA: Well, they should boo Dick Cheney. He deserved it, though.
NOVAK: They booed Bill Clinton, too.
Forget about the Bush-vs.-Kerry debates. The debate that I would pay to attend is Paula Jones vs. Bill Clinton. Yes, Paula has challenged the former president to debate his denial in his memoirs that he harassed her. If Bill accepts the debate offer, I am authorized to invite them to debate right here on CROSSFIRE.
NOVAK: Ms. Jones says -- quote -- "Bill Clinton has a very big problem with telling the truth."
She recently appeared on the "Sean Hannity" radio show with two other women who dispute President Clinton's claim that he didn't come after them, Kathleen Willey and Dolly Kyle Browning. The president does admit gross conduct only with Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky. In both cases, he first lied until confronted with evidence.
BEGALA: Old habits die hard, don't they, Bob?
Here we have a president, one of only two men in my entire lifetime to serve eight years in the Oval Office, fabulously successful. And instead of debating his successes, the 22 million new jobs he created, the budget that he balanced, all the things that President Bush has now trashed, you want to trash him personally.
BEGALA: I think that is really sad. This is why you guys never could beat Clinton, because you always want to attack him personally. I have got news for you.
BEGALA: You should fight it out on ideas, not personal attacks, Bob.
NOVAK: He was the one who brought it up in his memoirs, and he lied again.
BEGALA: We ought to fight about issues and ideas, not personal attacks.
NOVAK: John Kerry is pondering his choice for a running mate. These things are important, believe us. So we have decided to help him out. Next, we'll debate Kerry's choices. It's up to John whether he takes our advice.
And my favorite Democrat, Al Sharpton, has found a new job. He says he'll be the workingman's Donald Trump. We'll explain later.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
Senator Kerry John Kerry is in Pittsburgh today. Instead of campaigning, he's making phone calls and working on his nomination acceptance speech. There's also some speculation that the good senator is spending time pondering his vice presidential running mate choice. So, if he's smart, and I know he is, he'll turn for advice to the No. 1 source of political organization, CROSSFIRE. How better to make a decision?
BEGALA: In the CROSSFIRE to discuss Senator Kerry's options, Republican consultant Ed Rogers, along with Vice President Gore's -- President Gore, actually -- campaign manager, my friend Donna Brazile.
Good to see you both.
NOVAK: Donna, the smart money right now is on Senator John Edwards of North Carolina to be the running mate. But just the other day, Chris Heinz said this: "I was very pro Edwards in the spring. But now I think we may need someone with stronger credentials on foreign policy."
Now, who the hell is Chris Heinz?
NOVAK: He is the stepson of John Kerry. And when you're the son of a fabulously rich wife worth $1 billion, you have got to pay attention. Does this kill John Edwards? DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Oh, absolutely not.
John Edwards is a prime candidate. But also I believe the Democratic Party has an embarrassment of riches, Dick Gephardt...
NOVAK: We're going to go -- we are talking about Edwards right now.
BRAZILE: ... very well. But John Edwards would not only help energize the party, help appeal to swing voters, and, of course, he would put the South back in play, a place that Ed Rogers and I love.
NOVAK: Now, let me give you somebody who agrees with you. He says: "I want to urge you" -- this is a letter to John Kerry -- "to select Senator John Edwards as your vice presidential candidate. He has already gone through a primary campaign and has his rhythm and oratory all well honed."
Who is that letter from?
BRAZILE: That letter must be from John Edwards.
NOVAK: No. It's from Ralph Nader.
BRAZILE: Ralph Nader.
NOVAK: Now, is Ralph Nader going to pick the Democratic vice presidential candidate?
BRAZILE: Well, I think Ralph Nader is smart on the money in terms of John Edwards having enormous appeal. I think John Edwards would help John Kerry govern, help us win back the United States Senate, put Tom Daschle in charge. And I also think that John Edwards would be value added in terms of national security issues, as well as domestic issues. He's a great candidate.
BEGALA: In fact, Ed, you have to admit, three of us now are from the South. And that is a critical region.
ED ROGERS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Sure. Sure.
BEGALA: Democrats have been losing there. But Bill Clinton showed us the way back. He captured several Southern states. He put Al Gore on the ticket, a fellow Southerner. Jimmy Carter of course was a Southerner, captured the White House.
ROGERS: Sure. BEGALA: Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy ran together. It seems to me that's a sort of successful recipe for Democrats. And as a Republican from the South, you must be worried about John Edwards, aren't you?
ROGERS: I am pulling for John Edwards to be the ticket.
BEGALA: Tell me why. You're not just peeing on my boots and telling me it's raining, are you?
ROGERS: First of all, first of all -- I might.
First of all, he wouldn't even give him North Carolina.
ROGERS: He couldn't win reelection in North Carolina. So he doesn't supply that. I like the idea of an all trial lawyer ticket. John Kerry's only attempt at the private sector economy was as a trial lawyer. John Edwards
BEGALA: Well, he was a criminal prosecutor now. In fairness to the truth, John Kerry was a criminal prosecutor.
ROGERS: He drew a government check. He drew a government check. There's
BEGALA: But his experience as an attorney was as a prosecutor.
ROGERS: So I like the idea of all trial lawyer ticket.
And there's nothing about Edwards that suggests he has any electoral appeal. I guess the one thing is his energy and his youth makes Kerry look less like an undertaker than he already is.
BEGALA: As opposed to Vice President Cheney?
ROGERS: The Cheney-Edwards contrast at a debate, when people have to decide who is going to be the toughest on terrorism, if you liked the Bentsen-Quayle contrast, you'll love the Kerry-Cheney -- the Cheney-Edwards contrast.
NOVAK: Donna Brazile, let me put in a plug for somebody else.
If you want Dick Gephardt now, he's in bed with the labor bosses. He wants a tax increase for every single American who pays income tax. He is for protection, so people have to pay more for their goods. Isn't that the old-time Democratic religion? Isn't that the guy you ought to have on the ticket?
BRAZILE: I think Dick Gephardt comes from mainstream America. He is -- his values are deeply rooted in this country. He would be value added to this ticket. He, again, like John Edwards, would appeal to swing voters, energize the base and be able I believe to hold his own against Dick Cheney in any presidential -- any vice presidential debate.
NOVAK: ... tax increases, protectionism and labor unions?
BRAZILE: Well, Bob, that's all spin from old-school, old-line conservative dogma. That's not Dick Gephardt.
NOVAK: Is that his position?
BRAZILE: Dick Gephardt -- that is old line. That's old school. Dick Gephardt is a strong candidate who would make a great nominee.
BEGALA: Let me ask you about another Midwesterner.
BEGALA: Donna and I worked for Dick Gephardt years ago.
But another one who seems to be a pretty hot candidate outside of the Beltway is Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, not well known in Washington.
BEGALA: But what a great story, an orphan as a baby, raised in a troubled home in Pennsylvania, which is a swing state, now the governor of Iowa, another swing state. And his wife, the first lady of Iowa, Christie Vilsack, so popular and beloved that she really helped fire John Kerry across the finish line there. He'd be a formidable addition to the ticket, wouldn't he?
ROGERS: He's a serious guy.
He's well-known within political circles, but not inside the Beltway. He would produce some excitement for the ticket. Hey, I'm respectful of Dick Gephardt. I think he is a credible figure. I always thought he would be the Democrats' nominee. He would be a serious guy. And he would help them in Missouri, a state that they really do need, as opposed to Iowa, that's not as much of a swing state. But Gephardt is sort of -- no political organization ever thrives around him. He's sort of a Typhoid Mary of Democrat politics.
BEGALA: He helped produce Donna's career and mine.
ROGERS: Any Democratic organization he's a part of tends to die rather than flourish. So, perhaps in that regard, I'm for him.
NOVAK: I'll tell you, Vilsack has foreign policy experience, though. He was mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, at one time.
BEGALA: It couldn't hurt. And they were never attacked by a
NOVAK: All right, Donna Brazile, let's stop kidding around. There's one superstar that every -- we all want to see on the ticket, all Americans. That's Hillary. I mean...
NOVAK: Here, listen to the applause. I mean, wouldn't that be a
BRAZILE: That would be a dream ticket, absolutely.
NOVAK: Just the other day, she said that rich people have to suffer and we have to redistribute the income. Can't we get her on and have a real debate with Dick Cheney?
ROGERS: Would she take the demotion?
BRAZILE: Hillary Clinton would be a great vice presidential running mate.
NOVAK: I agree with you.
BRAZILE: And I believe America's ready for a woman on the ticket.
NOVAK: I do, too.
BRAZILE: So that
NOVAK: Yes, what's wrong with it? What's holding (CROSSTALK)
BRAZILE: But Mrs. Clinton -- Mrs. Clinton, she promised to win back her seat. She promised the people of New York. And, by the way, she's been a great senator for the people in New York.
NOVAK: Oh, wonderful.
BRAZILE: She promised the people of New York that she would stay the course and help them out and perhaps write another best-seller. So...
BEGALA: And, in fact, I love to watch -- I love to watch Bob and my fellow right-wing friends underestimate Hillary Clinton. I can remember when Bob was saying that Rick Lazio, a moderate, attractive, great-looking, bright congressman who actually happened to live in the state, he predicted that he would beat Hillary. She beat him like a redheaded stepchild, man, all across that state. You all have underestimated her too many times, haven't you?
ROGERS: No, I don't underestimate her one bit. In fact, I think she's going to be the Democrat nominee in '08, because Kerry is going to lose this time. And that's what she really wants, for Kerry to lose to tease her up for run for the top job.
BRAZILE: Well, you better talk to Hillary, because she's out there raising money for John Kerry. And she's campaigning very hard to
ROGERS: I predict Kerry will carry New York just fine.
BEGALA: Let me move on to someone who actually is in active consideration. Senator Clinton, you're right, has said she doesn't want it. She wants to run for reelection in New York.
But that is the governor of New Mexico, who is now not a Beltway creature, Bill Richardson, former ambassador to the United Nations, where he was extraordinarily successful, secretary of energy, congressman from New Mexico, Hispanic.
ROGERS: Fashionably so, yes.
BEGALA: The fastest growing minority group in America are Hispanics. (APPLAUSE)
BEGALA: Don't you think Bill Richardson would be a great ticket?
ROGERS: Incredible guy, also wants to run in '08, would be auditioning for the big contest in '08, when he wants to run for president in his own right, credible guy, serious guy. I don't think a V.P. nominee for a challenger drives votes outside of that one state. And I certainly don't think he becomes a Hispanic signal leader. So...
NOVAK: But he's good for Americans who can't speak English, isn't that
BEGALA: Like George W. Bush.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BEGALA: I'm sorry.
BRAZILE: Bill Richardson, a former U.N. ambassador, Cabinet secretary, member of Congress, someone who is respected on the international as well as national stage, would be value added and a great vice presidential nominee.
NOVAK: Donna, I think you will agree with me that, in the primaries, one of the worst campaigns anybody put on was by General Wes Clark. And he is apparently on the list. Why is he on the vice presidential list, when he was such a terrible candidate? He was miserable. He couldn't get anything straight.
BRAZILE: Well, you know what? He excited a lot of Democrats. A lot of Democrats came out, a lot of independents.
BRAZILE: He comes from Arkansas.
NOVAK: Who did he excite?
BRAZILE: Have you been -- have you been blogged by the Edwards -- by the Clark people? Have you gotten involved in their meet-ups across the country?
NOVAK: Heavens, no.
(LAUGHTER) BRAZILE: Well, while they were not experienced in getting out the vote, they were very experienced in talking up General Clark and getting him out there. And I think General Clark would also make a good vice presidential nominee. Again, John Kerry has an embarrassment...
NOVAK: I want you to say somebody would be bad, but we'll get to that.
BRAZILE: Well, I know your candidate is Al Sharpton. And Al Sharpton is
NOVAK: I think
BEGALA: No, let me actually suggest someone who has not been on the media list, but I think ought to be, somebody who I worked with in the Clinton White House who might have been the most single competent person I ever worked with there, which is saying a lot.
And that's Frank Raines. He was the first budget director in 40 years to write a balanced budget. He is now the CEO of Fannie Mae, one of the 50 most successful and largest companies in America, a successful businessman, a successful budget director, got the right credentials. Don't you think he would be a great addition to the ticket?
ROGERS: As a political choice, virtue of the fact that I can't attack him right now, it's mean we'd be flat-footed for a while. He would be a good choice. He would make some sense, add some energy. Having said that, he doesn't drive a state that Kerry needs.
BRAZILE: He's from Washington state. He's from Washington state. And that is a state that's a battleground state.
ROGERS: And they know he's from Washington state?
BRAZILE: Absolutely. They know he's from Seattle.
NOVAK: What Kerry needs is Florida. He needs Florida.
(CROSSTALK) NOVAK: And so what about a guy from Florida who always wins there? Not only that, he has got a note for everything he's ever done in his life. If he put on a red necktie, that's noted. If he washed, he brushed his teeth, that's noted. Wouldn't Bob Graham, if he released all his notes, wouldn't he be a hell of a candidate?
BRAZILE: I think he'd be a great candidate.
NOVAK: How about his notes?
BRAZILE: We'll take the notes, especially those notes on the intelligence that led this administration to somehow bungle it up and mislead the American people to war.
ROGERS: By today's standard...
BRAZILE: So, hopefully, let's put Bob Graham out there. We'll have a very good debate.
BEGALA: It's an interesting contrast. Senator Graham knows what he's done every 15 minutes. We have got years of President Bush's life we don't know where he was. He was supposed to be on National Guard duty. Whoa.
BEGALA: I love him. He would be a great candidate.
ROGERS: He is a credible guy. He would help him in Florida. But he does have this weird diary that we have talked about. And by today's standards, that all will be subpoenaed. And so we are all going to know what's in it.
But he didn't equip himself very well running for president. He must be smart, because he ain't pretty. So I don't know what he really brings to the ticket.
BRAZILE: By your standards, he's not handsome, but by my standard, he's a cutie.
BEGALA: OK, keep your seats. We're going to take a quick break while we ponder just how great looking Bob Graham is. I happen to he's wonderful looking.
But, next, we will put our guests in the "Rapid Fire" and ask -- at least I'm going to ask if there is any chance that John Kerry could pull a switch and pick a Republican running mate.
And then, right after the break, are the detainees at Guantanamo Bay about to move out? Wolf Blitzer will report.
ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to CROSSFIRE at the George Washington University, call 202-994-8CNN or visit our Web site. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Coming up at the top of the hour, Saddam Hussein becomes a prisoner of the new Iraqi government. We'll tell you what's next.
U.S. detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba may be moving to the United States. We'll tell you why.
And a conversation with Nicholas Berg's father. It's not just Iraqi insurgents he's angry at.
Those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORT."
Now back to CROSSFIRE.
NOVAK: It's time for "Rapid Fire," where we ask questions even faster than a sane Democrat would be running away from the No. 2 slot on John Kerry's doomed presidential ticket.
In the CROSSFIRE today, former Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, Republican consultant Ed Rogers.
BEGALA: Ed, with the president's job approval as low as 42, it looks pretty likely the Democrats are going to win. So should John Kerry consider reaching across party lines for a national unity ticket, picking an anti-Bush Republican like Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a senator?
ROGERS: Chuck Hagel is a good Republican. He is a pro-Bush Republican. He will be on a ticket some day, but it will be a Republican ticket.
NOVAK: Donna, my candidate for vice president, my favorite is Al Sharpton.
NOVAK: He says: "We must no longer be the political mistress of the Democratic Party. A mistress is where they take you out to have fun, but they can't take you home to momma and daddy."
NOVAK: Isn't it just prejudice that John Kerry won't even consider this great black politician?
BRAZILE: you know what? He's consulting with Al Sharpton. He's talking with Al Sharpton. He's campaigning with Al Sharpton. Al Sharpton has come a long way since the 1980s.
BEGALA: Somebody who is not a politician, but also from New York, is Bob Rubin, maybe one of the greatest treasury secretaries ever, successful steward of our economy, sadly has watched President Bush ruin everything that he worked on. What about Bob Rubin on the national ticket?
ROGERS: The only person I can think of that looks more like an undertaker than John Kerry is Bob Rubin.
BEGALA: What about Dick Cheney?
NOVAK: The smartest foreign policy guy in the Democrat Party, one of the smartest in Washington, Joe Biden. Does that make any sense?
BRAZILE: It would make a lot of sense. And, in fact, I thought one of the reasons why he raised John McCain's name is to get his own name out there.
BEGALA: Interesting. Biden would be a great choice. And you guys would have a hard time running against him, too. He's a very moderate
ROGERS: Credible guy. But he doesn't give them a state. He doesn't give them a state.
NOVAK: ... name a Republican?
BEGALA: Chuck Hagel. I suggested Chuck Hagel.
No, but Biden would be a tough one for you guys because...
ROGERS: Serious, credentialed guy, but he doesn't drive a state. And for this, Kerry needs somebody that gives him a key state.
NOVAK: OK, thank you very much, Donna. Thank you very much, Ed Rogers.
ROGERS: Thank you. (APPLAUSE)
NOVAK: Al Sharpton, career counselor? We'll tell you about Sharpton's new job right after this.
NOVAK: It's a safe bet that the Reverend Al Sharpton won't be John Kerry's choice for vice president. It's just as well. The good reverend is going to be too busy this fall. It's just been announced that Al will be a regular on the Spike TV network's reality show "I Hate My Job," which focuses on people trying to find their dream jobs. Al Sharpton will be a career counselor and motivational speaker. He's calling himself the workingman's Donald Trump.
How is that going to play?
BEGALA: I think great.
I was one of few skeptics and critics of Al Sharpton when he began the race. Anybody who watched him when he came on CROSSFIRE saw me grill him, maybe the most contentious interview I've ever done on this show. He has won me over. He showed a lot of wit and a lot of wisdom in this campaign. I will watch that show.
BEGALA: Al Sharpton showed me a lot in this campaign.
NOVAK: Let's kill the show. Put him on the ticket, a Kerry- Sharpton ticket. Al Sharpton vs. Dick Cheney, what a dream debate.
BEGALA: I'll tell you what. That wouldn't be a close call for me. Al Sharpton actually knows something about the real lives of real people and he didn't trade with the Iranians and the Iraqis at Halliburton, like Dick Cheney did. Go, Sharpton.
BEGALA: From the left, I am Paul Begala. 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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