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Kerry Picks Edwards as Running Mate

Aired July 6, 2004 - 16:30   ET


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With your help, the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards from North Carolina.


ANNOUNCER: John Edwards is the real deal. Will the Kerry/Edwards ticket be a real winner? Today, on CROSSFIRE, live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Hello, everybody, welcome to CROSSFIRE.

John Kerry this morning gave Democrats their dream ticket and gave Republicans what might be their worst nightmare. The Kerry/Edwards ticket will showcase optimism, energy and enthusiasm -- not exactly words that spring to mind when you think of George W. Bush and Dick F-word Cheney.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Well, it amounts to two rich white guys. How utterly hypocritical, and how sad. Our condolences to women and Democrats of color everywhere. Your party has sold you out again. Our search for what little is left of the party of the people begins with the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE Political Alert.

Well, it's official. John Edwards from North Carolina will be running for vice president this year. John Kerry, apparently unable to find a single qualified woman or member of a certified minority group, chose a man much like him -- very liberal, extremely rich, married to a woman more appealing than himself.

That's the good news. Here's the bad news. Edwards is also inexperienced, he's grating, overly ambitious and completely ignorant of the world beyond our borders. A hypocritical neophyte, his primary campaign was wholly owned by lobbyists and special interest groups.

How do we know all this? Because John Kerry told us so repeatedly earlier this year. Kerry criticized many of his opponents during the Democratic primaries, but he saved his nastiest jabs for Edwards, whom, Kerry's aides said, he disliked personally. Apparently, the two have patched things up for the moment, and yet one criticism will not go away. Quote, "He can't even win his own state," Kerry once said of Edwards, and it's true.

Kerry will almost certainly not carry North Carolina, even with John Edwards on the ticket, which is pretty embarrassing.

BEGALA: More embarrassing, George W. Bush couldn't win his own country. America voted against George W. Bush and for Al Gore. By the way ...

CARLSON: Paul, that's such a lie, and I wish you'd give that up.


BEGALA: I think you're wrong -- I think you're wrong about North Carolina.

CARLSON: Do you really?

BEGALA: Yes, two reasons. First, North Carolina farmers, tobacco farmers, a very Republican group, are angry with this administration. You combine that with a native son, North Carolina could be in play.

CARLSON: Well, I support the tobacco farmers, and tobacco, for that matter.

BEGALA: Well, the Bush/Cheney camp today released a new ad to counter John Kerry's selection of John Edwards. The ad does not tout Mr. Bush's choice for voice president, the foul-mouthed former Halliburton CEO, Dick Cheney, nor did it tout Mr. Bush's plans to revive our stalled economy or win the endless occupation of Iraq -- perhaps because Mr. Bush has no plans for the economy or for Iraq.

No, the new Bush/Cheney ad features John McCain, the man who first warned us that Mr. Bush is, quote, "Pat Robertson Republican," unquote, who, quote, "twists the truth," unquote. But of John Kerry, Senator McCain has said, quote, "He's smart, he's tough, and he's experienced. He has the capability." McCain also praised John Edwards' skill, determination and genuine compassion.

Republicans are trying to spin that Edwards was Kerry's second choice. That, of course, is not true. But what is true is, as I mentioned a moment ago, it was George W. Bush who was the American people's second choice in the year 2000.

CARLSON: You know what? I honestly think, despite what the crowd says, I do think it's kind of pathetic to repeat that talking point four years on. But I will say, actually, as you know perfectly well, John Edwards was John Kerry's second choice, because the Kerry campaign admits that they called John McCain and asked if he would be willing to run with John Kerry.

It's literally true. I can't see how you can call it untrue, because you know it's true.

BEGALA: It's not true. He was not offered it. I think there was probably some talk back and forth. They're two very ...

CARLSON: They said it ...

BEGALA: But it's inarguably true that more Americans wanted Gore than Bush, and I think that's worthy of note, Tucker.

I think that's something you need to get over. Your man lost, and the Supreme Court put him in.

CARLSON: My man lost, very deeply pathetic. Well, one of the little-noticed developments of today's Democratic vice presidential announcement was the fact that John Kerry's list of campaign slogans has now expanded to a dozen. That's right, 12 airy, meaningless catch phrases. For those of you keeping score at home, and we know there are many, here they are.

A better set of choices. A safer, stronger, more secure America. Bring it on. Change starts here. A fighter with results. The real deal. The courage to lead. The courage to do what's right for America. Together, we can build a stronger America. A lifetime of service and strength. Let America be America again. And, finally, today's addition, quote, "A new team, for a new America."

Well, no doubt, there will be more slogans, perhaps a dozen more. It would be easy to mock John Kerry for this, and in fact I'm doing it, but don't be too hard on him, because it's difficult to sum up what you believe, if you don't know.

BEGALA: You make a fair point that Kerry has had a lot of slogans.

CARLSON: Twelve.

BEGALA: So has President Bush, who has declared himself at various times (ph), a compassionate conservative, a reformer with results, uniter, not a divider, a wartime president, mission accomplished, strong leader in a time of change, a safer, stronger, better America, no child left behind. And today's slogan, on his Web site, Yes, America can. Yes, America can get rid of this guy and put somebody in there who knows how to do the job.

CARLSON: But, Paul, as you know -- as you know, those are not campaign slogans.


BEGALA: Sure they are.

CARLSON: One refers to legislation ...

BEGALA: Sure they are. Those are all campaign slogans that Mr. Bush has tried.

CARLSON: They're not.

BEGALA: So, both candidates have got a lot of slogans.

Anyway, John Kerry has chosen Representative Richard Gephardt, the veteran congressman from Missouri to be his running mate. That's what the right-wing "New York Post" reported this morning. The Post is owned by right-wing billionaire Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Fox News Channel.

It was Fox News, you may recall, that reported that a chemical weapons facility had been found in Iraq -- wrong again. Of course, it was Fox News who hired George W. Bush's first cousin to make the call as to whether Mr. Bush carried Florida on election night.

Bush's cousin said he did. Fox News declared Mr. Bush the president and falsely set the tone that it was Vice President Gore who was challenging the people's choice.

The Murdoch media empire is often entertaining. It is occasionally aggravating. It is also frequently flat-out wrong. Just ask Vice President Gephardt.

CARLSON: It's hard for me to believe that you are now into Michael Moore land, into Paranoidville (ph) ...

BEGALA: They got it wrong.

CARLSON: ... blaming Fox -- blaming Fox for all Fox's problems -- we've (INAUDIBLE) in here. But blaming Fox for Gore's loss, his fair loss in the election, really is like a conspiracy theory. You don't really think that, do you?

BEGALA: Gore won. And Fox should never have hired the first cousin of any presidential candidate ...

CARLSON: Do you really believe that?

BEGALA: ... to be the person who decides who ...

CARLSON: Do you really believe -- you really believe Gore won, honestly?

BEGALA: Who got more votes -- Gore clearly carried Florida, but for ...

CARLSON: That's not the way the system works.

BEGALA: That's because the system disenfranchised lots of voters, didn't have a full recount, didn't allow ...

CARLSON: God, no wonder you're so angry. You really believe that Gore was the president.

BEGALA: There's no question, Tucker.

Well, anyway, John Kerry has made his choice. Now it's time for voters to make theirs. Will John Edwards make this ticket a winner? We will find out from two experts in a minute. Plus, the Kerry campaign has just cut a new Kerry/Edwards ad. You haven't seen it yet, but you'll see it here first on CROSSFIRE.

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Tonight, John Kerry, John Edwards and their families will sit down for a quiet dinner in Pittsburgh. Tomorrow, the self-proclaimed new team for a new America begins its campaign to allow George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to spend more time with their loved ones, Enron, Exxon and Halliburton.

In the CROSSFIRE to debate the Kerry/Edwards versus Bush/Cheney ticket, Republican strategist Charlie Black and Kerry Campaign senior adviser Tad Devine.

CARLSON: Now, Tad, your campaign, the Kerry campaign, has cut a brand-new ad, it's going to be up tomorrow. I think we're going to have it in just a minute.


CARLSON: And I was disappointed but not surprised to learn that that ad repeats a line that John Edwards used about himself quite a bit, really to no end, during the primaries, describing himself as, quote, "the son of a mill worker."


CARLSON: My question to you is pretty simple. Who cares what his father did?

DEVINE: Well, I think people do care, because it's a demonstration of the shared values. John Edwards' father worked in the mill for 36 years. He grew up in small towns like Robbins, North Carolina ...

CARLSON: My question is, what does that have to do with anything?

DEVINE: It has to do with the values that he formed growing up, which are the values of middle of America. And he's very proud of his upbringing in the fact that ...

CARLSON: Wait, wait, isn't the basic premise of America that you're responsible for yourself, that each person gets to create his own life, and that we're not responsible for what our parents did, right? So isn't this sort of antithetical to the whole point of America -- I mean, seriously, this is not some sort of aristocratic inherited system.

This is -- his father's job makes no difference at all, and it's sort of insulting, really, to bring it up again and again.

DEVINE: I don't think it's insulting. I think it's important that in America, the son of a mill worker has just as much right to be president or vice president as the son of a president, which is what we have right now ...

BEGALA: Let's talk about the match-up here for V.P. Republicans today, as would be predicted, jumped on John Edwards, because he had been an attorney representing families, mostly whose children had been injured by irresponsible corporations. How does that contrast with Dick Cheney, who ran an irresponsible corporation that traded with our enemies, Iran and Iraq and Libya.


BEGALA: Which is a more honorable way to earn a living.

BLACK: First of all, I'm still waiting for evidence about what you say about Vice President Cheney and Halliburton. But, look, John Edwards cared so much about those poor victims that he took millions of dollars from each one of them and put them in his pocket to become one of the 100 most elite trial lawyers in America.

Look, this selection confirms that John Kerry is a political opportunist and not a principled leader. His first choice, John McCain, disagreed with him on 80 percent of the issues, but would have been good politically. He said no, so they went around and polled, and it turns out John Edwards is the most possible.

So the guy he said was not experienced enough to serve as president is now on the ticket -- political opportunism.

BEGALA: Let's come back to this question of corporate America. You have two CEOs from two oil companies on the Republican ticket. I do think that's an enormous vulnerability when you have this economy that's so soft for middle class Americans, and you have finally on the Democratic ticket a real champion of middle class values.

You're really comfortable with these two corporate CEOs matching up against the Democrats?

BLACK: What you have on the Republican ticket is a proven president and a proven vice president who have successfully led a war against terrorism, a worldwide war against terrorism, and who have successfully led a resurgent economy to where we now have record economic growth -- 5 percent growth in the last year. The American people aren't going to want to take a risk on changing them for the most liberal ticket to run in the history of America, the high-tax ticket.

BEGALA: Well, Charlie, just -- we have now a copy of the new ad that the Shrum, Devine and Donilon, of which Mr. Devine is a partner, his firm has made ...


BEGALA: You have made for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. The first time, I believe, it's been shown anywhere, the first new ad featuring the new ticket. I'd like you both it to watch it and comment on it, Charlie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One is a combat veteran with over 30 years of experience handling the toughest issues facing America. The other is the son of a mill worker, who all his life has stood up for ordinary people against powerful interests. Today, they're a new team for America, with a plan to make a stronger us stronger at home and respected in the world.

John Kerry and John Edwards, president, vice president. Kerry/Edwards, a new team for a new America.

KERRY: I'm John Kerry, and I approved this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BEGALA: Charlie, you've got to admit, the optics there look pretty handsome, sunny and optimistic, as opposed to Dick Cheney, with his many virtues, nobody's ever accused him of being sunny or optimistic, have they?

BLACK: Well, there's nothing -- there's nothing optimistic about class warfare. John Edwards ran a presidential campaign that was class warfare, two Americas. It was the ultimate in pessimism. John Kerry is running all over the country trying to talk down the economy. It's the pessimistic ticket there. And, by the way, I didn't notice anything about John Edwards' experience in that ad. And you didn't have enough copy space to talk about the most liberal ticket in American history, two of the four most liberal U.S. senators running on the same ticket.

CARLSON: Now, Ted, the ad also didn't mention, despite the attempt to make this son of a middle class family seem like he rose from poverty, is the fact that you have a ticket composed of two super-rich white guys. Here's my question to you: couldn't -- were there no qualified women or candidates of color?

DEVINE: Well, first of all ...

CARLSON: There were none in all of America? You couldn't find a single woman to run with John Kerry?

DEVINE: There were 25 people actually looked at in probably the most effective vice presidential selection process in our nation's history. Now, it's true. Jim Johnson didn't get himself picked as vice president the way Cheney did four years ago. That didn't happen.

But this was an inclusive process. There were a lot of people considered, and I think it produced by far the strongest nominee for vice president we've seen in a generation.

CARLSON: There are no qualified women or minorities, you've just said.

DEVINE: Sure, there are.

CARLSON: Well, I wonder why -- I wonder if you can tell me why ...


CARLSON: Senator Edwards is more qualified, say, than Dianne Feinstein, who's served a lot longer than he has -- Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton, Carol Moseley Braun, who served a full term in the Senate, was an ambassador to New Zealand. Why is he more qualified than them?

DEVINE: John Kerry looked at a lot of people in this process, and he came up with the person who is the single best person to fight with him for the working families and the middle class families of America, someone who shares his values ...

CARLSON: You've got to get this (INAUDIBLE) diversity stuff ...


DEVINE: I just said 25 people were considered ...

CARLSON: But not chosen. A rich white guy was chosen.

DEVINE: ... twenty-five people. And, by the way, he grew up in a poor household. I've been in his parents' household. Let me tell you something ...

CARLSON: Oh, spare me.

DEVINE: If you think that's middle class ..

CARLSON: Spare me, spare me, spare me, spare me.

DEVINE: I saw where he grew up.

CARLSON: I don't care what his father did.

That's before he took millions of dollars from these poor victims that he ...

BEGALA: Well, better than taking millions of dollars from the Iranian ayatollahs who Dick Cheney sold oil ...


BEGALA: Cheney himself has lobbied for lifting sanctions across Iranians. But let me come to another, more recent, criticism of Dick Cheney. This is yesterday, in the "Washington Post," a Republican official suggesting that Vice President Cheney's not exactly helping things.

One GOP official, exasperated with Mr. Cheney's continued talk about Iraq's supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, compared him to the Japanese guerrillas who filtered out of the jungle in the 1950s, not realizing World War II was over.

Now, that's unfair, because Cheney got five deferments and said he had other priorities. He never did fight the way the Japanese soldiers did, but ...

BLACK: It must not have been a very high official. You didn't mention his name, but let me tell you something. Bill Clinton said they had weapons of mass destruction, the U.N. said it. Every European country knew it. He used weapons of mass destruction against the Kurds and against Iran. Will you guys quit pretending there were no weapons of mass destruction? There were. There were.

BEGALA: Even Tony Blair today said there were not. Cheney is -- I love this -- Dick Cheney is still persisting ...

BLACK: You're calling President Clinton a liar, and you ought to call him and apologize, Paul.

BEGALA: Dick Cheney is still persisting in misleading the American people that Iraq was a threat to America. And people have concluded that they were misleading ...

BLACK: There's no misleading. There were terrorists there and weapons of mass destruction there, and Bill Clinton said it. Take his word for it.

CARLSON: Now, Ted, I want to refer you to something, one of my all-time favorite Democrats. Ed Rendell, another governor of Pennsylvania said, I think just yesterday, actually, about your new choice for V.P. -- here he is.


GOV. ED RENDELL (D-PA): I think when people look at John Edwards, they say, boy, he's a terrific, bright young senator. He's going to be something, someday. But I don't think they consider the day being now.



DEVINE: It has arrived, let me tell you.

CARLSON: Apparently, it has. Here's my question. Whatever his talents, and I think he's a talented guy, and he's got a lot going for him, obviously -- he doesn't have a great foreign policy background, and this election is about foreign policy. It's about Iraq and it's about terrorism, but you all are going to try and fight it on the economy, aren't you? And that's kind of a pathetic strategy, isn't it?

DEVINE: Well, first, he's got six years more foreign policy experience than George Bush the day he was inaugurated.

CARLSON: It's a different world. It's a different world.

DEVINE: Let's start there. Let's start there in terms of experience.

And, second, in terms of fighting it out on the economy, you'd better believe we're going to fight it out on the economy, because the Bush economic policies are a disaster -- no, by the way, the president was patting himself on the back last week. We created 112,000 jobs ... CARLSON: What's going well in this country? What's going well in this country?

DEVINE The Democratic ticket.

CARLSON: No, hold on. Give me a real answer. Give me a real answer. Give me a real answer. Tell me something the Bush administration has done that's going well in this country.

DEVINE: Well, Tucker, it's really hard to find some things the Bush administration has done well in this country.

CARLSON: Anything? Nothing?

DEVINE: I'll tell you what's great about America are our people. That's what's going well in America ...

CARLSON: Oh, our children, too?


DEVINE: Our children, the hope for the future.

CARLSON: Good, good.

DEVINE: And I'll tell you something. As long as we pursue these policies, OK, where the president stands up and pats himself on the back for saying we created 112,000 jobs, if we don't create 150,000 jobs a month in this country, we can't keep up with population growth.

So the president's satisfied. John Kerry and John Edwards are not satisfied, because we can do better.


We're going to take a quick break. You just made a terrific argument against immigration, but we'll save that for another show.

Next, in Rapid Fire, we'll explain why Ralph Nader, of all people, is so pleased with John Kerry's vice presidential pick. And has this missing U.S. Marine been freed? We'll have the latest on who's saying what right after the break.


CARLSON: Welcome back. It is time for Rapid Fire. We ask questions almost as fast as the John Kerry for President campaign can churn out meaningless new campaign slogans. Putting the best face on things he can is Kerry campaign senior adviser Tad Devine, and doing his best not to gloat, Republican strategist Charlie Black.

BEGALA: Charlie, Vice President Cheney's favorability rating in the "New York Times"/CBS poll last week was 22. Was that because he mislead us about the war, because of the controversy about Halliburton, or because he dropped the F-bomb on the Senate floor. Why is he so disliked in America?

BLACK: I'm sure it's because hundreds of millions of Americans watch CROSSFIRE and hear you badmouthing him every day, Paul.

BEGALA: I hope so.

CARLSON: Now, Ted, it seems to me an odd mix, Kerry and Edwards -- Edwards, total extremist on abortion. Kerry now says he believes that life begins at conception. How are they going to get along on this issue?

DEVINE: Listen, they're both, I believe, moderate Democrats. I know you don't believe that.

CARLSON: On this subject, they're not moderate at all, as you know.


DEVINE: Well, how about when Warren Rudman calls him a moderate Democrat?

CARLSON: Who cares what Warren Rudman thinks?


DEVINE: And we've got them some credit.

BEGALA: Charlie, the legislation that John Edwards worked hardest on with John McCain was the Patients' Bill of Rights. It seems to me President Bush now has been three-faced on it. He opposed it in Texas, then he campaigned for president saying he supported it, then he asked the Supreme Court to overturn it.

Do you think patients' rights will be a big issue, and does President Bush support John Edwards' Patients' Bill of Rights?

BLACK: He signed a patients' bill of rights in Texas and he tried to work one through the Congress.

BEGALA: He did what (ph) in Texas?

BLACK: And you know what -- you know what? The Democrats won't let one come through unless trial lawyers can sue HMOs and drive up the cost of health care. That's why you ...


CARLSON: Ralph Nader is excited. He wanted -- as you know, wanted the Kerry campaign to pick John Edwards or another ambulance chaser like him. Are other members of the far left as excited, do you think, as Ralph Nader, about your pick?

DEVINE: I think people all across the spectrum are excited about John Edwards. I saw it today. I've talked with Democrats, state party chairs, senators, governors, and I have never seen a level of excitement like we had today.

BEGALA: That will be the last word. Tad Devine from the Kerry campaign, thank you very much. Charlie Black, ace Republican strategist. Thank you both very much.

Next, it's your turn to fire back and us, and one of our viewers says the vice presidential debate can have major similarities to one of the biggest movie blockbusters of all time. We'll explain, next.


BEGALA: Time now to Fire Back. Our e-mail bank has been overflowing with viewer response to the choice of Senator John Edwards today.

K. Suhr (ph) in Miami, Florida writes, I look forward to the debate between Edwards and Vice President Cheney. It will be like Luke Skywalker taking on Darth Vader.

CARLSON: I don't know who is who. I think Cheney will do well.

BEGALA: John, I am your father.

CARLSON: Mitch Parker from New York, New York, writes, Does this mean they have another cabinet position selected for Al Sharpton?

Well, Mitch, I don't know the answer to that question, but I have to say, I admire the way you think. What does this mean for Sharpton? That's the first question I asked myself.

BEGALA: That's a good point. I hope that he'll come on soon. I know you were a key adviser to his campaign ...

CARLSON: Yes, I was.

BEGALA: Will you help in strategizing his selection as V.P., Tucker?

CARLSON: No, I'm strategizing for his prime-time address to the Democratic National Convention this summer in Boston.

BEGALA: I cannot wait.

CARLSON: Oh, yes.

BEGALA: Mitch Parker in New York -- no, that was Mitch right there.

Mike Hills (ph) writes, I've never understood why Republicans are so opposed to trial lawyers. After all, if it weren't for lawyers, President Gore would be running for reelection this year.

Fair point.

CARLSON: You know, the amount of kind of pathetic bitterness and wining about that election that still exists, it's ... BEGALA: Wait a minute, some child gets injured and her parents sue a corporation, that's bad, but George Bush can sue to have an election overturned and have the Supreme Court install him? I think ...

CARLSON: It's like lying (ph) and ...

BEGALA: Which is more abusive of the system?

CARLSON: Frank Harrington of Charlotte, North Carolina writes, Senator Kerry has already delivered a pre-election gift to the people of North Carolina. Kerry took an ultra-liberal, do-nothing, white- collar, high-dollar lawyer from the state, which benefited negatively from his representation. This Tarheel will be eternally grateful.

Frank, glad you're happy.

BEGALA: I'm going to mark down Frank as undecided.

From the left, that's it for CROSSFIRE. I'm Paul Begala.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Join us again tomorrow, Wednesday, for yet more CROSSFIRE.

Have a great night.


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