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CNN CROSSFIRE

Battleground New Hampshire

Aired July 19, 2004 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: It's a long time since the snows of New Hampshire.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, New Hampshire, for lifting up this campaign.

ANNOUNCER: This time, John Kerry isn't facing a free-falling Howard Dean, but a sitting president who won the state four years ago. The polls couldn't be tighter and the stakes couldn't be higher. We're checking out one of the battleground states that could decide this presidential election aboard CNN's Election Express -- today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from Concord, New Hampshire, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE and to the flinty granite-studded, independent-minded, usually bitter-cold, but not right now, Concord, New Hampshire.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: The CNN Election Express has been careening over the rain-slicked roads here in Concord all day. All week, we will be heading toward the Democratic National Convention in Boston. We'll check out the Bush Kerry-battle here in this key swing state.

But, first, the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

You know, Dick Cheney has a lot of things. He has a foul mouth, for one. He has tens of millions of dollars, courtesy of his tenure at Halliburton. And he has the most powerful job in the world, telling President Bush what to do. But one thing Dick Cheney does not have is a sense of irony, because, today, he attacked John Edwards for representing patients affected who have victimized by incompetent or even drug-addicted doctors.

But, of course, Mr. Cheney himself reportedly had a doctor who was, again, reportedly, misusing painkillers while he was treating Mr. Cheney. Thank God Mr. Cheney's did no harm to him. But if he had, you can be sure John Edwards would defend Mr. Cheney's right to defend himself in court. Of course, it was Mr. Cheney's doctor who assured us that the vice president is physically fit to do his job.

I certainly believe that that's true. I just wonder if Mr. Cheney's hypocrisy makes him morally unfit for the job.

CARLSON: Wait. So, Dick Cheney's doctor's had a dope problem, so it's unfair of him to criticize trial lawyers? Look, there are trauma centers around this country for real -- not just a talking point -- for real, in Las Vegas and West Virginia and a lot of other places, Mississippi, that are closing because of lawsuits.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: No, because insurance companies -- no, because insurance companies, of which the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary, are ripping off the good guys, because they won't get rid of the

(CROSSTALK)

(BELL RINGING)

CARLSON: Really? The doctors don't say that when they protest it at all. They say it's trial lawyers.

Well, there was time ago many years ago when Democrats could make a plausible case that they represented ordinary people, the fabled working man. That was before the Democratic leadership started hanging out in Hollywood, summering in Nantucket, and putting together presidential tickets with combined fortune of more than $1 billion.

How elitist has the Democratic Party become? Let's put it this way. Next week, Democrats will have to cross picket lines to get into their high-dollar wine and cheese parties. Boston cops are protesting the low wages they receive from the city's Democratic government. Time was, observant Democrats would not cross picket lines. It was a matter of principle, solidarity with labor and all that.

But these days, though, Democratic Mayor Tom Menino is telling conventioneers that striking workers -- quote -- "shouldn't prevent anyone from coming to the convention and having a good time." In other words, the little people may be having trouble paying their rent, they may be on strike, but don't let it worry you. Relax. Have another glass of champagne. If only Walter Reuther were alive to see this. At least he had principle. They don't even believe in their own principles.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... over to my side. Last week, you were a feminist outraged by Hillary Clinton not speaking. Now you're pro-union.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I believe a party -- a party ought to live up to its own principles, even if I disagree with them. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I don't respect people who ignore the things they espouse.

BEGALA: Well, I wish the Republicans, who espouse being tough on crime, would help the cops all across the country, instead of ending Clinton's 100,000 police program.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You're going to ignore everything I just said, basically.

BEGALA: I don't know enough about what the issues

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Should they cross picket lines? Should they cross picket lines? Come on.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... cops in Boston, but I just wish we could get more help for cops all across America by this White House.

Well, 11 people were killed and 62 wounded today in three separate attacks in Iraq. According to today's "Boston Globe," the casualty rate for U.S. forces in Iraq remains stunningly high. Almost as many Americans have been killed in Iraq in just the first 19 dives July as were killed in the entire month of June.

Now, first the Bush administration promised us our troops would be welcomed as liberators. And they said things would get better after we killed Uday and say Qusay Hussein. Then they said things would get better after we captured Saddam Hussein. Finally, they said things will improve after the so-called handover of sovereignty on June 30.

Again and again and again, we were misled. Americans are dying and yet our president insists on giving us rah-rah speeches. He is either deliberately misleading us or so out of touch that he's more of a cheerleader than a real leader.

CARLSON: No, I think, first of all, it's horrifying how many Americans are dying in Iraq. I think it's ludicrous and merely a campaign talking point to say that we were misled, when in fact we were wrong. We were all wrong in a lot of ways.

The Bush administration was wrong about a lot of things having to do with Iraq. But I will say, I would like to know what to do next. Should we pull out or not? John Kerry's plan is to remain there until the job gets done. But he hasn't explained what the job is and when we're going to know

(CROSSTALK) (BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: He has given long and thoughtful speeches. You just go to JohnKerry.com. He has a plan for this.

CARLSON: I have.

BEGALA: President Bush does not.

CARLSON: I spend all evening on JohnKerry.com.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Got a headache, but no more information.

Well, Arnold Schwarzenegger may not be the most articulate governor in these 50 states, but every once in a while, he tells a hard truth, as he did over the weekend, when he described his opponents in the California budget battle as -- quote -- "girly men."

The Democrats promptly responded by living down to the title. Left-wing gadfly Arianna Huffington whined that the governor was being a bully and also a meanie, and probably lot of other things. Well, Arianna is not a man at all, so perhaps she gets a semi-pass. But other more male Democrats have no excuse at all. They are continuing to complain about Schwarzenegger's insensitivity, just as they whined when Dick Cheney used a naughty but extremely amusing word on Capitol Hill a few weeks ago.

Well, here's some advice other Democrats. First, stop whining. Second, ignore the feminists. Third, lighten up. Fourth, get a sense of humor. Fifth, you are tense, uptight and unpleasant and that's why nobody likes you.

BEGALA: Well, Tucker, imagine the hypocrisy of a guy who used to earn a living by posing in a bikini calling anybody else a girly man.

CARLSON: Yes.

BEGALA: I like Schwarzenegger, I have to say.

CARLSON: Oh, he's such a girly -- oh, come on.

BEGALA: He's a funny guy. He's a charming guy. He ought to get his butt back to work, his waxed bikini butt back to work in Sacramento and pass a budget with the Democrats, instead of calling names and impugning

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: But, honestly, when are Democrats going to just lighten up about language?

BEGALA: They should.

(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: That's a good point, but when is Arnold going to get back to work, take his bikini shaved rear end back to California, do the job that the taxpayers are paying him?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's an image we don't need on CROSSFIRE, Paul.

(LAUGHTER)

(BELL RINGING)

CARLSON: John Kerry and George W. Bush are focusing on the so- called battleground states. We have brought the Election Express here to New Hampshire to see how the campaigns are doing in a state that no one wants to take for granite. Yes, pardon the pun. We feel bad about it, too.

And guess which of these famous faces John Kerry has a surprising relationship with, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston or Britney Spears? We will have the answer. We have the inside dope. We have the proof ahead on CROSSFIRE.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Well, four years ago, New Hampshire went for George W. Bush. He beat Al Gore by about 7,200 votes, thanks in part to the 22,000 patriotic, sensible New Hampshire voters who went for Ralph Nader.

Well, this time around, a recent poll shows John Kerry leading in a two-way race, but President Bush is ahead in a three-way race that includes, yes, Ralph Nader.

Well, in the CROSSFIRE, Democratic Party chairwoman of the state of New Hampshire, Kathy Sullivan, along with former state chairman, Bruce Keough, who is vice chair of Bush-Cheney New Hampshire.

BEGALA: Good to see you both again.

Bruce, thank you for joining us.

BRUCE KEOUGH, NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSH-CHENEY VICE CHAIRMAN: Good to see you, Paul.

BEGALA: Let me ask you, then, as an official of the Bush-Cheney campaign here in your state, 25 -- 26,700 manufacturing jobs have been lost; 125,000 New Hampshire families who had health insurance have lost their health insurance under President Bush. How do you defend a record like that that's been so rough on Granite Staters? KEOUGH: Well, I think President Bush has a great record to defend. I mean, he needs to remind voters of three things, No. 1, that the decision to wage the war on terror where the terrorists are was a good decision.

Secondly, he needs to remind people that we have had a lot of success in that area. I mean, look, the Taliban are no longer in power in Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein is no longer in power in Iraq. Two-thirds of al Qaeda's leadership is either dead, captured. In any event, they're on the run. They have no base of operations. And the Pakistani-Libyan nuclear connection has been exposed and shut down. So we have had successes there.

Finally, you started off with the economy. He has got a great story to tell on the economy. The economy today is much stronger than the economy George Bush inherited when he became president; 1.5 million jobs have been created in the past 10 months alone, 11,000 of them right here in New Hampshire. There's no doubt that manufacturing jobs are the first to go when you go into a recession and the last to come back when you come out. But George Bush has nothing to hide from on the economic front.

BEGALA: So are you concerned, focusing on the economy? I guess you're not concerned that New Hampshire voters are going to think the president's out of touch, when he says, as you just did, happy days are here again -- again, 26,700 manufacturing jobs lost, 11,000 jobs created, mostly lower-paying sectors. Are you concerned that people will look at this president, who I think is a very decent guy, but hopelessly out of touch or else deliberately misleading us? Which is it, by the way?

KEOUGH: Well, Paul, unemployment in New Hampshire today is 4 percent. Four percent is a pretty good number. It was 4.8 percent in the mid-'90s, when Bill Clinton was supposedly ruling over the greatest economic expansion in American history.

So, look, there's been a lot of rhetoric critical of the president. We here in New Hampshire have lived through the Democratic primary, where the essential platform of every candidate seemed to be, George Bush is a really bad guy and he's doing everything wrong. The president -- we are getting to the stage in the campaign where the president has a chance to tell his story. I think it is a compelling story and I think it will resonate with New Hampshire voters.

CARLSON: What about that, Kathy?

For more than the last year, you have had endless propaganda on your airwaves up here in New Hampshire of Bush is bad. If the economy is as bad as Paul says it is, almost at the point of another Great Depression, then you have, in addition to that, the war in Iraq, which polls show most people don't support any longer, why is it, given all those negatives against Bush, that he is still even with John Kerry on the eve of John Kerry's convention?

It sounds like John Kerry is much weaker than he ought to be. And I will bet you're worried about it -- tell the truth -- aren't you?

KATHY SULLIVAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: The truth is that I am so happy with where John Kerry is right now in New Hampshire.

This is a state that only has a 28 percent Democratic registration. Yet John Kerry is running neck and neck with George Bush. If George Bush can't even get a lead in New Hampshire over John Kerry, I think he better start looking for that ghostwriter to do his memoirs.

In all honesty, John Kerry has withstood a $90 million barrage of negative advertising by the Bush-Cheney machine criticizing Kerry for everything under the sun. The reality is that, in New Hampshire, people are concerned, why is it that their salaries are not keeping up with the rate of inflation? You can talk about what the unemployment rate is. The problem is, is that we have more and more people in this state working at low-paying jobs, more and more people paying more money for their health insurance.

The average cost of health insurance premiums in this state have gone up $3,000.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: For middle-class families, that is -- that is -- it's a tough -- it's very tough.

And George Bush has just failed the state of New Hampshire. He's failed this country when it comes to economic leadership.

CARLSON: All of that may be true.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: It is true. It's not true.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Hold on. Let me finish my question as to why he is running neck and neck with John Kerry at the moment.

Now, my question is, if your campaign, the Kerry campaign, is being waged on behalf of the working people, the average person, the mill worker now out of work paying higher health care premiums, why nominate a guy who spent the last weekend on Nantucket kite-surfing? Do you even know what kite-surfing is?

SULLIVAN: I know what kite-surfing is.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: What is it? Can you tell me? Because I don't. It's very expensive. I know that.

SULLIVAN: You know what really bothers me, is that you're in New Hampshire to find out what the people of New Hampshire care about.

CARLSON: I'm asking you. You tell me.

SULLIVAN: No, you want -- you're up in New Hampshire, allegedly, because you want to know what issues the people of New Hampshire are interested in. Instead of doing that, though, you're going to sit there and take potshots at John Kerry, who is a genuine American hero.

CARLSON: I'm asking you a question.

SULLIVAN: Let's talk about the economy. You want to talk about the economy, you want to talk about the war in Iraq, let's talk about the fact that reservists from my state have had their tours of duty extended twice now in Iraq. And that is the Bush legacy in New Hampshire. Let's talk about that instead of talking about kite- surfing.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: If you don't want to answer the question

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: What is kite-surfing, is that your question?

CARLSON: Yes. I just want to know.

SULLIVAN: You know what, Tucker?

CARLSON: So many rich people do it. I just want to know what it is.

SULLIVAN: It's really sad. It is so sad that you -- that you have a real opportunity as a Washington -- respected Washington analyst to talk about the issues...

CARLSON: I'm trying to get you to help me, Kathy, but you're not.

SULLIVAN: To talk about the issues that affect the ordinary American person. And, instead, you're going to sit there, very cleverly, oh, let's talk about kite-surfing. Oh, let's do this. Let's do that. That's an embarrassment to yourself and to the people of this country, who want to talk about the issues.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Bruce, let me talk about the issue that President Bush wants to talk about. It is one of the few that he has put on the agenda for a second term.

And that is amending the Constitution so that gay people can't get married. It seems to be an odd thing to focus an agenda on, what with the war that you mentioned and the economy and health care that Kathy mentioned a moment ago, but this seems to be what he wants to talk about, so let's talk about it. Your senator, John Sununu, no liberal, he, voted against amending our Constitution. President Bush is for it. Who's more in touch with New Hampshire citizens?

KEOUGH: Well, I think Senator Sununu had his own reasons for deciding that, despite his support for the idea that marriage is something that happens between a man and a woman, amending the Constitution wasn't the way to go. Our other senator...

BEGALA: Which is precisely John Kerry's position, I might add. So who's right, John Kerry and John Sununu, or President Bush this week? Because a few weeks ago, he was against an amendment. He's flip-flopped on that. So who do you think is more in touch with New Hampshire voters?

KEOUGH: I think President Bush is more in touch with New Hampshire voters.

BEGALA: So John Sununu is wrong.

KEOUGH: And, look, New Hampshire, on that issue, has come to know that George Bush is not going to come to New Hampshire and say one thing and then go to the Bible Belt states and say another thing, and then go to California and say something else, which we know is exactly what John Kerry does.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: So it's live free, but not gay, live kind of free, but not completely free, but live a little bit free? Isn't that your slogan on license plates, live free or die?

KEOUGH: That is our slogan. That is our slogan.

BEGALA: But not too free, just in accordance with Jerry Falwell's idea of freedom.

KEOUGH: No. I think to equate freedom with idea of changing the notion of marriage to be something other than between a man and a woman is just a faulty argument. It's not an argument that New Hampshire people are going to buy.

CARLSON: Now, Kathy Sullivan, you said a moment ago that you're most concerned about Iraq, because so many people from your state have been sent to Iraq and are now serving there.

I wonder if you can explain to me exactly what the substantive differences are between the president's plan for Iraq here on out and John Kerry's. Both have said almost exactly the same thing. They want to get the rest of the world involved to a much greater degree than it is now, and they both want to -- quote -- "stay the course." What is the difference? I don't see it.

SULLIVAN: Well, the difference is -- I'm glad to see that George Bush has finally adopted John Kerry's position on Iraq. That's exactly what has happened. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I asked what the difference -- come on, please, no talking points. Just tell me what the differences are.

SULLIVAN: No, this is not a talking point. This is the fact that John Kerry had a way in order to bring more countries, to get more countries involved in Iraq, to do more so that we're not carrying the load by ourselves, so that our reservists can come home to New Hampshire.

George Bush was floundering in Iraq. When he started finding that this was a problem for him, he finally said, you know what? I guess I better adopt the Kerry position. And that's what has happened. So you tell me what the difference is between George Bush's position and John Kerry's.

CARLSON: I'm not a representative of the Democratic Party, as you are. Just a simple question. If I'm a New Hampshire voter and Iraq is the most important issue to me and I think it's a mistake or maybe I even support it, and I'm voting on that issue, as many voters in this state and others will, why would I vote for John Kerry over George W. Bush if they're both saying exactly the same things? Give me one reason.

SULLIVAN: Because you can trust John Kerry to only go to war when we need to go to war.

CARLSON: We're in this war already, though. I'm talking about this war.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: No, but this is -- this is -- what is the policy going to be going forward, you're asking about? And you can trust John Kerry, someone who served in Vietnam, went to fight for his country, when other people, including George Bush and Dick Cheney...

CARLSON: So you don't have an answer? Is that what you're saying?

SULLIVAN: ... were doing their best to get away from serving in Vietnam. And because of that, he understands the seriousness of war. And what the difference between George Bush and John Kerry is, is that we can trust John Kerry not to get us into wars that we don't need to get in to. And that's what people are concerned about.

BEGALA: Bruce, let me ask you about the news of the day.

Vice President Cheney went out today and, in his usual electrifying fashion, attacked lawyers, trial lawyers, particularly, presumably because his opponent for the vice presidency, John Edwards, is a trial lawyer. Is it just me or is it a little hypocritical for guys who claimed the White House because they won a lawsuit after losing the election to be telling the rest of us that we can't sue corporations when they kill or maim us? Isn't a little hypocritical? KEOUGH: I don't think -- I don't think the vice president is going after this because John Kerry is -- John Edwards is a trial lawyer. I think the vice president is going after this

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: But he is vice president only because of trial lawyers. He had better lawyers, apparently, than Al Gore, got the Supreme Court appointed by President Bush in part to vote for him. It's really hypocritical when you gain office by lawyers to then attack lawyers when other people want to use them.

KEOUGH: No, what is hypocritical is when John Edwards goes out on the stump and says he's for medical malpractice reform by forcing some sort of arbitration process, when he knows that the medical situation today is costing our health care system between $60 and $100 billion per year.

And that's coming out of the pockets of small-business men and women in New Hampshire. But for that, they would be hiring more people. They would be in a position to expand benefits for their employees. That's what's driving this. It's one of the central points of the president's economic plan. And I think John Kerry and John Edwards are just out of step on it.

BEGALA: And that will have to be the last word.

Bruce Keough, the vice chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign here in New Hampshire, Kathleen Sullivan, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of New Hampshire, thank you both for a fun debate.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: When we come back -- you're not going to want to miss this -- we will hear from a man who has divined a connection between John Kerry and Britney Spears. This is a family tree with a few twists in it.

Stay with us and you'll learn it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, did Iran play a role in the 9/11 attacks? A new report raises some serious questions.

U.S. Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun meets with reporters and denies speculation he deserted in Iraq.

First, it was the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition. Now it's the center of Iraq's provisional government. What's it really like inside the Green Zone? We'll see some amazing pictures never seen before.

Those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Now back to CROSSFIRE.

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE here in Concord, New Hampshire.

Well, what do John Kerry and Britney Spears have in common, other than, of course, the obvious, how they both love to bump and grind and expose their navels while they sing?

Stepping into the CROSSFIRE to tell us is Derry, New Hampshire's town historian, Richard Holmes. He says the senator and the singer are related.

Richard.

RICHARD HOLMES, DERRY, NEW HAMPSHIRE TOWN HISTORIAN: Hello.

BEGALA: What's the story?

HOLMES: Well, that's kind of stretching it a wee bit.

John Kerry's great-great-great-great-uncle left New Hampshire in the 1820s, went to Louisiana, made a plantation, slaves, the whole thing, to grow Rice, and he named it after himself, Kentwood. And Kentwood, Louisiana, grew up to be a town, a city. And that's where Britney Spears was born. That's the only connection.

CARLSON: Oh, so, you don't think that there's -- it would be legal for them to be married?

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: I think so, in most states, anyway.

CARLSON: Now, who else is he -- who else is he related to?

HOLMES: Well, he's also related to the founder of my town, James MacGregor, who came here in 1719. And he came from an island for freedom, one of those rare people who actually came to America not for better jobs, but actually for freedom. He was being persecuted by the British over there in Ireland.

BEGALA: And also any relation to the New Hampshire president, Franklin Pierce?

HOLMES: Definitely, there's a very close -- particularly to Franklin Pierce's wife. But he's also related to astronaut Alan Shepard.

BEGALA: No kidding.

HOLMES: In fact, George Bush and John Kerry are related to the astronaut, though, in this case, the president wins.

CARLSON: And let's be honest. John Kerry is farther out in general.

Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: We're totally out of time. I bet there are a lot of really weird people in this genealogy, but, unfortunately, we've got to go to a commercial break.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Thank you very much. That was a fascinating discussion.

HOLMES: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Thanks.

BEGALA: Well, my hero, Willie Nelson, is not the only one who is on the road again. Find out what hot spots Tucker and I will be hitting aboard the old CNN Election Express next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Well, it's just about time for us to fire up the biodiesel, hybrid, electric fuel, solar, geothermal powered engines of the CNN Election Express and hit the road again, as Willie sang. Tomorrow, you can come see us at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Dorchester, Massachusetts. As we go on, we'll also be visiting the USS Constitution and the hallowed grounds of Fenway Park. It should be wicked cool.

You can check us out on the Internet, find out where we'll be, CNN.com/bus.

From the left, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow for yet more CROSSFIRE in another part of New England. See you then.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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