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Reagan, Kennedy Highlight Democratic National Convention Day Two

Aired July 27, 2004 - 16:30   ET


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

In the CROSSFIRE: Will Howard Dean scream again? Will Teresa Heinz Kerry tell anyone else to you know what?


ANNOUNCER: And what's a Reagan doing at the same convention as a Kennedy?

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS (singing): Sweet Rosie O'Grady.

ANNOUNCER: We're tuning up for day two of the Democratic National Convention today on CROSSFIRE.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Election Express at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome for CROSSFIRE. The good old CNN Election Express is anchored alongside the USS Constipation just across the river from the FleetCenter, where tonight the whole country is fixing to fall in love with a first lady named Teresa and a senator named Obama.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Well, after last night's eye-glazing lectures by party has-beens, tonight's session promises the much more amusing, if not utterly hilarious lineup of Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Ron Reagan and Teresa Heinz Kerry. But, wait, there's more. We're also going to toss around some questions with Jerry Springer, who is a delegate from the state of Ohio.

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

Well, it's a fact of political life that politicians love to dress up in other people's clothing. Over the years, elected officials have been caught on film wearing helmets, cowboy hats, Indian headdresses, football jersey and, yes, flight suits. But, until yesterday, no elected official in the history of the United States had ever dressed up as a sperm. John Kerry has changed that, breaking the sperm barrier at an event in Florida Monday. During a trip to Cape Canaveral, Kerry donned what is known as a clean suit as he embarked on a crawling tour of the space shuttle Columbia. Unfortunately for him, a clean suit looks almost exactly like the sperm suit Woody Allen wore in " Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask." Ouch.

So far, no one on the Kerry advance team has been fired, but that will change, and it should, because let's be honest. This story is a big deal, because if a man will dress up as a sperm in public, the question is, what won't he do?


CARLSON: That's a good question, Paul.

BEGALA: You know what I can tell you?


CARLSON: He's taken the final step.

BEGALA: Here is what he will not do. Let me put this picture up.

Christy (ph), can you put this picture up? Here's the one thing you'll never John Kerry do. That is dress up like an Andover cheerleader. There he is. There's George W. Bush dressing up. Now, he's not dressing up like something he is not.

CARLSON: You know what?

BEGALA: That is what he is. He's an Andover cheerleader.


BEGALA: He's a lovely man. But we have a real leader. Your party has a cheerleader.


BEGALA: And I think that's the difference in this election.


CARLSON: That's more dignified than dressing up as a sperm. And he was like 17 years old.

BEGALA: He was. And I'm sure he was a fine cheerleader.

Well, one of the most important priorities of the Democrats gathered behind me here in Boston is to inspire minorities to turn out and vote. Tonight, the Democrats will honor Fannie Lou Hamer, whose Mississippi Freedom Democrats fought to integrate the Democratic Party in the South 40 years ago. But today, it's Republicans who don't want Africa-Americans to vote. A Bush-Cheney campaign official in Michigan told "The Detroit Free Press" the campaign strategy is -- quote -- "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election" -- unquote.

In case you need a decoder, the Detroit vote is 83 percent black. So, despite President Bush's phony pleading and speeches at the Urban League, remember, the real and stated statement of the Bush campaign is to suppress the black vote. Somewhere in heaven, Fannie Lou Hamer is sick and tired.

CARLSON: Well, I don't know who said that. I don't think it was a named quote.

BEGALA: It was.


CARLSON: It was? Who said it?

BEGALA: Robert Papageorge (ph), who is the vice chairman of the Michigan campaign for veterans.


CARLSON: Interesting. Is suspect he doesn't work for the Bush campaign.


BEGALA: He's an official out there. I got his name off of their Web site.

CARLSON: I will say, Paul, I do think -- I think it's unfortunate to say, obviously.


CARLSON: But I also think there's something disturbing about any group that votes in the 90 percentile for one political party.

BEGALA: You can go lecture African-Americans about their voting patterns if you want.

CARLSON: I'm not lecturing anybody.

BEGALA: But this man says he wants to suppress voters in Detroit, by which he means black voters, I presume.


CARLSON: That's exactly what he means.


CARLSON: And no one is going to prevent anyone else from voting.

BEGALA: Oh, they did in Florida. They disenfranchised tens of thousands of people.

CARLSON: That's a total lie. That's a total lie. As you know.

BEGALA: No, it's not.

CARLSON: Nobody prevented anyone from voting.

BEGALA: They knocked tens of thousands off the rolls in Florida.

CARLSON: Because they were convicted felons.

BEGALA: No, they weren't. That's the problem. They got the wrong.

CARLSON: I can't reargue something, especially when you're wrong.

BEGALA: No, I'm right.

CARLSON: Well, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is a faithful Democrat. He's far more liberal than the average American on most things. He's a hard partisan when he needs to be. And, of course, Ed Rendell has a long record of winning elections. You would think the Democratic Party would love Ed Rendell. You would be wrong, because Rendell has a disturbing habit of saying what he thinks, ignoring the latest politburo directive and telling the truth.

During the year 2000 recount, Rendell made the mistake of pointing out the obvious, that Gore was losing and a loser probably should get out. Democrats hated him for it and they have not trusted him since. Rendell is scheduled to speak at the convention this week. He has been given a preapproved speech to read. But that doesn't mean he will read it -- quote -- "Will I be a good boy and read it," he asked "The Philadelphia Inquirer," "or will I just extemporize?"

Well, those of us here to cover these weeklong plastic pageant can have but one fervent hope. Extemporize. Extemporize. Extemporize.


CARLSON: Surprise us, Governor Rendell. Tell the truth. Freed Ed Rendell. Let me him be Ed Rendell.


CARLSON: I hope you guys aren't going to try and crush his spirit and get him to read some boring Albanian-like politburo speech. Tell the truth.

BEGALA: You know what? We'll have to wait and see what Governor Rendell does. He was enormously disloyal to Al Gore. It was his job as the party chairman to fight for his nominee.

CARLSON: He was telling the truth.

BEGALA: No, he was telling a falsehood. Gore did win.


BEGALA: They should have pressed on with the fight.

CARLSON: You need help, man.

BEGALA: No, no.


BEGALA: So let's see what Ed Rendell does.


BEGALA: The other test is, will Ed Rendell support Joe Hoeffel, the Democrat running for Senate against his buddy, Republican Arlen Specter, in his home state.

CARLSON: I hope he does.

BEGALA: It's his job as a Democratic leader.

CARLSON: Well, that's a tossup, though. I don't know.

BEGALA: Well, back in 1955, the Green Bay Packers were so impressed with a young receiver that they offered him a tryout. The young athlete wrote back, saying he planned to enter another contact sports, politics. And, nearly 50 years later, it's safe to say that, if there were a Hall of Fame for senators, Edward Moore Kennedy would be in it, if not the Football Hall of Fame.

When Senator Kennedy speaks tonight, some will be weeping for the brothers he lost. Others may see a swan song for a senator in his 70s, but not Ted Kennedy. He's focused on the future. He says he is looking forward to fighting for President Kerry's plan to make health insurance affordable for families and small business.

Now, even his most bitter detractors cannot escape the fact that this convention is in part a celebration of the most productive and consequential senator of the last century. I for one cannot wait to stand up tonight and cheer for Ted Kennedy.


CARLSON: I mean, come on.

BEGALA: A great American.

CARLSON: I have to say, the thing I love about the Democratic Convention is, it forces everybody, all faithful Democrats, that is, to get up and in public pretend that Ted Kennedy is not embarrassing. He is embarrassing.


BEGALA: He's a wonderful senator, a great man and a terrific American.


CARLSON: You can say that, but I think the average person, if there were some national referendum -- there has been, because he's run for president and he's failed miserably, because most people reject not only his politics, but also his nastiness.


BEGALA: There's no dishonor in losing an election. There's no dishonor in losing an election. There's dishonor in maybe lying people into a war.



CARLSON: I'm merely saying to get up and pretend that he's not a shame to your party


BEGALA: I love and admire him, as Democrats do and all Americans should.


Well, day two for the Democratic Convention means the Clintons have had their say. And we're still waiting for the two Johns. Well, tonight, we get Teddy Kennedy and Teresa Heinz Kerry, with a little Howard Dean and a pinch of Ron Reagan thrown in for spice. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the face of the Democratic Party.

And speaking of the face of the party, later, we're going to talk to Ohio's best-known convention delegate, Jerry Springer. You may have seen him on television.

We'll be right back.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Day two of the Democratic National Convention is now under way. Tonight's speakers include Teresa Heinz Kerry, Ron Reagan, and the keynote address by senator-to-be Barack Obama and a tribute, of course, to Senator Ted Kennedy.

Joining us now in the CROSSFIRE to discuss the convention, Kerry campaign senior adviser Tad Devine and Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke.

CARLSON: Now, Tad, thanks for joining us.

I could spend an hour reading you the outrageous and intemperate quotes uttered by Ted Kennedy just this year, him comparing Abu Ghraib to a Saddam torture center, etcetera.


CARLSON: I just want to read you one. I want to know what you think of this.


CARLSON: He claimed back in September of '03 the whole war was a sham, that there was never -- quote -- "This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place. It was going to be good politically. The whole thing was a fraud." In other words, Bush went to war for the sake of his political gain.

That's a total lie. It doesn't even make sense. Can you just admit that that's crazy, that's ranting?

DEVINE: No, I won't admit it's ranting.

Ted Kennedy has been a voice of conscience on the war. Ted Kennedy has probably been...

CARLSON: Do you believe this? Do you believe that?

DEVINE: I believe he spoke the truth as he saw it, Tucker. And I also believe that Ted Kennedy has probably been the single most effective United States senator in the last century. He's done more to advance the cause of working men and women than any United States senator from either party. And his record of achievement is remarkable. What he's done for his state is unparalleled. That's what Ted Kennedy is about, all right?


BEGALA: Jim, let me ask you about a controversial spokesman in your party. Robert Papageorge is a state representative in Michigan, nominated by your party, elected by your party, selected by President Bush to be the co-chair of his Michigan veterans team. And he told "The Detroit Free Press" -- I mentioned it a moment ago on the air -- that the strategy was to suppress the Detroit vote, by which I presume that he meant the black vote.

Does the Republican National Committee endorse those kind of racist statements?

JIM DYKE, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: We don't. I'm surprised to hear that. We've actually registered about three million new voters, a lot of them African-Americans. Michael Williams, who is the Texas railroad commissioner, who you probably know, was here this morning in Boston talking about


BEGALA: Has anybody disavowed it? Do you? Does the Republican Party disavow this comments? Are you going to kick this guy off of your steering committee in that state?

DYKE: You're talking about a Web site. And for 17 days, I think it's still up, Joe Wilson, his letter claiming that the president lied about the 16 words was on the Web site of the Kerry campaign.

BEGALA: He's not an official with the Kerry campaign.


DYKE: He's on the national steering committee.


BEGALA: This man is an official with the Bush


BEGALA: I know. I understand that. We can have a show about Joe Wilson any time you want.


BEGALA: I want to know about this man's racist statements that says your strategy is to stress the black vote? Do you disavow him? Are you going to kick him off the committee?


DYKE: He doesn't speak for our strategy at all. And I -- I -- I don't believe that when you register three million new voters, when you're going into Hispanic communities, when you're going into African-American communities, when you're going all across America registering new voters to participate in the process so we can win this election, it just doesn't add up.

CARLSON: Now, Tad Devine, tonight, Ron Reagan is going to speak and it's being billed as this kind of great moment. Not so surprising. He's a liberal. He voted for Ralph Nader. It's another liberal speaking at your convention full of liberals.

DEVINE: Right.

CARLSON: But I guess the problem that I have with it is not anything with Ron Reagan as a person, but with the idea that the Democratic Party is using the child of a recently dead American president to make a partisan political point.

Don't you think there's something unseemly about that? If the Republicans put on some relative of John Kerry's or one of the Kennedys who was an apostate, wouldn't you say, well, that's kind of gross? You're only putting him on because of his blood relation to this hero on the other side.

DEVINE: He's speaking tonight because he's talking about a very important issue, which is stem cell research. And there's a huge difference between what the president wants to do on this critically important issue and what John Kerry will do.


CARLSON: Oh, is he a scientist, an expert on stem cell research?


DEVINE: Let me just finish.


DEVINE: Here's what John Kerry will do.


CARLSON: I'm talking about Ron Reagan. He's not a scientist. He's a talk show guy.


DEVINE: The reason Ron Reagan is here...

CARLSON: Because he's the son of a president.

DEVINE: ... is because stem cell research is something that we should decide on the basis on science, Tucker, not on the basis of politics.


CARLSON: Why not have a scientist talk about it?

DEVINE: And I know you guys have to please the far-right constituency.


DEVINE: .. make scientific decisions that affect the lives of millions of people on the basis of politics. It should end. And I'm glad Ron Reagan is going to get to tell America about it tonight at our convention, not yours.


CARLSON: Disgusting.


BEGALA: Jim, let me ask you...

DYKE: President Bush was the first president to allow stem cell research.


BEGALA: ... what your party has been doing to the next first lady of the United States, Teresa Heinz Kerry. She follows I think in a great tradition, really from your party.

Barbara Bush said controversial things, one said that Gerry Ferraro was something that rhymes with rich. But the country fell in love with her. She was a delightful -- I didn't support her husband, of course, but she's a delight. And the country loved her and still does. And they should.

Laura Bush, absolutely delightful, an intelligent, strong woman. Why is it, though, that when a Democrat speaks out and takes on some right-wing crackpot, you all jump ugly with her? Why do Republicans like to attack men's wives, instead of attacking their issues?

DYKE: Well, I think she should speak out. And I think she should speak her mind. I hope she speaks her mind tonight. I hope she steps up to the podium, expresses her feelings and tells the American people what she thinks.


BEGALA: So you disavow your other friends on the right who are attacking Mrs. Kerry?

DYKE: I don't know who's attacking


BEGALA: Oh, my God. Do you not get radio? Do you not get the talking points from your own party and from every other right-wing group? They are savaging her, just like, look, they attacked Bill Clinton's wife. They attacked Ambassador Wilson's wife.


BEGALA: Now they're attacking John Kerry's wife. This is -- Republican wife beating is the Republican strategy, isn't it, Jim?

DYKE: That's a little silly.

CARLSON: Yes, political wife beating.

BEGALA: Just a silly.

CARLSON: Yes, I would say it's actually monumentally silly.

BEGALA: It's still a strategy.

CARLSON: Speaking of wives, I'm not attacking


DEVINE: Don't attack my wife.



CARLSON: Actually, I think your wife is delightful.

DEVINE: She is.

CARLSON: She would never tell me to shove it.


CARLSON: But Christie Vilsack, wife of the governor of Iowa, who endorsed John Kerry and really helped him during the primary, seems like a delightful person.


DEVINE: She is.

CARLSON: Said something, as you know, in remarks she made about 10 years ago, when he was in the state Congress there. She said -- quote -- "I'm fascinated at the way some African-Americans speak to each other in an English I struggle to understand, then switch to standard English when the situation requires." She wrote that in a column in "The Mount Pleasant News."

Now, Bill Cosby said roughly the same thing. I think it's an interesting point. But it's not the kind of thing Democrats are allowed to say. Are you going to cringe and run away from these comments or are you going to say that that's a valid thing to say?

DEVINE: Tucker, it's great. The Republican attack machine goes back 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, a half century, pulls something out of a clip somewhere.


CARLSON: I'm not part of an attack machine. I've asked you an answer question.


DEVINE: Let me tell you, Christie Vilsack is an admired and respected first lady in the state of Iowa.

CARLSON: But what about she said? What about she said?

DEVINE: What about she said? She said -- and I'd like to know the whole context.

CARLSON: It's an interesting point. What do you think?

DEVINE: Because you guys love grabbing a sentence out of the middle of something, slam it on someone, and branding them with whatever


CARLSON: I'm not branding her with anything.

DEVINE: Of course you are.


CARLSON: Of course not.


CARLSON: I think it's an interesting thing to say.

DEVINE: That is woman who is well known and beloved in the state of Iowa.


CARLSON: But you won't defend what she said.

DEVINE: No. Listen, it speaks for itself. OK?


CARLSON: It certainly does.


BEGALA: Jim, let me ask you -- let me give you a quick strategic question.

Tad Devine and the Kerry campaign has decided they want to run as positive a convention as they say. I have to say, I like negative stuff, so I'm not very happy with their strategy and I'm not participating in their strategy.


BEGALA: But will your party run a convention as positive as the Democratic Convention?

DYKE: Well, I don't know if the senator -- if you got the memo to the senator when he tried to scare the bejesus out of seniors yesterday by telling them that Republicans were going to take away their prescription drug. I don't know if they got the memo last night.

DEVINE: Just too much truth?


BEGALA: Will your party run as positive a convention as the Democrats are?

DYKE: Oh, it will be much more positive.


DYKE: Three-to-one last night time spent on attacks.


CARLSON: OK, I'm afraid we're out of time. I hope the Republican Convention is much more negative.


CARLSON: Jim Dyke from the RNC, Tad Devine from the Kerry campaign, thank you both very much.


CARLSON: Well, what is it like to be a delegate to this convention? What are the drinks like? Next, we'll ask Ohio delegate Jerry Springer what he's been up to since he's been here in Boston.

And what role will Florida play in this year's presidential race? Wolf Blitzer has a preview right after this.


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

Coming up at the top of the hour, the Democrats are getting ready to hear from Senator Edward Kennedy and Teresa Heinz Kerry. They're expected to pump up the crowd, but will they turn off middle America?

Egypt denies it paid a random to free a diplomat, but sources in Iraq say otherwise. We'll have details.

And could Florida be headed for another vote count controversy? We'll ask Senator Bob Graham.

Those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS".

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

If you follow politics, you probably know that Jerry Springer's resume includes a lot more than just hosting a TV talk show -- host -- with titles like "Hell-Raising Hillbillies" and "Mistress Madness." Mr. Springer has also served as a city councilman, mayor of Cincinnati, as a young man, was an aide to Senator Robert Kennedy. And he's been an Emmy Award-winning TV newsman. He's attending the Democratic Convention as a delegate from the great state of Ohio.

And he's here back in the CROSSFIRE.

Good to see you again, friend.


JERRY SPRINGER, TALK SHOW HOST: Thanks. Appreciate it.

CARLSON: Jerry, now, you're a connoisseur of the bizarre. You know the weird when you see it. There's a lot of odd people running around with hats and stuff. Tell me the strangest thing you've seen since you've been here in Boston.

SPRINGER: Sean Hannity at the convention. Sorry.


BEGALA: Who is he?


SPRINGER: No, I'm sorry. Yes, I shouldn't say that. But, you know, it was incongruous just to see him right in the middle.

CARLSON: Was he having fun?

SPRINGER: Yes. Yes, he was. And I shouldn't have said that.

But the fact of the matter, it's -- I have been to every Democratic Convention since '72. And I've got to tell you, this is really different. The unity here is unbelievable. Normally, a Democratic Convention -- you're right -- is usually just a crazy thing of every constituency fighting against each other, what's going to be in the platform.

This time, there is such a single-mindedness of purpose. And, as a Democrat, it feels good. It feels good.

BEGALA: Let me ask about this, the positive tone that the Kerry campaign has set down.


BEGALA: Some of it a little too prescripted for some people's tastes. Do you think they're making a mistake? An incumbent's election, the first question is, should we throw out the incumbent? Are the Democrats, is my party, are they jumping over that to just sort of extol the virtues of John Kerry? Should they be putting the wood to George Bush a little more?


And I disagree with a lot of Democrats on this issue. I think this election is a lot like 1980. In 1980, all the polls seemed to indicate -- most of the polls indicated that most Americans thought the Carter presidency wasn't working, and yet those same polls showed that Carter and Reagan were dead-even. And then there came that first debate, like five days before the election. And people were seeing, could they really trust Ronald Reagan with the presidency or was he a crazy guy with his finger on the button?

When Reagan came across as OK, comfortable, all of a sudden, everything shifted over to Reagan and he won pretty big. I see the same thing this time. Let me just finish for a second.

(CROSSTALK) SPRINGER: All the polls seem to indicate that Americans believe the country is moving in the wrong direction, and yet those same polls show Kerry and Bush dead-even. If John Kerry can make the sale Thursday night, not on bashing Bush -- people already have made up their minds up George Bush. They either love him, hate him, whatever. Everyone has made up their minds.

What they're not sure yet is, is it OK to trust the country to John Kerry? You and I strongly believe that it is. He'll make the case Thursday night. If he does, I don't think you're just going to see a blip. I think what you're going to see is a steady move towards him, as people become more comfortable with John Kerry.

CARLSON: Well, you may be right. I don't think that's a crazy theory that you've just outlined.

However, there's one piece missing in the analogy to Reagan in '80. And that is the vision. Reagan of course was helped by kind of a crummy four yours under Carter, but he also had -- he had a platform. He was able to tell you in nine sentences what he stood for. John Kerry doesn't have that. He's got the same position as Bush on Iraq. When are we going to find out his vision is?

SPRINGER: Well, Thursday night, you're going to see it.

Those people who are close to him knows that he has that vision. And the truth is, if you put partisan politics aside and you just talk about where he stands and what he really believes in, he has that vision. Here's the problem. With this gotcha politics we have today, you know, you take a vote of something he did a few months ago or several years ago and then, oh, he shifted there.

Here's the difference I think between Republicans and Democrats. I think Republicans see the world in bumper sticker slogans. In other words, very clear, in one sentence, you say this is where I stand, period. That's very attractive. But, in the real world, issues have complexities and issues come in different shades depending on circumstances. It's always harder to explain that.

And yet the simplicity of some of the Bush positions, even though they make great slogans, like, we're going to find them, we're going to hunt them down, we're going to gun them down, whatever, great slogans, but they get us into trouble. And we are in trouble because of that.

BEGALA: We're going to take a quick break. Keep your seat.

SPRINGER: I may be in trouble


BEGALA: When we come back, I'm going to ask Jerry Springer about his political future. Will he be running for office in the near future?

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Our guest, one of our favorites guests, Ohio Democratic delegate Jerry Springer. You know him best as the host of "The Jerry Springer Show."

BEGALA: But, Jerry, one day, we may know you as governor. John Edwards announced on the Jon Stewart show. Are you going to announce here? Are you going to run for governor of Ohio?

SPRINGER: Well, yes, but he got to be -- he got to be vice president by doing that. So, if I decide to run for lieutenant governor, I'll call you guys.


CARLSON: Jerry, we're almost out of time.

SPRINGER: It's possible I might do it.

CARLSON: A quick yes-or-no question. Have you met a lot of your own viewers here at the convention?


SPRINGER: Usually the hosts of the shows.

BEGALA: Got it. You got two of them sitting right here.

SPRINGER: They're good people. They're good people. They're just not wealthy.

BEGALA: Jerry Springer, you're a good person and wealthy.

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 when the CNN Express will be in Boston. We're not going anywhere. We'll have yet more CROSSFIRE.

Good night.


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