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CNN CROSSFIRE

John Edwards Headlines Democratic National Convention Day Three

Aired July 28, 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: Tonight, the son of a mill worker tells his story to the Democratic Convention. Can the senator from North Carolina top the speech by the would-be senator from Illinois?

BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America. There is the United States of America.

ANNOUNCER: And what about the senator from Massachusetts? How much pressure is John Kerry feeling?

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we're hearing from the other side is the failed thinking of the past and we're not going back.

(APPLAUSE)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No retreat, no surrender. We are taking this fight to the country and we're going to win back our democracy and our future.

ANNOUNCER: Will the nominees be ready for their close-ups?

Today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from the Democratic National Convention in Boston, James Carville and Robert Novak.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. We're inside the FleetCenter in the midst of the Democratic National Convention. As John Kerry said himself today, welcome to the Super Bowl.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: And it's too late for the Democrats to punt, so we're just waiting for Senators Kerry and Edwards to fumble.

Here comes our first play, the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

(AUDIO GAP) courtesy on Sunday refused to issue credentials to Ralph Nader, the great consumer advocate. Today, Nader is not easily discouraged. Today, he asked for press credentials. After all, Ralph has been a syndicated columnist for 33 years. I (AUDIO GAP) independent. (AUDIO GAP)

Quote: "My intent would be to cover the corporate and commercial participation in this convention" -- end quote. That's the last thing Terry McAuliffe wants, to have Ralph Nader writing about the millions of soft dollars flowing into Boston this week, but none dare call it hypocrisy.

CARVILLE: You know, Bob, what Nader needs to do is go to the Republican Convention, because they're funding his campaign and they're giving him the signatures. So why would he want to be here? Let him go with you guys because that's where his funding is coming from and that's where the signatures are coming from.

NOVAK: Let me make a prediction.

CARVILLE: All right.

NOVAK: That he asks for credentials to the Republican Convention -- he's been a syndicated columnist since 1971.

CARVILLE: Right.

NOVAK: They will give it to him.

CARVILLE: Good.

NOVAK: It's the mean-spiritedness of Terry McAuliffe that won't give him credentials.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Why not give him credentials?

CARVILLE: Terry, you're doing a good job. I wouldn't let Ralph Nader inside the fence if I was you, because -- and the only reason Bob likes him is because it's the only way that

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: You're as mean-spirited as he is.

CARVILLE: Absolutely. I'm a mean-spirited guy.

I don't want to be a downer here, but today in Iraq was one of the most deadly days since we handed over power last month, with at least 110 people killed in a car bombing and a gun battle. As we look at the Democratic Party convention this week and the Republican next month, this is a serious reminder about what this election is about. It matters if we have a president who tells the truth to the American people.

It matters if we have a president who thinks of the consequences of his action, because, as we're seeing every day, the decisions presidents make have big, big consequences in direction, dollars and sometimes lives.

NOVAK: James, I think you don't want to give a false impression that all those people killed were Americans. Three Americans were killed today, not 113.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I didn't say they were Americans.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I'm talking and you let me finish. That is too many to be killed.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: But I think, if the Democratic Party is going to come out every night with casualty lists of Iraqis and think that's the way to run a campaign, you're in for a big defeat.

CARVILLE: Bob, Bush made a horrible mistake. He didn't plan for this war.

Our military is bogged down and broke and stretched thin. And he's going to pay the consequences in November, as he well should, as he well should.

NOVAK: The people who did the -- the people who did the killing were the terrorists. And to say, here's what a terrorist did today is a big mistake.

CARVILLE: We knew they were there when we invaded and we didn't plan for it.

NOVAK: Hardly anybody was in the convention hall and the television cameras were off yesterday evening when we had the -- when the national platform of the Democratic Party came up for a vote. It was just like the old Supreme Soviets, no debates, no amendments, just a voice vote of approval.

I doubt these left-wing delegates could even guess what is not in the platform. There's nothing about gay marriage, nothing about partial-birth abortion, capital punishment, Alaska oil drilling or the Kyoto global warming treaty. Senator John Kerry's managers don't want these divisive issues brought up or the delegates will put the nominee much further to the left than he wants to be. Shame at the Democratic Party for being so phony.

CARVILLE: I want to see what the Republican Party is going to say about the deficit. Are they going to mention the fact that they wrecked the

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Forget the Republicans.

CARVILLE: Are they going to talk about what percent of the tax cuts go to the wealthiest Americans?

NOVAK: James, James...

CARVILLE: Are they going to do that? Are they going to do that?

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Answer my question. Tell me why -- tell me why -- we're at the Democrats' convention right now. Tell me why they don't put those issues in the platform.

CARVILLE: Well, they talked about it. They put

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: They do not put it in the platform.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: They put the deficit in there. They put health care costs. Why don't Republicans don't talk about health care costs going up?

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: What about the issues I talked about? Have you read the platform?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I don't care about the platform.

NOVAK: I know you don't. You can't care about anything.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: We're going to win, Bob, because you've wrecked this country.

There are political differences I can understand. I can understand disagreeing on the capital gains tax cut or how to change Medicare. Last night at the Democratic Convention, Ron Reagan, the son of President Reagan, spoke eloquently on one issue I just can't see a reason for disagreement, stem cell research.

Here's what we know. Diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, juvenile diabetes are the most hideous and horrible things someone can go through. And here's what else we know. Only this kind of research will give us a chance to cure them. And it just boggles my mind that President Bush so cowers to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and the extreme right wing of this party that he won't let government fund this life-saving research.

As Ron Reagan, the son of Ronald Reagan, said, how can we affirm life if we abandon those whose lives are so desperately at risk? The answer is, we can't.

NOVAK: Let me tell you how phony that speech by Ron Reagan Jr. was. He was brought up there, James...

CARVILLE: Right.

NOVAK: ... because his father died with Alzheimer's. There is nothing that stem cell research can do about Alzheimer's. And the scientists testified to Congress on that.

Secondly, let me tell you this. When Ron Reagan Jr. says that this has nothing to do with killing fetuses, he means it is going to kill the embryo before...

CARVILLE: I don't even...

NOVAK: Wait a minute. Let me finish.

CARVILLE: All right.

NOVAK: You don't even know what I'm going to say.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I know what you're saying.

NOVAK: Before it gets to the

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Jerry Falwell's talking point. It's just the extreme -- Senator Orrin Hatch, good people in the Republican Party know this life-saving stuff.

NOVAK: Answer my question.

CARVILLE: And George Bush is so with Jerry Falwell.

Ron Reagan's speech was vetted by physicians at Harvard University, around the thing. Everything that was said in there was 100 percent accurate.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: And your party is so narrow that they're stopping medical research. Bob, prevail on them to get away from the Jerry Falwells of the world, from the Pat Robertsons of the world.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: That was a disgrace when he said it doesn't kill fetuses, because

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Don't be so narrow, Bob.

NOVAK: When they said -- the embryo never gets to be a fetus.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: You and Jerry Falwell and George Bush, you

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I'd rather be with him than you and Ron Reagan.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I like Ron Reagan.

NOVAK: Tonight, John Edwards takes center stage. Can the multimillionaire accident lawyer make a case for two ultraliberal senators to lead America? And Teresa Heinz Kerry faces a new controversy today. We call it cookie-gate.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: What is cookie-gate?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Well, welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Both members of the Democratic ticket are finally here in Boston. Senator John Kerry attended a rally today after taking a ride up the Charles River. Along with him were crewmates in the patrol boat he commanded during the Vietnam War. Tonight, Senator Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, will give his big speech to the convention.

Two of their fellow senators are in the Congress, Democratic Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.

NOVAK: Senator Pryor, on July 6, two days after Senator Edwards was announced, the very plainspoken Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, the former national chairman of the Democratic Party made a statement.

Do we have that on tape?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: The word that the experts would use is gravitas. Did he look like he was ready to be president? I think when people look at John Edwards, they say, boy, he's a terrific, bright young senator. He's going to be something some day. But I don't think they consider the day being now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Is that good enough to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, when, on the Republican side, you have a tested, experienced man in Dick Cheney?

SEN. MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS: Well, yes.

I think that John Edwards has been a good pick. I think, basically, most people in this country vote for the presidential candidate, not the vice presidential. I (INAUDIBLE) vice presidential candidate is (INAUDIBLE) to reinforce and bolster the presidential ticket. And I think that's what John Edwards does.

NOVAK: Now, Senator Pryor, you're a very smart guy. (INAUDIBLE) who is a very smart guy. Maybe you can explain something to me.

On June 17, Senator Kerry stepson and strong supporter Chris Heinz said, "I was very pro-Edwards in the spring, but now I think we need someone with stronger credentials on foreign policy." What happened between June 17? Did he go up to Harvard or someplace and get a crash course in foreign policy?

PRYOR: Well, I don't know about -- I don't think he did that, but he is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Mitch can testify to, takes an enormous amount of time for senators to get in there and...

NOVAK: But he hasn't been -- he hasn't been going to the meetings. He's been campaigning, hasn't he?

PRYOR: Well, but he's been going for the last few years. And people in the Senate respect him on those issues.

CARVILLE: Senator McConnell, today, we had Dick Cheney, who got five draft deferments. Of course, we know about President Bush not showing up at National Guard meetings. But we saw 12 retired generals and admirals endorse the Democratic ticket.

I've never, in everywhere I go, never seen military support for a Democrat like this. It must break your heart -- and I'm sure you're a good national defense Republican -- to see a courageous, patriotic American like John Kerry being endorsed left and right by these military people. And the Republican Party, the military feeling abandoned by the Republican Party. What are you all going to do to get these people back in your fold between now on Election Day?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, James, I remember you saying during the Clinton years that what happened back during the Vietnam period was irrelevant.

Now they're spending a good part of this convention trying to parade the Democratic nominee for president's military credentials, which were quite good and commendable.

CARVILLE: Just like you all did with Senator Dole.

MCCONNELL: Yes. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: But what's really relevant is what's going on now. And you know that we're going to sweep the military vote, both those who are active in the military, the reservists in the military.

In fact, government employees who wear the uniform are the most likely to Republicans of any government employees.

CARVILLE: But that's changing. You have 12 retired flag and general officers.

MCCONNELL: Well, there are always a few dissident generals you can find.

CARVILLE: Twelve?

MCCONNELL: We can even find a few Hollywood people who are for us.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: Senator Pryor, a new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll came out. And it's really got some incredible internal news which is bad news for the Democrats. It surprised me. It shows, for example, on the question of who's doing a better job of handling the campaign on terror, Bush has gone from 52 percent to 55 percent, way ahead of Kerry, in one month.

But here's the interesting one. Who would do a better job of handling taxes? In June, it was Kerry 53 percent to 40 for Bush. Now it's Bush 49 percent to 43 for Kerry. They like the Bush tax cut that you voted against. Isn't that right?

PRYOR: No, I wasn't in the Senate.

CARVILLE: He doesn't know that.

PRYOR: But nice try.

MCCONNELL: But John Kerry voted against them, all of them.

CARVILLE: Thank God.

PRYOR: I just want to say this. I want to be honest with you. I don't know who's going to win this race. I think it is going to be very tight. I think there are a lot of battleground states and I think there are some, maybe just 10 percent of the voters, that have not made up their mind.

But, nonetheless, they're going to be watching this convention closely. They're going to be watching your convention very closely. And I think what John Kerry and John Edwards have to do tonight is, they have to come out of this convention and convince America that these two are ready to take the leadership and ready to take this country in a direction this country is comfortable with. And I think they will do that.

NOVAK: How do you explain -- how do you explain these polls going in the wrong direction, when everybody thought, with Edwards coming on the ticket and kind of Bush undercover, that nothing would happen?

PRYOR: I would just say this. I think the polls are going to be somewhat of a roller coaster this entire fall. And I also think and my prediction is that John Kerry will not get a very big bump coming out of this convention, because I think the electorate is more dug in this year than they have been in years past.

CARVILLE: Senator, you were the chairman of the Republican Senatorial Committee, weren't you? Your party just nominated a man in Oklahoma -- and I want to be sure I'm right on this -- that criticized "Schindler's List"," because he said -- I'm serious -- this is a nutty guy -- that they had nudity because they were actually depicting what happened in the Holocaust.

And then we have your party trying to stop funding of stem cells. Don't you really believe that this kind of loony stuff is really not where most Republicans are?

MCCONNELL: You know, James, what's really interesting, Mark Pryor is one of the few southern Democrats who even dared to show up here.

CARVILLE: Right.

MCCONNELL: All the Democratic candidate that are in competitive Senate races in the South and in the West are not here.

CARVILLE: Right. Right.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: They're running away from this ticket because they know that John Kerry and John Edwards...

CARVILLE: But they'll go see "Schindler's List."

(LAUGHTER)

MCCONNELL: John Kerry and John Edwards are to the left, man.

CARVILLE: Right.

MCCONNELL: They're the most liberal and the fourth most liberal members of the Senate. I have no idea what the record of the nominee in Oklahoma is.

CARVILLE: Well, he's a guy by the name of Tom Coburn. And he's like the most right-wing guy. And he actually criticized "Schindler's List." Now, this is nutty. Just like being against this stem cell research, this is kind of -- this is like this creationism. It's nuts.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I want to say something. The best -- the only good happiness I had this week was Tom Coburn winning the Oklahoma primary without a runoff. He is against pork barrel spending. He is for a free America. I think he's one of the great Americans.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: And I'm just delighted to see him running for the Senate.

CARVILLE: Are you against "Schindler's List"?

NOVAK: I don't give a damn about "Schindler's List" or the movies

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

PRYOR: Let me just say one thing, too.

In all due respect to Mitch, I think all the Southern Democratic senators are here except for Zell Miller, I think.

NOVAK: OK.

PRYOR: So people are really not running away from this ticket.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: It looks like we have got to take a break, Mitch.

Next, in "Rapid Fire," I'll ask if John Edwards can match the inestimable, the famous Barack Obama.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Coming up at the top of the hour, John Kerry officially becomes the Democratic presidential nominee tonight. John Edwards will address the convention tonight. We'll have a preview.

Bill Richardson was once discussed as a possible vice presidential candidate. Now he'll work for the ticket. I'll talk with him live.

And a bloody day in Iraq, including a car bomb attack that killed 68 people outside a police station. Those stories, much more, coming up only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARVILLE: It's time for "Rapid Fire," where we ask questions even faster than the Bush administration blew the circuit.

Our guests are the great Democratic senator from the state of Arkansas, Mark Pryor, and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

NOVAK: Senator Pryor, do you think, tonight, Senator Edwards can come close to matching the incandescent performance by Barack Obama as the keynote speaker?

PRYOR: That's a tall order, because Barack Obama is truly a rising star in American politics. And one great thing about Barack Obama is, it shows the depth of the Democratic Party and the diversity of the party, but the answer is yes. I think John Kerry (sic) will do an excellent job tonight. He's a very good speaker.

CARVILLE: Senator McConnell, would you give Senator Obama a letter grade last night as a speaker, not -- I understand you may disagree on content, but as a speaker. As a speech, how did you think it was? Give him a letter grade.

MCCONNELL: Yes, I thought he did a good job. He's obviously a rising star in the Democratic Party. And at the moment, the Republicans don't even have an opponent. So he looks like he's in good shape for the fall.

NOVAK: Senator Pryor, you're a moderate, just about in the middle of the Senate ideologically. Your ticket is the most liberal member of the Senate, Kerry, the fourth most liberal, Edwards. Do you check your principles at the door when you support a ticket like that?

PRYOR: Oh, no, absolutely not.

I still think this ticket is better for Arkansas than the Republican ticket, because, in our state, we've lost 32,000 manufacturing jobs in the last three and a half years. I think that when John Kerry and John Edwards come into office, they're going to focus on this economy. They're going to focus on issues abroad. I think, long term, they're better for Arkansas.

CARVILLE: Senator McConnell, is there any consternation in the Republican Party, which controls both houses of Congress, and the president that we'll be facing $450 billion surplus this year? Or that doesn't bother you guys at all?

MCCONNELL: You know, James, every time you Democrats start getting worried about the deficit, it means you're about ready to advocate a tax increase.

CARVILLE: Right. So you're not worried about it? MCCONNELL: John Kerry voted against all of the tax cuts in '01 and '03.

CARVILLE: Right. Right.

MCCONNELL: Voted to raise taxes under the Clinton administration.

CARVILLE: Got it. Right.

MCCONNELL: When Democrats start worrying about deficits, you know what they're really worried about.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: They want to raise taxes.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Senator Pryor, what do you think of a platform of your party that just doesn't say anything about global warming, nothing about capital punishment, nothing about most issues, it's just a vanilla platform? Is that a good idea?

PRYOR: Well, I guess we're taking a page out of the Republican playbook from four years ago, didn't we, James? Because that's kind of how...

CARVILLE: But you know what they're not going to do, Senator? They are not going to mention a $450 billion deficit or a weak military. They're all ashamed all it. They're running from it.

NOVAK: Senator Pryor, thank you for being with us.

PRYOR: Hey, thank you.

NOVAK: Senate Majority Whip McConnell, thank you for being with us.

MCCONNELL: Good to see you, Bob.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Did she or didn't she? Who created Teresa Heinz Kerry's cookie recipe?

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: It turns out there's more than one flip-flopper in the Kerry family.

The candidate's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, is now disavowing the cookie recipe she submitted to "Family Circle" magazine. She says her staff submitted the pumpkin spice cookie recipe without her knowledge, and she doesn't even like pumpkin spice cookies. Newspapers that have printed the recipe report, their readers think first lady Laura Bush's oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies are a whole lot better.

Come November, I think the voters will say the same thing about Mrs. Bush's husband.

CARVILLE: You know, Mrs. Kerry messed up the cookie recipe. Bush messed up Iraq. What do you want, a candidate that messed up a war or a candidate's wife that doesn't bake a good cookie? That's about what this choice

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: That isn't the point. The point is, she's blaming a staffer for her lousy recipe.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: You know, you just like -- you like to bash people's spouses, Bob, because you don't have the candidate. John Kerry is the best man in this race. He's a much better man than Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: All right, James.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... hit his wife.

NOVAK: I can't imagine why, but actor and political dabbler Ben Affleck will be our guest on CROSSFIRE tomorrow. All the young ladies on our staff can't wait. But I can wait.

CARVILLE: Well, you can ask him what you want. He's a brilliant guy.

From the left, I'm James Carville. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

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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