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CNN CROSSFIRE

President Bush Takes Center Stage at Republican National Convention

Aired September 2, 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: The delegates heard from a D.

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: In this hour of danger, our president has had the courage to stand up. And this Democrat is proud to stand up with him.

ANNOUNCER: And they heard from the No. 2 R.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Kerry doesn't appear to understand how the world has changed.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, they will hear from the commander-in-chief, but what will they hear about his agenda for the next four years?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you had left to go get a Diet Coke during the vice president's speech, you would have missed everything he said about the economy and jobs and what he's going to do about health care.

ANNOUNCER: Plus, we get a visit from promoter and Bush supporter Don King.

DON KING, PROMOTER: George Walker Bush, four more years!

ANNOUNCER: Today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN diner in the New Yorker Hotel, Paul Begala, James Carville, Robert Novak, and Tucker Carlson.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Sadly, tragically, this is our last day at the CNN diner here in New York. So all four of us have gathered here for a final meal together. Tonight, President Bush makes his case for why America's voters ought to have a second helping of him. We will look forward to his speech and his agenda. We'll debate both right after the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Well, as a former speechwriter, I just can't resist offering a little helpful advice for President Bush on his big speech tonight. First, on jobs, Mr. President, you promised six million jobs. You're seven million short. So just change the subject and attack John Kerry.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: On Iraq, avoid it. We've got 138,000 brave men and women stranded in the desert because you, in your own words, -- quote -- "miscalculated."

Terrorism, well, you've already said that you can't win the war on terror. I think that says it all. So that just leaves 9/11. But be careful. Don't talk about Ground Zero. That just reminds people that Rudy Giuliani bravely rushed to the scene, while you hid in the side of a mountain. Maybe -- and this is just a thought, sir -- you could read "My Pet Goat." That will at least eat up seven minutes.

CARLSON: I love this. Whenever you get super angry, Paul, you go immediately...

BEGALA: I'm not angry.

CARLSON: No, no, no. You go immediately, immediately, to the conspiracy theories and the "My Pet Goat" stuff.

BEGALA: There's no conspiracy.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He read for seven minutes to second-graders while our nation was under attack.

CARLSON: You got that exactly from "Fahrenheit 9/11."

BEGALA: It's a fact.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: But let me just say, you're upset about Iraq. So I'm wondering why you are supporting a candidate whose position on Iraq is exactly the same as George W. Bush's.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yes, it is. He would stay the course, exactly as Bush would. There's no substantive difference between Kerry

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Will Bush tonight mention the thrilling outcome of "My Pet Goat" that he learned on 9/11 while we were under attack?

(BELL RINGING)

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: How many times am I going to hear this "Pet Goat" story?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Every day until the election, 60 more days.

NOVAK: John Kerry took the day off, as presidential candidates usually do when the opposite party has its convention. Doing nothing was better for him than what he's been doing the last couple days.

Two days ago, he was windsurfing in Nantucket, which is I guess how Eastern rich guys have a good time. Yesterday, he addressed the American Legion convention, where he was at as flat as usual and got a very cool reception. Some veterans expressed unhappiness about Kerry's attacks on his own comrades in arms when he came back as a war protester to the Vietnam War. He goes to Springfield, Ohio, tonight for an 11:30 p.m. rally. That's after President Bush speaks. And I'm sure he will get an awful lot of attention from America.

BEGALA: Bob, you're a great reporter. But you're mischaracterizing that speech to the American Legion. It was well received, for a very conservative group. And he took on President Bush on, as Tucker has been calling for him to do, on Iraq. He drew strong distinctions. It's the kind of issue-based attacks that I love in a campaign. So God bless John Kerry for doing that.

NOVAK: I'll tell you. If that is the best speech he can do, you're in big trouble.

And the thing that is something you wouldn't understand, Paul, those veterans were being polite. They were just being polite. They were being nice to him.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: They hated that speech.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: No, it was a terrific speech.

CARLSON: Do you think it's plausible -- you think it's plausible that John Kerry, sort of the super veteran, who hasn't stopped talking about his four months in Vietnam, will win the veterans' vote? You know he won't win the veterans' vote. What does that tell you right there?

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: That tells you that veterans tend to be more Republican. Who cares? He's going to win the popular vote and the electoral vote.

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Bill Clinton won

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... in '92.

If you had any doubt that the Bush administration was hungry to hold on to power at any cost, you only had to look at last night's convention. Senator Zell Miller capped off six decades by being conned in to giving an angry, factually incorrect and pathetic speech.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Why would they take a man of 46 years in public life and put him in a position like this?

It can only be explained by a pathetic and crass desire to hold on to power at any cost. It's a shame that Senator Miller and all the people who worked for him during his outstanding tenure as governor of Georgia will not be remembered for the good they did, but the fact that they were cynically manipulated by people who are greedy to hold on to power at any costs. This convention will be remembered for nothing but an angry, bitter, negative speech by a retiring politician manipulated by political operatives fearful of a certain defeat they face in November.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Well, you know, I...

CARVILLE: It's a shame.

NOVAK: I resent you being so negative on this young fellow, Zell Miller, who is one year younger than I am.

And another thing is, you -- the reason he was -- he wasn't manipulated. I have spent a lot of time with Zell Miller in the last four years. And he's angry. He's angry at people like you.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Who, the minute he came out for a tax cut change, James, you demanded your lousy $1,000 back from him.

CARVILLE: And I got it back, too. You know what?

NOVAK: And because he's a gentleman, he gave it back.

CARVILLE: You know what, Bob?

(BELL RINGING)

CARVILLE: It was pitiful that this man took all the service he did and he's going to be remembered for this. He got on these interviews last night, couldn't back up anything. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Wait, wait, wait. Stop beating up on the old guy. Last week, he was a comrade in good standing.

But this week, as you've just heard, Senator Zell Miller of Georgia is a hated man among his fellow Democrats, all for the sin of saying what he really thinks. That's an unforgivable sin on the left, as you know. Well, in Atlanta yesterday, a group of outraged Democrats led by a figure in a donkey suit held a ceremony to unilaterally divorce Miller. They consider him that loathsome and dirty.

Tellingly, however, they did not divorce Cynthia McKinney, the Democratic Party's nominee for Congress from Georgia. McKinney, you'll remember, accused George W. Bush of orchestrating September 11 in a grand conspiracy she didn't elaborate on. Her campaign, meanwhile, blamed her last electoral loss on -- quote -- "the Jews."

Well, that's embarrassing, but, to Democrats, apparently, it's not at all disqualifying, because it's one thing to attack the Jews and accuse of the president of killing 3,000 Americans. It's quite another to say nice things about Republicans.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: The problem with Zell's speech was not that he said nice things about Republicans. It's that he said false and misleading things that the Bush campaign

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Case in point.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Why don't they divorce Cynthia McKinney?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Will you divorce Alan Keyes?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yes, I would. Alan Keyes is kind of a lunatic. Why don't they divorce...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Wait. Hold on. She's got the party's nod in Georgia.

BEGALA: Zell Miller was giving the keynote address. And he got up there and said things -- he attacked John Kerry for cutting weapons systems that Dick Cheney asked him to cut.

(BELL RINGING) (CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: It's outrageous.

NOVAK: You know what I like about his speech? It made you so crazy.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: I just love that.

CARLSON: I agree with that.

BEGALA: I've been crazy long before Zell gave that speech.

CARVILLE: Alan Keyes is not the Republican nominee in Illinois. Thank you.

BEGALA: Well, the Republicans want to hold their garden party at Madison Square Garden for President Bush tonight, so they're chilling the fine champagne and breaking out their finest gowns and gaudiest jewelry for the coronation of King John II.

NOVAK: George.

BEGALA: King George II. Thank you, Bob.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Well, can war hero John Kerry lead a revolution to overthrow the monarchy? We will debate that just ahead.

And then later, the world's best known boxing promoter has a new mission. We'll talk to the king of the ring later in the 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)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Welcome back to the CNN diner. We're just down the street from Madison Square Garden, where the Republicans are circling the limousines in support of President Bush.

CARLSON: Now, James, I think even you'll admit it's been a pretty good convention from the point of view of the Republicans. You didn't like last night, but there's no question that Bush is going to get a pretty good bounce out of it.

But every night I've been out so far, I've heard Democrats whine about the directionless nature of the Kerry campaign. For instance, he's getting pounded on the podium here by Republicans and he spends his time in Nantucket fishing in a boat, tooling around, windsurfing.

NOVAK: Do you windsurf, Tucker?

CARLSON: No, I don't windsurf. I'm not rich enough.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: No, but, honestly, James...

CARVILLE: And that's a rich man's sport, huh?

CARLSON: Seriously, what is the message of the Kerry campaign? They don't seem to have one.

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, I think that August was not a good month for John Kerry. And nobody should lie about this.

I don't think this convention is going to -- they might get some bounce out of it. It's not going to last. And I thought last night was a bad night, because I think this is going to be remembered as the Zell-Buchanan convention.

NOVAK: You see, that's...

CARVILLE: And I think that's the filter by which we're going to look back on this.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Let me explain, James, what is happening.

CARVILLE: But it was just angry drivel.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: And you said, in 1992, Pat Buchanan made a speech. Everybody at the time thought it was a good speech.

CARLSON: I thought it was a good speech.

NOVAK: And the network...

BEGALA: I did, too.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Whoa, whoa, whoa.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Just a moment. Let me finish. And the network moderators, talking head liberals, all said as the time came, terrible speech, terrible speech. They talked the country into it.

But I can tell you right now, when the speech was given by Zell Miller, Kelly Wallace, our crack reporter, came out. She talked to undecided voters. They liked the speech. All the undecided voters liked it. It was a hell of good speech.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Why this don't we call on the Republican National Committee to buy airtime and reair that speech if it's so good?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: You know what? Undecided voters are going to run away from George Bush when they see that speech, like the devil runs from holy water.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Let me ask you a question as a Democrat.

Zell Miller -- you all worked for Zell Miller -- Zell Miller spent over 50 years living among, working among, eating among Democrats.

BEGALA: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Isn't it fair to say that he was driven crazy in the end by being around Democrats. And it drove him to the right.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It's not a personal attack.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I don't like when people like you call him crazy. He's a good man.

CARLSON: No, no, that's what he says.

BEGALA: He has bad ideas on politics. He's not crazy at all. He's a lovely man. I don't like those kinds of insults.

CARLSON: That's a ridiculous

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: That's unfair to this fine man. He just has the wrong ideas these days.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: He was manipulated by people that want power. And they took this man, retiring, and they did this to him.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: He wasn't manipulated by anybody.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I've been talking to him about the last two years.

CARVILLE: Then why did he tell all those nonfactual things in his speech?

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Well, what was nonfactual? There's nothing nonfactual.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Bob, it's very sad. He went out there and accused Kerry of cutting weapons programs that Dick Cheney wanted cut.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: He went out there

Bob, it's all over. You all are going down.

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Your little tax cuts are breaking the country. We're stuck in Iraq.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Going down the drain. Zell was manipulated last night.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Let me just say one thing about the president's speech tonight. You know, these conventions, I've been to a lot of them. And after the acceptance speech, you forget most -- usually -- not always, but usually you forget everything else.

This is going to be a very good speech, because I think he's going to come out for something that nobody in either party is talking about. And that is the terrible tax system we have the in this country, the need to reform it, the need to simplify it, the need to have a fairer system that doesn't oppress the rich and the poor. (APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Bob, he's going to say the government must take your side. And that's what you and Tucker, that's what you all believe. The government needs to be on your side.

NOVAK: Let the people be productive.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: A rich multimillionaire like you, you'll be so poor if Kerry gets elected, you won't know what to do.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I wouldn't vote for me if I was running for president.

BEGALA: Well, Tucker, I don't have any doubt the president will do well. He will have a platoon of platitudes carefully scripted on those plates. He'll stand there and read other people's words pretty ably. He's pretty good at this stuff.

NOVAK: Isn't that what good politicians do?

BEGALA: But the problem is, he's been the guy who has been off message this week. Monday, the message was strength against terrorism. President Bush goes out and says we can't win the war on terror. On Tuesday, the message was, we're compassionate and mushy and moderate. He goes on "The Rush Limbaugh Show."

CARLSON: I love

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Bush has been the guy who has been off message at the Bush convention, hasn't he?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Paul, look, I know exactly -- I know exactly where you got that. You were sitting in a bar last night with some friends of yours in the Democratic Party. And you said, you know what?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's exactly right.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I'm sure it was a great bar. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Hold on.

The idea that he goes on some radio show and therefore he is not compassionate, I mean, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You know, the idea that he goes on Rush Limbaugh and therefore he's a hater, come on, that's a ridiculous thing to say.

BEGALA: He's not moderate. He's divisive. Rush Limbaugh is a divisive figure in America.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: And for our president, who is the president of all of us, to go on that lard butt's show is really horrible.

CARLSON: I think for someone who has promoted Michael Moore on the air day after day, I must say

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: John Kerry is not going into Michael Moore's movies.

CARLSON: Well, you're promoting Michael Moore.

BEGALA: Yes, I am.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: The interesting thing -- the interesting thing is that people like my wife never miss Rush Limbaugh. She thinks he's terrific. And she's a compassionate conservative, because Rush Limbaugh feels sorry for people like you. I think he's a compassionate person, rather than being vicious.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Rush Limbaugh, unlike George W. Bush, he has a prescription drug plan.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: That is a completely nasty thing to say.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: This comes from a guy who just called Zell Miller insane.

CARLSON: I didn't call him insane at all. In fact, actually, no, no, I said he'd been driven to distraction by hanging around with Democrats. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: The bottom line is, Terry McAuliffe accused him yesterday of giving this speech in order to sell books. That's an awful thing to say. The guy has a legitimate disagreement with your party. He knows a lot about your party, having been in it for 50 years.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: And I think you ought to give him credit. And he's not seen senile, James.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I didn't say he was senile.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: He's not a 9-year-old girl. He's a senator. Come on.

CARVILLE: The Bush campaign gave him a speech that had factual error after factual error.

NOVAK: Name one of them. Name one.

CARVILLE: I just named three.

NOVAK: Name one factual error.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: You keep screaming. I named them.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Name one.

BEGALA: Let me answer the question.

The senator last night said that nothing infuriates him more than when he hears people say that our troops in Iraq are occupiers, instead of liberators. But the president himself has referred to the condition in Iraq as occupation. It doesn't seem to make him very angry.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: That's a factual fallacy.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: That's a complete error.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He said that Democrats say that when in fact

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: He's been manipulated. All you good people of Georgia whose reputations are tarnished by these cynical people, I feel sorry for you.

CARLSON: We could go on forever, but there's a greater American waiting in the wings to join us. Next, we're going to talk to the sultan of spin, the king of boxing promoters. Don King is going to tell us why he's working in George W. Bush's corner now.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: And right after the break, the latest on the threat posed by Hurricane Frances. Wolf Blitzer will have a report on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Coming up at the top of the hour, Hurricane Frances moves closer to Florida as hundreds of thousands head for safer ground. We'll have the latest forecast out just minutes from now.

President Bush gets ready to accept renomination. We'll talk it over with Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. And what about Zell Miller's keynote speech last night? Will it bring in voters or drive them away?

We're also getting word right now about the release of some French hostages in Iraq.

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

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Welcome back to the CNN diner, where we bring you not just news and opinion, but food and milkshakes.

We're joined by an American legend, boxing promoter Don King. He has a new cause. He's been promoting President Bush's reelection for free. He joins us to explain why.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: First of all, let me tell the audience before that Don King is a dear friend of mine. I love going to his fights. I sit with Colonel Sheridan, who does the radio broadcasts. And although he's a Bush supporter, I understand that.

But you were also a big supporter of my friend President Clinton, too, weren't you? DON KING, BOXING PROMOTER: Yes, I was. I'm a republicrat, James. I'm for whoever is going to be the best for the American people, black and white alike. And so I think that George Walker Bush is the man with the plan to make America better. I support George Walker Bush because George Walker Bush is saying and doing things that no other president has done.

He appointed four black people to a top-level position of power, not toadyism, not Uncle Tom-ism, but qualified Americans who incidentally happen to be black, Colin Powell, secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser, Rod Paige, education. And, as you know, in education, from that peculiar institution called slavery, if a white man taught a black man how to read or write, it was punishable by death, a capital punishment. All right?

NOVAK: Yes.

KING: So then you got -- wait a minute. Let me get to Alphonso Jackson, HUD, housing and development -- urban -- HUD, urban development.

George Walker Bush has a plan. And I just love the man. And I think America loves the man.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: And he cares about America. He protects America. And we're sitting here today with an open window at our back. I ain't feared about no terrorists. Why? Because George Walker Bush is in that White House office.

NOVAK: Let me ask you something. In show business in Hollywood, they're full of left wingers and liberals and Democrats. How about the boxing game? Who do you the people in boxing root for? Who would win an election in the boxing game?

KING: Well, you know, in the boxing game, the boxing game of life is being transpired right now with these four pundits here, the best in the world that are here at CROSSFIRE. And everybody is here.

This is the talk about America, the American people, about their safety, their security, their rights, their comfort. It's talking about what all the issues that will confront men. George Walker Bush is decisive. He will make a decision. The bill of indecisiveness is the countless millions of bones that's been bleached in the sun that didn't get nothing done.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... one of those decisions that he made. George Walker Bush cut taxes for rich folks like Bob Novak. Do you think rich people like Novak ought to do their patriotic share and pay more in taxes or do you believe that poor people should bear the burden, the way President Bush does?

(APPLAUSE) KING: I think Americans should pay taxes. Americans should pay taxes because all

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: But you're a rich man. Do you

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... taxes?

KING: You know what? I'm glad you said that, because they used to wouldn't even allow us to pay taxes because they wouldn't give us no jobs. They gave us 244 years of free slavery, 101 years of segregation.

NOVAK: Couldn't pay any taxes at all.

KING: Couldn't pay no taxes at all. We was fighting to pay taxes.

When the Civil War came up, they didn't want blacks in the war. They said, this is the white man's war. They had to fight and lobby to go into the war, to go out there, because, when you fight for a nation, you can claim that nation for your own and have that claim respected.

CARLSON: Now, Don King, first of all, will you negotiate my next contract?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You know, you're good, Tucker Carlson.

CARLSON: I really

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Yes, you really are. You should be paid.

CARLSON: I agree with that. Speak truth to power.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Speak to it, because here it is. America, here's Tucker Carlson. He wants to be paid. He wants to be paid

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's right. That's right. Tell them.

KING: All these people like George Walker Bush that would lead this nation and we pay our taxes. We can pay. Tucker Carlson!

CARLSON: Amen! Amen!

(CROSSTALK)

KING: That's what it's about.,

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Four more years for George Walker Bush! Four more years!

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: I've gotten out of political consulting. But to run your campaign, I'll go for a republicrat.

KING: You know what? You got to be that.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Can you explain to me why a multimillionaire like Carville wants to give his money away, pay more and more for waste in the government? Do you understand that?

KING: You know, it's very hard for me to get into the tax thing, because I rush to pay taxes. Many people run away from it. I've been denied paying taxes so long that when I paid taxes for $30 million two years consecutively, I was thrilled beyond description or depiction.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: This is -- how do you get the freedom that you have and the protections you have? You've got to be able to pay your taxes, not tax loopholes and getting cuts.

NOVAK: Would you like to pay mine, too?

KING: Yes. If I earn what you have earned, I would be more than delighted to pay it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Why haven't you convinced your former partner, Al Sharpton? You know Al Sharpton. You used to work with him. Why haven't you convinced him? And why isn't your message getting to other black leaders?

KING: You know what? Let me say -- let me say this to you. Al Sharpton is my friend. I like Al Sharpton.

But don't you understand the essence of what Al Sharpton is about? The mere fact that Al Sharpton -- we are two urchins from the ghetto -- he can get on a platform and run for the president of the United States, whether he gets elected or not, that says a lot about this glorious country that we live in, one land, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

We ain't there yet, but we're working. To give him that kind of opportunity is a big plus for America.

CARLSON: Amen.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Fifteen seconds in this segment. Was President Bush right to dis the NAACP and refuse to attend their convention?

KING: Well, you know, the NAACP is one of my most revered organizations. Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall went to the Supreme Court fighting for Ferguson vs. Plessy in 1896, the separate but unequal. You've got to understand, George Bush did -- he got insulted and he held back on what he did, but he did

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... the Urban League.

BEGALA: We need to take a break.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Four more years for George Walker Bush! Four more years!

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... take a breath. Ding. We need a bell.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Next, it's all about the hair. Does anyone in politics have hair that can possibly compete with Don King's? Find out next.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Welcome back to the CNN diner, round two with boxing promoter Don King.

All right, Don, here's the question everybody wants answered. Last night, Dick Cheney joked that President Bush chose him because of his hair.

Who has the best hair, you, Dick Cheney, or John Edwards?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Well, little spider on the wall ain't got no hair at all, ain't got no comb to comb his hair. So what do he care? He don't have no hair. So when you're talking about hair, you know that he has the look. He has that look, you know what I mean, this Tucker Carlson. You know what I mean?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So you know what I mean?

So the hair has a lot to do with it, but Sampson lost because he violated a trust with the lord and he told her about his hair. She cut it off. You know what I mean? And he lost his strength.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Amen.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I won't make that mistake. That's why I'll stay with George Walker Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Don King, republicrat.

CARLSON: Amen.

KING: Yes. George Walker Bush for four more years.

CARLSON: Yes.

BEGALA: From the left, I'm Paul Begala.

CARVILLE: I'm James Carville, big Don King fan. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

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

CARLSON: And I'm Tucker Carlson. See you tomorrow.

KING: Four more years for George Walker Bush!

(APPLAUSE)

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