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CNN CROSSFIRE

Who Won First Presidential Debate?

Aired October 1, 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 day after the debate. Who came out ahead? The Bush campaign says the president showed strong leadership qualities.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe I'm going to win because the American people know I know how to lead. I've shown the American people I know how to lead. You cannot lead if you send mixed messages.

ANNOUNCER: John Kerry supporters are hailing their candidate's clarity and poise.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This issue of certainty. It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong. I've had one position, one consistent position, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. There was a right way to disarm him and a wrong way. And the president chose the wrong way.

ANNOUNCER: The spin cycle is running full tilt. Who won the great debate?

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: George Bush.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Kerry.

KAREN HUGHES, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry.

ANNOUNCER: And what about the real test? How are the voters reacting to the debate?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ANNOUNCER: Today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

So, John Kerry's last, best chance to turn his flailing campaign around has come and gone. The highly anticipated debate where the finely nuanced and highly articulate senator from Massachusetts was going to crush the mentally retarded President Bush is over. And guess what happened? Well, despite what the Kerry campaign would have lead you believe, nothing much has changed, at least in the polls.

The voters still think the president is a better leader. They still find him more to win the war on terrorism. They still find him more likable. That's no surprise.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: And what's not to like about a guy who can't string two English-language sentences together in a row, as the president failed to last night?

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: The truth is, all the instant polls showed that John Kerry won the debate with voters.

But we will go into all of that with two experts in just a minute. But we'll begin today, as we always do, with the best little political briefing in television, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Last night's debate forever shattered the myth that George W. Bush is strong, certain and clear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: And I have -- it's -- anyway. And so the answer to your question is -- um -- and -- uh -- if you, uh -- I, uh...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Um, well, the, um, Bush campaign -- look they dictated a topic. Mr. Bush's aides insisted on the straitjacket of rules in order to prop him up.

And yet he stumbled, stammered and staggered through the debate, often repeating himself for no apparent reason. Think about it. If George W. Bush can't get through a 90-minute debate, how is going to get through the war in Iraq?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Well, you know, he's, um, um, um, he's not -- he's not the most articulate president. That's absolutely true.

BEGALA: Winston Churchill. That's what the Republicans say about him. He's like Winston Churchill, yes, in that Winston Churchill hasn't a sentence in 60 years either, because he's dead.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Look, actually, I agree with you that watching him speak is like watching, as you point it, a drunk man crossing an icy street.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: It makes you uncomfortable.

However, people like him anyway.

(BELL RINGING)

CARLSON: That is -- you've got to admit, Paul.

BEGALA: I like him, too.

CARLSON: No, no. Voters like him better and they believe him more than Kerry.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: I'm a voter. And I like him fine. But I don't want him to be my president.

CARLSON: It's interesting.

Well, if you spend a lot of time lurking and looming around the Internet, you may have noticed that John Kerry won a fair number of the instant e-mail polls sponsored by various news organizations immediately after last night's debate. Was it a genuine outpouring of public support for the Massachusetts senator? Right. And the tan is real, too.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: In fact, Kerry's online victories are the result of a coordinated campaign run by the Democratic National Committee, which apparently has a ton of free time on its hands.

Yesterday, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe sent out a mass e-mail asking supporters to become flacks for a night -- quote -- "We need you to do two things -- three things," instead, McAuliffe's e-mail said. "Vote in online polls. Write a letter to the editor and call in to talk radio programs." Those were the marching orders. Like good little robots, thousands of Democrats apparently complied, because to Democrats, the voice of the people and today's talking points are one and the same.

They cheat on the online polls, Paul.

BEGALA: That's not cheating.

CARLSON: Of course it is. BEGALA: That's called being engaged in your democracy, expressing your opinion.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: It's the First Amendment.

CARLSON: It's being told what to think by a political party and they're doing it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: What kind of robot would you have to be to do that? Oh, yes, e-mail tells me to.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It's called having principles. And it's called acting on those principles. It's called democracy. God bless them. Republicans do the same thing. And good for them.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: And anybody who takes orders from a party chairman from an e-mail is a robot. I'm sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: I believe that.

BEGALA: That's silly. These are people who actually believe that we need a change. We need a new direction. We need to get rid of George W. Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: And they are expressing that.

CARLSON: They're people who think Michael Moore is a good filmmaker. Think for yourself.

BEGALA: Not everybody gets their own cable talk show. And so people...

CARLSON: Think for yourself. Come on.

BEGALA: ... can also avail themselves of the media available.

Well, one of the dirty little tricks of media management is to slip out bad news when folks are distracted. Perhaps that's why the Republican-controlled House Ethics Committee waited until the eyes of the whole world were on the Florida debate to report that House Republican leader Tom DeLay is unethical.

Of course that's news from nowhere to those of us who have followed the career of Mr. DeLay. The particular unethical act the committee admonished Mr. DeLay for was the promises he made to Congressman Nick Smith in order to win Smith's support for President Bush's giant giveaway to pharmaceutical corporations.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, three DeLay associates are under indictment for allegedly violating Texas law by allegedly using corporate funds to allegedly influence Texas elections and congressional campaigns all across the country. Republicans everywhere are dreading this question. Will you vote for the ethically challenged but not yet indicted Tom DeLay to lead your party in Congress? What do you think they will say, Tucker? Do you think they want this guy?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: I haven't -- I haven't the faintest -- I haven't the faintest, Paul.

BEGALA: This is who should lead the Republican Party?

CARLSON: And to be totally honest, I have no knowledge. Well, first of all, he doesn't, strictly speaking, lead the Republican Party. He's not the speaker of the House.

BEGALA: He's the House Republican leader.

CARLSON: No, but he's not the speaker of the House, Paul. He's not the...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He's the majority leader, the House Republican leader. The speaker works for the whole House, theoretically. This speaker doesn't.

(BELL RINGING)

CARLSON: My point is, Tom DeLay not been indicted or...

BEGALA: Yes.

CARLSON: When he is, we'll deal with it when.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: That wasn't much of a defense, he hasn't been indicted. I realize that, but still.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Well, last night, moderator Jim Lehrer asked John Kerry what he believes is the single greatest threat to American national security, the single greatest threat. Well, nuclear proliferation, replied Kerry.

Then, as an example, Kerry cited the Bush administration's research into more effective bunker-busting nuclear weapons. "I'm going to shut that program down," Kerry said, unequivocally.

Wait a second. Think about that for a second. Since when does the United States not have the right to build whatever weapons it deems necessary for its security?

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Since when are American weapons the problem? And at what point did the Pentagon become -- the American Pentagon -- become -- quote -- "the single greatest threat" to our national security and world peace? Those would be terrific questions for John Kerry and he'll be get to explain himself in the next debate.

But that alone is enough not to vote for John Kerry. It's an outrage.

BEGALA: Except, that is not what he said.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: No, he said we don't have the right to build those weapons. I would shut them down

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He didn't say we didn't have the right. He thinks it's a bad weapons system. He's going to shut it down.

CARLSON: He didn't argue that at all.

BEGALA: And put money where it's going to do more good.

CARLSON: That's not what he said, Paul. And you know it.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Let me make my point. You made your point.

The senator said that the president hasn't done a good enough job of keeping nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists. Instead, he's trying to build new nuclear weapons at home. Kerry says, I would take the money from these new nukes that we don't need.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's not the argument he made. You're totally misrepresenting what he said. I've got it right here.

BEGALA: He didn't say we don't have the right to do anything.

CARLSON: He said, how can we tell other countries not to acquire nuclear weapons when we are building them ourselves? (BELL RINGING)

CARLSON: That's almost a verbatim quote and that's an outrageous thing to say. And you can't defend it.

BEGALA: He's trying to force Bush to buy up these loose nukes before the terrorists buy them up.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's not what he said, Paul. You can't defend what he said.

BEGALA: Yes, it is. That's what he said.

CARLSON: He was very clear. And it's an outrage.

BEGALA: Well, coming up next, this is not the last you'll hear about who said what last night. Team Bush will say that their man won. But, then again, they also say that we're making progress in Iraq. So you have got to kind of question their grip on reality.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: And later, look up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. Well, no, not quite. It's Ralph Nader, the caped crusader. We'll tell you how Ralph became a caped crusader, at least in his own mind, when CROSSFIRE continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Here's our question. Was last night's debate a turning point, a critical turning point, in the presidential campaign or was it yet another failed effort by a flailing and desperate challenger to convince America that he's more than a less charming version of Teddy Kennedy.

Here to help us figure it out is Democratic Congressman Albert Wynn of Maryland, also Jim Gilmore, the former Republican governor of Virginia, who now heads the Gilmore Commission on Terrorism Response.

BEGALA: Good to see you both. Thanks for joining us.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: Governor, I'll stipulate that I have never known a politician more charming than Ted Kennedy. So I think that's true that Senator Kerry doesn't quite live up to his colleague's charm.

But I thought he was very clear and strong last night. And what was interesting was the president's performance as well. His whole message is, I'm a strong and certain leader. And I'm going to show you some clips that I showed the audience a moment ago and tell me where the strength and decisiveness went.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Here's our president last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: And I have -- it's -- anyway. And so the answer to your question is -- um -- and -- uh -- if you, uh -- I, uh...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Now, this guy -- Governor, this guy has debated Ann Richards, my former governor, and beat her. He debated Al Gore and beat him. What happened last night?

JAMES GILMORE (R), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: Well, it's fine.

Listen, he gave a strong performance last night. You can take these little bitty clips and you can put them together.

BEGALA: I didn't have times for all those. It's only a 30- minute show.

GILMORE: You can put all that little bitty clip stuff together. But the truth is, he gave a strong and decisive message. That's what kind of a leader he is. And that's why he's going to win. There's no question.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: So you don't think it undermines the message?

GILMORE: No. No.

BEGALA: Now, how do leaders lead? They lead -- principally, presidents lead with words. President Roosevelt, great wartime leader, President Lincoln, a great wartime leader. President Bush is a wartime leader, but he's not leading the way those men did, with words.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He's leading with uhs.

GILMORE: They lead with strength and decisiveness, strong leadership, determination, persistence, values.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Where as that?

GILMORE: That's all of those things that you saw here in the debate.

CARLSON: Now, Congressman Wynn, I understand that one of the jobs of a partisan is to pretend that everything is OK and that your guy is greatest guy in history. The other guy is pretty evil. I understand there's a fair amount of Kool-Aid drinking in politics. I don't respect it, but I recognize its reality.

And yet there's a line. Partisanship, mental illness, there is a line.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: And I think a member of the United States crossed over recently. This is the very charming Ted Kennedy describing why he doesn't think George W. Bush did so well last night. Here is here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: George Bush was wobbly last night. He seemed unaware of John Kerry's vision for America. So when faced with the strength of John Kerry's vision, he wavered and was unprepared to respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Yes, that makes total sense, Congressman. You see, the president had no idea what John Kerry thinks about anything.

But when he heard, he was so blown away by the pure brilliance of the crystal clarity of it, he basically gave up on stage.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Is that your position?

(APPLAUSE)

REP. ALBERT WYNN (D), MARYLAND: Well, I won't say he gave up, but I'll tell you this, that John Kerry did a wonderful job. America knows it. You pundits even know it.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WYNN: I took a poll of the pundits and the pundits said Kerry won. I'll tell you what happened. And this is -- you made a point. This is the turning point in the election, because, last night, it stopped being about flip-flopping and it started being about, is George Bush competent? Can he really do the job? I think...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WYNN: Kerry punched a lot of holes into the president.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: If the question, is George W. Bush a great speaker, the answer is of course no.

WYNN: No. Is he competent?

CARLSON: But if you're running against him, you sort of have to come up with a competing vision, right? And I don't think John Kerry did that.

John McCain said something I thought very thoughtful yesterday. He said, look, John Kerry believes he can get our allies into Iraq. He said, I've been around the world. I have talked to our allies, John McCain said. And none of them, at least in western Europe, have any plans under any circumstances, no matter who is president, of committing troops to Iraq. That's simply true.

So why don't you explain to me clearly how John Kerry is going to convince our so-called allies to commit troops to Iraq?

WYNN: First of all, that's not true. That's McCain and Bush's vision of what they would like to be true. Let me tell what you is true.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: The president of France has said it. The president of Germany said it.

WYNN: Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

First of all, we need a fresh look, a new start. And that's what John Kerry represents. First of all, we start with a little humility, something that I know is alien to the Bush crowd. I think, second, we start sharing in the reconstruction. Bush wants to take all the money, give it to Halliburton, and then wonder why no one else wants to join him.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GILMORE: Nonsense. Nonsense.

(CROSSTALK)

WYNN: And third, he said something interesting. How about a U.S.-led summit to show some leadership and bring people together? And Bush says, oh, well, the Japanese have summits and everybody else has summits. How about a U.S.-led summit to bring the allies together?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WYNN: I think George -- John Kerry has a very clear vision of how we respond in this war.

BEGALA: Well, Governor, let me bring the war to the home front.

Homeland security is something you're an expert on. You chaired, our audience should know, the Gilmore Commission on protecting America against terrorism. You did a great job on that.

GILMORE: Thank you.

BEGALA: I greatly admire that work that you did for our country.

GILMORE: Thank you. Thank you.

BEGALA: Last night, there was a sharp exchange on this topic, where Senator Kerry pointed out, in his view, that President Bush had shortchanged homeland security, not funding it to the levels the Democrats in Congress had asked for, so that he could cut taxes, principally for well-off taxpayers. Here's the president's response to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I don't think we want to get to how he is going to pay for all these promises. It's like a huge tax gap. And, anyway, that's for another debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Well, let's have that debate now. His argument is that we can't afford to protect the homeland because there's a tax gap because of his tax cut? Isn't that negligence? Isn't that dereliction of duty?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GILMORE: No. No.

(CROSSTALK)

GILMORE: I want to say two things about this debate.

The first thing that I want to say is, the president is the only one who set up a Department of Homeland Security, who has worked with the states and locals.

BEGALA: Which he opposed. That was a flip-flop, right?

(APPLAUSE)

GILMORE: No, no. Has done it and has led on it and has actually put this thing together, so that we are now safer than we were several years -- and the second thing I want to say to you is, notice the internal inconsistencies we saw with Kerry even last night.

On the one hand, he says, gee willickers, we've got to get everybody together here on Iraq. But on the other hand, he says, but on North Korea, we want to push away all of our allies. So which is it, Paul? Is it we want people in it or we don't want people in it?

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: He didn't say that, actually.

GILMORE: That's exactly what he said...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: On North Korea, he said we need the six-party talks, plus the two-party talks.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: It's the president who is actually inconsistent.

GILMORE: Now, don't get defensive on me, Paul.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: It's the president who wants, in fact, to pretend that North Korea can only be done multilaterally. And then he criticizes multilateral -- I was going to use a more colloquial phrase, but I don't want to do that on television -- criticizes multilateral action. It's the president who has been inconsistent here.

GILMORE: No, not at all.

The president -- the president has indicated that he wants, with North Korea, to work with people who have a stake in the situation. And it was Kerry last night who tried to push that away, who set up a recipe for that to go on the rocks, and to try to only have that one bilateral discussion. But, at the same time, he criticizes the president over on the other side with Iraq.

WYNN: Wait a minute. I don't think that John Kerry ever said you couldn't do both. But he said you've got talk to your opponent. You have got to talk to the guy you're trying to influence. That doesn't stop China or other folks being involved.

(CROSSTALK)

WYNN: That clearly is the case. We can do both.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GILMORE: No. No.

CARLSON: Can I just ask you quickly about something John Kerry did say? And here it is.

He said yesterday that it is wrong and bad for the world that the United States is working on an improved kind of nuclear weapon, bunker-busting nuclear weapons. Since when is it wrong for the United States to build whatever weapons it deems necessary to protect itself?

(APPLAUSE)

WYNN: Well, first of all, he was talking in the context of speaking about nonproliferation at the same time you're promoting bunker-busting weapons.

CARLSON: But they're our weapons, not North Korea's.

WYNN: I understand that they're our weapons. The question becomes is that what we want to lead with if we're trying to say to people we want you to hold back on your nuclear programs.

(LAUGHTER)

WYNN: I think he's a little bit more subtle or nuanced. I admit the word is a little too nuanced for the president.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Right, a little more French.

OK, we're going to just take a quick break. We'll be right back in "Rapid Fire." We'll find out why the Democratic Party is trying to cheat on the Internet. That's right. You heard right, cheat on the Internet. Scandal.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: And after the break, Mount St. Helens wakes up. Wolf Blitzer will update us on new activity at the rumbling volcano. If you can't stay tuned for that, we give up hope.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Coming up at the top of the hour, thick white smoke began pouring out of Mount Saint Helens earlier today. Is this the beginning of a major eruption? U.S. commanders in Iraq say 109 insurgents have died in Samarra. We'll have the latest on the fighting there. And how will last night's debate change the presidential campaign, if at all? We'll ask Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart, Bush supporter Bernard Kerik and our political analyst, Carlos Watson.

All those stories, much more, coming up only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

BEGALA: Time now for "Rapid Fire," where we, um, well, we ask questions, that's it, hopefully faster than George W. Bush answered them last night.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: With us, the former governor of Virginia, Republican Jim Gilmore, Congressman Al Wynn. He's a Democrat from the great state of Maryland.

CARLSON: Now, Congressman Wynn, after the debate last night, various news organizations, including this one, attempted an experiment in social science research, online polls, asking people what they thought of the debate. An e-mail was sent out suggesting what they honestly thought of the debate. Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic Party, sends out an e-mail to the robots to follow him.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Suggesting that they subvert this poll by sending in answers that he suggested they send in. That's just wrong, isn't it, contrary to science, isn't it?

WYNN: That's absolutely not wrong. It's a competitive endeavor. We just happen to be better at it.

(LAUGHTER)

WYNN: I think the RNC was a little slow on the trigger. That's all.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Governor, did George W. Bush win last night's debate?

GILMORE: Yes, he did.

BEGALA: Do you believe the Earth is flat?

(LAUGHTER)

GILMORE: No, no. The president -- the president won this because of consistency.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Are there Martians at Area 51?

GILMORE: The point I was making a little while ago is that Kerry flip-flopped again even on the issue of foreign policy. And that's the heart of it. And I think people saw it last night.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Congresswoman Wynn, Senator Kerry pointed out last night that John Kennedy was a successful president because he earned the trust of France. Is that the threshold, do you think, for a president?

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: That he's admired by the French?

WYNN: No.

But the problem is, George Bush last night lost the confidence of a lot of Americans. The fact is, he doesn't have a plan.

CARLSON: How do the French feel? Are they up or down on

(CROSSTALK)

WYNN: The French are irrelevant. What's relevant is, Americans saw that he doesn't have a plan. He didn't adequately equip the troops. He didn't have enough troops in the first place. And he has no exit strategy. That's the problem that the president has right now.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Governor, I know you're a friend of the president. He has got the best advisers in the world. He's got media coaches and speech coaches and debate coaches.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: Could you please tell him how to pronounce mullahs and nuclear? He said, we don't want mullahs to get nuclear -- could you just help him out on this, the mullah thing?

(APPLAUSE)

GILMORE: Only a Washington elitist would be worried about something like that.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: The mullahs get nuclear -- well, maybe.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Senator Gilmore, Congressman Wynn, thank you. You have excellent -- mullah.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: All right, next on CROSSFIRE, Zorro has nothing on Ralph Nader's dreams of crashing the presidential debates by force. We'll explain the conspiracy when we return. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back.

You might not agree with everything that Ralph Nader says. But despite the claims of his many enemies in the Democratic Party politburo, the Reform Party candidate is not crazy. That doesn't mean, however, that he doesn't do a fairly accurate impression of craziness from time to time.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Nader told "The Miami Herald" that he fancies himself a new superhero, Ralph Nader, the caped crusader.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: He told the newspaper that his dream was to crawl through the air ducts above the presidential debate and leap on to the stage in a cape.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: He went on to say he would then set fire to the rules agreement and turn the debate into what he called a free-for-all. And that's exactly what it would be. Wow.

BEGALA: I saw Ralph last night, asked him to come on the show. And he said that he would. And we're looking forward to having him on there before he allows the Republicans to steal this election, too.

CARLSON: Yes, we are.

Before we go tonight, we want to bring you news about one our colleagues, Bob Novak, who was injured in an accident in Miami, Florida, this morning. He is under going right now a partial hip replacement. So keep him in your prayers.

BEGALA: And he did say, instead of flowers, send money to Billionaires for Capital Gains Tax Cuts.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Amen.

BEGALA: Feel better, Bob, we love you, come back soon!

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 -- oh, Monday, rather. Have a great weekend. See you then.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: You can join us tomorrow.

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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