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CNN CROSSFIRE

Election Day Arrives

Aired November 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: In a few hours, the voting ends and the real excitement begins, waiting to see who wins. On both sides, a sense of relief that campaign 2004 is almost over.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is such a wonderful feeling to vote. This election is in the hands of the people.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is that magic moment when the greatest democracy on the face of the planet gets to show the world how we work.

ANNOUNCER: Who ran the best race, the worst? And how late do we have to stay up tonight to find out who won?

Today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN election headquarters in New York, James Carville, Paul Begala, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Hail. Hail. The gang is all here, ready to stay here as long as it takes to figure out who calls 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home for the next four years.

Today, a look at the best and worst of the campaign. But, first, the best little political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Well, here are some early returns we are allowed to report. The voters of Dixville Notch in Harts Location, New Hampshire, went to the polls before dawn this morning, the first voters I'm America to cast their ballots.

The result, Bush 35 votes, John Kerry, 21 votes, Ralph Nader, one vote. Thank heaven for the Nader voter. There aren't many. As much as Democrats despise, loathe and fear George W. Bush, they hate Nader more. Why? Because Nader's principles are a painful rebuke to the Kerry campaign, which reveres expedience above all. Like Kerry, Nader opposes the war in Iraq.

Unlike Kerry, he's willing to follow his beliefs to their logical, honorable conclusion. If the occupation is wrong, let's end it and get out, an obvious point, but Kerry does not have the courage to make it. The campaign ends tonight and Ralph Nader is likely to fade into history, irrelevant as a political force, shunned by his former friends, many of them now out-of-the-closet Stalinists.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: But the point Nader made will not go away. Even if Kerry becomes president, Democrats should have listened to Ralph Nader.

CARVILLE: You know what I say about Ralph Nader?

CARLSON: Yes, they should have listened to Ralph Nader.

CARVILLE: I would not urinate down his throat if his heart was on fire.

CARLSON: Yes. That's because all you care about is winning. That's all you care about, is winning, James.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: No. I care about not starting wars and not bankrupting the country.

CARLSON: Then Ralph Nader actually has an answer that makes sense, which is, if it is wrong and a distraction from the terrorism, pull the troops out. Kerry doesn't have the stones to say that out loud.

(CROSSTALK)

(BELL RINGING)

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Kerry has a different view.

CARVILLE: Hey, you out-of-the-closet Stalinist, read...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... out-of-the-closet Stalinist.

BEGALA: Out-of-the-Stalin closetists, is that what we are?

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: It's true.

BEGALA: Well, elitist snobs believes that negative campaigning depresses turnout. So how do they explain the spectacular surge in voter turnout today after the most negative campaign in memory? Well, the truth is, the smash-mouth politics of both Bush and Kerry have electrified the voters. Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry have deeply held principles, yes, partisan beliefs. And they are not afraid to express them with a kidney punch, if need be. And why not? With so much at stake, we ought to be fighting. And voters plainly love it.

Now, by contrast, the very gentlemanly contest between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in 1996 produced the lowest voter turnout in a half-century. So, the next time some elitist horse's patootie tells you he doesn't like political attacks, you tell him his precious good manners are nothing but a ploy to anesthetize voters, blur distinctions, depress turnout, and allow the elite to run the country without the mess of democracy and 120 million voters butting in.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: You know, I hate to say that I agree with Paul Begala, because it ruins my reputation.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: But I do.

I'll tell you, negative campaigning works. It is very American. The people like it. It energizes people. And a lot of my colleagues in the media, some of my very senior colleagues wringing their hands about, woe is me, woe is me, I think they are crazy. I think it generates debate and opinion.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: Amen.

NOVAK: Who would be the last person you wanted to make sure there is no cheating at the ballot boxes? How about left-wing propagandist Michael Moore?

He says he is sending out 1,200 lefties armed with cameras to Ohio and Florida. Moore also left Election Day messages on his Web site. He tells what calls my friends on the left -- quote -- "President Kerry had better bring the troops home right away" -- end quote. Now, John Kerry says the opposite, that he won't bring home the troops right away. And so Michael Moore warns the candidate -- quote -- "None of us are going to away after you're inaugurated. Don't let us down" -- end quote.

I wonder if John Kerry realizes he might be better off losing.

BEGALA: Well, no, he's going to be better off winning. We're all going to be better off winning. Now, we have no idea who is going to win. But the point that I think that Tucker referred before with Ralph Nader and you do with Michael Moore is that the president was wrong to engage this war. He was wrong to invade Iraq.

NOVAK: You're evading the -- you're evading the point.

BEGALA: And if you watched CROSSFIRE, we have told him that. CARLSON: But here's my question.

BEGALA: But now that we're in it, we have to win it. That seems to be Kerry's position.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: You're evading the point.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Moore says, if you get elected, you have to bring the troops back home. You know he's not going to bring the troops home.

BEGALA: No, he's not. And that's not how he campaigned, though.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I think Michael Moore is doing a service by putting these cameras there.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I'm glad you're endorsing Michael Moore.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I think other people ought to do that, so these thugs...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Because he -- right -- but he also accuses the U.S. government of going to war in Afghanistan for oil.

(BELL RINGING)

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I have to say, aren't you embarrassed that Michael Moore is, like, an out-an-out Democrat? Come on.

BEGALA: No. He's an out-an-out patriot trying to stop the voter fraud and the intimidation.

CARLSON: That's disgusting. No, that's disgusting.

CARVILLE: They're screaming in my ear, we've go to move.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: In this morning's "New York Times," reporter Robert McFadden called the legions of volunteers working to get out the vote the bloodhounds of democracy.

It is to those bloodhounds and all of the campaign staffers, the speechwriters, advance teams, door-knockers, phone-bankers, and organizers on both sides that I would like to extend a warm and enthusiastic thank you. You have devoted your time and energy not just to your candidate and your party, but to your country.

So from me, a tip of the hat to the people who are doing what I used to do, the grunt work of democracy. You have my admiration and respect. I wish you all well in your future endeavors, though I do wish the Kerry folks particularly well in tonight's endeavor.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Well, I just -- I think that's a complete -- that's totally outrageous.

Here those people are working at the polls. You open up, you compare them to dogs, subtle attack on them.

CARVILLE: Who?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I think it's wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Bloodhounds of democracy.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: What they're doing, they're going on to college campuses in places like New Hampshire. They're dragging these kids with the earrings and the tattoos in.

CARVILLE: Right.

NOVAK: They have got an electric bill to indicate they live there. They're phony voters. They shouldn't be voting.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Bob, don't you agree that votes ought to be allocated by net worth?

NOVAK: That's not a bad idea.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: ... years ago.

CARVILLE: Do you think women should vote, really?

NOVAK: Well, they have got the vote. There's nothing I can do about it.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: I hoped that you were going to take a stand on that, Bob.

BEGALA: If you want to find ignorant voters, go to the GOP.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: They still believe there were WMDs in Iraq. They believe...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: All right. All right.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I'm sorry. The election is over. We can stop the talking points. We're going to go to a commercial break.

We have traveled a long road getting to this Election Day. Just ahead, we're going to debate George Bush and John Kerry's best moves and worst moves during this campaign season.

And later, we'll take a stab at predicting just when you will know who the winner is. We know and we'll tell you.

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)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

If everything in a campaign goes the way it's supposed to go, things end up going as smoothly as a ballet, but without the tights. Let's look at the best moves of campaign 2004.

Paul, what was the best move?

BEGALA: Best move, September 4. John Kerry places a call to Bill Clinton, who is hours away from open heart surgery. Clinton says attack, attack, attack. Kerry does. He rejects the advice of handlers who say negative campaigning is bad and he goes relentlessly at Bush and he expands his team to bring in some of my friends from the Clinton campaign and John Sasso from the Dukakis campaign, turned the whole thing around.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: But it wasn't...

BEGALA: Attack, attack, attack.

CARVILLE: Paul, I know you are a Clintonista of the worst order. But are you saying that if Kerry has won this election, he owes it to Bill Clinton?

BEGALA: No, he owes it to himself, to John Kerry and to the millions of people who I hope are voting for him as we speak.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I actually sort of agree with you. But Kerry had been attacking all along. Clinton's advice, as I understand it, was attack on Iraq. Stop talking about this irrelevant other stuff. Get to the heart of the campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I think that is the heart of the campaign. You're right.

But Kerry had not been attacking. At the convention -- I know -- I was there -- they had guys who were reviewing all the speeches, saying, don't be too negative. They were mad at President Carter, the Nobel Peace Prize winner. They thought he was too negative.

NOVAK: They thought -- they thought they had the election won then.

BEGALA: Yes, they did. They were wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Negative campaigning...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: This out-of-the-closet Stalinist is right. Negative campaigning works.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We need more negative campaigning.

CARVILLE: And we need more Stalinists.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You know what we need less of in this campaign? And John Kerry finally figured it out. And it's my best move of the campaign. We need less Vietnam.

This guy spent 2 1/2 years bragging about his four months in combat, which by themselves I think are honorable. On the other hand, he played it up to the point of self-parody. I remember a day he answered four separate questions on four separate issues with reference to his four months in Vietnam. It was a joke. It was pathetic. And the minute he stopped doing that, talking about the Mekong Delta, is the minute his campaign turned around.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: And he took it to the war that being fought today in Iraq. That's where he found his voice. Even Bush though had an enormous advantage on national security issues, Kerry went from 11 down to dead-even.

CARLSON: But he embarrassed himself for two years before that.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: The best move was to take the first debate seriously, which President Bush didn't do. And that turned the campaign around for him. He did a superb job. He got Bob Shrum, Sasso. All these guys were in there. Ron Klain did a hell of a job. I won't mention too many names here.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: But, clearly, the first debate was the high watermark for Senator Kerry.

CARLSON: A lot of Bob Shrum fans in the audience here, apparently.

CARVILLE: Well, you know what?

BEGALA: There are going to be a lot more tomorrow if Kerry wins this thing tonight. Bob is going to be the most popular guy in Washington.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Do you think that he did that well in that first debate or that President Bush did that badly?

CARVILLE: I think he did -- I think he did -- it is good to have a bad opponent, but he still did well.

NOVAK: And it truly is, isn't it, James?

CARVILLE: Yes.

NOVAK: He was not so good.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: OK.

I think the best -- I think the best move was the Swift Boat Veterans, because John Kerry was getting away.

(BOOING)

NOVAK: Well, we got all these stooges out here...

BEGALA: They're Stalinists that came out of...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: ... booing. They don't have any manners either.

But we had -- John Kerry was getting away with all that baloney of his heroism, when it was very questionable. And the Swift Boat Veterans came out and they -- not only with his record in the war, but his outrageous record as a war evader. They brought the collection close and gave Bush a chance.

CARVILLE: I want to thank Ben Veberde (ph), my friend, for producing the movie "Upriver," which completely destroyed the Swift Boat Veterans.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: They are relegated to pack of liars in history.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: And John Kerry -- John Kerry did this country a service when he opposed the Vietnam War.

CARLSON: But you know what is so -- you know, what it is interesting about the Swift Boat Veterans, however...

CARVILLE: Right. Right.

CARLSON: Clearly, some of the spots had some mistakes in them.

CARVILLE: Right.

CARLSON: Two points. They actually were veterans. And a lot of these guys were former...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Hold on before you boo again at them.

NOVAK: Let them boo.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Hold on. No, no, no, seriously, some of these guys spent many years behind bars in North Vietnam. A, they have a right to say what they think. They're not Republican stooges.

And, B, their anger at John Kerry for his testimony in 1971, calling them -- calling them war criminals, is real and it's a real point.

CARVILLE: No, he didn't.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yes, he did.

BEGALA: These are two different things. These are two -- and I'm curious as to what you guys think.

CARLSON: No, they're not two different things.

BEGALA: There were two different sets of ads. The later ads, which were honest concerns about Kerry's opposition to the war.

CARLSON: And devastating, devastating.

BEGALA: Which I thought were fair. They were fair.

NOVAK: Well, they fit together. They fit together.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: The first ad, though, was a pack of lies.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: It wasn't a pack -- it wasn't -- it wasn't a pack of lies.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: To suggest that he did not serve...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: The first ad was a fraudulent ad.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I have talked to -- I have talked to the people who were his fellow officers from there. And they think he was a phony.

BEGALA: A phony? The Nixon Pentagon gave him a medal...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: And the thing that they were really -- they were really outraged about was the vicious testimony he gave. And it is amazing in this country that he can get away from it, because I'll tell you something.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: You like negative advertising. I think that Bush should have come out very hard on his outrageous performance after the war.

(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: You know what? Bush said he don't remember discussing the war. That's why...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... president that was in college during a time of war and never talked about it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: OK. All right, gentlemen, we've got to...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: It's perfectly fair for them to attack him on that, but not for them to lie about his heroism.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Love to refight Vietnam, as we spent 2 1/2 years doing. Boy, what a boring conversation that was with John Kerry.

Next, was there a single move that may have cost Bush or Kerry the election? We'll debate what it might have been, the candidate's worst moves.

And later, just how long will we be waiting for a winner tonight? We'll tell you when we think you're likely to know who is going to be the next president.

We'll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Foibles, faux pas, foul-ups are part of every campaign. But what were the biggest mistakes of campaign 2004?

Mr. Novak, what is your pick for the worst moment?

NOVAK: In the third debate, when Senator Kerry gratuitously mentioned that Mary Cheney was a lesbian, and then his campaign manager said she was fair game. And then the vice president's wife said that her mother was ashamed of her. At the end of those debates, Senator Kerry was soaring. That brought him down, brought the candidate's level, and gave Bush a chance to win the election.

BEGALA: But don't you think it was a little phony that when a Republican really viciously attacked young Ms. Cheney, the Republican said nothing? When a Democrat praised her -- John Kerry said nice things about her in that debate.

NOVAK: He didn't say nice things about her. (CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He said that she believes that she's just trying to be who she is.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: He did. He did.

NOVAK: If you think a candidate who is going nowhere running for the Senate in Illinois is the same as the Democratic candidate for president of the United States, they're not equivalent.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: What you didn't say is, it's Alan Keyes who said that.

CARVILLE: Let me say that the first person I ever heard publicly bring this up was Jerry Falwell on CROSSFIRE, who has embodied the modern Republican Party.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Well, he's not running for president either.

CARVILLE: Jerry Falwell is...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Look at me. Look at me, James. Don't look at the audience. Look at me.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... the very embodiment of the Republican Party, the very embodiment of the Republican Party. He brought it up on CROSSFIRE.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: You know what? Because he's not running for president. We're talking about a presidential candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Dick Cheney brought it before...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Cheney is running for vice president. He brought it up.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... stop the talking points for one second.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Look, John Kerry, who may be president as of tonight, brought this...

CARVILLE: Why did Dick Cheney bring it up?

CARLSON: Hold on -- brought this -- this is not about Lyndon LaRouche or any of these people. You bring Jerry Falwell up.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It's about -- no, I'm serious. It is about John Kerry. Why did he bring that up in the middle of the debate?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: They don't have an answer. They don't have an answer.

CARLSON: You don't have an answer.

CARVILLE: But, look, Cheney brought it up. Falwell brought it up and Edwards brought it up.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: James, what is your worst moment of the campaign?

CARVILLE: They asked Ray Charles one time, what's the worst part about being blind? He said, well, you can't see.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: The worst move of the campaign was starting the stupid war in Iraq.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: And everybody knows that.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: And they have no plan to get out. And it is obvious to anybody in the world that they went to war without a plan and they're stuck there. And that is why Bush is going to lose.

CARLSON: May I make a point that may not be obvious to you as a former consultant?

The war in Iraq was not a political move. I personally don't think it was a wise move, but it had nothing to do with politics. I know it's impossible for you to conceive of anything that has nothing to do with politics.

CARVILLE: Then why did they bring in up in August before the election? You had the chief of staff of the White House said to bring the product out...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Why did they run against all of these people for that? Worst move of the presidency.

CARLSON: That's so dumb. I can't believe you're saying that.

You know perfectly well that no consultant would ever advise a candidate or a president to start an open-ended war for political gain in a midterm. You know that that would never happen.

CARVILLE: They all thought it was going to work. They all thought it was going to work. They were attacking people for not being for it.

CARLSON: That's so -- that's so ridiculous.

CARVILLE: They all thought it was going to work. You and all your buddies. It was all going to be cakewalk.

CARLSON: You're demented.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Hey, Mr. Carville, did you ever hear me say it was going to be a cakewalk?

CARVILLE: No, not you, Bob.

NOVAK: OK.

BEGALA: Mr. Carlson, what's the worst move of the campaign?

CARLSON: OK, the worst move of the -- look, John Kerry became the nominee because of Howard Dean. People looked at Howard Dean and they said, this guy has a great message, but he's insane.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Let's find someone who is responsible. That's been his great strength, is, he seems boring but responsible.

Yet, throughout the campaign, he talked about Halliburton, Halliburton, wild allegations about Halliburton. It is all part of some conspiracy, probably with the queen of England, again, Lyndon LaRouche involved.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Halliburton never made sense as an attack. And every time John Kerry brought up Halliburton, it made him seem less responsible, less legitimate, more like a Michael Moore, more like the crackpots in his party he was running away from before.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: If -- if -- and it's all just hypothetical. CARLSON: It's true.

BEGALA: If the vice president, Dick Cheney, is out of work in January, as I suspect he may be, do you think Halliburton will take him back?

CARLSON: I'm so not interested. Halliburton has nothing...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He's been working for Halliburton the last four years.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He was on the payroll for Halliburton.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: That's so silly. You know he had...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: That's a libel. He hasn't been working for Halliburton the last four years.

BEGALA: As a practical matter, as a political matter...

NOVAK: He has not. That's just ridiculous.

BEGALA: He's certainly been paid by Halliburton, maybe more than by the taxpayers.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Maybe you can answer this question. You have never been able to answer this question. Halliburton -- even if every allegation about Halliburton is true, what does that have to do with why we went to war in Iraq?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Nothing.

CARLSON: Ah, nothing. You admit it.

BEGALA: But it has everything to do with honesty and integrity. And if this corporation is bilking our country...

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Oh, come on.

BEGALA: .. we ought to know about it. And it should be an issue in the campaign.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Do you know how many corporations are bilking our country right now? Do you know have many defense contractions, how many contractors of all kinds are bilking our country right now? You don't care, though, do you?

BEGALA: In the Clinton administration, Halliburton was the 37th largest defense contractor. Now it's the seventh. From 37th to seventh, that's pretty good, through no-bid contacts.

CARLSON: So what?

BEGALA: It's a legitimate issue.

CARLSON: Even if it is all true, it has nothing to do with the issue that really matters, which is Iraq. What do we do now?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: It has nothing to do with teen pregnancy either, but it's still a legitimate issue.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: No, no, I'm serious. Your implication is, we went to war because of Halliburton.

BEGALA: No, it's not.

CARLSON: And that's a stupid thing to say.

BEGALA: Let me go to my worst move and it has something to do with Iraq.

And that is, in May, when the Abu Ghraib scandal became public, the president of the United States had a chance to get out in front of it, to be a change agent. He should have fired Donald Rumsfeld, fired General Sanchez, who was in charge, fired Condoleezza Rice, fired Paul Wolfowitz.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: And shown us that he actually believes in accountability in government. But he didn't do that. He defended the indefensible.

NOVAK: Can I ask you a question? Is this a Kerry rally we're attending right now?

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: We are in New York City.

NOVAK: I mean, the election -- think the campaign is over.

CARVILLE: Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar.

(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: All for Kerry, stand up and holler.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Putting out these campaign talking points at this stage of the game...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: I totally believe that.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Don't you think it was a mistake for Bush not to accept responsibility for Abu Ghraib by firing anybody? Shouldn't he have fired somebody?

NOVAK: Well, just fire people. Don't investigate. Don't decide what is going on. Don't go into the inquiry on who was responsible, because you don't know who is responsible. It is all the crap that comes out of the Democratic...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I know what it is. It's a PFC from West Virginia.

BEGALA: Yes.

CARVILLE: It is just like, they don't find these -- they don't destroy these weapons, they're going to blame some corporal for it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I know this is alien to your way of thinking, but maybe it is sort of important to find out who is responsible before you punish...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Yes, Dumbs-feld. Dumbs-feld is responsible.

CARLSON: Before you punish people, OK, James?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Well, why are we already putting corporals on trial and privates on trial?

CARLSON: Actually, you want some news? Because they did it, Paul. And there may be other people who are responsible, too. But you have to determine who they are and prove that they are responsible before you punish them. It is actually called justice.

(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: You start with the little guys.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: They're just political. They didn't know whether Rumsfeld was responsible and you said, fire him.

BEGALA: The Pentagon knew about this in January. The public didn't know until May. What did they do in those five months?

CARLSON: Probably took checks from Halliburton, I guess, or Lee Harvey Oswald.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Whatever. The whole thing is so insane.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: It is. Yes, you're right. They whole thing is insane. That's what this war is, insane.

CARLSON: Good point, James. Very deep.

BEGALA: OK. On that note of mental health, the question left before us is, when will it all be over? We'll share our predictions next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Well, as they say, it is all over but the shouting, but CROSSFIRE is here to provide the shouting. But when will it be all over?

James Carville, at what time will they declare the winner? What's your prediction.

CARVILLE: Twenty-one thirty-seven Eastern Standard Time, or 9:37 Eastern Standard Time, tonight, we will know who the next president will be.

BEGALA: Wow. OK.

I am predicting that at 11:28 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Mr. President, as Al Gore, who beat you in the last election said, it is time for you to go.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You are off by an hour and three minutes. At exactly 10:0 -- 10:31, rather, we're going to find out exactly who won.

NOVAK: Well, you're all wrong.

It's 11:03. And I have done that by careful computation. And that's when we'll know Ohio and Florida, how they come out.

BEGALA: How many elections have you covered, Bob?

NOVAK: Well, it started back with Lincoln, but...

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: At what time did they call the Garfield race?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Did you cover that duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton?

NOVAK: The first presidential election I covered was '60. And we found out that in the middle of the night, Kennedy and Nixon. And it was the wee hours of the morning when we knew for sure.

CARVILLE: Well, here we are at UTC. That's Universal Time Coordinated, I think, plus four -- or GMT, Greenwich Meridian Time, 9:37 tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Well, tune in for the whole night. CNN will keep you posted with all the elections returns from all across the country.

CARVILLE: From the left, I'm James Carville.

BEGALA: And I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak.

CARLSON: And I'm Tucker Carlson.

Stay with us throughout the night for analysis of all the results of this election. CROSSFIRE will be back after we've chosen a new president, at which point we'll probably be an entertainment show. We'll see you then.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: It's Greenwich Mean Time, not Meridian.

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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