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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

"First in the Nation" special: Lamar Alexander transcript

February 3, 1999
Web posted at: 2:24 p.m. EST (1924 GMT)

Lamar Alexander | Bill Bradley | George W. Bush
Steve Forbes | Al Gore | John McCain | Dan Quayle

(Editor's note: This interview with Lamar Alexander appeared in a joint CNN-WMUR special, "First in the Nation: The New Hampshire Primary," which aired February 2, 1999. WMUR's Tom Griffith interviewed Alexander.)

GRIFFITH : How do you do it differently than you did in 1996?

LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well I keep at it. The presidency -- we're talking about the most important job in the free world. We're talking about the presidency of the United States of America. We've got 25 percent of all the money. We're the only superpower. We ought to have in our presidency somebody who wants it, who is well prepared for it, who plans for it, who has an agenda, who knows what they want to do on the first day they get in.

GRIFFITH: You did have an opportunity a few weeks ago to talk about one of your possible opponents, George W. Bush and I believe the words that you used were, that he uses, "weasel words." Tell me a little bit about George W. Bush.

ALEXANDER: Well I don't know very much about George W. Bush except he's the governor of Texas and he's off to a promising start as governor and in all my relations with him, he's been kind to me and I like him. What I was talking about was the Republican Party and how we talk about things. I don't like weasel words. I think we ought to say plainly where we ought to go.

GRIFFITH: Do you still stand by the one week window, New Hampshire before Delaware, as far as the first in the nation primary? And if so, why won't you sign on to the governor's pledge?

ALEXANDER: I'm for the New Hampshire, first in the nation primary, no if's, and's, or but's, about it. Nobody has spent more time in New Hampshire than I have. Nobody sees the importance of it to this country more than I do. The New Hampshire primaries coming first is a way someone like me has a chance to get introduced to the country. So I am absolutely committed to it's being first, and I've even gone further than that and took chairman Steve Dupree's (ph) pledge that the parties would change the rules to permit the delegate's votes to be counted if it's necessary for the New Hampshire primary to go first.

GRIFFITH: Is your structure as strong as it was in '96 or is it continuing to gain momentum and get stronger?

ALEXANDER: It's stronger. I'm not the most famous person. I don't have a famous last name. I have to work a little harder to earn respect. But I'm well ahead of where I was. I have a stronger message about bringing about the best in our country.

GRIFFITH: No plaid shirts this time?

ALEXANDER: I still got it. It's in the closet. You know I love my plaid shirt. I wore it all across this state. I walked 1,000 miles to be elected governor. Everybody expects me to wear it, but what I found out in the presidential race was it distracted from my message.

GRIFFITH: Does Honey Alexander really want to go through this again?

ALEXANDER: Honey Alexander would much prefer I find something normal to do.

Lamar Alexander | Bill Bradley | George W. Bush
Steve Forbes | Al Gore | John McCain | Dan Quayle


New Hampshire sets February 1 primary date (9-28-99)

Arizona governor endorses Bush over McCain (9-28-99)

Bradley unveils $65 billion plan for universal health care (9-28-99)

Gore receives endorsements of Shaquille O'Neal and Bill Cosby (9-28-99)



How much money have the candidates raised? Here are their quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission.


McCain officially announces Presidential candidacy (9-28-99) video Windows Media: 28K | 80K



The art of being Bradley

How Gore's campaign went off the rails

On the wrong track

Bob Lang: On the wrong track (9-28-99) more

Mike Luckovich: "There's a whine in the air" (9-22-99) more


Democratic Presidential Primary

GOP Presidential Primary

Third Party Candidates


Wednesday, February 3, 1999

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