Guests: Jack Burkman, Claudia Kennedy, Liz Marlantes, Randy Cunningham, Howard Wolfson
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: Hillary Clinton gives an interview blasting administration and the Iraq war. And the entire Arab world picks it up. The “Real Deal”: You have to be careful about what you say during wartime.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
Last night, we told you that Hillary Clinton was quoted all over the Arab press, calling Iraq a quagmire. Well, today, the senator‘s office tried to strong-arm us into retracting that story. We are going to tell you how it all went down and who ended up being right. And we are going to talk to a former ace fighter pilot in Vietnam and also a United States congressman who will tell us how comments like this affect troop morale.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome to tonight‘s show. Of course, I‘m Joe Scarborough.
Now, remarks by Hillary Clinton touched off a political firestorm.
It‘s time for the “Real Deal.”
Last night, we showed you comments made by Hillary Clinton that criticized George Bush and America‘s foreign policy in the Middle East. Her complaints run by Arab newspapers and repeated across the Middle East. She said this—quote—“Their stubbornness and arrogance is breathtaking. And, as a result, we continue to go down a path that I think is fraught with horrible dangers, especially for the young men and women serving in Iraq, but also for Iraqis, for the stability of the region.”
Now, I reminded the senator that she and other public figures have to be extremely careful about what they say to the press while our troops are in the middle of a Fallujah firefight. For the most part, Senator Clinton has been responsible with her words since 9/11. But early this morning, Ms. Clinton‘s office began calling our staff and the president of MSNBC, claiming the statements we reported last night were never made by the senator.
As we will show you in a minute, her office did back down, but they still insisted that the interview that she had was with a freelance journalist, not the Arab paper that eventually ran her story. That line of reasoning proves my point even more. When we are in the midst of a war, what is whispered to any reporter will surely be shouted from the mountains across the Arab world.
That‘s why Senators Clinton, Kennedy, and Kerry and especially George Bush have to be extraordinarily careful in the words they employ. The World War II adage still proves true today, that loose lips sink ships, and more importantly, they can demoralize our men and women in uniform and indirectly give comfort to the enemy. And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
OK, now, as I said last night, we reported that interview Senator Hillary Clinton did that appeared in an Arab newspaper. Well, this morning at about 10:00 a.m., we got an angry phone call from Senator Clinton‘s office. They were demanding an apology and a retraction. They said she never spoke to the Arab press. She never criticized the president, and, in fact, never did the interview at all.
Our producers immediately double-checked our sources and we tracked down the reporter who did the interview with Senator Clinton, and by noon we found out that the interview did take place. And the senator‘s press secretary then started to back down. And by 4:30 this afternoon, the senator‘s representatives admitted that she did the interview. She did know the reporter was writing to an international audience, and she did criticize the president.
With me now to talk about the events of the past day, the senator‘s comments, and I think more importantly what we were talking about last night, the effect these kind of comments may have on our troop morale is Howard Wolfson. He is of course the former communications director for Senator Hillary Clinton.
Thanks so much for being with us tonight, Howard.
HOWARD WOLFSON, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR HILLARY CLINTON: Sure.
SCARBOROUGH: As you heard, there was a big dust-up over what the senator did say, what she didn‘t say. Do you believe today after hearing how all these events transpired that she wishes she had never made those comments at all to the international press?
WOLFSON: No, absolutely not. These comments are consistent with other comments she has made about the situation in Iraq and are consistent with other comments that United States senators and indeed many Americans have been saying about what‘s going on in Iraq.
But I am pretty shocked by your intro there. You said repeatedly on your show last night that Hillary Clinton spoke to an Arab newspaper. I gather that or your staff did reporting today. You now know that that‘s not true. So you talked about the responsibility that a United States senator has in carefully choosing her words. What about the responsibility that you have in carefully choosing yours? You said that she spoke to an Arab newspaper. You now know that‘s not true.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, this is what I love. This is great. This is classic Clinton strategy straight from the playbook.
SCARBOROUGH: You get caught doing something. You lie about it. You backtrack. You get caught. You change your story.
WOLFSON: Joe, you‘re the one who was caught on live television saying something that was wrong.
SCARBOROUGH: And then you attack—and then you attack the messenger.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s absolutely remarkable. Now, you know, Senator Clinton is one of the most disciplined, she‘s one of the most controlled, she‘s one of the most careful politicians in Washington, D.C.
WOLFSON: Joe, you said yesterday Senator Hillary Clinton tells an Arab newspaper.
WOLFSON: Do you stand by that, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second now. Let me finish what I am saying, and then you respond.
SCARBOROUGH: As you and I both know, Senator Clinton has a ruthlessly efficient press operation, one of the most controlled, of the most calculated—and I say this all in a positive way—and one of the most efficient press operations.
Are you telling me tonight that Senator Hillary Clinton had no idea that the person she was speaking to was going to sell her story to an Arab newspaper in London?
WOLFSON: I do not believe that she knew that. I think that she knew that this reporter was going to syndicate her story in papers in America and around the world. I believe she is a contributor to “Dateline” and NBC, so she has done that in the past.
But she did not know specifically where the story was going to go. Look, we live in a modern age. Right now, there are Arabs in the Middle East who are watching us on satellite. So anything that anybody says at any time can be reported anywhere.
But you now know that she did not speak to an Arab newspaper directly, as you specifically and explicitly reported yesterday. Don‘t you have an obligation to correct the record for your viewers?
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? As soon as I know the truth, I certainly will. I don‘t know what Senator Clinton knew. I don‘t know when she knew it. I do know that you‘re coming on this show after we have been lied to all day today.
WOLFSON: That‘s outrageous.
SCARBOROUGH: And you‘re splitting hairs.
WOLFSON: That is outrageous.
SCARBOROUGH: And you‘re now trying to make this about me instead of about Senator Hillary Clinton.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. At 10:00 this morning, Senator Clinton‘s press people called our office, said that we lied, that she never even gave this interview, that she never even made these comments. She called the president of MSNBC. She demanded that we retract the statement. She never made them. At 12:30, we found out...
WOLFSON: She did not call the president of MSNBC.
SCARBOROUGH: No, she did not. Her press secretary called the president of MSNBC twice. I said her office did. And check the transcripts on that one, too.
And, tonight, I think you are splitting hairs. And, again, the bigger point is, what kind of impact does this kind of talk have on the morale of our troops overseas?
WOLFSON: Let me say two things. One, we don‘t walk away from her comments one iota.
You want to know about the impact? The impact is that we live in a democracy. And some people in a democracy here in the United States these days want to stifle debate. You would rather have debate over the way George Bush has conducted this war, presumably after the war is over, 10 years from now. That‘s not the time for the debate.
There are legitimate questions being raised about the way George Bush brought this country to war. You don‘t want to debate the fact that he told us we had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we couldn‘t find any.
SCARBOROUGH: Howard, if you watch my show, you know that‘s not the case. You know, I have specifically said that this Pentagon, that this administration underestimated the number of troops that needed to be used over there, that they were trying to make political points along the way, that they‘ve made miscalculations.
WOLFSON: Well, maybe you are aiding and abetting the enemy, by that theory.
SCARBOROUGH: No, I am not calling it a quagmire. I am not waiting until the middle of a Fallujah firefight, when hundreds and thousands of American soldiers‘ lives are on the line and calling this thing a quagmire or saying that our Mideast policy is actually causing more trouble and more unrest in the Middle East than Saddam Hussein being in power.
WOLFSON: There are many people who believe that.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I cannot believe Senator Clinton
WOLFSON: We honor the service of our servicemen in Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: I cannot believe that Senator Hillary Clinton believes that. Does Senator Hillary Clinton really believe that United States policy in the Middle East has made the Middle East, has made Iraq worse off today than it was before Saddam Hussein was taken out of power?
WOLFSON: I think a lot of people have real questions about whether the Middle East is safer or not.
SCARBOROUGH: Does Senator Hillary Clinton believe that? What does Senator Hillary Clinton believe? What does she believe?
WOLFSON: I will tell you.
She has real questions about whether or not—as she said, real questions about whether or not the region is safer now than it was before. And the reason is that the way George Bush took this country to war. Senator Clinton voted for the war resolution. The president came before the nation and said: We are facing a grave threat. I need a war resolution to deal with this. And as patriotic Americans, many of us supported him.
And you know what? It‘s turned out that he has misled the American people, that many of the things he told us were not true, that we have made many enemies in the Middle East that we had not had before based on the way we conducted ourselves. So, yes, there are questions being raised and they are appropriate questions.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me bring in Randy Duke Cunningham. He obviously is a United States congressman, also is a fighting hero from the Vietnam War.
Duke, you know, this is the question I was trying to get at last night. It‘s what I am still trying to get at tonight. Howard has touched on it. It seems to me, in a democracy, obviously, we don‘t want everybody to bow and scrape to the president of the United States, whether he is a Republican or a Democrat.
But I want to play you a clip that was made earlier this month from Senator Kerry, who was comparing the war in Iraq to the war—I‘m sorry, Kennedy—comparing the war in Iraq to the war in Vietnam. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: He is the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush‘s Vietnam. And this country needs a new president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Duke Cunningham, as a congressman, as a Vietnam War hero, what kind of impact do statements like that have on the morale of our fighting men and women?
REP. RANDY CUNNINGHAM ®, CALIFORNIA: Well, I will tell you, I was shot down in Vietnam, Joe.
And if you look at Bud Day‘s book—and it‘s called “Return With Honor”—he was a prisoner of war for six and a half years. He talks about how Senator Kerry, now Senator Kerry, Senator Fulbright, Senator Kennedy words were used against them in Vietnam. This isn‘t about Kerry‘s service in Vietnam. It‘s about his words since then, because 30 years later, those same words are hurting our troops in these wars in Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s get specific. Hold on, Duke. Let‘s get specific.
CUNNINGHAM: I will.
SCARBOROUGH: How do they hurt our troops‘ morale?
CUNNINGHAM: I will give you an example. Bud Day talks about for 24 hours he was beaten, brutally beaten by the Vietnamese. This guy named Bug (ph), who was one of his interpreters and interrogators, said, how do you like that? And he says, it‘s terrible.
And he said, well, even your own people, like Senator Kerry, like Senator Kennedy and Fulbright have said you are war criminals. When he testified before the commission, calling me and the veterans over there war criminals, as bad as Genghis Khan—and I quote—that‘s a slap in the face. It‘s a betrayal. And what it did, it hurt them, and it‘s hurting our kids.
I have got friends of mine over in Iraq right now. My district director is a Marine reservist. Duncan Hunter‘s son is a lieutenant in Fallujah. And they are saying, tell these guys to knock it off, because Arabs are using it against us in inciting their troops. So it‘s getting our kids hurt, and it‘s wrong.
SCARBOROUGH: Duke, stick around. We are going to talk more about that, obviously.
I know Bud Day, highly decorated, well, I guess the highest decorated war hero that we have in America. I have read the book. It‘s an unbelievable story. I want to ask Howard more about that. Plus, we‘ve got an all-star panel.
And later on, we are going to be talking about President Bush‘s work visa program for immigrants. It starts in June. And you know what? It‘s not a coincidence that illegal immigrants have already started pouring across the Mexican border at a record pace. It‘s a bad policy.
Plus, what could this 97-year-old woman have done to get arrested?
You are not going to believe that story. It‘s coming up. So stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: Much more on Senator Hillary Clinton‘s comments on George Bush and U.S. foreign policy and the political firestorm that it started.
That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns in just a second.
SCARBOROUGH: And welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
We‘re back with our panel. And, of course, we are talking to Howard Wolfson, who has been a longtime adviser of Senator Hillary Clinton.
Howard, I want to play you something, or actually read you something that Senator Clinton said when she went over to Iraq and Afghanistan. And, of course, she has criticized America‘s military efforts while overseas. And this is what she told the press after returning from a visit to U.S. troops in Iraq at Thanksgiving.
She said—quote—“There are many questions at home about the Bush administration‘s policies.” And she went on to say—quote—“We have to exert all of our efforts militarily, but the outcome is not assured.”
And, of course, as you said before, Howard, we live in a free society. I guess what I would like to know and what a lot of others would like to know is, what would the Clinton administration have said if United States senators had gone into war zones during a time of war and attacked President Clinton‘s policies overseas?
Well, I am glad that you pointed out that Senator Clinton was one of the senators to visit the war zone in Iraq and Afghanistan. She went to honor our troops. She serves on the Armed Services Committee. She has won bipartisan praise for her work on that committee from Republican senators like Warner and Lindsey Graham.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Howard, I have praised her, too.
WOLFSON: And we note it and appreciate it.
And the fact is that she has won that kind of praise because she has been hard-working and conscientious and she‘s been very moderate and thoughtful on these issues.
But, you know, she, like many other Americans, like tens of millions of Americans, have real questions about the way the president is prosecuting this war, about his failure to enlist a real coalition, about the fact, as you point out, that we may not have enough troops in Iraq to do the job the right way. She has pointed those things out. Many Americans have pointed those things out.
If any kind of criticism at all is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, then I guess tens of millions of Americans are guilty of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Howard, why do you say that to troops in the middle of a war zone that are being shot at? That‘s what I don‘t understand.
WOLFSON: She was asked—I believe the quote that you read, she was asked directly by one of our soldiers in Iraq, what are people saying at home about the war?
Now, these are American citizens. These are not children. We don‘t have to coddle them. They deserve the truth. Some people can‘t handle the truth. They deserve the truth. It was a direct question, somebody asking their senator a direct question. And she gave an honest, thoughtful answer.
She didn‘t say there are people marching in the street and there‘s insurrection at every corner and people are ready to revolt. She said people have questions and concerns. And there are real issues being debated.
SCARBOROUGH: Duke Cunningham, is there anything wrong with being honest with the troops when you go overseas and visit them, and say what Senator Clinton said, which is, there are a lot of people concerned with President Bush‘s policies and the outcome of this war is not assured?
CUNNINGHAM: Well, I like Senator Clinton, that she went over and visited the troops.
And I would just ask, Howard, just be a little careful what we say. I just got back from Saudi Arabia. And they told me, they said, Duke, that the people have been under bondage so long that, if they choose the wrong side in this and we pull out, they are going to die. And any time candidates come up and talk about the administration, talk about how futile our war is, those people don‘t want to help the United States, because they feel they are going to be at risk. And it hurts and it damages it.
But Senator Clinton hadn‘t been bad on defense. And I laud that. But I would ask Howard, just have her be a little bit careful, because in some cases, it does hurt. But what really does hurt is John Kerry‘s votes against defense and intel. And if you take a look at right down the line, he votes against it.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, Randy, OK, good segue here.
I want to play you—because I tell you what, talk about a firestorm. I couldn‘t believe what I saw on the House floor last week. I want to play for you and get your response and Howard‘s and others‘ responses to what the highly decorated Vietnam veteran Congressman Sam Johnson had to say about John Kerry‘s protests after he came home from Vietnam. And this is from the House floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SAM JOHNSON (D), TEXAS: In ‘71, when John Kerry had the freedom to stand up to defy duty, honor, and country, I had just emerged from four years of solitary confinement, where the Vietnamese did not adhere to the Geneva Conventions. What he did was nothing short of aiding and abetting the enemy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And, Duke, of course, you were probably there. You know he also went on and said his fellow veterans have nicknamed John Kerry Hanoi John. Is that really a fair attack?
CUNNINGHAM: Well, what I said, and even on the floor after Sam Johnson, was that I didn‘t want someone that voted like Jane Fonda to be commander in chief, because if you look at his cuts against defense, for the last 20 years, $87 billion, after the Cold War, all the way through on intelligence and defense, and especially in a time of war, to make a point, it risked our kids, and I don‘t want somebody like that as commander in chief.
WOLFSON: You know, I find it fascinating that Republicans are so eager to debate what John Kerry was doing in 1971.
If we want to have a debate about what John Kerry was doing in 1971 or 1970 or 1969 and the choices that he made in that era and what George Bush was doing during that period and the choices that he did and didn‘t make during that era, let‘s have that debate. You know, I honor the service of Congressman Cunningham. When I was a House aide, I watched him on the floor. He is a very good member.
And you have a lot of criticisms of John Kerry. I wonder, as somebody who was a decorated fighter pilot, what do you think of the fact that George Bush essentially ducked the draft and didn‘t take his physical and was grounded as a pilot? Is that the kind of choices that you respect?
CUNNINGHAM: Howard, I take umbrage.
I would tell you, if John Kerry was running as a Republican, I would
fight against him. And I will tell you, I think it is terrible to disdain
our Guard and Reserve. I ran Team Spirit and
WOLFSON: Nobody is disdaining the Guard.
CUNNINGHAM: Oh, it is.
CUNNINGHAM: Because you are saying, he fought in the Guard.
WOLFSON: He didn‘t fight in the Guard.
CUNNINGHAM: Two of his friends died in the Guard when he was there.
He wasn‘t called up...
WOLFSON: He left the Guard.
CUNNINGHAM: ... to fight because he was flying F-102s. F-102s weren‘t called up. I think his service in the Guard was valuable.
WOLFSON: Every bit as honorable as John Kerry‘s?
SCARBOROUGH: All right, gentlemen, let‘s bring in right now
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Duke, let‘s bring in Liz Marlantes. She‘s with “The Christian Science Monitor.”
You‘ve certainly been hearing this fight. You‘ve also been reporting on this campaign, and you have seen a lot of the catfighting going back and forth, Senator Kerry attacking George Bush, Dick Cheney attacking John Kerry, and everybody attacking John Kerry for what he did in 1971. Do you have any evidence out there in your reporting that this is resonating at all with the American voters?
LIZ MARLANTES, “THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR”: I think for the most part, no. I think, for the most part, voters are not going to care as much about what candidates did 30 years ago as they are about their vision for the future.
But I do think that it‘s interesting the way Vietnam keeps coming back into the campaign in really fierce ways, because what both sides are doing is they are using Vietnam as a way to demonstrate a measure of character. Kerry really emphasized his Vietnam record during the primary season, to great success. And now the Bush campaign has been trying to sort of highlight other aspects of Kerry‘s Vietnam experience, namely his anti-war protests and such when he came back as a way to sort of emphasize other aspects of Kerry‘s character.
They have been trying to portray him as a waffler, as a flip-flopper,
and the fact that he did go to Vietnam and then come back and protest fits
nicely with that characterization that they have been trying to get across
to the American public. So it‘s really playing out as a fight over
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Liz.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. Let me continue with Liz.
Liz, you have followed this campaign. You have written, I am sure, on other campaigns, and it‘s only April. I am surprised by the vitriol that‘s already out there, where you have got Republican congressmen and war heroes going on the floor calling John Kerry Hanoi John. You‘ve got John Kerry bashing the president for his service.
It is awfully early in this campaign. Any indications out there that Americans are getting turned off by this and this may actually drive down voter participation in the fall?
MARLANTES: I think that‘s a huge danger.
I do think this is incredibly nasty and incredibly dirty very early on. I think, in many ways, that reflects how close this race is. However. I think both sides already recognize that it‘s going to be a very tight race and that they are fighting over a very small, small number of undecided voters. The vast majority of the country is locked into one side or the other.
And fights like this may make them feel less good about the campaign in general, but it‘s also only going to reinforce which candidate they like and which candidate they don‘t like, and so in a way, it‘s this tiny number of undecided voters in a relatively small number of swing states that all of this stuff is being aimed at.
And, again, right now we are in the phase of the campaign where they are trying to define the candidates, particularly John Kerry, who is largely undefined and unknown still to many voters. And there‘s this real battle going on over character, and Vietnam is sort of a central pillar of that. And I think that‘s why it keeps coming up so often in the debate.
SCARBOROUGH: Liz, I want you and our other guests to stick around.
I do want to just say this, though. You brought up those commercials. You brought up the attacks. You brought up the swing states. David Broder pointed out earlier this week, and I find this fascinating, that while John Kerry‘s numbers have dropped across the nation, his approval ratings have plummeted across the nation, he is actually holding up pretty well in the swing states, where the Bush campaign has been spending all of this money on those campaign ads.
We will talk about what that means coming up next, if anybody can figure it out. And also, we‘re going to have retired Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy. She‘s the highest ranking woman to ever serve in the Army. And she is going to tell us what she thinks the impact has of criticizing the president and war efforts during a time of war.
And later, illegal immigration from Mexico has spiked the past six months. Could the president‘s work visa program be to blame? There‘s no doubt about that, but we will debate it when we come back.
SCARBOROUGH: When soldiers in Iraq hear some of our country‘s leaders saying the war is a quagmire, what kind of impact does it have on troop morale? We are going to be asking Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to the show. I‘m Joe Scarborough.
With me now, we‘ve got Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, who retired from the Army as the only woman ever to achieve the rank of three-star general.
General, thanks for being with us tonight.
RETIRED LT. GEN. CLAUDIA KENNEDY, U.S. ARMY: Thanks for having me.
SCARBOROUGH: I know that during your military career, you couldn‘t give politicians political advice. It‘s the last thing you could do.
But I am going to try to put you on the spot here tonight, because I have been trying to get this answer the past couple nights. I want to know, we live in a democratic society, but it‘s also so important to support our troops. When do you salute the flag, when do you salute the commander in chief as a politician, and when does it cross the line and start hurting troop morale and start hurting our effort overseas in wars? Can you give us civilians some sort of guidance?
KENNEDY: Well, Joe, my sense of it is that the troops are very finely tuned to credibility.
And when soldiers know what the situation is, and they hear their leaders saying something that‘s different from their perception of it, then you have problems with morale. Soldiers are very, very capable of coping with the truth, and so they need to hear the truth from the leaders. When they don‘t hear the truth, it‘s not a good thing.
SCARBOROUGH: General, would they rather hear the truth from the leaders, even if it‘s bad news, than be lied to?
KENNEDY: Absolutely. Absolutely. Every time.
SCARBOROUGH: What are you hearing from Iraq? Obviously, you are still very well connected in the military. Can you tell us right now, we have had an awful month, as many young men and women have been killed over the past month as were killed in fighting during the initial operation from obviously March—I think March 20 to April 9, when Saddam‘s statues came down. What‘s the troop morale like over in Iraq right now?
KENNEDY: Well, my information comes more from parents who are here in the United States talking about their children who are serving, and of course, they are very concerned. And they hear the reports about not enough body armor and they hear the reports about Humvees not being heavily armored enough.
And there‘s a lot of concern about the 30,000 soldiers that are staying there because of stop-loss. And, clearly, they need more than 30,000 more. They probably need a total of 50,000 in the Army in general just to get through all these missions, so I think there‘s a great deal of concern about a mission that was hastily entered into without a good plan for a handover to civil authority at the end of military operations.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, this week, Vice President Dick Cheney went after John Kerry for his comments about our allies in the war on terror, and this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Kerry calls these countries—quote—“window dressing.” They are, in his words, a coalition of the coerced and the bribed. I am aware of no other instance in which a presumptive nominee for president of the United States has spoken with such disdain of acting fighting allies of the United States in a time of war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: General Kennedy, obviously, you are a Kerry campaign adviser. But do you think that Dick Cheney has a point that in no other instance has a major leader attacked our allies during a time of war? Is that a fair attack?
KENNEDY: Well, I think that the comment by Senator Kerry has to do more with the Bush administration than it does about allies.
It really says that the Bush administration has had a very difficult time getting allied support, in fact, felt that it was completely reasonable to go into this very difficult, very complex operation basically going it alone. And Senator Kerry, I think, is well within his rights as an American citizen who can speak freely, as well as a presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, to express concern about this policy.
I think we actually need more debate, not less debate. If we had more debate up front, we wouldn‘t be where we are today.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, actually, I may agree with you on that one, but I think there‘s a big difference between having debate before the fighting on the ground begins and afterwards.
I want to bring in Jack Burkman right now. Jack obviously is a Republican strategist.
And, Jack, I want to know, what are the Republicans‘ take on Senator Hillary Clinton‘s comments yesterday? Do they believe that it‘s actually something that‘s going to hurt troop morale, or do you think that they may just be wanting to use it as campaign issue to drive a wedge between voters in the Democratic Party?
JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, I think it‘s sad.
I think they think—I think it will hurt troop morale. I think it‘s great for November, though, Joe. As long as they stay on these issues, as long as they keep focused on Iraq, as long as Kerry stays away from the economic issues, I think it does nothing but help George Bush. I‘ve said that before. I‘ve said it all along.
I will tell you this, though. I would issue this challenge to Senator Clinton, challenge her to go on “The Today Show,” challenge her to come on this program, challenge her to go on the local “Today Show” in New York and tell a New York audience exactly what she told the Arab press. You know what you will find. She doesn‘t have the guts to do it.
WOLFSON: Get your facts straight. She didn‘t tell the Arab press anything. Get your facts straight.
WOLFSON: Get your facts straight. She wasn‘t talking to an Arab newspaper. That‘s wrong. It‘s incorrect. So get your facts straight.
WOLFSON: Second of all, she was on “The Today Show” last week. She is doing local media all the time.
BURKMAN: But not saying this, Howard. She is not making those kind of statements. She makes those in the Mideast.
WOLFSON: She makes those in the Mideast? She wasn‘t in the Mideast.
BURKMAN: You are drawing distinctions about—it‘s a difference without a distinction. It‘s a ridiculous comment. She‘s speaking to Mideast media outlets. I don‘t care if it‘s Arab press or whatever you‘re calling it.
WOLFSON: She wasn‘t speaking to Mideast media outlets. But, nonetheless, putting that aside, the fact is, these are concerns that she has raised in this country. These are concerns that have been raised by many people in this country.
BURKMAN: Not in those words, my friend, not in those words.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, Jack Burkman.
I want to ask you a question, because you have touched on something here. And then I want to ask Howard the same question. Obviously, Hillary Clinton, one of the most powerful, one of the most influential politicians in America, possibly in the world, she makes these comments, which I must say, shocked me the first time I read them, and yet I haven‘t seen them on the wires.
I haven‘t seen AP report them. I haven‘t seen them in “The New York Times.” I haven‘t seen them in “The Washington Post.” And yet when Senator Ted Kennedy makes similar comments, we hear about it for a week. Why don‘t you think the wires and why don‘t you think other major news organizations have picked up, I think, these very, very—I won‘t say inflammatory, but surprising comments.
BURKMAN: Joe, I can give it to you in two words, and you know it very well, media bias.
I used to work for a guy named Rick Lazio. And we fought this in 2000, how they covered the campaign from the viewpoint of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The media loves her. The networks love her. They cover for her. They cover for her.
WOLFSON: That‘s why we are on a show that spent the last 30 minutes bashing her, because the networks love her.
That‘s why the host of this show, who does a very good job, but last
night said something incorrect, doesn‘t apologize for it, doesn‘t retract
it. It‘s totally fine to lie
SCARBOROUGH: Howard, there you go. You are attacking me again after
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on a second. Hold on. One at a time. We have already gone over this.
CUNNINGHAM: Can we get to the issue?
SCARBOROUGH: We are not going to repeat it.
And, Duke, come on in, because I do want to get to the main issue that I have been trying to get an answer from for the past two days, and I think General Kennedy started to answer. I think she did a good job answering it.
But, Duke, I want to read you a letter to “Front Page” magazine from a Marine who is serving in Iraq. And this is what he wrote—quote—“Our enemy has learned that the key to defeating the mighty American military is by swaying public opinion at home and abroad. We love to criticize ourselves almost to an endless degree. Our enemies see this as a weakness and are trying to exploit it.”
You know, Duke, after Vietnam, I remember seeing a PBS special where a North Vietnamese general said, you know, we knew that we would never beat the Americans in the jungles of Vietnam, but we didn‘t have to. We knew instead all we had to do was beat them on the streets of America.
Do you think that public opinion may turn against this war and what the Iraqi insurgents can‘t achieve on the battlefield, they may achieve on the streets of America?
CUNNINGHAM: Well, they are sure trying.
But I think Liz and I think sometimes you, Joe, are wrong. This is
not about Vietnam. It‘s about the same policy that Senator Kerry has
carried forward since after he served. I would have fought right beside
Kerry when he was in Vietnam. But, afterwards, his cuts in defense, his
cuts in intelligence, his cuts in veterans COLA, in military COLA at a time
especially we‘re in war, our troops know that. To cut the Sparrow
CUNNINGHAM: Let me finish.
WOLFSON: George Bush has repeatedly tried to cut the V.A. and you know that.
CUNNINGHAM: You know something? I didn‘t say a word when you were speaking. How about a little bit of courtesy?
WOLFSON: Fair enough. Fair enough.
CUNNINGHAM: For someone to cut the Sparrow missile, to cut the Phoenix missile, to cut the Sidewinder missile, if those missiles would have been cut, I would have died in Vietnam. Our troops are looking at SU-30s and SU-37s flying over there. And if those systems were cut, it was irresponsible.
And our troops know that. You don‘t want somebody that guts the military and intelligence forces as a commander in chief.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘ve been very patient.
Howard, let me—we have got to go to break. We are going to go ahead and continue this through the next segment. And, Howard, when we get back, I want to get you to respond to what Duke Cunningham said. I also to get General Kennedy‘s response.
We‘ll be back in a minute when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns, talking about Senator Clinton‘s comments, talking about Ted Kennedy‘s comments, and talking about the comments of Republicans who are attacking Senator John Kerry.
That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns in a minute.
You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Now here‘s some Hotwire travel trivia: What city has the highest zip code in the United States? Stay tuned for the answer.
ANNOUNCER: You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
And in today‘s Hotwire travel trivia, we asked you, what city has the highest zip code in the United States? Give up? The answer is 99950, Ketchikan, Alaska. Adjuntas, Puerto Rico has the lowest with 00601.
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: I think the last one is my I.Q., with all the 0‘s in front of the numbers.
I want to go back to Howard Wolfson.
Howard, I want you to respond to Duke Cunningham, because you tried to get in before the break. But before I do, you also said right before the break that I haven‘t responded to claims earlier in the show. And I did say that she spoke to the international press. It was run by the Arab press. And I think it‘s a distinction without a difference.
But, again, we know at MSNBC how hard it is to get Senator Hillary Clinton for any type of interview. I just—I am telling you tonight, I find it hard to believe that Senator Clinton‘s staff didn‘t know where that interview was going to run.
WOLFSON: Well, first of all, she has done—she has been on “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS,” so it‘s not that difficult to get her on.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it was really hard for Chris to get her on there, and you know it.
WOLFSON: OK. She was on...
SCARBOROUGH: Anyway, go ahead.
WOLFSON: All right.
She was on the show. She was happy to do the show. All I have said is that you have standard of accuracy on this show. Yesterday, you said explicitly that she had spoken to Arab newspapers. That sends a kind of a message to people who are watching. It was, in fact, not the case, and I just think you have a responsibility to your viewers to say, you know, yesterday I was wrong.
WOLFSON: I misstated.
SCARBOROUGH: Howard, you got me. She spoke to the international press instead of the Arab press. The Arab press was the first press that reported the comments. They report it all across the Arab world tomorrow.
Our staff gave us
WOLFSON: I appreciate the retraction. I appreciate the retraction.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, if you call that a retraction.
WOLFSON: Appreciate the retraction.
SCARBOROUGH: You got it. But I still say, I find it very hard to believe that Senator Clinton was not served by her staff.
WOLFSON: You ask the question.
SCARBOROUGH: And that they didn‘t know where it was going to appear.
WOLFSON: Joe, you asked a question that I would like to respond to, which is, why hasn‘t AP or other media picked these comments up. And the other gentleman who worked for Rick Lazio suggested that these are not things that she would not say in New York. That‘s just not so.
BURKMAN: When did she say them in New York? Let me ask you this. Let me ask you two questions. If that‘s the case, can you say right now that you will go to her office tomorrow morning and ask her to make these statements on “The Today Show”? They will take her on “The Today Show.” Can you say right now that you will ask her to do that? That‘s my question.
WOLFSON: I am going to ask her to do what I have always suggested she do, which is be a clear and consistent voice for the things that she believes in. She has been raising questions, as have many other senators.
WOLFSON: Let me finish.
As have many other senators, as have millions of Americans about the way the president went about bringing us into war.
BURKMAN: That‘s fine. We know that.
WOLFSON: And she‘s going to continue to do that.
WOLFSON: She is not saying one thing to one audience and not to another. She has been very consistent, very consistent.
BURKMAN: Why cannot you not say that she will say exactly what she said to the Mideast media outlets on American television? Why can she not repeat those same words?
WOLFSON: I am quite confident that when she is asked her opinion of the way the president is conducting the war, she will voice the same sets of concerns that she voiced yesterday, that‘s she voiced last week.
BURKMAN: You are Clinton trained.
WOLFSON: Or a month before.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, gentlemen, we will let you all continue the debate in the street.
I want to go to Liz right now.
WOLFSON: It‘s a good New York fight.
SCARBOROUGH: A good New York fight.
Liz, you have been very patient. I want to ask you the same question that I have asked some of our other panelists. Why were Hillary Clinton‘s comments, obviously an extraordinarily important politician in America, a leader of the Democratic Party, why haven‘t these comments been picked up by the Associated Press, by “The New York Times,” by “The Washington Post”?
Why have they been spread across the Mideast world, the international world, but her own constituents in New York haven‘t had a chance to read them in their newspapers?
MARLANTES: You know, I have to say, I am with Howard on this one. I have heard Senator Clinton make very similar comments to this one on previous occasions, on numerous occasions. And so to me, they are not newsworthy comments in and of themselves.
What‘s interesting is the fact that, as you have pointed out, many Arab outlets chose to run these comments, give them prominent display, and I think that does raise questions about—that you tried to raise earlier.
SCARBOROUGH: Liz, you know, I try to watch TV every day and read “The New York Times.” In my business, that kind of helps.
But this is what she said again: “Their stubbornness and arrogance is breathtaking. And, as a result, we continue to go down a path that I think is fraught with horrible dangers, especially for the young men and women serving in Iraq and for the stability of the region.” I have never heard her say that before.
MARLANTES: I have actually heard her say similar things, not identical, but to me not all that different.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? Unfortunately, we are completely out of time. I appreciate all of you being with us tonight.
Howard Wolfson, actually, Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, Jack Burkman, Congressman Cunningham, and Liz Marlantes, thanks for being here.
We‘ll be right back after this short break.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, check out SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s newsletter. You can get it at Joe.Scarborough.MSNBC. You can also catch us on Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. But you get that newsletter every day. It‘s must-reading, Joe.MSNBC.com.
We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, that “10.5” movie that‘s coming up on NBC, it looks very uplifting. I think I am staying off the West Coast for the next few years.
Hey, sorry we didn‘t get a chance to talk about the spike in illegal immigration that many think is happening because of the president‘s work visa program. But this story was just too important tonight. We wanted to make sure to get in all sides. But we will talk about illegal immigration tomorrow night. Also tomorrow, we‘re going to be telling you about a newspaper that actually inserted anti-war comments into a story about a soldier who was killed in Iraq. His family is outraged, and you will be, too.
That‘s tomorrow night, 10:00, on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
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