updated 8/6/2004 9:03:06 AM ET 2004-08-06T13:03:06

Guest: Mike Barnicle, Larry Johnson, Gene Simmons

JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST:  Hi.  I‘m Joe Scarborough.

RON REAGAN, CO-HOST:  And I‘m Ron Reagan.  And this is a special edition of “The Battle for the White House” AFTER HOURS.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tonight: John Kerry‘s war record is under attack.  And why the men he served with in Vietnam are saying that John Kerry is unfit to be commander-in-chief.

REAGAN:  And in New York, two mosque leaders are busted in an undercover sting operation involving missiles and money laundering.  We‘ll have the latest.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Bruce Springsteen wants to rock the vote to the left.  Why big-time musicians want to rock President Bush right out of the White House.  You know, we‘ve got an all-star panel with us tonight for AFTER HOURS.  We‘ve got MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  We‘ve got Mike Barnicle of “The Boston Herald” and Congressman David Dreier of California.

Now, gentleman, of course, as you know...

REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA:  Can I for the record...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... a new political ad...

DREIER:  Joe—Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead, David.

DREIER:  Joe, for the record, could I say that it‘s—we‘re a long way from AFTER HOURS.  It‘s 6:00 o‘clock out here, and the sun is shining.  So it ain‘t AFTER HOURS for us.

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to call it “Happy Hour.”  How‘s that, David? 

If that works for you...

DREIER:  “Happy Hour.”

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, as you all know, a new political ad from a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has kicked up a great deal of controversy, claiming John Kerry is not the war hero that his supporters make him out to be.  Let‘s take a look at that ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  If you have any question about what John Kerry‘s made of, just spend three minutes with the men who served with him...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I served with John Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I served with John Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He is lying about his record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  John Kerry lied to get his Bronze Star.  I know. 

I was there.  I saw what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  His account of what happened and what actually happened are the difference between night and day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  John Kerry has not been honest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And he lacks the capacity to lead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  John Kerry is no war hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He betrayed all his shipmates.  He lied before the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  John Kerry betrayed the men and women he served with in Vietnam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He dishonored his country.  He most certainly did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I served with John Kerry.  John Kerry cannot be trusted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, David Dreier, Republican senator John McCain has already condemned these ads, and he compared them to the tactics that were used during the bitter Republican primary fight with George Bush in 2000.  And this is what he said.  Quote, “It was the same kind of deal that was pulled on me.  I deplore this kind of politics.  I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable.  I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam.”

Those are pretty tough words from a Republican senator who‘s actually supporting George Bush.

DREIER:  Yes, those are, Joe.  And I think that one of the important points to make is that George W. Bush had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this advertisement.  His campaign has had nothing to do with it.  And my view—and I know the view that President Bush shares—is that we want to look to the future and not to the past.

You know, it was John Kerry who—among others, who, when in 1992, the issue of Vietnam service came to the forefront during the race between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, that he said, along with a lot of other people, that that really should be in the past.  And this is really about the future and where we‘re headed and John Kerry‘s record on military issues.  So...

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  This is the first time I‘ve seen that ad.

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you condemn the ad, David Dreier?

DREIER:  Well, you know, I mean, I guess—I mean, this is the first time I‘ve seen it.  I heard a little bit on the radio today.  I mean, what do you want me to, condemn it?  I mean, I will say that—that I‘m not a part of it.  The president‘s campaign is not part of it.

It is troubling.  I mean, to have these guys who served there—I mean, I think that—well, let me put it this way, Joe.  I‘m prepared to condemn the ad if everything that is said in that ad are the things that are said that are completely discredited.  And I think that, you know, it does bear some exploration as to exactly what these guys said because, as I said, this is the first time I‘ve actually seen it.

REAGAN:  Congressman, this is Ron Reagan.  Do you think that John Kerry...

DREIER:  Hey, Ron.

REAGAN:  ... dishonored his country when he served in Vietnam?

DREIER:  No, absolutely—no.  Are you kidding, Ron?

REAGAN:  Then do you think he‘s lying about his record?

DREIER:  Ron, I will tell you, on the contrary, I praise John Kerry‘s service to our country.  I believe that...

REAGAN:  Why are you unwilling to condemn the ad, then?

DREIER:  Well, I praised his service from everything that I‘ve read and seen about it.  OK, Ron, I‘ll condemn the ad.  How‘s that?

REAGAN:  Great.

DREIER:  Does that make you happy?

REAGAN:  Thank you.  Do you think the Bush White House should condemn the ad, too?  They seem to be sort of straddling the fence on that, too.

DREIER:  Ron, I don‘t see that they‘re straddling the fence on this thing.  I will tell you, one thing we should do is, along with condemning this ad, I think condemnation should be leveled at the Moveon.org ads, which are very inaccurate and trying to blur President Bush‘s record.  And so I think that—I think the point that was made by Scott McClellan today, which is a very appropriate on, is that we thought that advertisements like this were going to become a thing of the past once we saw the new campaign reform measure put into place.  And obviously, that hasn‘t happened.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, let me ask you about this because, of course, I don‘t know that the ad should be condemned until—you know, let‘s look at the facts.  If these guys really served with John Kerry, and they have firsthand evidence of this, then let‘s talk about it.  But at the same time, what‘s so troubling is exactly what David Dreier was talking about.  McCain-Feingold was going to stop this sort of—these political attacks, and yet it seems like there‘s more money pouring into politics now, more money pouring into political attack ads—up until this point, mainly from the left.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  You know, Joe, we knew that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in politics, you can find an end run around any of these ads.  The Watergate reforms—people went right around them.

But let me talk to this ad.  My problem with this ad is this ad is incomplete.  This is the first time I‘ve heard it.  And you have about seven or eight or nine or ten people saying he‘s dishonorable, you can‘t trust him, but only one individual makes an allegation that I know of, which is that there was a phoniness about his Purple Heart.

Now, this ad, I believe, was built upon a book called “Unfit to Command” written by a fellow named John O‘Neill, whom I do know, who served honorably, who‘s enormously bitter, as these fellows are, that Kerry came back to the United States and said their service was dishonorable, they‘re engaged in rapes and murders and massacres.  And there‘s enormous bitterness out of this.

What we got to get to, Joe, is what is the truth?  I mean, these—look, these guys served.  Kerry served.  Let‘s go back and find out if there‘s truth or allegation in what they said and have Kerry directly answer any specific charges they‘ve got.  But there‘s only this one that I‘ve seen in this ad.

REAGAN:  It is true that none of these men served on the swift boat with John Kerry.

BUCHANAN:  None were in the boat with him.

REAGAN:  None were on the boat.  They were in another boat.

BUCHANAN:  One claims he was beside him when they hit the shore.  And you know, you‘ve talked often about how Kerry turned his boat around and steered it in.  There‘s a direct challenge to that story.  There‘s a challenge to the story about how he won the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.  I would get this all out, you know, get an objective reporter, not somebody left or right, and just lay them side by side, and then get someone like Tim Russert to lay it out and have John Kerry answer it.

REAGAN:  None of the men who served on John Kerry‘s boat with him have said anything like what these men, who did not serve on his boat with him, are saying.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think there‘s one gentleman out of, what, nine that served with him, one gentleman who‘s actually critical of John Kerry.  But certainly, the overwhelming majority, those that we saw at the DNC...

BUCHANAN:  From what I have read—and I don‘t know again—they—apparently, they were in swift boats with him in attacks, and they had organized plans.  And they challenged Kerry in one thing, that, you know, it was just his swift boat.  They had all these soldiers in there who were doing operations.

But frankly, I mean, from the ad, the ad clearly is an utterly incomplete ad.  You can‘t condemn a man just on name-calling like that, I think.

REAGAN:  Yes.  I trust John McCain on this sort of thing.  I‘m an acquaintance of his.  I know him.  And if he calls it “dishonest and dishonorable,” I‘m inclined to think that maybe he‘s right about that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Mike Barnicle, you know, the thing is...

DREIER:  But Ron...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... what the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have said is

·         after John McCain released his statement, is, they said, John McCain didn‘t serve with John Kerry.  We respect him, but at the same time, he doesn‘t know the complete story.  Really, none of us know the complete story, do we.  It looks like we‘re going to have battling veterans...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Vietnam vets over the next three months!

MIKE BARNICLE, “THE BOSTON HERALD”:  I think, Joe, that some people do know the complete story, and the complete story‘s been out there in the past.  It‘s been written about and spoken about ad nauseam, in Senate races that Kerry has participated in, as well as earlier this year and last year.

SCARBOROUGH:  So this isn‘t a new attack?

BARNICLE:  No, it‘s not.  It‘s a regurgitation of attacks that have been made over the past 20, 25 years against John Kerry.

The first point that ought to be made is that this isn‘t an ad, it‘s political pornography.  That is exactly what it is.  The commendations that John Kerry received, he didn‘t get one of them for his service in Coronado, California, or Newport, Rhode Island.  He got them in the field of fire in South Vietnam.  The Mekong River at some points is as wide as the Mississippi.  It is to Vietnam and was to Vietnam then the way I-95 is to the United States of America.  You could not survive as a farmer raising rice or whatever else without living on that river.  And they were out there on that river under orders to shoot at anything that appeared in a free-fire zone at certain times.  That‘s what happened with John Kerry.

You want to talk—none of those guys in that ad, incidentally, served on Fast Boat 94.  Here‘s the list of the crew from Fast Boat 94.  I‘ve spoken to every one of these guys.  I‘ve spoken to every one of the guys on that boat and each of the guys who were present at each and every individual action that John Kerry received a commendation for.  The difference between their story and what we hear on that ad is literally night and day.  Saying they served with John Kerry is like saying you were in the Army at the same time with Eisenhower in World War II.

DREIER:  Could I ask—could I ask Mike a question here?  Mike, I just wanted to ask—you said that this is a story that has been regurgitated over and over again through campaigns of the past.  Are these people who we just saw in that ad—and again, it‘s the first time I‘ve seen it, and Pat said the same thing.  Are these people who have come forward in past senatorial campaigns for John Kerry, or is this a new group of people you haven‘t seen before?

BARNICLE:  Some of them are familiar, Congressman, and some obviously are new.  Pat just referred to John O‘Neill.  John O‘Neill has honorable service in the military during Vietnam.  He has had a burr under his saddle for John Kerry out of resentment since the early 1970s.  Admiral Hoffman (ph) has had a clear burr under his saddle for John Kerry since the issuance of John Kerry‘s biography written by Professor Brinkley.

There‘s all sorts of things going on here.  Part of it is politics, part of it is pure personal resentment of John Kerry.  But that ad is just outrageous.  And I think people know it‘s outrageous when you see...

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  It‘s just that I heard a guy interviewed earlier today on television, in which he was making the statement that he‘d never done anything politically before.  He‘s not involved.  He‘s—he didn‘t even—

I don‘t know if he‘s a registered voter.  But he came on and was very critical.  He was one of those.  I don‘t know if he was in that ad, but I heard him interviewed, saying that because John Kerry is now running for the highest office in the land, he‘s chosen to come forward.  So that‘s why I‘m just asking this question.  You‘ve said that this is stuff that‘s been regurgitated.  I mean, I do think that Pat Buchanan is right that this does need to be explored.

BARNICLE:  Well, it‘ll be explored further, I‘m sure.

DREIER:  Maybe by Tim Russert.

BARNICLE:  It‘s been explored a lot in the past.  I mean, “The Boston Globe” did it in 1996 and...

BUCHANAN:  Let me—let me get it back with Joe.  The ad itself—

I‘ve got to agree with Mike Barnicle on the ad.  I mean, it‘s like somebody getting up there and say, you know—you know, Joe Scarborough‘s dishonorable.  He‘s a liar.  I wouldn‘t trust Scarborough anywhere.  And then you got one guy say in there...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘ve seen the ad, actually, in my political...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  But I mean, this—that‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  ... you listen to this, and it is an incomplete ad which talks about a man‘s character and has nothing except one tiny allegation to back it up.  And so that‘s why you‘ve got to get—I think you got to get the book—a lot of these guys, I‘ll tell you, Mike, are new to me.  I haven‘t seen all these names that brought forward and all these characters.  I think we need the book.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  But you know, we‘ve seen this kind of stuff before.

BUCHANAN:  You know what‘s interesting, Pat?

REAGAN:  And we saw it with John McCain in the 2000 campaign, where they attacked his military record, before they got around to attacking his wife and small child.  Our panel is going to stick around.  And later, we‘ll take your phone calls.

Coming up: Bruce Springsteen is the latest rocker backing John Kerry.  But we‘ll be joined by Gene Simmons of KISS, who says why he‘s backing the president.

SCARBOROUGH:  And I know that has to be a relief to the president!

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Also up next: A mosque raid in New York state blows an alleged assassination plot.  And late details tonight about a suspected al Qaeda operative arrested in London who may have scoped out potential targets in the United States.  That‘s coming up next on AFTER HOURS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REAGAN:  The pieces of the puzzle seeming to be coming together in the war on terror.  A suspect arrested today in Great Britain is now believed to be one of those responsible for the surveillance that led to the heightened terror alert here in the U.S.  There are reportedly also links between that man, Abu Esa al Hindi, and two al Qaeda suspects arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan.  Those arrests led to heightened security at Heathrow, where they found computers containing a treasure trove of evidence, including images of that airport.

Also in London, police arrested a man wanted by the U.S. for raising money to commit terrorist acts in Chechnya and Afghanistan.  And in Albany, New York, federal agents arrested two leaders of a mosque for plotting to buy a shoulder-fired.  Their alleged plot?  To kill a Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations.

Counterterrorism expert Larry Johnson is joining the panel.  Larry, first, Abu Esa al Hindi—what do we know about him?

LARRY JOHNSON, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT:  We know that he was part of the al Qaeda network.  He was not originally one of the top leaders, but he has been in Afghanistan, he had met directly with bin Laden.  And he‘s sort of—we‘re into the second tier of leadership, but he‘s important.  What he is, is a symbol of how effective, actually, the war on terrorism is going against al Qaeda, in terms of taking it apart because the information that was gleaned from the man picked up in—the computer expert picked up in Pakistan July 13 -- out of that, you‘re going out and you‘re taking apart the network now.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s so hard to tell about what kind of progress we‘re making in the war on terror, but it sounds like we‘ve actually taken a couple of positive steps forward in the past couple of week.

JOHNSON:  Yes.  I think the Bush administration, frankly, is stepping on a good news story because it‘s not just in Pakistan, it is also in Saudi Arabia.  You‘ve now had probably 14, 16 arrests in Great Britain within the last week.  And I don‘t know of any organization in the world where you can take out key personnel, take out money and take out sanctuaries and that they continue to operate well.  So this is a sign that we‘re getting into that network both internationally and domestically.

REAGAN:  And yet at the same time, people are saying we‘re in danger, there‘s a threat, New York, Boston...

JOHNSON:  Yes, that‘s what I mean.  I think...

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON:  I think they contradict themselves on that by heightening the warning and saying, Well, we‘re at risk.  But I think, really, we‘re safer.

BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you this.  Why hasn‘t there been—and none of us would have guessed this—since 9/11 a single significant attack, whether it‘s in a mall, a movie theater or a ballgame or something, a single significant attack on the United States?  Are we that good at breaking down al Qaeda and defending ourselves, or are these guys gearing up for something that can almost top 9/11?

JOHNSON:  I think it has more to do with us being good.  But I come at this—I help the U.S. military forces that have the counterterrorism mission.  I help them script their exercises.  I know what it takes for these guys to be able to blow out and go out and conduct an operation.

It‘s not easy.  They have a logistics support network.  They have air lift.  They have training camps.  They have a variety of things to support them.  The good news for us is the terrorists don‘t have that.  They have to rely upon commercial travel, whether it‘s plane, train or automobile.  Now, they have to have someplace to train.  They do not magically acquire the skills to build a bomb.  And it has been important to go out and take apart their networks in Afghanistan.

Now, here‘s the danger.  The networks in Pakistan, along the border, the sanctuaries, those are still in place, and Pakistan‘s not cooperating with us.

BUCHANAN:  Yes, but how good are they?  You look at the Hamas and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.  They got 80, 90, 100 bombs set off in Israel in the last four years, and these guys have not been able to put off one in the United States?  Are we exaggerating maybe, you know, how—just how capable the enemy is?

JOHNSON:  Yes, I think we‘re exaggerating—I mean, I think they‘re a threat.  I don‘t want to minimize that at all.  They want to kill people.  But the desire to do it doesn‘t translate into capability.  One of the things we‘ve even seen in Israel, since Israel took out several key leaders, Rantisi and the older man, the terrorism acts, in terms of suicide bombings, have dried up.  So it‘s important to keep the pressure on these guys.  If you leave them alone, where they had training camps in Afghanistan, free travel from Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, free money, the ability to attract recruits, they can cause some real damage.  Keep the pressure on them, you‘ll stop it.

REAGAN:  You know, Joe mentioned shoulder-fired missiles before.  We saw something about that in the lead there.  That seems like such an easy one to me.  If you can get your hands on a shoulder-fired missile—and there‘s got to be a bunch of them hanging around places—and you sit in the weeds at the end of an airport—yikes!  That‘s pretty scary stuff.  Why hasn‘t that sort of thing happened?

JOHNSON:  Well, actually, sitting in the weeds at the end of the airport wouldn‘t do it, but I don‘t want to divulge what the secret is for that...

REAGAN:  I‘m no expert, obviously.

JOHNSON:  No. 1, getting the weapons is not that easy.  That‘s what‘s fortunate about this.  No. 2, what we saw up in Albany, New York, today was really important from the standpoint that the FBI is being proactive, not reactive.  They‘re not waiting until something happens, they‘re moving out aggressively to find people that would collaborate.

BUCHANAN:  This was an RPG, though, rocket-propelled grenade.  This wasn‘t an SA-7 or one of the anti-aircraft weapons, was it.

JOHNSON:  That I don‘t know.  I have—I‘ve heard it described as both a surface-to-air missile...

BUCHANAN:  I agree with Ron.

JOHNSON:  ... and as an RPG.

BUCHANAN:  What you got to do—I know they got tiny warheads on them.  All you got to do with those SA-7s or the Stingers we used in Afghanistan, you take down one or two airliners in the United States, and I‘ll tell you, that is the end of a bunch of airlines.  Airline travel could fall by 50 percent.  And there are these things floating around, aren‘t they?

JOHNSON:  It would have that effect.  Remember that these weapon systems are designed to bring down single-engine aircraft, helicopters, jet fighters.  When you have jets with multiple engines—not that I‘d want to be on a plane when it happens...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Mike Barnicle—let me bring in Mike Barnicle.  And I want to follow up on what Pat Buchanan had to say.  Who would have guessed among us three years ago that there wouldn‘t be a terror attack from September 11 until, you know, September of 2004?

BARNICLE:  Well, Joe, I mean, that‘s exactly right.  It gets to one of my ludicrous theories—I have many ludicrous theories, but—that one of the great untold stories of this, the first half of the first decade in the 21st century, when it‘s written 10 or 15 years from now, will be the effectiveness of the work done by American intelligence operatives and other countries‘ intelligence operatives around the globe to prevent another September 11 from occurring here in this country.

When you consider the exposure that we have, because we are such a free and open nation—in train stations, bus stations, liquid national gas refineries, Long Beach, California, places like that, places—great harbors, completely exposed, completely open, freedom of movement, and that nothing has been done, it speaks to a lot of things.  It speaks to our effectiveness, I think, overseas in breaking up this network, as well as perhaps, as Pat referred to, a tendency among Americans, and especially the American media, to overblow the danger—not that they‘re not a danger, but the danger that the al Qaeda network represents to us.  Certainly, it isn‘t what it was on September 10, 2001, and that‘s a tribute to the work being done.

DREIER:  Joe, you know, I think it‘s very important for us to look at exactly what did happen post-September 11.  We passed the Patriot Act, which I know has been criticized by some, but frankly, has played a big role in turning the corner on the war on terror.  We‘ve been able to successfully seize the financial assets of much of the al Qaeda operation.  We have captured or killed now significantly more than two thirds of the al Qaeda network.  And if we look at Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, clearly, the guy who was the mastermind of what happened on September 11, and then we need to look at the arrest just last week of Ahmed Ghailani, the guy from Zanzibar, Tanzania, who, in fact, was responsible—and day after tomorrow actually marks the sixth anniversary of the bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.  And we‘ve successfully been able to turn the corner because of the activity there.

And then, to get a little political here, but factual, we know that after the first attack on the World Trade Center towers in 1993, that candidate John Kerry did pursue a goal of trying to bring about a $7.5 billion-dollar reduction in intelligence, and we saw even Senator Kennedy vote against his amendment to do that.  And we saw his amendment harshly criticized by Senator Daniel Inouye.  And so I do think that we need to recognize that it has been George Bush‘s leadership that has allowed us to pursue what has been success over the past three years in the global war on terror.

REAGAN:  I‘m sure that President Bush appreciates your political plug for him, Congressman.  But back to the actual question of terrorism...

DREIER:  That‘s why I‘m here.

REAGAN:  I know that‘s why you‘re here.

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN:  And you‘re very on message, and we appreciate you for it.

Even things like—as Pat mentioned before, even if you had a guy walking into a mall with an automatic weapon...

JOHNSON:  Right.

REAGAN:  ... you know, a machine gun...

JOHNSON:  Right.

REAGAN:  ... they could do a hell of a lot of damage, a movie theater

·         and you—you would...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s just what Pat was saying about Israel.  I think it speaks—and I‘m glad to hear Mike Barnicle say what—God bless Mike Barnicle for saying what he says about our law enforcement officers, people in intelligence, because people like me come on this show—and I think everybody‘s job—I think my job, your job, y‘all‘s job, is to cast a wary eye, to ask, Are we doing everything we need to do?  But it‘s great to hear people like Mike Barnicle saying, You know what?  They‘re doing a great job.

And Larry Johnson, first of all, I want to thank you for being with us tonight.

JOHNSON:  My pleasure.

SCARBOROUGH:  Secondly, I want you to—I want to thank you for reassuring American flyers that even if missiles are shot at them, they‘ve got nothing to worry about.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot, Larry!

REAGAN:  I feel a lot better, Larry.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Don‘t worry about it!

SCARBOROUGH:  No big deal, baby!

REAGAN:  That bump?  It‘s just a little missile.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s right.  That‘s right.  Appreciate you being here.

I want to ask the rest of you to Stick around because coming up: The Boss says he‘s not voting for Bush.  Bruce Springsteen wants to rock the vote for the Democrats.

REAGAN:  But not all musicians are pro-Kerry.  Kiss rocker Gene Simmons will tell us why he‘s voting for President Bush but not why his tongue is so long.

Stay with us on this special edition of AFTER HOURS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REAGAN:  Bruce Springsteen wants to rock the vote in Kerry‘s direction.

SCARBOROUGH:  And why didn‘t the Democrats get a bigger bounce from the convention?  We‘re going to be talking about that in a minute. 

But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, my wife and I have said for a long time one of the burdens you carry for being right, for being correct politically, for being a Republican is never having really cool rock stars in your corner, because, in early October, dozens of musicians, including some of my heroes, Bruce Springsteen, REM, Pearl Jam, and the Dixie Chicks—Dixie Chicks not really my heroes—are hitting the road on the Vote For Change tour.

And they say their goal is to register fans to vote and raise money for groups working to defeat President Bush. 

Before we get back to our panel, we would like to actually bring in rocker Gene Simmons, who may be a Bush supporter. 

Gene, let me first of all start by asking you, why is it that Hollywood and the musical community usually get involved in politics on the side of Democratic candidates? 

GENE SIMMONS, KISS:  You know, I‘m not a political expert, but I will say the following before we start.  Just give me 30 seconds. 

No. 1 is, I am nobody‘s mouthpiece.  I don‘t come here with any political agenda whatsoever.  I do have a point of view.  I want to say this in front.  During Mr. Clinton‘s presidency, I was a big supporter and I hated the Republican right for tearing into him.  I am currently a big supporter of President Bush‘s foreign policy. 

I may not agree with stem cell research points of views, separation of church and state issues and whether or not conservation issues are as solid as they should be, but I have time to worry about that next year.  Right now, we are at war.  And I put this as a—not as a challenge to anybody, but does anybody actually think that Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or the al Qaeda people actually care whether it‘s Kerry or Bush in the White House? 

Do you really think that they make any distinction between Republicans and Democrats?  Right now, the only thing they want to see you is dead.  And in time of war, the stupidest thing we could all do—and that includes my good friend Mr. Springsteen and everybody else—is to start casting, I don‘t know, a dark cloud over our leaders. 

Right now, it‘s time for all of us to be American and figure out the problems later.  So I‘m a big supporter of President Bush.  And Mr. Kerry is going to be a terrific leader at some point.  But, right now, I would support Mr. Kerry as president of France. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Ron? 

REAGAN:  Gene—well, I like the French.  I like escargot and good red wine. 

Gene, some people

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  I don‘t, actually.  Right now, I‘m not too fond of the French. 

REAGAN:  That‘s all right.  You‘re entitled. 

Gene, some people would say that actually al Qaeda would favor Bush because he‘s a great recruiting tool for him, for them. 

SIMMONS:  And that‘s precisely why you don‘t want to have Mr. Kerry as president.  Anybody that al Qaeda wants as president is exactly the guy who shouldn‘t be president. 

REAGAN:  No, you misunderstood me.  Actually, a lot of people are saying that al Qaeda would prefer George W. Bush because he‘s been such a great recruiting tool for them. 

SIMMONS:  I don‘t agree with your assessment, because, if the newspapers are any indication of anything, the reports we hear back is that people around the world seem to prefer Mr. Kerry. 

REAGAN:  Well, it wasn‘t necessarily my assessment.  You might be misunderstanding what I‘m saying.  Some people have posited, have supposed that Mr. Bush and what he‘s done in Iraq, for instance, has spurred recruitment for Islamist terrorist groups. 

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  Perhaps, but I don‘t think—I don‘t believe that Mr. Bush has done enough. 

I would have gone in there and just tore the walls out of the kitchen and gone for where all the cockroaches are.  I believe that what‘s going on right now, because America has been coddled, and we believe that these people are people you can have a discussion with.  And the truth is, there‘s no discussion to be had.  There‘s only one outcome. 

And that is, you‘re either going to get rid of these people or they‘re going to recruit new people who are going to be wanting to walk down your streets with dirty bombs in their suitcases.  And the only thing I‘m thankful for is that nuclear weapons are not in the hands of these nut jobs.  You must take preemptive action now or later on we‘re all going to be sorry. 

And preemptive is a good word. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Gene Simmons, thanks for being with us.

I‘ll tell you what.  Not only do I agree with you, but General Tommy Franks agrees with you. 

Let‘s bring our panel back in.

And I know that‘s comforting to General Tommy Franks also, that he and the guy...

REAGAN:  That Gene Simmons is on his side.

SCARBOROUGH:  That he and the guy—yes, a great rocker—we‘ve got one rocker right now tonight that is my sort of guy, sort of a strong...

SIMMONS:  I think Frank rocked to KISS in the old days.  I think he did.  I think he liked the guy with the kitty-cat face. 

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  Joe and Ron, could I just ask one question?  Could I just ask one quick question?

REAGAN:  Sure.

DREIER:  I really am very curious to know which way Pat Buchanan leans.  Is he a Gene Simmons-KISS sort of listening guy or did he listen to Springsteen? 

Which is your favorite, Pat?

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is it “Detroit Rock City” or is it “Thunder Road”? 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I think we‘ve got to poll the E Street Band First. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  We‘ve got to poll the band.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  You people know that, in your early days, 1973, right,

right before “Born to Run”

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Ask me where Little Richard is, Fats Domino and where the big E. would be.  The big E. was with Nixon. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  And, of course, you were the eighth member of the E Street Band. 

Pat, let‘s move this towards the Democratic Convention and talk about the apparent lack of bounce, the lack of bump that John Kerry got out of the convention.  Of course, some people are saying that there are so few undecideds.  Let‘s say there‘s 10 percent of Americans that are undecided that, if he got a two-point bounce, as some polls suggest, that‘s pretty big.  That‘s 20 percent of the undecideds. 

BUCHANAN:  There‘s a lot of truth in the argument.  When you‘ve got the president and Kerry at 46-45 before going to the conventions, people saying he‘s going to get 15-point bounce is preposterous.  I did predict a seven-point bounce myself.  And when I saw “The Washington Post,” where he came out seven points ahead, I thought it was about right.

I thought, as I think I said on that program, that he had a good, impressive speech for the country.  But I don‘t know what it is, Joe, but I think the Democratic Party probably was tuned out by much of middle America.  They didn‘t watch it.  He was not all that impressive.  He did not close the sale.

And I will tell you this.  I see the president edging back up.  And I think it‘s—Kerry‘s either going to do this on the debates or he isn‘t going to do it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it‘s strange that, when we were up at the convention, I was thinking how brilliant it was that the Democrats were trying to co-opt some of the president‘s issues, the military, strength, strength, strength.  They said it 1,000 times. 

But, Mike Barnicle, once we left Boston, the president started going after him, starting talking about the votes that he cast, it didn‘t seem like such a good idea.  It seemed that John Kerry had moved into the president‘s backyard and was actually fighting on his terms.  What do you think about that?  Any second guesses about how the Democratic Convention was run? 

BARNICLE:  No, I don‘t think there are any second guesses about how they ran it.

I must personally tell you, I am so greatly relieved that Pat Buchanan

·         and I love Pat Buchanan—that didn‘t say Barry Manilow was his big favorite. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘ve actually been in his office because he‘s got a huge Manilow poster in there.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BARNICLE:  All I want to know tonight, Joe, Ron, Congressman Dreier, the only thing I want to know tonight is, was Pat Buchanan present the day the greatest White House photo ever taken was snapped, when Elvis, totally stoned, was grabbing Richard Nixon? 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I was there.  I did not—I regret to say, I didn‘t see Elvis, but I knew a number of secretaries who were invited over to visit Elvis later. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  Elvis was stoned out of his

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  As he made his tour through the house.  They came in—his guys came in with guns. 

(CROSSTALK) 

BUCHANAN:  All right, boys, drop all the iron here before we go in and see him. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  The big E. was really something. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  He‘s the king.  He‘s the King.  Mike Barnicle is my age and he knows that they‘ll never top the King.  I don‘t care about the Beatles or any of that stuff.

BARNICLE:  That‘s true, but that day—that day, Elvis looked as if he had smoked the drapes in the East Room of the White House. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, they had him then as an anti-drug crusader!

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Nixon deputized him, made him a drug crusader.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I love irony.

REAGAN:  On that note, we‘re going to continue our discussion.  our panel is going to stick around. 

Coming up next, your phone calls to 1-888-MSNBC-USA.  That‘s next.

SCARBOROUGH:  And we want to know if you were after round Elvis Presley when he was high.

We‘ll be right back with “AFTER HOURS.” 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  What does it mean when 25 percent of our children in Harlem have asthma because of air pollution?  We can do better.  America can do better.  And help is on the way. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REAGAN:  Did he say hair pollution?  Oh, well. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I think so. 

REAGAN:  John Kerry emerged from the Democratic National Convention with only a small bump in the polls.  Before the convention, “Newsweek” showed Bush with 44 percent and Kerry with 47 percent.  After the convention, it was Kerry 49 percent and Bush 42 percent, a small again.

Or, if you want to look at it another way, Kerry more than doubled his lead.  Now, the average bounce in previous—oh, this is—Joe is going to tell you about the average bounce. 

Sorry, Joe.  I didn‘t mean to step on your...

SCARBOROUGH:  No, that‘s OK.  No, actually, that‘s fine. 

I was also going to say, there are other polls that showed that actually George Bush picked up two points, “The USA Today,” Gallup Poll.  They‘re all over the place.  The average bounce, though, has been for previous elections for candidates 12 points, ranging from plus-30 for Bill Clinton in 1992, an extraordinary speech, to minus-three for George McGovern in 1972. 

The question is, is this a sign of things to come for John Kerry? 

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  Well, this is a question I wanted to ask. 

And, Mike, maybe you might weigh in on this, Mike Barnicle.

I think it‘s the dirty little secret of pollsters that only about one out of 10 people they call even answers the question.  And so when you see these polls and you are seeing movements of one or two points, this is well within the range of the margin of error. 

BUCHANAN:  The McGovern poll—I was in the White House and he did fall three.  And the reason was, he gave his speech, his acceptance speech in prime time in Guam.  It was about 3:00 a.m. in Miami. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  And you forget.  Clinton—see, when Clinton had his convention, just before it or during it, Perot drops out of the race and all that support dropped out, went right straight to Clinton.  That‘s responsible—a 30-point bounce is unbelievable. 

REAGAN:  Mike Barnicle, are you out there still?

BARNICLE:  I‘m here.  I‘m here.

REAGAN:  Mike, what do you think of my little theory, that, with only 10 percent of people or so answering the poll questions, the polls are rather unreliable? 

BARNICLE:  Well, I always wonder, Ron, how many actual voters respond to these polls.  Of the respondents, how many of the respondents are actually going to vote?  That‘s one of the things I wonder about when I wonder, infrequently, about polls. 

The thing about the poll numbers this month, this year, this election year, that kind of intrigues me, intrigues me a lot, actually, is, I don‘t think any of the poll questions, the horse race questions, Kerry vs. Bush, get to or maybe can‘t get to the underlying anxiety in this country about the war on terror, how it‘s being fought and when it might return here, when terror might return here to these borders.

I think the anxiety in this nation is huge and it‘s keeping things even and it‘s preventing anyone, either Bush or Kerry, from getting what everyone refers to as a big bounce.  Anxiety is a huge factor in this nation this year. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s go to the phones right now. 

We have Rebecca in Florida. 

Go ahead, Rebecca.

REAGAN:  Hello, Rebecca in Florida?

SCARBOROUGH:  We don‘t have Rebecca in Florida.

But we do have David in California.

David Dreier, what do you say about the bounce?

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  OK, let me get on the telephone here, OK?  Oh, you got her on the line.  It sounds like she is on the line.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  Oh, OK.  Rebecca? 

DREIER:  Rebecca?

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN:  Thanks, David. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Cut Rebecca.  We‘re not going have crosstalk. 

David Dreier, talk to us.

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  I totally agree with what Mike was saying about this whole issue of the uncertainty of polls.

And I agree with you, Ron, that I don‘t note that we can rely on these polls.  I do know this, that if you look at the speeches delivered at the convention and specifically the acceptance speech that John Kerry gave, he was truly making what could only be described as a red state speech. 

Of 5,300-plus words, he spent only 73 words talking about his 19-year career in the United States Senate.  And it‘s also important to note that he basically was saying what George Bush has said.  He all but condemned the United Nations by saying that no one is going to in fact take from us the decisions relating to our security.  And we also saw him talk about faith. 

And I would say this to you, Ron.  He said faith is something that has provided values for him to live by.  And so he was making a speech that was clearly moving towards those base...

REAGAN:  He tried to get to the right of George Bush. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Are you suggesting he was wearing religion on his sleeve, David?

(LAUGHTER)

DREIER:  Well, it certainly sounded to me—as I listened to that speech, it certainly sounded to me—he was, in fact.  When he used the term faith and said that it has created the values that he lives by, and he talked about Sunday to Sunday, he was talking about religion in that speech. 

REAGAN:  Maybe he didn‘t listen to my eulogy closely enough.

SCARBOROUGH:  Maybe not.  Maybe not. 

I will say this, though.  I think it‘s actually good for the Democratic Party to actually inject faith back into—and I think God was driven out in the 1970s.  And I‘ll tell you what.  An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that men and women of faith should be involved in government. 

BUCHANAN:  It‘s very defensive.  They know they were hurt on that issue, on a lot of weak issues.  And that‘s where I thought Kerry was effective.  He went right to the weak issues.  The Democrats are perceived as weak on the military, weak on faith and religion.  And he seemed to put it right out there:  We are not and we will do battle on these issues with these fellows. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, we‘ll be right back in a minute with our panel.

Stick around.  We‘ll be right back and get to you right after this break. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re back with our panel now—Ron.

REAGAN:  Let‘s just talk about these ads a little bit more.  We‘ve only got a few seconds. 

How dirty is this campaign going to get, you think? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, this is really rough, raw.  It goes right after the man‘s integrity and honor and character.  And I think the ad itself is going to backfire.  But I think this is going—I think they‘re going right after—the outsiders are going after Kerry‘s hole card, which is his service in Vietnam. 

REAGAN:  David, what do you think?

DREIER:  Well, it obviously is going to be very, very hard punching. 

There‘s no doubt about it.  And you got me, Ron, at the beginning of this to say basically that I didn‘t like the ad.  But I think that Pat Buchanan was right on target in saying that it needs to be explored by somebody like Tim Russert. 

And I hope you have, by the way, a little more diversity on your next program.  Look, Larry Johnson, Gene Simmons, Pat Buchanan, Mike Barnicle, Ron Reagan, David Dreier, and Joe Scarborough.  What‘s wrong with this picture, fellows?

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN:  I feel outnumbered.  It‘s true.

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t know.

REAGAN:  Mike, what do you think?  How dirty is it going to get? 

BARNICLE:  I think probably pretty dirty. 

I think it would be a real plus if the White House came out and condemned that ad, because, as obscene as that is—and it is political pornography—it‘s just as ridiculous to go after President Bush on the old National Guard stuff.  You don‘t learn to fly a jet by showing up for a single meeting.  It‘s 35 years ago.  Let it go. 

SCARBOROUGH:  God bless you, Mike Barnicle.  I love you.

DREIER:  Absolutely.  God bless you, Mike Barnicle.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, exactly.

BUCHANAN:  God bless Mike Barnicle. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, Pat Buchanan, the blessed Mike Barnicle. 

And, Congressman David Dreier, you‘re blessed, also.  Thanks a lot for your time. 

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  I needed that.  I needed that.  I needed it badly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

Now, we want you all to stick around, because, coming up next, we‘ve got a rare interview with General Tommy Franks, his take on the war on terror, and an update on what happened on Northwest Airlines Flight 327.  A new passenger comes forward who thinks they witnessed a dry terrorist run. 

That‘s straight ahead.  So stick around. 

END   

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