updated 8/19/2004 10:01:56 AM ET 2004-08-19T14:01:56

Guest: Christie Todd Whitman, Robin Anderson, Jack Burkman

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY:  Tonight‘s top headline, a new study says swing voters may be swinging away from John Kerry.  The “Real Deal”, the swift boat scandal could sink the senator‘s presidential ambitions.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required, and only common sense is allowed.

A new study released today shows that swing voters are second-guessing Senator Kerry‘s war record.  And the swift vote ad campaign may be to blame.  If the ad is a lie, how does the Kerry camp answer attacks? 

Later, Former New Jersey Governor, Christie Todd Whitman is entering SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  And she is going to be talking about Governor Jim McGreevey‘s sex scandal, and what her party plans to do about it.  And whether she is going to take another run for the Governor‘s Mansion.

Plus, did God tell George Bush to invade Iraq?  A new book claims to have the answer.

Welcome to the show.  Now a best-selling bombshell, the campaign attack ad, may be drawing blood.  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal”.  The Kerry swift boat controversy continues occupying space in the presidential campaign.  As long-time Kerry nemesis, John O‘Neill‘s scathing book of the Democratic nominee races up the “New York Times” best selling list.

A new survey released yesterday shows that the swift vote ads that blast Senator Kerry as liar, unfit for office, may be moving undecided voters.  If not to the president, then at least away from John Kerry.  Meanwhile, the pro-Kerry group moveon.org has released an ad, accusing George Bush of ducking combat duty, duh.  The survey suggests that Moveon‘s ad apparently swayed fewer votes.  And for good reasons.

Voters already know that George W. Bush stayed stateside during the Vietnam War.  And they also know that there are more than a few unanswered questions regarding his service in the Texas National Guard.  But George Bush never made war service a key part of his campaign.  John Kerry did.  In fact, many pointed out that John Kerry all but ignored his past 20 years in public service, and focused instead on his four months in Vietnam during his convention in Boston last month.

If the senator‘s critics have their way, that‘s a move that John Kerry may one-day regret.  In the end, voters should focus on the future in electing the president, not the distant past.  Still, Mr. Kerry needs to do two things to put this crisis behind him.  First of all, he needs to blast these attacks personally.  Now, if I were a war hero, and somebody was lying about my war record, I would go to their media event, and I would debone them myself.

And secondly, John Kerry needs to apologize.  That‘s right; apologize for calling Vietnam vets war criminals back in 1971.  I know it was a long time ago, but a smile, a shrug, and a suggestion that he should have toned down his comments in 1971 is not enough.  Just say, I was wrong to accuse American troops of war crimes when I was younger, and for that I‘m sorry.  Maybe then Americans can get back to focusing on issues that are really going to affect us in the future, instead of replaying controversies from the distant past. 

That‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal”.  So, are swift vets for (ph) truth (ph) sinking John Kerry‘s boat?  A new study, with 1,275 voters, including nearly 400 in independents, is suggesting that swift vet ads had a serious impact on independents who were thinking about voting for John Kerry.

With me now to talk about this, we have MSNBC‘s Pat Buchanan, and MSNBC Senior Political Analyst, Lawrence O‘Donnell.  We also have Robin Anderson, a professor of communications, Fordham University.  Pat Buchanan, let me start with you.  And I want to play you this swift vet ad that is causing so much controversy, and then ask you what you think John Kerry needs to do to stop the bleeding right now.  Let‘s play that ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  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.

GEORGE ELLIOTT, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER:  John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He is lying about his record.

LOUIS LETSON:  I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart, because I treated him for that injury.

VAN ODEL:  John Kerry lied to get the Bronze Star.  I know.  I was there.  I saw what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, that goes on and on.  We have talked about this for a week or two.  First time you see the ad, you really do draw back.  You flinch.  But apparently, this ad may be drawing blood.  What does John Kerry need to do tonight, tomorrow, next week, to put this behind him?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  He can‘t.  This ad, when I first saw the ad I was jolted by it, because there seemed to be nothing behind it but these statements of these Vietnam vets.  Last night, Joe, I read for about five hours John O‘Neill‘s book.  It‘s one of the most disheartening books I have ever read.  I don‘t know the exact truth of it, but my lord, here are comrades, friends who served in battle, people you would think would be your great admirers, and they are calling John Kerry a coward, a phony, a liar, everything you can think of.

Moreover, these swift boat folks now are determined that Kerry is not going to be president of the United States.  I disagree with you here, Joe.  I don‘t think Kerry can put this to rest by saying; I shouldn‘t have done what I did in 1971.  This has become a central issue of the campaign.  Kerry has responded to it.  I don‘t think he can get away by responding to it.  I think they are going to use it against him, this entire campaign.

I think this battle is engaged, and I think it can only hurt Kerry because before now, everything we all knew about Kerry, about his war record was, look, you got to admit the guy had a great war record, but that‘s not enough.  And now, even that‘s been called into question.

SCARBOROUGH:  Lawrence O‘Donnell, you know it‘s been so disheartening to me since this ad first came out.  You see clips of the ad, people would come on, they would talk about the ad, and you basically have a food fight for three, four, five minutes.  We had John O‘Neill and John Hurley, a man who heads up Vietnam Veterans for John Kerry.  As you know, both, I believe, honorable men, served this country honorably.

We go to break, because I wanted to make sure.  I wanted to talk this out, instead of just a food fight.  And I couldn‘t separate this.  And I asked, we doing this fairly?  Both you guys getting enough time?  Are there any issues we need to bring up?  These two gentlemen, very polite to me.  They couldn‘t even talk to each other.

Seems these vets have broken into two groups.  This has become extraordinarily personal.  What is behind this?  And I will ask you the same question.  I‘m sorry.  What does John Kerry need to do to put this behind him?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, to say what‘s behind it Joe, is it‘s the Vietnam War.  We have a lot of viewers out there now who aren‘t old enough to know what it felt like.  And Pat Buchanan certainly knows having been in the White House at the time, what that polarization felt like.  At dinner tables around America, the pro and con positions on the Vietnam War.

And I saw your show Joe, which I thought was great, and I thought Chris Matthews treatment of it on “HARDBALL” was great too, with the same two guests.  And I think MSNBC has aired this out better than anyone has.  What John Kerry has to do, tactically, at this point, Joe, I think is exactly what he is doing.  Because this story has not broken widely.  It‘s been contained basically in cable news where there are basically no undecided viewers watching this kind of programming.

We get people watching this program who are intensely interested and predecided on almost every issue before we discuss it.  They don‘t need us to help them make up their minds.  The Kerry campaign needs to keep this thing muted.  They don‘t want to give it more attention than this relatively meager ad buy has been able to get it, in the swing states.  Very few swing voters have actually been exposed to these ads.  So the more Kerry doesn‘t talk about it, the less the undecided voter will be exposed to it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Is that likely to change, as O‘Neill‘s book—I think it‘s debuting at number three, the “New York Times”.  The book will probably be number one.  Is that not enough to drive coverage by the times or by the broadcast networks?

O‘DONNEL:   No.  The reason is the mainstream—by the way—the mainstream media has not completely ignored it.  The “L.A. Times yesterday did exhaustive piece on it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Great story on it.

O‘DONNEL:   Yes.  And by the way, they took apart a lot of the stuff in the O‘Neill book.  The reason why the mainstream media is staying away from it, is that they do not approve even halfway of the journalistic standards and methodology that John O‘Neill brought to this book.  To investigate a situation, let‘s call it a crime scene, hypothetically.  Would you ever, ever be interested in a book about a crime that did not talk to any of the eyewitnesses who were physically present at the time?

The O‘Neill book, in the research, for example, willfully refuses to reach out and interview the people who were on John Kerry‘s boat; because the author of the book knows that they will be supportive.  So that‘s the kind of journalistic technique, for example, that the “New York Times” is not going to just transfer into print, into a news story.

SCARBOROUGH:  And that they will want to stay away from.  OK.  Robin Anderson, according to a study that was recorded in the “New York Post”, the swift ads may be persuading independent voters is what it said, quote.  “The ad planted doubts in the minds of 27 percent of independent voters who planned to vote for Kerry or leaned pro-Kerry.  After seeing it, they were no longer sure they would back him.”

So I guess the question is Robin, what do you believe John Kerry needs to do to stop the bleeding, stop these independent voters that see the ad from moving away from him, and possibly toward George Bush?

ROBIN ANDERSON, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  Well, Joe, it seems to me that the ad itself is a lot of fog of war.  I think 35 years later, vets who are remembering things in a situation where they were under fire and under attack is very iffy.  But it seems to me that the ad is an act of desperation. 

After the Democratic National Convention, undecideds were 18 percent in that famous question that you ask, undecided, do you think the country is headed in the right direction?  And 18 percent, only 18 percent of the undecideds felt that was the case.  And only 22 percent gave President Bush a job approval rating.

SCARBOROUGH:  You say it‘s act of desperation, but if these undecideds are seeing this, if these independents are seeing it, and 27 percent are breaking away from John Kerry, it may be an act of desperation, but it‘s a successful Hail Mary pass.  Just assume with me for a second that these numbers are accurate.  What do you think John Kerry should do?  Should he ignore the ad as Lawrence O‘Donnell suggests, or should he try to get in front of it?

ANDERSON:  Well, let‘s just do one more thing with the numbers, Joe.  Three-quarters of independents usually go for the challenger, not the incumbent.  That‘s something that is known about political polling procedures.  Two-thirds to three-quarters of undecideds go for the challenger, so let‘s just keep that in mind when we‘re talking about 27 percent of some group.

BUCHANAN:  Joe, let me get back into this, if I might.

ANDERSON:  But I want to answer your question, Joe, about what Kerry should do about it.  I think that the dialogue should be opened up, and you kind of started out in the middle saying in the beginning that President Bush hadn‘t campaigned on his war record.  Yet the Pew Charitable Trust came out with a very important poll today, that foreign policy is really on the minds of the voters, two to one.  War and terrorist attacks.  And also, people are thinking about this.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, sure.  People are thinking about it, but at the same time, again, George W. Bush didn‘t run for president talking about in 2000, his war record because quite frankly, he doesn‘t have one.  Pat Buchanan, go ahead.

BUCHANAN:  Let me get into what Larry said, and I think he is very true.  I don‘t think the ad—I mean you got $250,000 buys peanuts, whatever they had.  Secondly, where they are getting tremendous attention, in your show, when I was on your show, and Chris, we have done a tremendous amount on it.  It‘s now moving into the national media.  Let‘s take this one issue. 

Kerry almost swears Christmas Eve he is under fire in Cambodia, and President Nixon is lying about it.  That has now not only been disputed, Nixon wasn‘t even present.  Nobody says he was in Cambodia.  The road was blocked in there.  His commanders say he wasn‘t there.  More than that, what you are getting now is, now it‘s moving to the stage of ridicule.  They are laughing about the first Purple Heart.

You get columnists and commentators.  Larry is right, if this doesn‘t hit the big mainstream media, I think it appeals to folks who are already committed against Kerry.  But Kerry has begun to respond.  He‘s got Brinkley saying, I was in Cambodia.  I took in CIA agents.  If he gets into this, this will be the consuming day-to-day issue for the Kerry campaign.  And it can‘t be good for him because he went into this campaign with his war record, a 100 percent plus, even with the hard right.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, the thing is, Pat Buchanan, even if it doesn‘t impact him, on this issue alone, it may be like Al Gore in 2000.  Remember, every little misstatement Al Gore made in 2000, the mainstream media did jump on.  They began ridiculing Gore as somebody that exaggerated.  Now John Kerry, who said on the senate floor, that it seared in his mind, that he was in Cambodia during Christmas, 1968.

BUCHANAN:  And it‘s laughable.  He said the South Vietnamese shooting at him.  They don‘t celebrate Christmas.  They celebrate Tat (ph).

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ll be right back, on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We will leave it there.  Robin thanks for being with us.  Pat, stick around.  We‘ll be right back with you and Lawrence O‘Donnell.  We‘ll see you in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  John Kerry comes out today attacking George Bush‘s foreign policy.  What kind of impacts is it going to have on the campaign?  We‘ll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re back talking about the presidential campaign, and the swift boat vet ad, causing that is causing some concern in the Kerry camp.  Right now, Lawrence O‘Donnell, I want to go back to you.

When you talked about the “New York Times”, not touching this, just the “L.A. Times” did.  It seems to me, I have so many questions I want to ask you about this.  Let‘s start here.  I am going to ask you as a conservative first.  Joe Wilson puts out a book, ironically enough, called politics of truth.  We found out that actually a lot of the stuff in there wasn‘t true.  The mainstream press jumped on that.

It seems to me, as a conservative, I see John Kerry‘s Boston convention, thought he did a great job there.  Wrapped himself in Vietnam service.  Don‘t you think that the “New York Times”, the “Washington Post,” the news magazines, “Dateline”, “60 Minutes” have a responsibility to dig into this like the “L.A. Times” did, to figure out, since this really is this central thrust of John Kerry‘s biography.  They need to figure out, who is telling the truth and who is lying?

O‘DONNEL:   Yes, and many of them have done it, and did it before this book ever came out.  And before they knew that John O‘Neill was doing any kind of investigation of this thing.  Many of the mainstream media newspapers did it months ago on John Kerry.  And some of them have revisited it.  But I don‘t think the comparison to some of these other books is quite as clear.  Say the Richard Clarke book.

SCARBOROUGH:  I didn‘t bring up Clarke.  There are things I disagree with.

O‘DONNEL:   Joe Wilson was a giant American news figure before his book came out.  His book got much less coverage than the news he made earlier in the history of the Iraq war.  But I think it‘s more comparable to the Michael Moore movie, actually, Joe, where you don‘t see the mainstream media doing an awful lot of taking apart of the Michael Moore movie.  I know “USA Today” did an article doing that.  And it‘s pretty easy to do, to do an article, that says here are the seven or eight things that are glaringly false in Michael Moore‘s movie.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Let me ask you this next question Lawrence, because I want to get to this also.  I think it‘s an important question for me to ask you, as somebody who likes John Kerry, knows him, and supports him, or have supported him in the past.  We covered the Michael Moore movie a lot here, dissected it.  Do you think it‘s fair for us, and other cable news outlets, and other broadcast news outlets to be following this story the way we are?

O‘DONNEL:   Absolutely, Joe.  I think it is definitely the franchise of cable news to dig in deeper, to especially those stories that are not page one in the campaign coverage.  The people who are watching the cable news coverage of this campaign have usually already read the paper that day.  They know that.  Now what?

So I think this is absolutely legitimate inquiry for cable news.  I think the way you have done it has been flawless.  And the way Pat Buchanan was doing it when he was sitting in for you, as a host has been flawless.  So it is a very worthy story.  I do think we have to be careful about each turn in the road.  For example, my interpretation of this study that has come out today, I spoke to the author of it earlier today, is that there‘s actually less there than the “New York Post”, which has publicized that (ph) it wants to make of it.

For example, not a single voter in the 1,300 voters who watched these ads, not one of them, changed their vote from Kerry to George Bush.  You can talk about how much impact the ad seems to have in this study, which is one way of looking at it.  You can also talk about how much impact it does not seem to have.  How weak it is.  That it isn‘t moving people the way you think it might.

So I think we have to watch it, and the way you are doing it Joe, is doing a series on this.  I suspect we will be talking about some version of this subject a month from now, because it will have evolved beyond where it is now.

Jack Burkman, let me bring you in, you are a Republican strategist.  If you have a candidate that is facing the problems that John Kerry is facing, do you do what Lawrence O‘Donnell suggests, which I think is what a lot of professional political advisers would say, hey, let‘s ignore this, until it starts hitting the front page of the “New York Times”.  Or do you get out in front of it before it expands?  That‘s always the question, do you get out in front of the scandal before it becomes scandal, or do we ignore it?

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  This is somewhat different than a scandal.  I may disagree with Lawrence.  Kerry has chosen to run on national security.  Kerry has put these issues on the table in a way that nobody, and to a degree and with a magnitude that nobody expected.  I don‘t think he has any choice but to get out in front of it. 

Kerry continues to want to talk about foreign policy, and national security, and he wants to run campaign on that.  I think his comment about the sensitive war will hurt him immensely.  If there‘s conservative journalist in the debate, someone like Brit Hume, or maybe you Joe, if you are in the presidential debates this year.  Ii think that word may haunt him.  You saw today his comments on foreign policy.  To me, they were absurd, somehow criticizing the administration for redeploying troops, when it seemed to me he had said the opposite 10 days ago, calling for more sensitive war, and a more adaptive military.

Today criticizing Bush for flexibility.  The long and short of it is Kerry seems like a drowning man, who is trying desperately to grab onto anything.  I said six months ago on this program that if he tries to run a campaign on Republican issues, national security, homeland security and defense, he will lose.  And I think that‘s exactly what‘s going to happen.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, Jack brings up sensitive war, Republicans.  You are going to keep hearing that.  Again, I think it goes back to what I was saying before.  If this guy talks about sensitive wars, again, that‘s not a big story in itself.  But you add up 10 or 12 of these things, all of a sudden, you have an Al Gore situation.  My executive producer said she was at a dinner last night with some left of center people.  And people were talking about this ad.

What they all were saying, these were Democrats, a lot of them, probably going to vote for John Kerry.  They said—and I referenced this at the top in my “Real Deal”.  They said, you know what, if I was a war hero like John Kerry, and people questioned what I did over in Vietnam, while their butts were sitting at home in America, I would be visibly angry, and I would confront them head on.  Wouldn‘t you do the same thing?

BUCHANAN:  Quite frankly, yes.  I mean, if everything that was known about Kerry or said about him were true, those three Purple Hearts, or justified Silver Star; I would come out in blazing rage.

SCARBOROUGH:  I would be so angry.

BUCHANAN:  And everybody behind them, and go right after them.  That‘s what a natural person would do, and people would respond naturally.  But let me tell you, where Larry is right again.  We could be talking about this a month from now.  What this is going to go to eventually is the question of character, and the question of credibility.

Now, I think Kerry, just embellished that story in Cambodia, and frankly it‘s fabrication.  People say, so what?  You and I, Joe, investigated that Kansas City meeting.  I don‘t know why Kerry didn‘t tell the truth and say, I was at Kansas City, these nut balls were saying things you wouldn‘t believe.  I got out of Dodge.  Why not tell the truth?

BURKMAN:  I would inject one thing into the debate, that is this.  Why are we talking about all these things?  We‘re talking about all these things because Kerry refuses to take an issue on the most important foreign policy question of the day, which is Iraq war.  Kerry has, to the extent he has a position at all, it‘s the same as the president‘s, or saying he would somehow fight a more sensitive war.

Yet he still wants to run a campaign on national security.  In some sense, the only thing that is left, given the terrain that he has defined, given the way he has laid things out, is to continue to talk about Vietnam.  I have an issue though with Vietnam.  People call John Kerry a war hero.  I give him a lot of credit for going.  I have never been to battle.  The president and vice president haven‘t.  I give John Kerry credit.

However, why did he leave after four-and-a-half months?  He had a chance to get out.  Why would a hero leave before the job was finished?  I think that‘s a very legitimate question.

O‘DONNEL:  Every single member of the American military left before the job was finished.  We lost.

SCARBOROUGH:  Lawrence O‘Donnell, stay with us.

BUCHANAN:  We didn‘t lose.  We didn‘t lose a single battle, Larry. 

The Congress of the United States lost that war.

SCARBOROUGH:  You are darn right, and here we go, refighting Vietnam.  That‘s why we are still talking.  It‘s amazing.  I want you guys to sit there.  It is truly amazing.  You talk about Vietnam and the battle lines are drawn 30 years later, between the closest of friends.  Unbelievable.  More SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.  So stick around.

We will also be talking to Christie Todd Whitman, about whether she is going to jump in the race for New Jersey governor in just a second.  I see you over there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  New Jersey‘s governor is gay, but he ain‘t quitting until November.  Christie Todd Whitman and other Republicans say, let him do what he wants on his own time, but it‘s time for Jim McGreevey to get out of the governor‘s office.  We will talk to Miss Whitman when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns, but first, the latest headlines from the MSNBC news desk.

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to the show.  Why don‘t they just shoot that guy?  Why don‘t they shoot al-Sadr?  Why do you continue to negotiate with this moron?  They need to just shoot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a time for diplomacy, Joe. Don‘t you realize that?

SCARBOROUGH:  You can‘t negotiate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Diplomacy.

SCARBOROUGH:  You are such a leftist.  You are such a leftist.  Get out of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  You are evicted.  Your type is not welcome.  SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, love it or leave it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just be nice to Jim McGreevey.

SCARBOROUGH:  Jim McGreevey, what a hero for gay rights.  The gays need to kick him back to the straights.  Set their movement back decades.  Let me bring Lawrence O‘Donnell back in to lift up this conversation. 

Lawrence, let‘s move from Jim McGreevey over to John Kerry.

O‘DONNEL:   Joe, I do have an answer for you on that question you just asked, about why we aren‘t just killing al-Sadr.

SCARBOROUGH:  Why can‘t we just shoot him?

O‘DONNEL:   It‘s because the first person I ever heard to this refer to this, as a sensitive war was Donald Rumsfeld.  We are running a very sensitive war, very careful about which of these enemies we kill.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a little too sensitive for me but as you know Lawrence in politics, perception is reality.  And nobody has ever perceived Don Rumsfeld as being sensitive.  When he talks about a sensitive war, everybody knows he is lying.  Let‘s move on to John Kerry. 

I have been asking Democrats that understand the party, that understand the base, that understands what drives people to give money to presidential campaigns, how difficult their cause is now, now that John Kerry has seemingly flip-flopped as Jack Burkman was talking about.  And now he‘s back saying, hey, even if I knew everything then that I know now, I would have still supported the war.  That‘s got to cause problems, doesn‘t it?

O‘DONNEL:   The reason he said that, Joe, was that old political instinct to avoid the headline that has flip-flop in it with your name in it.  If he had said I wouldn‘t vote for it now knowing what I know, then that would be described as the flip-flop.  Let‘s remember, I am going to just be harping on this all the way to November 2nd.  The whole campaign has targeting 5 percent of the voters.

He doesn‘t any longer, he cannot afford the luxury of caring how that answer hits the Howard Dean voter, or that answer hits the left of the Democratic Party.  He can‘t care about them.  He has to be aiming at the swing voter in Ohio, who doesn‘t think it was an outrageous thing to do.

BURKMAN:  I don‘t know that I agree with you entirely, because I think Kerry also has more problems than Bush with base mobilization.  I think he has serious issues with that.  I think he does have to care very much about the left wing of the Democratic Party.  I think he has to worry about keeping those people inflamed, keeping them aroused, and keeping them in this race.  I think he has moved to the center, much too close to the center for the comfort of a lot of those folks, and I think it may come back to haunt him.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, you know about inflaming the electorate.  What was your statement in New Hampshire back in 1996?  Run to the sound of gunfire, baby.

BUCHANAN:  Mount up and ride to the sound of the guns.  As a friend of mine said, Joe, he said, you didn‘t tell me we were headed for the little big horn.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, talk about keeping your base riled up, and getting out there and running (ph).  Because getting out the vote this year, in this close of an election, is going to be just critical in electing the next president.

BUCHANAN:  Larry O‘Donnell has had three correct answers in a row.

SCARBOROUGH:  Quit kissing up to him.  What do you want to do, start the west wing?

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you why.  First, you are right.  His base has to be energized.  His base was disgusted with that statement by Kerry.  But what rallies the base is George W. Bush.  What Kerry—the reason the swift boat thing is a problem, the reason Kerry said what he did, the reason he is denouncing Bush for pulling out troops in 10 years from South Korea, is that 10 percent, that 5 percent there in the middle, he does not want Bush to be able to say we got another Massachusetts wimp on defense and foreign policy.

That is why Kerry was so chagrinned about the sensitive war crack.  He shouldn‘t have made it.  He has got to stay right there.  He can‘t let Bush get around it.

BURKMAN:  I will tell you, if Kerry were smart, what he would do is try to pin the swift boat ad on the Bush campaign.  I mean enough has been said.  I‘m ill suited to give advice to John Kerry, maybe I shouldn‘t, but if I were running.

SCARBOROUGH:  Don‘t worry; he is not going to listen to you anyway.

BURKMAN:  Good, indeed.  What I would do is I would tag this—I would ascribe this to the Bush campaign, and attack them on this.  But Kerry is not smart politically.  He has not done that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Lawrence O‘Donnell, the thing that I have been saying for some time, and sometimes actually they seem to listen to me, but I still think it‘s the economy stupid.  I think there is a $7.5 trillion debt.  I think the economy, a lot shaking out there.  People are still concerned.  I just don‘t understand why he keeps talking about foreign policy, and why doesn‘t he go to the home court of the Democratic Party?  And that is domestic issues, where the president is weak.

O‘DONNEL:   He is trying to, Joe.  If it was up to the Kerry campaign without any reference to what‘s going on in the world, they would be talking jobs, jobs, jobs, all the way.  Job security.  They would be talking to people who have jobs but are worried they won‘t 18 months from now, or 6 months from now, as they see plant closings, and moving to other country, outsourcing, all that sort of stuff. 

But, there‘s a war on, Joe.  It‘s impossible for the Democratic nominee to be going through this campaign without making constant reference to his credibility on foreign policy and his credibility on inheriting a war and the prosecution of a war in Iraq.

BURKMAN:  The question is how can he do that if he doesn‘t take a position different from the president?  Think about what we‘re saying.  Let‘s have some perspective.  He is saying A, he wants to run a campaign on war and national security, which I think is crazy for a Democrat.

BUCHANAN:  He‘s taking Joe, the Nixon position, which we took in 1968, which was look.  They have had the opportunity.  They took us in there.  We supported them.  We gave them full backing.  They have messed it up beyond belief.  New leadership can end this war, and win the peace.  That was the Nixon line.  And it worked.

SCARBOROUGH:  And just like 1968, I fear in 2004 we are going to be staying up all night on election night, to see who is elected the next president of the United States.  Pat Buchanan, Lawrence O‘Donnell, Jack Burkman, as always, thanks so much for being with us tonight on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

We‘ll be right back, talking to Ex-governor Christie Todd Whitman to see if she may be New Jersey‘s next governor. 

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge”.  Which president was baptized while in office?  Was it A) Dwight D. Eisenhower, B) Gerald Ford, or C) Herbert Hoover?  The answer coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In Tonight‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Challenge”, we asked, which president was baptized while in office?  The answer is A.  Eisenhower was baptized in the Presbyterian Church the Sunday after he was inaugurated.  Now back to Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  I could have sworn it was Bill Clinton.  Well, I know it‘s going to come as a shock to you, but I have got issues.  First of all, let‘s talk about the creators of “South Park.  They are about to release a movie with puppets.  And they have somehow managed to have it slapped with an NC-17 rating. 

An industry insider tells me, that he read script, and saw some of the footage.  And he calls it one of the funniest things he has ever seen.  And says it‘s the most anti-Hollywood liberal script he has ever read.  In the movie Alec Baldwin gets elected president, and immediately afterward, America is invaded by North Korea.  Let‘s take a quick look at the trailer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We live in a time of unparalleled danger.  Weapons of mass destruction are being offered to terrorists all over the world.  Global chaos is about to consume every country on earth.  And there is only one hope for humanity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  By the way, this move got it‘s NC-17 rating because of graphic puppet sacks (ph).  It sounds like movie that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) comic insult dog could love. 

And I‘ve also got big, big issues with Irwin Gomez (ph); the Washington D.C. beautician is getting married to another man.  Gomez (ph), who is the favorite eyebrow waxers of the Bush twins, is marrying his long-time partner, in front of 400 of their closest friends next month.  Despite the fact that Jenna and Barbara‘s daddy supports a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Gomez said, “I gave them the party invitation, and they said that sounds great.  We would love to come.  It sounds like a lot of fun.  The way they reacted, they were very open-minded”.  So what‘s my issue with Gomez?  He didn‘t invite me.  There goes my chance of hanging with the Bush twins and getting my unibrow mowed.  Oh, well, I will be home that night, just watching old TiVoed episodes of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, and eating ice cream alone. 

I‘ve also got issues with John Kerry‘s speech today at the VFW.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

JOHN KERRY (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Like veterans of all wars past, today‘s fighting men and women deserve our prayers and support, and then when they come home, they deserve the respect and welcome of a grateful nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  But in 1971, while Americans were fighting overseas, and before a lot of these men came home, John Kerry went on “Meet the Press” and was asked if he and other U.S. troops committed war crimes.  Here‘s his answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

KERRY:  There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that yes, yes I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings, and free fire zones.  I conducted harassment and interdiction fire.  I used 50-caliber machine guns, which we were granted—ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people.  I took part in search and destroy missions and the burning of villages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, I have said this before, unless I see really hard evidence, I say John Kerry is a war hero.  But this issue of what he did when he came home is not going to go away with vets, unless Senator Kerry apologizes for the mistakes of his youth.  If he still believes American troops were war criminals in the Vietnam War, then he should do nothing.  But if he believes he misspoke, Senator Kerry will only get praise and respect from the press and his fellow vets for closing a painful chapter in his past life.

After New Jersey Governor James McGreevey‘s stunning announcement last week that he was gay, and resigning November 15, state Republicans called the gay-gov to quit, like right now.  Earlier, I spoke with Christie Todd Whitman; she was James McGreevey‘s predecessor, and President Bush‘s first EPA administrator. 

Now she is also being considered by many to be the Republican Party‘s best chance to take back the New Jersey Governor‘s Mansion.  I asked her if there was any way she would consider running again for New Jersey‘s top spot.  This is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY:  I believe that for the best interest of this state, we need someone who is going to say that not only will they run in what I hope will be interim election this November, but also, then, for the re-elect in 05, for another four years.

That‘s a five-year term as governor.  That‘s what the state needs and deserves.  I have been governor for seven years.  It‘s been a wonderful experience, and a high point in my life, and a real honor, and I think it‘s time for somebody new.

SCARBOROUGH (on-camera):   Governor, obviously a lot of people in Washington, certainly some at the White House have to be thinking your name on the top of the ticket, in November, could actually give President Bush a much better chance of doing well in New Jersey.  Have you been contacted by the White House?  Have you been contacted by others in the Republican Party, urging you to take this challenge on, if the opportunity arises?

WHITMAN:   Well, I haven‘t heard anything from the White House.  I have certainly talked to and been talked to by a number of people in the state.  But as I said, I really honestly believe that whoever runs in A special election needs to tell the people they are going to be there five years, and that‘s just not a role that I can take on at this point.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, some Democrats are beginning to distance themselves from McGreevey.  Obviously we have all heard the news reports about former FBI Director, Louis Freeh, actually volunteering to take on the role of homeland security leader for the state of New Jersey.  McGreevey turned it down.  Offered it to this man, who he claimed he had a gay relationship with.  What type of political impact do you think that‘s going to have, not only on James McGreevey, but also the Democratic Party in New Jersey?

WHITMAN:   This is the travesty of the whole thing.  Jim McGreevey didn‘t step down because he is gay; he has been gay all his life, governor for three years.  He was going to be judged on his record.  He didn‘t do it because he was going to be accused of having an affair.  Unfortunately, we have seen far too many politicians who have been accused of extra marital affairs, keep going in office, and everything has worked out.

He obviously left office because there are other things happening going on, and one of those things, I think, is where he abused his office, really, in doing something like that, in taking someone who was clearly unqualified for what is an extremely important position to the state of New Jersey and citizens of this state, homeland security.

And because of the personal relationship, putting that man in, turning down, I am not saying Louis Freeh was the answer, but certainly has credentials.  And putting somebody who doesn‘t have the credentials, not long after 9/11 into this critical position, that shows extraordinarily bad judgment.  Those are the kinds of things that people ought to be looking for when they hold him to task and look at his record.

Now we are in this situation where he has said, I am being so distracted by everything that might be coming or might be happening, and the fact that I am telling everyone I am gay, that I won‘t be able to be a good governor, in the sense of concentrating fully on my responsibilities as governor today.  But in November.  I am all right until November.  Doesn‘t make sense at all.  It‘s all about politics and not about the state of New Jersey.

SCARBOROUGH:  Speaking of the state of New Jersey, for those of us who don‘t live in New Jersey, help us understand how the Democratic Party continues to thrive in a state where it seems they have one scandal after another.  Obviously it was just two years ago that Senator Torricelli had to resign because of charges of corruption.

Two years later, we see Jim McGreevey, and again, it seems the Democratic Party, up and down the ballot, is constantly bombarded with these accusations of corruption.  Yet the Republican Party continues to lose strength in that state.  And George Bush‘s numbers continue to fall.  Why is that?  Why don‘t the people of New Jersey stand up and say enough is enough?

WHITMAN:   They do when the election comes around.  That‘s really why I won over Jim Florio.  Because they said enough is enough.  Again, there had been instances corruption, allegations of corruption there, as well as, of course, enormous tax increases.  Then I think maybe it‘s the people don‘t believe that this can actually keep happening.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, if you are not going to run for this governor‘s position, if it opens up, who do you think is the best Republican to take on whoever else steps into this race?

WHITMAN:   Well, that‘s really hard to say now, because we have a number of candidates who are obviously interested in it, and would be interested in it in another year in 2005, when we have our election, who have been talking about it.  They are good, competent people.

SCARBOROUGH:  Again Christie Todd Whitman, tonight you are telling us, you are not going to be one of those choices, under any circumstances?

WHITMAN:   Well, what I am saying is that you need to have someone who I believe, someone who will commit for five years.  And I just don‘t think that‘s appropriate for me.  I have been there.  It‘s time for a new voice.  It‘s time for new vision for the state.

SCARBOROUGH:  So that‘s the door slamming.  Right?  Is that the door slamming on those Republicans that may come to you in the coming weeks and try to—because you know how politics is.  You say no.  You mean no.  Then you get the phone call, and it‘s from the head of the Republican—it‘s Ed Gillespie, or it‘s Carl Rowe, somebody at the White House.  And they say, Governor, we need you to help us out.  Are you saying tonight—

WHITMAN:   That‘s why you never say never to anything.

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.

WHITMAN:   But again, for five years, I just don‘t see it.  I think that‘s in the best interest of the state, and we ought to be thinking what‘s in the best interest of the state.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Governor, thanks for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it.

WHITMAN:   My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ll be right back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in just a minute.  Don‘t go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I am sure you have been catching a lot of the Olympics, incredible stories there.  United States, just great news.  We have been accepted by the world community over there, great cheers.  Our athletes are giving us a lot to be proud about.  Mike, you have been watching any of the Olympics?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A little bit when I get home at night.  I‘ve been watching it a little bit.

SCARBOROUGH:  Certainly you are not watching it while SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I can‘t say that.

SCARBOROUGH:  This is the Olympics of cable news.  What is the big news today, for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Bush twins are going to have a party right before the convention in New York for their dad, that‘s an exciting thing.

SCARBOROUGH:  Which Bush twin do you think is the cutest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s the next story?

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  I think they are both very cute, Mike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Paris Hilton‘s dog has been found.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s huge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Your book is coming out.

SCARBOROUGH:  My book is coming out.  That‘s big news.  Tomorrow night, the book, by the way, “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day”.  Tomorrow night, the University of North Carolina is in hot water for refusing to recognize a Christian fraternity.  We will tell you all about it on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tomorrow night.  Have a great night.

END   

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