updated 9/9/2004 1:54:30 PM ET 2004-09-09T17:54:30

Guests: Mike Pence, Anthony Weiner, Terry Jeffrey, Kellyanne Conway, John Avlon, Martha Zoller, Ed Schultz

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, Zell catches hell.  The “Real Deal”?  Zell Miller struck a chord with middle Americans.  Maybe that‘s why Democrats are so angry. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed. 

Former President Jimmy Carter lashes out at Zell Miller, calling his speech at last week‘s Republican Convention rabid and disloyal.  And he is not the only one giving the Georgia senator a tongue-lashing.  We are going to take a look at how the press has handled other politicians who have become disillusioned with their party. 

And then, ads by Swift Vets for Truth questioned John Kerry‘s Vietnam record.  Now a group called Texans For Truth are questioning George Bush‘s service to America.  And what do new National Guard records really show about the president‘s service? 

And the national debt is spiraling wildly out of control, and instead of reeling it in, the Republican-led Congress is making it worse by dealing with Democrats, much worse.  But what‘s the solution?  We are going to be debating that tonight with some Republican congressmen who say they can make a difference. 

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 our show.  It‘s so good to have you with us tonight.

Now, I know you have been following the Zell Miller speech.  And, you know, the thing is, you can always tell when a speech that a politician makes strikes a chord with America, because people talk about it at water coolers.  People talk about it on the phone with their friends.  They talk about it with their family members when they are sitting around the dinner table at night. 

Well, Zell Miller, I think more than anybody, even more than Arnold Schwarzenegger, really struck a chord with Americans last week with the speech that he gave saying that John Kerry wasn‘t really fit to be commander in chief, not because of what he did in Vietnam, but because of what he did in the United States Senate. 

Now, whether you agree with Zell Miller or not, you have got to admit, that speech really, really made a difference for the Bush campaign, and really set the tone, for better or for worse, for that entire convention.  A lot of people talking about it.  Jimmy Carter came out today blasting away at Zell Miller.  So we wanted to talk about it tonight.

And with us to talk about it now is somebody that knows Zell Miller very well, Atlanta radio talk show host Martha Zoller and the Rush Limbaugh of the left.  We just absolutely loves when they call him the Rush Limbaugh of the left.  From the Dakotas, of course, Ed Schultz.  And we also have “New York Sun” columnist John P. Avlon.

Let me begin with you, Martha. 

You know Zell Miller.  Obviously, over the past week, he has been attacked as being disloyal.  Jimmy Carter has been blasting him.  What is your take on Zell Miller and why did he switch party allegiances so late in his life? 

MARTHA ZOLLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, I think he believes that the Democratic Party left him, and he said that.

And the real key was the homeland security debate, where union issues were put above national security.  And I believe him on that.  I have known Zell for a long time.  I have known him as being one of his constituents, as well as being a press person that he didn‘t like to talk to, and then a press person that he did like to talk to.  And I have known him in a lot of different venues.  And I will tell you what.  Zell Miller is a passionate man.  He has given a lot of speeches like that in the course of his time.  He has been elected nine times statewide as a Democrat.

And he has been criticized by the man that orchestrated the biggest defeat for Democrats in the state of Georgia, Bobby Kahn.  So who do you want to listen to?  Who do you think has a better pulse on the people of Georgia or the people of middle America, a guy that has been elected successfully nine times or the guy that orchestrated the biggest loss in the history of the Democratic Party in Georgia? 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a good question, but will I tell you what.  Jimmy Carter, another Georgian, wrote a very angry letter to Senator Zell Miller.

And this is what he said—quote—“Everybody knows that you were chosen to speak at the Republican Convention because of your being a Democrat.  And it‘s quite possible that your rabid and mean-spirited speech damaged our party and paid the Republicans some transient dividends.”

Ed Schultz, what was mean-spirited about Zell Miller‘s speech? 

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, you know, Joe, I don‘t think it‘s so much of what he said as it was his demeanor, not only during the speech, but afterwards, his performance on “HARDBALL.”

He was almost embarrassing to the United States Senate.  When was the last time you saw a senator challenge someone to a duel?  He lost all credibility when he did that.  And we know that Zell Miller is passionate.  We know that he cares about people.  But does he care enough about people to tell the people of Georgia that‘s why he was elected again, to go there and turn on them as Democrats?  What about all those loyal people that worked hard for Zell Miller to get him elected to the United States Senate?  Is he there representing Zell Miller, selling a book, or is he there in Washington just to represent the constituents? 

(CROSSTALK)

ZOLLER:  He got a lot of Republicans voting for him.

SCHULTZ:  Those were not the Democrats of Georgia speaking.  Those were not the Democrats of Georgia speaking. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ed.

SCHULTZ:  That was Zell Miller, who, really, I think needs a mental examination. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ed Schultz. 

ZOLLER:  Oh, come on. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on, Ed.  That was certainly a personal attack. 

But, Ed Schultz, we were talking earlier.  You and I were talking earlier today.  Obviously, as you know, I have got a book out, “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day,” where I go after Republicans.  I say that they have been irresponsible on spending.  I say that they have driven the deficit up and the debt by working with big-spending Democrats.  Does that make me disloyal?  Does that mean that I need my head examined? 

SCHULTZ:  You know, Joe, you go to Washington to represent your constituents.  Did Zell Miller go back and run as a Republican?  The Republicans have got the White House.  They have got the Senate, and they have got the House, and all of a sudden, here comes Zell Miller selling a book, saying some outrageous things. 

ZOLLER:  No, Zell Miller in 2002 is... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  The fact is, is that Zell Miller, unquestionably, went after the character of John Kerry.  His demeanor, he was angry.  Even Wolf Blitzer asked him on CNN, are you angry? 

ZOLLER:  Of course he is angry. 

SCHULTZ:  How was it taken by the American people?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Your president said anger is not an agenda for America. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me bring in John Avlon.  Now, John is the author of “Independent Nation: How the Vital Center is Changing American Politics.” 

John, I want to play you a quick clip of Senator Zell Miller at the convention talking about one difference between George Bush and John Kerry. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA:  George W. Bush wants to grab terrorists by the throat and not let them go to get a better grip.  For John Kerry, they get a yes, no, maybe, bowl of mush.  That can only encourage our enemies and confuse our friends. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, John, you have actually been interviewing people that worked with Zell Miller, Democrats.  Tell me about that, and tell me about the response of those people that helped this man prepare for his speech for Bill Clinton in Madison Square Garden when he was trying to get elected president. 

JOHN P. AVLON, AUTHOR, “INDEPENDENT NATION”:  That‘s right. 

I mean, Democrats couldn‘t be more frustrated.  Twelve years ago, he was in Madison Square Garden giving a speech, a keynote address nominating Bill Clinton.  And now they are frustrated that he is supporting the other side.  There‘s nothing more effective than a Democrat supporting a Republican for president.  It allows to give a red meat speech, like Miller did, without appearing partisan. 

The real question, of course, is, is this profile in courage or a profile in opportunism?  You‘ve got sides both screaming their head off.  There‘s no question about one thing, though.  It was effective. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what are the Democrats telling you, again, the people that worked with Zell Miller?  Some people are saying he is a racist.  Some people are saying he is crazy.  Some people are saying that he is doing this to sell books.  What are these Democrats saying to you? 

AVLON:  Most of them aren‘t pulling the race card, to their credit.

I think that the real issue, they‘re saying, Zell Miller is a man who likes attention.  I think the underlying issue is, Zell Miller is a man how doesn‘t like elitism.  He ran in ‘92.  He argued against the first Bush president, saying there was an aristocratic air about him. 

I think now the fact that he is supporting the Republicans for president shows the success they have had in continuing to run against the establishment while embodying the establishment.  The Democratic Party, John Kerry‘s Democratic Party has a big problem appearing to be what Bush called the Brie and cheese crowd, the Nantucket crowd, the party of elitism.  The party of elitism always loses in American politics. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I have talked to so many people who have known Zell Miller for a long time.  They say the same thing that you say.  This has less to do with party than it does with elitism.  And he comes from a rural part of Georgia.  He‘s always had contempt for Washington insiders.

But other people have other theories. 

Now, Martha, I want to play you something that David Gergen said on HARDBALL.  He served of course as White House adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton.  And this was his response to Senator Miller‘s speech.  Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GERGEN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY:  He went hate.  He didn‘t go hard.

That was a speech—in contrast to Dick Cheney‘s speech, which was well within the bounds of political discourse.  And it was a tough speech and exactly what he should have delivered. 

Zell Miller‘s speech was a speech of hate.  It was a speech of venom.  There is a man who started his political career with Lester Maddox.  And last night, he imitated Lester Maddox.  Lester Maddox, as we all know, was a segregationist, but he was a man of hate.  Zell Miller is not a segregationist.  He‘s not that at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZOLLER:  Well, first of all, you are not going to ever find a Zell Miller speech that is a segregationist kind of speech.  He never did that. 

And Lester Maddox, certainly, while he had an image of being a segregationist, when he was actually governor of Georgia, he opened up more opportunities for African-Americans than any governor before or since. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold it a second.  I don‘t want to talk about Lester Maddox.  I want to talk about Zell Miller, a guy that voted Democratic for 30, 40 years.  And it‘s amazing David Gergen didn‘t call him a bigot when he was supporting Bill Clinton, didn‘t call him a bigot when he was the most successful Democratic governor of the state of Georgia.

I mean, it‘s amazing to me that I heard this race card played throughout the week, saying, oh, well, you know, the South, if you are a Republican in the South, you are a bigot, and Zell secretly is a bigot.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s the message that they are putting out there, isn‘t it? 

ZOLLER:  It is. 

And one of the speeches that Zell Miller made on the floor of the Senate is that hillbillies from north Georgia or from other parts of the South is the last group of people that it‘s OK to say these things about with nothing to back it up. 

I think what I heard from people, Joe, around Georgia and around the country was that they liked that he didn‘t sugarcoat it.  He said what he felt.  People are tired of the P.C. kind of thing, and they want people to say what they really believe. 

(CROSSTALK)

ZOLLER:  And you saw it in that MSNBC—but you saw it in that MSNBC interview.

Yes, the “HARDBALL” part of it might have been difficult, but then when you looked at what the people in Ohio thought about the speech, 11 out of 17 said that Zell Miller speech made them more likely to lean towards Bush. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ed Schultz, I want to read you this really quickly. 

In advance of Jim Jeffords switching, “The L.A. Times” wrote an editorial titled “A Nudge to the Center” and argued—quote—“There‘s a difference between leaving the family and being pushed out.  Republican Senator James Jeffords of Vermont, expected to leave the Republican Party today to become an independent, has mostly been pushed.”

But, of course, when Zell Miller no longer felt at home in the Democratic Party and he delivered this address to the Republican Convention, saying as much, “The L.A. Times” in editorial titled “Novelty Act” called Senator Miller a fraternity pledge and the Democrats‘ summer intern, adding that the speech—quote—“He played a standard Vaudeville role.”

Talk about media bias here, Ed Schultz.  When a Democrat becomes Republican, it‘s Vaudeville.  When a Republican becomes a Democrat, he has grown.  You‘ve got to admit, this is biased. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you may think that, Joe, but I don‘t. 

I know that John Kerry has voted for $4 trillion worth of military hardware in his years in the Senate, and to characterize that as throwing spitballs is out of bounds for a United States senator to be talking about a colleague like that.  That‘s unbelievable vernacular.  I can‘t believe—he has embarrassed the Senate.  I feel sorry.

And I think being from the party of compassion, I think there‘s a lot of Democrats around the country that feel sorry for Zell Miller.  Spitballs?  Where does that come from?  Democrats died on Omaha Beach.  They are dying in Iraq.  They died in Vietnam.  And for him to make a comment like that is out of bounds.  John Kerry‘s record is solid on military issues. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ed, what about you saying that he—accusing Zell Miller of having mental issues?  Was that out of bounds? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I will tell you what, Joe, it‘s not out of bounds, because, first of all, when he was on HARDBALL, he was very cantankerous.  He was hard to redirect.  He was angry.  Network anchors were asking him about his anger.  He was paranoid.  He challenged Matthews to a duel. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So he‘s got psychological issues, Ed? 

SCHULTZ:  Is this a normal person?  Come on.  He has problems. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think he has psychological issues? 

SCHULTZ:  I think that there were signs of dementia there.  And I think it‘s very sad that he was at the podium.  And I think the right-wing neocons of this country took advantage of it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, you know what, Ed Schultz, all I can say is it‘s a good thing that Senator Miller doesn‘t have a pistol and he is not up in the Dakotas. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Hey, we will bring him up here for the duel in the Dakotas. 

I‘ll take him on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He might challenge you to the duel in the Dakotas. 

All right, thanks so much.  I appreciate you being with us, Ed Schultz.  Really do. 

Martha Zoller, thank you.

And, John Avlon, greatly appreciate it.

And, again, make sure you catch—you read-up on John‘s book.  And we will be talking to him more next week. 

Now, coming up, a group called Texans For Truth is targeting George Bush with a new ad raising questions about his National Guard service in the Texas National Guard.  We are going to be taking a look at newly discovered records and see if they provide answers to those questions. 

That‘s coming up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  John Kerry and the Democrat supporters are punching back hard at George Bush, going after him, claiming that he was AWOL from the National Guard in Texas. 

We will give you that story and show you the new ad when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back. 

It really does surprise me that “The L.A. Times” would be biased as they are.  Again, Jim Jeffords is some great hero, but “The Times” calls Zell Miller a novelty act, that he played a standard Vaudeville role.  Come on, “L.A. Times.”  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Try to be fair and down the middle, like those of us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

Anyway, moving on, was the president of the United States AWOL from the Air National Guard when he served there in Texas?  The AP forced the Pentagon to release more records from the president‘s military file.  And these records show that George Bush ranked 22nd out of 57 in his 1969 flight training class, that he flew 336 hours for the Texas Air National Guard, mostly the F-102A fighter.

And a new group called Texans For Truth is now raising questions about George Bush‘s service again with a new ad that they are releasing.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, TEXANS FOR TRUTH AD)

RET. LT. COL. BOB MINTZ, ALABAMA AIR NATIONAL GUARD:  I heard George Bush get up and say I served in the 187 Air National Guard in Montgomery, Alabama.  Really?  That was my unit.  And I don‘t remember seeing you there.  So I called, friends, you know.  Did you know that George served in our unit?  I never saw him there.  It would be impossible to be unseen in a unit of that size. 

ANNOUNCER:  Texans For Truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Ouch. 

With me now, Kellyanne Conway from Polling Company, and Mike Barnicle of “The Boston Herald.”

Mike, let me begin with you, buddy.  We‘ve seen this before.  The swift vets go after Kerry.  Now it looks like these National Guard guys are going after Bush.  Is it in bounds in this political season? 

MIKE BARNICLE, NBC ANALYST:  Well, apparently, Joe, everything is in bounds in this dreary political year so far. 

The amazing thing to me is, first of all, I know and hang around with a lot of normal people during the course of every single day.  Not one person has mentioned this as an issue, nor have they have been particularly bothered by the issue raised by the swift boat veterans with regard to John Kerry.  It‘s like a who-cares deal, because it occurred in 1969, 1970. 

The amazing thing to me, as a voter, as an observer of the political scene, as just a citizen, is that thus far, we have 1,005 dead in Iraq and nearly 7,000 wounded, many of them in Walter Reed and other hospitals around the country.  I think more people care more about that situation and those individuals and this war than those two people, George Bush and John Kerry, back 35 years ago. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Mike, you may hang around with normal people, but, apparently, if you believe what pollsters and pundits are saying, there are a lot of abnormal people out there that were moved over the past three to four weeks by these swift boat vet ads. 

I agree with you.  I personally think the deficit, the debt, health care, I think these issues are much more important.  But those issues aren‘t moving people, are they? 

(CROSSTALK)

BARNICLE:  Well, we can ask Kelly.  She‘s here.

Were they moved by the ads or were they moved by the specter of what the ads raised, the words today commander in chief and the war on terror?  Are they moved by that or are they moved by something that may or may not have occurred 35 years ago? 

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER:  Probably the former, because what happened is, John Kerry‘s unfavorability ratings got jacked up by eight points over the course of—between July, August and September.  And that‘s a little covered fact in polling.  So many people are looking at the Bush bounce, which was measurable, which was real. 

But the fact is that John Kerry‘s unfavorability ratings crept into the 40 percentile range for the first time since he secured the nomination six months ago.  It‘s very difficult to recover once X number of people in the country are unfavorable towards you. 

Mike, who knows?  It‘s causation or coincidence that it occurred at the same time that these swift boat veterans ads were airing nationwide and being aired again on shows like this that many people watch.  The thing is, though, that people don‘t understand why Kerry is talking Bush instead of Kerry, and why Kerry is talking about Vietnam instead of Iraq. 

And this whole National Guard issue was vetted in 1988.  It came up again in 2000.  It came up again in 2003.  And nobody was biting except for a couple of Bush detractors.  In my view, if you look at the polls, people do care about character and credibility.  But there‘s very little relevance between what someone did 35 years ago and how they might perform as commander in chief. 

You know what strikes me, Joe.  Why in the world are we more concerned about what George W. Bush did at flight school in 1972 than what the al Qaeda terrorists did at flight school in 2000 and 2001, when they were learning to fly planes, but not land them? 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Kelly, as you can see right here—here, we see a picture of George Bush, but, before, we were showing a picture of the swift boat ads.  A lot of people certainly cared about what John Kerry did 35 years ago. 

Let me read you what “The Boston Globe” says, because I am sure a lot of Democrats would say turnabout is fair play.  “The Globe” is reporting that the president didn‘t fulfill his military obligations.  And the paper concludes—quote—“Bush‘s attendance at training drills was so irregular that his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty, but they did neither.  In fact, Bush‘s unit certified in late 1973 that his service had been satisfactory just four months after Bush‘s commanding officer wrote that Bush had not been seen at his unit for the previous 12 months.”

CONWAY:  It doesn‘t matter because now he is the president, Joe, and he will be judged according to how people believe he has performed over the last three and a half years as commander in chief. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Should John Kerry be judged by what he did in 1971? 

CONWAY:  I have no idea why John Kerry wants us to judge him that way. 

He was the one who made this an issue.  And it still is confounding to me. 

What most people, including Republicans, believe is that John Kerry should be heralded for serving his country in Vietnam, myself included.  But it‘s what he did when he came back from White House with those medals and with that testimony on April 22, 1971, that has disturbed people tremendously. 

But this president, on the cusp of the 9/11 anniversary, I think that these Texans For Truth ads are running a tremendous risk of trying to confuse the issue of what a man did 30 years ago and what he is doing as commander in chief now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle, obviously, John Kerry followed my wise advice.  He has got a new campaign team in there that‘s going to fight back.  Do you think these ads are a part of the new strategy to take it to George W. Bush and to be on the offense, instead of the defense? 

BARNICLE:  You know, Joe, I hope not, I hope not, because I think the ad is pretty weak, the ad that we just showed.  I think the issue is pretty weak. 

I think the issue, as was just pointed out by Kelly, and I think it‘s felt by most people you encounter during the course of the day, is leadership.  Where are we going over the next three or four years?  I think most people, just natural consumers of the news, would see what happened in Russia, would see the pictures of the assassinated guys from Nepal last week in Iraq, and realize that this issue of terror isn‘t confined to the United States.  It‘s not going away in November, no matter who is elected president. 

There‘s no negotiating table ever built or that ever will be built to deal with a group of fanatical Muslims who hate us for who we are.  And so who is going to lead us through this maze of terror over the next four, five, 10 years?  That‘s the issue. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Mike, that really is the issue.  And at the end of the day, let‘s pray to God, for our sake, for the sake of this country, for the sake of our children, that when voters go into the voting booth, that‘s what they are going to be concerned about and what they are going to be focused about, in the fall, whether they vote for John Kerry or George W. Bush. 

Kellyanne Conway, thanks a lot for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it.  Great insights. 

Mike Barnicle, I am going to ask you to stick around, because, coming up next, as Mike said, more than 1,000 U.S. troops have been killed in action while freeing the Iraqi people.  We are going to be talking to our military experts about what this number means to our troops and our commitment to Iraqi independence and whether we should stay there or get out as soon as possible. 

That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Over 1,000 U.S. servicemen have been killed in Iraq over

the past year and a half.  John Kerry says it‘s time for us to figure out a

way to get out.  He says he will do it if he is elected president.  George

Bush says we are going to stay there until the job is done.  We‘re going to

be debating who is right, right after this short break.,

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

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome back to our show. 

You know, as a United States congressman that represented a lot of military people, I had to go to some military funerals.  And I can tell you, one death is absolutely devastating to a family.  Well, today, we lost two more U.S. soldiers in a roadside attack.  That means more than 1,000 troops have lost their lives in the liberation of Iraq. 

With me now, we‘ve got U.S. Army retired colonel and MSNBC military analyst Colonel Jack Jacobs. 

Colonel, 1,000 is a threshold that a lot of people have been talking about for some time.  We have reached it.  Does it mean anything militarily?  Does it mean anything politically? 

RET. COL. JACK JACOBS, NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, politically, yes, but, militarily, no, not at all. 

If you take a look at the actions that produced these casualties, you can see a pattern emerging.  Any time we have got a large number of American troops engaging a lot of enemy, we lose one or two troops, not very many, but we kill a large number of enemy.  The large proportion of soldiers who have been killed since the end of combat operations, large-scale combat operations, have been in ambushes and roadside bombings, and so on.

And that‘s largely the result of not being able to control a lot of the area in the Sunni Triangle.  When we gang up on numbers of enemy, we kill the enemy and we don‘t lose too many.  When we don‘t patrol, when we are not in areas that we can‘t control and don‘t go into some of the built-up areas, then you see the result of it in ambushes and other kinds of passive operations where we lose lots of troops. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Colonel, you know, earlier today in a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, Senator John Kerry accused the president of making wrong choices in his decision to go to war with Iraq. 

Let me let you take a listen to what Senator Kerry said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I call this course a catastrophic choice that has cost us $200 billion because we went it alone, and we paid an even more unbearable price in young American lives and the risks our soldiers take. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Colonel, in the great tradition of the United States military, you seem to be a bipartisan man.  I really don‘t—I don‘t know where you stand on political issues.  I want to ask you generally, though, do you think it makes sense for a presidential candidate to be calling a decision to go to war a catastrophic choice while troops are dying over there?  And it‘s not a loaded question. 

I mean, does it have an effect on troop morale or is it a fair thing for a United States presidential candidate to say? 

JACOBS:  Well, it‘s very interesting question. 

Troop morale is very, very difficult to beat down.  Morale of the troops is very, very high.  I spoke recently to a bunch of Marines, many of whom had just come back from Iraq, some of whom were going back again for their second tours.  There will be plenty of Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who will back there for three and four times before this is over.  And troop morale is very, very high. 

But it‘s an election year.  And military operations and the current situation is the stuff of politics, and it‘s a free-for-all.  And all is fair in love and politics, so you can genuinely expect a major question like this, war in Iraq, is going to be a central focus of both candidates, and surely the challenger in this particular case. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, Colonel Jack Jacobs.  We appreciate you joining us tonight.

Now let‘s bring in Terry Jeffrey.  He‘s the editor of “Human Events.”  And also bring back MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle, a columnist for “The Boston Herald.”

Mike, a comment—you were talking before about us losing over 1,000 troops.  Is it time to cut and run?  Is it time for us to tell the Iraqis that we are going to be with them to the bitter end?  What is your take? 

BARNICLE:  Well, it‘s certainly not time to cut and run.  We are not going to do that.  We can‘t do that. 

You know, Colonel Jacobs spoke to the truth when he talked about troop morale, Joe.  I have a dreary routine each and every morning.  I go to the Defense Department Web site and check the list of casualties from the day before.  And to look at the names and the ages of the young men dying over there and the towns they come from, many of them small, rural towns in this country, where a lot of people join the service, the Army, the Marine Corps, for a step ahead. 

It‘s a sad, sad chore, reading that list.  I look to it hoping not to see one particular name, the name of a young cousin of mine who is in the Marine corps stationed near Fallujah.  He is a young kid from North Carolina, and I look to that list with dread.  That gets to the issue of this war that has not yet been spoken to by the Democratic candidate, John Kerry, and it‘s a mystery as to why he hasn‘t spoken to it.

And it is Fallujah, where the Marine Corps goes in, comes out, goes in, is forced to come out, is forced to ask for permission from the head of the provisional government in Iraq to go after the people killing the Marines.  Seven were killed in a car bomb explosion a few days ago.  Do we have to ask for permission before we go after the people killing our young men?  What is going on with this war? 

SCARBOROUGH:  But it‘s a very good question.  It sounds an awful lot like Vietnam, where you take a hill, Americans die to take a hill.  You give up the hill.  It also sounds a heck of a lot like that sensitive war that John Kerry was accused of—or was attacked for saying we needed to fight a sensitive war. 

Terry Jeffrey, let me bring you in here.  I want to play you the sound of Vice President Dick Cheney at a rally yesterday in Des Moines, Iowa, where he made comparisons of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the upcoming presidential election in November. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And it‘s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today on November 2, we make the right choice, because, if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we‘ll get hit again, that we‘ll be hit in a way that‘ll be devastating from the standpoint of the United States and then we‘ll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Terry, you know, that reminded me an awful lot of an ad that was run in ‘76.  But, first of all, Cheney‘s office clarified it, said what the vice president was trying to say is whoever is elected will face the possibility of a terrible attack.  The question is whether or not we have the right policies in place to protect the country.

Still, though, that sounded a heck of a lot like an ad that Gerald Ford ran in 1976 saying Governor Reagan can‘t get America into war, but President Reagan can.  Sounds like they‘re using sort of fear as a tactic to drive people away from John Kerry.  Was that a fair thing for the vice president to say? 

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, “HUMAN EVENTS”:  Well, I think it was a good thing for the vice president to climb back down from that statement, Joe.

I think there‘s underlying legitimate issue.  It‘s really the basic question of the campaign, which Mike Barnicle, I think, alluded to before the break, which is that the major problem for the country is going to be national security in the years ahead, particularly the threat of terrorism.  The American people really have to decide which one of these two candidates, George Bush or John Kerry, is going to do a better job at dealing with the threat of terrorism. 

And I think we have to understand that neither of these candidates can probably perfectly insulate the United States from a future terrorist attack.  Although I am a conservative, I do not believe that George Bush really in all areas is doing everything necessary to protect—prevent potential terrorist attacks. 

For example, the column I filed today, Joe, talks about the fact that the U.S. State Department last month in Mexico put out a media bulletin saying that a suspected al Qaeda terrorist, Adnan Shukrijumah, might try and cross the border into Arizona or Texas.  And it‘s not clear to me that the Bush administration has done enough to secure our southern border against penetration by terrorists. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And why aren‘t they doing that, Terry? 

JEFFREY:  I think because, for one, they believe it‘s politically incorrect.  No. 2, it‘s no secret that the Bush administration has been trying to reach out to the Latino vote, which is a good thing.  I think the Republican Party should expand its base.  I think there‘s an opportunity because of shared values between conservatives and the Latino community to bring them into the Republican Party.

But I think it‘s wrong for the president of the United States not to see the urgency in defending our southern border in the years after 9/11, when now we know even our government believes there‘s a vulnerability there of terrorists coming across.  So I think it was unwise what Dick Cheney said yesterday, although I think the debate really in the election is which candidate, Bush or Kerry, will better defend us in the years ahead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Mike Barnicle, who will that be?  Who is better at that, George Bush or John Kerry? 

BARNICLE:  Well, right now, President Bush has the clear-cut advantage of that.  And he speaks to it each and every day at every campaign stop.  And his language is simple, direct, clear.  People understand him.  They know where he wants to take us. 

Senator Kerry might have the same view.  Apparently, he does have the same view in Iraq as the president on part of Iraq, and yet he can‘t articulate it as clearly as the president does. 

If I could say one thing to follow up on what Terry just said on your original question about the vice president, Joe, and his remarks yesterday, he is a smart enough individual, Vice President Cheney, to have phrased it, and a clear enough individual to have phrased it exactly the way he wanted to.  And the statement today, fine, that clears it up a bit.

But the whole point of it is, it gets to what we were talking about earlier, the denigration of our politics in this dreary election year.  Can you imagine Franklin Roosevelt standing up there in 1944 and telling the people of the United States of America that, if they vote for Wendell Willkie, Pearl Harbor will look like a picnic?  That‘s pretty much what Dick Cheney indicated in his statement yesterday about the Democrats and the terror attacks of September 11.  Not good. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, he certainly did.  And, of course, Richard Nixon was the president who said that people voted their fears.  I think Vice President Dick Cheney tried to play on that yesterday. 

Well, Mike Barnicle, thanks for being with us. 

Terry Jeffrey, it‘s great to see you again.  You have got to come back soon. 

JEFFREY:  Good to see you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We appreciate it.  And we will talk to you soon. 

Now, moving on to domestic issues, Republicans were supposed to save America from the Democrats‘ out-of-control spending.  Now, who is going to save America from them?  We are going to be debating that, talking about the national debt clock and talking about how “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day” when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge:  Georgia‘s current governor is a Republican.  When is the last time a Republican held that office?  Is it, A, 1872, B, 1938, or, C, 1954?  The answer coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we ask, Georgia‘s current governor is a Republican.  When is the last time a Republican held that office?  The answer is A.  Benjamin Conley served as acting governor of Georgia from 1871 to ‘72.  Georgia is the only state that elected no Republican governor in the 20th century. 

Now back to Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Eighteen-seventy-two, that is actually—that‘s the last time a Republican was elected congressman in my district, until I got elected there in 1994. 

Now, you watch the show every night.  You live a lifestyle every day.  Now you can read all about what makes up the heart and soul of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in my new book, “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day: The Real Deal on How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Other Washington Barbarians are Bankrupting America.”

Talking about that and the national debt, the national debt clock, is Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana and Anthony Weiner from New York.

Mike Pence, I want you to do me a favor.  As a fellow Republican and a conservative and the guy who is fighting the good fight, I want you to take a look at the growth of seven federal agencies and how much they have grown -- if you can roll the prompter, I can actually read along to this.  Are you all there?  There you go. 

Since Republicans took over in 1995, I want you to look at this.  The Department of Justice went up 131 percent, the Department of Education 101 percent, Commerce 82 percent, the Department of Health and Human Services 81 percent.  The State Department skyrocketed 80 percent, the Department of Transportation, 65 percent, Housing and Urban Development up 59 percent. 

Congressmen, you are a conservative.  I am a conservative.  We Republicans are supposed to be the party of less spending.  What has gone wrong in Washington? 

REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA:  Well, Joe, as you know, we served together in Congress for a little bit.  But throughout the 1990s, or much of it, President Bill Clinton, the Clinton administration, were in place and were driving, as Democrats are—love to do, they were driving increases in spending in virtually every area. 

Now, since 2000, it‘s been on our watch.  And, as you know, I and literally dozens of House conservatives fought the good fight, as you did, on the education bill and on the Medicare entitlement.  And I guess my message to you and to your viewers tonight, Joe, is know that there‘s a whole lot more Joe Scarboroughs in the Congress today. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How many are there?  I mean, let‘s be honest, because, when I first got there, there were 72, 73 hard-core budget hawks.  And there were some on the Democratic side, the Blue Dogs.  By the time I left, there may have been 15, 20.  How many are there now?  Tell me the truth, buddy.  Come on.  How many are there? 

PENCE:  Well, Joe, you are very familiar with the Medicare debate, and the longest vote in the history of Congress, went nearly three hours into the wee hours of the night; 25 House conservative Republicans held the line on that new entitlement for that full three hours.  We came within one vote of stopping the largest new entitlement in 30 years. 

But, look, I think the better number is on what you talked about last night and talk about a lot in your book, Joe, and that is the budget process reform.  You have got people like Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and others who managed to get 110 members of Congress to vote just recently to fundamentally change the way that we spend money in Washington, D.C.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

PENCE:  So you can be encouraged by that. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I am. 

Anthony Weiner, Republicans sure do look like hypocrites, don‘t they? 

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  Well, if you are a true conservative and a true fiscal conservative, you are voting Democratic this year. 

Despite what my good friend Mike says, frankly, the spending in the years when the Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and the presidency is three times faster than it was when Clinton was in the White House.  The simple fact of the matter is this has been a fiscally irresponsible Congress.  And time and time again, we Democrats have said, let‘s do it as a pay-as-you-go basis.  If we can afford to do the tax cut, we do it.  We have to make dollar-to-dollar cuts in services if you want to do the tax cuts. 

And let‘s remember something else.  Let‘s remember who is funding these deficits and that debt clock.  It‘s the Saudis.  It‘s the Germans.  It‘s the Japanese.  We are essentially mortgaging our government by selling T-bills to foreign governments that are controlling more and more of our economy. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I will tell you what we are going to do more—say more after the break. 

What scares me, though, is that what we are hearing is, pretty soon, they may not even buy our T-bills, because our credit is going down so much because of these debts. 

Listen, we‘ll be right back talking more about the problems that we have with our national debt when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike, spending under George Bush has grown at three times the rate as under Bill Clinton, as Congressman Weiner said.  Respond to that. 

PENCE:  Well, I just respond by saying that I think Anthony voted against the Medicare drug bill, like I did.

The only difference is that House conservatives opposed the Medicare bill because it was too big and irresponsible.  Democrats thought it wasn‘t big enough.  Even today on the House floor, we were fighting more Democratic amendments to increase spending.

Joe, despite the struggle that we face as Republicans, we are still holding the line far well and above what a Democratic majority in Congress would ever intend to do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Anthony.

WEINER:  Well, the bottom line is, who do you blame now?  You got a Republican House, Republican Senate, a Republican president.  We have gone from a $2.6 trillion projected surplus to an almost $4 trillion projected deficit. 

Your book hits it right on, Joe.  There is something wrong in Republicanville.  No longer are Republicans the party of fiscal responsibility.  That is now clearly the Clinton legacy and the Democratic way to go.  And, frankly, I think voters this year who are going to vote fiscally responsibly, like I said, are going to vote Democratic. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Gentlemen, let‘s continue this conversation tomorrow night, if you can.  We are going to be in Washington, D.C., talking about the issue.  I would love to have you on again tomorrow night. 

Thanks for being with us.  Greatly appreciate it. 

And, remember, you can check out excerpts of “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day” at our Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com.  And make sure to tune into “Imus” tomorrow morning.  He‘s got some great guests, including Donald Trump. 

Thanks a lot for watching.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night from Washington.

END   

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