updated 10/22/2004 7:21:23 PM ET 2004-10-22T23:21:23

PAT BUCHANAN: Gentlemen, I want to give you some news nationally. And I want to take the first question to you, Frank Luntz.  ABC News now has the president up by six points, while Fox News has him up by seven.  Frank Luntz, what is happening and why? 

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER:  We have had this swing since the last debate towards the president that you can no longer dismiss as being within the margin of error or as being insignificant. 

What is happening is that even while Americans were deciding that John Kerry “won the debate” they were deciding that George Bush seems more presidential and is the kind of person that they want to run the country for the next four years.  This is significant because we have never had a situation where they made one evaluation during the debates that was very strong and yet they appear to be making a different evaluation when it comes to the election. 

One more thing: The national polls tend to run about three or four days ahead of the state polls.  What this is saying is, within about the next 96 hours, you are going to see some of these swing states also shifting towards the president‘s direction. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Frank, we are going to bring up those swing states in a minute.

But what I want to ask you now is a question, what would you do?  Assume you are an adviser to John Kerry.  What would you do now, when this appears to be looking like those last few days of that 1980 race, when the swing just went to Bush Sr. and it seemed that there was nothing Carter could do to stop it? 

LUNTZ:  What I would do is, I would advise the Kerry campaign for the last five days to go strictly positive.  He made the case against the president, and the president‘s unfavorable ratings hover around 50 percent.  That is enough in a general sense for John Kerry to win.  But John Kerry never made the case for John Kerry.  I would advise him to say, OK, for the last five days, I am not going to mention President Bush. 

I am only going to tell you about my plans, about where I stand and what I would do.  The problem is, if you look at the people around John Kerry, I don‘t think they have the guts to do that.  It would be radical.  It would be extreme.  But imagine that, a positive campaign for the last four or five days. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, Joe, what is your take on these polls?  You and I are about the only two guys in America that thought the president really won the second debate and won the third.  The polls were against us.  The media was against us.  What is your take on these latest national polls, and what would you advise the Kerry camp to do right now? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Pat, my take is that we were right.  You will remember, after the first debate, I absolutely skewered the president in Miami.  I said he did a horrendous job.  He was ill-prepared.  If he couldn‘t make any better defense for being the president of the United States for the next four year, then he didn‘t deserve to win. 

He came out.  He did a better job the second time.  I thought, in the third debate, though, the national press couldn‘t have been more wrong.  George W. Bush was on fire.  He really—he actually—he deserves an apology from me, because I have always said that the guy is an intelligent guy, a decent guy, but he can‘t communicate. 

I think he did a great job communicating in the third debate.  And look at these poll numbers.  The fact that “The Washington Post”/ABC News tracking poll, which I think most everybody is looking at the closest, has jumped from three to six, the Fox News poll that came out, which is at plus seven, the Gallup, which is at plus eight, you look at the tide that‘s going his direction, I think it‘s going this direction for a main reason.

And let me tell you what it is.  An NBC poll which came out a few days ago, which actually had the race dead even, the internals of that poll and every other poll that I have seen have shown that there is a significant shift.  The American voters, about two, three, four weeks ago, were saying that the economy, health care, and the war on terror were all about equal in importance. 

Over the past week and a half, those numbers have shifted dramatically.  Americans have decided this election is about who can best protect them in the war on terror, and they have decided it‘s not even a close race. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, Joe and Frank, now I want to read you some of the battleground polls, the latest we‘ve got.  And, Frank, they seem to confirm what you were saying is coming in the next 48 to 96 hours. 

Down in Florida, the recount state of 2000, our MSNBC Mason-Dixon poll has Bush leading Kerry 48-45.  In the battleground state of Ohio, state hit by job losses, the president now leads by five, 49-44.  In Pennsylvania, the challenger still leads, with Kerry ahead by a narrow margin, 47-46, one-point lead for Kerry.  That‘s Rasmussen Reports. 

Moving out West to Wisconsin, Bush now has a lead in this Gore state of 50-44, six points in Wisconsin.  In Iowa, he is beating Kerry by two points, 47-45.  On to Minnesota.  It is a dead heat in Minnesota, 47 each.  On to Michigan.  Here, Kerry leads the president still 49-46.  But it is still a battleground state in the real sense of that word. 

In Missouri, Bush leads by five, with 49 percent of the vote.  And in New Mexico, another Gore state in 2000, Bush now leads by three with 50 percent of the vote.  Bush‘s largest battleground state lead is now in Nevada, 52-42, a 10-point lead, and a big lead in Colorado as well, 51-45.  In New Hampshire, however—and here‘s one problem for the Bush folks.  That‘s a Bush state in 2000.  Kerry leads in the Granite State by two, 49-47. 

But, in West Virginia, it‘s Bush 49, Kerry 44, five points there.  Oregon, John Kerry leads Bush 53 to 45.  It looks like it‘s almost out of reach, eight-point gap.  And in New Jersey, Kerry leads, but it‘s only by 4, 49-45.  Finally, in the state of Washington, the senator from Massachusetts leads by seven. 

OK, Frank Luntz, what does this tell you, and should the president and Cheney start to write off the West Coast? 

LUNTZ:  Actually, yes, they should start to write off the West Coast.  I think the most significant of all the polling numbers you read me was Wisconsin, a six-point lead.  And that‘s a very reputable survey.  For Bush to win in Wisconsin, which was a narrow Gore state in 2000, that absolutely forces John Kerry to win either Florida, which is unlikely—

Jeb Bush is the most popular governor in America today.  And I think that the president and his brother, the governor, will do quite well in that state.  I do believe that will be a Bush state. 

It forces John Kerry to win in Ohio.  If I am George Bush, I get into Ohio.  I got three states, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  And, in Iowa, the president is doing better than expected, Wisconsin with that six-point lead.  All you‘ve got to do in that case is win Ohio, and the West Coast doesn‘t matter, and any of these other swing states don‘t matter.  John Kerry right now is really—he has got a challenge, but don‘t count him out in Ohio, because the economic numbers down there, even though they are improving, aren‘t improving fast enough for the citizens of the state. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Joe, let me suggest another strategy I would take, if I were Bush.  I might write off the West Coast, but I would make Kerry and Edwards go back to states like Michigan, go back to states where Bush is challenging, New Jersey, in order to keep them out of Ohio somewhat.

And, in other words, I would make Kerry play on the whole field where he is losing, rather than just the states you have got to have.  What is your take? 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are exactly right.  It‘s a brilliant strategy. 

You know, the Kerry campaign, just last week, was in Nevada.  They were saying this time last week that Nevada was one of those big states they were going to pick up.  You look at the latest poll that comes out.  They are getting trounced right now by 10 points.  This time last week in this “Washington Post”/ABC poll, George Bush‘s favorability points, again, well below 50. 

In the latest poll that came out just today, came out just a few hours ago, he is now getting a nine-point spread, a 54-45 favorable-to-unfavorable spread.  That hasn‘t happened in a long time.  You know what I would do?  I do make him go to Michigan.  I keep going into Pennsylvania.  I keep going into Ohio.  I think the president has Florida nailed down. 

If he is up six points in Wisconsin right now, if he is tied in Minnesota right now, basically, the ball is in his court, and the best thing he can do is keep hammering the point home. 

I want to get back again to the issue that I think—I mean, we can talk about where they travel, but I am telling you, the security mom issue is going to end up being the issue of the 2004 election.  You know, I have been laid up on my back for the past couple weeks, because I have got an old bad back injury.  But I have been watching TV and watching ad placements. 

The George Bush-Dick Cheney campaign has been putting the same spot into women‘s TV, into “Oprah,” into “Ellen,” into all of these other things.  And it‘s that same commercial of the young boy where they start up saying, do you want to fight this war over there or over here? 

SCARBOROUGH:  John Kerry was against Ronald Reagan.  He is against George Bush.  George Bush is right. 


LUNTZ:  I have got a question, Joe, very quickly. 

BUCHANAN:  Go ahead.

LUNTZ:  What the heck are you doing watching “Ellen”? 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  I am a uniter, not a divider, first of all.

But, secondly, I am serious.  I am watching women‘s daytime television shows, like “Oprah,” which I never, ever watch, because I am looking at what the Bush strategy is.  And this is what is so fascinating to me.  You look at the Bush ad that is aimed at women, and it talks about protecting their children.  You then look at the Kerry ads that are trying to duplicate the success.  You know what they are talking about?  Iraq. 

Let me tell you something.  A mom that is watching “Oprah” doesn‘t really care who is dying in Iraq.  I know that sounds cold.  They care about protecting their children at home.  And, subliminally, they are buying into the Bush argument and the Tommy Franks argument:  Would you rather fight the war on terror in America or in Iraq? 


SCARBOROUGH:  They choose Iraq.  That‘s why they are picking George W. Bush. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, final question, Frank Luntz. 

LUNTZ:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  There‘s something of the politics of fear and loathing going on here, when Edwards says, you know, if Kerry wins, people like Christopher Reeve get out of their wheelchairs, Bush is taking away the flu vaccine from all the folks in the country, he is going to bring back the draft.

All these tactics, are they doing them any good for Kerry?  You think that Kerry should go positive, but tell me state by state.  You don‘t think he should go back to some of these states that are weak and are supposed to be blue states? 

LUNTZ:  I was shocked, for example, at Teresa Heinz Kerry‘s comment—and she has since apologized.  I believe a few hours ago, she apologized—saying that Laura Bush had never held a job and did so in a very condescending way. 

I think that kind of anger, the mentioning of Dick Cheney‘s daughter, that voters, these last remaining uncommitted voters are looking at the mean-spiritedness of Kerry, Edwards, their family, their campaign staff, saying that it‘s open season on anybody.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

LUNTZ:  The public looks at that and says, you know what?  I don‘t want that.  I don‘t want that for four years I don‘t even want that for two more weeks.  And I think that is helping the Bush campaign succeed. 

BUCHANAN:  Go ahead.

SCARBOROUGH:  I am absolutely stunned what Teresa Heinz Kerry said again about women that decide that they want to stay home and work with their families.

And I am equally stunned by Elizabeth Edwards.  I think Elizabeth Edwards’ statement, which, of course, Frank Rich of “The New York Times” thinks is just a gutsy thing to say, saying that the Cheneys are ashamed of their daughter, I think that is beneath contempt. 

And I will tell you what.  That may play well with Frank Rich and the Upper West Side, but people in middle America cringe at that. 

LUNTZ:  Joe is right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And it‘s these little things that add up that end up costing people elections. 

LUNTZ:  Joe is absolutely right. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, Frank Luntz, Joe.  Frank Luntz and Joe Scarborough, thanks very much, fellows. 


Discussion comments