updated 10/30/2004 4:36:30 PM ET 2004-10-30T20:36:30

Guest: Stephen Hayes

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headlines, four days until the most important election of our lives.  The “Real Deal,” was Osama bin Laden‘s message approved by George W. Bush? 

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

Osama bin Laden crawls out of his cave for the first time since April and gives America an 18-minute lecture, threatening the United States‘ security.  Did he just hand George Bush the election or did he give it to John Kerry? 

And then, the incumbent president has the political momentum, but we‘re going to be taking a look at all the polls.  And I am going to show you how a Bush-Edwards administration could be sworn into office on January the 20th

Plus, are there any last-minute political strategies that could salvage the campaign for John Kerry or George Bush in the states where they‘re losing?  My political panel says the fat lady ain‘t even begun to sing yet. 

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 the show.  I will tell you what.  It‘s great to be back.  As you know, speaking of backs, I‘ve been laying on my back for the past couple months.  It was an ugly injury in 1999.  The moral of the story, well, don‘t chase your kids up tree houses. 

Anyway, it looks like the Red Sox weren‘t the only October surprise.  Osama bin Laden stuck his face in the middle of the presidential horse race today and the result seemed to be bad news for the senator from Massachusetts. 

It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, this is what I believe, folks.  I really do think that history is going to record Osama bin Laden‘s lecture to the American people earlier this afternoon as a deciding factor in the 2004 presidential campaign.  And just like George Bush‘s DUI revelation affected the popular vote and outcome in 2000, and you also remember Lawrence Walsh‘s Iran-Contra indictments on a Friday afternoon late in October in 1992 that helped then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton get elected president. 

Now, Democratic and Republican pollsters have been telling me privately for the past week that the two issues that have prevented John Kerry from closing the deal against his controversial presidential opponent are these two, first, Kerry‘s obsession with a convoluted Al-Qaqaa weapons story, which has made him look more like a state prosecutor over the past four days than a commander in chief. 

Secondly, John Kerry continues to trail George W. Bush by as much as 20 percentage points on the issue of who Americans believe can win the war on terror.  Now, I‘ve run for political office and I understand, I think, better than most that Americans going into the voting booth on Election Day with no more than one or two big issues on their minds.  I saw it time and time again when I ran for office four times. 

But you know what?  Even I was too clever by half four years ago when I suggested on this network that George Bush‘s DUI conviction would be seen as a transparent political hit.  Well, it wasn‘t.  And it ended up, according to some pollsters, costing the president as much as three percentage points in the polls. 

Now, any political operative, TV pundit or editorial writer who tries to downplay the significance of Osama bin Laden‘s bizarre lecture to the American people needs to visit fantasy land with the Boston Red Sox when they go to Disney World later this month, because let me tell you something, friends.  Today, bin Laden made the war on terror the issue, the only issue, in this political campaign. 

And that means that the candidate who is enjoying a 20-point lead on that issue will reap great political advantages.  Expect to hear this from Republicans.  I‘m telling you, you are going to be hearing this over the next three days.  They are going to be telling you time and time again that terrorists will not determine the outcome of American elections.  We‘re not Spain, because you know what?  If you knock down two of our buildings, like you did on 9/11, we take over two of your countries. 

Using that sort of calculus, that sort of math, even bin Laden has to understand that attacking America under a Bush administration is not a very smart thing to do. 

Now, here was President Bush at a rally in Ohio earlier tonight. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  My opponent tonight continued to say things he knows are not true, accusing our military of passing up a chance of getting Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora.  As the commander in charge of that operation, Tommy Franks, has said, it‘s simply not the case.  It‘s the worst kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking.  It‘s especially shameful in the light of a new tape from America‘s enemy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know something else?  Unfortunately, for John Kerry, he was quoted saying two years ago that he supported what the president was doing in Tora Bora.

But here‘s the deal.  If you are John Kerry, the only thing left for you to do is to tell the American people that if you were president of the United States over the past four years, Osama bin Laden wouldn‘t be making videotapes.  He would be six feet under, because, unlike President Bush, you would have killed him when you had the chance at Tora Bora.  Will it work?  Probably not. 

But, friends, tonight, it seems to be the only card John Kerry has left holding in his hand.  And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, here to discuss this explosive news, this explosive breaking news tonight on Osama‘s new tape, is MSNBC military analyst General Barry McCaffrey.  We‘ve MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  He, of course, is the author of “Where the Right Went Wrong.”  We‘ve got Lawrence Kudlow.  He‘s the host of CNBC‘s “Kudlow & Cramer.”  And we‘ve got Boston Red Sox fan and “Boston Herald” writer Mike Barnicle.  We also have Stephen Hayes from “The Weekly Standard.”

And, Barnicle, let me start with you.  I know it was highly inappropriate in a serious moment like this to talk about the Boston Red Sox, but come on.  It‘s been since 1918. 

What do you make, though—lets get serious very quickly here.  What do you make of the bin Laden tape?  How is it going to play in South Boston?  How is it going to play in Queens?  How is it going to play in flyover space, in middle America? 

MIKE BARNICLE, NBC ANALYST:  Well, when I heard the tape, Joe, and viewed it later on earlier this afternoon, it‘s apparent to me at least that it‘s bin Laden telling the United States of America:  I‘m here.  I‘m alive.  I‘m not going anywhere. 

Instinctively, I would think that this would play quite strongly for President Bush, especially among those who might be undecided at this late stage in the election, because the mere appearance of Osama bin Laden on our TV screens is a vivid reminder of the finest moment of his presidency, the moment actually when I would view his becoming president of the United States on the rubble within the World Trade Center several days—a few days after the World Trade Center towers both collapsed.

And they collapsed because this man assembled a group of people who came here to kill us.  And George Bush is intent on killing them.  And I would think that, you know, John Kerry issued a very strong statement this afternoon on the tarmac in Florida.  But this would be, I think, play right to George Bush‘s strength. 

BUCHANAN:  Larry Kudlow, you know, back after the Miami debate, you and I got in a bit of a scrap.  I said George W. Bush blew it.  I said on the issue of the war on terror, he fumbled around, but he has regained his footing.  And, obviously, in polls that have been coming out over the past several days and in the couple polls that are going to be coming out in the next few days, George W. Bush is enjoying a 20- to 25-point lead on the question, “Who do you trust when it comes to winning the war on terror?” 

Osama bin Laden showing his ugly face Friday night before the election, how can this not play in George W. Bush‘s hand? 

LAWRENCE KUDLOW, CO-HOST, “KUDLOW & CRAMER”:  Well, it will play in Bush‘s hand. 

This is kind of one of these in-your-face-type things, as I see it, Osama trying to threat the United States.  And, as you said, we‘re not Spain.  This thing is not going to work.  Every single poll I‘ve seen for months and months and months shows Bush‘s enormous strength, commander in chief, steadfast, decisive, terrorism, Iraq, etcetera.  This forces Kerry to play on Bush‘s turf. 

And I think whether Osama designed it that way or not and what he knows, I have no idea, but it falls into Bush‘s lap.  And unlike 2000, I think this is the kind of thing that will cause the remaining undecided voters in the next 72 hours or so to break for Bush, whereas, in 2000, the DUI incident caused those voters to break against Bush. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, I want it read a “USA Today” daily tracking poll on this issue of war on terror; 53 percent of Americans say they trust the president‘s handling of Iraq, compared to 44 percent for John Kerry.

And in fighting the war on terror, the president has a nearly 20-point lead over John Kerry, 57 percent to 39 percent. 

I want to go to you, Pat Buchanan, right now, as somebody who opposed the war in Iraq, who has not been a big fan of George W. Bush‘s foreign policy.  Even with all that aside, even if you are not a fan of the president‘s foreign policy, even if you think the neocons have taken the president off into the ditch, politically, you were there with Nixon.  You were there with Reagan.  How does this play with three days, four days left to the election?  Can you spin this in any way for John Kerry that soccer moms, security moms, and people in middle America gorge to buy? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  It‘s very hard. 

I think, Joe, water Kerry could have done, when the tape initially hit, bin Laden is in effect taunting us and saying, look, you were going to take me down, finish me off.  Here I am alive and well and giving you instructions as to handle your foreign policy.

And there does seem sort of an opportunity where Kerry could say, look, they‘ve had three years to take him down.  I will finish the job. 

The problem is that Kerry is not terribly credible on that issue, but, secondly, the president has already begun to frame this as bin Laden vs.  Bush.  And he‘s already begun to take on Kerry and say Kerry says he would have gotten him at Tora Bora.  That‘s an insult to Tommy Franks, who is frankly an American hero, and it‘s an insult to our troops over there and our commanders. 

So the president has him horribly boxed, Joe.  And I think his best bet might be to say, I will finish him off the way the president didn‘t.  But it‘s a stance I think that comes pretty close to desperation.  This is going to dominate our politics for the next 72 hours.  And there isn‘t any more time after that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  General McCaffrey, let me bring you in here.

I‘ve had you on this show over the past year and a half.  There are a lot things we‘ve agreed with the Pentagon on.  There are a lot of things we‘ve disagreed with the Pentagon on.  I think both you and I both believe that enough troops weren‘t sent over to Iraq, enough troops weren‘t sent to Afghanistan.  But let‘s talk about this issue of Tora Bora. 

Tommy Franks says that John Kerry is not telling the truth.  There‘s a quote out there obviously from 2002 and right before Tora Bora blew up where Senator Kerry said that he agreed with the handling of Tora Bora.  Give us your assessment of what happened in Tora Bora, who is telling the truth.  Did Bush, did the Pentagon, did our military men and women blow it over there, as some have suggested, not only on the Democratic side, but also on the Republican side? 

RET. GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, you know, to be honest, this entire debate to some extent there‘s less here than meets the eye. 

This is colonels business.  This is tactics out in the field.  I do believe we probably went into both Iraq and Afghanistan with inadequate combat power.  I don‘t think whether Osama bin Laden was in Tora Bora and how the tactics were played out is a relevant issue.  I don‘t think this is actually going to affect the U.S. election. 

And, by the way, I think Osama‘s tape, for that matter, his primary target audience is more likely to be the Arab Middle East to show his strength, that he‘s still alive, he‘s still engaged, than it is the U.S.  presidential election.  We are not going to pay any attention to this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, do you think that this is going to actually move Americans towards George W. Bush?  Because here you have Osama bin Laden, who is trying to tell the Middle East, hey, we impacted the election in Spain.  Now I‘m going to impact the election in the United States of America.

MCCAFFREY:  Well, you know, I think many Americans have an instinctive trust that President Bush has been vigorous on the war, is aggressive in protecting America.  So I think, to the extent you remind Americans of that, it might benefit Bush. 

On the other hand, there‘s been a constant mantra out of many people in the country, hey, where‘s Osama bin Laden?  So I don‘t think this is a big factor, to be honest.  I think the two real factors are Iraq is bad and getting worse and Afghanistan a surprisingly good situation.  The background, though, is, who do we trust to protect America in the coming four years?  That one is pretty close. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, I think you are exactly right. 

Stick around, because we‘re talking about polls, the battleground states and how this election could end in a tie.  And it could, friends. 

We‘ll be right back when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up next, we‘re going to be breaking down how

Osama bin Laden‘s speech is going to have an impact on the election.  Plus,

the latest polls.  I‘m telling you, they‘re getting closer and closer out

there.  We‘re going to actually go through a scenario that is very likely -

·         I mean, not very likely, but certainly could happen—where this race could end up in a tie.

Now, if you are having trouble voting on Election Day or before, you can get help by dialing rMDNM_NBC News‘ voter alert line.  Our number is 1-866-MYVOTE-1.

Stay tuned.  We‘ve got a lot more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead that you‘re not going to want to miss.  It‘s explosive.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, we‘re back with our panel. 

We of course have got General Barry McCaffrey, Pat Buchanan, Larry Kudlow, Mike Barnicle, and Stephen Hayes.

Stephen, I want to go to you now.

Obviously, you have been following this story very closely, not only the war in Iraq, but the war on terror.  Tell me about this latest development.  It is a bombshell.  How is it going to shake up this presidential election? 

STEPHEN HAYES, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”:  Well, you know, Joe, I think there are two separate events. 

One was the bin Laden tape itself.  And I think that, as most people have indicated, that is likely to help President Bush.  But then I think shortly after that tape aired, there was a serious miscalculation by the Kerry campaign.  And that was politicizing this event.  I mean, you had John Kerry say immediately upon finding out that there was a bin Laden tape that he would make better commander in chief than George W. Bush. 

You had Richard Holbrooke I think essentially go ballistic on a competing network, accusing the Bush administration of losing bin Laden at Tora Bora, recycling all of the campaign stump speech. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Stephen, though, I hate to interrupt you, but let me ask you, because I know a lot of John Kerry supporters are asking the question.  What you would have him do, sit back like a potted plant and say nothing over what‘s probably the biggest development in this campaign over the past six, eight weeks? 

HAYES:  No, I think now is the time for John Kerry to act presidential. 

He did a good job of that I think in the debates.  And Jamie Rubin actually came on this network shortly after the bin Laden tape and I thought did a very fine job, saying, we‘re united as Americans.  Nobody wants bin Laden to win.  We‘ll go after al Qaeda.  We‘ll destroy al Qaeda, and act presidential.  He convinced people in the debate that he could be the next commander in chief.  I think he missed another opportunity to do that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  General Barry McCaffrey, if you are the head of the Joint Chiefs, what you would want your president to say on a time like this? 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, I didn‘t hear all the reporting all day long, but I did listen to the president.  I thought he had a very serious, appropriate response to it.

And I heard a brief burst out of Senator Kerry, who I thought was trying to back away from any partisan approach.  Maybe he has got Dick Holbrooke and the other people out there beating on the drums.  But I thought both of them handled it appropriately.  This guy is not a huge threat to us because we intervened in Afghanistan.  We destroyed 45,000 Taliban, 5,000 al Qaeda fighters. 

I just got back from Afghanistan this summer.  It‘s surprising what we‘ve accomplished.  So he‘s in a cave probably in Western Pakistan, no delegations, no cell phones, no command-and-control.  Hopefully, we‘ll kill him some time in the coming months. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, General, hopefully, in the coming months, after this election, regardless of whether it‘s President Kerry who is getting sworn in or George W. Bush getting sworn in, hopefully, the men and women in Afghanistan will start getting the credit they deserve, because you are exactly right. 

What is going on in Afghanistan is remarkable.  We‘re having elections.  We have got a constitution.  I mean, this is historical.  And I will tell you what.  It provides such hope to a people who were so oppressed by brutish thugs just two, two and a half years ago. 

MCCAFFREY:  Yes.  Sure. 

I mean, I flew into the 6th Marines up on the border.  I went down to the 5th Infantry up in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, went to some of the provincial reconstruction teams.  They‘re building roads.  They‘re registering voters.  They‘re opening clinics and schools.  It‘s really astonishing.  Kabul is just a beehive of activity. 

We do have huge problems, now, no question, the opium crop, $2.3 billion and 85,000 heavily armed militia and the warlords.  But, in the short run, we‘ve really accomplished a tremendous amount in Afghanistan. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We certainly have, General. 

And, as always, thanks for coming on and shooting it straight.  I will tell you what.  Sometimes, the politicians in Washington have blown it.  I remember right after 9/11, the first year, when the appropriations bill came up for foreign aid, they forget to give Afghanistan any money. 

MCCAFFREY:  Yes, $1 billion.  Yes, they needed that economic aid. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  You go figure it out. 

Anyway, general, thanks so much for being with us. 

I want to bring in right now pollster Frank Luntz. 

Frank, I‘ll tell you what.  You‘ve been following these elections as closely as anybody.  And the polls, let‘s look at the latest national picture as it stands tonight.  Now, we have got to remind our viewers, all these polls were taken before bin Laden decided to lecture Americans on how they should vote.

But according to the Fox News poll, President Bush leads Senator Kerry by five percentage points, 50-45, that poll just out.  Next up, of course, the ABC News/”Washington Post” tracking poll, which comes out at 5:00 p.m.  every day.  It‘s been moving in George Bush‘s direction over the past four days.  Right now, George Bush leads Kerry by three percentage points, 50-47.

Meanwhile, we have got the battleground poll that also has George Bush ahead by five points, 51-46.  This, of course, is the same battleground poll out of George Washington University that has the president‘s job approval rating at 54 percent; 54 percent of those polled gave George Bush a favorable rating, while 43 said it was an unfavorable rating.

Now, Frank, talk about the significance of these polls and let‘s try to digest what happened tonight.  Of course, there are a lot of Republicans out there that are saying, gee, you know, Karl Rove must have had this videotape for the past six months and played it for the American people.  This puts the war on terror up front. 

But regardless of how it came out, this helps George W. Bush a good bit if the No. 1 issue in America on Election Day is the war on terror. 

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER:  Well, Joe, what really matters here, there‘s a simple question that the Bush campaign wants the American people to ask themselves on their way to the polls on Tuesday:  In whose hands do you feel safer? 

If that is the question, in whose hands do you feel safer, Bush wins, and this tape plays right into that, because Osama is basically trying to do to us right now what the terrorists did over in Spain.  And Americans don‘t like that.  Americans don‘t want to get pushed around.  Americans don‘t want the biggest mass murderer of our country trying to influence our elections and tell us how to vote.

But it actually goes deeper than that.  The fact is, the definition of success in the fight against terror is no terror. 

I was just attacked by a moth in that—a moment ago.

No terror.  But the problem with the Bush administration is that they‘re afraid to say that.  And they‘re afraid because they don‘t know what is going to happen in the last 96 hours.  But the surrogates who are out on the road are talking about that, that there hasn‘t been a successful terrorist attack.  And so John Kerry can speak of managing terror, but this president and his administration can talk about preventing terror.  And that makes a difference. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Frank, did you see the very interesting—I thought it was a fascinating op-ed in “The New York Times” this morning?  Did you see that, talking about the possibility of a Bush-Edwards ticket in January? 

LUNTZ:  Well, that obviously—that is not going to happen.

But what you have got now is a nation that‘s still evenly divided.  There has been a slight movement towards John Kerry, very slight.  But, look, when a poll goes up and down—and this something viewers need to understand.  When these polls go up and down 1 percent, it‘s meaningless, even 2 percent. 

You have to see a 3 percent or more swing before you would say that there‘s been any kind of shift.  Nevertheless, the polls that you showed tonight, if Bush is leading by 3 to 5 percent, then that should be enough to take him through on some of these very close swing states. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Frank, right now, let‘s talk about the swing states. 

Now, obviously, what I was talking about earlier was, if this election ends up in a tie, 269-269, what does that mean?  That means the House of Representatives elects the president of the United States.  The Senate elects the vice president.  If the Senate for some reason were to go Democrat, you could actually have a Bush-Edwards ticket. 

Lets go to our Web site map interactive electoral map.  And you can find it at horserace.MSNBC.com and make your predictions. 

But let me show you a scenario where it could end up in a 269-269 tie.  Let‘s start off in Washington.  OK, let‘s just cut through all the bull right now, OK?  You have got both campaigns spinning, Washington state, with its 11 electoral votes, going to go for Kerry.  Oregon also strongly trending Kerry.  Nevada was considered with its five electoral votes to be a swing state.  You can go ahead and put Nevada in Bush‘s column.  It‘s looking very strong for George Bush right now.

New Mexico, another state—well, let‘s go to Arizona, with its 10 electoral votes.  Expect Arizona, also, which is trending very strongly for George W. Bush, to go for Bush.  New Mexico also considered a swing state.  Do you remember, 2000, Al Gore won it by 4,000 votes?  But all of the polls that have been coming out over the past week or two have shown George Bush very strong in New Mexico. 

Most experts are expecting that one to light up red, go George W.  Bush.  Same thing in Colorado.  Zogby is the only pollster on the planet right now that has Colorado in John Kerry‘s column.  That one is going to end up also in George W. Bush‘s column. 

Now, the key to this election, Frank Luntz and I think others will agree with me, is what happens up the Mississippi River.  Right now, NBC News analysts are looking at it.  They‘re projecting that Arkansas, with six electoral votes, is going to go for George W. Bush.  Missouri, with its 11 electoral votes, going to go for George W. Bush. 

And, of course, you can go on up.  I‘m going to say—I‘m going out on a limb right now.  Minnesota is trending for Bush.  Also, mark Minnesota for George W. Bush.  Despite fact that the Badger Poll came out earlier today and gave George Bush a three-point advantage, I think the bus and a lot of other things carry John Kerry.  He ends up and wins with 10 electoral votes in Wisconsin.  You can also go ahead and mark up Michigan.  It is going to be a John Kerry state regardless of what people are saying. 

I am going out on a limb.  I think Ohio is going to be going for John Kerry.  Also, George W. Bush looking very strong in West Virginia.  Expect him to win West Virginia.  And despite a poll that has George W. Bush gaining in Pennsylvania, Bush is not going back to Pennsylvania.  Expect John Kerry to win that state also.  I am going to also be predicting that John Kerry is going to win Maine. 

I am going to predict that he is going to go ahead and win New Hampshire, despite the fact that Bush was in New Hampshire two times today.  And go down to my home state of Florida, there, you have 27 electoral votes.  I believe that is going to end up giving that 27 to George W. Bush, also trending that direction. 

That leaves us with Iowa.  If Iowa breaks for John Kerry, if I‘m not mistaken, along with Hawaii, what that gives us is a tie.  Am I correct?  Let me ask Leah (ph). 

Am I correct?  Is that a 269-269 tie?  That is a 269-269 tie.  And if you look at all the polls—and, listen, folks, I‘ve been lying on my couch and in my bed for the past two weeks.  I haven‘t had a lot of other things to do but look at these polls, study them, study the internals.  That‘s a very plausible scenario.  If that happens, then you are going have an election that is going to go to the House of Representatives. 

They will elect the president.  The Senate will elect the vice president.  If you want to go through the same exercise I went through, remember, you can do it by going to horserace.MSNBC.com. 

Now, I‘m going to be asking Frank Luntz and our other panelists much more about this when we come back, because we‘re going to break it down state by state with the exact polls when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY continues. 

A tie.  My gosh.  We don‘t need that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Can George Bush lose Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and still be elected president of the United States?  I think Speaker Denny Hastert thinks so.  We‘ll talk about that when we return. 

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, Larry Kudlow, I want to go to you, first of all. 

Obviously, we went through a long 2000 election, very close in a lot of states, close in Florida, close in New Mexico, close in New Hampshire, close in several states.  Do you think the scenario that I just put forward may be a bit irrelevant now with this Osama bin Laden tape, that, one way or another, this tape tonight is going to swing the next 72 hours in a way that, say, the 1980 election was swung in Ronald Reagan‘s direction? 

KUDLOW:  Well, it‘s hard to say.  I happen to think so. 

As I said earlier, I think a lot of undecideds are going to break for Bush.  I think the issue here is, are you a September 10 person or are you a September 12 person?  I think Mr. Kerry is still regarded as a September 10 person.  Mr. Bush is a 9/12 person.  He takes this thing seriously.  The whole world changed. 

And I think America has shifted into a 9/12 mode and all Osama bin Laden did in his speech was remind people that this is a life-and-death global war and that Bush is the guy to do this.  Don‘t change horses in midstream is going to be an implicit scene.  If Bush can carry Iowa and Wisconsin—the rest of your numbers, Joe, I agree with—then I give Bush 286 to Kerry‘s 252. 

And there‘s one other point I want to make, not Osama, but social issues.  In those Mississippi River states, particularly Iowa and particularly Wisconsin, you‘ve got a large group of church-going, German, Catholic voters who are pro-life and are going to swing heavily for George Bush.  Many of them are registered Democrats.  They are going to vote for Bush and that could be a deciding factor. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I agree with you.  And, you know, I think that‘s one of the reasons why Missouri was locked down as early as it was for George W.  Bush.  I think that‘s why Iowa this year could go for George W. Bush.  It‘s very close. 

But let‘s take a look at these battleground states that you are talking about, Larry Kudlow.

And I want to bring in Frank Luntz.  We‘re going to run down the critical polls in the battleground states.  And let‘s start right here in Florida. 

According to Zogby, John Kerry is leading 47-45.  The Quinnipiac poll also from Florida has George Bush leading by three points, 49-46 percent.  Meanwhile, still in Florida, “The L.A. Times” has George Bush up by eight points, 51-43 percent.  And in the crucial state of Ohio, it snow Mr. Bush is leading by one, 46-45 percent.  In Pennsylvania, John Kerry—I have got to say, though, there‘s another poll out that has John Kerry ahead by six points in Ohio.  And a lot of the internal polls are showing it breaking that way. 

Now, in Pennsylvania—let‘s go back to Pennsylvania—Kerry is out to a three-point edge, according to John Zogby, while, according to the Quinnipiac poll, George Bush is actually enjoying a two-point lead, 49-47 percent.  And, as you know, George Bush has made Pennsylvania priority No.  1 over the past four years, just as Bill Clinton made California priority No. 1 from 1992 to 1996. 

Now, as we head to Wisconsin, where both candidates were stumping yesterday, “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” has George Bush leading there by three points, 48-45 percent.  That‘s in the Badger Poll.  And in the great state of Iowa, in the heartland of America, President Bush has a slim one-point edge, 45-44 percent, while, still, in Iowa, the CNN/”USA Today”/Gallup poll has it 50-46 in favor of the incumbent.

Now, we head out to Nevada, where it‘s a seven-point lead for Mr.  Bush, 51-44 percent.  And, in Minnesota—and I‘ve going to tell you, this is shocking me, but, then again, Minnesota gave us Jesse Ventura.  Again, according to Zogby, Kerry is up.  He‘s up by six points, while other polls in Minnesota—let‘s stay in Minnesota.  The Rasmussen report gives George Bush a three-point lead, 49-46 percent.  The Humphrey poll also gives George W. Bush a lead. 

Moving to the Southwest, a state, again, that many thought was going to be a tossup, New Mexico.  We have two polls, first from Zogby.  Bush has a nine-point advantage.  And the Rasmussen poll has George Bush up by four points. 

Back up to the Red Sox nation and the Granite State of New Hampshire, where Curt Schilling may have an impact.  senator Kerry has a five-point lead, 50-45 percent.  And, in New Jersey, a traditional stronghold for Democrats, most polls show that John Kerry is ahead.  But there is one poll, the Quinnipiac poll, that has the race tied at 46 percent apiece. 

And now West Virginia.  A Mason-Dixon poll has George Bush up five percentage points, 49-44 percent.  And, finally, shockingly, in the state of Hawaii, where they have got a popular governor who has approval ratings of over 60 percent, a Republican governor with approval ratings over 60 percent, and where the war on terror means something, President Bush has actually taken a one-point lead, 43-42 percent. 

Frank Luntz, I‘ve given you an awful lot to talk about.  Break it down. 

LUNTZ:  OK. 

The first thing is, I think it‘s easier for viewers if you take these polls—some of these states now, like Pennsylvania and Ohio, there are a half dozen surveys and they‘re all over the place.  What you want to do is, you take out the poll that‘s most pro-Bush.  You remove the poll that is most pro-Kerry and you average the rest of them. 

And what it shows is that Bush is leading in Iowa, Bush is dead even with Kerry, and he‘s actually up in Minnesota.  Those are the three states.  I agree with Larry.  And I‘ve done a lot of research in these states.  Those are the states that they don‘t have big city populations.  The businesses are all 21st century economy, a lot of 50-people, 100-people businesses.  There is not the issue of outsourcing there. 

The economies are going pretty well.  You‘ve got a very successful rural community.  And these are the states that are—they are religious.  They‘re cultural.  They‘re traditional.  And John Kerry doesn‘t play well in those places.  All George Bush has to do...

SCARBOROUGH:  Frank Luntz...

LUNTZ:  All George Bush has to do is win either Minnesota or Wisconsin and he takes the election. 

(CROSSTALK)

KUDLOW:  You know, he has got an interesting one, Frank, if I may. 

This whole—I don‘t know if you follow this whole snowmobile issue in northern Minnesota.  And it‘s become a guns and hunters and snowmobile issue.  Kerry came out against the snowmobiles, even though there are pictures of Kerry on vacation driving his own.  And there‘s a real revolt in some of those northern urban counties in Minnesota.  And that by itself could tip the whole state towards Mr. Bush. 

LUNTZ:  And let‘s take it one step further.

SCARBOROUGH:  Larry Kudlow, I want to—hold on a second.

And I will let you take it one step further. 

We‘re going to talk to all our panelists about it.

Now, I know a lot of you in middle America hear that and that makes you laugh.  Let me tell you something.  In 2002, Steve Largent, one of the most popular politicians in Congress and I would say in Oklahoma, lost in part because he came out against an initiative that supported cockfighting in Oklahoma. 

I‘m telling you what.  Tip O‘Neill said all politics is local.  It is.  And in that northern Minnesota area, those issues regarding snowmobiles, I remember people talking about it when I was back in Congress. 

Frank, I‘m sorry to cut you off, but I had to make that point that all politics in a lot of states really is local.  Go ahead, Frank. 

LUNTZ:  Well, Minnesota, Wisconsin are very different than any other states in the country, because they are economically actually left of center, but culturally, socially, they are right of center. 

And they have responded very favorably to Bush‘s focus on the social agenda.  Look, it may not play well in New York or California, but Bush‘s traditional values, American values focus, that plays tremendously well in a state like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and even, to some degree, Iowa.  And you combine economic success, a support of that cultural agenda, as well as the war on terror, and those are the ingredients that Bush needs just to squeak by in those three states. 

KUDLOW:  You know, it‘s interesting, just it pick up on another of Frank‘s point that my research shows. 

Because of the nature of what I am going to call the small business economies up in northern Mississippi, unemployment rates are very low up there.  And job creation has been quite good. 

There‘s a lot of servicing.  There‘s a lot of techie.  And those are fairly prosperous areas that are different, significantly different, than some of the problems in Ohio, for example. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Larry, Larry, you are exactly right. 

Somebody making the argument that those tax cuts didn‘t help small businesses just doesn‘t sell in some of those areas. 

Hey, Frank Luntz, as always, thanks for being with us, talking about the battleground states. 

And we‘re going to be talking about a lot more with our panel from the battleground states to the battlefields of Iraq when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

This election is going to turn out to be one of the most exciting, closest elections in our time. 

Stick around.  We have got a lot more in just a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle, my screensaver for years has said, “We believe, RedSox.com.”

What about John Kerry.com?  Does John Kerry believe tonight that he is going to be the 44th president of the United States?  And does he have a good reason to believe that? 

BARNICLE:  Well, I‘m sure that he does believe that, Joe.  And, surely, the numbers that you just read off in the polls in the various battleground states would give him some hope that that could become a possibility.

But it was interesting listening to those numbers, as you and Larry and Frank went through the different states, because there‘s an element among us tonight out there in the airwaves that I think is beyond polling.  And it‘s the emotion raised by the release of the bin Laden tape this afternoon.  Americans are easily preoccupied.  We have, as we have found out this evening, we have cockfighting in Oklahoma.  We have snowmobiling in Minnesota.  We have the World Series and we have Saturday morning soccer with the kids. 

But this tape, this tape is a reminder...

SCARBOROUGH:  It cuts through it, doesn‘t it? 

BARNICLE:  Well, it‘s a reminder, Joe, I think to millions of Americans of something that is easily forgotten.  We‘re a nation at war tonight and have been for quite some time and will be for quite some time in the future. 

And this is the ultimate October surprise that the Democrats feared. 

Who knew that it would come from Osama bin Laden himself?

SCARBOROUGH:  Stephen Hayes, why did Osama bin Laden do it? 

Speculate. 

HAYES:  That‘s a good question. 

Pat and I were just talking about that. 

I don‘t have a clue.  I don‘t think we can have a clue.  One of the things I‘ve heard bandied about by people in the intelligence world at the Pentagon is that he may not have the capability to do a massive pre-election attack, and this is his way of intervening.  And I think nobody would ever say that publicly and I don‘t even like to hazard that guess.

But the bin Laden intervention in this election—I agree with Mike completely—totally changes the complexion of the election.  I think you can take the polls that we were reading from and really throw them out the window.  It changes everything, because it‘s just a huge jolt to the electorate. 

To people who have not been paying much attention to this point, to people who are sick of the commercials and the campaigns and the stump speeches, they see bin Laden on their TV screens and on the front page of their papers tomorrow and they are going to stop and say, wow.  We are at war. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It cuts through all the noise.  It takes people back to 9/11.

And I will leave it to you, the viewer, to decide whether that swings George W. Bush‘s advantage or whether it swings John Kerry‘s way.  But, I think, regardless, it is going to cause a two or three-point swing. 

I am going to let my good friend Pat Buchanan give his final thoughts on when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

But, first, I want to thank Larry Kudlow, Mike Barnicle and Stephen Hayes for being with us tonight. 

I‘ll tell you what.  What a fascinating, historical night to be here. 

Thank you so much for being with us.  And we look forward to seeing you next week. 

But Pat will be with you when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  The lights have to be burning late in the Kerry campaign tonight.  He‘s got to figure out a way to get into an argument between bin Laden and George W. Bush, to do it in a presidential way, at the same time, take a look at states that are slipping away. 

I‘ll see you for an election special Sunday night at 6:00 p.m.

Eastern.  Good night. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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