Guests: Craig Crawford, Jonathan Alter, Howard Dean
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Are we there yet? On the eve of as crucial a set of midterm elections as our lifetimes have seen, the president plays a new tune. But first, this golden oldie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My decision to get rid of Saddam Hussein was the right decision, and the world is better off for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And that new tune, Iraq was about oil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: You can imagine a world in which these extremists and radicals got control of energy resources, and then you can imagine them saying, We‘re going to pull a bunch of oil off the market to run your price of oil up, unless you do the following.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The neocons pull the rug out from the whole Iraq war. The Republican running to become governor of Florida pulls the rug out from the president. The military newspapers pull the rug out from under Rumsfeld.
But what will the voters do?
Or what will the voting machines do? Fifty percent of American counties have some new equipment this year. The usual total is 5 percent. Can it be fixed? Or worse, can it be fixed?
The state of play at the headquarters of the opposition. Democratic National chair Howard Dean joins us live.
The late sideshows from Saddam Hussein, to Mark Foley, to Pastor Ted Haggard, and the words he could not even say aloud. “There‘s a part of my life so repulsive and dark that I‘ve been warring against it all of my adult life.”
And a special comment. Cut the election any way you want, this is a referendum on Iraq, on checks and balances, on President Bush. And I‘m afraid the president has been making it up as he went along.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
Good evening. This is Monday, November 6, one day until the 2006 midterm elections.
All midterms, to some extent, function as a referendum on the popularity of the president. In that context, a bad last-minute sign for the current president. He went to Florida to campaign for the Republican seeking to become governor there, and that Republican did not show up.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, President Bush and his party fighting for survival, balance of power hanging on their unpopular, seemingly never-ending war in Iraq, the late poll numbers suggesting general tightening in the GOP‘s favor.
But as Mr. Bush spent the final hours of this campaign, his final hours, certainly, stumping for candidates who were not there. More on Charlie Crist in a moment.
Another figure at considerable remove also looming on the campaign trail, Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator, whose conviction happened to fall just two days before the polls opened here in the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: My decision to get rid of Saddam Hussein was the right decision, and the world is better off for it.
On Sunday, we witnessed a landmark event in the history of Iraq.
Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced to death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The only problem, while Hussein was told yesterday that he was guilty of crimes against humanity, he was not told exactly how or why. The full verdict actually explaining the reasons behind the yesterday‘s verdict is not ready yet. It will not be ready till Thursday, all involved insisting that the verdict and the splitting of it was not politically timed. If only the same could be said of Senator Elizabeth Dole‘s comments yesterday, the North Carolina Republican charging that the Democrats want nothing more than an American defeat in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS”)
SEN. ELIZABETH DOLE ®, NORTH CAROLINA: And, you know, it‘s almost as if the Democrats—you know, it‘s like they are content with losing, because to pull out, to withdraw, from this war is losing, no question about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Senator Charles Schumer of New York, in charge of the effort to win back the Senate for the Democrats, also in charge of today‘s Democratic response to that, firing back that Saddam Hussein and Republican bluster will not be a factor at the polls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: What‘s going to matter far more is that Dick Cheney said we‘re staying the course. What‘s going to matter far more is that President Bush said he‘s keeping Secretary Rumsfeld.
It seems that the only people in all of America who don‘t realize things aren‘t going well in Iraq are the president and his small little coterie of advisers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And even that coterie of advisers, it would seem, now able to recognize chaos, some of the very same neoconservatives who dreamed up the war in Iraq in the first place now condemning the White House for its execution of that conflict, Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon Defense Policy Advisory Board, and Kenneth Adelman, lifelong neocon activist who used to serve on that board, telling “Vanity Fair” magazine that their grand designs have been undermined by White House incompetence, Mr. Adelman, who had famously written a 2002 op-ed article in “The Washington Post” that liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk, saying now of the administration‘s conduct, quote, “I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era. Not only did each of them individually have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional.”
Same phrase might apply to the coordination between the president and the campaign of the Republican candidate for governor of Florida. The White House said Charlie Crist would be at a campaign rally with the president today in Pensacola, instead, he was hooking up with John McCain in Jacksonville, explaining, Mr. Crist did, that he had considered the panhandle so firmly in his grasp that it made more sense to campaign elsewhere, Karl Rove bragging on the tarmac before heading to Florida this morning that his rally would attack a larger crowd than whatever Mr. Crist would be attending.
Final round of polls tighter than ever, forecasting only that election night will stretch long into Wednesday morning, if not beyond Wednesday. According to the state-by-state results for the Senate in the final MSNBC-McClatchey polls, these are the races that will decide the balance of power.
In Missouri, the Democrat Claire McCaskill and incumbent Republican Jim Talent still virtually tied, with 7 percent undecided. Democrat Ben Cardin and Republican Michael Steele also virtually tied in Maryland, with 9 percent still to make a decision. In New Jersey, the incumbent Democrat, Bob Menendez, widening his advantage over Republican challenger Tom Kean, Jr., now up by 7, but that is still within the margin of error.
Things looking bleak for Republican incumbent Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, down by 13, only 7 percent undecided. In other Mason-Dixon polls, Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown leading incumbent Mike DeWine by 6 in Ohio, 5 percent undecided. Last month, Mr. Brown was up by 8.
In Virginia, the challenger Jim Webb in a virtual tie now with the Republican incumbent, George Allen. The previous poll had Senator Allen ahead. In Montana, the incumbent Republican, Conrad Burns, tied with Democratic challenger John Tester. And finally, in Tennessee, Democratic Congressman Harold Ford down by 12 in his race against Republican Bob Corker, other polls suggesting that race is in single digits.
Joining me now for our final look at this election before it actually gets underway, our own Craig Crawford, of course, also a columnist for “Congressional Quarterly.”
Craig, good evening.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”: Good to be here.
The voters have a lot of work to do tomorrow.
OLBERMANN: Indeed they do, and everywhere, it seems. We‘ll get to the significance of the individual races in a second.
But this bigger picture first. You have the neocons, the architects of the Iraq war, now saying the idea was good, but the administration was incompetent. We already knew last Friday that the four military community newspapers were going to insist today on the ouster of Secretary Rumsfeld, and they did so. Might any of that influence, to any degree, some voters to hold the administration accountable tomorrow about Iraq at the polls?
CRAWFORD: It‘s kind of an inside-Washington story, these folks, who really were the architects in this war. And I‘m suppose it‘s not the first time architects have blamed the contractors when building fell down. But I do think there‘ll be some talk about it. I don‘t see it having a big, big impact, though, on the voters tomorrow. It‘s just not happening, you know, with enough time for it to be fully discussed.
OLBERMANN: So then, what about the administration and its reaction to the Saddam Hussein verdict, touting that as another milestone? Is that going have an impact? The outcome of it was never really questionable, even if the timing of the verdict itself, it was questionable, it‘s being questioned now. Does it not come with an unhappy package that it‘s also a reminder of, A, the untold milestones in Iraq, and, B, it‘s a reminder about Iraq?
CRAWFORD: It puts Iraq back on the front pages. I know a lot of congressional Republican operatives were hoping to spend these last couple of days talking about the economy. There were some good numbers to talk about. The White House jumping right out, though, talking about Iraq again. And that is something a lot of Republicans did not welcome.
OLBERMANN: And on Iraq, to what degree did this extraordinary appearance on “MEET THE PRESS” yesterday of Senator Elizabeth Dole help the Republicans, compared to what it—how it might have hurt? It did not—it seemed to be outside the realms of rationality, not to put too fine a point on it.
CRAWFORD: Well, you know, I think the Republicans are just so torn in how to get at the Democrats on this whole question of how they don‘t have their own plan to get out of the war. And the Democrats have been elusive for them on that, and they‘re frustrated. I think Elizabeth Dole really showed that frustration.
But I think Democrats are probably closer to the public as a whole, Keith, because the public as a whole is apparently confused about what to do in Iraq. In fact, a lot of the experts are confused. And now we‘ve got the architects of the whole darn thing saying it was done wrong.
So I think, you know, both Democrats and the public in general are—or can be—you know, I think we can forgive people if they just don‘t know what to do in Iraq.
OLBERMANN: Yes, especially the party not in power being asked to produce its plan to solve a situation that it did not get into, and in any event.
Let me go through a couple of these polling numbers while we have some time. Missouri, Maryland, Montana, literally too close to call at this point.
Taking them race by race, Missouri, the Republicans have spent apparently $100,000 on robocalling for Jim Talent for senator. Is that going to make a difference at this late hour?
CRAWFORD: Getting that vote out, one thing‘s we‘ve seen in the polls that gives Republicans a little heart is that Republican enthusiastic Republican vote seems to be coming back. A lot of these Republican voters had not been paying a lot of attention to the election. We‘re seeing numbers now saying they‘re paying attention again, they are planning to vote, and there will be more Republicans than Democrats voting in the midterm election, it seems, which is traditional for midterm elections.
And so these kind of calls get that vote out. That race, though, is so tight, and I think one thing that will make a difference is that stem cell ballot initiative, which will bring a lot of Democrats out, because the Democrat in that race is for stem cell research, and the Republican against it.
OLBERMANN: Maryland. This looked like Ben Cardin‘s race two or three weeks ago. It was double digits. Now we‘ve got Clinton there (INAUDIBLE) stumping for him. And Michael Steele, though, has been closing the gap. What has happened out here? Who‘s going to win this one?
CRAWFORD: Yes, that‘s a—spending that chit of Clinton getting in there, you know, they need to use Clinton wherever they need, wherever the races are tightest. And so that indicates Democrats are worried about that race. I think Steele is coming on strong. He‘d be my pick for a sleeper tomorrow, actually, Keith. He‘s run a strong campaign, very strong ads. And the Democrat in that race has come across as something like the—looks a little like the old-school Democrat.
OLBERMANN: And lastly, Craig, you mentioned sleepers. That is a perfect segue into Montana and Senator Burns, where obviously that was one of the criticisms there. This thing now is too close to call as well. How do you see this one?
CRAWFORD: Well, I think the tax issue, the Republicans went after the Democrat in this race talking about how he was going to raise taxes, and then the Democrats are responding. There again, you‘ve got a couple of ballot initiatives that could make a difference. One‘s on corruption, on lobbying. And after all, this is the man, this senator, Burns, is the one who took the most money of all from Jack Abramoff. And that‘s what got him in trouble in the first place, not to mention some of his gaffes.
OLBERMANN: Always vote the crewcut in Montana.
CRAWFORD: There you go.
OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford, also a columnist for “Congressional Quarterly.” Great thanks for joining us. We‘ll see you tomorrow.
CRAWFORD: Looking forward to it.
OLBERMANN: And this programming note about tomorrow‘s midterms, starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, 5 -- 3:00 Pacific, Chris Matthews and I will be co-anchoring MSNBC‘s all-out and, we presume, all-night coverage of Decision 2006 from the first exit poll to the last Ha! Coverage all day. Chris mounts these golden stairs with an election day “HARDBALL” at 5:00.
I‘ll join him at 6:00 tomorrow here on MSNBC.
First, tonight, on the eve on what is practically a referendum on the war in Iraq, my special comment on the man who took us there.
And before the polls even open, there are predicted delays, problems with voting machines, not to mention an effort by the GOP to annoy the electorate into not voting for Democrats. It is remarkably ingenious and plain old remarkable.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Nothing like a bit of refreshing honesty. At a recent campaign rally in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, Senator Rick Santorum dismissed polls showing his challenger with a double-digit lead and coined a saying worthy of Josef Stalin. Said Senator Santorum, quote, “Democrats have polls, we have workers at the polls.”
And now our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, another candid admission, this one from the National Republican Congressional Committee. It is sponsoring robocalls, prerecorded phone calls to potential voters which are, at best, annoying, and, at worst, which constitute harassment and suppression of the vote, and may, in fact, be illegal.
Here is one example from the Sixth Congressional District of Illinois.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. I‘m calling with information about Tammy Duckworth.
Tammy Duckworth said she would seriously consider repealing part of the recent federal tax cuts. Tammy Duckworth‘s plan could mean higher taxes for married couples, and the death tax would return. And repealing the current child tax credit would mean that the tax credit would get cut in half.
Tammy Duckworth is wrong on taxes and wrong for Illinois.
This call was paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate‘s committee, www.nrcc.org. Thank you for your time.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As you heard, it sounded at first blush like a straightforward negative ad. But the problem is simple. The same call is made repeatedly, sometimes a dozen or more times per day, and the opening line mimics phone messages in favor of the candidate who‘s named, so potential voters feel they might be being harassed, and they hang up before the recording continues, left with the impression that Tammy Duckworth, for example, was badgering them for support.
A Duckworth spokesman says that, quote, “Now when we call, people think we‘ve already made a dozen attempts to contact them. It plays on the fact that people hate these calls and makes them think it‘s us, and not them.”
Multiplying that by about 50 key races around the country reveals the breadth of this latest tactic. A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee said, quote, “Phone banking is used by campaigns of all stripes. Because these calls are done by cps, it could be some kind of a glitch.”
A glitch. In some cases, reportedly, if you hang up before the call is over, the computer dials you over and over, until you listen to the entire negative voice.
But even if the recipient figures out it is a negative ad, the call may still violate the Do Not Call laws of some states. Sadly, robocalling may pale in comparison to other gems from the bag of dirty tricks, like African American voters in Virginia being told by phone that they may be arrested if they try to vote tomorrow, because they are still registered in another state, or that their polling place has changed. Both claims, of course, patently false.
Let‘s call in “Newsweek” magazine‘s senior editor and MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter.
Thanks for your time on election eve, Jon.
JONATHAN ALTER, SENIOR EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK” MAGAZINE: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The robocalling first. This looks to be fairly widespread. Is it as effective as it appears to be, getting a ton of resentment stirred up against a candidate for just pennies per call?
ALTER: I think it is pretty effective, or they wouldn‘t do it. This is the state of the art negative campaigning. Used to be that a couple days before the election, all the negatives would stop, and people would put on their happy faces and do positive ads. But not this time.
All over the country, Democratic candidates‘ headquarters are getting calls from their own people saying, If I hear one more call for Tammy Duckworth, I‘m not going to vote for Tammy Duckworth. And the headquarters are saying, Those aren‘t our ads, because what‘s happening is that people are hanging up, and they‘re just hearing the name, and they‘re assuming, as you indicated, that they‘re getting a call from the person named, when really they‘re getting a call from the NRCC, the National Republican Congressional Committee.
OLBERMANN: All right. So let‘s say that is ultimately in violation of some law or gets the NRCC fined at some point after the election. That just the cost of doing business?
ALTER: Well, it has been in the past. But I talked to Rahm Emanuel, who‘s running the Democrats‘ campaigns for the Congress, this—for the House this time, and he said, Enough is enough. After this election‘s over, they obviously can‘t stop them now, but they are going file a bunch of civil suits. They‘re going to push this to the full extent of the law.
There are fines in some states for doing this of $500 a call. So very quickly, the cost to the Republican Party, if the Democrats are successful in pursuing these suits, would go up into the tens of millions of dollars. So I think you‘re gong to see a lot of publicity after the election of the Democrats trying to bankrupt the Republicans for having the—engaged in this late hit just before the ‘06 elections.
OLBERMANN: And another late hit that seems a little bit more traditional. The Virginia Senate race, phone calls threatening arrests, saying the polling places had changed, and reportedly these fliers posted in some African American precincts saying, “Skip This Election,” Jim Webb‘s campaign, the Democrat‘s campaign, drafting a complaint to the Department of Justice. It‘s part old trick, part new trick.
Is this the—is this the exemplar of suppression ‘06?
ALTER: I guess it is. You know, I come from Chicago, where we‘ve had our own history of these kinds of shenanigans. But think what a lot of people don‘t understand is, you can go jail for this. In fact, there was just a conviction from the ‘04 campaign up in New Hampshire. And the only way to lessen this, there‘s always going to be some of it, is if you see the perp walk, you know.
So the press has to do better at covering how this is not just really sleazy, it‘s illegal.
OLBERMANN: We could easily devote an entire segment, an hour, on anticipated election day problems. Right now, Project Vote has identified 33 jurisdictions in nine states, concerns ranging from computerized voting machine problems, new voter ID requirements. Where do you see the headlines here?
ALTER: Well, you know, it‘s Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Those are the nine states where they‘re really expecting some problems.
My own sense is that the big headlines are going be not in intentional voter suppression as much as just chaos, because so many of these jurisdictions are using new equipment. There are going to be glitches. The poll workers in many areas have not been well trained.
So I think you‘re going to see a lot of stories of voter irregularities that just result from us all over the country transitioning to new, balky electronic equipment.
OLBERMANN: Yes, the usual turnover on equipment‘s 5 percent. It‘s 50 percent this year around (INAUDIBLE)...
ALTER: It‘s a huge, huge challenge tomorrow.
OLBERMANN: Jonathan Alter, “Newsweek” magazine senior editor, MSNBC political analyst. Great thanks for joining us.
ALTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Add Ramona, California, to the list of places where voters might be confused, because that place has two candidates running for the same office who have the same name.
And the truth, according to Pastor Ted Haggard, take three, one of the chief evangelical advisers to the administration, now admitting he is a liar and a deceiver.
That‘s ahead. This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: On this date 146 years ago, though he was not on the ballot in nine of the states, Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States, defeating a Unionist candidate and two Democrats. On this date 145 years ago, Jefferson Davis was elected the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. Already in office as provisional president, he ran unopposed.
Moral, some years the exit polling is a lot easier than others.
Let‘s play Oddball.
And we begin with the race everybody‘s talking about, the battle for Ramona, California, city planner, Oddball polling showing it is neck and neck between Kathy Finley and Kathy Finley. Both candidates have the same name, different positions, different hair color, but they‘re both Kathy Finley. The two appeared together for this report, and seemed cordial enough. But even in a race where your opponent is rubber and you are glue, it looks like Kathy Finley is calling Kathy Finley a liar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHY FINLEY: I‘ve lived here all my life. And if there was another Kathy Finley in Ramona, I‘d know it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can we trust Kathy Finley? We‘re not even sure if she‘s from Ramona.
KATHY FINLEY: I‘d know it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don‘t be a fool for Kathy Finley‘s smooth talk and same name as Kathy Finley.
This Tuesday, vote for Kathy Finley.
Paid for by Friends of Kathy Finley, the good one. No, that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: To the Internets, where today we find one of those hilarious TV bloopers, thanks to our good friends over at Fox News Channel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE SKINNER, FOX NEWS: The deputy police chief says six officers were killed, including the district‘s top cock, top cock, after—cop, after the vehicle they were riding in was sprayed with bullets. Three other officers were hurt in the attack.
And those are your latest headlines. I‘m Jane Skinner. Time now to send you back to Shepard, who is live. Where? Just outside of Memphis.
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS: South Carolina game cock. She‘s a big fan.
Go South Carolina. You know, Steve Spur (ph) is a coach there now, Janie.
SKINNER: You know how hard it is to read when everyone else in the studio is shaking with laughter at your misfortune?
SMITH: I know, I‘ve been there, Jane.
SKINNER: You (INAUDIBLE), just for (INAUDIBLE)...
SMITH: (INAUDIBLE) billions of (INAUDIBLE)...
SKINNER: Do it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Hahahaha. All of us have found ourselves in that sticky situation there at one time or another. Ahahaha.
Of course, what (INAUDIBLE) whatever her name was meant to say was, the deputy police chief says six officers were killed, including the nation‘s top cop. See, it was the top police officer in Afghanistan, and five of his fellow officers, who were gunned down in cold blood.
Yes, that‘s a big laugh, isn‘t it?
Back to the election, and the man whose job it is to get the Democrats back in power. Howard Dean joins us live, next.
OLBERMANN: Three-and-a-half years into the war in Iraq, Thousands of American troops killed, but no WMD, no exit strategy, no end in sight, but there is always time for a new rationalization and the president has just given it to us—special comment ahead.
But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day.
No. 3, former Philippine‘s first lady Imelda Marcos. At one time she was the second leading consumer of woman‘s clothing in the world, behind the United States. Now she‘s introducing a new fashion line on the 18th, the Imelda collection, accessories and jewelry. Shoes? Well, perhaps if the manufacturers can convince her to part with any of them.
No. 2, Paul Tracy who will miss the rest of his auto racing season—seasons in which he regularly hit speeds of 220, even 230-miles-an-hour, this after a motor vehicle accident in which he suffered a fractured right shoulder blade. This happened when tried to jump sand dunes while inebriated in a golf cart doing about 10, 15-miles-an-hour.
And No. 1, Curtis Allgier—this guy, the proverbial ink-stained retch. He skipped out on his patrol in Salt Lake City, a SWAT team located and captured him Saturday. However did they made a positive I.D.?
OLBERMANN: If Democrats take control of the House of Representatives tomorrow or early Wednesday-ish or next week, a lot of credit may end up going to a fairly arcane inside baseball decision made long ago by the Democratic National Committee. The third story on our COUNTDOWN already sounds boring you should know that this decision was a controversial one, to the point of being breathtaking. Simply put, the DNC decided to fight for every vote in every county around the country. It‘s called the 50 State Strategy. Its champion, its mastermind was committee chairman, Howard Dean who joins us now from Burlington, Vermont.
A pleasure to speak with you again, sir.
HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me on, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Minority Leader Pelosi told the “San Francisco Chronicle” she expects the Democrats will pick up at least 22 seats in the House tomorrow she said the only variable that would change that would be Republican voting fraud. Do you agree with her threshold for rat smelling and with the robo calls and some voter suppression, there do you...
DEAN: I‘m actually—Keith, I am glad you brought that up because we know now there are robo calls going into Democrats just to annoy them, and they‘re not ours, they‘re masquerading as ours. So, if you get one of those calls, don‘t get mad at us, it‘s not us. We suspect it‘s probably the Republicans. But go out and vote, no matter what happens, go out and vote. Because if you want real change in this country, you have to vote.
OLBERMANN: Are you worried about these reports of voter suppression? About the calls to people in Virginia telling then that they can‘t vote, it would be illegal in many African-American communities because they registered elsewhere?
DEAN: Yeah, they do that every year. It‘s just—you know, it‘s astonishing—it‘s not astonishing that they‘re in trouble, because the American people want a Democracy and the Republicans have put the interest of their party ahead of the interest of our country by all this stuff. And it‘s, you know, they‘re in the middle of a lawsuit now, they‘ve already been criminally convicted for some stuff like this they did in New Hampshire in the 2000 race. I don‘t know why they don‘t learn. But it is not proper to fool with people‘s votes. Let as many people vote as possibly can, you know, as long as they‘re American citizens they ought to be able to vote.
OLBERMANN: It seems in forecasting this stuff, as we look ahead to tomorrow and the weeks to come, perhaps, there are surface expectations and then there are insider expectations. The surface expectations were that the Democrats are going win the House, come close in the Senate. The insider expectations that responded to that were, oh, no we‘re going to win the House comfortably and take the Senate. But invariably insider expectations supplants surface explanations and you now get new insider expectations and those would be from these latest series of polls that say that generic Democrat lead is about half what it was a week ago. So, now you don‘t take the Senate, maybe you fall short in the House? What is your view on this, what are your insider expectations on Monday evening?
DEAN: Look, I don‘t have expectations. The only expectations I have is that we‘re going work as hard as we possibly can. We have contacted over 30 million voters between the Democratic Congressional Committee, Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Committee, and all the state parties -- 30 million voters. Here‘s what I believe. I believe we‘re going pick up significant numbers of governor seats, significant numbers of House seats, and significant numbers of Senate seats. Whether that put us in the majority or not, I can‘t tell you. That depends on how many people turn out.
If you like things the way things are going, you ought to vote Republican. If you don‘t like things the way things are going, you want a new direction in the country, then you need to get out and vote tomorrow, because if you don‘t vote you‘re not get a new direction.
OLBERMANN: There seems to be little doubt that the effect of these elections and certainly the international perception of these elections, wills be that they are referenda on Iraq and the Bush presidency. Do you feel that way? Are they truly that way in the country, in the various elections? Are people voting it that way or is it just, you know, Missouri, Talent versus McCaskill.
DEAN: It‘s a little of everything. There have been polls on that, that have been public polls. I‘d say about half the people just want a new direction in the country and they‘re going to vote for democrats as a result of that.
The other half are looking at the merits of the candidates and they‘ll vote based on the candidates. But there are candidates, for example, like Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island, who ordinarily would not have trouble getting re-elected who‘s probably going to lose tomorrow because people know that Lincoln Chafee—nice guy that he is, is going cast his first vote for a Republican majority in the Senate, and then—which means people like Jim Inhofe being in charge of the Environment Committee, which is a joke.
So, I think that you are going see enough people saying we got to have a new direction. We know that if you elect the Republicans they‘re going to stay the course, that‘s not good for the country, we need to go in a different direction. We‘re voting for Democrats straight down the line.
OLBERMANN: About what I talked about in the introduction, your party strategy. Before the number of competitive races double, perhaps tripled, spreading into a lot of red states, as you suggested, a lot of the members of your party were pretty vocal in criticizing this 50 State Strategy. What did you see that they did not?
DEAN: If you want to be a national party you have to compete everywhere. Furthermore, I think one of the biggest mistakes the Democrats have made over the last 12 years is we haven‘t asked everybody for their vote. There‘s a mark of respect in asking people for their votes. I know that there‘s some people that aren‘t going to give us their vote tomorrow. But if you don‘t ask and make the case, I think it‘s somewhat insulting.
My view is that everybody in America is our boss and I believe we will win tomorrow. I‘m not sure how much we‘re going to win, we‘re certainly going to pick up seats and governorships. And my attitude is, and I think the attitude of Speaker—we hope, Speaker-to-be Pelosi‘s and leader Reid, is going to be look, everybody‘s our boss, not just the people that voted with us, but everybody who pays taxes and voted, we need to listen to all of them.
One of the things that we need to do is bring this country back together again. This has been the most bitterly divided county, certainly in my lifetime and we need a leadership, which the democrats will supply, which respects everybody, not just half the country.
OLBERMANN: The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean. Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
DEAN: Keith thanks for having me on.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, first he denied knowing the male prosecute, then admitted to buying drugs from the male prostitute, and now the former White House favorite and anti-gay Evangelists, the Reverend Ted Haggard admits to “sexual immorality.” Stay tuned, it could change again before we get to the story.
Speaking of immorality, Bill-O now accused of doing something illegal, perhaps, facing a possible investigation about a possible investigation. Those stories ahead, but first here are COUNTDOWN “Top 3 Sound Bites” of this day.
Kodos: Colonel Kang, your report?
Kang: Oh, the Earthlings continue to resent our presence.
Kang: You said we‘d be greeted as liberators!
Kodos: Don‘t worry. We still have the people‘s hearts and minds.
holds up a human heart in one hand and a brain in the other>
Kang: I don‘t know, I‘m starting to think “Operation: Enduring Occupation” was a bad idea.
Kodos: We HAD to invade. They were working on weapons of mass disintegration.
Kang (angry, defiant): Sure they were!
KINKY FRIEDMAN (I-TX), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is the bugger on his nose that we‘ve got to tell him about tomorrow. We got to tell them, that on your nose, governor, is the trans-Texas corridor and we got to get it off or Texas will is going to be worse for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: November 7, do you know who you‘re voting for?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met him at the playboy party and he spent the entire time talking to my little brother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I met him a year ago when I was interviewing for the page program. He took a real interest in me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Constitution can‘t protect us against terrorists, why protect it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, why don‘t we just use Michael J. Fox‘s stem cells?
ANNOUNCER: This satirical ad inspired entirely by the hypocrisy of the Republican Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman, call me.
OLBERMANN: He preached that homosexuality was a sin and advised the White House on Evangelical matters. Now, Reverend Ted Haggard admits he is an immoral liar and he apologizes. Some which we are still waiting for the president to do, even as he seeks new justification for a war that has left thousands of Americans dead. Special comment on that and the election ahead—ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: If you had heard that Ted Haggard admitting having sex with a male prostitute, you‘ve heard wrong. In Haggard tortured language, the No. 2 story tonight, he admitted to “sexually immoral” conduct, but still denies being gay or having same sex sex. The statement referred to his life-long battle with thoughts and desires contrary to everything he believes. Less widely reported, he also said, “Our church‘s overseers have required me to submit...I alone need to be disciplined and corrected. My sins...need to be dealt with harshly.”
What? He gets treated less cynically than Mark Foley or Mel Gibson? And what is this continuing theme of the holier-than-thou turning out to be the holier-than-nobody?
Our correspondent is John Larson.
TED HAGGARD, FMR PRES NATL ASSOC OF EVANGELICALS: I‘ve never had a gay relationship with anybody.
JOHN LARSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What began almost a week ago with Ted Haggard‘s denial, may have ended yesterday with a letter of confession read by a visiting pastor.
REV LARRY STOCKSTILL, READING HAGGARD STATEMENT: The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it all of my adult life.
LARSON: Ted Haggard, the newly resigned leader of the 30 million members National Association of Evangelicals, involved with this gay male prostitute.
MIKE JONES, MALE ESCORT: I felt I had an obligation to the community point out the hypocrisy.
LARSON: Hypocrisy, too strong a word for many church members even after he was fired from that church on Saturday.
JOHN RABB, NEW LIFE CHURCH MEMBER: He made big mistakes. It does not make him a bad person, no more than anybody else.
LARSON: But in religion and politics, saying one thing while doing another is explosive.
MARK FOLEY, FORMER FL CONGRESSMAN: Need to change the way we treat sex offenders.
LARSON: In politics, Congressman Mark Foley railed against pedophiles.
FOLEY: We need to stop these predators now.
LARSON: And resigned at the speed of light when we learned he wrote inappropriate e-mails to young pages.
In Spokane, Washington, Mayor Jim West, one of the most outspoken anti-gay politicians in that state, resigned following accusations he fondled underage boys and visited gay chat lines.
JIM WEST, FMR MAYOR SPOKANE WASHINGTON: The circumstance of this is embarrassing.
LARSON: It all saddens this Los Angeles talk show host.
DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If I advocate that something is wrong, but I privately do it knowing I‘m wrong, knowing I‘m sinning, does that make me a hypocrite or just a sinner?
LARSON: A good question. Maybe one former minister Ted Haggard will preach on one day.
John Larson, NBC NEWS, Los Angeles.
OLBERMANN: And in our nightly round-up of celebrity and tabloid news, a coming out as breezy as Reverend Haggard was tortured.
Actor Neil Patrick Harris says, for those of you who were wondering, Yes, he is gay. Harris, how had previously denied through a publicist being gay, has now decided to settle the question once and for all. In a recent interview he said, “I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and I am quit proud to say that I am a very content gay man living to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with the wonderful people in the business that I love.” And after 13 years or 13 years after “Doogie Howser, M.D.” ended its TV run, he added he wishes people would stop calling him “Doc” or “Doogie.” We made the last part up.
Just like Sacha Baron Cohen who has scored big making pretend with his Borat character. “Borat, Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” grossing $26 million in its opening weekend, giving it first place bragging rights and it beat “The Santa Claus III: The Escape Clause” even though that movie was playing in four times as many theatres nationwide. Wow. You‘re beating up a Tim Allen film. Got to be proud.
Anyway, Mr. Cohen has inked a $42 million deal to bring another of his many characters to a multiplex near you, Bruno, the flamboyant Austrian who loves to taunt macho men.
Ahead yet tonight, my special comment on the election and on the ever-changing rationale of the war in Iraq and for the president‘s startling new explanation. That is ahead. But first time for COUNTDOWN latest list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”
The Bronze, Jerry Rose of Parma Township, Michigan, under arrest for murder. Police say he was at a party earlier this year with his girlfriend and participated in a kind of truth or dare game, asked to name the stupidest thing he‘d ever done, Mr. Rose said, “shot a guy in the head.” He and the girlfriend later broke up. Police stopped by asking her questions, she told them about the shot a guy in the head remark. So now there‘s a tie for the stupidest thing Mr. Rose ever did.
Our Silver tonight, to Bill-O. Talk about stupidest you‘ve ever done. He went on air Friday and explained to his audience that a “source inside” had told him that a particular doctor in Kansas performs late term abortions when the patient is depressed. He named the doctor. Small problem, after a two year fight to get them, the attorney general of Kansas received the private abortion records of that doctor last month. The doctor wants a special prosecutor now to investigation who leaked the confidential records to O‘Reilly.
Got to be some way to blame this on the New York Times.
But our winner, Said Saidi (ph), senior engineering student at the University of Pennsylvania, who has formerly apologized for the costume he wore to the University president‘s Halloween party, that of a suicide bomber. And he then posted pictures posed with the school president on the Web.
Well, in a small way, it‘s comforting that a kid named Said (ph) would be comfortable enough to walk around Penn dressed up that way. Can we just agree on a rule for every Tom, Dick, or Said, ixnay on the uisidesay omberbay outfits.
Said Saidi, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”
OLBERMANN: And finally tonight, a special comment about tomorrow‘s elections.
We are, as every generation, inseparable from our own time.
Thus is our perspective, inevitably that of the explorer looking into the wrong end of the telescope.
But even accounting for our myopia, it‘s hard to imagine there have been many elections more important than this one, certainly not in non-presidential years.
And so we look at the verdict in the trial of Saddam Hussein yesterday, and with the very phrase “October, or November, Surprise” now a part of our vernacular, and the chest-thumping coming from so many of the Republican campaigners today, each of us must wonder about the convenience of the timing of his conviction and sentencing.
But let us give history and coincidence the benefit of the doubt, let‘s say it‘s just “happened” that way and for a moment not look into the wrong end of the telescope.
Let‘s perceive instead the bigger picture: Saddam Hussein, found guilty in an Iraqi court.
Who can argue against that?
He is officially, what the world always knew he was: a war criminal.
And Mr. Bush, was this imprimatur, worth the cost of 2,832 American lives, and of perhaps thousands more American lives yet to be lost?
Is the conviction of Saddam Hussein the reason you went to war in Iraq?
Or did you go to war in Iraq because of the weapons of mass destruction that did not exist?
Or did you go to war in Iraq because of the connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda that did not exist?
Or did you go to war in Iraq to break the bonds of tyranny there, while installing the mechanisms of tyranny here?
Or did you go to war in Iraq because you felt the need to wreak vengeance against somebody, anybody?
Or did you go to war in Iraq to contain a rogue state which, months earlier, your own administration had declared had been fully contained by the sanctions?
Or did you go to war in Iraq to keep gas prices down?
How startling it was, sir, to hear you introduce oil to your stump speeches over the weekend.
Not four years removed from the most dismissive, the most condescending, the most ridiculing denials of the very hint at, as Mr. Rumsfeld put it, this “nonsense.”
There you were, campaigning in Colorado, in Nebraska, in Florida, in Kansas—suddenly turning this ‘unpatriotic idea‘ into a platform plank.
“You can imagine a world,” you said, “in which these extremists and
radicals got control of energy resources, and then you can imagine them
saying, ‘We‘re going to pull a bunch of oil off the market to run your
price of oil up unless you do the following.‘”
Having frightened us, having bullied us, having lied to us, having ignored and rewritten the Constitution under our noses, having stayed the course, having denied you‘ve stayed the course, having belittled us about “timelines” but instead extolled “benchmarks,” you‘ve now resorted, sir, to this?
We must stay in Iraq to save the $2 gallon of gas?
Mr. President, there is no other conclusion we can draw as we go to the polls tomorrow.
Sir, you have been making this up as you went along.
This country was founded to prevent anybody from making it up as they went along.
Those vaunted Founding Fathers of ours have been so quoted up, that they appear as marble statues, like the chiseled guards of China, or the faces on Mount Rushmore. But in fact they were practical people and the thing they obviously feared most was a government of men and not laws.
They provided the checks and balances for a reason.
No one man could run the government the way he saw fit unless he, at the least, took into consideration what those he governed saw.
A House of Representatives would be the people‘s eyes.
A Senate would be the corrective force on that House.
An executive would do the work, and hold the Constitution to his chest like his child.
A Supreme Court would oversee it all.
Checks and balances.
Where did all that go, Mr. Bush?
And what price did we pay because we have let it go?
Saddam Hussein will get out of Iraq the same way 2,832 Americans have and maybe thousands more.
He‘ll get out faster than we will.
And if nothing changes tomorrow, you, sir, will be out of the White House long before the rest of us can say we are out of Iraq.
And whose fault is this?
Not truly yours. You took advantage of those of us who were afraid, and those of us who believed unity and nation took precedence over all else.
But we let you take that advantage.
And so we let you go to war in Iraq to oust Saddam or find non-existent weapons or avenge 9/11 or fight terrorists who only got there after we did or as cover to change the fabric of our Constitution or for lower prices at the Texaco or.?
There are still a few hours left before the polls open, sir. There are many rationalizations still untried.
And whatever your motives of the moment, we the people have, in true good faith and with the genuine patriotism of self-sacrifice—of which you have shown you know nothing—we have let you go on making it up as you went along.
Unchecked and unbalanced.
I‘m Keith Olbermann, goodnight and good luck.
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