Guests: Scott Taylor, Zeynep Tugrul, Richard Greene
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: Held hostage—two seasoned war correspondents snatched by kidnappers in lawless northern Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Local police has now decided it‘s too dangerous for them to be with us, so we are left on our own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Their abductors loyal to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the notorious terror leader said to be responsible for atrocities like this and this. Across days of physical abuse and emotional torture, these two colleagues kept each other strong as they prepared to die. And then somehow, they got out alive. Tonight, an exclusive, their tale of terror and survival.
The face-off—President Bush and Senator Kerry prepare to match wits as the long-awaited debate season finally gets under way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The president needs to live in the world of reality, not in a world of fantasy spin.
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You cannot lead the war against terror if you wilt or waver when times get tough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Tonight, veteran newsman and debate moderator Bob Schieffer on what it‘ll take for the challenger to move ahead or the incumbent to seal the deal.
ANNOUNCER: From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.
NORVILLE: And good evening. The images of foreigners being held hostage in Iraq have become frighteningly familiar. At least 30 are still being held. Another 30 have been savagely killed. All told, more than 140 foreigners have been kidnapped since Saddam Hussein‘s fall in Iraq. Tonight, after three weeks in captivity, two young Italian women aid workers are home. They were released today, along with two Iraqis who were kidnapped with them, and handed over to the Red Cross in Baghdad. Four Egyptian telecommunications workers who were abducted last week were also released, one of them yesterday, three of them today.
Tonight, the amazing story of two journalist who were also held hostage in Iraq this month, beaten, threatened repeatedly with death, and then suddenly released. Canadian Scott Taylor and his Turkish translator, Zeynep Tugrul, were abducted three weeks ago in the northern Iraqi city of Talafar by insurgents linked to terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Zarqawi is believed to be responsible for the kidnappings and beheadings of Western civilians in Iraq, including several Americans. And after spending four days in terror, Tugrul was freed. One day later, her fellow captive, Taylor, was let go.
Joining me now to speak exclusively about their incredible ordeal, with us from Ottawa, Canada, Scott Taylor. He is the publisher of the Canadian military affairs magazine called “Esprit de Corps.” And with us on the telephone from Ankara, Turkey, Zeynep Tugrul, the diplomatic correspondent for “Saba (ph)” newspaper. Welcome to you both. And I‘m so glad that you‘re here to speak with us tonight.
SCOTT TAYLOR, HELD HOSTAGE IN IRAQ: Good evening.
ZEYNEP TUGRUL, HELD HOSTAGE IN IRAQ: Thank you.
NORVILLE: Scott, let me start with you first. Tell us the circumstances that led to you and Zeynep for being in Talafar, where these insurgents were located?
TAYLOR: I had done a lot of reporting from the north of Iraq since the U.S. intervention in Iraq. I particularly covered the Turkmen enclave in Talafar. I‘d been there in June. It was something which few other Western reporters had gone into. So when I heard that there was an increase in resistance in that area, I felt I could get in there. I knew that I had contacts. I‘d been there and stayed in a safe house, broken bread with the guy and lived with his family, felt if I could get there, that both myself and Zeynep would be fairly safe. Even though we knew that the Americans were about to mount a rather large offensive to curb the resistance, we felt we could get in there and report relatively safely.
Now, that didn‘t turn out to be the case. When we arrived at the city, there was no American troops surrounding it, as we‘d been told there might be. Instead, there was an Iraqi police checkpoint, there was an American-paid Iraqi police checkpoint. At least a dozen of them were standing there. We felt this was a good sign. They were monitoring the flow of refugees that were fleeing from the expected fighting. Some 150,000 to 200,000 Iraqi Turkomans fled from Talafar during that period.
TAYLOR: When we arrived, we went to the police and asked for directions. I mean, I couldn‘t recall exactly where my contact lived, so we went to them. Zeynep was able to, of course, speak Turkish with them and clarify what it was we wanted. They were very helpful. They said, Please get into this car, which was sitting next to them, which contained four masked gunmen. Now...
NORVILLE: And let me stop you there. Zeynep, when you all got into the car with these four masked gunmen, at that point, you weren‘t particularly alarmed because masked gunmen are sort of the order of the day there. When did you realize that these people meant you harm and were not going to assist you in getting to Scott‘s contact?
TUGRUL: Actually, at first, we didn‘t know about it, and we were
discussing—Scott and I was discussing if we are really guests that they
· our captors told us, or we are taken hostage. The first thing when I was suspicious—I mean, it was obvious when the door was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the house that we were staying. And some men came and put Kalashnikov behind Scott and ask him to put his hands behind his neck. And you know, they were—they seemed like they were ready to shoot him. And then I understood that we were taken hostage. And I just yelled out, Please, stop. He has got a son. And they calmed down, just with a reflection (ph), but it was obvious after that that we were taken hostage.
NORVILLE: And was your ability to speak with them in their language helpful, in terms of explaining that you were both journalists and you were there to report the story?
TUGRUL: Yes, it really helped in when we were in Talafar because only a few men knew English. The others don‘t know any other languages. And so it was a little bit (UNINTELLIGIBLE) thing, but otherwise—but on the other hand, most of the times when we were handed (ph), our mouths were closed. It was taped, so it was difficult to speak. So I had to wait until they opened our mouths, so I can tell them who we are. But of course, it need time to convince them. And they don‘t let you to speak that much.
NORVILLE: Yes. Scott, when the two of you were taken hostage and the Kalashnikov was to your back, there was a man in charge, and it appeared that for a while, you were going to be able to work out an agreement for your freedom. Tell me about that.
TAYLOR: He actually spoke pretty good English, and turned out he was the emir, the leader of this group in Talafar, which I should point out was quite an extensive mujahedin operation. These were the Ansar al Islam group. And he was one of the ones in the car sitting next to the police checkpoint. So the leader of the organization that was controlling Talafar at that point actually had no problem sitting next to the Iraqi police.
Now, he spoke with us, eventually became convinced about our story. Zeynep helped to convince him exactly who we were and what we previously had published, to check it on the Internet, if he needed to. And it was sometime on the Wednesday, September 8, in the evening, he told Zeynep that we would be, in fact, set free. He made a promise to her that we would be set free the following morning. But unfortunately, that night the Americans launched their major—major air strikes against the positions which we were being held in.
NORVILLE: And what was it like when that air strike was going on?
Because you were very close to where the bombs were hitting.
TAYLOR: It was frightening. I mean, it was very frightening. I know that—I mean, one individual must have been killed no more than 50 meters from where we were being kept. And during that course of the battle, it was the first time I discovered that we were actually sitting on an ammunition cache. One of the fighters came to the door, like you would borrow a cup of sugar from a neighbor. He came in and needed to borrow some RPG warheads, rocket-propelled grenades. They opened a door which we had not seen, although we were kept in this workshop all day. When they opened the door and were using their flashlights, I realized it was stocked from floor to ceiling...
TAYLOR: ... with RPGs and other munitions. So we were actually sitting on top of one of their ammo dumps, which didn‘t make me feel very comfortable.
NORVILLE: Was there any possibility of escape?
TAYLOR: At that point, no. I mean, it‘s—we would have been escaping into a city that was under attack, with no identification. That was the thing. All of our identification had been taken away from us and was subsequently destroyed during that attack. And the man that had promised our freedom was also killed. So it was quite a setback for us on the night of September 8.
NORVILLE: And Zeynep, when the gentleman, the emir who was in charge of your captivity, was killed, you all are left in the hands of people who have not promised to release you if your stories check out. What went through your mind then? And how were you treated when the emir died?
TUGRUL: I think that was the first moment I was expecting to be killed by them because the guys came into the house, and they were not kind as much as the emir. And they were accusing Scott being an American spy, and they gave me no choice to speak, no choice to talk who we are actually.
And when we were taken the other house, I can hear them, what they were talking. They were always talking that, We found two—those two guys with that Iraqi guy, Iraqi spy. And you know, they were saying that also, We have got three spies. So I would try to communicate them. I was trying to say that, you know, Scott and I am journalists, and the—I would like to remind them the promise of emir. But you know, my mouth was closed.
So when they first noticed that I‘m a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you know, they said that, OK, let‘s take the mask off. So I said that, Look, we—it‘s the first time that I saw that Iraqi guy that you‘re talking about. I only know my friend. And they let Scott to take the mask off, too. But at that point, we were really very much close to die because they were just discussing among themselves, there were three choices. The other—the first one is some of the groups were telling that we should be killed at that time. The other was saying that we should be used as a human shield when the Americans get in Talafar, to save their lives. And some groups were talking about taking us out of Talafar, but they were saying that it is only in half an hour the Americans will get in Talafar. So they have to be very quick for that. So for each of that possibility means very close to be dying.
NORVILLE: And Scott, I know that you were physically abused, as well, you and Zeynep both. Can you tell us about what you had to endure during this period of captivity?
TAYLOR: Often during the transits, when they would cover us with blindfolds and gags, I was given pretty rough handling. They would bounce my head off the car or through doorways, I mean, just—I mean, to humiliate me. I was punched a couple of times in this bunker that she was talking about, when they were deciding where to take us after being hooded.
But nothing really serious until they turned us over to the Arab fundamentalists inside Mosul. They did take us inside the city and turned us over on the Friday, and it was that group that actually tortured me, and they beat Zeynep, as well, after that. But quite a severe torture, using the bastinado—this is a Spanish word for it. I‘m not sure of the Arabic word for the type of torture where they beat your feet and legs. Very, very frightening and very, very painful, and something which, at the time, I was—I mean, you start thinking that death by beheading would be preferable to having to go through that again.
NORVILLE: And I know the two of you also discussed amongst yourselves the possibility of death and actually assisting one another in killing each other.
We‘ll take a short break. When we come back, more with my two guests and their incredible story after this brief timeout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATTY HENSLEY, WIFE OF HOSTAGE MURDERED IN IRAQ: We truly believed he was safe and that this situation was going to work out for him. And unfortunately, it didn‘t. We‘re just now praying for Ken Bigley because Jack loved working with Ken and Jack Armstrong. And you know, we do the best we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: That was Patty Hensley, the wife of American civilian Jack Hensley, who was held hostage and murdered by Iraqi insurgents last week.
We‘re talking with two journalist who were also held hostage in Iraq and threatened with death before they were released. Canadian journalist Scott Taylor is with us from Ottawa, Canada, and on the phone from Ankara, Turkey, Turkish journalist Zeynep Tugrul.
Zeynep, just before we went to the break, Scott said the pain was so awful that at times, beheading seemed preferable to what you all were enduring. Did they not show any mercy to you because you were a woman, because you were also Muslim?
TUGRUL: I think the only difference was—for example, when I was beaten, I am also beaten, but they beat Scott with stick, but I was beaten with a kind of belt, so my wounds are not injured like Scott. But also, I felt the same pain, I think.
And the other issue is I was not searched because those men did not want to touch the body of a woman. So when we first captured, they have to wait one day long and one night long to find a woman and make me search. And—but for them, I think, at the last house, there was no difference between woman and man because for them, I‘m not a Muslim, I‘m not a woman. They were always asking me, What kind of a woman you are? What kind of—you cannot be a Muslim this way. How can you talk to a man by looking his eyes? How can you talk this much self-respective way when you are talking with a man?
So sometimes, yes, I mean, when I was blindfolded, I just noticed later on, when I looked at Scott‘s eyes, I was not very much blindfolded (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I think they were a little bit merciful for—to me.
NORVILLE: Scott, tell me how the two of you managed to get away from these people. Because up to this point, as far as we know, everyone who has been kidnapped by any group that has an affiliation with al Zarqawi has ended up dead, usually beheaded. How did the two of you escape them?
TAYLOR: I think our circumstances were a little different. The group that we ended up being taken by, we were accidental captives, as opposed to being targeted for kidnapping. We showed up on the eve of a battle between these—what they—they call themselves mujahedin, holy fighters. They weren‘t exactly a terrorist cell. We were sort of an encumbrance or a nuisance for them. They didn‘t know what to do. And of course, the emir, having checked it out, wanted to get rid of us. He made the promise.
And once he became martyred—this was something which—we ended up, luckily, being able to meet with his brother, who seemed to be the only man that knew of the promise to set us free. And once the emir was killed, there was a complete power vacuum. There wasn‘t this sort of military hierarchy, where, you know, the chain of command passes to the next guy. They were sort of left leaderless, and any natural leader would sort of emerge at that point. And luckily for us, the brother of the emir, Mubashir (ph), seemed to have enough clout, just from his brother‘s martyrdom, that he was able to protect us. And he did make good on that promise.
Once we were turned over to other groups, it became a different situation. I think that‘s—we‘re still not entirely sure. I know that Zeynep was released and then was able to help through the—I guess through the Turkish officials, et cetera, to negotiate for mine. But I didn‘t know at the time. I mean, I was hooded, blindfolded and handcuffed to a bed, so I didn‘t really have a clear picture of what was going on around me.
NORVILLE: I know you went to Iraq thinking you could report this story. You‘d get in contact with people who had been kind to you before. Will you go back to that country now, Scott?
TAYLOR: No. When I realized the situation had deteriorated so quickly—I mean, being there in June, I understood some of the situation in the north. But then to go back and realize that the police were in collusion with the resistance to the extent that they were—I mean, those four-and-a-half days that we traveled with the mujahedin, we were welcomed through the checkpoints by the various police units. And you realize that, of course, I mean, if there‘s no American supervision on those units, they‘re in, I mean, full collaboration with the resistance. And in fact, we were told that they were paying parts of their salaries to help fight the Americans. So this is something which I wasn‘t aware of before, and certainly, now it makes the whole situation just so unstable that, no, I won‘t be risking my life to go back.
NORVILLE: Given that there is the prospect of elections in January, and King Abdullah of Jordan said if those elections were held now, given the level of insurgency that exists in Iraq, you would have nothing but the lawless types getting elected. Do you agree with that?
TAYLOR: I don‘t think the lawless types are going to bother trying to get elected. Right now, they‘ve got control. There‘s so many “no go” areas and inside areas which seemed to be, up until now, fairly dormant—
I mean, I think Zeynep can back me up on this. Inside Mosul, the mujahedin were able to travel around with complete impunity, and the number of safehouses that we were taken to and the number of groups that were cooperating, even though they shouldn‘t, on paper, be working together—I mean, ex-Ba‘athists working with Arab fundamentalists and Turkoman fundamentals, all negotiating over hostages and intelligence, et cetera.
It‘s a far bigger problem, a far more widespread network than even I, with—you know, in previous experience, would have been led to believe. So no, I don‘t think that elections in January are physically possible, and I think it‘s only going to get worse between now and then. And I would look at Mosul as being one of the next major flashpoints for the resistance.
NORVILLE: Zeynep, given what Scott‘s just said about the situation as it exists in Iraq right now, how is the United States regarded, then, as liberators, as occupiers, or a nuisance?
TUGRUL: For the Iraqis, of course, for them, the United States is occupier, nothing more.
NORVILLE: An occupier. And not being American, Scott, did you feel that that was an asset to you and to Zeynep, as well, not being Americans, or at this point, you were a Westerner, and that was all that mattered to make you a suspect individual?
TAYLOR: The fact that I was a kaffir (ph), or as Zeynep kept saying, I was an infidel, I mean, to them, I mean, was important. The fact that Canada did not participate in the war—initially, that did help. Now, keep in mind, once all of our identification was destroyed and the people that had checked our story out were killed, I was left with nothing more than—I mean, I look like how I look, and I have an eagle tattooed on my arm from my old army days.
So I mean, I—it really was difficult for me to impress upon them that I was not an American, and they constantly accused me of being both a Mossad spy, called me a Jewish pig, they would beat me. And of course, I mean, as Zeynep said, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) kaffir. I was always referred to as that by them, until such time as they actually did—in the end, a Google search was able to confirm my identity through cyberspace. I still existed. But as far as losing all my identity inside Iraq was a very scary situation.
NORVILLE: Do you still have nightmares, Scott?
TAYLOR: I had a few panic attacks the first mornings, when I woke up,after being released, when I‘d wake up and believe that the dream was the release and that I was still chained to that bed. The last morning, I should point out, when they told me I‘d be executed and I spent about six or seven hours there, I mean, lying there blindfolded and chained, waiting for my own death, you think about a lot of things, at that point, and that was certainly very terrifying.
NORVILLE: I‘m guessing the answer to this question is no. Will you ever go back?
TAYLOR: When it becomes a tourist resort.
NORVILLE: All right. And Zeynep, what about you? You‘ve been to Iraq nine times. Do you think you‘ll go back?
TUGRUL: No, because the emir‘s brother, Mubashir, who was warm to us, has told me that, Look, we don‘t want anybody, even they are journalists, at our side. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) war against occupation. We want nobody else fight. You would be welcome anytime after this occupation, but we don‘t want to see you again. This is what he told me, like a friendly advice. And it was so obvious after the things that I‘ve been through, they don‘t want nobody in Iraq, if you are a foreigner.
NORVILLE: All right. Zeynep Tugrul, we‘re very glad that you‘re back safe. Scott Taylor, we‘re glad you‘re back safe, as well. And we thank you both for sharing your incredible experience with us.
TAYLOR: Thank you very much.
TUGRUL: Thank you.
NORVILLE: We‘ll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: Up next: George Bush and John Kerry gear up for the first round. Can a debate performance to swing your vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID HALBERSTAM, JOURNALIST: The question isn‘t perfectionist then.
The question is wisdom of position now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: A presidential face-off for you with moderator Bob Schieffer when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.
NORVILLE: In one corner, President George Bush. In the other, Senator John Kerry. In two nights, it‘s the first of three presidential debates. And with polls showing about 10 percent of Americans still undecided and the race a very tight one, these debates could be crucial. Already, the hotbed of discussion about these debates are the pages upon pages of rules. Is it really a debate, or as one critic put it, parallel speeches?
Joining me now is the moderator of the third presidential debate, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of “Face the Nation,” Bob Schieffer. Hi, Bob. Thanks for coming on.
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS, MODERATOR FOR 3RD DEBATE: Well, thank you, Deborah.
NORVILLE: We‘ll debate the debate handicap in just a second. But I got to ask you about this memorandum of understanding, which I went through several times today. It seems to me in these 32 pages, they‘ve set the rules for just about everything except the brand of bottled water they‘re going to use. What do you think of this?
SCHIEFFER: Well, here‘s where I‘m coming from on this. The debate commission, which is a nonpartisan group that sponsors these debates, asked me to moderate the—one of the debates. I said yes. I have taken a position I‘m not going to get in an argument with either campaign about what size the podiums ought to be or, you know, whether people ought to sit or stand or any of that. What I told them was that I‘ll moderate my debate under any rules that the Debate Commission feels appropriate. If the candidates want to stand on their head, I‘ll be glad to question them and we‘ll see how they do standing on their head.
SCHIEFFER: And, later, we‘ll find out how they are standing on their feet.
But I‘m going to leave that to them. I think, as moderators, we have a responsibility to just show up with about a pocketful of questions and see if the candidates can answer them.
NORVILLE: There are some things that make total sense. The debate will last 90 minutes, no opening statements. Each candidate will make a two-minute closing statement.
But then you start getting beyond that and you kind of wonder about the thought process that went on. Subparagraph C on No. 5, no props, notes, charts, diagrams or other writings or tangible things may be brought into the debate by any candidate. I guess that means no lucky rabbit‘s foot. No candidate may reference or cite any specific individual sitting in the designated audience area.
I have this vision of them being patted down as they enter the stage by the debate police that they don‘t sneak a pen in or a piece of paper that‘s contraband.
SCHIEFFER: Well, you may have something, Deborah.
But, look, let‘s understand what is going on here. Both of these
campaigns are trying to make sure nothing unexpected happens. They
remember that famous moment when Lloyd Bentsen turned to Dan Quayle and
said, Senator, you‘re no Jack Kennedy. And they remember the look on his
face. What they are trying to do is take out any spontaneity to ensure
that nothing unexpected happens, that nobody is caught unawares. But you
NORVILLE: Doesn‘t it get sterile if you do that?
SCHIEFFER: They can‘t guarantee that.
Yes, they do. And, in a way, that‘s what‘s not a good thing about all of this. As I say, I‘m going to show up. I‘m going to moderate this debate under whatever rules they think appropriate, the Debate Commission believes is appropriate. But people are turned off by politics now because so much of it has turned so sour. It‘s all these old TV commercials. People have taken the spontaneity out of it.
What will make people watch these and why people are going to watch is because you don‘t know what‘s going to happen.
SCHIEFFER: And that‘s what brings people into the tent.
I think what we have to do here is find ways, Deborah, to make politics more fun and more interesting. The debates are really the last stop on the campaign trail where things that unexpected can happen. And I think that‘s a good thing. So I wish they‘d loosen it up a little. But if they‘re not, OK, they don‘t.
NORVILLE: Well, I have got to say, the more I read, the more annoyed I got, because I agree with you. I think, you know, loosen it up. Let us see these people. That‘s the whole point. They‘re thinking on their feet. We get a real sense of the man who wants the office.
But you go through. You talk about the podium, 50 inches in front, 48 inches behind. It makes you wonder about the candidate whose representatives signed this agreement or the people who he‘s designated to act on his behalf. It seems awfully anal.
SCHIEFFER: Well, that may be exactly the term to use here.
But I would also point out, this is not anything new. It‘s just taking it one step from where it was before. And that‘s what always seems to happen in these things. The short answer and the thing to remember is, now the debate about the debates has become a part of our process, just like the debates have. We‘ll get through it. I think the American people will learn something from seeing both of these men on display.
But I‘m like you, Deborah. I wish we could kind of loosen these rules up a little bit, because one of the hardest things for me is going to be asking follow-up questions.
SCHIEFFER: Under the rules I ask, say, President Bush a question. He has two minutes to answer, and then John Kerry has a minute and a half to respond to that. Then, if I think it‘s appropriate, I can go back and ask President Bush for a 30-second response to that and then John Kerry gets a 30-second response to that. So if they don‘t come up with the right follow-up questions, it‘s going to be hard for me to sneak one in. But maybe I‘ll find a way.
NORVILLE: Yes. But if you come up with a follow-up question, now they‘re all looking at the media under a magnifying glass because of the thing over at “60 Minutes.” If you don‘t ask the right questions, you‘re then in the hot seat and become just as much a player as the two candidates have. So you really are in a very, very tricky, delicate balance.
SCHIEFFER: But you know what? I‘m a grown person and I can handle that.
And I must say the one thing about these that I think is very important, Deborah, is that they are fun and there‘s a certain big game, World Series, heavyweight championship air about them. That‘s why people tune in to listen. And if you‘re a baseball player, you want to be at the plate when it‘s the bottom of the ninth with two men out and the bases loaded. So I think it‘s going to be a lot of fun.
Yes, I admit it up front. There is, I think, going to be increased pressure because of these controversies we‘ve had over at CBS. But that‘s just fine. I think I can handle that.
NORVILLE: You use the fight analogy. It really is like Ali and Foreman going at it in 1971, which is why these restrictions get so weird.
I just want to flash them up because our audience may not have had a chance to see all of them, no TV cutaways to any candidate who is not answering a question, which means you can‘t see the react when the guy rolls his eyes. No candidate shall be permitted to use risers. We don‘t what the little pitcher‘s mound that Michael Dukakis used years ago.
Each candidate may move about in a predesignated area and may not leave the area while the debate is under way. And each candidate may use his own makeup person. Well, that certainly makes sense. You want to have the right makeup person. Gosh, we know that‘s very critical.
And then each candidate shall determine the manner by which he prefers to be addressed by the moderator. What on earth would you call them other than President Bush and Senator Kerry? Your lordship? I mean, what is this?
SCHIEFFER: Well, I intend to call the president, Mr. President, because that‘s how we address the president in the United States of America. And I think I‘ll be calling Senator Kerry, Senator Kerry. I have some very good friends that appear on “Face the Nation” from time to time. And on the golf course, I call them by their first name or maybe something worse sometimes.
But when they‘re on the broadcast, we address everyone by their title. So I assume that‘s how we‘ll be addressing them here. That‘s certainly what I intend to do.
NORVILLE: Which makes you wonder why you have got to spell it out in a subparagraph of a 32-page document.
And I think my point is, they wonder why Americans tune out of politics. When you see how minuscule and how, frankly, petty in some people‘s eyes, the discussion can get on the part of the people at the top of the totem, it‘s easy to understand why people say, a pox on all their houses.
SCHIEFFER: Well, a good example of that, Deborah, and right to the point that you are making, it is very hard to get people to watch the political conventions anymore. And why is that? It‘s because the two parties have tried to play it so safe, they have taken all the spontaneity and all the mystery and all the suspense out of the campaigns.
Now, some of the network chiefs might say that means that people don‘t like politics anymore and they are tired of politics. I think what it says is, they don‘t want to watch something that‘s like a two-hour version of the boat show. If there was something going on at these conventions, people would tune in to watch.
I think the same is going to hold true for these debates.
SCHIEFFER: If they turn them into something where it‘s just two people standing there giving out recorded announcements, it‘s going to be hard to keep people for the whole hour and a half. But I don‘t think that‘s going to happen.
NORVILLE: Yes, well, that‘s your job to make sure it doesn‘t, because folks like a good smackdown.
We‘re going to take a short break.
When we come back, Bob, we‘re going to ask you what folks should look for in the presidential debates. And, of course, we‘ll be getting the answers from one of the men who will make that happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Next Tuesday, all of you will go to the polls, will stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think, when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Do the rules for the presidential debates rule out a real debate between President Bush and Senator Kerry?
More with Bob Schieffer in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Oops. That was president Gerald Ford during a bit of a gaffe in his debate with Jimmy Carter in 1976. Of course, Ford ended up losing the election.
Joining me with more on what we can expect from the upcoming presidential debates is Bob Schieffer, CBS News‘ chief White House correspondent, longtime host of “Face the Nation.” Bob will moderate the final presidential debate, which will take place on October 13.
Bob, I know you‘ve seen all the polls. I want to throw them up there for our viewers to get a look at. The Pew poll that has just come out shows that President Bush is leading Senator Kerry 48 to 40 percent. The CNN/Gallup poll shows Mr. Bush ahead 52-44 percent. And the ABC/”Washington Post” has it 51 for President Bush and 45 for Mr. Kerry.
There‘s six to eight points between the two. What‘s Mr. Kerry got to do to pull this one out come debate time?
SCHIEFFER: Hit a couple of home runs, I think, Deborah. I don‘t think there‘s any question.
These national polls, I think the state polls in the battleground states are more important. But I don‘t think there‘s any question that President Bush has the momentum right now and things seem to be going his way.
I think John Kerry has got to demonstrate that he can lead the country in time of crisis better than President Bush can, because that‘s what the debate and that‘s what the vote on the presidency is always about. Who do Americans feel most comfortable with in time of crisis? He has got to find a way to demonstrate and articulate that frankly he can do it better than the incumbent president.
NORVILLE: Well, that‘s no news flash for Senator Kerry. He‘s known that all along throughout this campaign. And, clearly, he hasn‘t been able to do it. Given the structure of the debates, what could he say or how could he say it that would enable him to get a leg up in that area?
SCHIEFFER: Well, I have no idea how he could do it.
But he has been accused of being on all sides of every issue. Perhaps he should say, yes, I changed my mind on Iraq because I believed you, President Bush, when you told us there were weapons of mass destruction there. It seems to me, he has got to come out with a pretty hard and fast statement here to demonstrate that he means business and basically that he knows more about it than the president does.
And that‘s going to be very difficult for him at this stage of the campaign. I think John Kerry was leading this race going into his own convention. I think he let President Bush—it‘s like a football team—take the ball away from him. And he‘s having a very difficult time getting it back now, it seems to me.
And what does George Bush got to do to make sure that the lead that we‘re seeing in these national polls sticks with him through November 2?
SCHIEFFER: I think he has just got to reassure people that he has the good of the country at heart, that he‘s had a mighty tough job, that the world changed after 9/11, and that he‘s not ever going to let the country be in the position it was on 9/11, when it was blindsided and attacked by these people who flew these airplanes into these buildings.
So far I think in this campaign, he‘s done a pretty good job of that, but this campaign is not over yet. I think it‘s the president‘s to lose at this point.
SCHIEFFER: But I still think, Deborah, it could go either way.
NORVILLE: And so what are you trying to do when you‘re out there with your questions in your pocket, the only person who has the opportunity in the country to ask those two men the questions the rest of us want to hear? What‘s foremost in your mind?
SCHIEFFER: What I want to do, Deborah, is try to get it away from the Washington mumbo jumbo and all these slogans and all this jargon.
I want to bring home to people sitting there watching this debate what these questions mean to them. I want to get through, when we talk about a deficit that‘s out of control, OK, but here‘s what it means to you. When we talk about the Guard being strained, here is what that could mean to you. And I hope—Senator Kerry and President Bush have proposed these enormous reforms for health care, for example, but how are we going to pay for these programs and how is that going to affect health care costs for the average American?
If I can put it into terms that people say, oh, I see what you‘re talking about, then I think I‘ll feel like I‘ve done a good job. But the main thing for me, Deborah, this is not about the moderators. This is about the two people who are running for president. And I hope we can get a better sense of who they are.
NORVILLE: Well, we hope so, too. And it is about the moderator, because, if you can get that out of them, there will be millions of Americans who will be very grateful for the job you do.
Bob Schieffer, we will look forward to seeing you on the debates and we thank you for being with us tonight.
SCHIEFFER: Thank you so much, Deborah.
NORVILLE: When we come back, it‘s not just what the candidates say that can make or break the debates. The movements and appearances of the candidate matters just as much. We‘ll get into that in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a discussion with my daughter Amy the other day before I came here to ask her what the most important issue was. She said she thought nuclear weaponry and the control of nuclear arms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... Medicare and prescription drugs and Social Security.
This is a major problem facing...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: OK, we glued all that together. That was Vice President Al Gore with a series of sighs during his first debate with George Bush back in October of 2000.
Nuances like body language and in Al Gore‘s case sounds, whether intended or not, can count just as much as words in the debates. So what should all of us be watching the debates and looking for during them?
Joining me now is communication strategist Richard Greene, the author of “Words That Shook the World.” He has studied both the message and the movements of candidates past and present.
Richard, I know you‘ve been watching these two guys. What is it that they need to be sure not to do in order to not goof this up for them?
RICHARD GREENE, COMMUNICATION STRATEGIST: Well, what you were saying is so correct. It‘s actually words are less important than voice, tone, and body language.
In fact, there are studies that indicate as much as 93 percent of the opinion, the impression that you have of a political candidate or anyone who is speaking is nonverbal, voice, tone, and body language. What they need not to do is come unglued. What they need not to do is to have these bizarre little quirky behaviors that sometimes convince people that they are not presidential.
What voters are looking for is someone who looks and sounds and feels like the image that everyone has in their own mind of what a president is.
NORVILLE: Does the advantage not go to the incumbent because Americans for the last four years have seen George Bush standing at the podium with the seal of the president‘s office in front of him, so there‘s already this sort of mental picture of this is what presidential looks like?
GREENE: That would be true, except, because John Kerry is five inches taller and has a little more gravitas in the way that he stands and the tone of his voice, John Kerry actually can look and feel and sound more presidential than George Bush.
But Bush definitely is more presidential looking and sounding and feeling than he was four years ago.
NORVILLE: I want to roll some tape. And we‘ll just roll some tape first off of George Bush. And give me your commentary, if you will, of the mannerisms and nuances that he has that work for him and the ones that don‘t bode as well for him when the president speaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: You know, I just—I‘m sure something will pop into my head here in this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer. But it hasn‘t yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: That was the president at a press conference this past spring when he was asked what mistake he‘d made and he didn‘t come up with an answer.
GREENE: Well, it‘s great to be perfect. I wish I was as well.
The problem that George Bush has, there‘s actually four languages that
human beings speak, four different kinds of frequencies that we communicate
with other people about. And the ones that George Bush has the most
difficulty with—and this is where I think John Kerry needs to trap him -
· is in terms of communication and putting things into a glib, articulate story and getting into the details.
He‘s not a detail-oriented guy. That‘s his weakness, but it‘s also his strength, because a lot of people don‘t want to pay attention to a lot of details. George Bush‘s strength is that he‘s a feeling guy and he communicates: I‘m rock solid. I‘m here. I‘m going to plow ahead.
And John Kerry doesn‘t have that connection to his guts, his viscera, his heart, even though he does have the intellectual. So it‘s two very different fighters punching it out. And, unfortunately for John Kerry, people actually don‘t feel that they know someone unless they can feel that someone feels and in fact that what they‘re speaking is coming from their feelings.
And that is George Bush‘s great strength. And that‘s why people don‘t feel they know Kerry and they feel that they know Bush, no matter what direction he‘s taking the country.
NORVILLE: I want to put that John Kerry back up that we had, Ray (ph), the one where he‘s going like this and he‘s pounding the podium. He‘s looking fierce. He‘s making his point. He clearly believes whatever is it is he‘s saying at that moment. What‘s the viewer taking from that, Richard, as he pounds the podium?
GREENE: I think he needs to do a lot more of that on Thursday night, and I think we need to see some passion.
Michael Dukakis lost the election, according to many experts, because he didn‘t respond passionately with emotion about the question about the capital punishment and what would happen if his wife, Kitty, was raped and murdered. Kerry is a passionate guy. That‘s what happened in 1971 when he stood in front—or sat in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and he said, we have to get out of Vietnam. It‘s a wrong war.
He was passionate then. He needs to return to that level of guts and passion that defined his political career up to this point. But George Bush has painted him into a corner as weak and wishy-washy and in fact has taken—the whole election, it‘s about essentially that John Kerry is going to allow your kids and you to be killed by the terrorists. That‘s what the vice president said and that‘s their whole line.
And he‘s standing still and tall and defiant with his swagger as counterposition to John Kerry‘s waffling and flip-flopping. That‘s the whole game and that‘s what is so very important about this Thursday.
NORVILLE: If Thursday, a candidate doesn‘t seal the deal, do they have a chance to make it up in the two successive debates or is it the first impression that‘s going to be the one that lasts?
GREENE: You know what? Because people don‘t know John Kerry, because he hasn‘t really communicated his feelings yet in the same way that George Bush has, this is much more important for John Kerry, because, in essence, this is his first impression. It‘s not George Bush‘s first impression.
So Bush can blow this debate and he‘s still fine. Kerry can‘t. But I think Kerry‘s going to surprise a lot of people, because I think he‘s a dynamite debater and he is finally going to show who he is this time.
NORVILLE: OK. We have got two people who have never lost a debate going at it head-to-head on Thursday. We‘ll be watching.
Richard Greene, thank you so much.
GREENE: You‘re welcome, Deborah.
NORVILLE: We‘ll be right back.
NORVILLE: Get in touch with us. The address is NORVILLE@MSNBC.com.
And that‘s our program for tonight. Thanks so much for watching. I‘m Deborah Norville.
Coming up tomorrow night, a special “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS” will occupy this time slot, getting ready for the debate. You‘re going to see it right here on Thursday night.
And coming up next, Joe Scarborough, joined by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” is next.
We‘ll see you soon.
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