Scarborough Country for Oct. 4

Guests: J.D. Hayworth, Howard Wolfson, Terry Holt, Cleta Mitchell, Al Franken

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, after the president‘s dismal debate performance, John Kerry is gaining ground.  The real deal, it‘s time for the president to figure out how to put his best foot forward if he doesn‘t want to get left behind.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required,  and only common sense is allowed. 

The latest post-debate polls show George Bush and John Kerry in a dead heat, but Americans are still saying they trust the President more to fight the war on terror.  Will that determine who they will vote for November 2?  And the ad wars heat up.  Fueled by last week‘s presidential debate.  But will the ad succeed in spinning victory towards their man?  And then, liberal radio talk show host, Al Franken comes in with his predictions for tomorrow night‘s vice presidential battle between dick Cheney and John Edwards.  Plus, he has a Dick Cheney impression you won‘t forget soon.

Hey, welcome to the show.  Hope you had a great weekend.  Boy, I tell you, we got an exciting week this week.  You look at the vice presidential debate coming up tomorrow night.  Then of course, part two of the presidential debates.  John Kerry and George W. Bush.  Tell you what, it‘s going to be big stuff.

Now, tonight, I am going to tell the President how he can win the debate and get re-elected in this edition of the “Real Deal.”  As you know, over the past six months, I have actually been giving advice to John Kerry, telling him how he can run a better campaign, and you know what, he seemed to have listened.  Whether it was bringing on street fighters like James Carville on board his campaign or using last week‘s debate to actually reveal a more hawkish side on Tora Bora and Fallujah.  Senator Kerry has followed my advice, and you know what, the results have been positive.  Now it seems to be the President who needs to hear the voice of a friend, who is not afraid to tell him the truth.  That is what I did Friday night, and that‘s what I am about to do right now.

Mr. President, because of who you are and the position you hold, your staff members aren‘t going to tell you what you need to hear.  But I am.  First, your debate performance Thursday night was lousy.  Forget what you are reading in the national polls.  They don‘t matter.  You and I both know this election is going to be about who can get their base of supporters out to the polls on November 2.  Before the first debate, Democratic leaders I talked to were despondent, and they knew that that meant that their turnout was going to be depressed, but your lack of focus and your poor performance let John Kerry back into the race by giving Democrats a reason to hope, and a reason to believe that they can win. 

Now, whether your advisors are going to tell you that or not doesn‘t matter.  It‘s the truth.  You know what else is the truth?  The past is the past.  You can‘t change it.  But you can do a few things moving forward.  First, do what all great politicians do, turn your disadvantage into an advantage.  If I were you, I would tell voters on the campaign trail and during the debate that you may not be a smooth talker, but you are a straight shooter, and in a war against terrorists who want to destroy America, that is what matters the most in a president.

Third, get off the campaign trail and practice before your next debate.  Let‘s face it, Jeb and your mother got most of your family‘s public speaking skills.  That means you have to try harder, and it means you have to practice more.  You simply can‘t afford to turn in another poor performance this week, so get to work.

Fourth, key in on the fact that even though this is an economic debate, there is no economic issue as important as fighting terror.  Osama bin Laden knows that, and he knows that the way to hurt America is to disrupt our economy.  Use Friday‘s debate as a chance to circle back, and hit all the points that you forgot to talk about last week, like how John Kerry voted to gut intelligence in the 1990s, how he voted to kill many of the weapons systems that made Operation Iraqi Freedom such a great success last year, and how he has switched his position on Iraq nine times in the past 12 months.

And finally, figure out how to get into the zone before you walk on stage Friday night.  In the times we have spoken one on one, I found you to be very impressive, intelligent, thoughtful leader, but that side of you did not come across last week.  Don‘t care what your staff members are saying.  Your facial expressions and your body language were unpresidential, and your stammering only confirmed what your worst enemies have been saying about you for years.  As one who has seen you up close, I know they are wrong.  But you have to figure out a way to show your best side to the rest of the American people.  Your presidency and the future direction of this country depends on it.

Now, a message for all of you who E-mailed me to call me an idiot or a traitor for telling you the truth about the President‘s performance on Friday.  I respectfully suggest that you are the idiots.  Political leaders don‘t need fans kissing up to them and telling them how great they are after they flopped.  Now, believe me, I have been there.  I know in Washington there are plenty of staff members who get paid to do that.  Instead, political leaders need somebody who tells them the truth, so they can correct their mistakes and improve on their weaknesses.  Where I come from, it‘s called constructive criticism, and it‘s what I expect from my friends.  I know that‘s a concept that may be foreign to party hacks in Washington D.C., but in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, it‘s the “Real Deal.”

Now, let‘s bring in our panel to talk about what‘s going on this week, and what a big week it‘s going to be.  And a guy following this campaign closely from the very beginning, Craig Crawford, from the “Congressional Quarterly” is here with us tonight.  We are excited about that.  We also have my good friend, Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth, and we also have GOP attorney Cleta Mitchell.

J.D., I want to start with you, because as you know, sometimes when I was in Congress, and even after Congress, sometimes I didn‘t know when to keep my mouth shut.  On Friday, I told everybody what I thought about the President‘s performance.  I have talked to a lot of Republicans who, behind  the scenes are saying the same thing, but publicly they say what a great job he did, but J.D., you and I both know, if you were debating on Thursday night against John Kerry, you wouldn‘t have run out of things to say after 30 minutes like the President.  You would have hit the ball out of the park.  Do you agree with me that the President‘s performance Thursday night was weak?

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH, ®, AZ:  I think this about debating.  I think in the final analysis, Joe, we are not selecting the president of a debating society.  We are selecting the President of the United States, and I think why you heard some vociferous reaction by E-mail Friday night is because on a very real level, most Americans understand that this president is a straight shooter.  Not a smooth talker, but he lays out what he believes.  Now, as I said going into the debate on your pre-debate telecast, what we would see from John Kerry is somebody who spent 20 years debating in the Senate.  Do I believe we should have focused more on those 20 years and his record being on the wrong side of intelligence, talking glowingly about coalitions but failing to vote in favor of the biggest coalition in history that drove Saddam out of Kuwait in the early 1990‘s, taking a look at the gulf between rhetoric and reality, you bet, but I believe President Bush really connects on a gut level with the American people who understand, as you said in the “Real Deal,” he is a straight shooter, not necessarily a smooth talker.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I heard Sean Hannity‘s radio show earlier today.  He was talking a little bit about how he was so disturbed that all these media types, didn‘t seem to get it.  They were attacking the President for not putting in a good performance, and then he went line by line over all of the flip-flops John Kerry made during the debate.  He also said what you just said, that John Kerry‘s voting record was horrible, and why didn‘t people understand that?  I thought that was the President‘s job, to do that on Thursday night.  I mean, the President didn‘t even talk about John Kerry‘s voting record on intelligence matters, on weapons systems, on all of these critical issues.  And then he made those inappropriate facial expressions during the cutaways, I mean, this guy did not seem presidential.  He seemed off the mark.  What in the world was wrong with him on Thursday night?

HAYWORTH:  Well, for purposes of full disclosure, Joe, I take you back to the time when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY was set up on the floor of the U.S.  House, and you and I heard some incredible attacks about trying to starve school kids and throwing grandma out on the street...


HAYWORTH:  ...and these scurrilous attacks about Medicare.  And we didn‘t exactly respond in Mr. Spock-like fashion.  I mean, it‘s human nature not to respond that way and I don‘t think a president has to sit there and be non-emotive.  I think a president is a human being, and the fact that we have flesh and blood, guts-up leadership resonates with a significant segment of the American people.  You know, in the final analysis, Joe, to use a sporting metaphor, you heard the old saying, “I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out,” but stop and take that analogy further. 

Suppose there was a hockey game, where the first period, you saw somebody come out like a figure skater, and the crowd just stopped, and watched the pirouettes, and watched all the incredible moves but by the third period, when the game is at stake, the guy who is moving to defend his goal, and then also rushing the other net, that‘s the guy who wins.  And that‘s the bottom line.  And it‘s most basic.  The role of the President of the United States as commander-in-chief is to protect the American nation, and understand the threats at hand, and when all is said and done, when rhetoric finally has to meet reality, I predict that in much the same way as John Kerry gave a fairly good acceptance speech, when you start to take a look at it and look at the details beyond rhetorical flourishes, his record intervenes, and in the final analysis, that will be what helps to make the difference. 

Of course, the President will rally in the next two debates, the town hall format, I think, is something well suited to him.  I think that he will concentrate and I think probably the real deal you have given tonight is something that will be studied very assiduously at the White House.

SCARBOROUGH:  Craig Crawford, I don‘t know about that, but let‘s talk about—I am going to show you polls in the next block but before we go to the polls, I want your reaction.  We talked the night after the debate.  What have you seen happening on the campaign trail over the past three, four days?  Does the Bush campaign—the people you talked to in the Bush campaign recognize their man blew a chance to put away John Kerry once and for all?

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  I really focused on Florida, Joe.  I just came up here to Cleveland from South Florida today, so I stayed down there for a few days after the debate, because I wanted to see the effect on that state.  And two things.  One is, the debates really did come at a good time, when the hurricanes were out of the way, people wanted to think about something else, and it really got politics back on folks‘ minds, and the other thing I saw was incredible enthusiasm among the Democratic turnout machine in those key counties down there in Broward and Palm Beach, South Florida counties, and the Republicans all trying to find a way to put a good face on the thing.  And that is probably true nationally as well.  But the State of Florida, watched that debate very closely.  And it put the Democrats in high gear.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, this election, especially in the State of Florida, I am glad you brought that up, Craig, especially in the State of Florida, turnout is going to be so critical, and I guess a lot of the Democratic base now is excited again, and they are getting their machine revved up, and think that George Bush has given them a chance to get their man—Because let‘s face it, over the past six to eight weeks, there ain‘t been a lot of Democrats who have been real excited about John Kerry‘s chances, have there?

CRAWFORD:  Yeah.  This is a turnout election, if I ever saw one.  The swing voters, increasingly, as we get close to Election Day, just forget about swing voters.  There aren‘t enough of them to matter.  If they are still swinging by now, they are going to be swinging from a tree somewhere at some point, because they are just not going to get to the polls, I don‘t think.  And it‘s these turnout machines for both parties that are going to matter.  Both parties have done as much as I have ever seen, Joe, in a presidential election.  Both parties.


CRAWFORD:  And the independent groups, the independent groups, we always talk about the ads that the Democratic independent groups, Move On, some of those do, as their main contribution or if you want to call it that, but they are also on the ground registering new voters.  There are a million new voters in the State of Florida since 2000.  I mean, that is a lot of new voters...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yeah.  Party leaders, also, Craig.  I‘m sorry, I don‘t mean to cut you off.  We‘ve got a little delay.

CRAWFORD:  I was rambling, so...

SCARBOROUGH:  No, no, no, that‘s all right.  But you ramble better than anybody else I know in politics.  No, no, Craig, the amazing thing is, I am in Florida, and what I am finding is both parties are telling their voters, get absentee ballots.  Vote early.  We want to know who has already gone to the polls so we can check you off, so we can drag everybody else out.  I am telling you, going to be amazing turnout.  Now, Craig, stick around.  I want to talk to you more.  Also, going to ask my panel to stick around.  We have much more.  We are going to talk to people from the Bush and Kerry camps in just one second about how their candidates can win the debate this week.  Stick around.  We‘ll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know, we are working hard.  Because it‘s hard work.  And we are working hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The fact of the matter is, i have consistently supported the war in front of pro-war audiences and condemned it when speaking to groups that oppose it.  That is not flip-flopping.  That is pandering, and Americans deserve a president who knows the difference.  Thank you.


SCARBOROUGH:  I tell you what, I was so concerned that SNL wouldn‘t live up to what they did in 2000 but I tell you what, that‘s some great stuff.  A great premiere, great political satire.  You got two guys there that really have their candidates down.  Now, there are only 29 days left until the election, and the horse race, obviously, is neck and neck.  With us tonight is Terry Holt, he‘s senior advisor, of course, for the Republican National Committee.

We also have Howard Wolfson, he‘s senior advisor to the Kerry campaign, and Howard, let me begin with you.  I love interviewing you guys because you are great at what you do.  But you can always look at somebody‘s face and really see whether they are happy or not.  This past week, of course, we had Ralph Reid in the “spin room,” and while his mouth was moving and he was smiling, didn‘t seem to be the happiest guy.  When we had you here a couple of weeks ago, talking about Texans for Truth and Dan Rather, you seemed to have a little bit of the air let out of you, but let‘s face it, last week was great for the Kerry campaign.  You‘ve got to be feeling like you turned the corner.

HOWARD WOLFSON, KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISOR:  Joe, when we heard you declare John Kerry the winner on debate night.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s big.

WOLFSON:  We knew we had a good night, and it was a good night.  We were pleased.  John Kerry won on both style and substance.  You talked about the president‘s facial expressions, he was clearly agitated and distressed about having to answer tough questions about his failed Iraq policy.  We felt very good coming out of the debate, but you know what Terry Holt and I will agree this is going to be a very close election, every day between here and Election Day will be closely fought, and we‘ve got two big debates this week that will also be very important.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Terry Holt, you guys have been saying for two years now that this was going to be a tight race no matter who was running against the President.  It was going to be neck and neck until the end, but don‘t you think the Bush campaign and the President specifically, I mean, let‘s talk tough, blew a chance to win this thing going away when he had a less than stellar debate performance on Thursday night?

TERRY HOLT, SENIOR BUSH ADVISOR:  Well, you know, the ebbs and flows of the campaign, sometimes we get a little carried away with the news cycle that we are in, but the facts of this campaign are still very basic.  We are talking about a president who has been steady and resolved and in fact just today, another accomplishment, signed the fourth tax relief package for middle-income Americans in his presidency.  The President has gone on offense in the war. 

You know, you can‘t win the global war on terror with good debating skills.  You need to be determined and strong, and when this election is down to it, when it gets down to the decision, there‘s John Kerry, who has raised your taxes 350 times, there‘s John Kerry that‘s missed 75 percent of all of the intelligence committee meetings that he was supposed to attend as a senator.  There‘s John Kerry who was wrong during the Cold War, asking for nuclear freeze when Ronald Reagan was kicking the Russians‘ tail, and John Kerry today, who can‘t decide whether or not he really is engaged in the wrong war or the right war or the support of the troops, the $87 billion for body armor, and such.  This still comes down to the issues, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Howard, I will let you respond to all that, but I want you to take a look at an ad released by the Bush campaign today and I want to get your response to it.  Let‘s take a look.


ANNOUNCER:  You said you would attack terrorists who threaten America, but at the debate, John Kerry said America must pass a global test before we protect ourselves.  The Kerry doctrine: a global test.  So we must seek permission from foreign governments before protecting America?  So America will be forced to wait while threats gather?  President Bush believes decisions about protecting America should be made in the Oval Office, not foreign capitals.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘m George W. Bush, and I approved this message.


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Howard, for meat and potatoes guys like me in flyover space, when you‘re people are talking about global test for launching a war, and it scares the heck out of us.  What did John Kerry mean when he talked about a global test?

WOLFSON:  I appreciate the question.  I would invite everyone to go look on the Internet, look at the debate transcript, see what John Kerry said, because the fact is, what that misleading ad doesn‘t tell you, is he made it very clear the President always has right to take preemptive action against our enemies and that John Kerry will do everything he can to defend the country at all costs, but at the same time, it is always best to do so with allies.  We fought and won the Cold War for 40 years, with our allies at our side. 

That‘s not the way George Bush approached the war in Iraq.  He rushed to war.  He didn‘t do all of the due diligence he needed to do.  We just had a story yesterday, in the “New York Times” about them faking, misleading some of the evidence about nuclear weapons in Iraq.  They told us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  There weren‘t.  They were told we were be greeted as liberators, we haven‘t been.  A thousands Americans are dead.  The fact is that this president rushed to war without our allies at our side, didn‘t do what he could have done to do that.


SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on, a second.  Hold on a second.  Terry, I am going to give you a chance to respond.  I really want to key in on this, and I don‘t want to play “gotcha” on this “global test.”  If you think Senator Kerry just misspoke, that‘s fine, but I want to key in, because you know you are going to be hearing “global test,” “global test,” “global test” over the next 28 days.  I want to give you a chance tonight to tell us, what does global test mean?

WOLFSON:  Well, I think, again, John Kerry made it very clear that as president, he will defend this country.  He will do whatever we need to do to defend this country.  We will take preemptive action if necessary, but we need to try to do so with our allies at our side, and that‘s been one of the tremendous failures of the Bush administration, that they rushed to war without allies at their side, and that‘s not the best way to go about it.  As a result, 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq are Americans.  90 percent of the costs are being bourn by our taxpayers.  It could have been done differently.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Terry, I will give you a chance to respond. 

But first, I want you to take a look at what the Kerry campaign put out.  They shot back a response almost immediately.  You can tell the Clinton guys are on board now, because they are not sitting back and just taking the hits.  Take a watch.  Take a look at this.


ANNOUNCER:  George Bush lost the debate.  Now he is lying about it.  This is what you heard John Kerry really say.  “The president always has the right for preemptive strike.  I will hunt and kill the terrorists wherever they are.”  But here‘s something new about George Bush.  Newspapers report he withheld key intelligence information from the American public, so he could overstate the threat Iraq posed.  Bush rushed us into war.  Now we are paying a price.  It‘s time for a fresh start.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  I‘m John Kerry and I approve this message.


SCARBOROUGH:  Terry, John Kerry just called the President of the United States a liar.  Respond.

HOLT:  Well, first thing I need to say, the president went to war with Iraq, with the support of John Kerry.  Now that he has vacillated back and forth with the political winds, ever since, is a different question, but John Kerry voted “yea” when it came down to supporting this president, and his actions in Iraq.  The second thing I would point out is that, you know, this “global test” is just a nightmare waiting to happen.  It says that we are going to wait for the French or the Russians or the Germans to sign off on our actions. 

And John Kerry may change the way that he views this statement today, but the way most of us look at it is that the President needs to defend this country, and under no uncertain circumstances.  I would just say, John Kerry has been wrong on the national defense, having voted against every major weapon system that is winning the war on terror today, and you know, this is more attack politics.  You can‘t win a campaign by calling “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”  It‘s not going to work, anger is not an agenda.  We need to look forward, look for the next four years.  The hopes and opportunities of this country are on the line, and it‘s a serious enough election that we should go back to the issues and the facts.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Howard, let‘s look at some of the polls that have come out.  We are sort of all over the charts here, but let‘s look at them.  “Washington Post,” between the two candidates, has it this way, 51-46.  Gallup, 49-49, Zogby 46-45, Newsweek is the one poll out that has John Kerry ahead, 49-46.  What is your take on where the polls are right now, and do you think that they have also not only nationally, you think they have also changed from what you have seen internally in Missouri, in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in some of these swing states?

WOLFSON:  Well, I think clearly as you said at the top of the show, there were an awful lot of Americans watching this debate.  Thankfully there‘s extraordinary interest in the election.  People know what the stakes are here.  We had a record audience tuning in.  People didn‘t like what they saw about George Bush. 

They saw an angry petulant man who made faces at the camera.  He didn‘t like the fact anybody was questioning him.  He basically couldn‘t defend his failed Iraq policy.  You know, this president has had fewer press conferences than any president since the press conference was invented.  He doesn‘t like to take questions.  He doesn‘t feel it‘s his obligation to do that.  And it showed the other night.  He could not defend his policies for 90 minutes.  John Kerry made a very strong case that this was the wrong war at the wrong time, and that he would do things better if he were elected.

SCARBOROUGH:  Howard, I was surprised your latest ad actually calls the President of the United States a liar.  I think that‘s unprecedented, isn‘t it?

WOLFSON:  Oh, I don‘t know about that.  I think the friends of President Bush have been calling John Kerry all kinds of things now for months and months and months.  Look, when...

SCARBOROUGH:  But this ad is John Kerry—he‘s approved it.  Actually is calling the President of the United States a liar.  I don‘t think I have ever seen that in an ad approved by a campaign.

WOLFSON:  Well, you know, I think when the Bush campaign is going to distort what John Kerry said in a debate, when John Kerry clearly said that the President always has the right to take preemptive action, of course, that he will hunt down and track the terrorists and kill them, and then to make up some sort of nonsense about a “global test” is foolishness, and we are going to call the Bush campaign on that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Gentlemen, stay with me.  We‘ll be right back in a second.  Stick around.


SCARBOROUGH:  We have the latest polls, we‘ll also be talking about the vice presidential debate tomorrow night when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns, so stick around, but first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC news desk.

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Hello, I‘m Milissa Rehberger with the headlines. At least 26 people were killed in three suicide car bombings today in Iraq, two in Baghdad, one in the northern city of Mosul.  U.S.  forces also fought intense battles with insurgents in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad.

Another steam eruption at Mount St. Helen‘s, the third in the past four days, and the biggest one yet.  Scientists say small earthquakes continue underneath the volcano, indicating another eruption is possible.

The private rocket, Spaceship One soared into space for the second time in five days.  It thus won $10 million prize designed to encourage private space flight.  It reached an altitude of nearly 70 miles, well beyond 62 mile altitude commonly accepted as the beginning of space.

And a pioneer of space flight has died.  Gordon Cooper, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts.  Doctors(ph) said he died at his home in California.  He was 77 years old.  Those are your headlines.  Now back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They say you are a flip-flopper.  What you say about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I try to explain that my voting record has many nuances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I just fell asleep, and when I woke up, you lost the whole election right there.


SCARBOROUGH:  I tell you what, you say what you will about “Gigli” but Ben Affleck absolutely nailed Carville on Saturday night.  I thought it was his best performance, since “Good Will Hunting.”  Terry Holt, on to some more serious matters.  Tomorrow night, the vice presidential debate.

HOLT:  I‘ll try.  I‘ll try.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yeah.  Did you see that on Saturday night?

HOLT:  Oh, no.  I go to bed early, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, whatever.  That was some great stuff.  But let‘s talk about the vice presidential debate...

HOLT:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  ...briefly tomorrow night.  What should we expect to see from Dick Cheney?  Personally, I don‘t think Dick Cheney is going to run out of things to say after 30 minutes.  What is his message going to be tomorrow night?

HOLT:  Well, it‘s to reinforce that the President has a vision for winning this global war on terror, has a comprehensive plan for making this nation more secure over the long haul.  You know, our economy and all of the issues that are so important here at home to our families, the predicate for that, the first part of that is that we feel we are at peace and we are secure, that we don‘t have to worry about terrorists attacks in this United States, so I think that‘s the fundamental message of this election, of the campaign. 

The vice president is a very experienced person.  He has seen it all, but he is going up against a guy that was chosen for vice president for this one reason.  John Edwards was selected to be the vice presidential nominee for John Kerry to style him up and to make a point during a debate.  And the vice president—vice president Cheney was chosen obviously because he knows the issues well enough to be president.  I think that‘s really what we are trying to show during this campaign.

SCARBOROUGH:  Howard Wolfson, what do we expect to hear tomorrow night?  Are we going to se John Edwards personally attack Dick Cheney and go after him on Halliburton and issues such as that?

WOLFSON:  I think it‘s going to be a real contrast that the American people sees between someone, John Edwards, who has been a fighter his whole life for middle class families, and someone, Dick Cheney, who has been a fighter on behalf of big corporations and the special interests.  This is the debate that Dick Cheney wanted.  It‘s a format that he does well in.  He is going to be a good debater but John Edwards is going to make him answer tough questions about his wrong predictions on Iraq, about the no-bid contracts for Halliburton, about his secret energy task force.  And I think it‘s going to be very important debate.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think it will too.

HOLT:  If we had had the energy plan that the Democrats and John Kerry have stood in the way of, we would have less expensive gasoline today, we would have less dependence on foreign oil, so, you know, you can play all of the political spitballs you want tomorrow night, but the fact of the matter is, the Democrats and specifically John Kerry have stood in the way of things like energy policy and lower taxes and lower regulation that could have helped this economy really grow gangbusters over the next couple of years.

WOLFSON:  Well, no, not at all.  You know, when George Bush and Dick Cheney took office, oil was $30 a barrel.  It‘s now $50 a barrel.

HOLT:  But John Kerry has voted for higher taxes on gasoline 10 times.

WOLFSON:  If you put your money in the oil industry at the beginning of George Bush‘s tenure, you did a lot better than if you invested in stock market.  And of course...

HOLT:  Most of us are putting our money into the gas tank.  And we don‘t want more higher taxes on gasoline.

WOLFSON:  That is correct, and under George Bush, you are paying almost twice as much as you were when Bill Clinton was president.  That‘s because George Bush is friends with the Saudis, and Dick Cheney is friends with big energy companies like Enron, and you can‘t give us a real energy policy.  You can‘t talk tough to OPEC and to the Saudis.  They are George Bush‘s best friends.  We need John Kerry...

HOLT:  And I know that you have seen the Michael Moore ad, the “Fahrenheit 9/11” talking points are all over the left, but...

WOLFSON:  When is George Bush going to get tough with OPEC, Terry?

HOLT:  It‘s about good solid policies.

WOLFSON:  When‘s he going to get tough?  Gas prices are twice as high.

HOLT:  And creating more energy at home.

WOLFSON:  Twice as high.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, gentlemen.  We will have to leave it there.  I hope the debate tomorrow night is half as entertaining as what we just heard.  Terry Holt, Howard Wolfson, thanks a lot for being with us and good luck.  28 days left, we know you guys right now are in the crunch time.  It‘s got to be tough for you and your families, but we appreciate what you are doing for American democracy.

Now let‘s bring in our panel, we‘ve got Craig Crawford, back from the “Congressional Quarterly.”  We also have Arizona Congressman, J.D. Hayworth and GOP attorney Cleta Mitchell.  J.D., let me go back to you.  I was struck by the John Kerry ad.  We have the nasty third-party ads all the time.  But I was struck by the President of the United States being called a liar in this ad.  And then John Kerry‘s voice coming on right after and saying, “I‘m John Kerry, and I approve this message.”  I‘ve never heard a Republican or a Democratic president call his opponent a liar in that manner, have you?

HAYWORTH:  It is shocking, sad, and disappointing, and, Joe, yet another flip-flop, because recall, during the debate, Jim Lehrer said what about these harsh personal attacks, what about suggesting the President has lied, and Kerry very sanctimoniously, “I have never called the President a liar, or used those terms.”  Well, I guess to use the lawyerly type of parsing of statements, he didn‘t during the debate, but he sure has now, and I think this is a bridge too far.  I don‘t think the American people regardless of their political affiliation want to hear the President of the United States called a liar.

SCARBOROUGH:  Craig Crawford, I showed some of the polls to Terry Holt and Howard Wolfson and obviously John Kerry‘s numbers are rising.  Where is he getting his biggest bounce from this debate last week?

Well, we talked earlier.  A lot coming from Democrats getting excited again after thinking that he was a loser.  But if you get inside those numbers, one thing I am seeing, Joe, that I think is fascinating is that Kerry is bringing back some of the women, a popular phrase this go-around has been “security moms.”  And they are—they lean Democrat, but they have been pulled to the Bush side on concern for national security, concern for safety at home, and Kerry brought them back, at least for a little while.  I don‘t know how long he can hold them.  They are a fluid bunch.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, what‘s the number, exact breakdown from 2000?  Al Gore, I know there‘s a gender gap.  Al Gore carried women voters by how much, was it about 10 percent?


SCARBOROUGH:  Do you know?

CRAWFORD:  And then on the other side, we always talk about the women, but it‘s the Republicans have a huge lead among men, which is the other side of the gender gap we don‘t always talk about as much.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yeah.  Now, obviously, Bush‘s favorability ratings have been up and down.  They are on the rise again.  I want to show you all a Pew Center poll which was released today.  57 percent of Americans actually approve of the job the President is doing, which is up 7 percent over the past two weeks.  John Kerry‘s favorability ratings slipped one point over the same time frame to 53 percent. 

Both candidates have had their unfavorability rating around 40 percent though the President‘s are down also over the past two weeks, while John Kerry‘s are actually up 2 points.  Cleta, I have got to tell you, Cleta Mitchell, I am confused.  What is happening in those numbers?  Why did the President lose the debate and yet his favorability numbers have shot up 7 points?

CLETA MITCHELL, GOP ATTORNEY:  Well, you say that he lost the debate. 

I have to tell you that I listened to the debate, primarily on the radio.  I was in Oklahoma.  I wasn‘t here inside the Beltway.  I was in my home state of Oklahoma.  I listened to most of it on the radio, and I had a very different impression.  The President was strong and powerful.  I didn‘t see his bad posture.  I did notice John Kerry‘s fingernails.  I don‘t think I want a president with a French manicure, but maybe that‘s a female view.

SCARBOROUGH:  I missed that somehow.

MITCHELL:  Well, you have to look.  I was telling everyone in my family, what is wrong with his fingernails?

CRAWFORD:  Why is it French manicure, what is it with France and John Kerry and Republicans?  Every time you go there, you tie him to France.  I‘m just fascinated.  What is the connection with France?

MITCHELL:  That‘s what it‘s called, it‘s a French manicure, little white cuticles.

CRAWFORD:  Well, the other day, when he got the time wrong for some speech he talked about, he said he‘d given it in the evening and it turned out, the afternoon.  The press release that came out with Republicans was “maybe he was on Paris time.”  I mean the French connection just doesn‘t stop.

MITCHELL:  I have to tell you, in all honesty, I think one of the things that is startling to me in all of this is that when we have a nominee for a court of appeals judge, the press goes through everything that that nominee has written for his or her entire life.  What I am fascinated about is that John Kerry the other night really repeated himself from 1971, denigrating American allies, calling into question America‘s role in the world and the war. 

Everything he said the other night was really a reprise of what he had said in 1971 in his anti-war activities.  And why has the press not gone through that and held him accountable?  I‘d urge everybody to go to the Web site.  Read what he said.  Go to the Stolen Honor Web site.  See what the POWs say about what John Kerry did to them.  I think that‘s very important.

SCARBOROUGH:  I tell you what, if that were so important, I am wondering why the President didn‘t bring it up during the debate.

MITCHELL:  I am agree with that.  He should definitely do it.

SCARBOROUGH:  When John Kerry stepped forward and said that he honored soldiers not only in Iraq, he also honored soldiers in Vietnam, I am wondering exactly where the President of the United States was.  The President wasn‘t there last Thursday night.  I‘m sorry if Republicans are offended by me saying that, but the fact is, he has got to focus his group has got to tell him that he has got to do a better job or else he is going to lose more voters.

Hey, listen, stick around, we got much more ahead, including Al Franken.  He is going to give us a preview of the Dick Cheney-John Edwards debate tomorrow night.  Stick around, Al Franken coming up next in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.


SCARBOROUGH:  Did they say three million?  Three million lakes?  The land of three million lakes.  I tell you , Hotwire, I mean come on, Hotwire starts with like the easiest trivia question on the planet, when they started doing this several months ago, like what state starts with an “F” and Joe Scarborough lives there. 

Now they get us every week, don‘t they?  The land of three million lakes.  That‘s amazing.  I said Minnesota.  Speaking of Minnesota, we got a guest coming up from Minnesota.  On Friday night, Air America talk show host Al Franken from Minnesota gave us his reaction of the presidential debates, but I also asked him what he thought about tomorrow‘s V.P. match-up.  And guess who he thinks is going to win.  Not hard to guess actually.


AL FRANKEN, AIR AMERICA TALK SHOW HOST:  John Edwards.  You know what I think, I think Edwards...

SCARBOROUGH:  What are you expecting from Dick Cheney?

FRANKEN:  I think Dick Cheney will be on the attack.  I think he will say that—he will probably say any battleground—if Kerry and Edwards win the election, most of the battleground states will be hit by nukes.  That‘s what I think he is going to say.  I think he‘s going to scare people.

SCARBOROUGH:  A sort of velvet touch.  Going to be a soft touch.

FRANKEN:  And any state that picks up a Democratic Senate seat will be hit with smallpox.  I think that‘s what he will say.

SCARBOROUGH:  What has John Edwards got to do on Tuesday night to prove he is worthy of being vice president and being, as they say, one heartbeat away from the Oval Office?

FRANKEN:  Well, it depends, of course, what Cheney does a little bit.  There may be some talking about Kerry.  I think that—the reason I think Edwards will win is that Cheney is not a very well-liked figure among most Americans. 

I think his approval rating is in the 30s or something.  Remember all the talk before the convention about possibly replacing him.  I think one of his vulnerabilities is Halliburton.  You remember that moment in the Lieberman-Cheney debate from 2000, where Lieberman said, “I noticed you did pretty well, Mr. Cheney, over the last eight years,” and Cheney said, “Yeah, well, the government had nothing to do with it.”  And I think that Edwards, if he could just recall that moment and say to Cheney, you were joking, right, because Halliburton had billions of dollars of government contracts and loan guarantees.” 

And I just think that it‘s a joke to say, for the CEO of Halliburton, to go, “The government has nothing to do with how Halliburton is doing,” and the fact is, you know, of course, we have the blind contracts—no-bid contracts and all that stuff.  And I think that‘s going to be a vulnerability for the vice president, and the fact that he is actually still taking a salary. 

He got like $175,000 last year, something in that neighborhood, and I know it doesn‘t mean a lot to you and me, but to most Americans, it‘s a lot of money, $175,000, from Halliburton, which is getting billions of dollars of contracts in Iraq, and then wasting the money and not doing their job and stealing from the taxpayer.

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you, that‘s a lot of money to me, Al Franken, but I tell you it‘s going to be great...

FRANKEN:  OK, it‘s not that much to me.

SCARBOROUGH:  ...debate.  Exactly.  Rich, powerful Hollywood type.

FRANKEN:  Yeah.  Hollywood type.

SCARBOROUGH:  We are going to have a great setup here.  We are going to have the CEO versus trial lawyer.  I have seen quite a few trial lawyers go after CEOs in depositions, and it is high drama.  I think we are going to have a great debate next week, too.  Thanks a lot for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it.

FRANKEN:  Thank you, Joe.


SCARBOROUGH:  I got to tell you something else, too, one final thought, it all has to do with perception and the expectations game.  People expect John Kerry to fall flat on his face last week.  He surprised them.  He did better than expectations, it helped out.  Tomorrow, they are expecting Dick Cheney to be cold and mean and aloof.  He is not that way.  I think Dick Cheney is going to score big tomorrow night.  Stick around. 

There‘s more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.  See you in a second.


SCARBOROUGH:  Tomorrow night, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will be in Cleveland.  Thank you, Cleveland.  5:00 p.m., the vice presidential debate at 9:00 p.m., and after hours at midnight.  We‘ll see you then.



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