Guest: Santiago Juarez, Dan Foley, Sam Harris, Ralph Reed, Andrew Card, Tad Devine
LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: With the candidates running neck and neck, it will all come down to which way the swing states swing. Well, tonight, we are going to show you which way they are leaning and what could happen between now and Tuesday to change all that.
Then, John Kerry has been spending a lot of time on the F factor, faith. So why is he suddenly talking about it and why are Catholics mobilizing against him?
And later, claims of voter suppression in the Southwest. Is there any there there? And what about overseas votes coming in from our military? Are they going to be counted?
All that and much more tonight on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
INGRAHAM: Hey, I‘m Laura Ingraham in for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Thanks to Joe for letting me have his seat for the night.
OK, here‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
The final week of the campaign is here, and John Kerry thought that he found a magic wand to make President George Bush‘s reelection chances disappear. He thought he had gotten a little help from his friends at “The New York Times” and CBS News who are both trumpeting this report about missing explosives in Iraq that were said to be at a weapons depot at some time before our troops stopped there in April of 2003.
OK, the implication of all this, you know what it is, that American forces failed to secure the weapons that are now being used to kill American forces, and it‘s all George Bush‘s fault. Well, by now, we all know that CBS was coordinating with “The New York Times,” which ran the story, big shocker, above the fold, without of course giving the military the benefit of the doubt.
Well, John Kerry, same deal, without giving the military the benefit of the doubt, almost immediately turned these news accounts into a campaign commercial, saying that this was the fault of President Bush and once again calling into question his competency as commander in chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In Iraq, George Bush has overextended our troops and now failed to secure 380 tons of deadly explosives, the kind used for attacks in Iraq and for terrorist bombings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: All right, well, until he is blue in the face, Senator Kerry can claim that his attacks on the president are not an attack on troops, but people in the heartland are not buying this, because, when you demean a war as the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, diversion, all that, well, you demean the mission that the troops are sweating, bleeding, and dying for.
And when you fail to acknowledge that the great successes of our military are undeniable, including, by the way, the fact that our soldiers have already secured and are destroying 400,000 tons of weaponry in Iraq, well, you demean the troops. And when you Monday-morning quarterback day-to-day military operations and then brand them incompetent, you demean and insult the troops.
But, then again, this instinct to blame America, blame the troops, nothing new for Senator Kerry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1991)
KERRY: They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Kahn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: I still can‘t get over the whole Genghis Kahn thing, but maybe it‘s just me.
Well, look, this finger-pointing at the United States is precisely the reason why Senator Kerry is in so much trouble with America‘s active duty and retired military this election. There are two major surveys of our troops‘ political views that show President Bush is leading Kerry among the military by huge margins. If Senator Kerry cars so much about the troops and their mission, as he says he does, it would have been nice if he had actually urged Democrat Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to extend the time that overseas military ballots could be mailed in this year.
As it stands now, Pennsylvania‘s proudest who are serving overseas, they have to get their ballots in by tomorrow at 5:00 p.m., or you know something? Their votes won‘t count. As Senator Rick Santorum wrote to Governor Rendell last week: “I have heard directly from service members who have recently returned from the war in Iraq and learned that first-class mail takes four to six weeks to arrive from the U.S. So, in the best-case scenario, ballots from Pennsylvania mailed on September 20 are being delivered to our men and women in uniform this week. It is nearly impossible for our soldiers to return their ballots by the October 28 deadline.”
That, my friends, is a total outrage. These troops deserve not lip service. They deserve the best that we have to give them. That means real support, real respect, and the right for their votes to be counted.
I challenged Kerry senior adviser Tad Devine about Kerry‘s relentless attacks on the president this week about those missing weapons in Iraq.
TAD DEVINE, SENIOR JOHN KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: No, I am surprised to hear you say that.
I mean, I heard Rudy Giuliani this morning say one of the most stunning things I have ever heard. He said that the responsibility for the missing 380 tons of explosives was with the troops, our troops in Iraq. I mean, John Kerry has made it clear. The responsibility for this does not lie with the troops. It lies with the president of the United States, the vice president of the United States, and the people who made the decision to rush to war with no plan to win the peace.
INGRAHAM: So you are saying that President Bush as commander in chief should bit by bit, inch by inch, mile by mile, in a place like Iraq, where they were storming through the desert, where, by all accounts, including the accounts Marines I have talked to, the whole country is weapons dump, so you are saying it‘s President Bush‘s fault that in the Al-Qaqaa weapons facility, those weapons either were not there, were moved, or not found by the troops? That‘s what you are saying?
DEVINE: What we are saying the president should not have recklessly led this nation into war the way he did.
INGRAHAM: Well, you are dodging the question, Tad.
DEVINE: No, I‘m not dodging it at all.
INGRAHAM: That‘s not what I asked.
INGRAHAM: Tad, let me ask the question. I will ask it a second time.
DEVINE: The responsibility for this lies with the president of the United States.
INGRAHAM: Tad, you don‘t want to answer the question.
DEVINE: Sure. Go ahead.
INGRAHAM: The first time I answered it, you shifted to Giuliani.
First of all, going after Giuliani is a terrible strategy.
DEVINE: Well, it was a stunning statements. You want to talk about stunning statements. I was stunned. I still am.
INGRAHAM: I actually watched the interview.
But the question I have for you is, John Kerry today said that President Bush should stop blaming the troops. And I want to put on the full screen for you a graphic, because—and you might not be aware of this, but a recent study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center—it‘s no right-wing think tank -- 94 percent of the members of the military intend to vote in this election. That‘s not strange. That‘s what we would predict.
And President Bush is likely to get most of those votes. He has 69 percent favorability, tad, among military personnel, Kerry, 23 percent. An “Army Times‘ poll, 4,000 men and women active and retired overwhelmingly support President Bush, about 4-1. If this guy is such a terrible commander in chief, why does the military love him, Tad?
DEVINE: Well, Laura, listen, I am not surprised that the president enjoys broad support from members of the military. That‘s a voting characteristic that we have seen in a lot of elections.
But what I am surprised is the president of the United States will not immediately repudiate the words of Rudy Giuliani today.
INGRAHAM: Here‘s what Rudy Giuliani said before: “We don‘t need someone who voted against funding our troops during war to take my remarks out of context. Like the president, I wholeheartedly support our troops. If John Edwards is looking for someone who is blaming out troops without the facts, he needs to look no further than his running mate, John Kerry,” because John Edwards also spoke out against this.
So I don‘t want to focus completely on this Rudy Giuliani thing, but it‘s a phony issue. And you‘re not going to try to get any traction from it.
DEVINE: It sounds like he was trying to clean up for saying the actual responsibility for it really would be with the troops that were there.
DEVINE: Did they search accurately enough or did they not search carefully enough? That‘s what he said.
INGRAHAM: You guys are getting killed in these polls among the troops. And I don‘t think this helps.
But I want to move on to another issue.
DEVINE: OK, let‘s move on.
INGRAHAM: Because you guys consistently have made the claim that this war has been handled incompetently, that the economy is a mess because of George Bush.
DEVINE: Absolutely. Sure is. We agree.
INGRAHAM: And the way that you guys paint this, whether it‘s domestically or foreign policy, it‘s just a total, unmitigated disaster, OK?
Given the fact that you say that, how do you explain that the country is so divided and so close, and how do you explain the fact that 95 percent of the people who voted for Bush last time are going to vote for him again, if he is such a disaster and it should be so obvious?
DEVINE: Because the president for four years has practiced the politics of polarization. He has deeply divided the nation.
Now, listen, he shored up his own base. There‘s no doubt about that. And, as a political tactic, that is certainly worse. Unfortunately, he has divided America. It hasn‘t been this divided in generations. So that‘s how I explain it. He has preached to the choir, basically, and he shored up his own political base. But, unfortunately, this president did not do what he pledged to do four years ago, which was to be a uniter and not a divider.
He is a deeply divisive figure, the most divisive president since Nixon. And Tuesday, the American people, I believe, are going to choose a new direction.
INGRAHAM: Why is it, do you think, Tad, that about eight out of 10 French men and French women are supporting John Kerry? Do you have any idea about that?
DEVINE: Laura, we haven‘t done a poll of France yet, but I think I know why some allies of the United States, important allies of the United States, who work for us, with us for 50 years after the Cold War...
INGRAHAM: Who blocked us at every juncture.
DEVINE: And NATO and other alliances, why they are disappointed in the president, because George Bush recklessly turned his back on the rest of the world. And now the American taxpayers and American troops are bearing the burden in Iraq almost alone because of this president‘s policies.
INGRAHAM: But, Tad, why do you think that old Europe, France and Germany.
DEVINE: Right, old Europe.
INGRAHAM: And Russia and China, why do you think these countries—and the polls are kind of stunning on this.
INGRAHAM: I think it‘s like 80 percent of countries that were looked into support John Kerry.
INGRAHAM: So many countries which have turned their back on religion and marriage and don‘t believe in a Second Amendment. That‘s for sure. They don‘t believe in gun rights. They certainly have had some problems with this oil-for-food scam.
Why do you think that they embrace your guy so much? Do you guys think you have a lot more in common with how Europe looks at the world than with those heartland people and how they look at the world?
DEVINE: You know, I don‘t think it‘s so much a matter of how much they love Kerry. I think they just hate Bush.
I think they have seen a president of the United States who instead of doing what a president should do, which is to let this great nation lead the world, to lead strong alliances, to let America once again become the beacon of light that it should be, that this president instead has recklessly and arrogantly turned his back on the rest of the world. And I think that‘s why they resent him so them.
INGRAHAM: Eight out of 10 Frenchmen support. I think that‘s a campaign ad.
But, Tad, we love having you on. Thank you for joining us.
DEVINE: OK, Laura. Thank you.
INGRAHAM: And a federal judge in Ohio today ruled for the Democrats in what could be the first of a lot of court challenges on voter fraud.
Earlier today, I spoke to White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and asked him about that case.
ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I still have confidence in our court system. I hope that they won‘t practice partisan politics.
But I am confident as well that the Republicans are going to make sure that people are able to exercise their privilege to vote and vote responsibly. If anyone is out there committing fraud, they should watch out. This is not the time for anybody to be playing games. This is a serious election. We take every vote seriously.
I was very troubled when the Democratic National Committee issued guidelines to all of their organizers, basically saying, even if you don‘t see fraud, claim it. And that‘s not the right way for a national party to act, and I was offended by that.
INGRAHAM: I want to look at some of the latest polls from Ohio, because I know you guys have spent so much time there in the last week or so. What are your internals telling you right now, Andy, about Ohio, which is critical, by all accounts, to President Bush‘s reelection?
CARD: Well, we are on the right side of close. We are doing very well in Ohio, and we‘re doing very well in neighboring Pennsylvania. And I even think we are doing quite well in Michigan.
So we are on the right side of close. We have got hundreds of thousands of volunteers in Ohio, and they are making the difference. They are the ones that are out there making the phone calls and encouraging people to go to the polls. They have offered to give rides to the polls. They will be out knocking on doors this weekend.
And it‘s the people that start to make a difference. The pollsters and the pundits become irrelevant beginning this weekend.
INGRAHAM: Well, wait a second.
CARD: And you‘re going to find that people are making big difference.
INGRAHAM: Wait. Did you say the pollsters and the pundits become irrelevant?
CARD: I did, Laura.
CARD: You know, you don‘t get to pick the president. The people do. And the people will be voting. And they will pick the president. I know President Bush is going to be the overwhelming choice of the American voters.
INGRAHAM: Well, I want to talk a little bit about what‘s happening with this weapons story, because it lands on the cover of “The New York Times” earlier this week, you know, the implicit suggestion that there was incompetence on the battlefield, that we weren‘t able to secure these troops. John Kerry jumps on the story, turns it into ad almost instantaneously. How are you guys going to react to this?
CARD: Well, I think it‘s offensive. His knee-jerk reaction, without knowing the truth is or without knowing what the facts, his knee-jerk reaction is to claim that our troops are not performing up to what the standards that they can and should be.
And it is offensive to the terrific men and women who are the leaders of our military, as well as to those who are on the ground carrying out the directions of the president, standing in harm‘s way. And I just don‘t think John Kerry is the kind of person that should be the president of this country, nor the commander in chief.
INGRAHAM: Question of respecting our troops, strong words from Andy Card, White House chief of staff.
And now, stick around, because Joe Scarborough will join us next to break down the latest poll numbers. And this is hot. We are going to tell you what they mean for next Tuesday when we come back.
Stay with us.
If you are having trouble voting on Election Day or before, well, you can get help by dialing the NBC News voter alert line. The number is 1-866-MYVOTE-1.
Stay tuned for more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
INGRAHAM: All right, we begin tonight with the numbers. Specifically, we are going to look at the polls. We‘ll look at the national polls, and then we are going to dissect the all-important battleground states.
Here to analyze all of it with us is Joe Scarborough on the phone from Pensacola, and Frank Luntz, a pollster and a frequent visitor to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Gentlemen, it‘s good to have you both with us.
And Joe, thank you for lend your chair—lend your chair to me for the night. It‘s great to have you both here.
Let‘s get right now to the latest information on the race just five days out. Now, Reuters and Zogby, it‘s virtually too close to call, with President Bush leading by two percentage points, 48-46. Meanwhile, ABC tracking poll has Senator Kerry up front by one point, 49-48. But interestingly, the same poll shows that among so-called movable voters, Bush has a narrow one-point edge, 42-41.
Now, moving now to “The L.A. Times” battleground poll, we have three critical states in play. In Pennsylvania, it‘s a dead heat at 48 apiece. In Florida, the president is now way out in front. This is stunning, a full eight points, 51-43 percent. And in the Buckeye State, it‘s Kerry with the big lead, 44 percent for Bush, 50 for John Kerry.
And here‘s another interesting developing from the Quinnipiac poll, where, just six days ago, Kerry held a five-point edge in state of Pennsylvania. That lead has evaporated and Bush is now on top 49-47. I am totally confused.
The Pew Research poll has been studying swing voters. And the trend over the past month for favors John Kerry. Voters leaning toward Kerry is up from 28 percent in September to 40 percent today, while those leaning toward Bush is now at 38 percent, up from 34 percent in September.
And, finally—I didn‘t think we would get to the end of this list—
“The Washington Post” asked voters which candidate they would feel more comfortable with when it came to appointing Supreme Court justices; 47 percent trust Bush with that task, while 44 percent shows Kerry. Very interesting.
Let‘s go to Joe first. Joe, you are in Florida. These Florida numbers are hard to figure out. We were told for some time that Kerry had a slight edge in Florida, but now it‘s anyone‘s guess.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Well, I have got to tell you, right now, everybody I am talking to in Florida on both sides, political operatives for Republicans and even my Democratic friends, are admitting that Florida is trending Bush.
You, of course, not only have the “L.A. Times” poll that came out yesterday that had George Bush up by eight percentage points. You also had the CNN/”USA Today”/Gallup poll that came out a couple days ago, also had George Bush up by eight points in the state of Florida, things trending very well for the president there. Obviously, if he can nail down those 27 electoral votes, that‘s significant for him.
I just want to—you put a lot of poll numbers up there. There was actually just one slight change. “The Washington Post”/ABC News tracking poll has actually changed again.
SCARBOROUGH: It changed a few hours ago, and now it‘s George Bush that is up by a point in that poll.
Most of the trends that we are looking at in a lot of individual states seem to be going George W. Bush‘s way. You look at the individual states that are still up for grabs right now. I mean, you can take a state like Hawaii that right now NBC is not saying is leaning one way or the other.
And I think the most remarkable state—everybody is talking about Ohio. Everybody is talking about Florida. Look what‘s happened in Pennsylvania over the past two days. Zogby has it a tie. “The L.A. Times” has it a tie. The Quinnipiac poll has Pennsylvania plus two for George W. Bush. He has made it no secret from the day that he got into office that that‘s where he was going to stake his reelection.
SCARBOROUGH: I think we are starting to see things break in Pennsylvania.
INGRAHAM: And let‘s go to Frank Luntz here.
Frank, the president gave a major speech about values, social values, partial-birth abortion, the marriage question, in Pennsylvania yesterday. How critical was that appeal, because he was really reaching out to sort of the heartland value crowd?
FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Well, it not only works in Pennsylvania, but there are a couple of other states that were not mentioned tonight, specifically Iowa and Wisconsin, that are regarded economically as progressive states, but socially are very conservative.
And a speech that Bush gave yesterday about values, principles, tradition in America will not only play well in Pennsylvania, but it will play well in the heartland, and that is where this battle is being held.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Frank, there‘s some odd developments as well. I spent some time in Minnesota. I did a big rally for President Bush back in August. And I noticed at the time in St. Paul, which is totally liberal, that there seemed to be a bit of a surge for George Bush. Is that possible for George Bush to take that traditionally Democratic state?
LUNTZ: It‘s interesting you should mention that, because the polling that I have seen over the last 24 hours has Bush up by three points in Minnesota.
And almost every poll that has been taken there over the last 10 days shows Bush one, two, three points up. These are states that no one ever thought would be in play two or three weeks ago. And now they truly are in play, whereas Ohio seems to be drifting towards Kerry. This is truly not a national election. This is going to happen state by state, and, as it unfolds on election night, we are going to be in for a long, long evening, the next morning, perhaps even the next evening.
LUNTZ: Because we are going to have to count provisional ballots. We are going to have to count absentee ballots. It‘s going to be very, very close.
INGRAHAM: And, Joe, let‘s go to you on the map, because when you have a situation where Democrats are actually having to worry about a state like New Jersey or, as you mentioned, Hawaii, I don‘t think that trend sounds very positive for John Kerry. And I don‘t know what your thoughts are. You have been these studying polls all day.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, very bad news, obviously, that, this final weekend, the Kerry campaign and MoveOn.org are putting money into the state of Hawaii, which is absolutely unbelievable.
SCARBOROUGH: But, if we can, let‘s go ahead and put up the map that MSNBC.com has. It‘s an election scorecard map.
And if you look at the map—and, first of all, let‘s go to the states where NBC is saying right now are leaning towards Bush, Nevada. Obviously, Nevada is a state that usually trends Republican. Arizona also trending that way right now. Arkansas and its six electoral votes, NBC also says leaning that way. Missouri 11 points, also leaning George W. Bush‘s way.
And, of course, Laura, the state that surprised a lot of us in 2000, West Virginia, another economically liberal or progressive state, but socially quite conservative. Those states are all leaning George W. Bush‘s way. That gives him 218.
Now let‘s go to Florida. I would be stunned, as would most Florida observers, if George Bush doesn‘t pick that up. He is up by seven, eight, nine points, in a lot of internal polls. That puts him up to 245. I—go back out West to Colorado. There‘s another state that is leaning for George W. Bush right now in almost every poll that Frank Luntz and I have seen. You go up to Iowa, a state again that Al Gore just barely won in 2000, that‘s leaning George W. Bush‘s way.
INGRAHAM: It‘s looking pretty red there.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s looking red. That puts him at 261.
SCARBOROUGH: To get over the top, he has to get 10 more—nine more electoral votes. I think he is actually going to get it in Wisconsin.
The Boss was there today. Maybe there were 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 people pushing for him. But, again, Wisconsin has been trending for George Bush the past six months or so. I think he is going to win it again. We are not even talking about Michigan, where it‘s tied right now or Ohio or Pennsylvania. If George Bush takes Pennsylvania or Ohio, then I think—unlike Frank, I think we are going to be knowing who the next president of the United States is by 9:00, 10:00 at night.
INGRAHAM: And, Frank, the last-minute push by John Kerry on this issue of the troops and the weapons inside of Iraq, is that going to be something that‘s going to help him in these final days? Because I think it just cements issue of John Kerry, the guy who is criticizing the military back in 1971 again. I think that was a huge tactical error in the last days.
LUNTZ: Well, the problem with John Kerry is that he has given votes a reason to vote against George Bush, but he has still yet to give a reason to vote for John Kerry.
And, in the end, there‘s no “not George Bush” on the ballot. There‘s no place to check it, to pull the lever. You have to actually vote for John Kerry if you want to get rid of George Bush. And there are probably a million, a million and a half swing voters—and that‘s all that‘s left at this point—that needs a reason to vote for someone. They won‘t just vote anti.
I think if John Kerry ended the campaign on a positive note, that he might actually be able to pull over those people. Clearly, he is not. In fact, one could argue that he is being more negative now than he has been at any time in the campaign. And voters are sick of it.
INGRAHAM: Well, I think we are still in search of the elusive plan.
So maybe that will turn up in the final days.
Joe and Frank, thank you very much for joining us.
And, up next, there‘s no question about the president‘s faith. But what about John Kerry? Could he be the next JFK in the White House? Oh, I have a pain in my stomach. I have got a thing or two to say about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY continues.
Stay with us.
INGRAHAM: Could faith be a factor in next Tuesday‘s election? We are going to talk about that in a minute.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
INGRAHAM: I‘m Laura Ingraham, in for Joe Scarborough. Thank you, Joe, for having me sit in tonight.
The intersection of faith and politics perhaps more important in this election than ever before, from issues of, what, partial-birth abortion, to gay marriage, to embryonic stem cell research, which involve cloning human embryos.
With me now, Bush adviser Ralph Reed, and he used to be the executive director of the Christian Coalition, and author Sam Harris. He wrote the book, “The End of Faith, Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.”
Welcome to both of you.
INGRAHAM: Ralph, let‘s start with you.
I have noticed this trend in the media where we see people like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton campaigning in primarily African-American churches in places like Florida, and the media‘s report of this is, oh, isn‘t this interesting grassroots politics? Yet when President Bush speaks about his faith or goes to African-American churches or evangelical churches, it‘s always, oh, this is a disturbing blur of religion and politics, separation of church and state. Do you notice that trend?
RALPH REED, SOUTHEAST CHAIRMAN, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: Well, I think there‘s clearly a double standard.
And I don‘t think we have ever seen that double standard more dramatically underscored than in 2004. John Kerry has openly campaigned in churches, which George W. Bush has not done. John Kerry‘s campaign on their Web site urged faith-based activists to distribute Kerry partisan campaign literature in the churches, in clear violation of both Internal Revenue code and federal election campaign law, basically putting these churches in legal jeopardy.
And John Kerry has quoted scripture to personally attack the president. So I think John Kerry has used religion as a weapon and as a means of dividing. And I think the president sees his faith as something that unites and doesn‘t divide and something that is a force of compassion and hope and healing. And I think there‘s a very dramatic contrast. I don‘t know how big of a factor it will be in the election, frankly.
I think that—I just got back from Florida this morning. I am on my way back there tomorrow. I can tell you that we have got 10,000 precinct chairs and co-chairs in each of the 6,734 precincts of the state. People are fired up. They are ready to vote, and they are coming.
INGRAHAM: Let‘s go to author Sam Harris.
Sam, in your book “The End of Faith,” in one passage, you talked about a religious conviction in some cases being like almost a mental illness. And you and I discussed that the other day on my radio show. I want to put up a graphic on the screen which discusses people who attend religious services regularly and those who don‘t. And we‘re going to go through it.
Those who attend religious services regularly, 63 percent, according to Pew, last time they did the poll, voted Republican. Only 37 percent voted Democrat. How do you explain that?
SAM HARRIS, AUTHOR, “THE END OF FAITH”: Right. Right.
Well, I think this electorate really is divided perfectly along religious lines. As you say, there‘s no greater predictor of how someone is going to vote on Tuesday than church attendance. And I think this should be very troubling to all of us, because the double standard we really should be talking about is how faith gets a pass, how unjustified religious beliefs gets a pass in discussions of social policy in a way that no other form of irrationality gets a pass.
I mean, if I come on your show, the one thing you don‘t have to respect about me are my mere beliefs. You ask for good reasons. When I believe something strongly, without evidence, you dismiss me. If I believe the Holocaust never happened, you dismiss me. But if I tell you that I know that the creator of the universe is against gay marriage and I know this because I know a certain book was written by God, you have to give me a pass. And I think we are paying a terrible price for that.
INGRAHAM: Sam, I think you would concede that you are just—you‘re not a man of deep faith. I mean, you grew up in secular household. Your parents were secular. I assume you are atheist, right?
HARRIS: Well, no. I actually believe that there is a range of human experience. Call it spiritual.
INGRAHAM: But you are not Christian or Jewish or Muslim exclusively.
You‘re just kind of all things at one time, right?
HARRIS: I believe that it is genuinely dangerous to think that one of our books was written by God, because the contents of the book pit us against other—pit Jews against Christians and Muslims. And there‘s no way around it.
INGRAHAM: Let‘s talk about what you said in your book. And I‘m going to get Ralph to comment on this as well.
You quote Gary Wills, who is a writer as well. And you said, Gary Wills has noted that the Bush White House is—quote—“currently honeycombed with prayer groups and Bible study cells”—ooh—like a whited monastery.”
And then you wrote: “This should trouble us as much as it troubles the fanatics of the Muslim world.”
INGRAHAM: Sam, I‘ve got to tell you something. That sounds like the old-style anti-religious bigotry that we used to hear when it was applied to Catholics in the early part of the last century. And yet you write this as a Stanford academic with this great sense of triumph. And I don‘t know about you, but I think most Americans aren‘t afraid at all that—the fact President Bush prays. They actually find it empowering themselves.
If you were praying to Zeus, however, they would feel very differently.
INGRAHAM: Let‘s get Ralph Reed in to this.
Ralph, I have got to tell you, I think it‘s religious bias, and I think what Sam says in his book is actually reflected oftentimes in the reporting of some of the mainstream newspapers, this kind of looking down your noses at people who have Bible studies or people who pray or people who believe that abortion is the killing of life.
REED: Well, I think it‘s really unfortunate, because, as you said, Laura, it really is an old-style politics. It‘s a politics of exclusion. It‘s a politics of really unmerited suspicion of people whose only crime is to have a faith.
And John Kennedy addressed this in 1960 when he ran as a Catholic, when there was still that kind of feeling about Roman Catholics. And he said that the issue in that campaign—and this is a quote from his speech on September 12, 1960, before the Houston Ministerial Association, obviously an overwhelmingly evangelical audience.
He said the issue in this campaign should not be what kind of church I believe in, for that should matter only to me. The issue in this campaign should be what kind of country I believe in.
And it seems to me that that ought to be the standard upon which you measure a public servant. So George W. Bush shouldn‘t be measured or judged by critics or fans based on what kind of God he believes in or church he believes in. That‘s a personal matter.
HARRIS: Ralph, the situation we are in...
REED: If I could just finish. I didn‘t interrupt you.
REED: Let me just finish this statement.
REED: It should matter what is his strategy to win the war on terrorism, what is his strategy to provide homeownership, which by the way, is now at to 1.56 million minority households have homes that didn‘t have it when he came in.
What is his strategy to lower the achievement gap between minorities and whites, which, by the way, is happening as a result of No Child Left Behind? And what is his plan to strengthen the economy and create jobs? And that should be the only thing that we discuss in a campaign.
INGRAHAM: Sam, we will give you the last word. But the problem with the Democrats is that they have really alienated a lot of people of great faith. And you see that in the Pew Research poll. And I don‘t know what your solution to that is. I imagine you are probably more Democrat than you are Republican, but I will give you the last word.
HARRIS: Well, I just think the issue here is deeper than politics.
We are in a situation, to take one domestic policy issue, stem cell research, where you can get on the floor of the Senate or stand in the Oval Office and oppose the most promising line of research in biology.
INGRAHAM: Well, that‘s a lie, Sam. That‘s a lie.
HARRIS: On the basis of...
HARRIS: It‘s not a lie if you are a biologist.
INGRAHAM: Well, embryonic stem cell research, which I assume you are talking about...
INGRAHAM: You obviously haven‘t studied the idea, because it‘s created tumors and rejection in the overwhelming number of patients in clinical trials.
HARRIS: That is pure propaganda.
INGRAHAM: It‘s actually not. It‘s actually scientific.
But I wish we could continue on stem cells, but we can‘t.
INGRAHAM: Sam Harris, the author of “The End of Faith,” Ralph Reed, adviser to the Bush campaign, and we appreciate you both joining us.
And coming up, the election is still five days away—is that all? -- and, already, there are claims of voter fraud, voter intimidation. What‘s really going on in the heartland? Don‘t worry. We‘ll tell you about it.
INGRAHAM: All right, in the past few weeks, we have heard Democrats protesting about voter suppression and Republicans promising to guard against election fraud. Any way you spin it, it is an ugly battle. It‘s going to get uglier. And it‘s worked its way into the campaign rhetoric.
Here is John Kerry recently campaigning in Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: In battleground states across the country, we are hearing stories of how people are trying to make it harder to file a provisional ballot or how they are making it harder to even register by requiring 80-pound paper until somebody pushes back and then they retreat. But we are not going to let that happen, because the memories of 2000 are too strong. We are not going to allow one million African-Americans to be disenfranchised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: And I‘m joined now by Texas (sic) State Rep. Dan Foley and Hispanic activist Santiago Juarez.
Welcome to both of you.
INGRAHAM: Now, everybody remembers New Mexico. It couldn‘t have been closer in the last election.
And, Santiago, I know that you and I spoke earlier in the week about your concerns that there is this voter suppression in New Mexico. And in a “Washington Post” piece earlier this week, you said: “It‘s not like somebody is going to beat you up if you try to vote. It‘s much more subtle than that. It‘s more a feeling that the Americanos have created that our people don‘t belong in a voting booth.”
So what‘s the suppression all about? I am confused.
SANTIAGO JUAREZ, HISPANIC ACTIVIST: Well, you know, Laura, I want to say, I am a Vietnam-era veteran. And I believe in democracy. And I believe in the democracy that those young men and women are fighting for in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And what really bothers me a lot is that we wind up in a situation in this country where we make it more and more difficult for people to participate in this process. What I meant by that statement is, if you take, for example, in Roswell, New Mexico, that I was talking about, they have taken the only early voting poll site, they put it northern part of town, most affluent part of time. And there‘s no early voting site in the southern part of town, which means that people who get off work at 5:00 have to go an additional 12 to 15, maybe 20 miles so they can vote early. It‘s not open on Saturday. And that has made it—that‘s a question of equitable accessibility.
And that‘s just totally un-American.
INGRAHAM: All right, let‘s get Representative Foley into this.
INGRAHAM: Because, Representative Foley, I‘ve received e-mails from all across New Mexico, people who listen to my show and who follow the story. And they said, I don‘t know the big problem. I can vote. I have absentee ballots. I know where the precincts are. People were welcoming. What do you say about this?
DAN FOLEY ®, NEW MEXICO STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Laura, first of all, maybe Santiago should come from Roswell. I know he says he is an attorney from Roswell. I live in Roswell and don‘t know who this gentleman is.
First of all, Roswell has 50,000 people in the county. If it takes you 10 minutes to get from one end of town to the other end of town, you must have hit every red light in the way. It‘s a great town. It‘s a growing town.
But, more importantly, the reason that voting place is in the mall is because that‘s what the state law says it has to be. It‘s the hours that the state laws say they have to keep. And, once again, what we have here, Laura, is you have got an example of the Democrats in New Mexico and nationally who have horrible candidate running for president. They‘re taking on President Bush with a candidate that has a horrible record.
And the last thing they want to do is talk about that record. What they are doing is, they‘re taking a page right out of their Democrat playbook that says—and I am going to tell you, Laura, it says right here, if no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a preemptive strike. And that‘s what they‘re doing. This is absurd. It‘s embarrassing.
And for this man to say that he‘s a Vietnam vet is—that‘s terrible.
INGRAHAM: Let me get back to Mr. Juarez.
Santiago, you are supporting John Kerry, right?
JUAREZ: I am a nonpartisan. And I don‘t tell—I don‘t speak publicly of who I am supporting or not.
INGRAHAM: Well, it‘s not that you are nonpartisan. You are partisan, but you don‘t you want to say that—you‘re supporting Kerry. It‘s fine that you‘re Kerry. It‘s fine.
JUAREZ: I run a nonpartisan program.
JUAREZ: And whether Representative Foley says—I think if Representative Foley would look at my background, he would realize that I was the first Hispanic lawyer to ever live in Roswell, New Mexico. I was born and raised in Roswell, New Mexico. I understand totally. I understand totally.
INGRAHAM: Right. But we‘re not really interested in resumes, Santiago.
INGRAHAM: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
INGRAHAM: Filibusters don‘t work on this program.
Santiago, answer a question or we are going to have to turn down his Mike.
JUAREZ: Ask me a question and I‘ll answer it.
INGRAHAM: We don‘t care about resumes. What we care about is a claim of voter suppression, because that‘s a serious charge.
And I want to know from you—and I don‘t want spin—I want to know from you, what is the voter suppression? You said to me on my program a few days ago that people felt—quote, unquote—“unwelcomed at the polls.” And my question to you is, do you want a massage and facial? What is this unwelcomed at the polls?
JUAREZ: Well, you know, what we want is equitable accessibility. We want everyone to have access to the polls.
I will give you another example. Recently, I was just in Roswell yesterday. And when I was there yesterday, I was visiting with our people who are working there. And they started telling me that people are getting worried because immigration services has gotten very active in there.
INGRAHAM: Yes. Show an I.D., exactly.
INGRAHAM: Santiago, do you have a problem with people showing I.D.?
JUAREZ: And the problem is, is that we have family households.
INGRAHAM: OK, one at a time, one at a time.
State Rep. Dan Foley, I want to go to you on this.
FOLEY: Laura, I am not going to sit here and listen to him talk about good people of Roswell, both Republican and Democrat. You know where this comes from? It comes from people who don‘t live in Roswell coming down and trying to say there‘s a problem that doesn‘t exist. The only voter intimidation...
JUAREZ: You didn‘t come from Roswell either.
INGRAHAM: One at a time. You boys are not behaving tonight at all.
FOLEY: Well, this is unbelievable.
The only intimidation that occurs in New Mexico is of the Republicans trying to vote for President Bush. We have got a partisan secretary of state that is doing all she can—as a matter of fact, in today‘s “Albuquerque Journal,” if Santiago is a nonpartisan, how come he is not up in arms that the secretary of state, who is giving money to John Kerry, says: I am going to canvass votes in private. I don‘t want anybody there. It‘s behind closed doors?
INGRAHAM: Well, yes...
FOLEY: The only voter intimidation there is on Republicans in...
INGRAHAM: Well, you know the disenfranchisement I am worried about? I‘m worried about the disenfranchisement of our military voters, OK, the ones who are overseas, who are having real trouble in some states in this country.
I appreciate both of you joining us, Representative Foley and Santiago Juarez, provocative debate.
And when we come back, Mel‘s new passion. Stick around.
INGRAHAM: There is an old saying that, as California goes, so goes the nation.
Well, well, California is now considering Prop 71, a $6 billion taxpayer-funded initiative that would fund only embryonic stem cell research. That involves the cloning of human embryos, by the way. Celebrities like Brad Pitt and others are stumping for this cloning research.
But actor/filmmaker Mel Gibson today appeared on “Good Morning America” and asked the question about this research, saying, what‘s the big rush?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: One challenge that is raised is, this is not a human being. This is a group of cells clustered into a petri dish, barely visible.
MEL GIBSON, ACTOR: Well, I was never in a petri dish, but, at one stage, I was that little cluster of cells myself, as were you, as was the doctor, as is anybody. Tell me anybody who wasn‘t that at some point in their development, and I‘ll give you a cigar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: We were a bunch of cells at one time.
And then what about “The Passion” and all these claims that there was going to be anti-Semitism and rioting in the streets? I talked to Mel on my radio show earlier today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: Did you ever receive one apology?
GIBSON: No, no, I never—I‘m not holding my breath about that, Laura. If it‘s any consolation to those people, I have—the ones that really got into the savagery, I forgive them. You‘ve got to forgive, you know?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: I didn‘t like my photo there, by the way.
And, finally, Mel Gibson on fighting on the cultural fight, the culture wars. What is his philosophy?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: When people were denigrating that, I got physically angry at the fact that...
GIBSON: Hey, if you see a big Philistine, a big scary Philistine standing there with a massive army behind you and you‘re only about 5 feet tall and you got a rock, you run at him, OK? You drop that mother on his (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
(END AUDIO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: I love somehow when we have to do bleeps at the end of the show—Mel Gibson speaking out on stem cell research and all that controversy that never happened with the huge blockbuster “The Passion.”
It was a lot of fun tonight. Thanks to Joe Scarborough for letting me sit in.
And see you tomorrow.
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