Guest: Frank Luntz, Mike Barnicle, Lawrence Kudlow, Flavia Colgan, Mort Zuckerman, Joe Trippi
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me make this very clear. Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAT BUCHANAN: Tonight, the sprint to the finish line. Just 30 hours to go before Election Day and John Kerry and George W. Bush are well into the home stretch. With some Americans already heading for the polls, will family safety and national security be foremost on our minds? A new Osama bin Laden tape is forcing voters to decide who they want to lead them in the war on terror. Supporters from both sides came out swinging today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FMR NYC MAYOR: The president has shown much stronger leadership with regard to terrorism than John Kerry. I mean John Kerry has changed his position on the war maybe 12, 14 times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq to kill American soldiers. Eight marines died yesterday, eight young men who will no longer be able to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: What will be the decisive factor pushing Americans to choose the next president of the United States and commander-in-chief? You‘re watching a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, decision 2004.
Hi. I‘m Pat Buchanan in for Joe Scarborough. We‘re here at MSNBC‘s election headquarters, Democracy Plaza in the heart of New York City. We‘re going to begin with brand new polls released today and in a remarkable development, two of them are dead tied. Here to help us, Frank Luntz, a pollster who studied these numbers as carefully as Karl Rove.
Frank, let‘s take a look at the national polls. The Reuters Zogby poll that has the race tied at 48-48, Bush and Kerry. Meanwhile, ABC News and the “Washington Post” also have a dead heat at 48-48. However, there is a poll with a leader. The Pew Research poll has the president leading by three points, 51-48. Frank Luntz, I want to ask you, have you seen any visible impact from the Osama bin Laden tape we all have been talking about for the last 48 hours?
FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Well, I‘ve been out on the road and I‘ve been listening to voters and 99.9 percent of Americans have made up their minds. It is interesting is that Halloween, obviously some of the people will catch this when it is rebroadcast later on, a lot of parents are out for Halloween. The so-called security moms, as they walk the kids around the neighborhood with their husbands, they‘re going to have a conversation this evening. The last remaining undecided voters will be thinking about their children as they make this decision and obviously, the Osama bin Laden tape was frightening. It was a deliberate attempt to try to influence the election. I don‘t think America is Spain. I don‘t think Americans will put up with it. I think in the end, the American people will decide in whose hands do I feel safer? But I‘ll tell you something, Pat. I‘ve made calls in the past on very close elections. This one is too close to call.
BUCHANAN: All right. Frank, I want to ask you, though, let‘s get back to simple math. John Kerry has got to carry Ohio, Pennsylvania, got to carry Ohio and hold Pennsylvania and Michigan and win two out of three of those upper Midwestern states, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. If he loses Ohio and assuming Bush keeps Florida, is there anyway Kerry can win?
LUNTZ: No and it really is down to a half dozen states. I know that on other networks, they‘re reporting 11 or 12 states still in play. That‘s not really accurate. If you want to get a good guide of what to watch on election night, if George Bush wins Ohio, the election is over. I believe that Bush will clearly win Florida. If however, Kerry wins Ohio, which I think is a likelihood, I also believe that John Kerry is going to win New Hampshire.
That requires George Bush to win New Mexico, where he is clearly ahead, Iowa where he is ahead in all but one survey and here‘s where it really boils down to: Wisconsin, Minnesota or Hawaii. All three of them are traditionally Democratic states. Minnesota hasn‘t voted Republican in a presidential race in a long time. And yet they elected a senator in 2002, a Republican. They voted for a Republican governor.
Minnesota, George Bush leads in almost every survey. That might be enough to put the president over. The second state is Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, Bush had been leading up until about four or five days ago. But most of the surveys in the past 96 hours have shown a slight shift towards Kerry and then that leaves Hawaii, where Dick Cheney just traveled to over the last 24 hours. Those are the three states that matter.
BUCHANAN: In Wisconsin, I‘ve seen a poll that shows Kerry now up eight after he was there with the boss. With just 30 hours left in the campaign 2004, will the new Osama tape sway the undecideds? Let‘s bring in the rest of our all-star panel. Lawrence Kudlow of CNBC‘s Kudlow and Cramer, Flavia Colgan, a Democratic strategist and MSNBC analysts and Mort Zuckerman, editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report and from Boston Mike Barnicle, columnist for the “Boston Herald.” Mike Barnicle, do you see—have you detected any change at all? We all talked about the Osama bin Laden tape the other day. And we suggested that since it turned matters to security, this would naturally tend to benefit the president who runs far ahead of Kerry and people are focusing on the war on terror.
MIKE BARNICLE, THE BOSTON HERALD: Pat, I haven‘t heard a single person indicate that this would change his or her vote in any way. I think all it did in retrospect and it has only been 48 hours, is remind the nation and remind everyone in this nation that we are a country still at war. As if we needed reminding of that, eight marines were killed yesterday.
LUNTZ: It‘s a partisan point. And people won‘t actually see that point. That is, that shot was done, it was there for six or eight hours but it is gone already. If I‘m a Bush advocate—
BUCHANAN: I‘m sorry. Why don‘t we go -- let‘s go to you, Lawrence Kudlow.
LAWRENCE KUDLOW, CNBC‘s KUDLOW AND CRAMER: I still believe that at the tippy tippy margin of undecided voters, this sort of in your face statement by Osama is going to help the president because he‘s the commander-in-chief, because we don‘t want to change horses in mid stream, because we don‘t want to have on-the-job training but let me make it interesting.
There‘s two sides to this story. I‘m going to be unusually fair and balanced. Number one, Kerry makes the case, why is he still on the loose? All right. And he says, we used the warlords. All right. (INAUDIBLE) said on another network today, that we actually used the Delta forces. They‘re our top special forces to supervise the warlords in pursuit of Osama just as we used the warlords to take over Afghanistan, kick out the Taliban and run free elections. I wish the president had been making this Delta force‘s point more forcefully, that the warlords are actually our allies. In other words, Kerry‘s criticism to some extent was not well covered by the president in the debates. Hughes making it today is a good thing. I just don‘t know who heard it.
BUCHANAN: Flavia, go ahead.
FLAVIA COLGAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Lawrence, there‘s no question over the attention and resources, whether it‘s satellites, whether it‘s the drones, whether it‘s intelligence, was taken away. And I think, I really don‘t think Osama bin Laden tape affects. I think it reinforces people‘s ideas they already have. I think for the Democrats and hopefully Kerry, I think sort of making this argument a little too late on competence in term of this underscores the issue that Osama bin Laden three years after the fact looks healthy. He is out there wandering around. Why haven‘t we gotten him? For the Bush folks, it says, what Larry just said. Let‘s stay with the man we have in charge. I think there‘s not many undecideds out there.
BUCHANAN: That‘s what Frank Luntz is saying.
COLGAN: The real story is going to be the new voters and the young voters and I just don‘t think, I think the American public has enough resolve that they‘re not going to allow Osama bin Laden to affect this election.
BUCHANAN: We‘re going to talk about what‘s your thoughts on this, Mort Zuckerman and why hasn‘t the president—you got Tommy Franks, who‘s one of the most respected men in America say, look, John Kerry is all wet on this. We didn‘t know he was in there. We had top troops in there and Karen Hughes‘ Delta force was working with the Afghans. Why haven‘t they knocked this down before? I mean Kerry has been using this for a couple years.
MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Let me just say that I think the benefit of the bin Laden tape for the president is that it stopped a whole week of relatively bad news and changed the focus of conversation. I‘m not saying it helped him but at least it eliminated—
BUCHANAN: The explosives are gone.
ZUCKERMAN: Now why they haven‘t been more effective in combating the argument that it was sort of negligence that caused us to fail to capture Osama bin Laden, I can‘t answer. There are so many ways that I could have critiqued the Bush campaign and why they didn‘t do one thing or another better, especially the first debate, I would run out of time. So I can‘t give you an answer as to why they were as ineffective as they were.
BUCHANAN: OK. There are other crucial polls at this hour, beginning with the latest “Newsweek” poll that says, if the election were held today, 50 percent of likely voters would cast their ballots for Bush and 44 percent for Kerry. Just last week, Bush led by only two points, 48 to 46. Frank Luntz, this is - probably the most dramatic poll in the president‘s favor but if you look at the internals of the “Newsweek” poll, it says by 56 to 40 percent the American people think the country is headed in the wrong direction. What‘s your take on that poll?
LUNTZ: Any poll that shows, I have a certain philosophy, which is you take out the poll that‘s most pro Bush and you remove the poll that is most pro Kerry and you average everything else out and if you do it that way, right now Bush is holding about a 1.8 percent lead.
Let me take you back to 2000. At this time, with 48 hours to go, Bush had roughly a 3.5 percent lead. So he is actually a couple points below where he was but he was still leading most of the polls in 2000.
KUDLOW: Can I ask Frank a question? Frank, Larry Kudlow. Shouldn‘t we all be wary and leery of these weekend polls? I mean journalists are very uncritical, but a good quaint (ph) guy, a social scientist will say, when you poll on the weekend, you have to change all the weightings between men and women, Republicans, Democrats and independents, a lot of people are watching football games, are going out for Halloween and what not, I don‘t really take any of these weekend polls with anything because a grain of salt.
LUNTZ: In fact you‘re right. We discovered this in 1984 before I was even doing survey research, that Republicans were about 3 or 4 percent more likely to go out on a Friday or Saturday night than Democrats. So you always had this 2 or 3 point Democratic surge on Friday and Saturday evening that‘s got balanced out when Republicans got back from church on Sundays.
KUDLOW: Republicans love to party.
ZUCKERMAN: You haven‘t followed the trend. The Democrats are now as likely to go out as the Republican these days. They‘ve changed.
BUCHANAN: I think Flavia is a little younger than all of us. What night do you go out Flavia?
COLGAN: I haven‘t gone out at all unless canvassing counts for some exciting fun (ph).
BUCHANAN: OK. I‘m going to ask all of you to hold on for just a minute. When we return, we‘ll be talking more about the Osama factor and whether it really matters in Tuesday‘s election. We‘re live with MSNBC‘s election headquarters Democracy Plaza. As we go to break, take a look at some of what it has to offer, exhibits, a tour of the Oval Office and Air Force One and much, much more. In New York, come on down and visit. For more information, go to democracy.msnbc.com. Be right back.
BUCHANAN: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. On Friday, Osama bin Laden injected himself into the presidential campaign and here‘s President Bush immediately after the Osama tape surfaced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH Let me make this very clear. Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country. I‘m sure Senator Kerry agrees with this. I also want to say to the American people that we are at war with these terrorists and I am confident that we will prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: Still with me, Lawrence Kudlow of CNBC‘s Kudlow and Cramer, Flavia Colgan, a Democratic strategist and MSNBC analyst, U.S. News & World Report‘s Mort Zuckerman and Mike Barnicle, columnist for the “Boston Herald” as well as Frank Luntz, a pollster. Mike, I want you to listen, if you will, after that bin Laden tape was released and you heard the president‘s comment, John Kerry weighed in from Wisconsin. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: As I have said for two years now, when Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora. It was wrong to outsource the job of capturing them to Afghan warlords.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: Was this wise, Mike Barnicle? It looked like a pretty rough shot to the president at a time when the president seemed to be saying we‘re all united on bin Laden.
BARNICLE: It did sound tough Pat. I don‘t think that has any impact though. I think people are very much locked in on their views and in their votes as to what they‘re going to do on Tuesday. There‘s a relatively small number of people in this country undecided. I would suspect that anyone who is undecided at this stage of this election, given the heated rhetoric, given the tape that was released on Friday, these people are probably the kind of people who would be undecided about what to order off the menu at the Olive Garden and would probably go with someone who - just with the strongest voice.
BUCHANAN: All right. Mike, I was riding over to MSNBC to do a show last Friday and I heard you on a radio program saying that Barnicle thought that Bush was going to win this thing. Is that right?
BARNICLE: You know, I somehow have that feeling. And it is probably completely wrong. It is instinctive. I just think that John Kerry has run a very good campaign. I just think that the numbers are there for President Bush. We are at war. I think people, they know we‘re at war now, obviously with Osama bin Laden appearing. It is just an instinctive thing. I think he‘s going to win it. Yeah.
BUCHANAN: Now, Dick Cheney had some responses to Kerry‘s hard hit at the president, some interesting words. Let‘s have a look at what Dick Cheney had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John Kerry‘s first response is to go conduct a poll. He went out and went into the field with a public opinion poll to find out what he should say about this tape and Osama bin Laden. It was as though he didn‘t know what he believes until he has to go and check the polls, stick his finger in the air and see which way the political winds are blowing and then he‘ll make a decision and take a position, an articulated point of view. George Bush doesn‘t need a poll to know what he believes, especially about Osama bin Laden.
BUCHANAN: Flavia, how did he know that Kerry took a poll? Is Cheney wired in there?
COLGAN: I don‘t know if Dick Cheney has to know. He likes to throw the carpet bombing out there and then see what sticks. I really that think in the end, polls don‘t vote and people do. And to look at an incumbent and to look at a Republican still below 50 percent, still with those wrong track numbers where they are and with the get out the vote effort, the ground war that is going on, I really feel confident that Kerry can get a couple points here.
BUCHANAN: We‘re going to talk about those X factors in the next period, but take the “Newsweek” thing. Let me say this. Almost every single head to head poll shows either a dead heat or the president up by two, four or six. “Newsweek” says six. That‘s not a Bush magazine. And you see the president strengthening, I think, in Ohio but softening in Florida. Is it your take as well that Ohio will—if the president holds Florida, Ohio decides it?
ZUCKERMAN: No. I don‘t think Ohio decides it. I think there are other states, Wisconsin, for example that could really make a huge difference here. There‘s so many different plays. What I do think is happening though is, once the country just sort of thinks of this in the context of Osama bin Laden, the erosion of Bush‘s stock and the rebuilding and the re sort of coagulating around Bush is improving, so I think he is going to pull it out, if only for that reason.
KUDLOW: There‘s a couple of blue chip polls. Not all polls are created equal in terms of their information and accuracy and two polls I want to cite, the Gallup poll, which most people regard as the granddaddy and also the bipartisan battleground poll which is Republican and Democrat. They have Bush ahead. They have Bush through 50 percent. They have Bush with about 50 percent job approval rating. And they show a phenomenal Bush advantage on terrorism to Mort‘s point and also on the Iraq war. So I think those are very important polls and I think you‘re going to see more of it come out on Monday. Gallup‘s going to have a new release on Monday.
BUCHANAN: Frank Luntz, let me ask you Frank, the question is this: if you had, let‘s say you‘re with one campaign or the other and you and I have talked about this. I think Ohio is indispensable. I think Kerry‘s gone if he doesn‘t get it, unless he gets Florida. Let me say, if you had to play one of the two hands here, going into Tuesday, this very, very close one, which one would you pick?
LUNTZ: I would pick the people that I felt had the most stamina to actually stand in line for two or three hours to vote. What we have not talked about and what‘s going to determine the accuracy of these surveys is who actually participates. We haven‘t had a 60 percent turnout election since 1968. I think we are actually going to hit the 60 percent threshold and there are a lot of states, particularly Ohio, that cannot handle it. They‘re not used to having the surge of 20 percent more voters. Even in places like Florida, the early voting. People had to stand in line for 60 to 90 minutes. That‘s a lot of time.
So which hand would I rather play at this point? I‘m a challenger kind of guy. I‘d always like to be on the outside fighting the person on the inside. It‘s very—much easier for me to take Bush up to 266 electoral votes than it is to get Kerry up there but you‘ve got to get that final state and the problem for the president is at those last few states, with Ohio being the exception, do come from the Al Gore Democratic side of the spectrum and Bush has got to bring them over. Will his voters have the stamina to stand in line for an hour and a half or two hours to make sure their vote counts? That‘s a big question.
BUCHANAN: I want to go to Mike Barnicle. Look, if you take these states that Bush won in 19, year 2000 and the states Gore won, the president starts with 278 electoral votes and Kerry starts with 260 electoral votes. He‘s got to take states, blue states away from the president. New Hampshire is in peril. That‘s only 4 votes. I don‘t see all that many blue states that are in peril. At the same time we can see possibilities for the president in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, Hawaii. I mean, I know everybody is saying it‘s a dead heat, but I‘ll tell you, looking at it, it looks like - again, Kerry‘s got to run the table.
BARNICLE: Well, he probably does. I think he‘s probably going to win New Hampshire Pat. But the interesting aspect of this election is with everything that‘s gone wrong for the president of the United States in the past couple of years, since he peaked, I would think, emotionally and politically with people in the first two or three months after September 11, with everything that‘s gone wrong in the last two years—gas prices, energy prices, the war in Iraq, the management of it, raising questions and anxiety within the American public. The fact that it‘s still so close, I think, bodes pretty well for Kerry because what‘s going on here. A lot of people would wonder why isn‘t Kerry five or six points ahead with what‘s - with everything that‘s wrong in the country?
KUDLOW: There are two polls, by the way that are not close and I want to put them on the table because I know you‘re not going to talk about them. They‘re online market polls. You have to pay to play. Iowa electronic poll, 55-45 for Bush. The trade sport.com poll which is a gaming poll, 56-44 for Bush. Even though George Soros has tried to manipulate both of them, they have been rock steady for Bush. Those are probabilities. Those are not actual vote totals. They‘re heavy for Bush.
BUCHANAN: You‘re telling me your clients are going for Bush.
KUDLOW: I wish I could manipulate them.
BUCHANAN: How about the guys at the club Mort?
KUDLOW: You laugh but these are online polls. I know that‘s a new experience for you. You have to dial them up.
BUCHANAN: What is online? That‘s the Internet?
KUDLOW: That‘s the Internet. That‘s the Internet, exactly right.
BUCHANAN: OK. Frank Luntz, thanks for joining us tonight. Everyone else, stick around because we‘ve talked about polls and terror tapes. Could the election come down to the weather or a football game? Don‘t go away. We‘ll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns live from NBC‘s election headquarters, Democracy Plaza.
BUCHANAN: You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY live from NBC‘s election headquarters, Democracy Plaza. We have much more ahead. But first let‘s get latest headlines from the MSNBC news desk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president has taken a $5.6 trillion surplus and turned it into deficits as far as the eye can see.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE) is the envy of the world because we believe in making sure that the (INAUDIBLE) not by officials in the nation‘s capital.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: After all the campaigning, the conventions, and the debates, for many, the decision comes down to one thing, the winner. MSNBC‘s Rosie Eta (ph) is here at Democracy Plaza with a look at the forecast for Tuesday. Rosie.
ROSIE ETA: All right. Let‘s talk about what‘s going to happen on Tuesday. Taking a look at Florida, it‘s going to be simply gorgeous. We‘ve got highs in the upper 80‘s for Miami, Orlando. We‘re going to see a few waves of showers push into the panhandle of Florida, so in Tallahassee, it‘s going to be a bit on the wet side.
Taking a look now into the northeast, we‘re taking a looking at Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan. We‘re expecting thunderstorms to roll through around Akron, Ohio, for that day into Pennsylvania. Most of the state is going to be wet, but it looks like Philadelphia, you‘re going to be spared some showers and Michigan, you‘re in for a wet day.
Now as we head over into the upper Midwest, we‘re taking a look now into the battleground state of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Iowa is going to be nice and dry, clear skies for you, also into Minnesota. But Wisconsin is going to be another wet day for you. In fact, the whole half of the country, the eastern half is going to be pretty wet for you there.
Now as we take a look out into the west, we‘re taking a look in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, gorgeous, simply gorgeous. There‘s no excuse not to vote. It‘s going to be sunny skies and dry conditions and that‘s the good news, especially since all the thunderstorms and storms that rolled through there earlier last week. So that is your Election Day weather for you. Now back to you, Pat.
BUCHANAN: OK Rosie. Thank you. The weather is one factor. Another much discussed today is the Washington Redskins. For the past 17 presidential elections, if the Redskins won on the Sunday before the election, the incumbent party won. Bad news for Redskins fans and superstitious Bush backers. The Green Bay Packers beat the Redskins 28-15.
Now let‘s turn to our panel, Lawrence Kudlow, Flavia Colgan, Mort Zuckerman and Mike Barnicle. Let‘s start by going around. Mike Barnicle, is this bad news for George Bush or just for Joe Gibbs?
LAWRENCE KUDLOW, CNBC‘S KUDLOW AND CRAMER: The way the Redskins lost, it probably fits the pattern of this election year. They had that game won. It was called back on a penalty. I hope that doesn‘t foretell any legal stuff that‘s going to happen in and around Tuesday but they had it, they had it won with less than 2 ½ minutes to play. A penalty cost them the victory and they lost it in the last two minutes. I don‘t know what it means. It is interesting. It‘s fun to listen to. I would think it is probably more painful for Joe Gibbs than it is John Kerry though.
BUCHANAN: OK. What about Dan Schneider (ph), your buddy down there who owns the Redskins?
MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: I would say that ever since the new ownership took over the Redskins, every administration in this country is going to lose.
BUCHANAN: I grew up in Washington.
KUDLOW: ... about the Giants in Minnesota. The Giants, 5-2. Nobody thought it possible. Thank you. I just want to say that (ph).
BUCHANAN: Flavia, do you want to put in a word? You‘re the Eagles fans I‘m sure.
COLGAN: We‘ll take what we can get. Obviously history shows that it‘s going in our favor.
ZUCKERMAN: It is interesting about the weather. In the election of 2000, 2,800,000 according to a survey, voted on the basis of weather, but not the weather of that day, but on whether weather had really hurt their lives or businesses. In the—the typhoons, droughts, it really affected the vote and people tended to vote against the incumbents under those circumstances.
BUCHANAN: OK. This year it seems that some people are voting against one candidate rather than for the other. Listen to conservative Tucker Carlson on the Chris Matthews show today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON: I just think that the intensity is on the Kerry side.
People who hate Bush hate Bush more than people who love Bush love Bush. That‘s what it‘s about. In fact, it is not even about John Kerry. He has reached the basic kind of threshold. He seems responsible. He‘s not going to turn the country over to France. He‘ll defend America. And so that allows this election to be about Bush. And I just think the Bush haters are just more intense than I‘ve ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: OK. Mike Barnicle, let me go back to you. He makes a point. I‘ve rarely found as much hostility and animosity, almost since the Johnson-Nixon era against a candidate, as you see among many liberals and a lot of folks we work with just against George Bush. They don‘t like the guy. It is very intense. They want to get rid of him. They think he is not a legitimate president. They don‘t like the swagger. What‘s your take?
BARNICLE: Well, Pat I have to agree with you. I find it disturbing. I mean it‘s one thing to have great anxiety or disagreements about the war in Iraq. I hate the war in Iraq. I hate the way it‘s being managed. I hate to look at the casualty lists each and every day in the paper in agate type, these wonderful young people, many of them from small town America. I hate it. But the president of the United States is not an evil person. You can disagree with him politically, but the intensity and the depth of the hatred, the animosity toward him is unlike anything I‘ve ever seen since your former boss, Richard Nixon.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t understand it. I find Bush, even though I disagree with him, I agree with Mike. I don‘t think we should go into war. I think a lot the president‘s done wrong. I don‘t understand this hatred. He seems to me to be doing his best. He is an earnest guy. He clearly believes in what he is doing. He‘s not a bad man.
ZUCKERMAN: Yes, but I think he is somebody who is seen to be illegitimate as a president and as a human being. That whatever he succeed in the in his life, he did because of his family and he got into this election in 2001 through the Supreme Court and not through a legitimate way. That has never sort of brought him to a threshold of acceptability except after 9/11. As soon as he began to implement whatever his policies were, his personal popularity dropped. And there is a feeling about him that is extraordinary in its intensity and the hatred of him. They really feel that he has pulled the country so far to the right that in a sense, the idea that he was elected without a popular majority, it does not justify that kind of policy and the hatred of him is like nothing we‘ve ever seen.
BUCHANAN: After 9/11, after 9/11, let me say this. I think the country bonded with George Bush after 9/11. He did a wonderful job up there. I mean, I don‘t know any American who didn‘t have tears in his eyes when he was standing on that—for almost six months, he is up there 80 or 90 percent. Clearly Iraq has got an enormous amount to do with it and the way things are going. But you‘re out there in these Democratic precincts.
COLGAN: I think it cuts both ways. The anger is palpable. Someone did an article last week about the hip hop vote, the sort of young black, young Latino vote, which is really organizing below the radar screen and the palpable anger in that community is just extreme amongst young people. But I think it cuts the other way, too, because the president‘s favorability, the fact that he is liked has inoculated him against some very legitimate attacks, both domestically and in terms of foreign policy. But I think the negative sticks because we‘re cynical about politics. We‘re cynical about politicians and I think it is easier to assimilate negative information and let‘s face it, the rhetoric has been higher than ever in this campaign.
KUDLOW: But that‘s an important point. I mean Tucker Carlson may be right and Mort may be right. But when you look at the polling data really across the board, first of all, Bush does better among Republicans, talking about intensity, than Kerry does among Democrats by about a half dozen percentage points. That‘s a fairly large margin.
BUCHANAN: That shows you‘re not for Kerry so much as you‘re anti-Bush.
KUDLOW: It just shows you that Bush‘s base is stronger, more solid and that‘s very important. The second point is, on likeability and shares your values, Bush steadily defeats Kerry in all the major polls. So I agree that, yes, there‘s a lot of dislike. There‘s a lot of intensity about this war and about Bush, but it isn‘t clear to me that the conventional wisdom is right and that the Bush hatred—visceral dislike of a war is one thing. Visceral dislike of a president is another. I know the media loves to whip this up. I suspect the media is a bit partisan on this notion. But the polling data really don‘t confirm this.
COLGAN: He needs to reach the threshold and I think that those debates helped Kerry do that. People need to be let off the hook to say Bush isn‘t a bad guy, but Kerry could have done it better.
BUCHANAN: OK. We‘ve got to take a quick break, but we‘ll have more with our panel when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, decision 2004 returns live from Democracy Plaza in the heart of New York‘s Rockefeller Center. Be right back.
BUCHANAN: Vote early and often. It‘s the motto of the old political machines of Boss Tweed and Frank Skeffington (ph). So how will voter turnout impact this election? We‘re back at Democracy Plaza in Rockefeller Center with our panel.
A poll released by a Republican pollster has found that voters who registered within the last six months, in the battleground states, favored Kerry over Bush by a whopping 62-29 percent. Let me go back up to you, Mike Barnicle. Is turnout the hidden factor in this tremendously intense turnout in those battleground states? Could they negate everything we‘ve been saying here?
BARNICLE: I think turnout is a huge factor in this, obviously Pat and of all the new registrants in places like Ohio, Wisconsin, throughout the country for that matter, will have a huge impact in this election and I would think that anybody who registered in the last six months has the intensity and the commitment. They will vote and they will stand in line for an hour, hour and a half no matter what the weather is to vote and I think that‘s an enormous, an enormous benefit to John Kerry.
One other thing on the point that Larry Kudlow was making just before the break about the likeability factor here. I would submit that the likeability factor of George Bush is his safety net, because if he had John Kerry‘s demeanor in this election, with the same policies and the same problems, I would venture he would be 10-12 points behind.
KUDLOW: you know what else Mike, it‘s an interesting point. Bush really comes out net net as the optimist, the Reagan optimist. Kerry comes out net net as the pessimist and I have to believe that on election day, Americans prefer an optimist.
BUCHANAN: I think it cuts (ph) more like, excuse me, I think it‘s more like John Kerry comes out as the professor who‘s probably a good teacher, but a little boring and Bush comes out as the quarterback, a friendly guy, a likeable guy.
ZUCKERMAN: Kerry does not connect emotionally with the voters on almost any level. There was a wonderful comment of Queen Victoria when she talked about her private conversations with Prime Minister Gladstone. She said he speaks to me as if I were a public gathering. You have that sense about Kerry. He never really connects. Clinton did it marvelously but Kerry doesn‘t do this. I do agree. The likeability factor I‘m afraid is not that important a factor when you compare somebody to Kerry. He just is not that likable a person and everybody knows it and the Democrats know it.
BUCHANAN: That was won for Jack Kennedy frankly. It is, you get me in the debates, he seemed like a terrific guy.
COLGAN: Look at the debates. I‘m not going to argue that Kerry doesn‘t have that visceral ability to connect the way Clinton or even Edwards did. But when you look at him in that debate, he connected not by being an alpha male or by wearing earth tone colors. He did it by being himself, which is a man who drips gravitas, a man who looks calm and collected under pressure and has a real command of the facts. I think did he connect with the American people during those debates and I think he continues to.
BUCHANAN: Well, I think that first debate knocked down somebody said, $100 million worth of attack ads were wiped out because he came off as presidential. And he came off as cool, correct, and he made—it was an excellent debate.
COLGAN: And Kerry obviously (INAUDIBLE right now it matters how you say things just as much as what you say. He has to look like a winner and he has to look sure of himself because a lot of those people are going to be inspired by that.
KUDLOW: If you‘re looking for uncertainties, the MTV vote, the Eminem vote. They‘ve been out there. Cell phones, young people have cell phones. You can‘t poll them and all these polls about the young registrants, new registrants are mixed. I mean this is one of the biggest unknowables in this whole election.
BUCHANAN: Mike Barnicle, it is the X factor I think because I think the math is very heavily against Kerry. As Larry said, the X factor, the intensity, the unwritten—the newly registered folks, the get out the vote effort. These are things that could make fools out of everybody that‘s got that clever exact prediction coming up on Tuesday.
BARNICLE: Yes. No. We could all be made fools of. That is why no one‘s going to predict this thing. It is so close. The interesting thing that was just mentioned, the debates and Kerry‘s performance in the debates. My theory is always that the commercials that are on TV in September and August, people tune in and out. It is like talking wallpaper in the background. They hear fragments, bits and pieces of it and the set up was that John Kennedy—John Kerry was going to come out and order brie before the first debate began and when he didn‘t, when he appeared reasonable and presidential, I think a lot of people who were on the fence looked it him and said well, wait a minute. That‘s not the guy they‘ve been describing to us. This is not a bad guy.
BUCHANAN: That‘s the Reagan effect. The guy is not a monster. He looks like a very nice fellow. He looks like my great uncle.
ZUCKERMAN: In addition to that, in that first debate, he compared so well to the president who had the Al Gore syndrome. He was too passive in the first debate, too aggressive in the second debate, just right in the third debate. Al Gore was too aggressive in the first debate, too passive in the second debate and just right in the third debate.
KUDLOW: Al Gore was—run that by.
ZUCKERMAN: It‘s American history. I‘ll talk to you about it later.
BUCHANAN: OK, Lawrence, Flavia, Mort and Mike, Lawrence, thanks all of you for coming out to Democracy Plaza with me tonight. And coming out, how much of an impact will the blogosphere have on (INAUDIBLE)? We‘ll ask MSNBC‘s blogger in chief next.
BUCHANAN: Hi. I‘m Pat Buchanan. As you can see, we are in the oval office or a replica of the oval office here at Democracy Plaza. I‘m here with MSNBC‘s blogger in chief, Joe Trippi, formerly with Howard Dean, all the way through about New Hampshire, right Joe?
JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. Hoping to get into this place.
BUCHANAN: I spent eight years working for presidents and it‘s a great place. But let me ask you, Joe, you‘re the number one guy here at MSNBC on this. As the president would say, what are you hearing on the Internets?
TRIPPI: Yeah. A lot. Both sides are really active now, making sure that they get as many people as they can on the bus trips into these targeted states and they‘re organizing their own way (ph), but they‘re leading the debate. And I think actually, you know, standing here, there are a lot of them looking forward to the day where the blogger in chief is actually president of the United States. And we get a White House blog out there.
BUCHANAN: No doubt about it. I would think in the White House, I was in the White House I guess last with Ronald Reagan and we were just, the people were telling me, Pat, you got to do this thing called e-mail. What‘s that? I do my memos and I send them out printed. Is the web really resonating? It must be just unbelievable right now.
TRIPPI: It is doing something, I think, it is young people, a large part of them, talking in their own medium in their own language. And they‘re running their own campaigns out there. I think you‘re starting to see some of the effect in the polls where you see that young age group I think has more intensity. I think we‘re going to see a larger turnout and I think that may be the surprise on Tuesday. The blogosphere really may end up making the difference in this election.
BUCHANAN: When we had the MSNBC poll of course after the debate, Kerry would come through with 75-25. But let me ask you. Is it possible that you get the kids who are energized, in college, graduate school and really into this are more Kerry oriented, where say, working class guys who don‘t spend that much time on the web are more the Bush folks.
TRIPPI: I thought about that. I‘ve been in high schools in Ann Arbor, Michigan, working class kids. You ask them if they‘ve been on the net. They‘re all on the Internet. They‘re all on their cell phones, places we don‘t really. Well, I don‘t know, if you have a cell phone?
BUCHANAN: Shelly‘s got two of them. I don‘t know the number.
TRIPPI: They‘re on these cell phones and they‘re communicating differently and I think it is across the board. It is not just in the age group, (INAUDIBLE) income levels.
BUCHANAN: The president looks like he is either tired or got a couple point lead in the national polls and Kerry‘s got an uphill battle running the table in the states. How many points do you think that the bloggers and the Internet folks and the intensity factor of these folks means to Kerry? Is this enough to put him over the top, over these little bit, little hump in the polls?
TRIPPI: When you look at the stuff, the only group Kerry has a lead outside the margin is in that young voting group, 29-18. And I think they can make up two, three points on Bush if they indeed turnout. That‘s going to be the thing I‘m going to be looking at on Tuesday. Did this group with all this intensity, actually translate to the polls, something that we never did find out in the Dean campaign. We didn‘t go very far but it would be a fantastic thing to find out the young people, the future of the country, actually decided the future.
BUCHANAN: And we also, an awful lot of pollsters would wind up with egg on their face. They‘re all saying Bush.
TRIPPI: A lot of people would end up with egg on their face.
BUCHANAN: Well, Joe, it‘s a pleasure working with you. We‘ll be waiting Tuesday. And I know Tuesday night you‘ll be following this all weekend long here for MSNBC.
Right now, folks, I guess this is live from Democracy Plaza or at least it was, New York‘s Rockefeller Center. And upcoming, Chris Matthews with HARDBALL.
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