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CNN CROSSFIRE

Will Democrats Be Allowed to Replace Torricelli With a New Candidate for U.S. Senate?; How Will Congress Handle a Resolution Against Iraq?

Aired October 1, 2002 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left: James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right: Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE tonight: Passing the torch in New Jersey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think actually that Democrats are in a better position this morning than they were yesterday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: But will the courts even let the Democrats change nominees?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know some of these people have already voted and returned their absentee ballots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Congress gets ready to tackle Saddam. President Bush says: do it his way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to get a resolution which ties my hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Plus, more fallout from that controversial junket to Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's totally inappropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: And, are the guys in Augusta thinking about letting women in after all?

Ahead on CROSSFIRE.

From the George Washington University, James Carville and Robert Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Tonight, New Jersey Democrats say if you can't win the game, rewrite the rules.

Also, Iraq and the U.N. make a deal on weapons inspections. Will it make any difference at the White House?

But first, we're going to make a difference by dealing out the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

As expected, the New Jersey Supreme Court today agreed to hear oral arguments on whether Senator Robert Torricelli's name can be taken off the November 5 ballot. It's also expected that the four Democrats on the seven-member court will fall in partisan line and override the law that set a deadline for getting out of the race.

This is a power play that could set a new standard in politics. If you're a discredited candidate, like Bob Torricelli, just remove yourself from the ballot no matter what the law says.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: You know, Bob, I love the Republicans. The Supreme Court of the United States disgraced itself for all of eternity by overturning the will of the people of Florida and the will of the people of the United States. I suspect the New Jersey Supreme Court would take 100 years to do the kind of disgrace and harm to the country that the U.S. Supreme Court did.

The Bush administration seems to want a war with Iraq so badly, but the rest of the world keeps getting in the way. This afternoon, Iraq and the United Nations made a deal to restart weapons inspections, perhaps in as early as two weeks. But just an hour ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell said weapons inspectors should not go back to Iraq before the Security Council passes a new tougher resolution.

Meanwhile, at the White House, President Bush leaned on Congress to do things his way in support for resolution. The president's message: Don't tie my hands. He also said he hasn't made up his mind about whether the U.S. is going to war. Actually, it looks more like he hasn't changed his mind, and we are.

NOVAK: You know, I think what Secretary of State Powell is saying is he doesn't want to have an inspection where the palaces under Saddam Hussein are off bound. That's all he wants is a different kind of U.N. resolution. I'm sure you'd go along with that.

CARVILLE: I hope they get to inspect everything. And I hope if the guy has got anything, they find it.

NOVAK: New York State Comptroller Carl McCall, the democratic candidate for governor, backed down today on suppressing some embarrassing letters. Last week, "The New York Post" published two of his letters asking private sector executives to consider hiring two of his relatives. McCall promptly ordered the letters sealed, but under pressure he was allowed public inspection of the letters, admitting there are more letters seeking jobs for McCall's friends and relatives.

For example, in a letter to Bell Atlantic, McCall noted that the state's pension fund, which he administers, has lots of stock in Bell Atlantic. Just like Tammany Hall in the bad old days in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Louisiana with (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARVILLE: He's just trying to get a couple of his friends hired.

NOVAK: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Yes. I don't think it's hardly a major scandal.

Would you ladies out there like to vote for a fifty-five-year-old man who looks good in a bathing suit? Massachusetts' Republican Mitt Romney sure hopes so. In the latest ad in his campaign for governor, features shots of bare-chested Mitt, while his wife talks about their courtship. Never mind the lack of issues, never mind Massachusetts Democrats have started asking if Mitt's running mate for governor -- a prom king. The whole approach is an insulting way to win the women's vote.

NOVAK: You know, James, you never had any candidates who would risk taking their shirt off because they look so bad.

CARVILLE: I don't think Shannon O'Brien will be taking her shirt off, because she's a woman.

NOVAK: And I'll tell you, I don't think Bill Clinton would, except when he's in the oval office with an intern.

CARVILLE: There you go. No, I don't think our candidate for governor of Massachusetts should be taking their shirt off.

NOVAK: What's a "Political Alert" without the report on the saga of Governor Paul Patton? He's the lover boy governor of Kentucky who now admits having a two-year affair with Tina Connor, but still denies retaliating against her state-regulated nursing home after she dumped him. Today, Ms. Connor met with state and federal prosecutors who want to determine whether Patton abused his power as governor.

It's already cost Patton a planned campaign for the U.S. Senate. It's still to be determined whether he ends up as a criminal. Not everybody can pull this kind of thing off like Bill Clinton did.

CARVILLE: Yes, and they spent $70 million and all they ever found out that Bill Clinton did was act foolish with a young woman. The greatest waste of time and money in the history of the United States.

House Speaker Tip O'Neill is famous for saying all politics is local. And that goes double in Vacherie, Louisiana, a river town and Cajun country where I used to teach school. Folks there (UNINTELLIGIBLE) trend by staying put. Instead of moving away, generation after generation has found jobs, spouses and diversions that are close to home. And they don't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the outsiders' ideas of what's politically correct.

A piece in yesterday's "New York Times" asked why only hunting clubs still exist in Vacherie. A local's answer, "Because mama don't want a bunch of men drinking beer with dirty feet throwing rabbit guts around the house." If that is what it's like, they could probably justify keeping women out of their club. But the atmosphere and the excuse won't wash at Augusta National Country Club.

We'll debate that in a little bit. But where's do they think they have the best food? You're damn right, it's at the Louisiana Hunting Club. You would rather eat there than Augusta National any day.

NOVAK: Let me see if I can understand this. For your rednecks down in Louisiana...

CARVILLE: No, we're Cajuns. We're not rednecks.

NOVAK: For you redneck Cajuns down in Louisiana, it's OK to exclude your daughters from the club, but for some decent people at Augusta National, they can't do it? Is that right?

CARVILLE: These people in Vacherie, Louisiana are so much more highbrow, high tone than at Augusta National corporate criminal, discriminate against anything they can. You wouldn't even believe it. And plus food is better in Vacherie, Louisiana.

Tomorrow, New Jersey Supreme Court will hear arguments about replacing Senator Robert Torricelli on November's election ballot. The Republicans are fighting as hard as they can to keep Torricelli off the ballot even though he dropped out of the race yesterday. If New Jersey's Republicans are so sure of themselves, why are they afraid to run against another Democrat?

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Congressman Steve Rothman, Democrat from New Jersey, and former Congressman Dick Zimmer, who is Chairman of the Republican Leadership Council.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Congressman Rothman, I've known Bob Torricelli from the days when he used to work for Mondale. He's been on this program many times. Tough guy, as you well know. And, I just want you to start off by listening to his lack of remorse performance last night. Let's listen to it for just a minute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: I am a human being. And while I have not done the things that I have been accused of doing, I most certainly have made mistakes. When did we become such an unforgiving people? (END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Oh, oh, it's heart wrenching, isn't it? You know, Congressman, when did he ask for forgiveness? He says, "When did we become such an unforgiving people?" Did he ever say: I have really done something terrible and I need to be forgiven? I didn't hear that.

REP. STEVEN ROTHMAN (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, he said he was sorry for his conduct. And bottom line is, he dropped out of the race for the United States Senate. I think that's a significant demonstration of his understanding that the people weren't listening to his conversations about the merits of whether we should privatize Social Security, as the Republican wants to, or to deny a woman a right to choose, or to let polluters off the hook.

But rather they were focusing on his misdeeds. And he did the right thing by withdrawing from the race.

NOVAK: OK. You got right to the point, Congressman. We have got a new standard in politics. I've been covering politics since before you were born, actually, over 50 years, and the politics we have today -- there's a new standard. If you got a lousy candidate who is going to get beat, who is falling in the polls, it doesn't matter what the state law says, you pull him off the ballot and put somebody on who can win. Is that the new standard?

ROTHMAN: Well, the Supreme Court in New Jersey is going to decide whether the people of New Jersey are going to have the choice between a Democrat and a Republican. You know in the Soviet Union they only have the choice of one candidate. In Cuba, they can only vote for one candidate or none.

The Supreme Court in New Jersey will decide whether the Democrats can put somebody's name on the ballot other than Bob Torricelli's. And we'll be guided by what the New Jersey Supreme Court says.

CARVILLE: Let's talk about Mr. Forrester here. Mr. Forrester told (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that he favors raising the gasoline tax to pay for environmental cleanup, as opposed to having the corporations pay for it. He says the federal government has no role in protecting discrimination against gays. He wants to privatize Social Security and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) test Medicare.

This guy ain't going to end up with a third of the vote if he has to run against a Cub Scout in New Jersey. Isn't your only hope for that seat to keep people off the ballot so this clown can't win?

DICK ZIMMER, FMR. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: James, you and Steve Rothman have continued the effort to demonize Forrester and to misrepresent what he stands for. He has pledged not to privatize Social Security. He believes in a woman's right to choose. He has taken a pledge, written a pledge, which I would like whoever the democratic nominee is to sign, that he will oppose higher taxes, including gasoline tax. CARVILLE: Well why did he tell the "Star Ledger" that on 9/11, when they said, "Do you support increase in the federal gas tax (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tax on environment?" "Yes, I believe the gas tax, as I indicated, is an option." That seems like a man that wants to raise the gas tax and let his corporate friends off the hook.

ZIMMER: Well, I've been before that inquisition of the "Star Ledger" editorial board and they asked him a multiple part question and he answered in a vague way. And he clarified himself within 24 hours. He's against increasing taxes. I would like whoever the nominee is, if it's Bob Torricelli or anybody else, to take the pledge that Doug took.

He's a moderate Republican...

CARVILLE: He denied that he was a moderate Republican. He said, "I'm not a moderate Republican." He said on the radio, "I'm a conservative Republican."

NOVAK: The positions he's taken are moderate.

Congressman Rothman, I just want to get back to this question. You say it's like -- we don't want to have it like the Soviet Union. There was a democratic primary, which I believe Mr. Torricelli won. Did he not?

ROTHMAN: He did.

NOVAK: He won that. And what his problem is, let's just listen to him again, what his problem is, is he's not dying, he's not ill, he's not -- he's still alive, isn't he? Bob Torricelli is alive. Let's listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TORRICELLI: It doesn't matter if you can't be heard at all in a campaign. This is a political campaign devoid of all issues. If I cannot be heard then someone else must be heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: He is such a rotten candidate that he cannot bring these issues to the public. There is no provision in New Jersey law. Now I know these four hack Democratic judges on the Supreme Court may go along with that, but...

ROTHMAN: You mean the ones appointed by the Republican governor?

NOVAK: Yes, I guess so, if they're Democrats.

ROTHMAN: Oh, OK.

NOVAK: But there's nothing in the law, is there, Congressman, that says I can't get my message out, therefore I can be taken off the ballot? ROTHMAN: Mr. Novak, here's the bottom line: Bob Torricelli has withdrawn as a candidate. Now we have to face this question: Do the people get to have more than one person to choose from? The Supreme Court of New Jersey is going to decide whether the people of New Jersey deserve to have two choices.

NOVAK: What about the deadline in the law?

ROTHMAN: The law allows for the courts to exercise its discretion.

NOVAK: Where does it say that?

ROTHMAN: If I remember, in the year 2000...

NOVAK: It doesn't say that.

ROTHMAN: ... the United States Supreme Court exercised its authority and decided the Florida case, which decided the national election. But I guess if the decision in New Jersey goes for the Democrats, you have a problem with the judges making those decisions.

NOVAK: Do you want to respond to that briefly before we take a break?

ZIMMER: The law says he has 51 days to get out. I don't understand what part of 51 you can't understand?

ROTHMAN: Well, obviously...

NOVAK: We'll have to continue that after a break.

In a minute, we'll ask our guests about the awfully peculiar timing of Senator Torricelli's departure from the race.

Later, golfers are supposed to be able to stand up to pressure. Hang in there, Augusta National.

And our quote of the day comes from a man who spent the whole afternoon today backing away from what he just said.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Bob Torricelli was going to lose the New Jersey senator race anyhow. So the Democrats figured with control of the U.S. Senate at stake, why let a little thing like the state's elections laws stand in your way?

In the CROSSFIRE tonight are Congressman Steven Rothman, Democrat from New Jersey, and former Congressman Dick Zimmer, Chairman of the Republican Leadership Council -- James.

CARVILLE: Would you characterize the Supreme Court in New Jersey as a bunch of political hacks?

ZIMMER: No. But they've never been accused of being strict constructionists either. So I think they can see the number 51 and say, well, maybe that really means 30 or 31. So, I'm not -- I think the Democrats have a shot, but if the judges do what they're supposed to do...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... to showcase Forrester, your candidate? Are you embarrassed by this clown?

ZIMMER: No, we have a great opportunity.

CARVILLE: So why don't you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and say, you know what, to hell with these technicalities. The people in New Jersey deserve this thing. Let tee it up and let it rip. And let's privatize -- let's put things like privatizing Social Security, raising gas tax to pay for these things. All of these issues, let's air them out.

ZIMMER: He's a great candidate if you have to make things up about him in order to attack him.

NOVAK: Congressman Rothman, plenty of things have been happening in the last -- it's only 24 hours. Senator Bill Bradley said: No, I don't want to come back in the Senate, not on your life. Congressman Robert Menendez, a very able member of your delegation, said: No, I don't want to run for that. I want to stay in the House.

Congressman Frank Pallone in New Jersey first said he wanted to and then his wife said he didn't want to. So they're going through three. Now we understand that Frank Lautenberg, 78-year-old multimillionaire, former senator, got out how many years ago?

ROTHMAN: A few. Two years.

NOVAK: Two years ago because he didn't like it. He's going to come back. Fourth choice? Is this the way to do the people in New Jersey?

ROTHMAN: Well, first of all, he's not the fourth choice. He has always expressed an interest. And he said if the Democratic Party and the members of the party wanted him back, he'd be delighted to run again.

NOVAK: Is that the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

ROTHMAN: He was asked, as well. And he said he would do it. The others gradually dropped out of the way, and it now may appear that Senator Lautenberg, who three times as won statewide election as the United States senator from New Jersey, who went out on top beloved for all his good works as a United States senator, may be called back to help out the state of New Jersey once again.

NOVAK: And help out the Democratic Party. I want to read you something from the "Washington Post," one of my favorite newspapers. They run my column so I love them. They said this of Senator Torricelli: "Unfortunately" -- a little sarcasm here -- "his selflessness and magnanimity attested to at considerable length by the senator himself, come a little late. Only when it turned out the New Jersey voters actually cared about such ethical lapses -- only, that is, when he saw he would lose -- did the candidate step aside."

My question to you, Congressman, were you disturbed by his ethical lapses?

ROTHMAN: Yes, I was. And I think Bob made the right decision by dropping out of the race.

NOVAK: I don't find anything in our search of you saying this, that his performance was terrible.

ROTHMAN: Well, I don't want you to fire anybody, but I did say it and it's in print. The bottom line is Bob has done wonderful things for the state of New Jersey and for the country. He was a great congressman; he was a great senator.

He made bad judgments. He was admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee. And he decided rightfully, although I think his timing was lousy, but he decided ultimately that he should not continue his run for the Senate.

NOVAK: But he didn't get out until the polls...

ROTHMAN: Yes. And I think the timing was wrong. No, until the polls said no? He couldn't get his message out. People weren't listening to the differences between him and Forrester on the issues. And I'm glad that he chose to make this decision so another Democrat can make the contrast for the people of New Jersey between what Democrats stand for and what Mr. Forrester stands for.

ZIMMER: I'm proud of the voters of New Jersey for making it known that they won't put up with corruption. The pundits have said when New Jersey has a higher tolerance for this sort of ethical lapse and for these sorts of character defects. And I'm delighted that New Jersey voters, the New Jersey electorate, has shown that they won't put up with it. They don't have standards such as they do in Louisiana or Illinois.

CARVILLE: I think they have great standards. They have had democratic senators for the last 20 years. And I think John Breaux and Mary Landrieu are great senators. And my native state has produced some very fine people.

ZIMMER: I was talking about corruption.

NOVAK: Are they going to get Torricelli's name off the ballot?

ROTHMAN: I believe they will. I hope they will. And if not, we'll let the Supreme Court decide and we'll let the chips fall where they may.

NOVAK: What do you think?

ZIMMER: I hope that our state Supreme Court will interpret the law to mean exactly what it says. There's no room for disagreement.

NOVAK: OK.

CARVILLE: That's a typical Republican position. There's no room for disagreement.

NOVAK: OK. Thank you very much. Steven Rothman, thank you -- Dick Zimmer.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: In a little bit, we'll head for golf's hallowed grounds. Will political correctness finally catch up with the home of the Masters?

Also, some globetrotting congressmen head for home in an ocean of richly deserved hot water.

And next, how fast can you back pedal? It won't be fast enough to get away from our quote of the day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer got a little carried away this afternoon. At least that's what the White House seems to be saying now.

Talking to reporters, Fleischer advocated Saddam Hussein's assassination or exile as less costly alternatives to a U.S. war with Iraq. We've been getting explanations and clarifications ever since. But what Fleischer originally said sounds pretty clear. So it's our quote of the day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm asking you if you intend to advocate from that podium that some Iraqis, you know, person put a bullet in his head?

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Regime change is welcome in whatever form that it takes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: You know that was really terrible, in my opinion. I believe that you go down the line of assassinating leaders of foreign countries that we're not in a state of war with at the present time, I think it's a bad -- it's a bad policy. You may have...

CARVILLE: I think it's bad policy, but I attribute it to what is the dominant thing in this administration, incompetence, as opposed to bad policy.

NOVAK: You would.

The stock market did something unusual today. Connie Chung has details next in a CNN News Alert.

Later, Iraq and the U.N. make a deal, but the White House says watch out for the fine print.

And then tee off political correctness. Who knows? Maybe in the land in the rough (ph) and won't ever be seen again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: Coming up on "Fireback," one of our viewers has a suggestion for New Jersey's Democrats.

Later, we'll ask if a woman's place is in the clubhouse at Augusta National.

But next, arm twisting and the U.N. and eventually, Iraq.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University in beautiful Foggy Bottom in downtown Washington, D.C.

The Congressional Budget Office says it will cost up to $13 billion just to deploy U.S. troops for war with Iraq and up to $9 billion a month to run the war. Occupation after the war ends will be about $4 billion a month.

Where will the money come from? Certainly not from the surplus the president has already gave to his rich friends. In the CROSSFIRE to talk about all things Iraq, a Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah, joining us from Capitol Hill, and Congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida.

NOVAK: Congressman Fattah, as -- I'd like to play for you a couple comments of your colleague, Congressman McDermott, Jim McDermott of Washington state said from Baghdad on Sunday.

Let's listen to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: I think the United States is simply trying to provoke.

I think the president would mislead the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Do you find anything wrong, and I hope I get a good answer from you, of a member of Congress going to Baghdad and from Baghdad saying, President of the United States would try to mislead the American people?

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Congressman McDermott and Bonior both served our country in war and in the armed services and as members of Congress, they have had a distinguished careers. And I think you may want to point a finger about making the comment from, but no one can question their patriotism.

They've been willing to risk their lives on behalf of this country and for all of these people who are promoting this war, may of them found a way to avoid military service.

NOVAK: All right, that was a diversion and a side run. Let's get away from that.

I asked you a simple question, Mr. Fattah, and I would really like a question -- an answer to it. And that is: Was it a mistake to go this brutal dictatorship and attack the president of the United States in the shadow of Saddam Hussein?

That's my only question. I'm not asking you whether it's right or wrong, I'm talking about the place.

FATTAH: Well, look, I think it's appropriate for Americans to question the wisdom of this notion that the No. 1 priority for our nation is to go to war with Iraq. We have a number of issues remaining about what to do about terrorism, we have a question of how this is going to impact the broader region, we have the question about what happened to the president's to get the Palestinian and Israelis back to the negotiating tables.

So I think it's appropriate for members of Congress and for anyone else in our country, and that's part of what the ideals of our nation stand for is to speak their mind. You've done it, you're doing it here on CNN, and what they were doing was not speaking to Iraqis, they were on a TV hook-up from Iraq speaking to the American people on Sunday morning.

CARVILLE: Congressman, let me give you a chance -- because they said the president's word is not very good. Let me give you a chance to defend the president's word and show you a clip of him talking about a report.

Can we get this up here and have President Bushing telling us about this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied -- finally denied access, a report came out of the atomic -- the IAEA, that they were six months away from developing a weapon.

I don't know what more evidence we need.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CARVILLE: Congresswoman, no one has ever found that report. Is the president lying? What the Hell was he talking about? Maybe you know something we don't know.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: You're asking me?

CARVILLE: Yes ma'am. Do you know anything about this? Because everybody's looked for it and they can't find it, the White House can't find it.

ROS-LEHTINEN: You know, you can nitpick about this.

CARVILLE: I'm not nitpicking --

ROS-LEHTINEN: No, no. no. I think what is very clear is that Saddam Hussein has thumbed the nose at 16 United Nations resolutions over the past 11 years, that he does have the capabilities that have weapons of mass destruction, that he has gassed his own people, that he has thrown U.N. inspectors out, and that now we expect to subcontract our national interest to the United Nations and let's give him another chance.

My dear colleagues -- and I don't question the patriotism. They said we should take Iraq on their word. We should take Saddam Hussein at their word, yet at the same time they say that the president of the United States is going to mislead the American people.

Now, we're used to saying what we want as Americans but to do that in Baghdad, I think sends the wrong message.

CARVILLE: I hold the president of the United States to a slightly higher standard than I would hold the dictators of the Middle East and when the president of the United States stands up there and says something that he knows is not true --

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, I hold them --

CARVILLE: September 7...

NOVAK: Why don't you go back a month? Why don't you go back a year?

CARVILLE: Oh, so he can lie in September the 7th just so he doesn't lie in October? This is the new standard. The September lies are fine. Just so we don't...

ROS-LEHTINEN: But what high standards should we expect of U.S. Congressman who go abroad and say in Baghdad television that the American president could be misleading the people?

They must know that what Saddam Hussein is going to do with this propaganda machine. And he's going to continue to lie, he's going to continue to sign U.N. resolutions and he won't abide by a single one.

NOVAK: Congressman Fattah, I asked twice if you would say whether you thought it was appropriate for your colleagues, particularly Congressman McDermott, to make those comments from Baghdad.

You wouldn't answer the question. But I would like you -- to play for you the appreciation of that by Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Now, Senator McCain's war record, I believe, is one of the -- you can't assail that.

FATTAH: It's stellar.

NOVAK: And I don't think anybody thinks Senator McCain is a very partisan Republican. I just want to listen to -- I want you to listen to what he says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: These are members of Congress. If these members of Congress want to go to the floor of the House and criticize the president of the United States until the cows come home, fine with me.

But don't go overseas. Don't go to Baghdad and question the credibility of the president of the United States. That is not appropriate behavior, and I don't think it'll be very well received by the majority of the American people. It's totally inappropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Mr. Fattah, can you disagree with Senator McCain?

FATTAH: What I think here is that we have selective amnesia; that you'd be hard-pressed to find a Republican who did not criticize, accuse the former president of misleading Americans when he launched missiles -- when he launched missiles against Osama bin Laden, they said he was trying to mislead people and distract them from things.

NOVAK: One senator said that. One senator.

FATTAH: Went he after Saddam Hussein, Republicans took to the floor and criticized the president.

When he tried to send peacekeepers to...

(CROSSTALK)

FATTAH: ... Yugoslavia, they criticized the president.

For Republicans to find some ability to dignify criticism of a president is amazing.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I'm sorry, I want you to...

FATTAH: They criticized Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, the dog Buddy, Chelsea and anything Bill Clinton did. NOVAK: Congressman, I want you to answer this question: You said -- Senator McCain said it's OK to say those things on the floor, but not in Baghdad. Can you understand that?

FATTAH: Well, if you go back to my first response, I said it's fine if people want to find comment or criticism about where they said it, but for Americans, part of what this gentleman, Mr. McDermott, Congressman McDermott risked the life for was for Americans to say what they think.

ROS-LEHTINEN: But although he has that right -- he has that right to say that...

FATTAH: It's a waste of time, and a distraction.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... when we go abroad, we are acting as emissaries, as ambassadors of the United States.

And we've got to understand that there's a distinction between an evil dictator and say, we've got to trust him; let's trust Saddam Hussein, and the American president is lying.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I disagree with them when they say we should trust Saddam Hussein. I agree with them when they say the president is not telling us the truth about this. There's evidence...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Chaka Fattah, thank you very much. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you. Thank you.

NOVAK: In "Fireback," one of our viewers has a suggestion for one of those Saddam-sympathizing members of Congress.

But next: Do we really need a change of scenery in the land of Dogwoods, Azaleas and wide, green fairways?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: Golfers keep cool, even when the pressure is on. But Hootie Johnson and his buddies at Augusta National could be cracking. There's speculation they will invite a few token women to join the club just to take the heat off.

Joining us from Los Angeles is attorney Gloria Allred and from Detroit, Michigan is sports attorney Debbie Schlussel.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Ms. Schlussel (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Augusta National Country Club, in response to withering public criticism changed its age-old policy against discrimination against African-Americans and let a couple of token members in. Do you think that was a wise decision, or should they have not done that?

DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL, SPORTS ATTORNEY: I think that was a wise decision. But the allegory here does not complete itself, because the fact is that there are women-only clubs all around this country: health clubs, universities, schools, the Girl Scouts, the LPGA tour. And that's never been a civil rights issue, and this isn't one either.

CARVILLE: Why is that? We're going to Ms. Allred talk here -- but what is wrong with -- why would you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) business things. They do business there. There are all these corporate executives. You have women that are in charge of corporations and things like that. Isn't it a little antiquated, for something like this to discriminate against women?

SCHLUSSEL: Well no, it's not antiquated at all.

Number one, James, if you and Mary Matalin want to have a party at your house, why should I, a total stranger, decide who gets invited?

This is their house, and they get to decide who gets invited. And not only that, but the average age there is 72. Most of these people are retired, and ones who aren't are the captains of industry. They've already made it.

This is not a place where they do business; they've already done business. And when you have a poker game or a night out with the guys, you don't want women there. And this is the same thing.

CARVILLE: That's where you're wrong. I always want women there.

SCHLUSSEL: Well, then you're different than most guys, because sometimes they want to be by themselves.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Gloria Allred, my wife belongs to a women's-only health club, no men permitted. She really like it because you don't have these big bruisers pushing aside the women to get to the exercise machines.

They don't want women around. Shouldn't they have that right? And shouldn't the old geezers at Masters have the right to have their own club without women cluttering the place up?

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Well, actually apparently Debbie was unaware that women's health clubs are a civil rights issue. In fact, I filed a lawsuit some years ago on behalf of a man against a club called Women Only that was a health club because they wouldn't...

SCHLUSSEL: What a great service to America, Gloria.

ALLRED: May I speak uninterrupted? I didn't interrupt you; I'd appreciate it.

Because they wouldn't allow a man to be a member, and we were successful in settling that case and allowing men to be members of the club.

But the point about Augusta National is this: There are a lot of men who are deducting their -- as a business expense their dues at Augusta National or -- and/or their corporations are paying for that as a business expense.

Why? because they're doing business there. Well, women should not be excluded as members of the club because they also should have the right to be able to network and do business there, and this is interfering with that important opportunity.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Gloria, have you ever looked at the guest membership list of Augusta? I mean, this is an old men's society. I'd be one of the young guys here. And, I mean their days of doing business are long gone.

This is a social club and they don't want women with their high- pitched voices bothering their fun.

ALLRED: Well, you know, people have accused me of a lot of things; having a high-pitched voice is not one of them.

But my point is this: It's going to be very interesting, because a lot of these businessmen who are members of this discriminatory club which excludes women, shuts them out, bars them simply because they're female, are also the heads of large corporations which have equal employment opportunity policies.

And I'd like to see these men questioned under oath in a deposition in a sex discrimination case as to how they can pay dues to a club that discriminates, and at the same time administer a large corporation which purports to have equal employment opportunities.

SCHLUSSEL: Well Gloria, as a person who seems to constantly complain about a woman's right to her own body, these people have a right to their own bodies and their own private lives. And they can do what they want with their own money; this is a private club.

But the fact is that women have been invited to be guests there. They played over 1,000 rounds of golf there last year. And many of these corporations that have memberships there allow women to have some of their corporate memberships.

So the fact is, women do play there. Women do do business there. And that's simply not correct to say that they've been barred from that. There is no gate that says, Women are not allowed to attend. That doesn't happen. It's simply not the case.

ALLRED: Well first of all, the idea that somehow it's OK if we're outside looking in; that we're there as guests, but can't be members of a club and that we should be satisfied with that small crumb is ridiculous.

Women are entitled to equal rights. A golf club, a country club was sued in California. The Supreme Court held that it was a business accommodation, not truly a private club, even though they called themselves a private club, and that they had to open it up to women. Many of these clubs not private clubs. A former city councilperson in L.A. called them palaces of power.

This is where business is done, and it's time to open up the doors to our daughters.

SCHLUSSEL: Gloria, are you suing the LPGA tour to let men in?

CARVILLE: Excuse me, can a shoe clerk get in this poker game or is this an all women's argument or can a male get in?

She made an interesting point. Why should the women of America subsidize these dues by letting them deduct it when they won't let women in? Why -- if these guys are so intent on being a private club, then don't deduct your dues membership and don't ask women shareholders to pay for it.

If they had any integrity, that's what they'd do.

SCHLUSSEL: Well, actually, James, the fact is, as I have just said, women play on those corporate memberships. I've talked to some of the women who do play at that club on corporate memberships.

So, there is no discrimination going on there with regard to that. So, it is very much deductible.

And you know what? Contributions to NARAL and NOW aren't deductible too. Why is that?

CARVILLE: How many women members are there?

NOVAK: We know the answer to that.

CARVILLE: Of course, none.

NOVAK: All right, I want to ask you this, Gloria.

Did you hear of the Burning Tree Club in Washington, D.C.?

ALLRED: Yes.

NOVAK: Ever hear of that?

ALLRED: Yes.

NOVAK: It is an all male golf club. The reason nobody goes after it is they don't run a big golf tournament.

What this is -- there's lots of all male golf clubs, they're just going after Augusta to get publicity because of the Masters tournament.

Isn't that right? ALLRED: Well, actually, the way I understand it is that it was made public by the golf club, that is Augusta National itself, that the women's organization was asking them to admit women members so they made it public. But let me just tell you, there's just not enough attorneys to go after all of the corporations and all of the clubs in this country that discriminate.

I've sued in California, I might add successfully, because they discriminated against women on the golf course, giving them less advantageous tee off times and less hours on the golf course.

SCHLUSSEL: Bob, that's simply not the case. They want publicity. These are the bra burning refugees from the '70s.

ALLRED: We like equal rights. Equal rights are what we deserve to have.

NOVAK: Debbie, thank you very much.

Gloria Allred, thank you very much.

SCHLUSSEL: Thanks, Bob.

NOVAK: Next, it's your turn to "Fireback" at us. At least one New Jersey voter isn't going to put up with the Democratic Party's outrageous power grab.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: It's "Fireback," when the viewers fire back at us. First, Steven Ortoil of Seattle, Washington, "If Congressman Jim McDermott is so confident about the honesty and compassion of Saddam versus President Bush, maybe he should move to Iraq and become a Congressman there."

Steven, that's a good point but let me tell you something: Jim McDermott wouldn't last three weeks in Iraq.

CARVILLE: Yes, you know, the guy, he said what he thought and he served the country and I guess, you know, I don't agree with some of the things he said.

I don't think -- I think we ought to hold President Bush to a much higher standard than Saddam Hussein. So, I disagree with him.

"Bush said today that our economy is strong with some rough spots. Mr. President, those are sinkholes." Debbie Coleman, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

You know, well, you never can tell what he thinks because he never had to live in the real economy, always had somebody to pick up after him.

NOVAK: Yes, and you're really suffering in this economy, aren't you, old buddy? Rob of Lawrenceville, New Jersey says, "I think you are underestimating the fury of New Jersey voters that will erupt if the law is changed as a result of a backroom deal or manipulation by state Democrats. Forrester will run against corrupt politics and this will sweep him into office. We have had it."

Rob, if only you were correct. I have no faith in New Jersey.

CARVILLE: Yes, one thing about this Forrester clown, they sure don't want to put anybody on the ballot against him. They could put an orangutan on there and beat this boy.

What we got coming up here? All right.

"Two words: Senator Springsteen." Jan Black, San Diego, California.

NOVAK: Ain't going to happen.

CARVILLE: Ain't going to happen? That would be your take.

NOVAK: Question from the audience?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm Lance Brown (ph) from Calhoun, Georgia. Mr. Carville, what do you think is the real reason women want in the Augusta Club and who's really driving this issue?

NOVAK: Isn't Burt Lance from Calhoun, Georgia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my hometown.

CARVILLE: I think the National Organization of Women are driving it. I think they're exactly right to drive it because it's a prestigious club that has a tournament and I think they're right.

I do not understand why they're deducting these memberships, having these corporations pay for the memberships. Women are part of subsidizing this, women are shareholders and they ought to let them in. I think NOW is 100 percent correct in this.

NOVAK: That's busy body women causing trouble. Next question?

CARVILLE: Yes, that's busy body women causing trouble when they want (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

NOVAK: Next question.

AUDIENCE WOMEN: My name is Bruce Harrison (ph), I'm from upstate New York.

I'm originally from New Jersey and I think Torricelli is a disgrace and should have bowed out long time ago but my point is -- thank you.

I don't want my rights as a voting citizen being given to the lawmakers. I mean, I have a right to vote, it's one of the few right I have, and I believe I should be able to vote for whoever I want to.

That's my point. I don't think it should be put in the hands of the lawmakers to decide who I have to vote for.

NOVAK: We have to have a law and we have to have a -- some rules or we have chaos. And, Carville, to keep control of the Senate, wants to do away with the laws.

CARVILLE: All Republicans think that elections are chaos. They'd like to have nobody running.

NOVAK: Next?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, my name is Beth (ph). I'm a young voter from New Jersey. My question is, if tomorrow the New Jersey Supreme Court decides that the 51-day rule is irrelevant and Torricelli can be replaced, is that a decision Republicans can appeal and could it potentially drag out the election?

NOVAK: Let me answer the question by this: the Republicans will try to go to the federal court, whether the federal court will take it, nobody knows.

But I want to know about the service people and the absentee voters who have already voted for or against Robert Torricelli. What happens to their votes?

CARVILLE: It's very simple. The ones that voted against him, count them. What the hell? That's the old democratic way. Be fair.

From the left, I'm James Carville. Good night from CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak.

Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins right now.

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