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CNN CROSSFIRE

Famous Faces on the Stump

Aired October 22, 2004 - 16:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: From a former president to a pop diva, famous faces are showing up in the dwindling days of the presidential campaign. Will the high-profile parade tip the scale for John Kerry or President Bush?

Meantime, Senator Kerry continues his sweep through the all- important swing states. Today's target, Wisconsin's working women.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No matter how tough it gets, no one in the White House seems to be listening. The women I meet, they don't expect the government to do their jobs for them. But they do want leaders who are on their side as they try to do their jobs.

ANNOUNCER: And President Bush takes his Friday fight to three battleground states, while his campaign rolls out a new ad attacking Kerry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: And weakness attacks those are waiting to do America harm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and, sitting in on the right, Joe Watkins.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Hello. Welcome to CROSSFIRE, 11 days to go and counting.

President Bush was in Pennsylvania today attacking John Kerry in a tough new stump speech. But is the president's strident tone a sign that he thinks he may be fading at the finish? Well, we'll see.

Tucker Carlson and Robert Novak are both so petrified a Republican defeat that they're crying and hiding under their beds. Actually, they're away on assignment. So I'm joined on the right by Republican strategist and Philadelphia-based radio talk show host Joe Watkins.

Joe, good to see you. Thank you for joining us.

JOE WATKINS, GUEST CO-HOST: Good to be here. Great to be here again, Paul.

BEGALA: And pinch-hitting from the right.

WATKINS: Absolutely.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Bob and Tucker will be back soon.

But we'll begin this broadcast as we always do, with the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

WATKINS: We're going to see a lot of famous faces filling in for Democratic the presidential candidate, John Kerry, this weekend; 2000 Bush rival Al Gore goes to bat for him in Florida, where most of his celebrity surrogates are likely to pop up, surrogates like former President Bill Clinton, who is expected to take up the campaign gauntlet in the Sunshine State early next week.

But my favorite Florida stand-ins are Rosie O'Donnell, who plans to speak tomorrow night in Boynton Beach, and political powerhouse Cher.

(LAUGHTER)

WATKINS: That's right, Cher. Cher goes on the stump for Kerry in trendy South Beach tonight. She'll try to sway young undecided voters, so that Senator Kerry can say, I got you, babe.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: I love it. Many people on the right attack entertainers when they come out to do this. When we were at the New York convention, we had Larry Gatlin from the Larry Brothers, a big supporter of President Bush, come on the show.

I admire anybody, particularly in the entertainment industry, where they do get ridiculed, who wants to come out and support their candidate and participate in our democracy. I say good for Cher, good for Rosie. By the way, Larry David, the funniest guy in the whole world, is going to be campaigning in Florida for John Kerry.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Are they going to win him many votes?

BEGALA: Well, I don't know. They may win some hearts. You know, what they'll likely do is draw a crowd, the same way, again, President Bush Sr. used to campaign with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whatever happened to him?

(BELL RINGING)

(LAUGHTER)

WATKINS: He's coming back. I'll be back.

BEGALA: I'll be back in Ohio.

WATKINS: That's right.

BEGALA: Pump you up, Ohio.

So we look forward to Governor Schwarzenegger. Hopefully, we'll get him in the CROSSFIRE soon.

Well, the Bush administration is preparing to allow Halliburton to keep billions of dollars that it was paid, even though the Army says Halliburton may never be able to account for some of its Iraq work. Today's "Wall Street Journal" reports Pentagon auditors say Halliburton's bills are questionable or unsupported by documentation, but the Bush administration is going to allow this dirtbag corporation to rip off the taxpayers for billions anyway, while our soldiers don't have enough money for body armor and some of them are on food stamps.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: In a completely, wholly unrelated story, it turns the generous men at Halliburton gave Dick Cheney a $13 million early retirement package when he left to run for vice president, even though Cheney didn't qualify for the package.

Mr. Cheney has also received almost $2 million from Halliburton since he was elected vice president or, rather, selected vice president by the Supreme Court.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Cheney defenders note that Mr. Cheney also supported giant giveaways to corporations like Enron, which never paid him a nickel. And so maybe he's just an equal-opportunity supporter of scummy corporations.

WATKINS: Paul, we all know that Halliburton is not the issue.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Halliburton is camouflage, almost like that jacket that John Kerry was wearing yesterday when he was hunting ducks.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Halliburton...

(BELL RINGING) BEGALA: Halliburton is ripping us off. They are ripping us off. They gave an extraordinary amount of money to the vice president for doing a pretty poor job, I would say, as their CEO. And now they have these billions of dollars in contracts. They're not going to...

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Well, let's talk about what is happening right now.

The Bush campaign has rolled out its latest ad. And it may be the most powerful in its arsenal to date. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: In an increasingly dangerous world, even after the first terrorist attack on America, John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence operations by $6 billion, cuts so deep they would have weakened America's defenses. And weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

WATKINS: Wow. Very strong and right on the mark.

The ads begin airing today in 14 states and on national cable. Bush aides say it was produced in the spring, but it was so effective in focus groups that they held it back until now. Good move.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: This is -- now, the guy who makes Bush's ads, Mark McKinnon, is a dear friend of mine. We went to college together. I love him.

Mark, you need to switch to decaf, bud.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: That's the dumbest ad.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: That's a great ad. That's a great ad.

BEGALA: Those are puppies, Joe.

WATKINS: Americans care about being safe.

BEGALA: Ronald Reagan used a bear, a big threatening image, for the Soviet Union. These are puppies. What's next, Garfield the cat, Lassie?

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Oh, I'm afraid. These puppies are coming. The puppies are coming.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: These are wolves.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Wolves are the best symbol I can think of on terror. And what Americans care about is somebody who is going to keep them safe.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: How about goats, since the president was reading "My Pet Goat" while the terrorists were attacking us?

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: We should make a goat ad, if we're going to have animals.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: We'll talk about this more when our guests come out, though.

Remember the slogan of the great '73 Mets, you got to believe? Well, that's apparently that's the mantra of supporters of President George W. Bush. According to a new survey by the University of Maryland, Bush voters believe that Saddam Hussein provided substantial support to al Qaeda, even though the 9/11 Commission says he didn't. Bush voters believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, even though the administration's own report says it did not.

Bush voters believe that most of the world loves President Bush and wants to see him reelected, that Islamic countries support us in the war on terror. They believe. They believe. They do believe. They believe that Mr. Bush supports international treaties banning land mines, ending nuclear tests, creating an International Criminal Court, reducing global warming. In fact, Mr. Bush opposes all four of those treaties. And I don't need to tell that you, he's broadly detested around the world.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Look, Bush voters seem to think...

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Well, let's talk about -- let's talk about, you got to believe.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: If you have got to believe, then you have got to believe the "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll that says that when Americans are questioned about who is more consistent in standing up for his beliefs and who is a better person to lead from the issues of values, they say by a margin of 57 to 19, George Bush over John Kerry.

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WATKINS: This president stands for principle and values. That's true. Those are the facts.

BEGALA: No. You know what he stands for? He stands for duplicity.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: He has been misleading people. If ignorance is bliss, Bush voters are the happiest people in the world.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Because they don't know nothing about what is going on.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

BEGALA: We'll come back. We'll have a couple great guests in just a minute.

John Kerry campaigned today for an increase in the minimum wage in Wisconsin. He was accompanied by Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, the daughter of JFK, prompting a Bush supporter to say, well, what does the child of a president know? We'll debate the latest from the increasingly star-studded campaign trail in just a moment.

And, then, Jay Leno had a very special guest on "The Tonight Show" last night, or at least special to those of us at CROSSFIRE. And let's just say he wasn't picked for his good looks.

Stay with us.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

You know, you can tell we're in the waning days of the presidential campaign, and not because we're a little punchy here at CROSSFIRE. Look at the campaign. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, when they campaigned for reelection, they closed on sunny optimism, while President Bush seems to be all doom and gloom.

Meanwhile, John Kerry supporters like to say he's a strong closer. Well, John, it's closing time. Let's see it. Joining me now to debate all of the campaign updates are Joe Watkins, helping me on the right, and then Tony Fabrizio, Republican consultant and pollster, and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Mr. Watkins.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Steve, you're up, man. Here we go.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: All right, hit me. Hit me.

WATKINS: Now, John Kerry is out there today pitching to women, trying to get women into his corner, trying to get women to vote for him. He's bringing out Caroline Kennedy and Christopher Reeve's wife and various other women to try to get women to support him.

Now, don't women voters really want what the rest of us want, which is to be safe and secure? I mean, the wolves ad shows that really care about terrorism.

(LAUGHTER)

WATKINS: Listen to these statistics. Listen to these statistics.

George Bush, confidence as to who will protect the country from terrorism, George Bush over John Kerry by a margin of 43 to 30. Who is better equipped to lead the country against terrorism, George Bush over Kerry by a margin of 59 to 37.

How do you respond to that?

MCMAHON: Did you run out of internals there, Joe?

WATKINS: Oh, there are plenty more, plenty more, plenty more.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: Health care, Kerry has a 20-point lead.

WATKINS: Don't women care about terror? Don't they care about these things.

MCMAHON: Yes, of course they do, but it's one factor among many.

And, by the way, it is not clear to me that we're any safer today with the terrorists over in Iraq killing our soldiers, beheading them and basically not cooperating in the way the president promised us they would.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCMAHON: We haven't been greeted as liberators, Joe. I don't understand why...

WATKINS: We've done a great job. If we had the support from Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards, who voted against the $87 billion to support our soldiers and if...

(APPLAUSE)

MCMAHON: And if -- and if the money that he gave to Halliburton had been used to give them flak jackets and some other things...

WATKINS: Halliburton. Halliburton.

MCMAHON: ... then maybe they would be a little safer and maybe we all would be.

WATKINS: Halliburton probably brought the flak jacket that Kerry wore the other day, I supposed, shooting those geese.

BEGALA: Well, I doubt that.

But, anyway, Tony, first, good to see you again. Thank you for coming in.

TONY FABRIZIO, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Good to see you, Paul.

BEGALA: Let's think a little bit...

FABRIZIO: I don't know. I wasn't interested in interrupting that little...

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: This new ad, it's the goofiest thing I have ever seen. Puppies are running around.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

FABRIZIO: Well, wait a second, Paul.

BEGALA: No, but let me ask you a content question on it.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Let me try to ignore this stunningly stupid visual of puppies running around scaring us and instead ask you about the content of the ad.

The content makes a serious charge.

FABRIZIO: Absolutely.

BEGALA: It alleges that Senator Kerry supported deep and painful cuts in our intelligence budget.

FABRIZIO: Absolutely.

BEGALA: Fair point.

FABRIZIO: Yes.

BEGALA: But it turns out that "The Washington Post" looked into the facts. And here is what "The Post" reported the first time the Bush campaign made an ad saying Kerry had cut intelligence.

Here's "The Washington Post," not me: "A Bush campaign ad released on August 13 carried a headline: 'John Kerry Proposed Slashing Intelligence Budget $6 Billion.' But the cuts that Bush CIA Director Porter Goss supported are larger than those proposed by Kerry and specifically targeted the human intelligence that has recently been found lacking."

Isn't this stunningly hypocritical for them to attack Kerry for a small cut in intelligence, when their own guy proposed a large cut?

FABRIZIO: No. No. Porter Goss isn't running for president.

BEGALA: He's Bush's guy, though.

FABRIZIO: Porter Goss isn't running for president.

BEGALA: Well, thank God for that.

FABRIZIO: John Kerry is. John Kerry is.

No, not thank God for that John Kerry is.

BEGALA: Don't you think that's hypocritical?

FABRIZIO: No, I don't think it's hypocritical. I think it is perfectly fair.

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: John Kerry's record is one of appeasement, one of not bulking up the military.

BEGALA: Well, what's Porter? Why would Bush put an appeaser in charge of the CIA, then? It's just preposterous.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: If a small cut in intelligence is bad, a large cut is worse.

FABRIZIO: Look, if we're going to have a debate about whether Porter Goss is qualified to be CIA director, I think that train has left the station a while ago.

BEGALA: He's been confirmed.

FABRIZIO: But I think -- when you want to talk about ads, I think the most hysterical ad was the one that the Kerry campaign unveiled today, which has an eagle and an ostrich.

(LAUGHTER)

FABRIZIO: And I think if the Kerry campaign was trying to make the metaphor that America can't soar like the eagle if we elect an ostrich like John Kerry, who has his head in the sand, I think they made a very good point.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

MCMAHON: Touche. Touche. Touche.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: It was the Democratic Leadership...

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: Well, Kerry campaign, DNC, same difference.

MCMAHON: No, no. There was no coordination.

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: They hardly even talk.

WATKINS: Steve, you're up.

Let's talk about somebody who is back out on the stump, Al Gore. Al Gore now came out for your candidate, for John Dean. You worked for John Dean before.

MCMAHON: John Dean? You mean Howard Dean?

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: I'm sorry. Howard Dean. Jimmy Dean.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MCMAHON: The man who was against the war and was right.

BEGALA: Dizzy Dean.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Well, so Al Gore came out for Howard Dean. And that of course helped to get to the end of Howard Dean.

(LAUGHTER) WATKINS: Now, isn't it fair that he'll have the same disastrous effect on John Kerry?

MCMAHON: First of all, I dispute your premise, not surprisingly.

(LAUGHTER)

MCMAHON: No, there's no...

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: He's shrill. He's liberal.

MCMAHON: Democrats of all stripes are coming out.

Any of you at home who are looking for something to do if you want to change direction, contact the Kerry campaign, because they need people on the street. Al Gore is doing what he can.

WATKINS: Al Gore, big liberal. John Kerry, big liberal.

MCMAHON: Bill Clinton is doing what he st can. Cher is doing what she can.

(LAUGHTER)

WATKINS: Oh, oh, big liberal.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: I saw James Carville out there in Hollywood last night doing what he can.

(LAUGHTER)

WATKINS: Big liberals for big government, right?

MCMAHON: Big liberals for change, man. We have got to change course.

(APPLAUSE)

MCMAHON: The world hates us. The world hates us. Our economy sucks.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: Things are not going well in Iraq.

(BELL RINGING)

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Global test time.

BEGALA: I almost hate to do this, because we are having a lot of fun. But there is a new ad from MoveOn PAC that is going to start on Monday that CNN was able to obtain today from MoveOn. It is really quite stunning and stark. And it takes on the president for making light of the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Here's the ad from MoveOn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: Nope, no weapons over there.

BROOKE CAMPBELL, SISTER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: My brother died in Baghdad on April 29. I watched President Bush make a joke looking around for weapons of mass destruction. My brother died looking for weapons of mass destruction.

NARRATOR: Over 1,000 troops like Ryan have died in Iraq. Yet there never were any weapons. George Bush, he just doesn't get it

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Devastating ad, isn't that, Tony?

(APPLAUSE)

FABRIZIO: I would agree that it is a very emotional ad. But the ad makes the wrong point. The ad draws the wrong conclusion. When the ad says that her brother lost his life looking for weapons of mass destruction, no. Her brother lost his life protecting America by removing a man from power who was a sworn enemy of the United States.

BEGALA: From weapons of mass destruction that weren't there.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Tony, you do have to admit that it is spectacularly callous for our president to send troops into harm's way for a stated purpose of finding weapons that were not there and then to make jokes about it, when men have died....

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

FABRIZIO: No, I'll tell you what is spectacularly callous. What is spectacularly callous is that the Clinton administration had eight years to do something about these guys and didn't.

BEGALA: We had them in a box. He was no threat to anybody. What are you drinking? (CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I want to get a case of it.

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: We had him a box? Oh, really?

BEGALA: Yes. He was no threat to anybody. He had no weapons.

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: I'm drinking the same Kool-Aid that a majority of Americans are, who believe that this president is doing the right thing when it comes to fighting the war on terror. That is the Kool- Aid I'm drinking.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: It's not the war on terror in Iraq.

MCMAHON: There they go again.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: The Republicans want everybody to believe that the Iraqi war is about fighting terrorism. It is not.

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: Right. And the Democrats want everybody to believe that Cher and Rosie O'Donnell represent working women. That's even more insulting.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: I've got one for you, Steve. Here you go.

Michael Moore, the famous Michael Moore, said that the reason why John Kerry is called the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate is because he is the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Now, answer this question for me. Why did John Kerry vote against the $6 billion needed for intelligence funding after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1994?

MCMAHON: Well, one of the things that John Kerry supported over time were defense cuts that Dick Cheney asked him to make when he was defense secretary, probably because Dick Cheney wasn't telling truth at that time either. (APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Porter Goss is calling for much larger cuts. Kerry has a more moderate position. It's Porter Goss who wanted the bigger cuts.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I'm sorry to interject there. I'm simply stating the facts.

WATKINS: John Kerry is typical of your tax-and-spend liberals. He's raised -- he's voted to raise taxes; 98 times, he has voted to raise taxes.

MCMAHON: Peel a little pork out of a huge appropriation bill. Peel a little less pork out than Porter Goss wanted to peel out? Is that a bad idea? You know, conservatives are always talking about we need to spend less and balance the budget.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: Well, we've got the biggest deficit in the world.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Here's a guy that is for ducks. He's against ducks. He's for guns. He's against guns. He's for the war in Iraq. He's against the war in Iraq.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: He's for abortion. He's against abortion. He's on both sides of the issue. Which way is it? Which side is it?

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: This guy flip-flops more...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I hope we got a shot of that. It was kind of a good coordinated dance going on there.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: But we're going to have to take a break. Maybe we'll try the wave in our next segment.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Guys, keep your seat.

When we come back, we'll enter the "Rapid Fire" and I'll ask our guests why President Bush, a millionaire, is trying to deny a raise in the minimum wage to working people.

And helicopters are, of course, vital to the service of the U.S. Coast Guard. So why are some choppers now putting the Guard's mission at risk? Wolf Blitzer will have details for you right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, desperate words from a charity worker. A new hostage videotape from Iraq puts more pressure on Britain's Tony Blair. U.S. Senator Jim Bunning was a shoe-in for reelection until he started to campaign. Will Kentucky voters send this Hall of Fame pitcher to the showers?

And it's the backbone of the Coast Guard's helicopter fleet. But there are big problems now with the HHS-65. We'll tell you what is going on.

All those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

BEGALA: Thank you, Wolf. We look forward to your report at the top of the hour.

But here at CROSSFIRE, time for "Rapid Fire," where the questions come even faster than Halliburton can sign checks over to Vice President Cheney.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: In the CROSSFIRE today, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and Republican consultant Tony Fabrizio. And joining me, pinch-hitting for Bob and Tucker on the right, is Joe Watkins.

MCMAHON: Swing, Joe.

WATKINS: Steve, that political powerhouse Cher is trying to raise the issue of the president reinstituting the draft. Now, isn't this really a scare tactic by Democrats? And aren't Democrats really the only ones that want to reinstitute the draft?

MCMAHON: Well, we don't know. All we know is that the tour of duties keep getting longer. They keep needing more soldiers and they don't have a plan to get out.

WATKINS: Wasn't this bill already defeated in the Congress?

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: They don't have a plan to get out, so they're going to have to get more in somehow.

BEGALA: Correct me if I'm wrong. George W. Bush didn't like the draft when he was subjected to the draft either, did he? That was...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

FABRIZIO: No, and he has no intention of bringing it back.

But I think what Cher should is go back to entertaining on warships half-clad. That's what she was better suited to do.

BEGALA: Well, God bless her for doing that, though.

(LAUGHTER)

MCMAHON: That's probably what they are saying on the warships, too.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: Is bringing Bill Clinton back from the injured reserve list really going to help John Kerry?

MCMAHON: Yes.

WATKINS: Tell me why.

MCMAHON: Because Bill Clinton is one of the most charismatic figures in our party. He can make the case against the president as well as anybody, including Senator Kerry.

(APPLAUSE)

MCMAHON: And people respect his point of view. It's a turnout deal now.

BEGALA: And, Tony, as you know, the president's job approval rating, President Bush 44. President Clinton before he got sick in a June poll, 62. He's 18 points higher than George W. Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: You know something? I think it is interesting that the Democrats in the Kerry campaign, the lesson they took away from 2000 was, there wasn't enough Bill Clinton, instead of, we had had too much of Bill Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He's 20 points ahead of Bush.

FABRIZIO: And so if they want to bring him back, bring him back.

(CROSSTALK) FABRIZIO: You know why? Every president when he leaves office, their numbers go up, because he can't hurt us anymore.

(CROSSTALK)

(BELL RINGING)

WATKINS: What about Teresa Heinz Kerry? Do you think a librarian job is a real job?

MCMAHON: Yes. And so does she. And I think that she made that clear right after she said it.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Steve McMahon, Democratic strategist, Tony Fabrizio, Republican pollster and strategist, thank you both for a fun Friday afternoon. Thank you, guys.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Come back soon.

Finally, in a minute, CROSSFIRE's own James Carville sat down with Jay Leno last night. As you may recall, one week ago today, this broadcast showed you what a disaster it can be when a comedian tries to be political. So how did our political friend James do trying to be funny? We'll show you Jay Leno and James Carville next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Our old pal and co-host James Carville last night had quite a star turn on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Most people who watch a political show use a political show for the same reason a drunk uses a lamppost. They want support, not illumination.

(LAUGHTER)

JAY LENO, HOST: Right.

CARVILLE: You go and you say, oh, yes, I agree with that guy. Yes, he's right. He thinks like I do.

The good thing about CROSSFIRE is, is that we kind of bi-think, because, if you think like -- if you think like a Democrat, you can watch our side. If you think like a Republican -- well, the Republicans don't think, but if you act -- whatever it is...

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: So it's kind of...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: I'll tell you what. I would rather see a serious man be funny than a funny man try to be serious.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: From the left, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

WATKINS: From the right, I'm Joe Watkins. Join Paul and the team again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

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