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Finish Line Frenzy

Aired November 1, 2004 - 16:30   ET


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

In the CROSSFIRE: In one day, millions of Americans will pack voting booths to choose the next president. Both candidates are racing to the finish, crisscrossing America for votes.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank you all for working so hard coming down the stretch. I know you're tired. But look at it this way. It is like that marathon stretch. The finish line is in sight. And I just want to assure you, I have got the energy and the optimism and the enthusiasm to cross the line.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the choice. This is the moment of accountability for America and it's the moment where the world is watching what you're going to do. All of the hopes and dreams, all of the hopes and dreams of our country are on the line today.

ANNOUNCER: The difference in most polls is razor thin. Who is going to win? Who is going to lose? And when will we know the result?



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN's election headquarters in New York, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to the day-before-Election-Day version of CROSSFIRE. All politics is local, of course. And it looks like President Bush and Senator John Kerry would like to stop in as many localities as they can before tomorrow.

President Bush is barnstorming through six states today, hitting the Midwest, the heartland and out West, before finishing in Texas. John Kerry is doing a four-state swing, starting in Florida and heading up to the Upper Midwest. Good luck.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Polls show the race is tighter than a Republican banker's wallet. But, of course, as you know, Tucker, the only "Pole" that really matters is Lech Walesa and maybe the pope. Yes, it all comes down to turnout, who wants it more, the ground game, good old-fashioned shoe-leather, door-knocking, neighbor-to- neighbor campaigning. OK, there, I have gotten all the cliches out of the way. Now we can actually talk about the campaign, which we will do for the next 30 minutes, beginning with the best little political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

George W. Bush is a walking contradiction. He claims to be a uniter, but he has bitterly divided America. He calls himself pro- life and executes the retarded. And last night, Mr. Bush told NBC's Tom Brokaw that after tomorrow's voting -- quote -- "I really think it is important not to have a world of lawsuits" -- unquote -- this from the man who is in the White House only because he won a lawsuit.

But Vice President Cheney may have pegged the hypocrisy meter when he attacked John Kerry for using polls. Mr. Bush's polling manic fixation with polling is so intense that his own White House deputy chief of staff is publicly mocking the president for his obsession with polls.

Now, you would think that pointing out his boss' hypocrisy would not be very good for job security. Then, again, he probably realizes everyone in the Bush White House will be unemployed come November -- come November.

CARLSON: I have to say, as you often do, you win today's chutzpah award. A man who worked for Bill Clinton, who executed Ricky Ray Rector, mocking Bush for executing the mentally retarded, that's kind of amazing.

BEGALA: But Clinton didn't call himself pro-life.


CARLSON: Actually, he was actively...


BEGALA: Bush is so pro-life, he wages war and executes the retarded.


CARLSON: No, no, you're absolutely right. Clinton was absolutely for abortion. But I will say...

BEGALA: He was.

CARLSON: But I will say, Bush makes a good point. Nobody wants to see replay of the Florida recount.



BEGALA: Unless Bush loses and then he's going to sue again and let Chief Justice Rehnquist deliver the White House for him again. It's not going to happen.


CARLSON: How do you compete with talking points that dumb? I don't even know what to say.


BEGALA: Come over to the dark side.


CARLSON: Well, it's as predictable as the leaves changing in fall. Every four years, days before the presidential election, Democrats accuse Republicans of racism.

They do it not because they believe it is true. It's not. And they don't believe it. They do it in the hope that black voters will become angry and fearful enough to head to the polls. It is cynical. It is hurtful. It may even be immoral. It is also an essential part of any Democratic presidential campaign, as Bill Clinton well knows.

Clinton used the same device and tactics when he was president in both elections. And he is still doing it today. This very morning, Clinton called into a talk radio show to accuse Republicans of trying to keep black people from voting. Clinton offered no specifics because he doesn't have any. There aren't any. But that didn't stop him from making the ugly charge. The former president ought to be ashamed, but, of course, that's not possible.

BEGALA: Oh, well, I'm so glad to hear we have finally entered Dr. King's promised land. There's no racism in America, ladies and gentlemen.


CARLSON: Nobody is saying that. To make a blanket charge of racism against a political party is divisive and disgusting.


BEGALA: You said Clinton offered no specifics. Let me.

A Bush campaign official in Michigan said, our goal is to suppress the Detroit vote.

CARLSON: It wasn't an official.


BEGALA: Now, Detroit is 83 percent black. What do you suppose he meant by suppressing the Detroit vote?

CARLSON: Paul, you bring this up every single day on this show. First of all, it was woman, a low-level staffer, not a man.

BEGALA: No, it wasn't. It was a state representative in Michigan.


CARLSON: Second, I would like you to give a specific, one specific example of Republicans trying to keep black voters from voting. It's such a horrible thing to say.


BEGALA: In Kentucky, they have targeted 59 precincts...

CARLSON: Who is they?


BEGALA: Republicans in Kentucky are sending poll watchers and observers only to the black precincts.

CARLSON: Which Republicans? Which Republicans?

BEGALA: Fifty-nine black precincts, why did they pick them? Why not observe the election in the white boxes as well?


BEGALA: If they're worried about fraud...


BEGALA: ... black people commit fraud?

CARLSON: They're probably members of the Klan.


BEGALA: I'm just saying, they racially target.

Well, an American was kidnapped from his office in Baghdad today. Nine Marines were killed this weekend in a car bombing in the Anbar Province of Iraq. Insurgents killed 15 Iraqi civilians and wounded eight others Sunday when they fired a rocket into a hotel in Tikrit. A representative of Al-Arabiya Television said today that five of its employees were murdered in a car bombing in Iraq. And the body of a Japanese man who was beheaded by kidnappers in Iraq was found in Baghdad this morning. It was wrapped in an American flag.

This update brought to you by President George W. Bush, who thought it would be a good idea to invade Iraq, even though Osama bin Laden is still at large, still planning to kill you, and now starring in more videos than Paris Hilton. Thank about that, security moms.

CARLSON: You know, the last line of that alert is so revealing.

Iraq has fallen into chaos. Americans are being kidnapped, beheaded and killed. The point that you draw from that is, possibly, we'll be able to win over this one narrow demographic called security moms.


BEGALA: That's Mr. Bush's strategy, not mine.

CARLSON: That's what you just said.

BEGALA: Right.

CARLSON: You said, think about that, security moms.

Security moms, this tiny demographic we want to win, who live in the collar counties outside cities, these married women who could vote Democratic, this will win you over, this disaster in Iraq.

BEGALA: No. I'm mocking Mr. Bush's advisers.


BEGALA: Mr. Bush has said or his advisers have said, security moms will deliver the election. Well, we're less secure because of Mr. Bush's wrongheaded war in Iraq.


CARLSON: I love...



BEGALA: And these people who they try to target should know that.

CARLSON: So Democrats aren't trying to use Iraq as a political issue.


BEGALA: Of course it's a political issue. It's a debacle. He's up for -- of course it should be an issue. It should be the issue.

CARLSON: Well, speaking of issues, once again, tomorrow, it may all come down to the state of Florida. And, once again, that possibility makes the rest of us honestly a little uncomfortable.

Consider the latest poll numbers out of that state. According to "USA Today," the latest "Miami Herald" survey taken over the weekend shows that only a negligible percentage of Floridians who cast their ballots early voted for Ralph Nader. Of the rest, 56 percent voted for John Kerry. The other 39 percent voted for George W. Bush. Wait a second.

As you math majors out there may have already noticed, 56 plus 39 equals only 95 percent. That's 5 percent short of 100, which means that 5 percent of Floridians remain undecided even after they voted. (LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Either that or they weren't sure who they voted for in the first place or maybe they're just embarrassed to admit they voted for Pat Buchanan again.

BEGALA: That is the single greatest statistic in the history of political polling.

CARLSON: It's a terrifying poll. Five percent are still undecided, though they already voted.

BEGALA: That is unbelievable. It's incredible. But, of course, if the ignorant couldn't vote, then Bush would be at 2 percent, because a huge majority of his voters believe that Iraq had WMD. They believe they had ties to al Qaeda. You don't want to keep the ignorant from voting, do you?


CARLSON: Which party do you think encourages the ignorant to vote more?


CARLSON: There's one part that actively register the homeless mentally ill. Is it the Republican Party? No, it's not.


BEGALA: The homeless mentally ill at least know there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and no ties to Iraq.


CARLSON: Actually, I must say -- I must say...

BEGALA: There was a survey recently that said Bush voters still believe that.

CARLSON: If you find a guy living outside with a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor in his hand and you actively try to recruit him as a voter, you don't think that is cynical? I think it is.


BEGALA: Wait a minute. A guy who used to drink is our president. He cured himself. Why can't a guy on the streets cure himself and go vote? What is wrong with that? I admire the president for that.

CARLSON: All right.

As the clock ticks down before the last day before the election, which side has the answer voters are looking for and when will we know which candidate has won? And, later, you know this campaign is going to the dogs when Triumph arrives at CROSSFIRE to share his political wisdom.

Stay tuned.

ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to CROSSFIRE at the George Washington University, call 202-994-8CNN or visit our Web site. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

This is the very last day that the pundits and politicians matters, darn it. So we're going to make the most of it, wrapping up our campaign coverage and kicking off our Election Day marathon here in New York City.

And, of course, when you think of New York, you think of hot dog vendors on the streets, cab drivers cursing in all the languages of the world, and those overpaid yuppies in the Bronx who lost to the Red Sox.

You also think about some the world's most creative, entertaining and talented politicians. We have two of them today here in the CROSSFIRE, two of our favorites, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York and Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel, also of New York.

Guys, good to see you again. Thank you for joining us.


CARLSON: Congressman Rangel, thanks a lot for joining us.

The day before the election, I still have no idea what John Kerry thinks about a lot of things, including Saddam Hussein. For instance, the Bush campaign says, had Kerry been president, Hussein would still be in power. This -- this is going to amuse, even you, I think.

This is Kerry's response, quote, to NBC News: "It is impossible and irresponsible to suggest that, if I were president, he wouldn't necessarily be gone. He might be gone, because if he hadn't complied, we might have had to go to war and we might have gone to war."

I have no idea what that means. And my question to you is, why, after this two-year-long campaign, hasn't John Kerry been able to explain something as simple as what he would have done about Saddam Hussein?

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: All I know is that I can't -- I've been waiting for four years for this opportunity to get rid of a president that attacks a country with no evidence that we were threatened by it and then declares himself as the wartime president.

And so it just seems to me that so many people are just waiting for the opportunity to get some of our friends back, to try to bring peace and tranquility to the world, and to do it in such a way that the American people have confidence and appreciate what they're doing. If you take a look and to see the lack of confidence that most Americans have in this president, I am just surprised that we're not winning by an overwhelming plurality.



BEGALA: Congressman King, Tucker makes the point that there are times when Senator Kerry can be nuanced. He uses a lot of words to explain complicated ideas.

So let me show you how he has summarized the entire election now at the end in just 10 words. I challenge you to do the same. Here's how John Kerry summarizes the entire election: "We need a new direction, not more of the same."

That's, for the Democrats, exactly what this election comes down to, new direction vs. more of the same. What does it come down to for Republicans?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: That's why you guys are going to lose.

What it means is to continue the war against terrorism and continue to keep terrorism on defense and protect America, which is what President Bush has done.

RANGEL: He picked the wrong country.


BEGALA: But you agree, it is more of the same vs. a new direction, right? You believe in more of the same. This is a principled, honest disagreement, then, right?

KING: Yes. All kidding aside and all jokes aside...


KING: ... yes, I believe that we should continue the war against terrorism. And President Bush realizes it is not just a single war or just against bin Laden or just against this group. It's a war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

And that is why Iraq is part of the war against terrorism. That's why the war against -- certainly, against bin Laden was important, why against Hussein it is important, why the Patriot Act is important here at home, and why it is important to be working, as we are, with intelligence agencies all over the world, and why we haven't been attacked in three years.

CARLSON: Now, Congressman Rangel, you said a minute ago you were surprised that the Kerry campaign isn't doing better than it is. I think a lot of people are surprised. And the answer, of course, is, it has been a very lame campaign.

For instance, despite the fact he has a running mate from North Carolina on the ticket, they are going to probably lose North Carolina. If you were on the ticket -- he should have picked you -- had you been on the ticket, they probably would have taken New York.


CARLSON: Why is it that, with Edwards on the ticket, they can't even carry Edwards's home state?

RANGEL: You know, what I'm talking about is how this country got involved with a war. You seem to be so proud of the fact that we are after Saddam Hussein.

The truth of the matter is that no one has given any evidence that Saddam Hussein was connected with 9/11. So why are we bombing Iraq when we have got 100,000 people?


RANGEL: They said that we should be proud that it's not here that's being killed.

And every day, every day, the president digs in deeper and says he never would have made any adjustments to what he's done.


CARLSON: Well, if that's such an obvious point, then why isn't it resonating more strongly with the country? That's a legitimate question.

RANGEL: I will tell you why, because it is a campaign of fear. That's exactly why.


RANGEL: To try to scare people to believe it.

When the vice president of the United States says, if you don't vote for me and the president, then you are going to have a terrorist attack, you know, that's really as low as you can get in politics. And that's what he infers.

BEGALA: Congressman King, let me get to a specific issue. John Kerry, from the time of the war in Iraq, has been criticizing President Bush for, what Kerry might say, backing off in Tora Bora when he had Osama bin Laden. Now we know bin Laden is alive.

President Bush, Tommy Franks dispute that. So the Knight Ridder News Service, professional journalists, took a look at this. Here is what they reported over the weekend: "Knight Ridder reporters found that General Franks and other top officials ignored warnings that the combination of precision bombing, special operations forces and Afghan forces might not work. While more than 1,200 U.S. Marines sat at an abandoned air base in the desert 80 miles away, Franks and other commanders relied on three Afghan warlords and a small number of American, British and Australian special forces to stop al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters from escaping."

He let bin Laden go, didn't he?


First of all, you're relying on Knight Ridder. I'm relying on the generals who were there. In fact, there were several generals...


BEGALA: They don't have an incentive to cover their rear ends?

KING: Hold it. No, no, no.

BEGALA: I believe the journalists more than the generals. I'm sorry.

KING: OK. OK. I would believe Tommy Franks, who won the war, rather than Knight Ridder, rather than the liberal, biased media.

BEGALA: Why is Osama bin Laden walking around if we won the war?

KING: We did win the war.

How did we win the war? Because the Taliban has been disposed and bin Laden is running. There's absolutely no real evidence at all that they knew for certain he was in Tora Bora. He won that war in Afghanistan in six weeks. The Russians took 10 years and lost tens of thousands of troops.

There was no outsourcing of that.


KING: Charlie, we had American special forces working with the Northern Alliance, working with the Pashtun. And those 1,2000 Marines were kept back for purposes. We didn't want to be sending Americans needlessly into caves when we weren't sure bin Laden was there.

We captured Kabul. We captured -- we took over Afghanistan because of those indigenous forces. You guys criticize President Bush for going it alone. Here in Afghanistan, based on his military advisers, we allied ourselves with the local troops. And, also, the 100,000 that you mentioned, Charlie, there's no evidence for that. That was a report on CBS last week, which is totally unreliable.


KING: But, no.


KING: Let me tell you -- let me tell you... RANGEL: Innocent people are dying there.


KING: Innocent people died in World War II.


RANGEL: Well, that was the right war.


RANGEL: You know, we were attacked in World War II, you know.


KING: There's a new axis of evil. There's a new axis of evil, U.N. bureaucrats, "The New York Times" and Dan Rather. That is the axis of evil that we're up against in this country.


RANGEL: I just hope that you tell our armed forces guys over there that we won the war. They don't know that.


KING: No, 75 percent of the armed forces are supporting President Bush; 75 percent of the American armed forced are supporting President Bush.


RANGEL: I wish you -- that's the reason we lost in Florida. You guys know the vote before people vote.



KING: Charlie, I was in Iraq last week. The armed forces are supporting President Bush.

BEGALA: And the president stopped supporting the armed forces.


CARLSON: All right, unfortunately, I -- I feel like we're very close to a consensus.

Congressman King, we are just going to have to take a quick break here. We'll be right back momentarily.

Up next, in "Rapid Fire," you won't believe that the role Walter Cronkite is playing in this election.

And what did Osama bin Laden say on the parts of his video that Al-Jazeera did not show? Wolf Blitzer will tell you right after this.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from New York.

Coming up at the top of the hour, the campaign is coming to an end with the election obviously still too close to call. But will last week's Osama bin Laden video have an impact tomorrow? We'll ask the former defense secretary, William Cohen.

A bomb explodes in a crowded Israeli market in Tel Aviv. We'll have the latest details from the scene.

You have probably never heard of the band called the Electras, but you have definitely heard of their former bass guitarist. We'll share that with you.

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

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Time for "Rapid Fire." The only thing faster than this segment will be tomorrow's charges of voter fraud.

Joining us from New York, Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel and his colleague from his Republican side of the aisle, New York Congressman Peter King.

BEGALA: Congressman King, is there an issue, the deficit, jobs, health care, Iraq, on which the president does offer change in a new direction?

KING: No, we should keep going in the same direction. We have created 1.9 million jobs in the last year. Bill Clinton lost half a million manufacturing jobs in his last year and a half. We've gained more in manufacturing in the last year than in 20 years.

No, everything is going in the right direction, not easy, but we're going in the right direction. I strongly support what the president is doing.

RANGEL: Take my time and use the surplus -- the fact that we had a 5.6 surplus and trillions of dollars and now we've got...


KING: He inherited a recession from Bill Clinton.


(LAUGHTER) CARLSON: Congressman Rangel, Walter Cronkite said on Friday that he thinks that Karl Rove set up Osama bin Laden to read that tape just days before the election. Ed Rendell, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, says -- quote -- "It is obvious to me that Osama bin Laden is trying to help George W. Bush."

Do you think it helps John Kerry when Democrats make lunatic statements like those, or do you agree with those statements?

RANGEL: I think it was dumb if the president did allow this Osama bin Laden tape to come up at all to show that, in all of these years, this guy is making more videos and we're losing all these lives and we can't capture him. Then it just shows what a lousy commander in chief he is. That's all.

KING: No. What it shows is, instead of attacking us, instead of attacking us, all he can do is make videos. That shows the success we've had.

RANGEL: Well, I'll tell you one thing. You guys seem to know that this guy is just going to attack Democrats, because the vice president claims that, if you don't elect Bush, then we're going to get attacked. That's a dumb thing to say.


KING: No. What we're saying is that the Democratic policies are weak. Democratic policies are weak and they would invite attack. But, hopefully -- no one wants us to be attacked.


RANGEL: I guess the strength is that, when you have no evidence, you just bomb a country, and that's what we have done.

BEGALA: That will be the last word. I'm sorry to cut you off.


KING: ... make the world safer. And that's why Bill Clinton attacked Iraq in 1998.


BEGALA: Congressman Charlie Rangel, Democrat from New York, Congressman Peter King, Republican from New York, thank you both.


BEGALA: I wish we had another hour to go. But we don't.

So, coming up next, a quintessential New Yorker whose bark is worse than his bite. Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, will lift his leg on us next in the CROSSFIRE. You don't want to miss that.



BEGALA: Welcome back.

Regular viewers of this broadcast, both of you, of course know that occasionally our guests come on and insult the hosts. So we thought we would wind up this very nasty campaign by interviewing the abbot of abuse, the viceroy of vicious, the pope of put-downs, the idol of insult, and the start of the new DVD "The Best of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog," Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.

TRIUMPH THE INSULT COMIC DOG: Oh, yes. How are you doing?

BEGALA: Triumph, good to see you again.

TRIUMPH: How are you doing? Buy my DVD. I'm here to whore it up.


BEGALA: Well, Triumph, thank you for joining us.

TRIUMPH: Stop it.

BEGALA: Thank you for joining us in the...

TRIUMPH: Stop hurting America.


TRIUMPH: Paul, stop.

CARLSON: Actually, honestly, we enjoy hurting America.


TRIUMPH: Your face is hurting the camera, actually, not just America.

BEGALA: You have lost your cigar there, Triumph. Thank you.


CARLSON: You're a very pompous dog.


TRIUMPH: No, come on. Get over it. Jon Stewart made you his bitch.


(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRIUMPH: Listen, it is good to see that Jon had a real impact on you guys, a real realty check. Yes, Jon made some good points. Let's be better journalists. Let's book Conan's dog.


CARLSON: I felt like we have learned something from him. That's why we're having you on.

BEGALA: That's right.

TRIUMPH: Look, you're good man, Tucker. I kid you, you know. You're handsome. You're young. You know, Tucker...

CARLSON: OK. I'm bracing myself.

TRIUMPH: This is clever. He's supposed to get the young people to the right, right? That's good strategy. Let's attract America's youth with a guy who dresses like Orville Redenbacher.


TRIUMPH: Where's the popcorn?

BEGALA: Excellent. That is great.

CARLSON: You know, the popcorn might work, actually.


BEGALA: We had two congressmen on right before you. And, as they left the set, they said, can you believe we're the warm-up act for a puppet dog?

TRIUMPH: Yes. Yes, finally. They were pretty...


CARLSON: Now, you're a German dog with a Russian accent. How does that work?

TRIUMPH: Don't question it. Don't question it. I am a real dog. I'm not a puppet, by the way, not a puppet.

There's -- no self-respecting man would sit here and prop up a puppet.


TRIUMPH: Except for Dick Cheney.


TRIUMPH: I kid. I kid. I kid. I'm not partisan.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: So give us your prognostication.

TRIUMPH: I'm not partisan.

CARLSON: No. But -- so, as a nonpartisan dog, who do you think is going to win tomorrow?

TRIUMPH: I couldn't care less. Tucker, I'm just happy to be with you, you know? You're the one man in the country who is so repellent, you could make a woman want to sleep with Paul Begala.


CARLSON: You know, that's the sweetest thing anyone said to me all day.



BEGALA: I saw you at the debates in the spin room. You did a terrific job.

TRIUMPH: Yes. Yes.

I said that your head was so far up Clinton's butt that they called you the colonoscope.


TRIUMPH: You people have a responsibility. Jon is right. This is CNN.

CARLSON: OK, now, I'm starting to hate you. So we're going to have to end the program.

TRIUMPH: No, this is CNN. This is CROSSFIRE, the 36th most popular show on CNN.



BEGALA: Thank you, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.

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

CARLSON: And from the right, chastened, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow, as James Carville, Bob Novak, join us...


CARLSON: ... for a special Election Day edition of CROSSFIRE from here in New York City.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now. Thanks.



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