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CNN Late Edition - Transcript

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CNN

SHOW: CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER 12:00

February 1, 2004 Sunday

HEADLINE: Interview With David Kay; Interview With Joe Lieberman

GUESTS: David Kay, Chuck Hagel, Joseph Biden, Joseph Lieberman, Mark Sanford, Janet Napolitano, Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson

BYLINE: Wolf Blitzer, Adil Bradlow, Michael Holmes, Elaine Quijano, Bob Franken, Suzanne Malveaux, Bruce Morton

HIGHLIGHT:
Interviews with David Kay and Senator Joseph Lieberman.

BODY:
BLITZER: All right, we're going to get into that a little bit more coming up. But let's bring in the governor of Arizona, Governor Napolitano.

Governor, if you take a look at the Arizona situation right now, a key state on Tuesday, let's put up our latest CNN-Los Angeles Times poll numbers. Right now, John Kerry ahead, but General Wesley Clark, the retired four-star general, not all that far behind at 22 percent, Howard Dean at 13 percent.

What's your understanding right now? What's likely to happen on Tuesday?

GOV. JANET NAPOLITANO (D), ARIZONA: Well, I think it's hard to say. We still have a large number of undecided voters. We haven't had a primary in Arizona, a Democratic primary, ever, so this is a first time, and so we don't really know who's going to actually vote.

And one thing the polls don't take into account is the large number of people who have already voted by mail. Because in our state, people actually started voting the day of the Iowa caucuses.

BLITZER: And presumably those people might have voted in bigger numbers for Howard Dean. Is that the conventional wisdom out there?

NAPOLITANO: Conventional, and also we know from just looking at what campaigns we're getting, in terms of soliciting mail ballots, that Dean had a very aggressive vote-by-mail campaign out here. And those votes are already in.

BLITZER: So they may not be reflected, necessarily, in these polling numbers.

Why do you think in general, though, Governor Napolitano, why do you think Howard Dean's campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire fizzled and apparently is going to fizzle even further on Tuesday?

NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, I don't know. There's going to be a lot of second-guessing about the Dean campaign, that they should have done this or done that.

Both Governor Sanford and I have been there. When you're the candidate, everybody wants to tell you what to do.

But ultimately, I think people are paying attention to this race. We have a number of very good candidates. And one of the great things about this primary is that it has really opened up a dialogue about what the presidency is about.

BLITZER: Let me put some numbers up for you, Governor Sanford, national numbers, a new Newsweek poll. Take a look at this.

In a hypothetical contest between the president and John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, once again -- they had a similar poll last week -- a second poll this week shows Kerry slightly atop, although within that three-point margin of error. Clearly very, very competitive.

Is it your assessment that John Kerry represents the most formidable threat/challenge to President Bush?

SANFORD: I mean, that's for the voters to decide here in the Democratic primaries that are coming our way.

What I would say is, for instance, in a state like South Carolina, I think it will be very interesting to watch how Edwards and how Kerry do versus the rest of the crowd.

What I think has been interesting is that a lot of the anti-war, a lot of the fervor that you heard with the Dean campaign, really hasn't resonated in South Carolina. If you look at the number of military retirees, if you look at the number of military bases in South Carolina, you have a very strong personal connection, in some form or another, to soldiers, frankly, that are deployed in that part of the world. So I'd say that's been much less of an issue here.

As to whether or not Kerry, should he be the nominee, would fare well, or at the margin against the president, time remains to tell. What I would say is the president is much more in sync where, certainly, South Carolinians are coming from.

And I think that what we haven't seen here is a real campaign. What Governor Napolitano or myself would tell you, in being in these kinds of races, is there's a glow that goes with the primary. The president hasn't yet been able to get his message out there.

BLITZER: Governor Napolitano, electability a key issue for Democrats in Iowa, New Hampshire and around the country. They want someone they think can challenge the president of the United States rather effectively.

In your opinion, right now, who has that highest degree of electability among these Democratic candidates?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think we have a number of candidates who are electable. I mean, ultimately this is -- election is going to be a referendum on President Bush and what he has done or not done over the past four years.

So, you know, I'm looking forward to Tuesday, let the voters go in Arizona, let them go to the polls, and we'll see what comes out.

BLITZER: Governor Sanford, a lot of questions being asked now about the president's credibility going into this election season right now on several issues, including the budget deficits that are growing, the huge increase in the planned cost for Medicare prescription drug benefits going from $400 billion that had been earlier estimated, now over $500 billion, maybe almost $550 billion.

How big of a concern is this for you, as a good, conservative Republican, that these budget deficit numbers and this new entitlement for prescription drug benefits for seniors, is simply going above and beyond what a lot of Republicans had hoped?

SANFORD: Well, I would say, you know, everything in politics is by degree. And I think what's relevant is if you look at the different Democratic nominees, you're looking at an increase in spending, beyond what the president would have proposed, from somewhere between $160 billion to $1.3 trillion.

So, you know, as out of hand as things may get, because you got 535 folks in the Congress up there, at times dissipating what the president would try to do in terms of fiscal restraint, I think that there are a lot of cross-currents up there.

And I think that the relevant question is, would there be more spending under a Democratic president? And I think that what these plans that we've seen so far suggest is, A, that'd be the case.

B, there's been a certain recklessness with some of the rhetoric that we've seen go on. Terry McAuliffe was on television this morning calling the president AWOL, which, I think, is a real insult to a lot of Guardsmen and reservists who are out there serving the country and, in fact, deployed in the Middle East right now, taking shots at him for being a Guardsman.

I think that, you know, what we're talking about here over the next couple of weeks, as we go through this primary process, is a chance to sort all this out.

BLITZER: Governor Sanford of South Carolina, Governor Napolitano of Arizona, two wonderful states, two of 50 wonderful states in the United States, thanks to both of you for joining us. Good luck to all your voters coming up on Tuesday. I hope everything goes smoothly in both states.

NAPOLITANO: Thank you.

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