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ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos - Transcript

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ABC News Transcripts

SHOW: THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (10:30 AM ET) - ABC

HEADLINE: AT ISSUE BUSH FOREIGN POLICY

BODY:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS

(Off Camera) And we're back now with our foreign policy panel. I'm joined by Senators Chuck Hagel, Joseph Biden, they're joining George Will and Fareed Zakaria. And let's begin, of course, with the Clarke book. You've all had a chance to review some of the excerpts. And Senator Hagel, let me begin with you. We haven't seen an account like this from anyone so central to the war on terror. What do you make of it?

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL, REPUBLICAN, NEBRASKA

George, it's one of many pieces that are forming a mosaic, a large portrait of what went on in a sense what continues to go on in development of foreign policy, how this administration responded to this historic deadly attack on this country. This is also, I think, a dynamic that we should keep in some perspective. We know we've got the 9/11 commission that will hold hearings, take important testimony next week from a number of the Clinton administration officials, as well as the Bush administration officials. But let's keep this point in perspective. This administration was faced with overwhelming challenges that no administration has ever had to deal with, I don't think, in the history of this country. Not just the attack but all that was forming that brought that attack on this country, and how we're doing it now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) But so much, excuse me, but so much of his indictment is what didn't happen before the attack.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

Well, and that's a fair indictment or question to ask, and I think as we play this out, as we find out more information from more witnesses as to what happened and why, then we will come to, I think, a very clear picture as to what didn't happen and what did happen.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN, DEMOCRAT, DELAWARE

George, I personally don't know the details of the book, but I do know that the intro you all sent me and a few of the pages I read are consistent with an overarching theme and that is that, for example, on the day before 9/11 I made a speech at the National Press Club saying that this administration's greatest strength is its greatest weakness and that to be able to focus, that it was preoccupied totally with initial, on the issue of national missile defense, getting their attention on anything else including terror and my speech was about terror and they weren't focusing on it. Immediately after 9/11, I think again their greatest strength is their greatest weakness, they decided that they, the fundamental division in this administration is Paul Wolfowitz's view that you cannot have an international terrorist organization that is coordinated unless it's state sponsored and the other view held by Powell and others say, no, you can have such an organization.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) And in the Wolfowitz view everything leads back do Iraq.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

And everything comes back to Iraq.

FAREED ZAKARIA, ABC NEWS

(Off Camera) But that's the, that's the odd thing. I think that clearly you cannot have a sophisticated international terrorist organization without state sponsorship in some sense but it appears that al Qaeda's sponsorship came informally from Saudi Arabia in the sense of money being provided by either the government or private parties formerly by Afghanistan, to a certain extent indirectly from Iran, very little of it seemed to come from Iraq, so what is striking about the book to me is the focus on Iraq regardless of what the evidence showed, there's the most extraordinary exchange in the book is the deputies meeting that takes place in the first six months of the administration in which Wolfowitz says, they've been convened to talk about terrorism. Clarke begins it by talking about al Qaeda and Wolfowitz says, why are you talking about al Qaeda? Why are we focusing on this one guy?

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

Well, that's my point. When he, well, let me make sure you know what I'm saying, in my discussions with Paul Wolfowitz, my discussions with Richard Perle, an outside advisor, they mean state sponsorship as an individual head of state who is sponsoring this. They don't mean that making, accommodating like the Saudis did, accommodating like Taliban did, accommodating like, like Iran did to some extent. Accommodating is not what they mean by sponsorship. My discussions with them as then as chairman of the committee was this is a specific thing where you have Saddam Hussein saying, look, I'm with you. Here's the deal. Let's work this out together. That's what they mean by sponsorship.

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) And the president seems to agree. If you remember there's an often forgotten line in Bob Woodward's book "Bush at War" in which the president says to Woodward almost offhandedly, I know Saddam was behind 9/11. I know I'll never be able to prove it but I know it.

GEORGE WILL, ABC NEWS

(Off Camera) Yes, sir. And with regard to whether or not you can have al Qaeda flourish without state sponsorship, there's an old joke, the intellectual says, it may not work, it may work in fact, but it can't work in theory. That's what we've got going here. This is a seriously angry book by a seriously angry man, now he may be right about that. But you have to filter this through the fact that this administration seems more driven within and more animosity within than any I've seen in, I guess, seven administrations I've been here.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

I agree with you.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) But how about his central contention though that because of this fixation with Iraq, the Bush administration actually inflamed the war on terror and inflamed militant Islam around the world?

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) Well that's, again, an empirical question and it's arguable but before you get to that you have to come to the question of whether or not as he says they simply weren't interested in al Qaeda. Page 229, 229, yes, "As I briefed Condoleezza Rice on al Qaeda," this is early in the administration, weeks in, I think, "her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before." Interesting if true.

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) Well, there's some part of it that fits a pattern as Senator Biden was saying which is you can look at public statements of a certain group of neoconservatives and far right groups, throughout the 1990s, you look at the Project on, for the American Century which is Bill Kristol's advocacy group, they were sending out faxes every month about national missile defense, about China and about Saddam. There's not a single fax about al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) And this ties into the point that Richard Clarke makes, he says that he was pushing, pushing, pushing for months to get a principals meeting as we talked about with Pierre and Terry on this issue. The White House says, Senator Hagel, that this, it didn't matter that there wasn't a meeting. You didn't need a meeting. Richard Clarke had all the authority he needs. He disputes that. In your experience, what difference does it make that there was no principals meeting on this issue?

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

Well, the fact is, you must have a focus in a meeting in order to deal with the issue and what was handed off to the Bush administration from the Clinton administration made it very clear the threat and obviously when you read through this and I read just the excerpts, what Clarke's point is that this administration did not pick up on the threat, did not implement what the Clinton administration was trying to convey in not just policy terms but the reality of facing this and without bringing it to the highest level of government and putting the appropriate focus on it with the responsible players, then it is going to get lost, and according to Clarke's book or at least what I read of it, that's much of what he charges here, that it did get lost. It was not a priority and that's a very serious charge.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

George, it's very hard for any administration, the seven I've been with, to focus intently on more than one thing. But forget Clarke for a minute from my perspective. I look at what the consequences of the preoccupation were. We went into Iraq after, I mean, excuse me, we went into Afghanistan after someone suggested the president bypass, go straight to Iraq. The president made the right decision. I believe he made the right decision because I remember the conversations with Powell saying Mr. President, if you do this, you'll lose the whole world, the whole world and implying you have time for the other issue. We went to Iraq. Now, we had a stunning success. They got filled with hubris. Instead of finishing the job in Iraq what the preoccupation did was, I mean, Afghanistan, what the preoccupation with Iraq did is they didn't want to put more forces in there. They wanted to reserve them for Iraq. We should have had many more forces, Chuck and I were there. We came back and said, hey, look every military guy we speak to says expand the international security force, go after al Qaeda, go up into Tora Bora. Use American forces. I got criticized in my campaign for saying I wanted Americans to die. When you had the secretary of defense saying we don't need any more troops and I was saying send more in.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) And now the troops are back there this week. We have American ...

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

Yeah. But the point is we took the focus off the problem too soon. The problem was I am much more concerned about the safety of my granddaughter in school here in Washington because of al Qaeda than I am with ten Saddam Husseins and we took our eye off the ball because of a preoccupation with Iraq. That's ...

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Now we're forced to have our eye on both balls.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

That's absolutely right.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) We have troops, 1,000 in Iraq. Intensified effort, we all saw this week in Afghanistan and Pakistan for 24 hours on Thursday and Friday, it appeared that perhaps Pakistani troops had surrounded Ayman al Zawahiri, but what I want to get to is the question of, at this point, does it matter if we get Zawahiri or bin Laden if state sponsorship doesn't matter, does the sponsorship of these leaders matter?

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

I think it matters but I don't think it ends it by any stretch of the imagination. It matters you bring bad guys to justice. That's an important thing for us to do if it takes us 20 damn years to get bin Laden, it matters but it doesn't solve the problem and I want to make it clear I invoke Chuck's name. This is not, we have been saying this for two years. I don't want people to think that all of a sudden we're sitting here Monday morning quarterback. I've been wrong about a bunch of things. I was wrong about Bush. I actually thought the president in my many hours of discussions with him after 9/11, before we went into Iraq from that point on, I really thought he was, I didn't think he was so fixated on Iraq. I didn't think he really was unrelenting going to Iraq no matter what. Some people told me he was. I thought, no, he really has more of an open mind. So I'm not saying I was right about everything but this is not, this is not all of a sudden, we're sitting here, saying, by the way now it looks like, you know, this is a focus.

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) I think Senator Biden is right that it matters getting Zawahiri or bin Laden because, remember, the most important support they provide to this network of very loosely affiliated Islamic terrorist groups is ideological.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

Exactly.

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) It is a certain kind of symbolic leadership that increasingly are not providing much money as far as we can tell and they can't train people in the terror camps that they used to.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) But the question is do they become more powerful in death than living, as martyrs?

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) It's potentially possible, and my own guess is you won't get either of them alive. Both Zawahiri and bin Laden, my guess is, will kill themselves, blow themselves up, but I still think you have to try and get them. The real question is has the nature of this Islamic terrorist threat morphed into, such a decentralized and diffuse set of organizations that have no connection with one another, which appears to be the case, Madrid, there seems no connection to al Qaeda in the formal sense of the word, same with Morocco, same with Turkey. So in that circumstance, what is the kind of war one should be fighting?

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) Your colleague and my old friend Pat Moynihan once said to me you're going to regret the end of the Cold War because violence is going to leak out from control by states into what we now have.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

Exactly right.

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) It's important to kill those people, those leaders because you take away from them the sense that they're on the winning side of history which is an enormous motivator.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

I agree.

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) It's important to chase the money because this is expensive business. Not hugely expensive but it needs money. So all of this adds up and, in fact, one hesitates to say this, but so far so good. Zero attacks here. Someone is doing something.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

Can I say one more thing? I think it is unfair to blame the president for the spread of terror and the diffuseness of it. Even if he had followed the advice of me and many other people, I still think the same thing would have happened. I think Iraq is another problem that's almost distinct and is sapping our energies and sapping our, and we did it all wrong in my view, but I think, I want to make it clear I do not believe because we went to Iraq this is the reason why this organization is starting to morph.

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) I think that's the weakest part of Clarke's book, frankly, the argument that because we went to Iraq we've inflamed al Qaeda. Look, if you, remember, al Qaeda actually was as upset about the invasion of Afghanistan, even the Spaniards claim that this was retribution for Afghanistan and Iraq. Remember, Afghanistan is destroying the Taliban medieval regime that they wanted, and to, by all indications support for bin Laden, for Islamic fundamentalism of that kind, is actually on the decline in large parts of the Muslim world. Anti- Americanism is up, although that's a different, you can't fuse the two.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Although he points out there were more attacks in the 30 months since September 11th in Iraq than 30 months before.

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) If you count every terror, every terrorist attack in Iraq as an attack and I think a lot of those are Baathists who are struggling to stay in power.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) But let me, let me turn now to Iraq because we did commemorate the year anniversary of the invasion this weekend. On the day of the anniversary there were two very different views by very different people. Let me start out with president Bush.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES

There have been disagreements in this matter, among old and valued friends. Those differences belong to the past. All of us can now agree that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression and instability in the Middle East.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Well, there was at least one prominent voice who didn't agree. On the very same day, in "Le Monde," the French foreign minister, Dominic de Villepin, said this. "The Iraq war hasn't led to a more stable world. Let's stick to the facts. Terrorism didn't exist in Iraq before the war. Today that country is one of the main centers of terrorism worldwide. We're witnessing increasing violence. The terrorism is affecting us all." And Senator Hagel, it appeared that before Madrid, France and Germany were trying to get well with the United States. France was cooperating on Haiti, Chancellor Schroeder was here, but Madrid may have driven another wedge between the US and Europe.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

I will respond to that, but let me set it up this way, first in response to what we've just talked about the last two minutes, we're making this up as we go along. That reflects a bit on the first comments I made. The world is confronted with something it has never quite been confronted with before. The immediacy of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and the underlying problems that are part of that, not all of it but part of it, despair, endemic poverty, hunger. Now, that has to be woven into the fabric of our conversation here because it does impact on policy and how you adjust and how you calibrate and how you're going to respond, not just for the immediate but for the future. To your question about Madrid, one of the dangers I think of the currents that are taking us now and using the Madrid example is even wider and deeper division between the Americans on one side of the Atlantic and our European allies on the other. That transatlantic partnership that has essentially been responsible for keeping peace in the world since World War II, that is dangerously being jeopardized today. Partly because of Iraq, partly because how we've handled it but that needs to close and the last point I'd make on that, Kerry and Bush must conduct themselves in a way that when November 2nd comes, whoever wins they are going to have to be able to have legitimacy in the authority to govern this country and keep this coalition together for another four years.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Are they not doing that now?

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

It's not, it's not a good sign where this is going. The fact is, you cannot govern and you can't be anywhere, sustain any policy without the support of a democracy and we may find ourselves over the next four years unable to sustain our policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and on our war against terrorism because the politics have so divided this country.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

George, I think both de Villepin and the president are wrong. This is an incredible opportunity, an incredible opportunity, the president is, I don't think he's going to be judged harshly by history for the mistakes he made, but for the opportunity squandered. If you were president of the United States and I was your secretary of state, I'd say get on the plane now, go to Europe. Call a meeting at NATO. This is a time to unite, unite Europe. Europeans aren't there saying today, you know, well, al Qaeda, if we just walk away they're gonna be good to us. Europeans aren't saying that. That is not true.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) And if I were the president I would say back to you, why would I do that in an election year where there's gonna be millions in the cities protesting it?

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

Because, I'll tell you, because you're president of the United States and your obligation to protect this nation. And if you continue to lose Europe, Mr. President I'd tell you this way, if you continue to lose Europe, you're jeopardizing my country, Mr. President and I'm resigning. That's why.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) President losing Europe?

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) I don't think so. Last week there was a sudden coordinated surge of ethnic violence in Kosovo, 28 people killed, ethnic Albanians, ethnically cleansing the Serbs. NATO, surprised by this, sends in a thousand extra troops. Mostly British, some Italian. Some Americans. And here we are in Europe's backyard, in Europe's problem and the Americans seem to be, A, they're obviously involved and seem to be indispensable.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

We are.

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) Look, I think that the, in the last week there's been a massive misreading of the Spanish election. This was a tight election always, and what happened in the last two days is Aznar's party entirely mishandled the terrorism problem, blaming it on ETA, refusing to postpone the elections because they thought they would get a sympathy vote. When it became clear that this was an Islamic group, it brought about two things, it reminded people that Aznar ran a very authoritarian administration, and secondly, and most importantly, 90 percent of Spaniards opposed the war in Iraq, it reminded them that they had opposed the war in Iraq. This was not appeasement in the face of terror and it's insulting to Spain to say that. This is a country that's battled terrorism admirably and courageously for 30 years while we were trading arms for hostages. So I think the net effect of this will actually be to bring Europe and the United States closer. If the president takes the opportunity.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

If, if he takes it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) And Spain may not even withdraw the troops if indeed there is a new UN resolution.

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) I would be willing to bet a little bit of money that Spain will actually not end up withdrawing.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

I'm willing you to bet you my career.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) That's a big bet, Senator Biden.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

If we in fact go, if we go to a high commissioner or some version of that, Spain will not withdraw their troops. Look, there's going to be a new date we're going to talk about. It's going to be 6/30/04. What do we do on the 30th of June, 2004? And this administration has no idea yet. And that is tragic. The president has to be decisive. He has to make a decision.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) What should he do right now?

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

What he should do right now is be sitting down with our allies including the Perm Five, they're not all our allies, and saying this is gonna be the follow-on entity to Bremer. It's going to be a UN phase. We're kind of going from Clark Kent to Superman here. We want to get our, right now we have the CPA, it actually has international help in there, Jeremy Greenstock, other people, serious people. Now we're gonna go to a super embassy with an American ambassador to a total American face making decisions telling the new government by the way you have to let women vote. Give me a break. This is crazy. This is crazy.

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) We tried this once didn't we, a large embassy, lots of troops on the ground and it was called South Vietnam. I mean, Senator Biden is exactly right. We should be trying to create some kind of UN entity with, headed by Brahimi if we are lucky, to be the adviser.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

Exactly.

FAREED ZAKARIA

To take Bremer's role because you have to have somebody who can negotiate among the locals.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

They will come in.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Do you agree can that?

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

Oh, absolutely. I've been saying that ...

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

He's been saying that for a year and a half.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

I've been saying that for a year and a half. But the fact is we are where we are and here's what must happen very quickly. The UN role must be clearly, quickly defined and they must have authority for some decision-making here and be part of this effort and get out in front. There are things they can't do which they know that and they've said that but unless you get that international legitimate body in there ahead of the parade, then I fear that we will see things unravel in Iraq and in fact, a civil war break out.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) George, George, you're shaking, I've never seen you enthusiastic about the UN before.

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) Well, I'm not. I remember that in 1995 the worst massacre in postwar European history occurred in Srebrenica while Dutch UN troops sat down, wrote, and let it happen.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

Watched it. Let it happen.

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) We cannot entrust serious matters to the UN ...

FAREED ZAKARIA

(Off Camera) But George, nobody is advocating security, nobody is asking that security be handed over to the UN, that's not the point. The point is politically, you have to have someone, the model we're looking at is Afghanistan. The UN was in charge of the politics. We were in charge of the security and, frankly, we screwed up. The UN didn't in Afghanistan.

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) Senator Biden points to the moment of maximum danger and that is the 30th of June. If you're al Qaeda what are you looking at, well, the Americans will be in the midst of the biggest military redeployment in history. They will be transferring authority.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

Exactly.

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) What a fragile moment for another attack.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) And another fragile moment of course is election day this year and Senator Hagel, you brought up some of the dangers of this campaign, just a few minutes ago and a lot of other people have started to talk about this. Jim Hogan in "The Washington Post" earlier this week said that it's critically important for both campaigns to show that we're unified in the face of terror and Norm Ornstein, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is very interested in the issues of continuance of government in the face of attack, has actually drafted a pledge he wants the candidates to make and it goes like this. He says "We call on our party chairs and legislative leaders immediately to establish a clear framework and specific rules to ensure that our polling places are secure, that our elections will be held on time even in the face of an attack or other attempt to disrupt them, that clear procedures exist for every eventuality to ensure the continuity of the presidency and Congress during the period between the election and the inauguration and thereafter, and to ensure that Congress can reconstitute itself immediately after an attack. We want to reassure the American people and the terrorists that we are united in our resolve that nothing they do will disrupt American elections, American democracy or the American constitutional framework." Do you think the candidates should sign something like that?

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

I think, I think that is the worst idea in the world. Essentially acknowledging to the whole world we think we're going to be attacked before this happens, I think it is absolutely mindless with all due respect. I think what Kerry should say is what he said in his last speech, which is hey, look, we are not in disagreement about not yielding in Iraq. We are not in disagreement about not yielding to international terror. We may have slightly different ways of doing it. We are resolved. Both, if they want to make that statement that's great but to go and say by the way, we may have our election places blown up. We may ...

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) It is possible.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

It is possible, but that's like saying, you know, during the Cold War, by the way if the Soviets in fact launch a nuclear attack before our election we want to know, we want to guarantee we're all going to be, Chuck and I are going to the same bunker. There'll at least be two, this is nuts.

GEORGE WILL

(Off Camera) We held elections, we held elections all over this country on schedule in 1862 ...

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

That's right.

GEORGE WILL

... when one in eight Americans were out killing each other. We held elections on schedule no question about it in 1864, the bloodiest year in American history. The idea that we have to prepare in some way for the disruption of our elections, preposterous.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

It is an interesting document but irrelevant, and I have a high regard for Norm Ornstein.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

I do, too.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

Let's go back to what the basics are. The coin of the realm of leadership is trust and confidence and the American public hopefully will get there by November 2nd with one of these two leaders. One of these two leaders are going to have to govern, the point that we all understand, the point I made a couple minutes ago, the world is so complicated and so dangerous right now and it will not get any less complicated and any less dangerous over the next four years without the ability of this American president, whoever he is going to be, the legitimacy, the authority, the confidence, the trust, the world has to have in this leadership. American leadership, it is only American leadership that can forge these coalitions of common interest to deal with terrorism, not military alone, not economic alone, all the tools.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) But what do we have to fear ...

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

And that comes from the election.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) What do we have to fear in a strong debate on that?

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

No, that's not the point. That's not the point but what Kerry must do, it seems to me, is lay out where he thinks we should go. If he thinks we should not be in Iraq or if that was a mistake then John Kerry has to tell America and the world where he would go. What he would do differently over the next four years. Bush needs not to just defend where he's been, yes, he needs to defend his policy, elections, reelections are about the incumbent, not the challenger but George Bush needs to talk about how he is going to lead the country and the world over the next four years and specifically tailor that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) His campaign is saying that Senator Kerry is soft on defense. Weak on defense. Do you agree with that?

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

No, I don't and I, I tend to agree with John McCain on this. The facts just don't measure, the rhetoric, I mean, you can take a guy like John Kerry, who's been in the Senate for 19 years, and go through that voting record. You can take it with Biden, Hagel, any of us, and pick out different, different votes and then try to manufacture something around that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) But let me follow on that though with Senator Biden. Senator Kerry has had a particularly hard time defending his vote against authorizing $87 billion ...

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

He did.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) ... in Iraq. You voted for it. He said first I voted for it, then I voted against it. How can he justify voting against that $87 billion?

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

Well, I don't, I advised him to vote for it and I think by the way let's make clear what he meant when he voted for and against it. He didn't say it very well. I added an amendment saying it should be paid for out of the tax cut. He voted for that. So in a sense, had that passed he would have voted for the $87 billion. I think it's, look, I think what John Kerry ...

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Even though it didn't you still voted for it.

SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN

I absolutely still voted for it and I think John was dead wrong. I think John, but then again I wasn't in Iowa. You're looking at a guy that never made it through Iowa so maybe in fact, if in fact I was in Iowa I would have voted a different way. Look, what John Kerry has to do in my opinion and I'm a friend of John's, I'm a supporter of John's, and he's going to be mad I'm saying this now, John Kerry has to now just straightforwardly say, this is my policy. This is, forget Bush, forget everything else. This is where I stand on January the 21st when I take office, this is what I will do. And this is what I'll support between now and then. I know that's not good politics, George. You've forgotten more about presidential politics than I'm going to learn, but the fact of the matter is, it's good public policy. The nation needs it now. It comports with what Chuck is saying. We should lay out flat out where he is. I think he knows where he wants to go. I think he should say it now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) And on that note we have to end. Thank you all very much for a great discussion.

SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL

Thanks, George.

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