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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: DISCUSSION SENATORS LANDRIEU, GRAHAM

BODY:
RESIDENT, MALE

I felt all along during the democratic primaries that if Senator Edwards was a pro-life candidate I would think he should be running for president.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS

That was Willie Alls, Republican from Columbus, who is leaning towards President Bush this fall but he was impressed by John Edwards and now to debate that choice, we have Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina and Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana. And Senator Graham, you've actually faced down Senator Edwards in one of the biggest trials of the century. The impeachment trial of President Clinton.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM,

REPUBLICAN, SOUTH CAROLINA

Yeah, he won.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) You were on the prosecution. He was on the defense. But he was a strong opponent.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

Ah, yeah, he's a great guy, he's a good lawyer. Nice person. We grew up, we were born in the same town, same hospital. I was apparently in the right wing of the hospital. He was in the left wing of the hospital, but John is a very talented guy. People at home like him.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) What about as a vice presidential choice?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

Probably a good choice. He's not gonna win South Carolina, I don't think he really is going to win a southern state but he brings some energy, he helps to explain to us that John Kerry is not as boring as he appears.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) The question to Senator Landrieu, is he gonna carry the state of Louisiana. I know a lot of people in the Kerry campaign are putting out great hope for Louisiana this time around, but let me put up a little chart here. It shows the voting records. Kerry and Edwards versus Mary Landrieu. On the Bush tax cut, they were against it. You were for it in 2001. Prescription drug plan, they were against it, you were for it. Partial birth abortion ban they're against it, you're for it. Assault weapons ban, they're for it, you're against it. How do you sell that record in Louisiana?

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU, DEMOCRAT, LOUISIANA

Well, first of all, it's gonna be easy to sell these two gentlemen, who are new leaders for this country making our country stronger and safer and people know John Kerry and people are getting to know him even better, and people know John Edwards. He got standing ovations, both of these gentlemen as they come into our state to campaign and George the fact is is that people that people in America and in Louisiana are looking for new leadership for the country, they feel like they've been misled, let down, the priorities are in Iraq when people want their priorities right here building roads, schools and getting kids their education. And so that's what people in Louisiana care about.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) They may be looking for new leadership but the question is I guess in the south, are they looking for Liberal leadership and you put up those kinds of votes, and I can already hear the Bush/Cheney campaign. There they go again.

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU

Well, let me tell you, it is a good issue to raise but I think this label game has worked its way out. I mean, they tried to do that to me in Louisiana as well even with a record like that claiming, you know, labels, label, labels. People don't want labels. They want leadership and people in America are desperate for good, honest, credible leadership. People are anxious about the situation abroad and at home and when they look at the record of service of John Kerry compared to George Bush, when they look at the intelligence and the wherewithal of John Edwards compared with Dick Cheney, I frankly think our team has an excellent chance, and the polls indicate that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) The label game isn't gonna work?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

The label game is a result of how you behave. Call me a conservative.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) You're a conservative.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

Thank you very much. I am. I'm proud of it. I vote that way. John Edwards is the fourth most Liberal member of the Senate. John Kerry is, who is Liberal? Is there anybody in the Senate who will admit to being Liberal? There's nothing wrong with being an American Liberal. I want the tape from New York. I want to see the standing ovation they got in New York when Hollywood ...

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) What are you talking about there? Explain it for our viewers.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

I'm talking about the hate fest in New York where people who don't mind being called Liberal got up and ran President Bush into the ground and applauded these two gentlemen. I want that tape. And let's see people in Louisiana and South Carolina. Let's hear what was said in New York and let's look at the reactions of Edwards and Kerry and let's see if these people really are Liberal or if they got values based on the crowd in front of them.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Now, Senator Landrieu, he's talking about this Radio Music City Hall event where several stars got up, said some harsh things about President Bush. At the end of the event Senator Kerry got up and said these people represent the heart and soul of America. The Bush/Cheney campaign said this shows who John Kerry is.

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU

Well, I didn't see the tape, or wasn't there at the event, but I can tell you people all over America even Lindsey Republicans are disappointed in this administration. I can't tell you how many Republicans have come up to me and they're honest, you know, as most people are and they say, Senator, I didn't vote for you, I normally don't vote for Democrats, but I'm not voting for George Bush this time around. People are concerned. This report about what we just heard Senator Lott and Senator Feinstein, unanimous decision, there were no weapons of mass destruction. You know, there's great gaps of credibility. We're spending $120 billion in Iraq, and I can't get my coastline restored in Louisiana. I can't get money for highways. We're 140, you know, billion dollars, 140 million in Louisiana alone short on education. People are thinking what kind of president do we have? Does he care about us or does he care about his political poll numbers? That's what the question in American's minds are right now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) People are also questioning the vice president. I want to have you both now watch part of this focus group from Columbus, Ohio, on Friday night and get you to respond.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) I want to show you an exchange that President Bush and John Kerry had about John Edwards and then get you to respond.

REPORTER, MALE

How does he stack up against Dick Cheney?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES

Dick Cheney can be president. Next?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY,

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

He was right, that Dick Cheney was ready to take over on day one, and he did and he has been ever since, folks, and that's what we've got to change.

RESIDENT

Right on.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) So who won that exchange?

RESIDENT, FEMALE

I feel all along that Bush should have gotten wiser people to advise him.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Who here thinks that Vice President Cheney has been a good vice president for the president? No one?

RESIDENT

He's been in the background so much you really don't hear that much about the vice president.

RESIDENT

I almost feel like we really don't have one.

RESIDENT

All I hear about all the time is about Halliburton and his stuff with Halliburton. That's all you ever hear about.

RESIDENT

Also with Enron.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) So let me just have a show of hands here. How many here believe that President Bush in this reelection campaign should replace Vice President Cheney with another candidate? One, two, three, four, five, six seven, eight. Wow.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Eight out of ten. I got to tell you, that really opened my eyes up to this point but there's just zero chance, Senator Graham, that President Bush would ever consider dropping Vice President Cheney. I don't think he will in the end, but the vice president has become a liability, hasn't he?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

He has been a lightning rod for a lot of attacks. You know, people in my party beat on John Edwards for being a trial lawyer. As far as I know John made his money honestly. I used to represent people in courts in the south. So I wish we'd get off that. I think being a trial lawyer's ...

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) You're saying get off Halliburton. Is that what you're talking ...

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

Get off both of them. I think both of them are good men. Dick Cheney is not a crook. I'm glad he was vice president on September 11th, 2001. I'm glad he was in the White House when the president was in Florida. That's what this election is about. They're both good men. One is eminently more qualified to be the president than the other. That's what this is about. And to our friends in the focus group, you're great Americans, I hope you vote, vote your heart and vote your conscience but this president's gonna stay with a man who believes that can run the ship of state if he has to, if something happened to President Bush. Vice President Cheney may not be the most popular political figure but has been one of the best vice presidents in the history of the country and he will stay because he's the right guy at the right time, just like President Bush.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) George, I want to just take issue with this. I mean, Dick Cheney may be a fine man but his philosophy rooted in the old structure of how to protect this country has really put Americans in jeopardy.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) What does that mean?

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU

Well, he's still fighting the Cold War and you know, he's the one that led the country in many ways on this mission basically into Iraq based on faulty intelligence because he seems to perhaps have made up his mind before he got all the evidence in. We don't know that but that's what people are thinking. Now, our attacks are not going to come from sponsored governments, they're gonna come from terrorism groups and we better be putting our resources and our military and our time fighting terrorists where they are, not where they're not and not using our military inappropriately. That's what people are angry about and so Dick Cheney may be a fine man but he hasn't been a good leader and if that kind of experience that he's brought to the White House led us to where we are, then maybe we need someone like John Edwards who is an expert on terrorism, served in the Senate, and has more experience than Bush, Clinton and Reagan when they became president.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

Well, it's news to me that John Edwards is an expert on terrorism. He's thinking about going to Iraq. He should go to Iraq. I have been twice. You'll learn more and if you go that our troops really do listen to what we see over here. And if we lose this war, if we get out of Iraq prematurely, we'll have a death sentence for all moderate forces in the Arab world. And as to embracing the UN, we need help from the UN, but it's been a pathetic, anemic organization when it comes to regulating dictators. About intelligence information, by November the 28th, 2001 I met with the CIA in a sealed room in the Capitol Building. I was going to introduce a resolution that said if Saddam Hussein does not allow inspectors to come in after he kicked them out then that would be a grave threat to this country. Before I introduced that resolution I wanted to hear from the CIA, am I right in making that assessment? They showed me aluminum tubes. I can talk about it now, they took them out of the box, they brought it to the meeting and said Congressman Graham, these aluminum tubes were purchased by Iraq or attempted to be a purchase by Iraq, and we believe their purpose is to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon. I asked them, said let's play devil's advocate. Could they be used for anything else? They mentioned rocketry, but they said you wouldn't buy these tubes to build rockets and they also said that scientist agree with them. I left that meeting November the 28th, 29th, I guess, 2001, believing that Saddam Hussein was involved in procuring a nuclear weapon and if the president and the vice president were told anything like that you wouldn't want Saddam Hussein to stay in power 30 seconds.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) But if that's true let me ask you do the question I asked Senator Lott, do you now think your vote was the wrong vote given where the threat is and was at the time?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

My problem with the administration is that we should fire some people in the CIA. No, we should, my regret is that we let Saddam Hussein stay in power after the first Gulf War. My regret is that we spent 12 years of letting him thumb the nose at the UN. He gave every dictator in the world the belief that the UN was a joke. You know why Moammar Gadhafi gave up his weapons program? It had nothing to do with Afghanistan. It's because we went into Iraq and he got the message that he may be next. I wish we had not coddled this dictator as long as we had. He's been a threat to the region. He was funding suicide bombers. He's in a prison. He was in a palace and I'm proud that my country took him down along with coalition partners and we got a chance for democracy in Iraq. No regrets.

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU

(Off Camera) Senator Landrieu, you fold your hometown people that you would reconsider your vote.

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU

Well, I think there are many Senators that are considering the evidence that's now in and this unanimous decision both Democrats and Republicans saying that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, George, I have to think could I have gone to my state and said are you willing to spend $120 billion? Are you willing to sacrifice over a thousand lives, you know, thousands and thousands of soldiers wounded to basically take out a dictator that is no immediate threat to us at this time? Perhaps people have said, you know, Senator, we might want to do that but not right now. We might want to do that but in a different way but this administration really hyped the information, used poor judgment, now, it's true that they got bad information as well. But this administration must take responsibility. So I'm saying let's get a new team for America, a team we can trust that will look at information given to them in the right way and lead this country in the right direction. Internationally, abroad, with the help of the UN although I agree they're not always the greatest international agency in the world but with international help and make this economy stronger at home.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) And this debate will continue. Snort Landrieu, Senator Graham, thank you very much.

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