HEADLINE: Interview With Steve Forbes
GUESTS: Steve Forbes
BYLINE: Paula Zahn
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
special interests and lobbyists have no hooks into me. And that's why I think my campaign is catching on. I'm picking my pockets. I'm not picking the pockets of the taxpayers. And special interests have no interest in me because they know their gravy train is going to be derailed when I'm president of the United States.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: And welcome back.
That was Steve Forbes getting his two or three cents in during the debate.
I talked to him right after he stepped off the stage, and started by asking him about the latest controversy to dog Senator McCain. It appears the senator asked the FCC to act on a request on behalf of a TV station owner who also happens to be one of his supporters. I asked him if he was satisfied by Mr. McCain's defense of his actions.
FORBES: Well, I think the whole issue underscores why we need a true outsider in Washington who is not beholden in any way to the special interests and who also recognizes the way to deal with that cesspool in Washington, that swamp, and that is you can't reform it or legislate against it. You got to drain it. And that's why...
ZAHN: Do you think Mr. McCainare you saying that Mr. McCain is a hypocrite?
FORBES: No, I'm just saying that the system that we have is one that only an outsider's going to truly be able to change, and that begins with getting rid of this tax code and giving people a genuine tax cut. Half of the...
ZAHN: But let's go back to...
FORBES: Half of the lobbying...
ZAHN: ... Mr. McCain's actions. Was what he did...
FORBES: Let melet me just finish.
ZAHN: Was he appropriate in taking this action to push the FCC to make some kind of a decision?
FORBES: You ask John McCain on that. I just see it as part and parcel of why we need fundamental change in Washington. The point I was...
ZAHN: You brought up the issue of...
FORBES: ... going to makethe point I was going to make...
ZAHN: ... the tax cut...
FORBES: The point I was going to make is that half of the lobbying activity in Washington revolves around the tax code. You get rid of that, and half of the 67,000 lobbyists in Washington are going to have to find honest work. That is real reform.
ZAHN: The issue of tax cuts dominated part of the debate tonight, and Governor Bush came very close to making a "No new taxes" pledge. Were you reading his lips?
FORBES: Well, he made a pledge when he ran for governor in 1994 that he wouldn't raise the state sales tax, he wouldn't enact a statewide business tax. And yet a couple of years later, after he got in office, he violated both pledges. And his tax cut proposal is a lobbyist's dream. It keeps the IRS as we know it. It doesn't change any of the way taxes are done in Washington. It's very phased in over five to eight years. It doesn't do anything on capital gains. Why don't we get to the heart of it and get rid of it? And realists always say, "Well, it's unrealistic to do it." I think the American people ought to define what is realistic in Washington and not the other way around.
ZAHN: Are you surprised Senator McCain hasn't offered a tax cut proposal for everybody to chew on and analyze?
FORBES: Well, he's been showing, as they say, a little bit of leg on it. And apparently, it's going to be even smaller than what Governor Bush proposed. So I think it'sboth proposals look like they're going to be typical Washington proposals, just trimming around the edges. That's not going to work. We need to do real, genuine reform, starting by getting rid of this horrible code. And neither one seems to have the stomach to make that fight. I'll make that fight, and I'll win it.
ZAHN: I know that your campaigning hard, but if you are not successful and you do not get the nomination, I am told that you would entertain a possible appointment in a George Bush nomination if he gets elected. Is that true or not?
FORBES: I think the question should be is George Bush going to be on my short list for vice president because I am going to win this nomination, and I am going to win this election because I've got more bold, conservative ideas to help working Americans than all of the other campaigns put together.
ZAHN: OK, that issue came up during the debate tonight, and you were asked, if that is true, why are your ideas getting so little traction?
FORBES: Oh, I think they're getting real traction, if you come out and look at the crowds that I'm getting. People are very interested in learning more. And after the holidays, I think the American people, especially in New Hampshire and Iowa, are starting to really focus on this race. And that's why I'm optimistic.
ZAHN: Mr. Forbes, thanks for your time.
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