SHOW: INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY 10:00 AM EST
October 24, 2004 Sunday
HEADLINE: Nine Days to Go Before Election Day; Clinton Campaigns for Kerry
BYLINE: Kelly Wallace, Ed Henry, Suzanne Malveaux, Tony Harris, William Schneider, John Mercurio
GUESTS: Peter King, Charles Rangel, Mark Simone, Ian Rowe, Serena Torrey
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
WALLACE: For the presidential candidates every second counts in the nine days until the election. "U.S. News & World Report" called it the final cut and ads the last days will be critical. Here to discuss the race for the White House and the war on terror, two New York congressman. Republican Peter King, who happens to be wearing the red tie and Democratic Charles Rangel, wearing the blue tie. We've got the read and blue states covered. Congressmen, great to see you. Thanks for being here.
Congressman, let me begin with you. You look at the numbers. A majority of the polls showing the president's approval rating under 50 percent. His support in terms of the number of people who would reelect him under 50 percent. Those have to be danger signs for a president nine days out until the election.
REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: Well sure it's going to be a close campaign, but also every poll-almost every poll shows the president with a solid two or three point lead. I think what it shows is that the American people are divided, but they have not bought into John Kerry and they are going back to President Bush.
There was also a number of polls that do have the president over 50 in the approval rating. So, I think he's very well situated for the last nine days of the toughest campaign we've ever seen.
WALLACE: And Congressman, picking up on that you see the numbers. A majority think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Have problems with the economy, but yet they haven't in an overwhelming way backed John Kerry. Is there a problem there for the senator.
REP CHARLES RANGEL, (D) NEW YORK: No I don't think so. I really think we are doing extremely well. I think that people have difficulties being critical of he president doing a time of war. But I really think when they see how we've outstretched our young men and women in the war that they can't win, when they take a look at the economy and they really see-and I don't know how to say it myself the incompetency of the president.
I think the president has been an embarrassment to the United States. I think that we've lost friends around the world and I think that people just don't want to talk about it. But I feel an overwhelming sense that they're going to come out and reject this presidency.
WALLACE: But let me just point out to you congressmen, the "Newsweek" poll, and this is something we've seen in several weeks, who can better handle terrorism and home security? President Bush 55 percent, Senator Kerry 37 percent. Almost a 20 point lead. Isn't that going to be a problem for John Kerry and decide if people go into that voting booth and decide terrorism is the key issue and give the nod to President Bush.
RANGEL: I would say that those people who support this war would certainly be going that way since the president started this war. But there are so many Americans that believe that these were the people that were responsible for 9/11, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, that there was a connection.
But more and more Republicans and indeed, members of the cabinet are shattering the myth that we got the right guy. And more and more it looks like if we're got to bomb anyone it should have been the Saudis.
KING: Listen after all the polls, after all the attacks the fact is by overwhelming by 15, 20 points the people support President Bush on leadership on the war against terrorism, on integrity, on stick to your position. And key gut issue is the American people are with President Bush and that's what John Kerry can't overcome.
WALLACE: Let me ask you this. We're seeing attacks and counter attacks. But Vice President Dick Cheney said something yesterday. He said that had John Kerry been president he said the Soviet Union might not have fallen, a nuclear armed Saddam Hussein could be in control of the Persian Gulf and the United states might have ceded its national defense to the United Nations. Do you agree with that.
KING: Yes. I'll tell you why.
WALLACE: It's not...
KING: No, it isn't personal. John Kerry has been saying for the last eight months that President has made this country unsafe. That certainly could be crossing the line. The fact is that John Kerry voted against every one of the weapons systems that Ronald Reagan used to defeat the Soviet Union. He attacked Ronald Reagan as having an immoral administration back in 1988. Now he admits that President Reagan's policies won the Cold War. John Kerry voted against those policies.
He also voted against the Gulf War in 1991 where we had a worldwide coalition. So yes, Saddam Hussein would still be in Kuwait if it was up to John Kerry.
WALLACE: You know the Democrats have said the vice president, even when his defense secretary voted against some of those same weapons systems.. But isn't this...
KING: That was after the Cold War. That was after the Cold war, not before.
WALLACE: Right. Is there some sort of crossing the line here?
KING: I think if anything has been crossed it has been, Charlie, and his friends Michael Moore with the personal attacks they made on President which were unconscionable and immoral.
WALLACE: You know congressman the Democrats are accusing the Republicans of using quote, "scare tactics." But Republicans are using-calling Democrats-accusing Democrats of scare tactics as well when it comes to the draft. Something I know you have talked a great deal abut. They say the president has made it absolutely clear there will be no draft and yet Senator Kerry and Democrats keep talking about it to try and scare people into voting against the president. What do you say to that?
RANGEL: I don't talk about it. As a matter of fact, Republicans are so afraid of my bill that they bought it up without debate, without-and it was a controversial issue just to kill it because-they didn't send it to committee. But the truth of the matter is that if the president continues to embark on this war theory where Iran and North Korea, all depending on officials, have said that we need 40,000 or 50,000 troops.
We have a draft now. They are retaining people that should be discharged. They're having our reservists, which are half of the forces that we have in Iraq now, reservists and National Guard, going there two and three times. They are paying up to $80,000 to a high school graduate to entice them to stay and they're still not reaching the numbers.
WALLACE: Let me ask. Congressman, you've just returned from Iraq. You talked with members of the National Guard from New York. Are they concerned? Are they concerned about the extent of their service, about quote, "a back door draft?"
KING: No. I made a point to meet with as many National Guard and reservists from New York as I could. I'm telling you the morale is high, whether it's an African-American from Bedford Stuyvesant, whether it was a white guy from Long Island...
WALLACE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) no matter what, despite the problems on the ground and the language...
KING: Because the war is going well and they are proud of that. They resent the treatment they're getting from the media. They resent the fact that John Kerry by saying it's the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time is actually keeping the Iraqis on the ground from cooperating with the United States.
The American troops are professionals. They want a volunteer Army. They're doing a great job. They're very proud of what they're doing. Moral is very high and this talk of a draft is a classic scare tactic by the Democrats. There will be no draft.
WALLACE: Let me switch gears. We have one final topic, African Americans. Senator Kerry will have Former President Bill Clinton out there in Philadelphia tomorrow to try and rally the Democratic base. But Congressman you've seen this study. The Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies saying 18 percent of African Americans might vote for President Bush this time around. That's double the support of 2000. Is this a problem for John Kerry.?
RANGEL: It's not a problem at all. I really think that George Bush is going to be the biggest incentive to get minority and middle class people out to vote. He has frightened the death out of us in terms of the war, the economy and his inability to articulate the direction in which he wants this great country to go. If we didn't have George Bush we may be in trouble with Kerry, but George Bush is the biggest thing we've got going.
KING: How is he? You're in reality. The polls are showing that twice as many African Americans are going to vote for George Bush this time as the last time. That's why they have to bring Bill Clinton into Philadelphia to bring out the African American vote because they are so concerned that the African Americans in largest numbers are going to vote for George Bush and this is really going to hurt them especially in places like Michigan where the president (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
RANGEL: We've had an explosion in African American registration, volunteers...
RANGEL: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...if we get those numbers.
KING: Charlie, you're in denial. You're in denial, Charlie.
RANGEL: I can tell you this, with these polls the younger people have got the cell phones. The poor don't have their telephones. And believe me. I've been around this country. I am amazed at the increase...
KING: Cell phones are going to vote for George Bush because they're making good money and they realize (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
WALLACE: All right. Well, we will only know on one day, right election day?
RANGEL: That's right.
KING: I can tell you now. Charlie is in denial.
WALLACE: I have a prediction here. The red states will be red. The blue states will be blue.
KING: No surprise.
WALLACE: No surprise there. Congressman Peter King, Congressman Charles Rangel, thanks for being here...
KING: Thank you.
RANGEL: Good to be here with you.
WALLACE: ...in New York.. We really appreciate it.
Coming up next conservative columnist Ann Coulter got a less than warm welcome during a recent speech at the University of Arizona and we've got the video.
And later, this week's "Late Night Laughs."
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT