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WNBC-TV

NEWS FORUM

SHOW: News Forum 6:30 AM EST LOCAL

October 31, 2004 Sunday

LENGTH: 5007 words

HEADLINE: New York congressmen Charles Rangel and Peter King discuss presidential politics

ANCHORS: GABE PRESSMAN

BODY:

GABE PRESSMAN, host:

President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry are slugging it out in the final hours of the presidential campaign of 2004, Bush saying Kerry has made wild charges about missing explosives in Iraq, and Kerry accusing the president of incompetence in handling the postwar situation there.

As US troops and insurgents continue to battle each other, the presidential candidates are visiting the so-called battleground states, trying to eke out every last vote. On issues ranging from protecting America against terrorism to health care, jobs, never have polls shown a presidential election any tighter. The prelude to Election Day presents a confused picture. And as the people of this metropolis and all Americans prepare to cast their votes, two veteran congressmen from the New York area square off here today as surrogates for their candidates.

Announcer: From Studio 6B in Rockefeller Center, this is a presentation from News Channel 4, Gabe Pressman's NEWS FORUM. Now your host, senior correspondent Gabe Pressman.

PRESSMAN: Good morning. Two members of Congress-Democrat Charles Rangel, Republican Peter King-are with us today. Gentlemen, welcome.

Representative PETER KING (Republican, New York): Good to be here.

Representative CHARLES RANGEL (Democrat, New York): Good to be back.

PRESSMAN: The election is just two days away. The long campaign is almost over. What case do you think your man has made, Congressman King?

Rep. KING: I think the main case is that he's consistent in the war on terrorism; that we are making progress; that John Kerry would not provide steady leadership; that he has no real root beliefs, as far as foreign policy is concerned; that President Bush has done a tremendous job since September 11, he's going to continue that. And it would be really dangerous to turn the country over to John Kerry in these troubled times.

PRESSMAN: And what about John Kerry, Congressman Rangel? What case has he made?

Rep. RANGEL: I think President Bush has made most of his case. He got us in a war that we shouldn't be involved in. There was no weapons of mass destruction, no connection with 9/11 or al-Qaeda. He's lost more jobs than any president since Herbert Hoover. He's given tax cuts to the rich and at the same time gone from a 5.6 surplus in trillions of dollars to a 2.6 deficit. I think that the president has proven that he has polarized this country in such a way that we have not seen in our history or at least since the Civil War.

PRESSMAN: There's been a surge in late voting. According to The Times recently, one-fifth of the presidential ballots, possibly, will be early voters. I meant-I said late voters; I meant in early voting.

Rep. KING: Right.

PRESSMAN: Do you think that's going to have a big impact?

Rep. KING: We'll have to wait and see. I saw a poll the other day that, of those early voters, it was 51-47 supporting President Bush. But I don't know, you know, again, what that makeup was. So this is really a phenomenon, I think, over the last-certainly the last two elections, this early voting. I think on Wednesday, November 3rd, all of us will be experts in showing what the early voting meant. I think it shows the intensity of the country. And I'd like to say I know this means George Bush is going to win-I don't know what it means other than people are more interested in this campaign than any other one.

PRESSMAN: And you, Congressman Rangel?

Rep. RANGEL: Well, like Peter calling it the intensity-no matter who wins this election, this president has so divided us, it's going to be so difficult to get us together, not as Democrats and Republicans, but just as Americans. But I think the sleeper to watch are the millions of people who registered for the first time to vote. They said that in the last election, only 47 percent of the people thought that that election was important. This time, it's over 70 percent of the people. And I cannot believe, nor do I want to, that those people who are making this special effort to register and to vote are not doing it because of their lack of satisfaction of the president of the United States.

Rep. KING: I think Charley hit it on when he said he doesn't want to believe it. What he doesn't want to believe is the reality that the American people are reacting to September 11th. We see it right here in New Jersey, a state that Al Gore carried by 15 points four years ago. Now, in all the polls, it's dead even. That shows the American people are so concerned with the issue of terrorism and they realize that President Bush is providing the leadership. That's where a lot of the intensity comes from. And also, you do have partisan Democrats who are out there.

Listen, there are real issues being debated. But to say that President Bush divided the country-four years ago, the country was divided as never before. And that was after eight years of Bill Clinton. So the fact is, we are a divided country, and I think the president is going to win. But I also think when we look at places like New Jersey and we see how close it is-and that was a state that the president didn't even campaign in-it shows the intensity of feeling that the people have.

PRESSMAN: Iraq, the disappearance of 380 tons of explosives. You were there recently, weren't you, Congressman King?

Rep. KING: Correct. I was there last week. Yeah.

PRESSMAN: Last week. How many days did you spend there?

Rep. KING: Just two.

PRESSMAN: Just two. And how do you feel about the president saying that Kerry has made wild charges, and Kerry saying on the contrary that the troops are doing a good job-a heroic job, he said-but our president is not doing his job, using this as an example, the fact of the disappearing explosives?

Rep. KING: I think the whole issue has been disgraceful, and I'll tell you why. First of all, even assuming this was true, this was 300 tons out of 400,000 tons-it's one-tenth of 1 percent. Having said that, there's no evidence at all that those weapons were missing after the US came in. In fact, most of the evidence is to the contrary.

But let's look at this. You have a UN bureaucrat-here's the UN, which was involved in a horrible food-for-oil scandal. You have a UN bureaucrat leaking a document to The New York Times and to CBS-CBS, which was caught guilty of using phony documents against President Bush a month ago-The New York Times putting that on page one, the story involving one-tenth of 1 percent of explosives, and John Kerry run with it...

PRESSMAN: I think it was ABC that actually had aired the pictures...

Rep. KING: Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no, no...

Rep. RANGEL: He's on a roll now.

Rep. KING: No, I'm saying that the document itself was-CBS was going to use this. The Sunday night before the election...

PRESSMAN: Oh, I see.

Rep. KING: ...they were going to drop this on President Bush the same way they tried to smear him last month with phony documents. Then you have John Kerry running with it when his own foreign policy advisers, Dick Holbrooke and Jamie Rubin, says no one knows what happened to those explosives. They could have been gone before the US troops came in. But even if it's true, one-tenth of 1 percent? We've destroyed 400,000 tons of explosives.

Rep. RANGEL: You know, it's absolutely amazing how, everything that negative happens on the Bush watch, there's some cockamamy explanation for it. I want to hear now why the FBI is picking on the president with the Halliburton corruption that has existed ever since they've been-you know, it wouldn't surprise me if the Halliburton contracts, which are given out without a bid, wasn't even a part of the war effort. And now the FBI is going after them.

Rep. KING: ...(Unintelligible).

PRESSMAN: Before we get into the Halliburton matter...

Rep. KING: But the-no, but, I mean, on the explosives, Gabe...

PRESSMAN: Yeah.

Rep. KING: ...the fact is, that to me it was disgraceful for John Kerry to take the word of a discredited UN bureaucrat and a discredited CBS News...

PRESSMAN: Well, what about...

Rep. KING: ...and question the commander in chief in time of war...

Rep. RANGEL: And commanding is how the president becomes the commander in chief...

PRESSMAN: But what...

Rep. KING: ...when his own foreign policy advisers say there's no evidence to back it up. It's disgraceful.

PRESSMAN: And what about the video that has surfaced...

Rep. KING: It shows he's unfit to be commander in chief.

PRESSMAN: ...the video that shows soldiers in late April opening the boxes of explosives? Did Saddam Hussein's forces take it away before the invasion? Did the American forces open it and then just leave it?

Rep. KING: Well, the reason it's almost impossible to believe that any large numbers could have been taken-it would've taken 80 truckloads to get that material out of there. And they would've had sophisticated hydraulic lifts so it didn't blow up. If-to get 80 truckloads out when the area was constantly being monitored by the US Air Force and there was so much military in the region makes it highly unlikely that that happened.

PRESSMAN: Congressman Rangel, what do you think it shows?

Rep. KING: Which is what Dick Holbrooke said.

Rep. RANGEL: That is telling you the president has so screwed up this pre-emptive strike in Iraq-he got us in this. It's not just this, it's not just the loss of our lives, it's the loss of tens of thousands of Iraqis, no plan to get out, not even-the secretary of Defense says he doesn't know whether we are creating more terrorists than we're killing. And he's 100 percent right. And so whether it's 380 tons of explosive, which Pete says is absolutely nothing, or the thousands of lives of Americans that's lost over there, or the fact that they now say that they need another 50,000 and they're retaining the people that they have there because registration fell down...

PRESSMAN: What about former Mayor Giuliani, about the explosives, saying, 'No matter how you try to blame it on the president,' Giuliani says, 'the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully'-Giuliani's words--'did they search carefully enough?' And when it isn't clear that they-he said that Mr. Bush wasn't willing to put blame on the troops when it isn't clear that they should be blamed.

Rep. RANGEL: I think that Giuliani would admit that that was a stupid remark in blaming the troops for the-passing over 380 tons of explosive. But the truth is that Giuliani than their hired gun. If it wasn't for his exemplary behavior during 9/11, he would've been one of the worst mayors we ever had in this city. And the only reason Giuliani looks so good is 'cause we couldn't even find the president, where he was, during 9/11. So I don't think anyone...

Rep. KING: Charlie, first of all, we knew exactly where President Bush was.

Rep. RANGEL: Where was he?

Rep. KING: He provided tremendous leadership. He was on Air Force One. I know Dick Clarke, your friend in Washington...

Rep. RANGEL: Oh.

Rep. KING: ...was the one who told him not to come back, and President Bush overruled the Secret Service and came back then. Everyone knows where he was.

Rep. RANGEL: Where was he now? Was he in Louisiana or where?

Rep. KING: Charlie, you know-this, again, shows these guys were all over the lot.

Rep. RANGEL: Get out of here.

Rep. KING: Listen, Charlie, you made no attempt...

Rep. RANGEL: You know that we didn't know where the president was.

Rep. KING: That is totally untrue. You guys...

Rep. RANGEL: Giuliani was the national leader.

Rep. KING: ...are rewriting history. He was on the spot, is where he was.

Rep. RANGEL: That's where he was.

Rep. KING: We also know that President Clinton never even came to New York after the first World Trade Center attack.

PRESSMAN: You've just been visiting the troops.

Rep. KING: Absolutely.

PRESSMAN: How do you feel about what Giuliani said about that the president shouldn't be blamed for this, that if anyone is to blame it's the troops?

Rep. KING: Well, first of all, let me say about the troops-I did visit the troops. Morale is high. What they are concerned about is the American media distorting the image back here, which is a total distortion. I made a point of visiting all the National Guard and Reserve troops from New York. Morale could not be higher among them. And what Rudy Giuliani was saying was, is that obviously you don't hold the president accountable for every step along the way. I'm sure when Charlie was in the Korean War and if things went wrong, they wouldn't say it was Harry Truman because there wasn't enough ammo here or because a convoy was attacked here.

Rep. RANGEL: General MacArthur checked with me every day...

Rep. KING: I know he did. Well, Charlie, no-listen, I would blame Charlie because Charlie has such responsibility. No, seriously, the point I'm making is they are all over the lot in their attacks on President Bush.

PRESSMAN: Did you swim across the Yalu River?

Rep. KING: It's too late in the game.

Rep. RANGEL: No, not across it.

Rep. KING: The point is, again, if we are talking about even, let's say, on the weapons, if you have 400,000 tons of weapons we know were destroyed and they are talking about a possible 300 when there's no real evidence to back it up-it's one-tenth of 1 percent-how can you say the plan didn't work?

PRESSMAN: Are you blaming the troops?

Rep. KING: I'm not blaming anyone. I think in war, and whether it's D-Day or whether it's Incheon or anywhere, there are always mistakes made. And to me, you look at the result. The end result is, we destroyed 400,000 tons of explosives.

Rep. RANGEL: But where are the 380 tons? That's all we want to know. Don't forget, the president's not responsible...

Rep. KING: Well, you know...

Rep. RANGEL: ...the military's not responsible...

Rep. KING: No...

Rep. RANGEL: But the bombs and the explosives that we're meeting, we don't know who has them over there.

Rep. KING: OK. Charlie...

Rep. RANGEL: And we're now in charge.

Rep. KING: Charlie, we do know where 400,000 tons are.

Rep. RANGEL: I'm talking about the 380 missing tons.

Rep. KING: Exactly. Exactly, which is one-tenth of 1 percent. Most of the evidence is it was taken out...

PRESSMAN: You said Giuliani's statement was what? What did you say? How did you characterize it?

Rep. RANGEL: That he doesn't know what he's talking about...

PRESSMAN: Do you agree?

Rep. RANGEL: ...and he made a mistake. He-if he had to swallow those words, he would. He doesn't know what he was talking about.

Rep. KING: No, the point...

Rep. RANGEL: That was not-the party's line is what he is saying, you know, that you can't the blame the troops. I mean, how would they know? They found 400 tons...

Rep. KING: Well, the point...

Rep. RANGEL: ...another 380 tons, more or less...

Rep. KING: But, Charlie, the point I'm making is, in every battle, in every war, there are mistakes made along the way. The fact is, the overall result was...

PRESSMAN: OK...

Rep. KING: ...it was successful.

PRESSMAN: Let's discuss some other issues...

Rep. KING: Right.

PRESSMAN: ...after this.

(Announcements)

PRESSMAN: Back here with congressmen King and Rangel.

A couple of other matters. Black turnout-how important is that going to be?

Rep. RANGEL: It's essential. I told Kerry that the black community wanted him to win more than he does. It's been frightening to believe that we could have four more years of the type of government that Bush...

PRESSMAN: But do you think that this is going to be vital to the outcome?

Rep. RANGEL: No question. Oh, hey, everyone agrees to that. It's the amount of turnout. And if we really get the maximum turnout, we got more than a squeak on our hands. We got really closer to a landslide. If all of the people that are eligible in the minority community register and come out and vote, we've won this one hands down.

PRESSMAN: You don't agree with that?

Rep. KING: Well, first of all, I would say the minority homeownership has never been higher than it's been under President Bush. We should put that on the table. But actually, I think it's interesting-and Charlie and I have had this discussion before-when you see recent polls showing President Bush doing twice as well among African-American voters this time as he did four years ago, and you take a place like Michigan, where all the polls are showing the race tightening, especially in places like Detroit, in the African-American area-so it's interesting to see. I don't pretend to be an expert on the African-American vote, but I won't be surprised if on Election Night we see the president doing a little bit better than Charlie Rangel thinks he's going to do.

Rep. RANGEL: You bet you're not an expert. I predict that he'll do twice as bad as he did the last time with the black vote.

PRESSMAN: Question-OK...

Rep. KING: Even though all polling is to the contrary.

PRESSMAN: Another question: intimidation. Is there intimidation going on now?

Rep. RANGEL: They told-the Justice Department's announced that they're sending 1,000 lawyers to the minority communities to protect the black voters. And the black communities say, 'Thank you, but no thanks. We don't need you here to help us.'

And just yesterday the Internal Revenue Service has threatened to take away the tax exemption of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People...

Rep. KING: Why?

Rep. RANGEL: Because Julian Bond, the chairman of the board, said uncomplimentary things about the Bush administration, and they said that's interfering with the election. It says what? If you're a civil rights leader and you're not for profit, don't knock the administration.

Rep. KING: If I could just comment on that as far as the-I guess there's two things. One is about the NAACP. Again, I'm not aware of the letter. I assume-Charlie said it went out-it went out. But I also know in recent years you've had Catholic religious organizations being threatened with IRS investigations because they were getting too involved in pro-life issues. So if you do have a tax-exempt foundation or organization, it is not uncommon, if you get at all involved in the periphery of politics, for complaints to be filed against you.

So-and as also as far as the intimidation, Charlie-you know, there's no evidence at all from the year 2000 that there was intimidation. And now you have the Justice Department saying, 'OK, we're going to send out protection to make sure there is none.' And you say that by sending out protection, they're intimidating you. So, to me, you can't have it both ways, Charlie, you can't...

Rep. RANGEL: You talking about Florida, there's no indication that they...

Rep. KING: No. The Civil Rights Commission, all those investigations they had-there was no evidence of intimidation.

Rep. RANGEL: They took people off of the rolls that should have been on the rolls, I think, even though...

Rep. KING: They also kept a lot of whites off of the-when the numbers came out...

Rep. RANGEL: Yeah, but at the end of the day...

Rep. KING: ...statistically, it was the same.

Rep. RANGEL: At the end of the day, it was the Democrats, it was those in minority communities. True, they knocked a lot of Jewish, older Jewish people off of...

Rep. KING: Yeah, they also knocked-Charlie...

Rep. RANGEL: But...

Rep. KING: ...there was no evidence, though, there was any discrimination whatsoever in doing that. In fact, even in all those counties in Florida, most of the problems they had, the elections boards were controlled by Democrats.

PRESSMAN: What about the 60,000 absentee ballots that reportedly are missing in Florida?

Rep. KING: I don't know. How about the absentee ballots going to the military in Pennsylvania that Governor Rendell won't allow an extension in time, which is going to deprive the military of the opportunity to vote? Again, on the 60,000 votes, let's look at it. I don't know. Because, unlike John Kerry, I don't go out and make charges which I don't know the answer to. And the fact is that I think in the last election, you can show that as many votes were lost on the Republican side as the Democratic side. And you see counties in Ohio right now, the Democratic counties, where there's more registered voters than there are people.

Rep. RANGEL: Well, I think that the Republicans have really gone to try to keep down the black vote. You're thinking it's terrific that the polls report that they may get 18 percent of it. That should be an insult to any president, that among any minority that they could only get 18.

Rep. KING: But...

Rep. RANGEL: And I'm suggesting that it will be less than a fraction of that.

Rep. KING: Well, I'm saying it's twice as much as it was four years ago despite the terrible charges...

Rep. RANGEL: I mean, I would-and it's not terrible charges, it's terrible performance.

Rep. KING: Oh, no, it's terrible charges...

Rep. RANGEL: Attacking a group on the eve of an election is not really to hurt the black group, it's to bring out the racism that's in the white group.

Rep. KING: Well, Charlie-no, there's no racism. Charlie, you take the NAACP. Four years ago...

Rep. RANGEL: You...

Rep. KING: ...they did ads in Texas implying that President Bush was responsible for the killing of that African-American. That was absolutely disgraceful. That went over the line. To me, that's racist.

PRESSMAN: So you're saying that the Bush campaign is playing the race card?

Rep. RANGEL: I'm saying they're playing it big time, because you would think that even if Julian Bond had gone over the line then-when you see the transcript in the paper, clearly he did not-but if you assume that he did, they would be very sensitive in not raising this on the even of the election.

Rep. KING: Which...

Rep. RANGEL: They thought about it and decided that they were going to do it on the eve of an election.

Rep. KING: OK, then, also you brought up before the FBI investigating Halliburton on the even of the election. Is that also part of a plot somehow to make a racial argument? The fact is, Charlie...

Rep. RANGEL: Has Halliburton been in trouble for so long...

Rep. KING: No. They got mostly...

Rep. RANGEL: And it's a whistle-blower in this particular case with Halliburton.

Rep. KING: The fact is-how are we going to Halliburton? he fact is they got their no-bid contracts under Bill Clinton, and that's the reality of it. But many of the...

Rep. RANGEL: Oh, Bill Clinton is responsible for the fraud of Halliburton.

Rep. KING: No. Not exactly. No. No. The fact is that Bill Clinton gave no-bid contracts to Halliburton continually in Bosnia and Haiti and Kosovo. That is the reality. There was no other company available. But going back to...

Rep. RANGEL: Well, then ...(unintelligible) still in for a long time.

Rep. KING: Charlie, here's-no. No, the issue of race is serious because the Democrats raise it now. Anytime something goes wrong, they say it's racism. If the Republicans don't respond...

Rep. RANGEL: That's not so.

Rep. KING: Yeah, sure, but you're saying...

Rep. RANGEL: In all the debates that we've had, I've never raised it.

Rep. KING: No, no, not you, I'm saying Democrat. No, you're saying that African-Americans were intentionally knocked off the ballot in Florida. It's a racial issue. I don't believe that, Charlie.

Rep. RANGEL: Oh, well, it is true. And he facts will be there.

Rep. KING: Before they ever-I mean, that's the worst type of race. No, they won't be there. It was duly investigated...

Rep. RANGEL: No-well...

Rep. KING: ...in the last election and it wasn't proven.

Rep. RANGEL: I promise you on this show I'll give you the report from the private investigator that Katherine Harris, now a member of Congress, a Republican-she gave them this charge to clean up the ballots. And at the end of the day, it was minorities that were cleaned up and Democrats that were cleaned up.

Rep. KING: No, it was actually a higher percentage of whites were knocked off the ballot than African-Americans.

Rep. RANGEL: Maybe a higher percentage, but the target was black voters.

Rep. KING: That is untrue...

Rep. RANGEL: People with similar names.

Rep. KING: Charlie, it's a terrible charge. And the Civil Rights Commission investigated-nothing was ever found to back that up at all.

Rep. RANGEL: I promise that I'll bring some of the...

PRESSMAN: So you say there's racism in this campaign, and you say there's not.

Rep. KING: Well, I'm saying it...

Rep. RANGEL: Oh, everyone knows that there is.

Rep. KING: Oh, no, I'm saying that the race card works both ways. And Democrats are constantly raising it, accusing the Republicans of being racist, and accusing them of taking policies and making them racist, which I think is unfair and untrue.

Rep. RANGEL: We don't say Republicans are racist...

PRESSMAN: OK.

Rep. RANGEL: ...because the moderate Republicans that we have in the House of Representatives are now being routed out of the party by Tom DeLay.

PRESSMAN: OK...

Rep. KING: Well, why don't we talk about Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, the highest-ranking African-American officials ever, are in this administration?

PRESSMAN: You are both surrogates-you for President Bush, in case people didn't notice it, and you for John Kerry, that Massachusetts senator. Comparing these two surrogates, the two other surrogates, Giuliani and Clinton-they both have been speaking out for their candidates-what do you see?

Rep. RANGEL: Well, actually, I think of both of them are not bringing in new voters, that they're energizing the base. Clinton probably can bring out some Republicans that wouldn't be voting because they hate him with such a vengeance.

PRESSMAN: What about you, Congressman King?

Rep. KING: Well, first of all, I like Bill Clinton.

PRESSMAN: Comparing...

Rep. KING: OK, comparing the two? I think the main-again, trying to be practical. The main purpose of having Rudy Giuliani is he reminds people of 9/11, he reminds of terrorism, and they're hoping that...

Rep. RANGEL: He sure does.

Rep. KING: And he reminds people of the job the president did in the war against terrorism and how important it is. And that's the real significance of having Rudy Giuliani, and Ed Koch by the way, campaigning in Florida for President Bush.

PRESSMAN: OK, let's come back and wrap this up with some thoughts about what's going to happen in the near future after this.

(Announcements)

PRESSMAN: Back again with congressmen Rangel and King.

There are some domestic issues we haven't even touched, like health care. What do you see as the difference between the candidates?

Rep. RANGEL: Well, the president wants small government and big tax cuts, and so, therefore, he wants the private-sector people to be able to save their own money and take care of their health care. He doesn't believe that the fathers of our Constitution wanted us to be responsible to help out in education and in health.

Kerry believes that a strong, productive work force should have access to health, and he believes in national health service for everybody.

PRESSMAN: What do you see as the difference, Congressman King?

Rep. KING: First of all, last year, we had the most significant reform in Medicare in the last 40 years, where the average senior citizen will have their drug costs go down by about 49 percent. On Long Island, for instance, 85,000 more people have access to Medicare, plus choice.

And Charlie mentioned education. This president has increased federal aide to education by more than 47 percent, more than the previous eight years. So we have a good record to run on and the president's making real inroads. That's why he's doing well in states like Wisconsin, New Mexico, states which he had lost the last time around, and right now he shows he's leading.

Rep. RANGEL: That's what I like about the president because he doesn't change his position at all. I hope the old folks that were depending on the prescription drug programs and the teachers that was depending on the money for Leave No Child Behind make the difference in this election and Bush goes down the tube on those issues.

Rep. KING: I think the parents of those students will see the extra money that's come. Like on Long Island alone, we've increased aid to disabled children by more than 100 percent and also on Title I by more than 60 percent.

PRESSMAN: Jobs?

Rep. RANGEL: Well, he's lost more jobs than any president since President Hoover. And the whole tax system is now geared that you give incentives and encouragement to people who send those jobs overseas. That's one of the reasons why we can't get flu vaccine. He's too young, he doesn't need it, but you and I need it. And now we got to negotiate with the Canadians and run around the world buying stuff when it was American firms that made more money manufacturing the stuff in Canada than in New York.

PRESSMAN: Jobs for the aging congressman from Long Island.

Rep. KING: (Laughing) Right. Yeah, I'm getting older by the day. Actually, President Bush inherited a recession. We lost almost half a million manufacturing jobs in the last year and a half of Bill Clinton's administration. The Nasdaq dropped 45 percent, stock market had its worst year in 20 years. In the last year, we picked up 1.9 million jobs; manufacturing is at its greatest rate in 20 years. Just the last several days we found the GDP for the third quarter has gone up again 3.7 percent, higher than it was for the second quarter. The economy is definitely on the way back despite the terror attacks of 9/11.

PRESSMAN: Very briefly-we have 30 seconds-a prediction on the outcome, Mr. King?

Rep. KING: It's going to be very tight. I think President Bush is going to win because he's made inroads in areas such as Wisconsin, New Mexico and Minnesota, which could even compensate for losing a state like Ohio or Pennsylvania.

PRESSMAN: Your prognostication?

Rep. RANGEL: It look-wow. I've never had one of those before. But I think it's not going to be a squeaker, that it's going to be a surprise, that Kerry's going to win with a substantial vote.

PRESSMAN: OK. Thank you very much, Congressman Rangel, Congressman King, for joining us this morning. I'll be back later with more on this critical election during our "Decision 2004" special program starting in a half-hour, at 7:30.

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