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CNN Crossfire-Transcript

Location: Washington, DC



June 1, 2004 Tuesday

HEADLINE: Chances of Success For New Iraqi Government?

GUESTS: Loretta Sanchez, Peter King

BYLINE: Wolf Blitzer, James Carville, Tucker Carlson


With a new government about to take over, what's the chance of success for this new beginning in Iraq?



CARVILLE: Members of the Iraqi Governing Council made a bold move today. They dissolved themselves. It's so the new transitional government can take over and it is going to run things until the country can hold elections. At least that's the plan.

But what's all this have to do with the election here? We'll find out from our guests. In the CROSSFIRE, Peter King is a Republican congressman from the great state of New York. And Loretta Sanchez, one of my favorite people, is a Democrat from the equally great state of California.



CARLSON: Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

SANCHEZ: Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON: John Kerry is doing a pretty serious and I think pretty admirable thing over the next week or so. He's going to be explaining his foreign policy views in a series of speeches. He gave one today in Florida.


SANCHEZ: Yes. I heard you called it long.

CARLSON: It was quite long. His speeches are very long, as you know, and quite boring, but sort of interesting. And he gave one last Thursday in Seattle.

And I want to read just a short section of it here. Actually, we may even have it up on tape. And I want you to close your eyes and tell me if you can decide who this is.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must ensure that lawless states and terrorists will not be armed with weapons of mass destruction. This is the single gravest threat to our security. If such an attack appears imminent, as commander in chief, I will do whatever is necessary to stop it. And, as commander in chief, I will never cede our security to anyone.


CARLSON: Whew, that was long. I was nodding off right in the middle, and you probably were, too. But maybe you listened enough to know this is...

SANCHEZ: Well, I like John Kerry.

CARLSON: ... almost exactly what George W. Bush is saying. He is saying, in plain English, sort of plain English, I will act unilaterally without our allies, if need be. I will declare preemptive war. How is this different from Bush?

SANCHEZ: Well, first of all, Bush thought it was an imminent threat and there was nothing there. So he has-he misjudged what was going on.


SANCHEZ: There's the biggest difference, the ability to understand and to connect the dots correctly, or to be led down the wrong path, like Chalabi and all these other people have been doing


CARLSON: Wait. Wait. John Kerry not only voted for the war, but he said at the time-quote-"This is a vote for war." He knew what he was voting for and he believed, based on the same evidence Bush had, that the threat was imminent. So I'm wondering, philosophically, what is the difference between the two. I honestly don't see it.

SANCHEZ: I think there's a big difference-philosophically, there's a big difference.

CARLSON: On this question of preemptive American action.

SANCHEZ: There's a big difference there.

First of all, Kerry understands the international world a lot better than George Bush ever did or even does. He still has not been able to go to our allies and to ask them in the right way to come and to help us with Iraq, because it's-this Iraq issue is not just important to Americans. It's important to the entire world, to these nations that we need to get on board.


CARVILLE: Congressman, Tucker is obsessed with the-Kerry's bumper sticker for the campaign or what he's going through.

CARLSON: All 11 of them, yes, all 11.

CARVILLE: In today's-"Washington Post" this weekend, a grad student at the University of Illinois did a thesis. And I want to give some of the 23 different reasons that President Bush has come up with for why we went to war.

Now, what is more important that American security that John Kerry get a decent bumper sticker or that we have a good reason before we haul off and start a war in the world?


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Well, the fact is, we had many good reasons for going to war. This is why John Kerry voted for it and why Hillary Clinton voted for it, and why Bill Clinton said that he was convinced there were weapons of mass destruction, and why Al Gore said there were.

No, I think-to get serious, I think the reason for going to war, among...

CARVILLE: There's 23 different ones every day.

KING: Right. There's any number of reasons you can have for doing something.

But the main one to me is to try to bring stability to an area which is one of the most unstable in the world. And unless we bring stability there, unless we secure Iraq, it is going to be very hard to win the war against terrorism.

CARVILLE: I have a follow-up question. As you know, sir, there were 236 U.N. inspectors for 90 days before this president kicked them out to start a war. By that time, do you think-and they said, tell us where these weapons are and they can't find any. By that time, don't you think the world had changed a little bit and somebody should have said, you know what, maybe we were wrong on this?

KING: No, because, in the post-9/11 world, you cannot give the presumption of the doubt to someone like Saddam Hussein, who admitted he had the weapons and refused to account for them. He could have accounted for them right up to March 20.


CARVILLE: We had 236 U.N. inspectors. We said


KING: It doesn't matter. They were in there for years before they even knew he had weapons the first time. They-Blix himself, when he was with the IAEA, said there was no nuclear program. And then he found out there was later on. So the U.N. inspectors


CARLSON: Wait a minute. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Hans Blix is coming on a later show.


CARVILLE: More important to get the bumper sticker right than the war.


CARLSON: Congresswoman Sanchez, I want to read you a quote, a fascinating quote.

KING: Life isn't that simple, though. You of all should realize that.

CARLSON: The spokesman of the Nader campaign, the honorable Ralph Nader for president campaign, described a meeting between John Kerry and Ralph Nader that took place a couple of week ago in which they talked about Iraq. And the Kerry campaign denied that they talked about it, but apparently they did.

Here's what the spokesman for Nader said just today to "The Washington Times": "We met with Kerry and his staff last week and noticed afterward that his staff said Iraq was not discussed, when of course it was. What I make of that is that he's very insecure about the issue because he wants the peace vote and the war vote."

I thought that was a really thoughtful point. Kerry is trying to straddle right in the middle. Most Democrats want to pull out immediately. Kerry realizes that's irresponsible. Is he going to lose the so-called peace vote, the loony left vote, do you think, by not coming out for a pullout?

SANCHEZ: First of all, I want to correct you. Most Democrats don't want to pull out. Most Democrats would like to see a stable Iraq.


CARLSON: Actually, every single-I would never presume to speak for Democrats.

SANCHEZ: Now, I'm one of those...


CARLSON: So I'm just saying, every poll suggests that the majority of the Democrats want to pull out within the next six months.

SANCHEZ: Well, yes, if we can stabilize that country.

How unfair, what a moral obligation we have to have walked across the line with our guns open against this regime and these people and then to pull out and to leave it to the buzzards of that area. I mean, how terrible for us to do that. We have got to stabilize that country. And that's what I believe Democrats want to see. They want to see stability.

CARLSON: Well, that's the Bush position, certainly.


SANCHEZ: That is not the Bush position, because he doesn't know how to do it. He doesn't have enough troops.


CARLSON: I know. He's dumb and he's very evil. But let me just ask you this question.




CARLSON: No, he's very evil.


CARLSON: Let me ask you this, Congresswoman Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: He doesn't have a plan. He doesn't have enough troops. He's surprised?



CARLSON: But there are many Democrats, there are many Democrats, according to every poll-it's undeniable-who think we ought to pull out now. Isn't Kerry going to lose their vote?



CARVILLE: Congressman, President Bush was asked-y'all's hero was asked at a press conference about a month ago had he made any mistakes and he said, no, not any he could think of. His approval rate is probably 43 percent now. Are 57 percent of American people idiots? Has this president-can you think of one mistake this president's made, like him? Do you think he really believes that he has made no mistakes?

KING: The only mistake he makes is taking the press seriously. No, listen


CARVILLE: He takes himself awfully seriously.


KING: Hold on.

Harry Truman in 1952 had an approval rating of 22 percent. You say he was a bad president? No. He had the guts to make tough decisions, which is what George Bush is doing. And in the long haul...

CARVILLE: So you don't think he's made a single mistake in office?

KING: Everyone make mistakes. We're all human beings.


CARVILLE: No, he says he hasn't.

KING: He didn't say that.



KING: Listen, he's not going to give them the satisfaction.

CARVILLE: Has you ever made a mistake?

KING: Being with you, but other than that.



CARVILLE: All right. OK.

KING: No, listen, no, the fact is, of course he-everybody makes mistakes.

CARVILLE: That's the worst thing you've done in your life?

KING: Bill Clinton made mistakes. George Bush makes mistakes.

CARVILLE: I agree with you.

KING: We all make them.

CARVILLE: But, no, Bush said he never made any.

KING: He didn't say that. He said, he'll think of one.


CARVILLE: Well, has he thought of one yet?


KING: The fact is, why don't we get serious about this discussion.

Of course, he wants to stabilize Iraq. And he did the right thing in going in there, because, in the post-9/11 world, we cannot afford to be giving dictators the benefit of the doubt in that part of the world. And the fact is, he's going the right direction.


KING: He has the guts to stick with it. And he's not giving into the polls. That's what different between him and other presidents, who did watch the polls.


CARVILLE: So you think he's done this thing right. I just want to get-I want to get you on record. Do you think this occupation's been a success and he hasn't made any mistakes?

KING: It's been more right than wrong. And it's been as successful as most occupations can be, when you're in a nation of 23 million people governed by a dictator for 35 years. Of course he's done-we've done a very good job. Every school, every hospital, water supply plants, and we're on the road to democracy.



CARLSON: Now, Congressman Sanchez, Nancy Pelosi, your leader, the leader of House Democrats...

SANCHEZ: Great leader. By the way, Nancy Pelosi is a great leader.

CARLSON: And, actually, in some ways, a very nice person, but really without argument an extremist. She's come out I think company out of the closet as an extremist in the last couple of weeks.


CARLSON: The other day, she described Bush as not only responsible for the deaths...

SANCHEZ: Incompetent.

CARLSON: ... of servicemen in Iraq, but someone with no knowledge, no competence, no idea what he was doing, complete overstatement.


CARLSON: But here's the-you can applaud it, but...

SANCHEZ: Incompetent.


SANCHEZ: Let's take a look.


CARLSON: Please, James.

The "Hill" newspaper right now ran a piece this morning: "Despite her vigorous travel schedule, Congresswoman Pelosi has steered clear of setting foot in many of the swing districts that determine who controls the House in November." In other words, she's so extreme that a lot of middle-of-the-road sensible Democrats don't want her on the campaign trail with them. What does that tell you?

SANCHEZ: That's not true.

CARLSON: This is a lie?

SANCHEZ: What Nancy Pelosi has done, in a very smart way, is to understand where she can pick up the money to compete against the big pockets of the Republicans.


KING: Ah, it's money. It's all money.

SANCHEZ: And that happens to be California and Chicago.

CARVILLE: Bush doesn't-she was wrong to say Bush has no judgment. He has horrible judgment.


KING: You are so wrong.


SANCHEZ: Excuse me. Excuse me.


SANCHEZ: Excuse me. Nancy Pelosi was in conservative Orange County last week.


CARLSON: Nobody can hear.


CARLSON: Hold on. I'm sorry.

KING: And we started


CARLSON: We are going to have to go to commercial break because no one will be quiet.

Up next, it's "Rapid Fire>" We'll ask our guests about another national looming national security threat.

And after a quick break, the U.S. Justice Department says it has got the goods on dirty bomb suspect Jose Padilla, where he went, who he talked to and what he had planned to do in the United States.

We'll be right back.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, stunning new accusations against a detained United States citizen. The Justice Department says Jose Padilla was a well-trained al Qaeda soldier whose plan to target America involved much more than building a so-called dirty bomb.

A new interim Iraqi president is elected, but that hasn't stopped the bombings and the deaths.

And a year and a half after Laci Peterson disappeared, the murder trial of her husband, Scott, begins with opening statements.

Those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARVILLE: Now it's time for "Rapid Fire." The question come on quickly. And today's topic, just what does a new start in Iraq mean for politics in the U.S.?

In the CROSSFIRE, Republican Congressman Peter King from New York and Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez from California.

CARLSON: Congresswoman Sanchez, for months, Democrats in the House and Senate have been implying that there was some sort of right- wing conspiracy behind the decision to allow relatives of Osama bin Laden to leave the country right after 9/11. They've been pushing this.

Well, it turns out, as of last week, we discovered the person who gave the order to allow this to happen, former counterterrorism czar Dick Clarke. Democrats dropped the issue immediately. Doesn't this show that the inquiries, the line of inquiry Democrats are pushing are just purely partisan, designed to hurt the White House?

SANCHEZ: Not at all. I think we're still asking, where are those Saudi Arabia families? What happened with Osama bin Laden? We're still asking, where's Osama bin Laden?

CARVILLE: Congressman, you said-what kind of letter grade would you give the U.S. occupation in terms of its success right now?

KING: At least a B. When you consider what they're up against and what they've done, every hospital, every school, I would say, when it's looked back on by history, they say it was a solid job. More could be done.


CARVILLE: Solid job, well planned.

KING: As well planned as any war can be, absolutely.

CARLSON: Congresswoman, the chief fund raiser for the Democratic Party compares to the president to Adolf Hitler. The head of your party in the...

SANCHEZ: The chief fund raiser for the Democratic Party?


CARLSON: The biggest fund raiser for Democratic causes in the United States, George Soros, compared the president to Hitler. Nancy Pelosi, your leader, accuses him of being responsible for the deaths of servicemen in Iraq. You see no extremism on the left?

SANCHEZ: No, I said Nancy Pelosi said that he was incompetent.

CARLSON: No, she said he was responsible for the deaths.

SANCHEZ: And that our troops are dying because we have no plan out there.


CARLSON: You don't see any extremism on the left?

SANCHEZ: That is not an extreme comment, the one that Nancy made.

CARVILLE: Do you see-Congressman, you're a Republican from-do you see any extremism on the right or is it's only the left that has extremists?

KING: There's always been extremists. During the Clinton administration, I spoke out against extremists. I wish you would do the same now.


CARVILLE: I'll speak out against any extremists.


KING: I think the name-calling really goes beyond the pale when it comes to national defense. This is why I never joined those attacks on Bill Clinton.

CARVILLE: So we should never question Bush's policy and we should never question the competence of our leaders?


KING: No. If you're capable, you should do it in an intelligent way. If you're not, then you go over the top.


CARLSON: Congresswoman Sanchez, do you see the distinction between name-calling and analysis or even attacks on a person's policy?

SANCHEZ: Absolutely. And that's why I think Nancy said this president is incompetent. She spoke about his ability...



SANCHEZ: About his ability to do the job or not to do the job. She didn't say, I don't like him. She didn't say



CARLSON: She just called him a moron. But, no, no, that's not a personal attack.

SANCHEZ: He doesn't part his hair right. He's fat. He's running around on his wife. She didn't say any of that.


SANCHEZ: She's says he can't do his job.

CARLSON: OK, Congresswoman Sanchez, Congressman King, thank you both very much. We appreciate it.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

KING: It's always a pleasure.


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