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CNN Crossfire - Transcript

Location: Unknown



October 12, 2004 Tuesday

HEADLINE: Knockout Blow Likely in Third Presidential Debate?

GUESTS: Ed Pastor, John Shadegg

BYLINE: Tucker Carlson, Paul Begala, Wolf Blitzer



CARLSON: Welcome back.

We're talking about tomorrow night's third and final debate between President Bush and challenger John Kerry. It takes place here at ASU, Arizona State University, in Tempe. Can either man land a knockout punch?

In the CROSSFIRE to debate it, two Arizona congressmen, Democrat Ed Pastor, Republican John Shadegg.

BEGALA: Gentlemen, first, thanks for having us in your beautiful state. It's just gorgeous.

REP. JOHN SHADEGG ®, ARIZONA: We're glad to have you here.

REP. ED PASTOR (D), ARIZONA: Welcome to Tempe, Arizona.


BEGALA: It's great.

Now, let me begin with you, Congressman Shadegg.


BEGALA: A new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll asked voters about domestic issues, which will be the topic of the debate tomorrow night. Here is who they prefer on all of the important domestic issues.

On the environment, they prefer John Kerry by 29 points, health care, Kerry by 19, the deficit, the deficit, Kerry by 13. Medicare, Kerry wins by 15, stem cell research by 20. And education, the president's signature domestic issue, John Kerry is preferred by 7 percent. He's won before the debate has begun, hasn't he?

SHADEGG: Paul, you know that you can shape the debate results by the frame of the question. If that were a valid poll, then this race wouldn't be as close as it is. You know this is a down-to-the-wire race.


SHADEGG: These two candidates are in it all the way. And I just think that those numbers, which I looked at earlier...

BEGALA: So you think-you're accusing the Gallup organization-because some left-wing people have done this. Now the right is accusing Gallup of having a partisan agenda here or doing a bad job?

SHADEGG: I just think that the numbers you just recited are not believable. They don't match up with any poll that is out there.


BEGALA: They track every-well, we can argue about polls. But you're not worried that your man is at a disadvantage on domestic issues?

SHADEGG: Absolutely not. I think he has had a great agenda. He's in fact done a great deal for education, more than any other president in recent times.

He's done a great deal to get an economy going that was slow when he got into office.


BEGALA: Going down.


SHADEGG: Going well.


SHADEGG: I think he's in fact in a great position going into this debate.

CARLSON: Congressman Pastor, we almost never raise theological issues here on CROSSFIRE, but I am going to have to in the wake of this quote from the vice presidential candidate, John Edwards.

Yesterday, at an event, Edwards learned that actor Christopher Reeve had died. This is what he told the crowd-quote-"When John Kerry is president," said John Edwards-quote-"When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again. That's what we can do in America."

And I guess my question to you, Congressman, is, will faith- healing be a part of the Kerry administration?


CARLSON: Will he heal the sick, the lame and the blind? And, if so, why have Medicare?


PASTOR: Well, it's not about faith healing.

What it is, is about serious science using stem cell research, so that we can begin dealing with the illnesses that we have. As you know, Christopher Reeve and a lot of people in his situation believe that the solution is-the answer is in stem cell research. And what we're trying to tell you is, get it right. Get it for the diabetics. Get it for the people who have Parkinson's.


CARLSON: Let me just ask you this, then. Leaving aside even the debate and the merits of the debate about stem cell research, what sort of person, upon hearing the news that a man has died, Christopher Reeve has died, would take that news almost instantaneously and convert it into a vulgar political pitch, as John Edwards did?

When Kerry is elected, he said, we'll heal people like Christopher Reeve. He won't be in a wheelchair. He will walk again. What sort of person would say something like that, I wonder?

PASTOR: Well, the message was that we have a different proposal to America. We will deal with science and we'll bring cures to many illnesses because we'll deal with stem cell research.


SHADEGG: This is not about science.

PASTOR: And I think that's...


SHADEGG: It's not about science.

BEGALA: Go ahead, Congressman Shadegg.

SHADEGG: This is about money. It's not about science. The reality is that embryonic stem cells can be used by any research university or scientist in America right now. This is about money. And it's about what...


SHADEGG: ... question of whether or not we take taxpayer dollars...

BEGALA: I understand.

SHADEGG: ... contributed by people who genuinely believe that to use those embryonic stem cells would be immoral and use...


BEGALA: You're using my tax dollars to finance a war I think is immoral, Congressman.


PASTOR: The reality is that most Americans, as the polls will show, are willing to let science deal with the stem cell research.


PASTOR: And what you want to do is say, our faith doesn't let us do it.


PASTOR: And you're allowing a lot of people who are ill not to be cured.


CARLSON: Congressman, are you saying that if John Kerry is elected, are you saying, if John Kerry is elected, that people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of their wheelchairs and walk? That's the claim he made yesterday.

PASTOR: I will tell you that people who have an illness like diabetes, Parkinson's and spinal problems that with Kerry allowing research to go forward with science, that we will bring cures. That's the issue.


BEGALA: We are not going to resolve the stem cell debate here. Let's move on to another health care issue.


SHADEGG: It's using taxpayer money that people object to.


PASTOR: ... a taxpayer wants to have that science research.


SHADEGG: Taxpayers don't want their money used for that purpose.

BEGALA: Guys, I'm going to have to stop on the stem cells, because I want to cover something else...


BEGALA: ... that is going to be very important to both of your constituents.

In the 2000 debate, George W. Bush was asked about reimporting American-made drugs back from Canada, where they are cheaper. He said that he would look into it. He kind of supported it. He has blocked it. In fact, you, Congressman Shadegg, putting your constituents ahead of your party, voted with the Democrats to allow prescription drugs to be reimported. Why doesn't President Bush share your view on this?

SHADEGG: I think this is an evolving issue in America.

BEGALA: Bush is wrong, isn't he?

SHADEGG: And I think we're moving towards it.


BEGALA: Come on, say it. Be a man. Be strong. Isn't he?


SHADEGG: He talked about that in the last debate.

BEGALA: He lied, didn't he?


SHADEGG: No, he did not lie, Paul.

BEGALA: He said he was open to it, when he's been killing it for four years.

SHADEGG: No, no, he has not been killing it. We haven't been able to get it out of Congress.

BEGALA: Why is that?


SHADEGG: It has not passed the United States Senate.

BEGALA: Why is that? Because of the Democrats?

SHADEGG: It's because of heavy lobbying against doing it in order...


BEGALA: By George W. Bush.


SHADEGG: No, not by George W. Bush.

BEGALA: President Bush has been killing...

SHADEGG: That's dead wrong.

BEGALA: ... the rights of your constituents...


SHADEGG: This is an evolving on which the president signaled he was open to moving in that direction. He talked about it just in the debate the other night.


CARLSON: Congressman Pastor...


CARLSON: A lot has been said about the Patriot Act and how it curtails our civil liberties.

PASTOR: Right.

CARLSON: And our ability to express ourselves clearly as Americans.

PASTOR: Right.

CARLSON: Sinclair Broadcasting Group is running a documentary next week that a lot of Democrats don't like. They think it's unfair to John Kerry. Sinclair has said Kerry can rebut, whatever. But they don't like it. They think it's too right-wing or anti-Kerry.


CARLSON: Eighteen U.S. senators, all Democrats, have complained to the federal government and tried to get this documentary yanked off the air. Tell me you don't see this as a clear assault on free speech, using the power of the federal government to keep something off television. You can't support that.

PASTOR: If Sinclair believed in fairness, if Sinclair said, we need to give the American public an unbiased point of view of two positions, what they ought to do is show "Fahrenheit 9/11."


PASTOR: They ought to show that and put it on there.



PASTOR: Give me a break.


PASTOR: ... Michael Moore, "Fahrenheit 9/11."


PASTOR: That is fairness.

CARLSON: Hold on, Congressman.


SHADEGG: So "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a balanced debate?


PASTOR: No. It will balance-it will balance the film that Sinclair has now.


CARLSON: This is sort of a deeper question and I hope you can address it seriously. Do you think...

PASTOR: All my answers are serious.


CARLSON: I have trouble telling. I have trouble telling.

PASTOR: They're all serious.

CARLSON: Do you think that simply because you consider a program on television unfair that the federal government ought to yank it off the air? Is that...


PASTOR: For a long time, we had a fairness doctrine.

CARLSON: We don't now.

PASTOR: What is happening now, Sinclair, Fox, they tilt so much to the right that the American public, in making their decision, does not have unbiased news. CNN...


PASTOR: CNN probably has the best...


BEGALA: Right-wing congressmen and senators tried to block CBS and succeeded in blocking CBS from airing a movie about President Reagan. I didn't hear you standing up for free speech then.

SHADEGG: It wasn't the government that blocked it.


BEGALA: Of course it was, right-wing congressmen and...


SHADEGG: Absolutely not.

It was them in their private capacities as leaders of the community. It was public sentiment. It wasn't the government.


CARLSON: Gentlemen, I'm afraid that I'm going to have to cut you off. We have a commercial break, speaking of commerce and free speech and where they intersect.


CARLSON: When we return, we'll face the "Rapid Fire"-rather, our guests will.

Right after the break, you will be able to get a flu vaccine this year, won't you? Wolf Blitzer will tell you if so.

We'll be right back.


BEGALA: We're back on the beautiful campus of Arizona State University, where the Sun Devils are cheering for both of their candidates.

It is "Rapid Fire" time here on the CROSSFIRE, where our questions and answers fly even faster than President Bush can ship jobs overseas.

Our guests, two of Arizona's fine congressmen, Democrat Ed Pastor and Republican John Shadegg.

CARLSON: Congressman Pastor, the Kerry campaign says that, contrary to public opinion, we're not in a war on terror. Do you think we're in a war on terror?

PASTOR: We are in a war on terror. And we're going to win it. John Kerry has plan. And once it's won, we're going to be a lot safer.


CARLSON: Well, you should tell him that we're involved in it.

BEGALA: Congressman Shadegg, by 61 to 35 percent, Americans believe that President Bush has been under too much influence of big business. Can you tell me one time he has ever stood up to big business?

SHADEGG: There you go again, taking those poll data.

BEGALA: One time. One time.

SHADEGG: He stood up to big business on his child tax cuts, his



SHADEGG: On health care reform. He stood up to big business on a whole series of issues.


BEGALA: What big business...


BEGALA: ... health care?

SHADEGG: What he doesn't do, Paul, is say, I have a plan. I want John Kerry to sometimes say something more than, I have a plan. I would like to hear what's in that plan. And I don't ever hear it.

CARLSON: Now, Congressman Pastor, since it is domestic policy debate, abortion may come up.


CARLSON: John Kerry's position, stated position on it is, abortion is the taking of a human life, but it ought to be allowed with no restrictions. Does that make sense? That seem like a pretty cruel position to you?

PASTOR: No, no. Kerry says he'll obey the law. And the law of the land is, you can't have an abortion in the tri-semester.


CARLSON: No, that's not the law of the land.

PASTOR: And so Kerry says, I don't want to impose my faith on somebody else. The law of the land allows a woman to have an abortion, Roe V. Wade. And that's what he's going to follow. He's going to obey the law.

BEGALA: Congressman Shadegg, does it make any moral sense for President Bush to say that embryonic stem cell research is the taking of a life, but then I am going to fund it in some limited way? That's morally incoherent, isn't it?

SHADEGG: What he said was that there were existing stem cells. We're not going to take any more lives.

BEGALA: But it's the taking of a life.

SHADEGG: We're not going to go any further in that area because taxpayers shouldn't be funding it.


SHADEGG: It's really important, Paul, to understand that that kind of research is going forward. This is not about whether you can do that research. It's really not about Ed Pastor's point of the science. It's about taking taxpayers' money from people who find it immoral.


BEGALA: That is going to have to be the last word.

Congressman John Shadegg of Arizona, Congressman Ed Pastor of Arizona as well, two fine congressmen from this beautiful state.


PASTOR: Thank you, Tucker.

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