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CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer - Transcript

Location: Unknown



October 31, 2004 Sunday

HEADLINE: Interview With Andy Card; Interview With John Miller, Peter Bergen

BYLINE: Wolf Blitzer, Frank Buckley, Elaine Quijano, Peter Bergen

GUESTS: Andy Card, Richard Holbrooke, John Miller, Leon Panetta, John Podesta, Christie Todd Whitman, Ken Duberstein, Laurence Tribe, Barry Richard, Al Sharpton, Peter King



BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

What were the decisive moments of the presidential campaign? How must the candidates use the dwindling campaign hours they have left?

Here in New York, joining us, Republican Congressman and Bush supporter Peter King. And in the key battleground state of Ohio, Kerry supporter, former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton.

Gentlemen, thanks very much for joining us.

Peter King, I'll start with you. You're a New Yorker. When you saw this Osama bin Laden videotape mocking the president as he was making these statements sitting there with that gold robe, as a New Yorker and as an American, your blood must be boiling.

REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Oh, it really did. And I think all of us as Americans should be united on this, but especially New Yorkers, because we saw so many of our friends, neighbors, constituents who were killed and murdered that day.

And to see him gloating on that and making cheap political shots I thought was absolutely disgraceful. And I think it's important that all of us, Americans, New Yorkers in particular, stand together against bin Laden.

BLITZER: Do you think, though, Osama bin Laden was weighing in, in favor of one of the presidential candidates?

KING: I don't think so. I mean, I'm sure he doesn't want George Bush reelected, but at the same time, you know, let's face it, we're Americans. I'm not going to let Osama bin Laden affect this election.

All I would say, though, is, I found it ironic that he was using a Michael Moore talking point in attacking President Bush.

But no, I'm not going to say anything about John Kerry on this. This is-you know, we're Americans.

BLITZER: What do you say, Reverend Sharpton? He was referring to Osama bin Laden making mention of the fact that the president was reading "My Pet Goat" just when those twin towers were going down.

REV. AL SHARPTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I agree with Congressman King, I think this is something all of us can be united on. It was very, very repulsive. I think it was despicable that, three days before an election, we'd have to see a man responsible for the shedding of innocent blood, and all of us that live in New York were traumatized by that.

I think that any politics on this I think would be something less than what we should do. We should certainly not let someone of his kind of person, his milieu affect American politics. And I think that clearly, I don't think he supports a candidate, because I think that he probably knows, if John Kerry was elected, he would be captured. That's my thinking, and I think that he just wanted to goad the American public. And I hope all of us were offended by that.

BLITZER: All right. Let's move on and talk about some of the issues in this campaign.

I want to play a quick excerpt of what the president has been saying lately in going after Senator Kerry. Listen to this.


BUSH: During the last 20 years, in key moments of challenge and decision for America, Senator Kerry has chosen the position of weakness and inaction.


BLITZER: Those are tough words, Reverend Sharpton, but they seem to be resonating with a lot of Americans. When you take a look at the polls, when it comes to the war on terror, they think the president is better equipped to deal with that war than John Kerry is.

SHARPTON: Well, I think, if you look at the fact that the president took the war on terror from those that attacked us to those who did not, I don't see how anyone can logically say that.

When you look at the fact that we now know, A, that there were no weapons of mass destruction, B, there was not even the capacity to make them in Iraq, why didn't we finish the mission in Afghanistan? And we now know that Osama bin Laden is alive and well and literally mocking the families of his victims.

So I don't know how anyone could say George Bush is better in that area. The evidence clearly, overwhelmingly speaks to the opposite of that.

BLITZER: Congressman?

KING: The fact is, the overwhelming majority of the American people do believe that President Bush is better in the war against terrorism.

And he's right about John Kerry. Going back to the 1980s, he voted against the entire Reagan build-up which won the Cold War. In 1991, when there was a full international coalition, he voted against going into Iraq. And in 2003, he did vote to go to war against Iraq, but then, when he thought things started to look politically dangerous, he changed his mind.

As far as the weapons of mass destruction, Al Sharpton knows that even Bill Clinton said, after the ground war was over, that he had the exact same intelligence that George Bush did. Al Gore said in 2002 that he saw the intelligence showing that Saddam Hussein had the weapons.

BLITZER: All right.

KING: So it's really wrong, after the fact, to be criticizing President Bush.

SHARPTON: May I respond to that?

BLITZER: Go ahead.

SHARPTON: First of all, Bill Clinton didn't invade Iraq. So, if he had the same intelligence, he certainly didn't respond the same way. So I think that's an unfair point.

Second, I think John Kerry voted for the war when he, like most Americans, felt we were in imminent danger and the weapons were there. When it was obvious it was not, he, like anyone that would make an intelligent decision, would go where the facts lie.

The only mistake John Kerry made on Iraq is he believed George Bush. And I think it's kind of a jaded argument to say, "Dummy, you should have known I was misleading you all along."

KING: Actually, that's where you're wrong. He was not misleading, because he said the exact same thing that Bill Clinton did. The fact is, Bill Clinton did attack Iraq in 1998. And you forget, something happened between 1998 and 2003, and that's the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th.

And that's why John Kerry said in 2002 and in 2003 that it was his real fear that Saddam Hussein would give weapons to terrorist groups. The whole world changed after September 11th. George Bush knew that. John Kerry knew it for a while. But then, when Howard Dean ran against him, he changed his mind. And that's why...

SHARPTON: But, Congressman, first of all, Bill Clinton did not, as George Bush did, have a unilateral attack on Iraq, stayed there, violate the wishes of many around the world, even some of our former allies. You can't compare what George Bush and Bill Clinton did.

Second of all, the whole world did change after September 11th, which is why we should have gone after those responsible for September 11th, rather than going on a misadventure against people that didn't directly attack us. They were bad guys, but they were not the ones guilty of the attack. And the ones guilty of the attack are cutting videos three days before our national election.

KING: Al, that's what's wrong with the John Kerry-Al Sharpton view of the world. The fact is, it's not just Afghanistan. It's the entire Middle East and Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, and Bush understands that.

And that's why he went after Saddam Hussein. That's why the overwhelming majority of the American people believe he is doing the right thing as far as the war against terrorism. SHARPTON: But we'll see Tuesday what the overwhelming majority of the American people believe. That's your projection. I think most Americans want to see those that attacked us captured. And I think most Americans will vote in that spirit on Tuesday because many of us will not forget this man killed 3,000 innocent people and is still at large.

KING: Al, right, and the fact is he's being deposed. The fact is that the entire Taliban is deposed.

SHARPTON: The fact that who's being deposed?

KING: The fact is Saddam Hussein and bin Laden. Bin Laden was driven from Afghanistan. He lost his power base. And now, rather than being able to attack the United States, he's sitting behind a curtain somewhere and sending out taped messages.

And one of the reasons he can't attack us is because of the Patriot Act. And people like John Kerry want to repeal it.

BLITZER: All right.

KING: But again, as far as the...

SHARPTON: Congressman, Saddam Hussein is being deposed. Bin Laden is cutting videos. That does not make me feel secure.

KING: And that's all we can do. Right. And exactly-and under Bill Clinton, he was attacking the United States, and on 9/11 he attacked the United States. Now all he can do now is cut videos. And that's the difference.

SHARPTON: Well, we hope that's all he can do. The fact that the president told us he would go get bin Laden-that was his remarks. When three years later he has not gotten bin Laden, he has not kept that promise. He's not kept that commitment. And I think we should not feel secure when he so clearly can't do that.

KING: Al, the fact is there are 10,000 forces going after him today. He is keeping his commitment to go after him. But if you think the entire war against terrorism, you and John Kerry, think is just getting bin Laden...

SHARPTON: No, no, George Bush said it. Congressman King, John Kerry did not get on television and promise the American people bin Laden. Al Sharpton didn't. George Bush got on television and promised bin Laden. He has not delivered that.


SHARPTON: Maybe tomorrow you'll get him. We need John Kerry. We need someone that's decisive and understands this.

BLITZER: All right. Gentlemen, hold on.

Al Sharpton, we're almost out of time. Give me your prediction. How many electoral votes -- 270 needed to be elected president-how many will John Kerry get?

SHARPTON: I think John Kerry will go way over on the electoral votes. I think it will be close on the popular votes. But I think when you get the young new voters in, it's going to be a surprising result. And I think that President Bush will soundly be defeated.

BLITZER: Will President Bush do better in the African-American community this time than he did four years ago, when he got less than 10 percent of that vote?

SHARPTON: I don't think he'll do much better, nowhere near the 18 percent. I think he may do marginally better only because I think he's been able to project Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

But when you look at some Republicans like in Congressman King's home state and mine that get 25 percent of the vote, Bloomberg, Pataki, I think he'll fall far short of that and have an embarrassing number.

BLITZER: How many electoral votes will George W. Bush get?

KING: I think he'll get over 300.

And he's going to get a considerable part of the African-American vote because minority homeownership is higher now under President Bush than it's ever been under any previous president and also because the American people realize George Bush understands the war against terrorism and the Kerry-Sharpton team does not.

BLITZER: Peter King, Al Sharpton, as usual, thanks to both of you for joining us.

We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

BLITZER: Here are the results of our poll Web question of the week. Take a look at the results. Remember, though, this is not a scientific poll.

That's all the time we have today. I'm Wolf Blitzer in New York. Thanks for joining us.

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