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In the Crossfire

McAuliffe: Good reason to blame the messenger?

(CNN) Terry McAuliffe, the head of the Democratic Party, came out blazing against the Bush administration this past weekend, charging it of using the war on terrorism for political advantage and lacking the team to restore economic confidence. Was the Democratic National Committee chair on target or shooting blanks? Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and Republican strategist Ed Rogers step into the "Crossfire" with hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala to discuss whether he's a suitable mouthpiece for the Democratic party.

CARLSON: I want you to answer this. Now, sort of the unspoken thing, out of politeness we never bring up on "Crossfire" is this --here you have Terry McAuliffe beating up on the president for being irresponsible. The deep irony is Terry McAuliffe has been investigated four times by federal investigators, as you know, for financial misdeeds. This is a man who profited in the millions.

FENN: (He was) investigated, not charged with anything, not convicted of anything. He made a lot of money...

CARLSON: Look me straight in the eye and say you don't see any irony at all. Terry McAuliffe, of all people, seriously, getting up there and saying that the president is some sort of financial criminal, really.

FENN: Listen, you've got a president who will not let the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] documents be public.

CARLSON: Well, you're not answering the question.

FENN: Well, no, no, this is what he said in his speech. You have got a vice president who will not let folks into what happened with Halliburton. You have got a situation now where the confidence level in this administration is the lowest that it's ever been.

CARLSON: Couldn't you find a better spokesman for that message than Terry McAuliffe, seriously?

FENN: Well, we have a lot of spokespeople for that message.

BEGALA: I'll stipulate that former President Bush is a man of integrity. You know, he had very much the same deal as Terry McAuliffe. The chairman of Global Crossings, a man named Lod Cook, former chairman of Arco, major businessman, the chairman of the Ronald Reagan Library, no Democrat he, President Bush, Sr. gave a speech for him.

Instead of paying him in cash, as usual, he paid him in stock, which is Bush's choice, which is fine. The stock went up through the roof. Bush cashed out and made millions just the same way Terry McAuliffe did. Does that mean our former President Bush lacks integrity?

ROGERS: Terry McAuliffe is an absolute poster child for the insider dealing and sweetheart deals that took place in the '90s.

BEGALA: Why is that different from former President Bush?

ROGERS: Terry McAuliffe getting up and lecturing the rest of the world about business ethics is just an absolute farce. And CNN, no serious journalist, Tucker, should be a part of anything like that. And it's ridiculous and you shouldn't be a part of that.

CARLSON: Well, I can tell you none of us, Paul nor I, has benefited from it.

ROGERS: I say that more out of jealousy than I do anger. But, I mean, nonetheless, there it is.




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