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The Spin Room: Which Presidential Candidate Has the Best Resume?Aired November 1, 2000 - 10:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From CNN Washington, to our Atlanta newsroom, and all over the United States, THE SPIN ROOM is open.
BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to resume night here in THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Bill Press with...
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Tucker Carlson. What do you want to see on your president's resume, apart from appealing extracurriculars and a good summer job or two? Would you like to see military experience, business experience?
PRESS: Sense of humor.
CARLSON: Sense of humor. Years in government, years out of government. Tell us.
PRESS: Good golf game.
CARLSON: Excellent golf game. That's not the most important think, as we've discovered. But tell us what you think by joining our online chat, cnn.com, e-mailing a comment or two to firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling us at 1-800-310-4CNN.
PRESS: All right. So, that's tonight's topic. Very timely, no?
What does it really take to be president of the United States? And tonight, in addition to all of your comments, of course, by phone, by e-mail and the chat room, we're going to have with us a presidential historian plus a political cartoonist. We're going to take a quick look at everybody's favorite U.S. Senate race, New York, of course.
CARLSON: Not everybody's.
PRESS: And we're going to get back to "The Spin of the Day." Plus, Jeanne Moos is going to show us her look at the rope lines.
Robert George is back in his favorite restaurant, that chichi restaurant in New York, where he is probably at this very minute working on his resume.
CARLSON: Let me correct that. Robert George is in a bar.
But first -- first, some background on what qualifications we want in a president. We go to the eminently qualified Joie Chen in Atlanta.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Ah, thanks.
PRESS: Hi, Joie.
CHEN: Thank you, guys. I don't know how qualified I am, but I'll try, I'll try.
PRESS: Oh, we think you are.
CHEN: OK, but I don't know when either of you last went looking for a job. Maybe it was very recently -- who knows? But I'm sure you remember stuffing your resume to make yourselves look good, better than you really are perhaps. So think about this: How much good is a resume in picking out a president?
There have been some great presidents with very thin resumes; some lousy presidents had very fat resumes. So who's to say who is really qualified for the job?
Now, we figured we'd go straight to the source for a little guidance here, and we got out the Constitution. Well, in an almanac, but it has the Constitution in it. And here it says, here it is, article II, section one here -- near the bottom for those of you who are studying for the pop quiz later.
This is all you have to be to be resident. You have to be 35 years old, which, for the moment, lets you out, Tucker; a resident of the United States for 14 years. I'm not sure that why that is, but 14 years. And born in the United States, born right here. Check, check, check. Both George W. Bush and Al Gore do qualify.
A side note for those of you who thought just about anybody could be president, there was some doubt about Chester Arthur's qualifications. His enemies said he wasn't born in Vermont, as he claimed, but across the border in Canada of all places and therefore should have been disqualified, although there are plenty people who seem to think that Canada is a state.
Well, back on the race at hand, while trying to remain quite gentlemanly, the candidates are dropping less and less little hints that the other guy is less qualified than Chester Arthur for a seat in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The presidency is really not just a popularity contest. If you want someone -- if you want someone who smiles and looks the other way while special interests have their way, then I'm not your guy.
(APPLAUSE) But if you want -- if you want someone who knows how to fight for your interests and has the experience to win those battles on your behalf, then I ask for your support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's got so much confidence he claimed he invented the Internet.
But if he was so smart, how come every Internet address begins with W!
Not only one W, but three W's.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Now, that ought to be a qualification, shouldn't it? I mean, you ought to be able to deliver the punch line.
Well, for more about what it takes to be the leader of the free world, our pop quiz now. Who's background includes an Ivy League education, a rough time in business, a short time in the governor's office, and whose unofficial resume suggests that he may have been a party animal and he might have been his political party's "enforcer"? We have just described here, in order, William Howard Taft, Yale 1888, second in his class, by the way. Harry Truman, his hat store -- didn't know he had a hat store -- it failed. Woodrow Wilson: He was governor of New Jersey for two years before he got elected president. Two years! And I think we all kind of know about John F. Kennedy's extracurricular activities.
Behind the scenes, LBJ, as it turns out, was one of the most effective, cajoling and ruthless Senate majority leaders ever. And that is the enforcer part of the program. Nobody but nobody dared to cross LBJ.
OK, guys, so admit it. Did you see the trick question coming here? It wasn't just one candidate. You probably thought it was just somebody we were talking about, oh, this campaign.
CARLSON: Well, I still can't get past the fact Chester Arthur was an illegal alien. I mean, that's just rewriting my whole understanding of American history right there.
CHEN: Did you know he was supposed to be born in Vermont?
PRESS: But you know, Joie...
CARLSON: No, actually, I didn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
PRESS: Joie, what your report seems to say is that nothing matters or everything matters. I mean...
CHEN: Well, you know, how much is supposed to matter? How qualified do you really have to be to be president? Yesterday, we heard from Patti Smith saying she wants an honest man. I mean, I think Tucker's probably an honest guy, Bill. You're probably an honest guy. Maybe you guys should run.
PRESS: I am. Well, I'm thinking about it actually. You know, I mean, Pat Buchanan did it and so Tucker and I have been thinking about it for the next time around.
CARLSON: Joie, we're Patti Smith voters.
PRESS: Yes, I think...
CHEN: Vote for Patti Smith.
PRESS: I mean, seriously, do you think actually, Tucker or Joie, how many people really are aware of the credentials of either of these two major candidates, Bush or Gore?
PRESS: I mean, do they know where they went to school or what their service was or what their real experience is?
CARLSON: Very, very few. And I think there's actually a lot of evidence that the whole experience attack doesn't work very well. I mean, keep in mind that Carter tried this against, of course, Ronald Reagan, and before that Ford tried it against Carter. Bush tried it against Clinton, and now Gore is trying it against the second Bush. And it doesn't get traction.
PRESS: Yes, plus Joie mentioned Harry Truman, for example. Harry Truman is one of my favorite presidents, and everybody thought Harry Truman was going to be a disaster because he had this hat store in Kansas City, right?
PRESS: Yes, and he was part the political machine in Kansas City. He was considered a political hack. He wasn't an outstanding senator. Roosevelt picks him as vice president, Roosevelt dies, and suddenly Harry is the man. And Harry was a great president.
CHEN: And it goes back to who do you -- is it really important that you be tremendously smart guy to be president of the United States? I mean, after all, you know, a smart guy only gets you so far. I think about the smartest kid in my class. I'm not sure I wanted him to be president, and I don't even know where he is now. He's probably running some CIA operation somewhere.
PRESS: Well, I have to tell you, in my lifetime, I think Bill Clinton is the smartest person I've seen in the White House, and we have learned that smart people could make some dumb mistakes, and learn from them, I guess, according to "Esquire."
But Tucker and Joie, one of the things I read, "The Wall Street Journal" says today that none of this stuff matters, that what really matters is the market. Since 1897, the market has been predicting who the next president is going to be, and they've been right 22 out of 25 times, just the way the Dow is going before the election.
According to "The Wall Street Journal," the way the Dow this year Al Gore is going to be the next president.
CARLSON: What an interesting perspective for "The Wall Street Journal" to have. I mean...
PRESS: So let the -- let the free market work. There it is.
CARLSON: So says "The Wall Street Journal." I bet "Barron's" agrees.
PRESS: My 401(k) loves it, and maybe the voters will. I'll don't know. We'll find out.
CHEN: Your 401(k) was probably happier a few months ago. I mean...
PRESS: It was, but it's still -- it's still happy.
CHEN: Well, I'm sure.
CARLSON: Well, in a few minutes, we're going to discuss the finer points of presidential qualifications with historian Richard Shenkman.
PRESS: But first, there has been a lot more important news today. We get -- want to bring you up-to-date on today's top stories, and for that let's go back to Joie Chen in Atlanta -- Joie.
CHEN: All right, Bill, this is the news you're going to see in your newspaper tomorrow morning. The next try at stopping Middle East violence is going to pick up again tomorrow in Washington. Palestinian negotiators are coming in to have their say. Israel's negotiators are at the State Department and at the White House today.
Talking or not, though, the clashes continue. Gunfire, rocks and fire bombs once again near Jerusalem and in the West Bank. Three Israeli soldiers, six Palestinians died.
The tally up to this point, five weeks of fighting here, at least 175 people killed. Almost all of them have been Palestinian.
Our folks reporting to us from Yemen and the Justice Department both tell us that they have been told that an explosive known as C-4 was used to blow that gaping hole in the USS Cole. So why is that important? Well, groups like those behind accused terror leader Osama bin Laden supposedly have access to this military-type explosive, although it is also made in places, we note, like Austria, Iran and the United States.
Investigators today got a first reading from the black box recordings from the Singapore Airlines 006. The airline also gave grieving families an initial $25,000 in assistance money. The plane's wreckage was found on the wrong runway, which begs the question did the aircraft roar down the wrong tarmac or did it land on it during the crash: 80 people died.
Happy birthday to the White House today. Over the years, the icon of our nation has been burned in a war, shot at by a gunman, and crashed into by a plane. It still looks pretty good, though, especially for its age: It is now 200 years old.
With 81 days before he has to vacate the premises, Bill Clinton today presided over the re-enactment of the arrival of another lame duck. That was John Adams, who lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for just four months before Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson sent him packing.
For the record, Tucker and Bill, Adams biographer, David McCullough, who was at today's ceremony today, he says that election 1800 was one of the most vicious campaigns in all of history. So you see how we have progressed so much in 200 years, right?
CARLSON: They say that every year.
PRESS: Thanks, Joie. Thanks very much.
OK, let's get back to qualifications for the president. And Tucker, before we get to tonight's first guest, e-mails have been coming in and we love the e-mails, we love the chat room, we love phone calls.
It's time, here's from Cassandra, I love it. It's time the Nader supporters wake up to real world. While I respect their ideals, the race isn't about ideals right now. They can speak their conscience at a later time, not now when every vote matters. So says Cassandra.
CARLSON: Bill, here are Nader supporters, here's the real world. Here's hemp. It's a barrier. I think that's a problem.
Here's the most interesting e-mail I've seen in a long time. It's from Richard in Woodhaven, Michigan. He says, polls, polls, polls, why bother to vote when each polling company insists that the few hundred people they poll are accurately thinking for all America. Makes you want to lie if you are ever polled. Now, I've long suspected people do lie when they are polled. And I think Richard from Woodhaven, Michigan, may be one of them. He doesn't include his last name. If you're watching, Richard, send in your name and number, I'd like to talk to you.
PRESS: I am convinced people lie to the pollsters and I almost believe that they should, not to tell people to lie, but there are too many polls. They are all over the place. And you know what? They are a nuisance when they call you at home at night. I don't know who would spend 30 minutes talking to them rather than reading a good book.
CARLSON: For guy in Michigan? Can you imagine the weight of each Michigan voter in a poll? They practically define a poll. Richard you could be tilting the whole election.
PRESS: He's not the only one to lie to them.
All right, now, let's go to first guest. Joining us for our conversation about resumes, historian, presidential historian, Richard Shenkman, author of "The Presidential Ambition: How the Presidents Gained Power, Kept Power and Got Things Done." Mr. Shenkman joins us from Seattle tonight.
Richard Shenkman, you studied the presidents across the board. I've read your book. Just tell us, first of all, what do you think, if you can, if that list exists, what are the absolutely essential elements to be president of the United States?
RICHARD SHENKMAN, HISTORIAN: Well, you know what we're all looking for is a guy going to be as wise as Abe Lincoln, as shrewd and visionary as Franklin Roosevelt, as charismatic and can deliver a speech like John F. Kennedy, as optimistic as Ronald Reagan, and on top of all that, we want him to be like George Washington, meaning we want them to preside, to be above politics.
PRESS: That's easy to find. Why isn't that person running is the question. How close do we ever get?
SHENKMAN: Well, we never get as close as George Washington. We're only going to have one George Washington in our history. He's the only president unanimously elected, 69 votes. And that's because he was already the father of his country and we were giving him the office. Except for Gerald Ford, he's the only one we ever wanted to actually just give the office to. That means, every generation, there's not just one or two guys who want to be president. There are dozens and dozens, and there's a fiery competition for the job in that case.
CARLSON: I'm interested in this idea that a lot of political scientists appear to have that there's kind of an election formula into which could you input various data, the condition of the economy, how voters feel about the future, et cetera, et cetera, and from that formula, you can predict with absolute accuracy, some of them say, the outcome of the election.
Do you think that's true, one, and if it is, what are the factors in that equation?
SHENKMAN: Well, there's a friend of mine, Allan Lichtman at American University. He's got a book called "The 13 Keys to the White House." And in that he takes into consideration all kinds of factors: whether a candidate in run-up for the nomination had real competition or was able to just roll through to the nomination -- because if you come into the office -- into the general race with a divided party, of course, you're going to have problems winning over the general public. Other factors: are you charismatic? How is the economy doing? Has your party been in power? Do you hold the Congress? Lots of factors.
CARLSON: So based on those, who's going to win?
SHENKMAN: Well, I think what's going on in this election are -- there's really two factors going on and it's pulling the country in two different ways. You've got peace and prosperity pulling country toward Al Gore. You've got personality, which is also a long-term factor in American politics. We always like to elect the guy that we like, the most personable president, and that's pulling people towards George Bush. And I think that's why the polls are showing teeter- totter. You know, one minute they're one way, one minute, the other, because people can't really make up their minds about that.
PRESS: I want to ask you about that because we saw Al Gore just a little while ago saying, today, I think it was in Florida, if you want the guy you like, you want to go out and have a beer with, you know, vote for Bush. If you want the guy who can get the job done, vote for me. So, there does seem to be this, you know, people can't make up their mind between this likability or ability.
How important is the likability? Is it more important today than it used to be?
SHENKMAN: Well, it's more important now because of television. You know, if you loathe somebody and all of your contact with them is through the newspaper. it doesn't really matter that much. But you see them on television day after day after day, you can really get a deep loathing of somebody. And unfortunately, a lot of people have that feeling for Al Gore. Some Democrats have that feeling for George Bush.
PRESS: All right, Mr. Shenkman, stay with us. When we come back to you in just a little bit -- and Tucker, we're adding a new feature tonight. I love it, last night we added the "Spin of the Day."
Tonight we have a new feature. While we're spinning words tonight, we have got someone else in Atlanta who's spinning his pen. Yes, Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich of the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" will be sketching throughout the hour. And we're going to be looking over his shoulder from time to time and get his full pictures by the time we leave, before the end of the show. The sketch of the day.
CARLSON: The sketch of the day and of course more from Richard Shenkman ahead as we pick apart, piece by piece, presidential resumes. PRESS: And next we're going to look at the education and the military records of these candidates and whether or not that really matters.
You are in THE SPIN ROOM with Bill Press and Tucker Carlson.
CARLSON: Indeed you are.
CARLSON: Welcome back to SPIN ROOM, where we're getting a little dizzy, a little seasick, really, looking at the presidential candidates' resumes. I'm Tucker Carlson.
PRESS: I'm Bill Press. Just as long as they don't ask to look at our resumes. Well, now that we have the candidates' general qualifications out of the way, we're going to look now at three specific areas. First education, then military service and then government service. Do any of the three matter, Tucker?
CARLSON: Do they, Joie? Give us a little background on this and does education matter?
CHEN: Education here, we're going to have a little education, a little bit of a lesson from history. Now once upon a time, the other George Bush said he that wanted to be what was called the education president. You knew what he meant of course. He wasn't naming it anything like being a university president, although Woodrow Wilson was one at Princeton, or a real teacher in a real classroom. Wilson did that too, by the way. So, you may recall, did LBJ. That surprised me a little bit. Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school, which just reminds us that sometimes those who can do, do, in fact, teach.
And this time out, well, George W. has a B.A, in history from Yale and an MBA from Harvard. And here's a surprising bit of trivia: If Bush wins, it'll be the first time our economy has ever been in the hands of a president who actually has an MBA.
Al Gore has bachelor's in Government, what else would he have, from Harvard. The unusual part of his resume, as presidential candidates go, anyway, is that Gore did graduate work in Vanderbilt's divinity school as well as in Vandy's law school. Although we note he didn't finish the degree in either subject.
And so on the what did you do before you showed up here list, well know that the vast majority -- vast majority, here, of U.S. Presidents, 24 out of 41, were lawyers. And that will not be the case next week. So we do have something to look forward to anyway you look at it, right Bill -- Tucker.
CARLSON: A whole bunch.
CHEN: I'm going to get in real trouble.
(CROSSTALK) PRESS: But you know what's not in that? I mean, I certainly -- it seems to me want a president who's at least has a bachelor of arts and did four years of college, right. But I think street smarts got to be in there, somewhere. And nobody factors that in.
CARLSON: I have so say, whether he has a BA is totally immaterial. I mean, it's interesting. Did you know that Al Gore in his year at Vanderbilt Divinity School got F's in five out of eight classes. Now that doesn't mean anything to me. That may be a mark of honor. He may have been doing something much more interesting. But I'm not the one calling George W. Bush stupid. I think people tend to attach too much weight to these kinds of things. They don't ultimately matter necessarily.
PRESS: I agree. Let's get a quick comment. Richard Shenkman, out there in Seattle. Educational resumes of this candidates -- I mean, should we put much stock in the fact, you know, that one's been to law school or one been in divinity school. Or, you know -- well, look at Woodrow Wilson again. Proves, right, that you could be the smartest guy around and not a great president.
SHENKMAN: Well, most historians actually think that Wilson was a pretty good president until the Versailles Treaty came along and that was a failure. But you've got guys like Hoover and Carter, probably the two worst presidents in the 20th century, unless you include Richard Nixon, and they were two of the brightest presidents. Education, intelligence two separate things. Wilson, very intelligent, very, very well-educated. Abraham Lincoln, of course, had very, very little education. All told, about a year of education and probably the greatest president.
PRESS: All right, we got to move along because we've got a lot to cover here. And of course we mention after education we want to look also talk about the candidate's military background -- what kind of service they put in.
Joie, you're at attention. standing by.
CHEN: Absolutely, gentleman. So it's part of the job description. We go back to our friend, the Constitution, our trusty Constitution. Article 2, section 2 this time. President to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. Qualified to be the boss, that is no problem if you're a former general who helped to win a war like George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, Zachary Taylor, William Henry Harrison or Ulysses Grant.
But some in the military, you'll remember, confessed to be being less than thrilled at having non-vet Bill Clinton as commander-in- chief, something to do with his attitude toward the draft and the Vietnam War.
From the history books we do learn that Mr. Clinton is a bit of an exception. Voters like to see former military men march right into the White House. Almost all of our presidents have served, although there are other very notable exceptions there. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson spent the Revolutionary War doing diplomatic and political service and the presidents who guided the country through World Wars I and II, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt -- Woodrow Wilson is getting a lot of mention tonight -- they were never in the military, although Roosevelt was an assistant secretary of the Navy.
This time, now, Bush was a pilot. He flew something called a Delta Dagger, that's an attack jet of some kind, in the Texas Air National Guard from 1968 through 1973. '68 to '73, he served in Vietnam. You will remember the significance there.
Now Gore was in the army, was in Vietnam where he spent five months beginning at the end of 1970 as a reporter for a military journal but he never did do combat duty. So what we wonder here is will the armed forces be happier with a commander-in-chief who served the nation as a journalist in Vietnam or as a National Guard jet jockey in Texas, guys? You decide.
CARLSON: Well, we will. Actually, it's interesting, and Richard Shenkman, maybe we could ask you this question. The conventional understanding is that after Bill Clinton, military service doesn't really matter. I guess my question is that that seems true, then why does Al Gore spend so much time talking about his time in Vietnam if it doesn't really matter?
SHENKMAN: Well, I think he's just trying to use his one advantage over George W., because there's the same questions about George W. as Dan Quayle. Why did you go into the National Guard when there's a war on?
PRESS: Well, there's a quick answer. The question I would have, and we'll get this when we come back also, is with a voluntary draft right now, voluntary military, right, I mean, pretty soon they're going to be fewer and fewer people running for office who have actually served in the military so it seems to me the military experience is going to become a lot less important, In fact, several of the candidates running this time didn't have any military experience.
CARLSON: That's right.
PRESS: We're going to take a break now. When we come back, we're going to talk about that other national race that only New Yorkers can vote in. You know what that is, the U.S. Senate seat in New York. Jeanne Moos is going to show us how those political rope lines work with all the politicians shaking hands and kissing babies. That's very important. Plus we still have to talk about government experience and whether that matters more than corporate experience. Lots more coming up in the THE SPIN ROOM. Bill Press and Tucker Carlson.
CARLSON: Welcome back to SPIN ROOM. We're talking about experience. Who has it? What it means. How much you need. Do you need any at all? We want to know what you think. you can e-mail us at email@example.com. You can call at 1-800-310-4CNN or you can join it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRESS: And the e-mails are coming in on this question that we're talking about: What does it take to be president of the United States.
Austin from Judsonia, Arkansas, says: "If George W. Bush wins this election, I'm running in 2004."
CARLSON: See, Bush is increasing voter participation -- this is energizing the grassroots in the most profound way.
PRESS: Inexperience is inspiring other inexperienced people.
CARLSON: That's absolutely right. Our next president could be from Judsonia, Arkansas.
Yvonne in Bridgewater, New Jersey, says: "It always amazes me how every four years people who are oblivious to politics all year long try to cover up their ignorance with the same line, quote, 'What choices do we have?' I swear that if Abe Lincoln were running against George Washington they'd say the same thing. What choices do we have?"
Good point, Yvonne. These candidates are pretty good, actually.
PRESS: Abe probably couldn't win today because he didn't have enough education. Before we get into government experience, I want to go back to Richard Shenkman for just a minute.
Mr. Shenkman, on military experience, there's a story in "The Boston Globe" yesterday, and Joie showed earlier that George W. Bush's Web site shows that he served in the Texas National Guard from 1968 to 1973.
"The Boston Globe" says baloney. He only flew that plane for 22 months. He never showed up for duty in Alabama. He never showed for duty when he went back to Houston and never took his physical. Bob Kerrey, in fact, says it looks he was AWOL. What effect could that have if true -- we don't know whether it is or not. "Boston Globe" reports it, if somebody is stretching his military resume.
SHENKMAN: Well, it sure doesn't look good. The problem is it's in "The Boston Globe"; it's not on the front page of "The New York Times." When it gets on the front page of "The New York Times," then it'll be an issue and then Bush is going to have to respond.
I note that Bush hasn't even agreed to do an interview on this with "The Boston Globe" reporters, who have been working on this story for about seven or eight months.
PRESS: It probably won't make "The New York Times."
All right, let's move onto -- your ready? -- government experience versus corporate experience, and as usual, Joie Chen is going to set us up. So, Joie, tell us how important this latest element is.
CHEN: All right. Well, think about this. On the one hand, we have the guy who is proud of being Mr. Inside. That's not Mr. Inside Baseball; this is Mr. Inside the Beltway. He knows how things work there. And there's the other guy who is just as proud to tell you that he is running against the big Washington machine.
But do you ever wonder if the first George W. -- you know, the first George W., who lived at Mount Vernon -- spins in his grave every time he hears somebody using his last name as a synonym for everything that is wrong with government?
Well, anyhow here, George W. Bush's resume lists 1 1/2 terms as governor of Texas. And we don't want any smart remarks here. Remember, we said Woodrow Wilson, our favorite guy, served only one- half of one term as governor of New Jersey. Al Gore spent four terms in Congress before he got into the Senate, and then, of course, went on to be vice president.
And for whatever reason -- they don't put it into their resumes -- but you know they both spent a lot of time working for their father's political ambitions. And you know, that's got to have some value, too, guys. I mean, why not just come clean with it? Everybody knows who the fathers of these two candidates were. Why not just say, look, we did a lot of work to help these guys be president?
CARLSON: I'm not sure that's a good idea, Joie.
CHEN: Come on. It's a new approach. It's a new spin.
CARLSON: I'm not sure you should sign on as a political consultant any time soon.
PRESS: I'm not sure it is either, but I have to tell you, this election has shaken my confidence in experience as a qualification to be president, because if you look at -- I mean, Gore, right, who's been in there, in the Congress, in the Senate, vice president, 25 years, and you look at Bush five years in what everybody agrees is the weakest governorship in the country. You would think this election should have been -- should be so one-sided it's not funny. And yet, it's not. So obviously, experience doesn't matter that much.
CARLSON: Well, you know, Al Gore seems to think it doesn't matter that much. What's striking to me is Gore rarely talks about his government experience in any detail. I mean, I feel, as a viewer and a newspaper reader, I know more about Al Gore's sort of hobbies -- how he likes water skiing, and you know, climbing mountains with his son, and running marathons -- he does emphasize his extracurriculars to the exclusion really of things that might make for pretty impressive talking points on a resume.
It's as if he doesn't trust his own experience to be appealing to voters.
PRESS: OK. So Richard Shenkman...
SHENKMAN: Look, it's...
PRESS: Government experience, does it count?
SHENKMAN: Yes, experience is really, really important. We've had a couple of presidents who had very thin resumes, like George W. Bush, but in each case they brought a wealth of experience and knowledge about government. You mention Woodrow Wilson. Well, he'd written in 1885 a treatise on the American Congress and the American presidency. So for 25 or 30 years before he became president, he'd been thinking deeply about these issues.
Abraham Lincoln had only been a one-term congressman, but he certainly had been running for office for years. He ran for the U.S. Senate twice before he ran for president, and he understood how government works.
And the problem with George W. Bush is he has a very thin knowledge about the national government, which is odd considering that his father was president. You know, the difference between pere and fils here is that father had an incredible resume and the son has such a thin one.
CARLSON: Well, I guess it all depends in how you define thin, but that may be another conversation. Thank you, Richard Shenkman.
PRESS: Thanks very much, Mr. Shenkman.
CARLSON: You know, there are many ways you can get your suggestions to us, thin or thick. You can call toll-free 1-800-310- 4CNN, or you can join a live online chat at cnn.com, or you can send your suggestions via e-mail. Our address is cnn.com. Or you can, of course, use carrier pigeon; we accept that, too.
PRESS: And don't forget, coming up, we have Jeanne Moos: her report on those political rope lines. Yes, our Robert George is back in his favorite bar up in the Big Apple, and we're going to check in again with Mike Luckovich to see how he's going on the political cartoons.
Uh-oh, there he is. He's hard at work, sketching as we spin. I love it.
Mike Luckovich, the latest edition to "THE SPIN ROOM." Welcome, and we'll see his sketch of the day, "cartoon of the day" at the end of the day when we give you our "spin of the day" and get your nominations for "spin of the day."
CARLSON: So send them.
PRESS: And you are in THE SPIN ROOM here at CNN. Welcome back. I'm Bill Press here with Tucker Carlson. Don't forget, we want to hear from you. It's your chance to sound off on all the issues of the day, particularly now this presidential race, and what you think it takes to be president, what you're looking for in a presidential date.
Tucker wants a good golf game; I want a sense of humor.
CARLSON: I don't want a good golf game. Actually, I want someone who resents golf, who has never played and never will. I'm anti-golf these days.
PRESS: Then you've got to vote against Bush.
CARLSON: You're getting me, Bill.
PRESS: All right. And here's how you join us. You can join us for -- into email@example.com or give us a phone call at 1-800-310-4CNN or join the chat room at firstname.lastname@example.org, and send those e-mails in, like this one, Tucker. This is a -- an anonymous viewer from Florida. You know, it's close in Florida...
CARLSON: Ooh, oh, listen to this.
PRESS: Quote -- here it is. "I do not trust Bush. I can read his lips." A little reference to daddy there.
CARLSON: Ooh, a little a pun there. Here's one -- now, I like, I have to say, I like voters whose opinions you can tell right off the top. Janice in Sedona, Arizona is one of them. She says -- quote -- "The covers of 'Esquire' and 'Rolling Stone'" -- both of which she apparently gets -- "exemplify the disgraceful, arrogant, insolent behavior of our president and vice president. It's time to reinstate some dignity, prestige and honesty in the White House."
How do you feel, Janice, really? Tell us.
PRESS: Now, we have seen the Clinton pose on the cover of "Esquire," with a tie like this.
CARLSON: Yes, with the tie, which is not, in fact...
PRESS: Would you describe -- would you describe "The Rolling Stone" cover for us?
CARLSON: Well, "The Rolling Stone" cover, there was some crotch controversy, and I'll leave it at that. Interested viewers can check the Internet for details. Let's just say, both covers were racy in a way mass market magazines usually are not, at least with men on the covers.
PRESS: Speaking of raciness, political candidates are often known for bare-knuckled tactics against their opponent, but the art of politics also calls for a much more subtle and friendly approach.
CARLSON: Not that we're in favor of subtle here in THE SPIN ROOM, but especially when it comes to their supporters, it's called working the rope line with an outstretched hand.
CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In war, there's the front line; in politics, there's the rope line. It may not be combat, but it's hand-to-hand.
Only rarely do rope lines actually consist of rope. Usually, they're metal barriers, and sometimes there's no barrier at all. This is where voter and candidate come face-to-face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have beautiful teeth.
REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, good morning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even more beautiful in person.
CLINTON: Oh, thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an honor to meet you, Mr. Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: It's like being a rock star.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We above love you, governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: But handshaking can be hazardous to a candidate's hand, wrist, shoulders, and neck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does your hand get so sore?
CLINTON: No, it feels OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MOOS: Occupational therapists offer tips to prevent strain from what they call grip and grin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shake your arm. You want to move your whole arm, not your wrist.
MOOS: George Bush tends to move lots of his body parts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep your arm as close your body as possible, elbow at 90 degrees.
MOOS: Tell that to Al Gore. He plunges into the crowd so deeply that Secret Service agents have to hold onto his pants. The agents watching the first lady touch her more gingerly. You won't see them practicing this chest-hold on Hillary. Of course, meet and greet isn't always fun. For instance, when someone refuses to shake the candidates hand or worse when opponents chant mean slogans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go home, Hillary!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: People say funny things to the candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to beat that cocky little rascal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: Meanwhile, the so-called "cocky little rascal," Rick Lazio, is getting advice on how to deal with Hillary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get Hillary back to Arkansas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or wherever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or wherever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go beat her ass.
LAZIO: With your help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: At Grand Central, commuters lined up to meet Hillary, their snapping pictures or asking me to snap it for them.
(on camera): Hold on, hold on. I'm not ready. Sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.
CLINTON: How are you? You're doing very well here. That's very good of you.
MOOS: You know, I'm finally doing some work.
(voice-over): Someone once handed Hillary a cell phone, asking the first lady to wish her mom happy birthday.
CLINTON: Hi, this is Hillary Clinton.
MOOS: Now that it's down the home stretch, please don't stretch the candidates' fingers. The body politic should resist touching the politician's body. Seems the rope line has the Secret Service at the end of its rope.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
PRESS: Tucker, when you see those pictures, you've just got to wonder why anybody puts themselves through that anymore? All those photos and shaking all those hands.
CARLSON: I feel so sorry for them. At the end of following a candidate around, I don't care who it is, I don't care if it's Satan at the end, I think, you know, I hope this person wins just because there has to be some redemptive quality to all this. Talking to someone's mother on a cell phone -- ew.
We're about to talk to someone fun, though. Robert George from "The New York Post" is back with us tonight. Back by popular demand, by acclaim and he will say he was back in the same bar he was in Monday evening.
PRESS: No, no, no, he hasn't left. He's been there since Monday evening.
CARLSON: Of course he hasn't left. He's shaking the dust off his shoulders. He's here.
ROBERT GEORGE, "THE NEW YORK POST": You know, you guys leave me here. It goes from THE SPIN ROOM to the spinning room. You know, a couple of glasses of wine and I'm almost gone.
PRESS: All right, Robert, does experience matter? What are the qualifications you find people are looking for, very quickly?
GEORGE: Well, I think experience does matter, but right now, we are in a very much, a strong business-oriented economy and I think the experience of a businessman, like a George W. Bush, I think is actually good in a president.
PRESS: All right, we hear that one-sidedness. We're not going to let you get away with it. We're going to come back to you in your chichi bar there, Robert.
GEORGE: It better be quick, Bill.
PRESS: And also we want to hear from some of those people in the bar this time, including maybe the bartender. Robert George, we'll be back with you in just a minute. This is THE SPIN ROOM with Bill Press and Tucker Carlson. More with Robert George about that Senate race and don't forget the "Spin of the Day." Get your nominations in. Coming up right here in THE SPIN ROOM.
CHEN: We're having a lot of fun here in THE SPIN ROOM, but we want to keep you up to date on the news. And there's a late development that CNN has learned. It's confirmed in Washington from the White House National Security Council as well that Israelis and Palestinian negotiators have an agreement now -- they do have an agreement intended to end the violence that has gone on for the last five weeks now.
One hundred and seventy-five people have been killed in that neighborhood, most of them have been Palestinian, and we know that earlier today the former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres met with Yasser Arafat in the Mid-East. And now we're told that that meeting did make a difference, that they have forged something of an agreement to implement the cease fire deal that was cut at Sharm el-Sheik last month.
We don't know that this is absolutely going to end the violence, but this is the latest. We know that the Israelis and the Palestinians now do have an agreement intended to end that violence and we also know that the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are in Washington this week. They've been doing some discussions.
The Israelis had some discussions earlier today at the White House and the State Department. We are continuing to follow-up on that story. And we hope that this is a good sign for what's going on in the Mid-East.
But Bill and Tucker, as we talk about all this, it is a sobering reminder of how important experience and ability is to the person who is going lead -- the leader of the free world here.
PRESS: Absolutely, Joie. Thank you, and let's hope this agreement sticks.
And don't forget, folks, we're looking for your nominations for "Spin of the Day." We'll be talking about those and give you our nominations. Tucker's got his. I've got mine. Telephone number: 1-800-310-4CNN.
And how about that Robert George, Tucker.
CARLSON: How about that Robert George. Now, before we do anything, let's go back to Robert George. Now Robert, I know you've been in the bar for a couple days, if not weeks, so you may not have caught...
GEORGE: I'm sorry. What was that again?
CARLSON: Listen carefully, Robert. You may have missed what happened at the White House today. Now it is today the 200th anniversary of the opening of the White House and the president, Bill Clinton, had a little ceremony. And I want you to take a look at what he said and I want to get your cold reaction to it. Here's what he said.
PRESS: President Clinton?
CARLSON: President Clinton.
PRESS: President Clinton.
CARLSON: Well, let me do my President Clinton imitation and I'm pretty good at this. He said these walls carry the story of America. It was here, the White House, President Jefferson first unrolled the maps of the bountiful continent to plan the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Here Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Here President Roosevelt had fireside chats, wheeling his nation through the depression.
Now, what didn't President Clinton mention? It was a very awkward moment.
GEORGE: Well, he didn't mention what those -- what the walls in the Oval Office might have been able to say, you know, a couple of years ago, You know, if those walls could talk, you know. Actually I'm sorry. That's an HBO special.
CARLSON: That was a remarkable cheap set-up. I'm sorry to do that to you, Robert.
PRESS: Oh, give it a break. Forget it.
CARLSON: I couldn't help it.
GEORGE: Well, you know, I mean, it's true. Didn't George W. do a top 10 the other day saying he was going to clean up the Oval Office?
PRESS: But speaking of George W., there was a time when people said that being governor wasn't good enough to run for president because it wasn't enough experience. I want to read something to you, Robert, from 1988. Here's a quote from a person we all know well.
Quote: "We tried an untested governor before from the Democratic side by the name of Jimmy Carter, and Jimmy Carter was a total failure. And there's a lot folks around this country who believe Mike Dukakis is another Jimmy Carter."
And guess who said that, dumping on governors as not being qualified, none other than George W. Bush in 1988. I guess it was different then Robert.
GEORGE: Well, you know, times change, but I believe, I may be mistaken but I think running Texas is a little bit -- gives you more experience than, say, running Massachusetts. No offense meant to our viewers from Massachusetts.
PRESS: All right, times do change.
CARLSON: Excellent point.
PRESS: All right, Robert, thanks so much for joining us. You can go back to the bar. Back to your patrons. Back to the bartender. Have a good time. The rest of you stay with us, me and Tucker right here in THE SPIN ROOM. We're going to get to the "Spin of the Day" -- ours and yours, coming up next.
CARLSON: And we're going to put the finishing touches on tonight's masterpiece from Mike Luckovich. You are in THE SPIN ROOM.
CARLSON: Welcome back to SPIN ROOM. I'm Tucker Carlson here with Bill Press. Throughout the night we've asked you to send us your spins of the day. A spin of the day is something that's so outrageous that it makes you spin so quickly, you feel dizzy.
Apparently Jerry in Georgia has responded. He's on the line. Jerry, tell us.
PRESS: Let's hear it, Jerry.
CALLER: Well, gentlemen, you've been talking about resumes tonight. I like resumes, but resumes don't tell a candidate's shortcomings, and I feel both candidates have a serious shortcoming. Vice President Gore has an attitude problem, and George Bush has an aptitude problem.
CARLSON: Both problems that begin with "a."
PRESS: I think Jerry is spinning away. Now, OK, here's my nomination for spin of the day. An first of all, I have to tell you, Tucker, I have in my hand an e-mail I received today in response to last night's show from one of my heroes, my role model. I dyed my hair so I could look like Phil Donahue.
CARLSON: A sacred document!
PRESS: Phil Donahue e-mails me. He's not happy that we were making a little fun of Nader last night, particularly when we talked about some of things in the party platform. Phil says that was an old party platform. We weren't up to date.
OK, Phil, here's my spin of the day. This is Nader, in his own words, not from some old platform. This is Nader just the other day in "The New York Times," who says here's why it's OK for George Bush to be elected and wreck the environment, because he says -- quote -- "A bumbling Texas governor would galvanize the environmental community as never before ... The Sierra Club doubled its membership under James Watt." Now, if that isn't spin. Vote for George Bush, give it away to the oil companies so the Sierra Club can double its membership.
CARLSON: Vote for the man you disagree with because it will energize the grassroots. That's very, very cynical.
PRESS: Spin away, Nader.
CARLSON: Spin away. Well, my spin of the day has to do with the story we heard about earlier in the week, the spat between "Esquire" magazine and the White House. The White House complained that "Esquire" magazine released the interview with Bill Clinton when it promised that it wouldn't until after the election.
Well, as it turns out, "Esquire" magazine promised that the interview would appear in the December issue of the magazine, which it did. It turns out "Esquire," like all magazines out of New York, release their magazines a month earlier than the cover date. The White House knew this and yet it's using the cover date to pretend it thought the magazine was coming out next month. Very clever.
PRESS: From the "Spin of the Day" to the "Sketch of the Day," Mike Luckovich has been good enough to join us tonight. He has been sketching away while we have been spinning.
So, Mike, show us your good work.
MIKE LUCKOVICH, CARTOONIST: Well, guys, you know, I actually did two for this evening. You were just talking about Clinton's "Esquire" photo shoot. This was an early photo I did of him. Someone off camera here is saying to him, Mr. President, we think you should wear pants for this shot.
PRESS: Wait, can we see a good full shot of that? Hold on there just a second.
CARLSON: He has hairy legs.
LUCKOVICH: He didn't shave his legs there.
PRESS: Mike, I do notice it's boxers there, right?
LUCKOVICH: Yeah, he has got little hearts on his boxers.
CARLSON: He wears tighty whities in real life.
PRESS: It's the boxer day, not the brief day.
How about the next one, Mike?
LUCKOVICH: OK, now, the next one, I've got a guy here. He's an unemployed Burger King employee and his name is Abe W. Lincoln. So he is qualified to be our next presidential candidate just based on his name. As a matter of fact, I've got four children, two boys and two girls and I've named them all George W. Bush because I want them to have everything easily coming to them, so they don't to have work too hard. So, be that as it may.
CARLSON: Are your children's middle names W?
LUCKOVICH: They're all W, George W. Bush. All four of them.
CHEN: What happened to George Foreman?
LUCKOVICH: It's sort of like that. I've named all my kids that way and so hopefully they will all be presidential nominees in the future.
If we've got time. Man, you know, I did like 50 here as I was sitting waiting to get my chance to...
CHEN: Get your turn.
LUCKOVICH: Yes, so here is one. This is a resume. This is Gore. He's got about 20 pounds worth of resume there. And then if you look right here, you see George W.'s resume. So, a little bit smaller.
CHEN: And besides the politics, Mike, which is more important? What's the most important thing? They tell us we have spun out of time here.
PRESS: We've spun out of time.
LUCKOVICH: That's what happens on THE SPIN ROOM.
PRESS: Thank you so much, Mike, for joining us. Come back again. We want you to do a sketch of the day.
And Joie Chen, thank you for being there with us again tonight.
Tomorrow night in THE SPIN ROOM, we are going talk about campaign issues.
CARLSON: What issues, Bill? I didn't notice any issues.
PRESS: What issues? And what's the media been talking about? This may be the campaign without issues.
Good night, everybody. Thanks for joining THE SPIN ROOM,
CARLSON: Thanks. Good night.
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