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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Interview with Joe Madison, Mike Gallagher

Aired October 7, 2002 - 12:46   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Just hours before President Bush takes his case before the American people, the latest "New York Times CBS News Poll" asked this question. Is the president more interested in removing weapons of mass destruction or Saddam Hussein from power? More than half of those asked say they suspect Mr. Bush is pushing for the Iraqi president's ouster. The poll also suggests voters want to hear less about the possibility of war and more about the U.S. economy.
Can the U.S. government work on turning the economy around and prepare for a possible war against Iraq? Here to debate the issue, Mike Gallagher, whose radio show is broadcast nationally on the Salem radio network. He's in Dallas, Texas. And here in Washington, Joe Madison. He's the radio show talk show host, better known as the Black Eagle. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

What do you say, Mike, about the possibility that the president, tonight, will be able to win over the skeptics?

MICHAEL GALLAGHER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think it's going to be a slam dunk, Wolf. You know, that poll question you just referred to is so typical of what I think is the liberal agenda to try to water down the real issue. Of course, President Bush wants to topple Saddam Hussein because if he topples Saddam Hussein, there goes the agenda with the weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it's crystal clear that Saddam Hussein, if left to his own devices, will try to destroy us, and that's what this is all about, and I think tonight is going to be the final nail in the coffin of the likes of Susan Sarandon's anti-war rhetoric and this liberal lunacy that is watering down the message.

BLITZER: Joe Madison, are you going to be a part of that convincing tonight? Are you going to be convinced when you're done hearing president's speech?

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, because I think you heard, even your own reporter said, there is not going to be a slam dunk here. There's not going to be any new revelations. He is going to present the same information that he has presented to the United Nations and to the American people before. The other thing that you have to keep in mind, that this poll was not taken of liberals versus conservatives, and when the bullets starts to fly in Iraq, Saddam Hussein's troops will not be asking people if you're liberal or conservative to determine if you get shot...

GALLAGHER: No, but the poll was...

MADISON: I didn't interrupt you, Mike. Let me finish. GALLAGHER: No, no, no, but the question is really (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You know that...

MADISON: So the poll was not written. There's nothing to indicate it was written by liberals or conservatives...

GALLAGHER: The "New York Times?"

MADISON: ...The bottom line -- or CBS, who is owned by a quite conservative corporation...

GALLAGHER: Come on. Right.

MADISON: The bottom line is this. People are getting, Wolf, their mutual fund statements. They're seeing the economy go south. They are concerned about it...

BLITZER: Let me, let me...

MADISON: And that's really the bottom line.

BLITZER: Let me pick up on that point because we're getting flooded with e-mail. Mike, this one for you. "The Bush administration is making Iraq its cause celebre (ph) and diverting attention from other issues like the economy. It is short-sighted to think that a war with Iraq will solve all our problems with terrorism."

What do you say to Gila from California?

GALLAGHER: Well, Gila needs to remember that this is about national security. And Gila shouldn't have a short memory and forget what happened September 11, 2001. And that's what this is about. If people want to play political games and already say -- have Joe Madison sit there in Washington and say this won't be a slam dunk before hearing the first word out of President Bush's mouth, tonight. That's because people like Joe and Gila are rooting against the president and against this country. And listen, I say to Gila or to Joe, if you don't like what this government stands for, go over to Baghdad and be a loyal to Saddam Hussein like McDermott is.

MADISON: You know, I'm going to tell you something. Now, Mike, we are both, and spent some time in Dayton, Ohio, about 50 miles -- I know it's true. And because I'm stating a fact, let me tell you, don't you ever question my loyalty to this country...

GALLAGHER: You're un-American. You're un-American.

MADISON: Don't...

GALLAGHER: ...you hate America. And that's why...

MADISON: Well, this is not a ...

GALLAGHER: ... People like you are being deemed irrelevant. Madison. ... Debate. Now, it's name calling. GALLAGHER: It's true.

MADISON: I mean, this is...

GALLAGHER: ... You're un-American. You're either with us or with the terrorists.

BLITZER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Mike, let him respond (inaudible). You can't make an accusation like that without giving him a chance to talk.

MADISON: He can't -- as a matter of fact, he can't make an accusation like that without knowing the person.

GALLAGHER: I do know the person...

MADISON: That's the best...

GALLAGHER: I know what you stand for, and that's why your whittling away and saying that you know President Bush won't have a slam dunk tonight because you're hoping he doesn't. Listen, I asked a simple question...

BLITZER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. All right...

GALLAGHER: You're either with us or with the terrorists, Wolf. The president's (inaudible). Which side are you on, Joe?

MADISON: I made my remarks based on the CNN reporter who talked to the people inside the White House, just this morning, who indicated not to expect anything new. If you were listening to CNN, then you would have heard that.

Of course, I'm listening to CNN.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right. Let me move on.

MADISON: This is absolutely insulting.

BLITZER: Yes, I don't want to get into this. I don't want to get into name calling, right now, so let's hold off on the name calling...

GALLAGHER: It is what it is.

BLITZER: Let's deal with the substantive issues, right now. This e-mail for you, Joe, from Todd in Allentown, Pennsylvania. If the U.S. does not act first, we will always be the victims of extremists. I don't think the people who disagree with war will approve of another terrorist attack on American soil.

MADISON: No one wants a terrorist attack on American soil. No one. No one. GALLAGHER: Then we've got to stop it, Joe, and we've go to let -- we've got to stop the patron of terrorism, Saddam Hussein. We've got to get him before he gets us. Don't you get it?

BLITZER: Go ahead, Joe.

MADISON: Quite honestly, I expected a far more intelligent debate. I get a lot of things. What I do get is that war has to be the last extent. The problem we have is that we are changing our policy towards war. We should be very careful. That's all I'm saying.

GALLAGHER: All right. September 11 wasn't a last resort effort, Joe. If that didn't make you -- make up your mind that should be our last resort and that we should never see another American die, then nothing will convince you, I...

BLITZER: All right, Mike Gallagher, hold on. I'm going to let Joe have the last word. Go ahead, Joe.

MADISON: The last word is very simply this. The president will have to make the case. The American people are very concerned about the economy. We know we're going to go to war. It's a question of how do get out once we get in, and will the world be any safer because of it? That's really the bottom line because they're going to be far more enemies than Saddam Hussein in the years to come.

BLITZER: Joe Madison and Mike Gallagher, reflecting, obviously, some very, very deeply felt views out there they're hearing from their listeners on radio shows across the country. They're expressing their deeply felt opinions, here on this program. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

GALLAGHER: You bet.

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